Reverse Light Years – Even (El Reno)
This double album features Even at their creative best – a beautifully crafted 17-track, 81 minutes with something for all tastes. It provides a definitive, seminal record for long-time fans and will certainly open the door to new legions.
Ash Naylor is arguably the hardest working “stop and go man” in Oz music. He, (Wally) Roderick Kempton II (bass) and Matt Cotter (drums) make a formidable three-piece. And a durable one.
Double Meaning – The Stinkbugs (Swashbuckling Hobo)
Drop the needle in the groove. Ready? The pedigree tells you a lot: Hekawis and Shutdown66 among prior convictions. So does the opening track, “Atom Bomb”: Extreme fuzz guitar and basic, almost primal production. But don’t lay a bet, just yet...
Just as you have The Stinkbugs pegged and, suddenly, the sound’s stripped right back for two songs, “Don’t Want Me Around” and “Fly”. It’s like someone sucked out all the mid-range with a straw.
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 Horne contains 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.
U – The Undermines (self released)
Bands that echo, without imitating, the sound of Radio Birdman and its precursors are always welcome around these parts. Canberra’s Undermines made an impression with their “Tenzeroeight” album a few years ago and do so again with “U”.
“U” is a five-track CD EP recorded at Infidel Studios in Queanbeyan and positively drips guitars. Understandable, given the band’s lineage, which is drawn from local legends Hell Yes (home to future The Eastern Dark bassist Bill Gibson), Newcastle’s renowned high energy machine The Fools, and local contemporary British Invasion and garage enthusiasts, Il Bruto.
Set Yourself Easy – Kent Steedman (self released)
Adjust your expectations. This is not a collection of Celibate Rifles-styled pyrotechnics -although some (notably, “Lockdown Shuffle” and the title track) could have worked for them.
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that Kent Steedman has never been just about flamethrower rock. His work outside the Rifles has spanned the oblique, avant noise of Crent, the proto-boogie blues of Jim Moginie and the Family Dog, sonic adventurism with the Deniz Tek Group and live shows using Tibetan singing bowls.
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 Sport do 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.