Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders' letter from Palookaville delivers home truths

palookaville“…there’s pretty things in Palookaville…” - Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders (Hound Gawd!)

Unless you’re one of the lucky few you won’t have yet heard the latest album from ex-Lazy Cowgirls frontman Pat Todd and his pack of old stagers, The Rank Outsiders. So what’s the point of a song-by-song description? You’ll forget the song titles before you clap ears on the real things, anyway. So let’s dispense with that bullshit and tell you how it will make you feel, instead…

Slap it onto the turntable or whack it into the player. Crank it. Good and loud. The opening G chord of “All The Years #1” kicks in and hangs in the air, and it’s like an old friend just walked in the door with a case of cold beers and a headful of fresh stories. 

It’s all jagged riffs and Todd’s impassioned vocal, urgent and insistent. It sounds immediately familiar, yet fresh, a menu of yarns set to punkish, rootsy rock and blues, basted in minor chords and a harmonica dry rub, and roasted in a slow cooker.

"Loud As Ever" collection captures a time and place

loud as ever coverLoud As Ever – Various Artists (Sound As Ever)

Every generation of music lovers grows up thinking its era was the best. So it goes with those who ploughed through puberty in the ‘90s, a time now digitally immortalised  (as all things are) by a Facebook page, “Sound As Ever”, dedicated to Australian independent music from 1990-99.

“Sound As Ever” is a snapshot of what life looked and sounded like on the fringes of Australian music in the ‘90s. It has an audience of 72,000 Facebook users after just a year. Like any retrospective, some of what’s thrown up is gem-like and some is shite.

Personally, the ‘90s were a letdown: Once the tidal wave of grunge had subsided, it left a lot of mediocrity on the surface and it seemed there wasn’t much Real Rock and Roll left. Bands like the Powder Monkeys and New Christs that were grossly underappreciated at the start of the decade criminally remained so at the end.

Industrial strength riffage from one of Melbourne's best

waiting in a corner coverWaiting in a Corner - Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters (Legless Records)

Ever since The Enlightenment pulled away the fig-leaf of irrationality of religious justification, we’ve convinced ourselves that there is some rational basis for existence, some ultimate purpose to which we are cleaving, some end game of cognitive understanding.

Along the way there have been heated philosophical disputes, heresy trials, corrupted social policy programs, perverse economic theories and the same merry go-round of war, peace, famine and indulgence that has always characterised human history. No wonder Jean Paul Sartre decided to raid the top shelf of his local pharmacy in an amphetamine-ravaged attempt at deconstructing it all.  

Does existentialism belong in rock’n’roll?  According to the press release, Melbourne’s Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters’ new album, “Waiting in a Corner”, “explores the idea of waiting and searching for something that isn’t specific. Just a sense of something coming".

Detroit label puts out the trash - again

trash brats self titledTrash Brats – Trash Bats (I-94 Recordings)

Summa you cool kids might remember I-94 Records out of Detroit (as opposed to I-94 Bar Records out of Sydney, Australia) as the dead savvy tastemakers behind those vital and volatile “Drunk On Rock” compilations. The label introduced loads of underground punk-roll bands, as well as essential full-length releases by Cranford Nix Jr. and the Malakas, the Trash Brats and B-Movie Rats. They are back with the highly influential debut of the Trash Brats first album, previously only available on cassette. In the 80's.

Trash Brats were the most important punk band in the Midwest - part NY Dolls, part Candy, part Teenage Head, poppy, melodic, fun, with notoriously crazy shows known for big energy and wild abandon. Appealing to fans of Sloppy Seconds, Hanoi Rocks, the Dickies, and the Ramones, a Trash Brats concert was where small-town kids travelled to shake ‘n’ shimmy, to get fucked up and jump up and down, try out all their kookiest Alien Sex Fiend and Bat Cave makeup, and to meet all your favorite, lifelong, goth girl pen pals.

Blue collar contrasts make for an enjoyable trip

candy coated cannonball coverCandy Coated Cannonball – Jeremy Porter and the Tucos (GTG Records)

Detroit Rock was never just about the MC5 and the Stooges. Ask a Michigan native and they’re just as likely to nominate Kid Rock or techno as defining. Don’t even start anyone aged over 50 talking about Motown and the myriad of soul labels that sprang up in the ‘60s.

Jeremy Porter and the Tucos sound like none of the above. With origins in the city’s punk underground, the trio’s sound is a mix of power-pop, roots rock, alt-country and twangy blue collar garage. The title of their fourth album, “Candy Coated Cannonball”, is a misnomer – the album’s neither overwhelmingly sticky-sweet or explosive.

“Put You On Hold” is a super opener, a heady burst of gritty guitar, warm Hammond B3 and Porter’s emphatic vocal. It’s a rocking song and a juxtaposition, of sorts, that’s apparent in a lyric like: “Time flies by when the conversation is slow.”

The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs return with a blast

one more drinkOne More Drink – The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs (Dead Beat Records)

Eighteen years after their last record and a quarter of a century since they formed, the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs have roared back to deliver their best yet. A baker’s dozen songs, overflowing with guitar power and pop hooks. “One More Drink” kicks harder than a toddler with a tooth-ache having a sugar-deprived tantrum in the confectionery aisle of a supermarket.

The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs might be named for the Stooges but they’re from Los Angeles, a shiny and often cruel place that coincidentally did the Dum Dum Boys no favours, but they mix so many influences you might wonder which box to put them in. Don’t bother. There’s punk,Motor City jams, Cheap Trick-style pop and new wave, mixed in with Motorhead-flavoured metal, boogie rock and speedcore.

When Wayne Kramer was in the ascendancy as a solo artist in the early ‘90s, the Cheetahs were his touring support and backing band for a spell. Five studio albums, two live records, a split with the BellRays, singles with Cherie Curie and Deniz Tek, and another EP were the fruits of their hard slog before splitting in 2002. 

I-94 Bar