Hiss & Crackle Records, Wallsend Old-school record shop with an owner who knows what you wanna hear before you’ve heard it; limited-edition local releases, live in stores and shitloads of support for non-mainstream artists.
Celia Curtis’s (White Knuckle Fever, Stone Cold Fox)highly entertaining live stream and Facebook performances They kept us Covid-sane.
Tequila-based beer. For when you’re torn between a frothy and and a marg, and Umina BWS shuts at 8pm on a Sunday.
Thee Cha Cha Chas and Fuzztoon Studios They released a spookily prophetic 7” (‘It’s Coming After You’), always smiling despite hardcore Melbourne lockdown. And Lluis’s prolific art kicked 2020’s arse.
PETER ‘ROSSY” ROSS Celebrity Roadie, Jupiter 5 bassist Sydney, Australia
This is a list of things that have caught my eye in 2020 - in no particular order.
WHITE KNUCKLE FEVER Everybody’s favourite two piece have been kicking goals all through the year culminating with a new double single release that is killer. Ross and Celia are not only hard working but one of the funniest bands in Sydney.
OUTTASPACE RECORDS Milly and Adam have been working their rings out throughout the year, releasing high quality record after record. It’s been great watching the rise of their Central Coast colossus. Now they’ve even got their own venue in Woy Woy, The Link and Pin! Honourable mention also goes to Wreckless Enterprises.
LIVE MUSIC OFFICE Sydney’s dormant live music scene won’t return overnight to prominence, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Blokes like John Wardle, and his team, have been pushing for legislative support and reforms to remove the barriers to get live bands into back into venues. They’re kicking some goals and it would be remiss to not acknowledge their massive efforts.
MONDAY EVENING GUNK Live from the little venue that tried, Sydney’s version of CBGBs The Moshpit, MEG was one of the bright spots in a difficult year. Driven by The I-94 Bar’s Barman and Jill “Force of Nature” Dures, it was one part history lesson, Rockwiz knock-off, Molly Meldrum’s Humdrum and a live gig packed into a one hour live stream for 10 weeks… a garage rock version of Countdown if you like. A technical conundrum handled with style by Zac Ruokari from Zenn Streaming, the show was fun to be involved with and we can only hope it gets another airing in 2021.
Self-consciously retro rock and roll bands can be a real problem. There are ones that overplay their hand and fall back on gimmicks. They almost always have a name with “Thee” appended to the front. And then there are those that apply their three chords with genuine regard for where the music emanated.
Plastic Sectionis part of a loose Melbourne aggregation of bands in the latter category; their peers are The Breadmakers, The Vibrajets and The Cha Cha Chas.Each faithfully plunders the past while applying their own take.
Dawn of the Braindead – The Owen Guns (Outtaspace Records)
Excuse the sneaky little Zappa-ism but does humour belong in punk music? You betcha. Australian punks The Owen Gunsare prima facie evidence.
They may know them from their previous EP or from their song about Donnie Trump beinbg repeatedly pulled from YouTube. If not, here's a nice way to make their acquintance.
Hailing from Sydney and its sometimes awkward cousin city Wollongong and with roots in a bevy of old school punk bands, the four-piece Owen Guns deliver a dozen powerful and puerile tunes on their debut album on Outtspace.
If burning down churches, stomping on racist skinheads and putting the Doc Marten into Bono ain’t your things, better break out your Leonard Cohenbox set, adjust your chakras and do whatever it is that’s done with patchouli.
High Tides, More Crimes – MD Horne (Outtspace/FOLC/La Villa Nova)
Only a shit stirrer would start a review of an album with the rhetorical question: “How do you know you’re getting old? You start listening to bush bands”. Guilty as charged – on the shit stirrer charge, that is. Lock me up.
Yes, the second solo album from Sydney’s MD Hornecontains mandolin, didgeridoo, his own bass, a sprinkling of bush balladry, and even a sea shanty of sorts but, thankfully, no lagerphone. It’s also damned good.
At Least We’ll Always Have Rock n Roll to Fall Back On – Drugs in Sport (Outtspace)
Effervescent and tough guitar rock-pop from Newcastle, Australia, will not be the Next Big Thing for the nmatiomnal yewf network Triple J. But it can be in your own listening space, and here’s the proof.
Drugs in Sportdo cranked-up guitar pop exceedingly well. It’s a genre that’s been milked and relegated to the mainstream’s back blocks in favour of sanitised, autot-uned pap. Anthony (bass), Errol (vocal and guitar), Geoff(guitar) and Jez(drums) apply their own twist. You can’t beat humans playing real instruments, especially (even if) they’re, ahem, older chaps or lasses.