It's been 15 years since I first laid ears on Sweden's Dee Rangers via their mighty "Pretty Ugly Beat" album, so smear me with a bowl of IKEA meatballs and mashed potato for thinking they'd broken up. Au contraire, to mix European languages in an almost Brexit world, they are very muich alive and kicking.
"All You Need Tonight" is album number seven for a band whose membership has stayed largely stable since they formed in the mid-'90s. You'll recognise their influences as soon as you hear their music. Firmly rooted in the '60s but blurring the stylistic boundaries between pop and garage, it's a potent distillation of what made Scandi music great for a very long time.
Don’t be put off by the band name, appropriated as it is from a cheap ‘80s men’s cologne, or the inside cover shot of the group members that drips unadulterated hipsterism. Stripped back Melbourne garage duo Blue Stratos pepper “Diamond Afterlife” with enough primal gems to dazzle the most demanding fencer of stolen jewels.
We all know it’s an imperfect mainstream world especially where we’re talking music - or whatever passes for it in some circles. Danish songwriter Lorenzo Woodrose is fairly well-known on the European festival circuit and at home in Denmark, but his name recognition is close to zilch in most other places. In that perfect musical world for which we all should strive, his moniker would be up there in letters larger and better known than the iconic Hollywood sign.
Woodrose was a drummer for a band called On Trial when he took a ‘60s psych project called Baby Woodrose out of his Copenhagen bedroom with a debut album called “Blows Your Mind” in 2001. It did blow the minds of many critics and was a stunning piece of heavy psych-garage rock.
A long line of albums and band personnel have followed, most of the records on the indefatigable Bad Afro label. One long-player, “Love Comes Down”, cracked the mainstream. Baby Woodrose’s prodigious output ranges from ‘70s space rock to ‘60s-derived garage rock and pop and it’s uniformly excellent. The last full-length album was four years ago.
The DIY ethos is less a gimmick and more a way of life these days for the 99 percent of musicians not enslaved by a major label. It's either practical, necessary or all too easy to hole up in your bedroom and let those ideas pour out onto a hard drive without someone else calling the shots and charging your own money for it.
There's a defiite upside and also a downside. Rattanson is a case in point.
Rattanson is a one-man garage pop multi-instrumentalist from Sweden and "I'd Much Rather Be With The Noise" is his second album under that name. A former member of powerpo act Fanscene and garage rockers The Rawhides, he's gone solo to focus on his own songs.
Rattanson played all the instruments on his first record, 2017's "Full Scale Shakeability", and also on this one except for drums, for which he recruited Anders Björnlund from the Turpentines and the HiJackers. He'll have a bass player in tow to play the songs live.
The Secret Buttons are an outgrowth of The New Invincibles, a Perth band now in the veteran class with 10 years under its collective belt. Like the Invincibles, The Secret Buttons deal in ’60s derived rock and roll via the garage, and this is their debut EP.
It’s often said three-pieces are the perfect configuration for rock and roll because they leave lots of spaces for individuals to do their own thing. The Secret Buttons revel in the trio format. Drummer Dave Rockwell is the common thread between both bands and while The New Invincibles have keyboards, more of a pop bent and a broader aural palette, The Buttons play it straight and mostly go for the throat.
You really don’t want to read another review masquerading as a song-by-song description of an album you’ve never heard? Good. You’re not going to get one.
Drop your preconceptions, too, if you’re a fan of the late great Jim Jones Revue.They’ve been dead and buried for close on three years. His other bands, Black Moses and Thee Hypnotics, have been decomposing in their graves for much longer than that.
They were around for only a year and were well short of being a household name in Australia by the time they played their final note in 1967, but Steve & The Board left a handy collection of recordings in the wake. Legacy label Playback has applied love and diligence to this historical release and more power to them for preserving Australia’s musical past.
Steve & The Board played beat pop, pure and simple. Some of it carries the aroma of a stab at the charts, other songs shows broader love for the hard-edged R&B of the times. Most Australian bands in the mid-‘60s were in the thrall of the British Invasion that had hit the USA and Steve & The Board were no exception. Their recordings aren’t world beaters but have vibrancy and some occasional grit.
Melbourne’s reputation for throwing up more unique bands than Sydney could ever dream of goes from strength to strength on the back of The Pink Tiles. Their second LP is an unabashed mix of girl pop with garage rock and cheap, synth-y sass goodness.
It took the first spin of a promo burn on a road trip to show that The Pink Tiles stood out from the pack. Some proper listens since then have cemented “#1 Fan” as top-shelf pop. The soundtrack to sunny days in a beer garden or on the back porch.
The Pink Tiles kicked off as a bedroom project and grew into the Melbourne pub scene, adding members as they went. There are six members and Ex-Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury is one of them. He produced “#1 Fan” at his own studio and it’s drenched in reverb, with its sharp edges left intact.
Just coming off a scorching Los Chicos’ set on a cruise in Sydney Harbour and looking like a man who had just met God, I hit the concession desk and picked up a copy of this disc. I showed it to The Barman and asked him if he’d reviewed it yet. He had but suggested I did too. So this means a bit of an experiment in reviewing. Without reading the Barman’s review, how different will our opinions be?
Psssssst…..don’t tell anyone but The Monsters may just be the wildest, most uncompromising manic high priests of unhinged and trashy garage rock in the world, or at the least Switzerland. There are a lot of names you can throw up in opposition (Guitar Wolf the most prominent) but I simply won’t believe it until my own abused and bleeding ears tell me so.
Raw garage rock ’n’ roll in the Australian pub rock tradition, with an obvious nod to ‘70s hard rock and the “Pebbles” collection. A record made distinctive by the classic Aussie twin-guitar attack. Those were my first thoughts on this CD from a band made up of members of Psychotic Turnbuckles, Sheik the Shayk and Buffalo Revisited.
It was recorded in Zen Studios, the capital city of Sydney’s inner-western Garageland region, by Geoffrey Lee over seven years, and what hit me straight away is that none of the live intensity has been lost. It captures a raw and live garage/pub band warts, belching and all…I can see a bloke over there who once drunkenly spilt beer on me and that other idiot that pushed me over in the mosh pit. And then I’m lifted up by another and patted on the back…
They might have started as a jokey Stooges tribute act playing Tuesday nights at Cherry Bar while their other bands were on hiatus but Melbourne’s Prehistoric Douche sound just like the sort of garage-surf monster that most underground rocvk and roll scenes need. Sydney could sure do with them.
“Surfing Douche” starts out like a de-railed Lizard Train song, with a rumbling bottom end yielding to dual flick-knife guitars and banshee lyrics about going surfing. There’s a significant debt owed to the early Crusaders and The Freeloaders to these ears (your own results might vary) but whatever way you cut it, it’s seriously good. The ludicrous accapella Beach Boys breakdown just adds to the mayhem.
Never heard of ‘em. The call themselves ‘TRASH-COUNTRY-GARAGE & BLUES-PUNK’ which is … oh, for fuck’s sake, why can’t bands be a little more adventurous and just skip the fucking definitions?
Oh. Cos then audiences won’t know what they’re like, and instead of giving them a twist on Spotify, will skip on to Bachman Turner Overdrive or something equally vile. Also, of course, their name brings up a swag of completely irrelevant sites, so it’s almost impossible to find out anything about these buggers.
With a scant recorded legacy, it would be easy to forget Arctic Circles, a ‘60s-inspired band that kicked around Melbourne’s underground music scene in the second half of the 1980’s. A 45 (“Angel” b/w “My Baby Said That”) and a mini-LP, “Time”, was the sum total until a posthumous live seven-inch on Buttercup Records in 2014.
Six years later, Buttercup has upped the ante with “Full Circle”, a vinyl compilation of Arctic Circles’ entire output, supplemented by live tracks and a bonus CD of demo’s and live cuts. It’s in a limited run of 200 copies.
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.
Dirty-ass R&B twisted into their own nasty, digging thing.
It's awarded five bottles of beer. Maybe more. I’m too busy listening and dancing and making the car dodge those gigantic Woollies trucks.
Fuck this is fun. There’s only two of the buggers, a drummer and a guitarist and yeah, I know. The White fucking Stripes. Boy they were over-rated, weren’t they? Yeah. They were. But The Bonnevilles are the genuine crumbly biscuit, all warm and fuzzy from the hearth. Hearth?
Originally a member of South American garage band Los Peyotes, Rolando Bruno is now a solo artist in his own right. He’s peddling the weirdest brew of salsa-garage-exotica heard outside of an Buenos Aires coke den.
Los Peyotes were on Dirty Water Records. Rolando dipped his toe in the solo artist water while still with them. Voodoo Rhythm Records is his new home. The label has a habit of signing weird and wonderful one-man bands (case-in-point: its owner Beat-Man) and Bruno is no exception to the rule.
Bubblegum gets a bad rap. The name infers something sweet and insubstantial that loses its taste after a short time and gets spat out. If you agree, adjust your biases, wind your body clock back to 1966 and lap up The Setting Son, a fully-realised retro treasure from Denmark.
If de-constructed blues-garage rock pared back to its most basic elements is what you crave, here’s the album. “Best of Crime Rock” is all that and a bit more and one of the sneakiest records to seep out in 2017.
Stealthy, not because it’s mostly re-recorded versions of songs the band has committed to tape before, but for the way the music creeps up and embeds itself in your ears. There’s a dash of unhinged blues, a slice of funk and some pop in Chain and the Gang’s cooler-than-thou schtick that sets the band apart from almost any other.
The debut album “Party Girl” made it blatantly apparent that London soul-rockers The Dustaphonics had it all over their competition on a couple of fronts. Not only did they have a killer vocalist in San Franciscan expat Kay Elizabeth but a consummate engine room to drive the songs. Album Number Two finds them with a new singer and an interchangeable rhythm section.