soul - The I-94 Bar
There was a time when everybody wanted to be in the Cramps and Voodoobilly was a thing. As is the nature of trends, some excelled and many bands were terrible at it. Generally speaking, harking back to rock and roll’s earliest roots (which is all the Cramps were doing in their own extreme way) was a good thing to do because it opened up so many ears.
It’s all in the beat and although Papa Pilko and The Binrats want to bury themselves deep in a swamp they sound like they’ve washed up on the shores of Lake Michigan, somewhere near the Windy City. Not that this is a bad thing. Chicago Blues is cool to revel in and this Sydney six-piece immerse themselves deep. Remember, it’s all just labels anyway and there’s even a lashing of outlaw country stirred into the musical mix.
Melbourne’s reputation for throwing up more unique bands than Sydney could ever dream of goes from strength to strength on the back of The Pink Tiles. Their second LP is an unabashed mix of girl pop with garage rock and cheap, synth-y sass goodness.
It took the first spin of a promo burn on a road trip to show that The Pink Tiles stood out from the pack. Some proper listens since then have cemented “#1 Fan” as top-shelf pop. The soundtrack to sunny days in a beer garden or on the back porch.
The Pink Tiles kicked off as a bedroom project and grew into the Melbourne pub scene, adding members as they went. There are six members and Ex-Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury is one of them. He produced “#1 Fan” at his own studio and it’s drenched in reverb, with its sharp edges left intact.
You wouldn’t know it from the cover but “Rat On!” (1971) is a more polished production effort than Swamp Dogg’s debut from a year earlier, “Total Destruction To Your Mind”. Recorded at legendary studio Muscle Shoals, that’s where the conformity ends. “Rat On!” finds Swamp right in the pocket with a muscular rhythm section and a subversive feel.
Is it really a surprise in 2015 to hear rocking garage soul that has its origins in the UK played better than almost anyone else around by a band that comes from Auckland in New Zealand? Meet Thee Rum Coves.
These guys (and girl) should be the toast of the summer festival circuit in Europe. They deserve to fill the vacuum left by the demise of The Jim Jones Revue. Thee Rum Coves have everything going for them for a shot at success in Europe…except geography. Not that this should matter.
Their legacy was just two LPs and a stack of singles but Fixed Up’s punky and soulful garage rock touched people in their native France and all the way around to the other side of the world in Australia.
A lot’s been made about the Sydney-Detroit connection, mainly through Radio Birdman and its now fading local musical legacy. The irrefutable fact was that Birdman and its associated influences ruled the Sydney roost in the early 1980s. As true as that was, you can make a strong case for the affinity between Australia and France being almost as important, once the Sydney underground scene started to diversify and expand.
The Franco-Ausstralian link was made when John Needham, chief of seminal Sydney label Citadel Records, started dealing with the likes of Sonics Records in France. Suddenly, there was a pipeline for Australian bands to have their music heard on the Continent - meaning outside the UK where the perpetually jaded music press briefly adopted Aussie arty pop, junkie rock and the swamp sound for a time.