fuzz - The I-94 Bar
Double Meaning – The Stinkbugs (Swashbuckling Hobo)
Drop the needle in the groove. Ready? The pedigree tells you a lot: Hekawisand Shutdown66among prior convictions. So does the opening track, “Atom Bomb”: Extreme fuzz guitar and basic, almost primal production. But don’t lay a bet, just yet...
Just as you have The Stinkbugs pegged and, suddenly, the sound’s stripped right back for two songs, “Don’t Want Me Around” and “Fly”. It’s like someone sucked out all the mid-range with a straw.
Stuck firmly in a time warp of their own making, Brisbane’s The Stinkbugs make music that bears no relation to anything you’ll hear on mainstream radio or oh-so-limp reality TV shows. Fuzzy ’n’ frothy, psychedelic garage rock is their stock in trade.
With a lineage that includes membership of Shutdown66 and the Hekawis, The Stinkbugs mix their ’60s acid punk with their ‘70s hard rifferama to come up with their own distinctive, odd sound. This is their second album (with a couple of fine singles in-between) and veers between trashy lo-fi ragers and cloudy, acid-washed trips.
They’ve spent years trying to smell like rotting prawns in a hot European sun and on their newest album, the succinctly titled “M”, Swiss garage-trash combo The Monsters can finally lay claim to being tighter than a fish’s arse.
“M” celebrates 30 years of fuzz mania with a dozen songs of dubious intent that are delivered with grim precision. Some of this stuff makes a Helmet record sound sloppy, You couldn’t insert a cigarette paper between the furious boogie riffing of “Dig My Hair” or the dramatic “I Don’t Want You Anymore” if you tried (although why you’d want to do that is beyond me.) At the same time, The Monsters manage to sound unpolished.
You know exactly what he’s gonna say: Sydney reviewer gets pissed off at the excess of musical talent in rival city Melbourne. Gets all angsty and laments The Good Old Days when Sydney more than held a candle to Melbourne. You’re partly right.
Cutting to the chase…Claire Birchall IS one of those uber talents from “down south” who grew up in the fertile Geelong scene and now lives in Melbourne. She plays everything from beatbox-backed pop to lean and mean rock. Genres are just a vehicle for the songs. “Nothing Ever Gets Lost” is a gnarly, blues-rock album.
The purple and blue cover art deceptively looks like one of those “Back From The Grave” acid punk compilations. The music, however, is fuzzy and warm and glows from the inside. There’s a great sense of dynamics and Birchall’s voice resonates with character and a world-weary charm.
What a strange, fuzz-drenched trip this boy-girl duo from Naples in Italy take us on. The Devils are as basic as rock and roll comes, playing music that’s stripped barer than a Christmas leg ham in a tankful of piranha.
The story goes that Voodoo Rhythm honcho Beat-Man was in the same French studio as The Devils when Jim Diamond was recording this, their first album. It was love at first listen and Beat-Man had a pen and a contract in their hands quicker than you can say: “Fuck me, that shit sounds distorted.”
Admit defeat when you see it: The groovy font and blue-on-blue titling on this album made reading the song names impossible for ageing eyes. Fortunately, you don't need to know the name of a track to dig it. On with the review...
The Dunes are a young band with Adelaide playing on old style of drone-y, fuzz-laden, psychedelic rock. Their songs are dark and blissful at the same time. Played at stun volume, they're deeply engaging. Reverb-laden girl and guy vocals, winsome organ and shimmering, tuned-down guitars, It's easy to get lost in the flow.
There are nine songs - two of them are the same one ("The Intergalactic chic Drifters Inn Welcoming Centre Theme Song Pts 1 and II") placed as book-ends at the start and finish - and they all hover around the six or seven-minute mark. If you, too can't work out the titles, their Bandcamp pagewill help. It doesn't really matter. They're all outstanding.