Pull up a well-worn comfy chair

a chance to relax cvrA Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk – The Smart Folk (self released)

With a changing of the political guard in Australia, we’ve been assailed with talk about a new, genteel and respectful way of doing business in the Federal Parliament - as if none of the fuckers are going to revert to type and we won’t end up with the same shit-fight on our hands. It’s just as well that 90 percent of the population doesn’t give a rat’s arse.

Rock and roll may be similarly set in its ways, but there are band chosing different pathways to tread. Sixties-derived pop with a jangling edge is where Sydney’s The Smart Folk chose to reside and they're making their mark in their own way.

“A Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk” is the latest EP from this band of ex-mod scene regulars and if it doesn’t wrap you in a stranglehold and impress with its urgency and energy, that’s fine. It’s mid-paced, obviously freakbeat-influenced guitar pop that has a warm charm – maybe more so than the records that have come before.

Lightheavyweight 2 is a contender

lightheavyweight2 cvrLightheavyweight 2 - Jack Howard (self released)

Jack Howard

Trumpet player. One of the guys in the Hunnas horn section. And The Horns of Contempt.

Who's been playing with Midnight Oil a lot over the last few years. Special gigs with X, a few with Hunnas, but ... you know. Day job, kids ... who has time to be creative these days?

Jack can't let go of the creative bug. In between all those suburban things, he's been doing solo material, working with the band Epic Brass (a sight to behold) ... good, God, there are 15 releases on his Bandcamp page! 

Howlin' with some help from their friends

of the sea cvrOf The Sea – Howlin’ Threads (Meinshaft Records)

An EP with a generous serving of guests, “Of The Sea” is nothing if not true to Howling Threads’ Detroit-via-Darlinghurst musical roots. Which sits just fine around these parts.

If you don’t know already, Howlin’ Threads is a trio whose members are located in and around Canberra and Wollongong. Dylan Thomas (guitar and vocals) and drummer Adam Fermo were in notable Newcastle band The Fools in the ‘90s while bassist Matt Houston was briefly in Tumbleweed.

Spreading Fear and Loathing

super spreader cvrSuper Spreader - Fear and Loathing (EC Productions)

So, to Adelaide's Fear and Loathing, an outfit who described themselves as "punk" way back in 1981 (or whenever the hell it was) and who are still standing, and who are also still punks (I've seen their toilet, it's STILL revolting). Now, as guitarist and maestro Chris Wiley once explained to me, for a long time FAL were fun but not very good. But, because they kept going and no-one stopped them, they "accidentally" became good.

To see Fear and Loathing (especially in Adelaide) is to witness what the past should have been, and what the future might be. I've seen the band a number of times, and every now and then I spend an entire night hypnotised by one member - for example, Terry, whose complex drum style and ferocity has to be witnessed to be believed, is utterly captivating.

Not this time out, however. "Superspreader" is brilliant, feral and ferocious, all jagged fucked edges and scraping vocals, pounding rhythm section that resembles a couple of out-of-control road trains (Hermann Lauss and Terry Rowe) and everybody's favourite, a twin-guitar assault meted out by Chris Wylie and Sean Tilmouth.

The quality of mercy is not The Strains

the strains cvrThe Strains – The Strains (No Solution Records)

Rock and roll is usually at its best when kept simple and played hard. Detroit’s Euro-American outThe Strains know this well and deliver in spades.fit 

With a bloodline that includes membership of Dark Carnival, Euro punks Dumbell and The Nitwitz, Cult Heroes and backing bands for Andre Williams and Cub Koda, you should have more than an inkling that it’s going to be good. I’m happily here to tell you it’s much better than simply good.

Recorded live in the studio with minimal overdubs, ”The Strains” is a no-nonsense instant classic. This band’s powered by a twin cab, heavy-duty engine room and armed with sawtooth twin guitars and attitude. Paul Grace-Smith spits out a dozen songs full with an anthemic, street savvy edge. These are stories about the streets and their populace. No bullshit. 

Marching out to Aussie pop's beat

marching out of time cvrMarching Out of Time – Various Artists (Popboomerang)

With 115 releases to its credit, Melbourne’s Popboomerang is as an amazing independent record label success story and a beacon for under-the-radar Australian pop. Presuming, of course, that success is measured in quality music and not sheep stations.

The labels been a long-time labour of love for owner Scott Thurling and that passion makes his decision to close it down, at least for now, all the more noteworthy. In his own words:

Being locked up can do funny things to you! I will admit to feeling a little frustrated on July 24, 2021, when I made the announcement to end Popboomerang Records. The news might have been a surprise to some, but it was one I had been contemplating for a while.

Covid-19 challenges to running a label were the tipping point after 18 months of cancelled live events and the gigantic increases in the price of international postage which was making exporting almost impossible.I had also recently established a new record label, Sound As Ever 90-99, focussing on Australian ’90’s indie music, which was taking off, and it felt impossible to do justice to both ventures at the same time.

I-94 Bar