GRAHAM STAPLETON Blogger and punter Mermaid Beach, Queensland, Australia
Now, I'm just a punter, not someone you'd all know, but I like my music and you've probably noticed me posting or commenting here or elsewhere, so here's my top 10 of 2020 in no particular order.
1. MONDAY EVENING GUNK A real breath of fresh air for people locked down over the world, great conversations, reviews, and live music streaming to the masses for free, and enjoyed by the few lucky people that could attend the shows.
2. OUTTA SPACE PRESENTS There must be something in the water on the Central CVoast of NSW, 'cause Milly D'Alton and Adam Brzowski and crew have released some great LP"s and 7"s through their label OUTTA SPACE PRESENTSthis year. I've gotta head down to Woy Woy and check out their new venue Link & Pinas well sometime.
3. VINNIE'S DIVE BAR Ha! Who woulda thought in the rundown Crackhead Central of Southport, Queensland, here'd be Resch’s Silver Bullets at a discounted rate (if you know, you know). Wish they still had draught on tap though. Anyway, probably one of the first venues in Australia to welcome back live music, and they've really been "thinking out of the box" by recently opening a record and other merch store in the venue, so grab some cool vinyl whenever you pop in.
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.
Skin and Bones – MD Horne’s Last Call (self released)
Last year’s “Red Dirt Bituman” album was a departure for 300 st clare and Johnny Casino bassist Mark Horne, and his 2021 incarnation MD Horne’s Last Callsounds like another. While “Bituman” headed for the wide open spaces of the Australian bush, framing Horne’s sparse songs against a stark, dry soundscape, “Skin and Bones” hops into a boat and sets sail on folk-punk seas.
“Skin and Bones” is the first track to be released (digitally, natch) from the forthcoming Last Call album, "High Tides, More Crimes", on OuttaSpace Records in Australia and both Folc Recordsand La Villa Nova in Spain.
Saw this Newcastle, NSW, band of older hands at a gig in their hometown and they impressed with their economic, garage-y tuneage after a shaky start hampered by minor sound problems. The venue shut down the headliners early thanks to a non-communicative dickhead from a booking agency but that's another story. It's fitting, therefore, that this EP crams six of songs onto a slice of seven-inch vinyl.
The Not Nots are a trio of Anthony Dean (guitar and vocals), Blake Doyle (drums) and Chris Ryan (bass and vocals) and (like the venue operatots that night) they are fans of brevity.
“Hey Hey Hey” is a minor key opener that reeks of grunge. The staccato “Give It Away” throbs with energy and recalls the post-punk sounds of the UK when the first and second wave of punk had receded. Muffled guitar gives the Husker Du-like “What You Don’t Know” a strangled demo feel that works in spite of itself.
Flip it over and “Default” sounds like Fugazi without that band’s tension. “Small Children (Are The Apocalypse)” surges along with grim chord-age leavened by a surprising “ooh-la-la-la” chorus. “The Little Time We Have” has a chord progression that sounds like it was swiped from Bob Mould when he got airplay. There’s not much of it but what there is sounds good before it runs out of runway. Another winner fromn the folks at Outtaspace.
Stoneage Scomeos - The BotBots (Outtaspace/Wreckless Enterprises)
This really shouldn’t work. A couple of rehearsals and one gig that was truncated for excessive swearing. A by-the-seat-of-the-pants recording session fuelled by beer in a terrace house-cum-studio, four months later. Seven songs in nine minutes. Punk rock, eh?
The buzz of blowflies announces “Engadine Maccas”, a 52-second treatise about an alleged bout of Prime Ministerial diarrhoea in a southern Sydney fast food joint. Apocryphal or not, you don't need to wear brown corduroys to know the song's as funny as fuck. The makers of Imodium need to license it for an ad.
They’ve discarded the keys and horns and are now going around live as a four-piece, but Sydney's Dunhill Blues have lost none of their musty garage charm. “Ronnie Wood” is a jagged guitar figure that's (as far we can make out) a homage to the wayward Stone.
"Ronnie Wood" has a meat and potatoes sound with minimal overdubs and just some buried handclaps and female back-up vocals lightening the attack. Scrappy and fun.
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 Tumbleweedand 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?
There’s an awkward charm to the sound of The Quick Sixes that’s hard to resist. Equal parts twang, space retro blues and garage shimmy, this Geelong quartet is a cross between Brisbane’s late, lamented Hewkawis,The Modern Lovers and Shutdown66 (but with better manners.)
The Gee-troit Sound is long gone but if you think of The Quick Sixes as Barwon Heads Beat you can’t go wrong. It's surf music for the loveless and landlocked. It'll occasionally make you cry into your beer. It's sometime a little loose around the edges, but it's a load of fun. Variety is a by-word, too.
It’s Coming After You EP - Thee Cha Cha Chas (Outtaspace/Hogwild)
It’s a barrage of rough and raucous rock and roll from this one-woman-one-man duo out of Melbourne. Four bracing songs on a seven-inch that sit comfortably in the garage-punk oeuvre without breaking down any barriers. Distortion and dual vocalising, done right.
Thee Cha Cha Chas are Lluis Fuzzhound (also of Intoxica and Midnight Woolf - guitar, drums and vocals) and Kylie Kooks (bass and vocals), and they’ve been carving a place on the Melbourne band scene for about five years. A big burst of touring over 2019-20 had the spreading their word further afield but with that not currently an option, this vinyl EP will do. The title track articulates these crazy times.