garage rock - The I-94 Bar
A tip for young players: If you want to be popular in the mainstream, don’t name your band The Stinkbugs. Call yourselves The Beetles. Or Beatles, even. Putting it bluntly, stinkbugs stink. Even after you’ve squashed them. No good can come from a pungent odour, even if posthumous.
Don’t ask how this Brisbane band took on the moniker The Stinkbugs or why they named their third long-player “Elysian Fields”. Of course, they'll never be written up in The Courier Mail or asked onto 4BK for a polite chat. And that album title is a reference to the place in classic Greek mythology where heroes went to die. Is this a case of being overly self-referential or just some high-spirited lads getting getting revenge for being kept in after their Ancient History class? You be the judge.
“Elysian Fields” is 12 tracks of typical Stinkbug goodness: Fuzz guitar, sludge bass, plodding drums and ethereal vocals. A little loose, for sure, but unmistakably the work of a psychedelic power trio from the back-blocks of deepest, darkest Brisbane. If you liked their earlier records, you won’t fall out of love on the strength of this one.
Black Interceptor b/w Bee-Music - 50LgE (Rare bone Records)
Ensconced in sub-tropical Far Northern New South Wales - where the hippies are numerous and the sheep would be scared if they weren’t so mellow - 50LgE is a band that clearly likes to do things its own way.
You’d issue your debut single as a 12-inch slice o’ vinyl, right? Cheap to ship (not). Although the included download card is a nod to modern technology, that’s a lot of vinyl to hold two songs and the run-out groove goes forever. 50LgE have their own DJ cranking garage rock tunes between sets, and also boast their own brand of beer. Now you’re talkin’…
First, the intros: This is a garage rock-influenced trio whose number includes ex-The Eastern Dark drummer Geoff Milne, bassist DB (ex-The Tellers - from Brisbane) and guitarist Tone Changer, whose own cv includes a spell in the Psychotic Turnbuckles back when he was a kid. So you know that two of them have had the good sense to get out of Dodge (aka Sydney) and make a tree change.
This Parisian band brags they’ve been “playing garage-blues-punk since 2003” and that’s no mean feat in a city where rock and roll gets simultaneously downtrodden by dance music and high culture.
Two more things in their favour is that they’re on Beast Records, a well-established home for music that flies a ragged freak flag, and “Memories From a Shithole” was produced by expat Detroiter Jim Diamond, the ex-Dirtbombs bassist and sonic master now spending much of his work-time in Montpellier. His credits include the Bellrays, the Fleshtones and the White Stripes so he’s qualified to make this sort of noise.
Whodunit aren’t your standard ‘60s acid punk rehash or two-chord crash-er-rama thrash artists. They don’t play second-rate Serge lounge tunes or bother trying to de-construct the blues. They just go for broke.
You’ll know the sound if you had your head in the game in Sydney after Radio Birdman had left their lasting mark. Two guitars, stand-and-deliver vocals and a good dose of hard rockin’ energy. Tokyo Beef are true to the genre.
Many of us couldn’t get enough of this stuff back in the ‘80s but it’s thin on the ground in today’s Harbour City, which is now a place where the kids would rather get hyped up on hip hop or take a chance on trance. In other news, someone thought they heard some guitar on a mainstream Sydney radio station last week. We don’t need pill testing as much as dill testing, especially when it relates to musical choices.
But it’s not about the kids. Tokyo Beef are anything but. They’re Dad Rock but they’d be too raw to jag a place on a Day On The Green bill - if they were famous as well as superannuated. Beer gardens are their natural habitat. Or small, grimy stages in dark pub rooms where popular interior decorating trends or good old OH&S concerns have done away with the sticky carpet of days gone by.