Loaded – 50LgE (self released)
Nothing to do with the Velvet Underground record of the same name, this four-song EP on CD is from a trio based on the South Wales Far North Coast, whose antecedents include membership of the Psychotic Turnbuckles , Brisbane’s The Tellers and The Eastern Dark. That should be enough to pique the interest of most Barflies.
“Hooked” is a steady instrumental work-out that showcases Tony Young’s brawny guitar tone. It’s a steady climb to the top where it peaks in a rash of distortion. “World” is moodier and sparse, underpinned by some sharp riffing and a solid Geoff Milne backbeat. The lyrics are about globetrotting and are as skewed as Alex Chilton’s “Bangkok”.
Power trio they may be but 50LgE (pronounced: “50 Large”) don’t stick to conventions. The mixed tempos of “Raising Caine” come out of a place called left field. Simulated rotor blades usher in “Coachella” which is an ode to a Californian hipster-orientated desert music festival. It’s a relief to realise it’s a sarcastic takedown. After their debut 12-inch single “Black Interceptor”, it’s a fun if uneven ride, and copies are procurable at shows or by hitting up the band on Facebook.
50LgE will make their Sydney debut at MoshPit on May 1, supporting Jupiter 5 who will be launching their seven-inch single. Tickets here.
We Are The Normal – Joe Normal (New Jersey Phonograph)
This is a CD single. I think it's a little sad how the younger generation don't really keep hard copies of CDs or records on the shelf, anymore. They all prefer to store it in the cloud, or whatever, it's just virtualized and abstractly stored in their I-Gadgets. But older rock ‘n’ roll people like me, actually like the little gatefold sleeves with the lyrics and picture.
Joe Normal is my fave USA! USA! power pop contemporary - he writes emboldened singalong anthems for guttersnipes and barflies and aging dishwashers like you and me. He's got a kickass band and always delivers this beautiful pop ‘n’ roll that'll remind you of the freer, cooler, long gone glory days, before the oligarchy mass-hypnotized everyone you knew into eagerly signalling their obedience to the higher-ups, by abandoning their communal nature and critical thinking skills and viciously rat-racing for the most piles of stuff.
The Not Nots – The Not Nots (Outtspace)
Saw this Newcastle, NSW, band of older hands at a gig in their hometown and they impressed with their economic, garage-y tuneage after a shaky start hampered by minor sound problems. The venue shut down the headliners early thanks to a non-communicative dickhead from a booking agency but that's another story. It's fitting, therefore, that this EP crams six of songs onto a slice of seven-inch vinyl.
The Not Nots are a trio of Anthony Dean (guitar and vocals), Blake Doyle (drums) and Chris Ryan (bass and vocals) and (like the venue operatots that night) they are fans of brevity.
“Hey Hey Hey” is a minor key opener that reeks of grunge. The staccato “Give It Away” throbs with energy and recalls the post-punk sounds of the UK when the first and second wave of punk had receded. Muffled guitar gives the Husker Du-like “What You Don’t Know” a strangled demo feel that works in spite of itself.
Flip it over and “Default” sounds like Fugazi without that band’s tension. “Small Children (Are The Apocalypse)” surges along with grim chord-age leavened by a surprising “ooh-la-la-la” chorus. “The Little Time We Have” has a chord progression that sounds like it was swiped from Bob Mould when he got airplay. There’s not much of it but what there is sounds good before it runs out of runway. Another winner fromn the folks at Outtaspace.
Neon City Lights b/w Get Loose – The Glycereens (Evil Tone)
‘Tis a taster for the forthcoming album from this well-credentialled Brisbane unit with past members of Boondall Boys, Mad Macka and Happy Times. You don’t expect bands to lead with their best track so the assumption is that it's is a flag for what’s to come with the top shelf stuff held in reserve. “Neon City Lights” isn’t bad but drags a tad and doesn’t really go anywhere, and falls short of the poppier songs that dotted the first album, “Hangin’ On”.
There’s major love, however, for the B side “Get Loose”, a cover of a rune from the late New Zealand band The D4, where The Glycereens' brand of fuzzed-out, bubblegum punk really shines. Vocalist Heli Puhakka brings an appealing vocal blend of snot and cool to the party and her and Sol M Robinson’s guitars create a block of buzzing fuzz that’s fit to singe ears. The engine room sounds brutal on this, too. There are still copies on black vinyl here.
Stuck in a Job b/w Living In The Borough – Joe Normal & The Anytown'rs (Big Stir Records)
I'm always late to the party, and in the wrong place, at the wrong time, so ya know it was no big surprise, by that year when I finally made it to Hollywood, seeking out competent shag-haired glam punks for my own set to self-destruct before our 15-minute flash metal suicide glitter gang. It was really all over but the pouting, and I hadda get a series of telemarketing and janitorial gigs, sweeping up the silly string and confetti of last year's hairbands!
All the bombshell temptress girlfriends with the come hither, tilted just so police hats, and over blackened hootchie kootchie eyes, had already moved on to gangsta rap or grunge, which was a total buzzkill that I never related to at all, 'just proved the power of corporate media to strongarm any fictitious, manufactured trend or phony narrative upon the masses by overplaying it all day, they did the exact same thing with even more awful boybands two years later, so anyways, in the Hollywood limelite's last gleamings, the purple haired Zeros were like the biggest buzz in town, seemingly poised to make it, at least, as far as Faster Pussycat or L.A. Guns or whoever. They had lines around the block of devoted fans who all formed kooky colored glam groups and copied them slavishly.
RSA Blues - White Knuckle Fever (White Knuckle Fever)
Some explanation is in order - especially for those not watching at home: “RSA” stands for Responsible Service of Alcohol, an Australian rule that puts the onus on bar and pub staff to stop plying punters with booze when they’re as full as a fat lady’s boot. To continue service is to risk a draconian fine and imprisonment in a gulag.
While it’s true some Aussies can’t handle their grog, they’re a minority. That’s OK. We always legislate for the few. If only we were Europeans and could be trusted…
Now you’re wised up, “RSA Blues” is the lead song on a four-track, double seven-inch vinyl effort from White Knuckle Fever, the formidable - and fucking funny - psychobilly blues rock duo from Sydney, Australia. Celia Curtis (vocals, blues harp and burlesque behaviour) and Ross Threekshort (guitar and programming) are one of the best nights out this side of a Scientology building burning down.