You can’t replicate the past but you sure can borrow from it. Two founding members of ‘80s Wollongong upstarts Proton Energy Pills have teamed with three younger players to lay down some of their old band’s unrecorded songs and the results are satisfying.
As predecessors to Tumbleweed and the vastly underrated Brother Brick, the Protons lit a fuse under their hometown and made righteous noise on the national touring circuit before falling apart. Three decades on, there was never an intention to release these recordings and their progress to completion was stymied by various health issues. After hearing the fruits of their labour however, original members Dave Curley and Stew Cunningham (he of Leadfinger) thought: Why not?
So a band you’ve probably never heard of, let alone heard, releases its debut 45 and The Barman says it shakes more shit that a dunny carter’s truck on a cobblestone street and therefore you should own it? Best believe it. Four punk rock songs on this baby outta Brisbane, and they’re uniformly raw and energetic.
“Uber To The Penthouse” is perhaps the least developed in that it’s a handful of lyrics wrapped around a riff and the briefest of lead breaks, but it kicks like a motherfucker. Nicko (guitar) is a paint-peeler vocalist and the engine room of Dr Rock (bass) and Tom keep it simple, stupid, and economy is the watchword.
“American Hardcore” b/w “The Deal” (Swashbuckling Hobo)
That these reformed second-wave, southside Brisbane punks actually manage to sound dangerous on new recordings made four decades later comes down to the fact they were more of a Flipper-meets-latter-day-Black-Flag-styled grind than a cheap Pistols take-off, before - in the words of their label - “drugs, death and depression took over”, and they dissolved.
They reformed, more or less intact, a few years ago to play live and promote some re-issues, and these songs are the fruit of a studio session.
Back For More – Rocket Science b/w Sick – Supergrass (Sound Pressing)
This is a double A side to mark the 2020 Australian tour that never was by Brits Supergrass and home-grown psych-garage rockers Rocket Science. COVID killed off that run, which was part of an ambitious world tour by Supergrass. Plans are afoot to make up for that, but for now this offering will have to do…
First to Rocket Science: Roman Tucker's throaty organ and some stop-start fuzz guitar dominate the breathless “Back For More”, recorded live at an in-store at Tym Guitars (R,I.P.) in Brisbane after the release of their fabulous reformation album, “Snake”. It’s a reminder that simple songs are often best - and that the album ruled if you didn’t wrap your ears around it at the time of release.
Sensible Shoes b/w Laughter Lines - Manja and the Maytrons (Robotten Records)
It’s a trio from the UK that plays post-punk-meets-garage-rock on a super-chunky slice of 45rpm splattewred vinyl. “Laughter Lines” is uncompromising with just a glimmer of light in the vocals. Drummer and co-singer Manja and bassist Mark S lock into a hard groove for Neil G to weave a thick layer of distorted guitar over the top. Part sung in German with the balance in English. “Disconcerting” and “different” are good words. So is “unconventional” which is probably the point. “Sensible Shoes” is an odd beast, too, with the bottom-end missing in action and to-and-fro vocal parts. The voices are placed well back in the soundscape in true post-punk style, and it all skids to a sudden stop. Wire springs to mind.
Pain! b/w Wheels on Fire - Smitty & B Goode (Evil Tone)
Been a long time since they rock and rolled in person. Sydney trio Smitty & B Goode isn’t the most prolific act in terms of releases, but they’ve put enforced time off to good use with this power-packed 45. “Pain!” inflicts more pleasure than its title suggests, flipping mild self-loathing on its head. Anger is an energy and Smitty’s assertive vocal and downstroke guitar is set against a fierce sonic brew, “turning gasoiine into a symphony of sound.” Tight as a fish’s, as they say. Flip it over for more of the same garage grit goodness. Carly’s sunny bass-tone suits the up-tempo mood. Succinct and catchy, it’s a short tun of 200 copies so grab yours here while you still can.