Thirty years late, Lovergrinder births an album

lovegrinderLovegrinder The Album – Lovegrinder (self released)

There’s a popular theory - perpetuated by a few fans of Junkie Rock from Australia’s southern state's capital city – that the so-called salad days of Sydney underground rock and roll were a farrago based on an overdose of second-rate Radio Birdman copyists. 

Call it a typically defensive Sydney response but while the "Detroit" handle became a tag of convenience, most of the Harbour City’s bands of the 1980s/early ‘90s had tenuous musical links to the Birdmen. There was a handful of short-lived clones, but for the vast majority it was the energy and undeniable fuck-you-we’ll-do-what-we-want attitude of the Radios that were the hand-me-downs, and not their unique, impossible to replicate mutated musical mix.

Which brings us to Lovegrinder, yet another in the long line of Sydney bands that never progressed higher than the lower support rungs of the very crowded local live scene ladder. Not that there’s any great shame in that. For many, headlining the Tivoli or Selina’s wasn’t the goal because they had no interest in being on the rosters of the omnipotent Dirty Pool, Nuclear or Harbour booking agencies. Playing music was more about knocking around with their mates, consuming beers (or something illicit) and having a good time.

These streets are paved with dirt

rough and tumbleRough And Tumble - The Dirty Streets (Alive Naturalsound)

They might not realise it but Califonian label Alive Naturalsound have cornered the market in hirsute bands playing psych-laced, Southern fried boogie rock with a dash of soul. The Dirty Streets might be the label's archetypal flag-fliers.

They lack the massive guitar jam excesses of Radio Moscow, the rustic dryness of the early Black Keys or the home-grown stoner full-tilt boogie strut of Left Lane Cruiser (all of them label mates, past or present) but The Dirty Streets share the same zipcode.

Hot chicks and big riffs

the dirty denimsReady Steady Go - The Dirty Denims (Ghost Highway Recordings)

Hello Barflies! Well folks, The Farmhouse windows have been getting a battering from some great fucking rock 'n' roll from The Netherlands. The Dirty Denims have released their third album (with a couple of EPs before that) and what a dead-set heavy hitter it is.

"Ready Steady Go" is, from the opening self titled track to the very last song, a killer. Miriam Sieben (vocals and piano), Jeroen Teunis (guitars), Suzanne Driessen (drums and sexiness) and Marc Eijkhout (bass) have definitely let all their influences come into the studio with them. Think early AC/DC meets The Runaways with a dash of Ramones and Nashville Pussy.

There's no taming this Beast

pussycat beastBeast - Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons (Hound Gawd) 

There’s more fuzz on this than a box of rotting fruit in a share house kitchen. Two guitars, drums, no bass, simple punk rock songs and Puss Johnson’s tuneful, yet in-your-face, vocal is a monstrously good combination.

“Beast” is 12 songs by a UK band with a venomous sound on a German label. Who says Brexit is a thing? 

The back story is that guitarist Dirty Jake formed the band in 2002 but it took eight years to find Puss Johnson’s vocal and a more or less settled line-up. Two years later, their bass player was given the flick and The Dirty Johnsons continued as a trio. So they pre-date Amyl and The Sniffers - who are an obvious comparator - by a fair stretch. 

The Explosive sound of Swedes with loud guitars

doojiman epWatch Out! Look Out! - Doojiman & The Exploders (Heavy Medication)

Dunno about you but Scandirock was thicker on the ground in these parts in the 1990s than dandruff at a record collector fair. Doojiman & The Exploders are from Sweden and use a simple recipe of punk guitars from the garage, a sackful of strong songs and buckets of phlegm to attitude to rock the house down.

You gotta to be good to steal the title of a Stooges outtake as the name of your band and Doojiman & The Exploders are. There are traces of The (early) Hives, a less metal-ly Gluecefier and the venerable ‘Copters, sans six-string histrionics, on this 45rpm, nine-track slice of vinyl.

Wire continues to challenge with new music

mind hiveMind Hive - Wire (Pinkflag)
10.20 - Wire (Pinkflag)

First to the Rolling Rock ratings: "Mind Hive" gets a mighty seven bottles, and "10.20", six out of a possible five each... That's because I'm being stingy. Both these new Wire albums are series of pieces you simply play over and over. Then return to.

The only comparison I'll make today is that "Mind Hive" reminds me of Hugo Race's recent "Starbirth" - both seem compelled to take a long, personal view of where we are and, with mesmeric power and grace, both give us a view refracted from the apparently oblivious mainstream. We're in a state of flux, with numbed and shaved antennae.

Ranking right up there

snatches of pink love is deadLove is Dead - Snatches of Pink (8th House Records) 

This dude, Michael Rank, from Chapel Hill should be a big star by now, but you know how the sickeningly sucks shit, corporate muzak-biz only promotes sold soul, formulaic garbage pop, nowadays. His outstandingly funky solo CDs and various wild and sensual rocknroll bands (Snatches Of Pink, Clarissa and Stag) have made summa the most under-rated and soulful rocknroll of our generation.

He's a farmer, a father, a badass guitar player, a ballet dancer, and one of my favorite rocknroll vocalists, with a voice that is sometimes reminiscent of Jakob Dylan's whispery folkish croon, or naked and vulnerable as Curtis Mayfield or D'Angelo, or as dirty-beautiful, get-down raunchy, first take, Marlboro belligerent and untamed as Bryan Small or Alice Cooper. He's one of Murkkka's only remaining rockers who can sit at the same end of the bar as most of our Australian brethren.

With touring on ice, Hugo Race turns inward

hugo race ts live

Starbirth/Stardeath - Hugo Race and the True Spirit (Gusstaff Records)

Hugo Race: Troubadour, manic perpetuum mobile and musical engine, was fortunate enough to be in his home town of Melbourne while the global pandemic unfolded, trapping him in a world he never made. Gigs were cancelled around the world, his plans spun away...and he turned inward.

Then, outward. Even after the first few songs, it seems clear that Hugo is looking for some sort of reinvention, a crossing of a Rubicon. "Starbirth/ Stardeath" definitely marks a new phase.

Alright, for the uninitiated, I could cite Race's lengthy rep: noted spark in Melbourne's late 1970s and early '80s underground; former Bad Seed (on what is arguably Nick Cave's most sonically extreme album); leader of The Wreckery, and his own True Spirit; writer of books, soundtracks, and songs for other people and songs for us...but that tells you little.

The Church of Spontaneity

eleven womenEleven Women - Steve Kilbey (Foghorn)

COVID’s pervasive impact forced Steve Kilbey to suspend the piecemeal process of assembling another Church album and instead make a solo record. It was done on the fly and from the ground up. 

Equipped with a loose but strong batch of songs, a modest budget delivered by PayPal from intimate online shows and willing collaborators in guitarist-bassist Gareth Koch, Roger Mason from the very borning Icehouse on keys and Barton Price (of the Models, Sardine v, Flaming Hands et al) on drums, Kilbey and His Winged Heels delivered “Eleven Women” in just three days.

Boozzies impress with their toast to the coast

living up the coastLiving Up The Coast – Space Boozzies (Outtaspace Records)
 
Short, sharp guitar bursts tempered by occasional sax and lots of singalong choruses. These Space Boozzies have their punky garage sound nailed on “Living Up The Coast”, their second long player in eight months, and it’s now tighter and harder. 

The 12 songs here reek of irreverence, stale beer and stained footy shorts – as befits a band from the New South Wales Central Coast.

For those not in the know,  The Coast is a place just an hour north of Sydney’s festrering rat race where the backyard barbecues burn brightly most weekends and the living is relatively easy - even when welfare dependence is high.

I-94 Bar