hardcore - The I-94 Bar
Hardcore is an odd beast. Visceral energy is its stock-in-trade. All too often it paints itself into a corner and whatever it has to stay is lost in a blur of downstrokes and angry intentions. Then somebody works out that you can play with dynamics and (shock!) melodies.
Perth band Leeches! stand out because they can do both. “Blurred Visions” is compelling, surging punk rock that seethes and burns - but also surprises with its no-nonsense harmonies and skilful playing. It reminds of Massappeal’s more creative stuff or even Off! That’s no faint praise.
Members of this early ‘80s Brisbane band went on to Subsonic Barflies and Splatterheads. Taking their cue from American hardcore, Death of a Nun put down these tracks as demos in 1984-85 and Swashbuckling Hobo has exhumed them - or, in the label’s own words, “reached deep beyond the S-bend”.
This single is very much of its time - an era of repression and extreme prejudice against any music that vaguely resembled punk (whatever that is) and “Brisbane” reflects that. It's two-paced (like the Gabba wicket used to be) and would have passed for sophisticated songwriting in the scene of the time. My guess is that somebody was listening to Minutemen.
Fessin' up first: I didn't much like "Dickcheese" when it originally came out in 1988. You didn't need liner notes to hear the overt heavy metal influences. The album swung from catchy punk-pop with buried melodies to bottom-heavy stoner riffing. There was no lack of energy but the mix sounded muddy and bore little resemblance to the sound of the Hard-Ons live. Many years down the track and all that stylistic bouncing around makes much more sense.
Once upon a time, "Thee" was a prefix designating a pointy shoe-wearing band from the garage that only wanted to party like it was 1966. That it's 2014 and it's being worn by a bunch of hardcore punks Sardinia who have toured of China, South Korea and Japan (on a label from Reno, the Casino Capital of Nevada, USA,) is truly an indication that you can stick your preconceptions where the sun doesn't shine. These days the underground music world is spinning on a different axis.
Not the original EP but a collection comprising it, the bits-and-pieces LP "Hot For Your Love Baby", early singles and live and rare cuts, this is the first of a series of re-issues putting the first 10 years of the Hard-Ons' recordings in one place. We're talking a feast here with this 1984-87 package containing 61 songs and spanning 150 minutes.