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Archived singles reviews

THE UNBRAIN/WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND? - Jed Whitey b/w ROLL OUT THE ROCK - Ironboss (Out of the Loop)
More wonderful oddball/speedball rock from Perth's Jed Whitey. These guys have forgotten more than most bands know about dynamics and if the time changes don't get ya, the high octane guitars will. "The Unbrain" is typical of their smart-dumb guitar attack, just the rock side of speedcore. With one of the Jed Whiteys now living on the East Coast, gigs and recording sessions are far between, which makes it all the more amazing that they've accrued almost two albums worth of EP and split-single material. Can't say I'm a big fan of what I've heard from Maryland machismo band Ironboss - Chris Rhoten's vocal flourishes have too much of a touch of the metals about them for me and soem of their tunes sound like Guns & Roses - but "Roll Out the Rock" is their best offering I've heard to date. (Damn shame the split single plays at 33rpm - it might make for better sound but it won't spin on my Rockola). - The Barman

 

1/2


PULL YOUR HEAD IN b/w LANDSLIDE DEFEAT/TUNNEL OF MY LOVE (Rabbit/Out of the Loop)
The Critics are a four-piece from Perth who apparently moved to Melbourne to further their career. The vocals have an ever-so-slight English agitpop/punk flavour but the guitars are doing their best to convince you otherwise. There's nothing fey or flash about this - it's the sound of a sweaty, hard-working Oz pub band and it sounds pretty cool. These guys would do well on a bill with The Naked Eye. The dead giveaway where the Critics and their brand of buzzy guitar pop comes from is the respectable Sunnyboys cover on the B side, and that ain't a bad thing. - The Barman

 

 


ADAM WEST DIGS SCANDINAVIAN CHICKS: WE'RE INSIDE b/w CRUISER - Adam West (Bootleg Booze) Wahington D.C.'s favourite sex magnets cover tunes by two all-girl Scandinavian bands. "We're Inside" is an ode to ligging by Thee Ultra Bimbos and odds are that the Adam Westers wished they were, uh, "inside" when they first clapped eyes on these fine-looking Finn fillies. Fuelled by Steve's stinging lead guitar and Jake's over-the-top vox, it rocks at a cracking pace. For the record, it was put to tape by Steve Baise (ex-Devil Dogs). Flip is a straight-ahead tune by Norway's Mensen that has a distinct Dead Boys flavour, and dates from a previous line-up of Adam West with Kevin Hoffman providing the guitar fireworks. Adam West walk the line between metal and punk that some will find hard to warm to. I reckon its stands up to repeated playings. Bootleg Booze is a label that obviously cares about its packaging. This is done nicely.
- The Barman

 

1/2


KINKY PUSSY b/w WE LOVE ROCK AND ROLL/BERMUDA - The Jerry Spider Gang (Aaargh Records)
More quality punk rock and roll from the theatrically-inclined four-piece Jerry Spider Gang from France. "Kinky Pussy" is apparenntly off their "Dope Takin' Kamikazes" long player and is a simply-structured song that roars with the momentum of a runaway truck. No idea (well maybe a little) what the lyrics are about but the vocals are buried anyway. Not a million miles away from, say, Hoss. The lead-off song on the flip is another band composition with their trademark guitar attack supplemented by a harp and keyboards. "Bermuda" is the Roky song, delivered with more of a punch. Excellent stuff! - The Barman




JUST TURN ON b/w THE BEDROOM ANALYST/ I LOST MY HEAD - The Intercontinental Playboys (Larsen Records)
These well-travelled Sydney garage scenesters do the voodoo/acid punk thing with more panache than most, managing not to sound dated or fixated on being hip. They're aren't many doing it better in their hometown. "Just Turn On" didn't grab me right away but some nice guitarwork and the always cool vox of Tom had me hitting the jukebox's replay button. "The Bedroom Analyst" ups the rocking tempo while "I Lost My Head" invites available women into the Playboys' bachelor flat to wrestle with a throbbing bassline, I think. If you're a fan of their debut mini-album, look this up. Hopefully the band will secure a few to sell locally because Larsen releases are a little thin on the ground in Australia. The jukebox on the cover looks like mine. - The Barman





ONE TRICK PONY/COLD COMFORT - Jed Whitey b/w CRANK IT UP/STOP RUNNING AROUND - The Retardos (Out of the Loop)
We've already raved about Perth three-piece Jed Whitey who delivered one of the freshest-sounding Australian albums in 2002 with "Mongoloid Cage Match". The Whiteys keep 'em guessing with tempo changes and enough elements of hardcore, punk and heavy metal to keep everyone happy. "One Trick Pony" is from their debut disc and captures them well, while "Cold Comfort" is a Poison Idea song that cranks along like the clappers but doesn't floor me. The Retardos are a surprise package - a Norwegian four-piece who play a similar style as Jed Whitey, imbueing it with a little more melody. Fear not - there's no way they're going to be labelled pop. Great sound, great songs and obviously worth investigating. - The Barman


1/2


GOTTA BE b/w MECHANICAL GIRL - The Danger Men (Wild Eagle)
More ultra-lo-fi stuff from Brisbane, this time in the guise of a relatively new five-piece called The Danger Men. On first listen, I didn't know how to take this. "Gotta Be" plods along and sounds like it's at risk of falling apart and Zoltane the Maniac's vocals strike me like a flat Iggy. "Mechanical Girl" is a bit more together but is by no means polished (which I suppose is the attraction for most). Production is uncredited - which is no surprise as this could be from a rehearsal room. OK, but not as arresting as labelmates the Busymen (with whom they share their drummer). Still, drummer Muchos Larmos Dangeros' handwritten label note is classic: "Enjoy this beer-coloured platter as much as I enjoy platter-coloured beer". - The Barman

 

3/4


MONDO GO-GO b/w SCARABESQUE - Boss Beat and the Ray Guns (Boss Beat)
Didn't quite know where to file this review and it was nothing to do with the music - it's a double A sided single from a relatively new Sydney band but it's not on vinyl, only CD. Boss Beat and the Ray Guns are good-time '60s beat with freakbeat overtones. They occasionally collaborate with the multimedia roadshow that is the Sounds of Seduction. The line-up is singing drummer Boss Beat with keyboards, bass and guitar. "Mondo" is a little cheesy and would sit well on the next Austin Powers soundtrack (gotta love the French chick flight announcement) while "Scrarabesque" is from the freakbeat end of the dial. Michael Carpenter co-produced at Stagefright and it sounds great. Someone put these guys on a festival (indoors, preferably) with Hands of Time, the Hekawis, Shutdown 66 and the Intercontinental Playboys! Available from the band's website. - The Barman




RUN OUT OF WATER b/w REAL COOL TIME - Deniz Tek (Undead)
Don't let this pass you by. Both are live tracks, the former from a sizzling Deniz Tek Group show in Rome in 1996 and the flip from another hot show from '92's Vertical tour of Australia. This take on "Run Out of Water" is two steps removed from the studio version that graced Deniz's comeback album (and was lifted from a desktape, hence the prominence of the vocal), but boasts scorching guitarwork by the Iceman and then-DTG member Kent Steadman. "Real Cool Time" features an actual Stooge in drummer Rock Action and is suitably satisfying, albeit abbreviated and with one guitar only in the mix. A limited pressing and hard-to-find, but drop Birdman Bowen an e-mail and he might be able to secure you a copy before the remnants of the pressing find their way onto eBay at much-inflated prices.
- The Barman

 

 


NUTTIN' FOR CHRISTMAS b/w JINGLE BELLS - The Vindictives (Stardumb)
I must have been a very bad boy last year because this is what Santa left. The B side is a predictable version of the traditional Xmas toon that's OK-ish, while the A is an original by these Chicago friends of Screaching Weasel. It's jokey punk that slides into a smutty punchline - no offence taken lads but it's not as witty as the Celibate Rifles' "Merry Xmas Blues". Next time I want to clear the room of boring relo's at a Xmas get together, I know what I'll slap on the turntable. The cover features a cartoon of Santa about to be reamed by a lady wearing a black strap-on. - The Barman


 


THE BIG SMOKE AND MIRRORS b/w MY WAY OR THE FREEWAY - Fourstroke
(Out of the Loop)

This three-piece from Perth know "stoner" is a silly tag with overtones of a lack of energy, so they go out of their way to distance themselves from it on the prominent cover notes on this, their second release and first for Off the Loop. Instead, they make reference to early Sabbath, Deep Purple, the MC5 and AC/DC (but miss out on namedropping Blue Cheer and the Pink Fairies, which would have been just as legitimate). This is mighty stuff, powerful as sin and fuelled by Adam Sciullo's powerful drumming and twin guitars played by Simon Stefanoff and Luke Margetic through bass rigs. It's a great little slab of black plastic with which to greet 2003 and the best new thing to assail these ears so far. - The Barman

 

 


AN HOUR'S DRIVE IN A SANDMAN PANEL VAN b/w ROCK AND ROLL RECORDS - Danny McDonald (Pop the Balloon Records)
Danny's the Australian ex-mainman in P76 and Jericho and this is his debut single, on a French label. "An Hour's Drive..." is timeless, lilting pop, played unplugged, and sits pretty well in the Australian powerpop canon. "Rock and Roll Records" brings the full band into play and is a stone classic, getting along on the back of a catchy-as-hell "do-do-do-do-do" chorus and tasty but never overbearing guitars. This one went straight on the jukebox and is still there. Think DM3 (whose principal member Dom Mariani has amicably taken his place in the Stoneage Hearts) or P76's "headed Straight for the Sun " and you won't be far wrong. In summary: summery sounds.
-
The Barman




A PLACE IN RENO b/w TELL TALE HEART - Tennessee Beats (Stiff Little Records)
How big a seller the Hitmen were in Oslo, I'll never know, but these guys obviously bought their singles because that's one of their songs they're faithfully covering on the B side. It sticks close to the original with a nice amount of bottom end and some sharp guitarwork. Nice. The front cover even nods to Kannis and Co with an assassin wearing a Hitmen T-shirt. The A side, "A Place in Reno", is more than respectable Hellacopters-styled rock that's tightly played with a minimum of fuss or overproduction. Norway rocks! - The Barman





UNTAMED! E.P. - Loose (Rockin' House Records)
Italy's most passionate Radio Birdman fans have a handful of releases under their belts but this is their best yet. On the small but always-on-the-money Rockin' House label out of Pennsylvania, this is a four-tracker recorded in 2000. It's a home studio job (big production budgets not being a constant for Italian hard rocks bands) but it's a step up on past efforts. "We'll Make It" is a straightforward rocker while "Let Me Know" hangs off a nagging, overdriven guitar phrase and steers to familiar (Birdman) territory. On the flip, "Cool as Fuck" introduces keyboards to the mix over the top of a driving bassline, pausing for breath before heading down the Haunted Road at a frantic pace. "Fade Away" is more "Living Eyes" Birdman with rolling thunder bass and moody keyboards yielding to spikey guitars. Cover art is by the distinctive Pedro. Derivative but enjoyable. - The Barman


1/2

THE MAX GREEN FILES - Mad Mack (Corduroy)
If you've seen the Onyas you know Mad Mack doesn't stand on ceremony, frequently finishing a high octane set clad in underpants (or less). Fitting, then, that this EP is the Onyas man stripped bare - just him, a Telecaster and a distortion pedal. "Atope Stix" is a blues lament, played pretty straight. "The Year My Guitar Broke" and "Shocker" are more what you'd expect with the pedal brought into play. "Everything's Fine" is the Saints song and besides being an all-time Australian classic it's the standout song here. Mack's delivery isn't far off that of Chris Bailey. Must be a Queensland expat thing. - The Barman



HOSTILE - The Busymen (Wild Eagle Records)
Sometimes, an absence of production values is a help rather than a hindrance. Well-titled, this is seven inches of garage snot from Brisbane. Rough and willing and raw and the sort of stuff you don't want to tangle with on a dark and steamy night unless you've got half a case under the belt and a baseball bat handy. The title track - actually "(I'm Feelin') Hostile" - is an obscure cover I can't place and stings like cheap Scotch on a cold sore. The flip "Evil Hearted Evie" is similarly raw with Rob Worrall's abrasive guitar-playing a feature. DMZ are a fair reference point. Low-fi and wild. - The Barman


1/2


BUBBLESTRUT! - Bob Log III (Dropkick)
If you haven't heard about Bob Log III here's a quick snapshot of the American one-man band: He plays guitar with a monkey paw (!) instead of a hand and has a motorbike helmet permanently in place. The psycho Delta blues exponent toured Australia in December 2001 and the crew from Dropkick whisked him into Corduroy's Melbourne plant to record these two songs, direct-to-acetate. No idea what they're called (the single's bereft of titles or more than minimal information) but they're excellent. One side is demented bluegrass and the other a more orthodox blues stomp ("orthodox" being a term used under advisement, as the good Mr Log is anything but). He's apparently signed to Fat Possum so his output should be relatively easy to find. For the moment, though, this will do fine. - The Barman


3/4


LOSIN' TIME b/w SWEET LUCK - M16's (Beelzebub Club Records)
Debut 45 from the Perth three-piece headed by ex-Asteroid B612 guitarist Ken "Killer" Watt and it's a killer chunk of oh-so-heavy black vinyl. Think the Hellacopters in Sonics Rendezvous Band mode only, with balls the size of tractor tyres. This should be marked as a double A-side single, with both tracks strong and chockful of blazing guitar. Watt lacks no wattage in the vocals or guitar departments and is ably backed by the engine room of Brad Miller (bass) and Brad Cleary (drums). Plenty of attention to the bottom end in Dave Brody's production. Bring on the full-length album! File with the Yes Men under "No Bullshit Rawk". Single of the Month! - The Barman



I LIKE THE CITY b/w BIG GENERATOR & DR BOOGIE - Sour Jazz (Ghost Rider Records)
We're unabashed fans of New York's Sour Jazz so the arrival of the single from their latest album "Lost for Life", on their French label is welcome after months listenign to the final mix but un-mastered version of the long player. Never heard 'em? Lou Paris' drawl evokes "New Values" period Ig, backed by a band of similarly, Stonesy quality with a real swing to the engine room. Mr Ratboy's guitar (and a smokey organ in the bridge) is right up front on the A side. The Daniel Rey-produced "Big Generator" is more of the same, while "Dr Boogie" is a brave and largely successful rockin' stab at a Flamin' Groovies cover. Minor quibble: Singles that play at 45rpm on one side and 33rpm on the flip force me to play them on my turntable rather than my jukebox and that's not my preferred listening mode. Otherwise, very cool. - The Barman
3/4


IN THE BAND b/w WHEN I'M GONE - The Hekawis (Wild Eagle Records)
The A side had me reaching for the Jukebox Doctor's phone number when Screamin' Steve's vocals cut in, treated as they are with some obscure and undoubtedly retro recoring tecnhique to make them sound suitably fucked up. This is brooding 60s punk by Brisbane's leading exponents, with prominent organ and lyrics ("Don't smoke marijuana/In the band") to raise a smile. Nicely atmospheric rather than rocking. The flip is more fuzzed up but the song's not fantastic. One for the fans. - The Barman

1/2



WHEN I GET OFF b/w SITUATION 3 - The Jerry Spider Gang (Ghostrider Records)
Reverb-drenched cover of the DMZ toon that's soaked in sprawling guitar noise from one of the best French bands going around. Nicely-crazed vocals (and don't Monoman's lyrics sound great with a Gallic accent.) It was recorded four years ago which makes me think this Gang is not the most productive band around, but it may just have been sitting in the vaults for other reasons. Whatever - it cooks. This is the second JSG single to land in the Bar in recent times and, along with Laurent Van Bouvelen's recent reviews of a live show, it makes me want to hear more. The B side is a lengthy mid-tempo original and is more of the same - barely controlled vocals over the top of a fearsome noise and a call-and-response guitar figure that ends up in a sonic freak-out. Chase it down. - The Barman

3/4



FLOWERS IN THE NIGHT b/w ON THIS DAY - The Hekawis (Wild Eagle Records)
Authentic production, Screaming Steve's slightly off-key vocals and a somewhat cleaner guitar sound than expected push "Flowers in the Night" to the left of centre. If you like "Teenage Shutdown"-styled rockers done with promimnent organ, you'll love it. The blues-wailin', harp-fuelled "On This Day" has a slightly country feel and ambles a bit but is pretty cool, too. Naturally, the cover photo shows the guys playing in a garage. I want these guys to play at my next party but I'm afraid they'd steal the spiked punch, noit to mention pluck the neighbours' chickens to replenish their American Indian headresses. - The Barman

1/4


HEY YEAH/PEAK HOUR MAN b/w HOW LONG - The Exotics (Wild Eagle Records)
I crossed paths with the Exotics at the Hopetoun Hotel in Sydney a few years ago and they impressed greatly. They're a four-piece whose ranks include a Corpse Grinder and retro-guitar supremo Ollie Laurie. They also boasted the most pregnant drummer I've ever seen (and she was damn good too - just can't work out how she reached the kit.) This single on Brisbane's Wild Eagle Records is unashamedly low-fi, swampy '50s R & B - the sort of shit Sam Phillips used to record at Sun Studios before Elvis had fronted up, let alone worked out the recipe to peanut butter and banana sandwiches. The title track is actually the second song on the A side, with the hillbilly punk of "Hey Yeah" the opening cut. B side is a traditional song that's not so instantly endearing but I'll still give some time on the juke. - The Barman

1/2



"BOY MEETS GIRL" Split single: BLACK & WHITE/GIRL - The Dirtshakes b/w HOT CAR/BOY - The Battledykes (Stardumb Records)
Europe's home of poppunk comes up with a split single from two German bands who hail from the same small town of Meppen. "Black & White" is a Zeros song and the Dirtshakes do it justice but their own "Girl" is an even better song that frontman Jenz Bumper apparentlky used to sing in his old band, Jet Bumper. Bouncy guitar. The Battledykes sound like a Thinking Girls' Donnas but actually have a couple of blokes in their ranks. "Hot Car" is a punk rock call-to-arms while "Boy" is a frantic work-out with Miss Burning Biggi's vocals right up front. The Runaways run rampant. - The Barman
3/4

 


LIQUOR UP b/w LATE AT NIGHT - Laurie OIllie (Wild Eagle Records)
On which the guitarist from The Exotics does his solo thang in backwoods style. Production-wise, it's suitably rudimentary and as authentic as hell, but the A side never really gets out of first gear with Laurie's weak vocals detracting. The flip takes a more exotic turn and sounds like Country Music Week in Tamworth on bad acid. This would sit nicely in one of the record bins at the Cramps' house. In glorious mono, too.- The Barman

3/4


SHAKE b/w I'M A ROLLING STONE - The Hekawis (Wild Eagle Records)
I think I'm right in saying this is the latest 45 from the endearingly enduring Hekawis and it's probably the best of the batch to date. The timing's right, if the rumour about an album is true. It's still Nuggestian garage punk, right down to the photocopied outer sleeve and hand-stamped labels, but it's better played without being anything near polished. "Shake" is probably the pick with its swelling organ line and mini-rave-up end, but "I'm a Rolling Stone" would get a smoky room moving, provided that feet weren't stuck too hgard to a beer-sodden carpet. You know what you're going to get. - The Barman

3/4



KEEP ON MOVING E.P. - Jesse Hector and the Gatecrashers (Rockin' House Records)
Jesse Hector deserves our undivided attention , if only for the fact that he was vocalist for original English working class noisemeisters Crushed Butler in the early '70s. His subsequent band, The Hammersmith Gorillas, are less known to me but have been credited as a percursor of Pommy punk, numbering the likes of Jimmy Pursey and Billy Idol among their fans. This is a seriously rocking four-song EP from the small but impressive Rockin' House label out of Pennsylvania (the same folks who put Brother Brick's "Same" on a single.) The cover of "Summertime Blues", although well done, is a tad redundant simply because of its vast number of appearances elsewhere, but the remaining three originals show Jesse and his Crashers to be capable of laying waste to any garage. "Keep on Moving" is especially deft in the heavyhanded determination department, in a Pink Fairies sort of way. The energy levels never flag, which is why you need this. E-mail the label for ordering details. Chug-a-lager-fa-fa-fa!. - The Barman

1/2


SIX FOOT THIRTEEN - Rocket 69 b/w SHE'S THE BOMB - Dion Blade and the New Kings of Rock (Rockin' House Records)
Oh yeah! The Rocket 69 guys put me in mind of the Raw Power Stooges having a punch up with Zen Guerilla in a garage. Someone (Time Steele? Vocalist Dan-O?) can play guitar and lays it all over the two-minutes or so of beautiful noise that's in these tracks. From the minimal biographical details on the sleeve they hail from Richmond, Virginia, and they look less than healthy in the photo. Fantastic production with a brash, roraring guitar sound. Seriously good. The Dion Blade song on the flip is equally short and to the point, although Spinal Tap lyrics like "Open up those bomb bay doors/So I can drop my load" make it unclear how serious/silly they are. Suffers by comparison to the Rocket guys but I'm by no means dismissing them just yet. - The Barman

 

(Rocket 69)

 

(Dion Blade & The New Kings of Rock)


PIECE OF ASS b/w IRON CHAIN - Adam West (Fandango/Telegraph)
The A side should be everybody's favourite AC/DC song (and I'm guessing vocalist Jake Starr is more a Bon Scott man than a Brian Johnston fan, just on the strength of the lyrics alone.) It hails from the fab new Adam West album "Right On". Rock solid 4/4 backbeat and gutteral guitar makes this an experience to turn up, though why it wasn't called "Sin City" is a mystery. The B is more of the same and doesn't quite poke you in the chest with its finger in the same way, but tries hard. This is a limited release from one of the most prolific bands on the planet, so get in early and grab it.
- The Barman

 

1/4



LIVING IN ANOTHER WORLD/ENDING MY DAYS – The Sewergrooves (Pitshark)
The ‘A’ side is from the second album ("Guided by Delight") from this Swedish band, who manage to mix it up nicely. Well-produced, hooky stuff, with more than a passing nod to the Hellacopters (who mentored them) but without that band’s bombast. Lovely sustained feedback lead break in the middle. The flipside is a little less mannered with some nevertheless tasty guitar. The picture sleeve is, um, mid-period Iron Maiden. Nobody's perfect. - The Barman



STREET STALKER/BE ALRIGHT NOW! b/w BROKEN MOJO - Most Unusual Sound (Nicotine Records)
Fractured garage-punk-pop from an Italian four-piece. Not sure who they're referencing but there are touches of the Funhouse Stooges and all manner of jazz punk (especially in the bass and drums interplay.) "Street Stalker" gets along on the back of some quirky guitar while "Be Alright Now" has touches of garage snot being blown out of Steve Mackay's sax while the engine room does its own thing. The flipside's a bit more straight-ahead and easier to relate to. Interesting in places, if not all that arresting.
- The Barman

 

 


STRAIGHT TO HELL b/w ANOTHER ROUND – The Space Cowboys (Pitshark)
Just when you thought the Scandi production line had wound down, out comes another band with garage credential to nail to the mast. These Swedes do it pretty well with their murky, dense riffing and crazed vocals that aren’t a million miles from Zen Guerilla. And on a newish French label which, in a very short space of time, is proving that Rock Action lives on in that part of the world. "Another World" features "I’m not gonna take this shit from you" lyrics and a Tek-like lead break, two surefire winning elements.
- The Barman


1/2


FORD-O-MATIC/I GO b/w FOREVER BLUE/HUNGRY LUNGS – Cantankerous (Pitshark)
Australia’s Ian Weatherall (Seminal Rats, Hands of Tyme) returns but it’s not the barn-burner expected. More like a warmed over demo with lacklustre production. The opening salvo delivers, with its distorted bass and suitably twisted guitar work, but the drumming on "I Go" (more fills than feel) lets down a song that didn’t seem to be going anywhere. "Hungry Lungs" is X-like in its attack, which isn’t a bad thing, but those multiple tempo changes don’t sit at all well. - The Barman



THIS IS MY LIFE b/w INTO THE DARK OF THE NIGHT – Jerry Spider Gang (Pitshark)
Hard-as-nails stuff from a French band I’d heard a lot about but never actually laid ears on until now. A tight engine room pins down brattish vocals and focused guitarwork that’s more Motor City than thrash-arama on the A side, while the flip is more of a riffing affair. Very nice stuff that makes me want to track down both their albums. - The Barman


3/4


THE GREAT CHARADE b/w BEATING AROUND THE BUSH – The Yes Men (Pitshark)
Could this band do no wrong? Australia’s tragically departed Yes Men left a legacy that’s modest in quantity (the "Prosody" album) but overwhelming in quality. "The Great Charade" bolts along on the back of some superb Stew Cunningham guitar and the always expressive vocals of Sean Greenway (R.I.P.), while "Beating Around the Bush" is down-and-dirty, lascivious pub rock. Rumour has it some unreleased Yes Men stuff is lurking in the vaults with a release possible. This single only builds the case. - The Barman


1/2


REFORM (SCHOOLGIRLS IN TROUBLE)/ENDLESS SUMMER (PART TWO) - Travoltas b/w BEAT YOU UP/I'VE BEEN WAITING - The Apers (Stardumb)
This is s-o-o-o-o impressive. Two of Holland's best powerpunk bands on a split single that begs toi be played again and again. The six-piece Travoltas come across as maybe the best exponents of this sort of stuff I've heard in a long, long time - the guitars are turbo-driven with rich melodies of near Eastern Dark quality (and that's one big wrap). "Endless Summer" is a pretty much perfect Beach Boys-with-balls song. Labelmates and three-piece The Apers pale just a shade by comparison because they're mining a more orthodox vein (think Hard Ons with bratty vocals), but they still compress enough highlights into their brace of tunes to keep you coming back. Split single of the week where we live, on a new label loaded with promise. - The Barman


 


SEE YOU AT BOLEDOGUE - Motorama (Motorama)
Three Italian girls show how it's done on this vinyl three-tracker, a bass-less (that's drums and guitars, with vocals) ball of energy that they produced and released themselves. "King Kobra" is 1min20sec of Sonic Youth-esque snarl while "Can't Explain" (not the Who song) is an equally tasty slab of grind and swagger with a quirky and insistent guitar track, all set against a droning backdrop of buzzsawing six-strings. "Day and Night" is not as catchy but still cool. Think Kim Gordon meeting an in-tune Niagra without quite the same level of six-string intensity of the latter's backing bands. It's damn close to art punk but who cares? I wanna hear more. - The Barman




JUST A CHICK b/w DR DEATH/LOVE KILLS - Sheek the Shayk (Havacone Import and Export Company)
How does one of Australia's better garage outfits end up on a start-up San Francisco label? Havacone honcho Nick Nava was so taken by the Sheek's antics that he had to ensure they were pressed to black plastic and made available to the US market. It sounds sensational, too - a pressing that's sharp enough to re-open the San Andreas Fault. The B is a killer too: "Dr Death" is something your grandmother could play (though it's arguable her guitars would be as loud) while "Love Kills" is the Birdman song, though a different version the Sheek committed to the No-Mango tribute disc "Flatter". On gold vinyl with a Warwick "Warlord" Gilbert screen-printed cover. Order it through here. Ask for Nick.
- The Barman



THE WIZARD - Powder Monkeys b/w REAL COOL TIME - Adam West (Fandango)
No surprise the Monkeys are covering a Black Sabbath song (a B side to "Paranoid", I've I don't miss my bet). Bored!, the band from whose loins they sprang went through a Sabb-obsessed phase. Tempos may be a bit slacker than we're used to hearing but there's no letting up on the remarkable power. The harp and Tim Hemesley's amazing vocals only enhance it. The real surprise is the Adam West track: This Washington DC vehicle for the shy and retiring Jake Starr have been around for yonks but haven't figured on the I-94's playlists. This is an error that needs to be corrected, quick smart, on the strength of this. It is, of course, the Stooges chestnut but delivered in stunning style. From the dirty bassline intro to the guitar crescendo, it's one of the best Stooges covers you're likely to hear (and there have been a few!) Jake's vocals more than measure up.
- The Barman



 

 

 


EVIL STREAK/TIMEBOMB BABY - Loudmouths b/w STAB ME IN THE HEART/MOTORCITY SHUTDOWN - The Valentine Killers (Empty Records)
As if to back up their moniker, the Loudmouths start this split single with a tirrade about the LA scene before launching into a brace of electro-jolt, no-pause-for-breath rockers. It's tight as a fish's arsehole with some of the most in-your-face, snarling chick vocals this side of L7. The Valentines are from Seattle and their side is a bit more low-fi. "Stab Me in the Heart" is a descending-chord tune that peaks and subsides in a cool way. "Motorcity Shutdown" shows a more deft hand in the songwriting department and is the best thing here. - The Barman





THE SAME b/w CHIP ON MY SHOULDER - Brother Brick (Rockin' House Records)
Sadly, it seems, Brother Brick may be no more with main man Stew Cunningham's interest elsewhere, but black platters like this remind you why the last couple of configurations were so great. "The Same" is an ode to individuality-illustrated-by-socks (listen to the lyrics and you'll work it out) and is a markedly different version to that on the album. "Chip On My Shoulder" shudders along with a similar degree of strength and sounds great on a 45. This band should have ruled the world. Track 'em down and you'll find out why. You can probably order a copy from Rockin' House. - The Barman




 

POWER RIDE - Sonny Vincent and Safety Pins (Munster) EP
Bar regulars will be aware that Sonny Vincent can do no wrong, so when this arrived in the mail we promptly slapped it onto the I-94's stereo system and turned the volume WAY up. In short, Sonny's "Parallax Wonderland" is the benchmark by which all contemporary power-punk must be measured and although this doesn't quite push that disc out of the Pantheon, it still rates highly. Assembling a backing band of Spaniards, Sonny lays waste to four songs in Stoogesque style, "Big Rebel" being the pick with "universal Mind" not far behind. This is intense, hard case stuff and as such would be a pretty good starting point for use wanting an introduction to Sonny's music. Get it and play it. Loud and often.
- The Barman


 


SHE BEATS ME UP - The Crusaders (Stolen/International Trash) 10"
The Crusaders are a great night out. Great 60s punk songs, sometimes delivered with more alcohol in the bloodstream than may be conducive to a smoothly-running show, but so what? Unpredictability and energy = excitement, in my book. With the Crusaders, it's all under-pinned by a sense of humour and an attitude that if it all falls apart and comes to grief, they really don't give a shit. The latter part of which might be why this sounds so terrible. Make no mistake: To polish, in the studio, what the Crusaders purvey would be criminal. But there's a raw sound and there's mud. This is mud. Which is a pity because some of the songs are their best. Mono is fine. A good proportion of my early record collection was mono. But mono for mono's sake is just silly. The Crusaders' "Fat Drunk and Stupid" album is sonically streets ahead of this, with a sharp sound that enhances the energy levels. Which makes me think they had these tracks lying around and decided to have them released because they had nothing better to do. Onto the songs and "She Wants More" is puerile nonsense (which makes it great). "Busy Being Cool" has appeared in another form but still stands up. "The Sugarshack" would have been a killer with that fuzz guitar rhythm part brought to the fore in all its screaming glory. For fans. - The Barman


 


TAKE A LOOK b/w SOUL MOVER - Scott Morgan (Real O Mind)
The premiere 7" release on Geoff Ginsberg's Philly-based label brings us two smokin' tracks in a Motor City soul-rock bag from '73 that represent the genesis of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, in that they're the first time Morgan teamed with Fred "Sonic" Smith. A side's the same toon Scott recut in '99 with the Hellacopters, with a raspy Morgan vocal (Bro. Steve Gardner of NKVD Records has recently seen fit to crab about Scott's intonation, but ya might as well complain about Bobby "Blue" Bland clearing his throat) and able backing from the Lightnin' band boys and producer (and ex-Rationals bassist) Terry Trabandt as well as Sonic. Flip's a different, studio version of the toon that appeared on Total Energy's "Motor City's Burning" comp in its "live at Otis Spann Field" incarnation. Nice liners by ex-All Music Guide scribe Ginsberg, with a cool picture sleeve designed by Adam West front/Fandango Records boss Jake Starr.
- Ken Shimamoto




INSTINCT b/w THROUGH A KEYHOLE - The Naked Eye (White Elephant)
With the release of their debut single Instinct, the Naked Eye, continue to prove why the Melbourne band scene, deserves to be best in Australasia, possibly the Southern Hemisphere. Although the three-piece lineup can be perceived as limited, not as "full" or "beefy" as...such perceptions should not and can not be applied here. "Instinct", a sharp straight-ahead rocker with the rhythm section of bassist Jim Lewis (ex-Red Shift/The Casanovas) and drummer Dave Rice really pounding away as Guitarist Scott Anderson delivers some mighty fine rhythm and distinctive lead guitar work, certainly not to be sneezed at. "Through a Keyhole" is a marked departure from the A side and what is in evidence here is that kind of malevolence best practiced previously by The New Christs' on "The Black Hole" or "Pedestal". Scott Anderson proceeds to deliver a spine-chilling, menacing guitar solo from as the rock solid (and at times quite dynamic) rhythm section keep powering away without fail. Seek out "Instinct" for some chunky rockin' three piece rock'n'roll from The Naked Eye right now!
- Simon Li



10 OUTTA 10 - The Casanovas (Full Toss)
With their debut 7"single 10 outta 10 The Casanovas unleash themsleves onto an unsuspecting world, desperately in search of rock'n'roll salvation, the kind of salvation which this band have only just begun to deliver. When hearing The Casanovas - guitarist/vocalist Tommy Love, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Heat (ex-Red Shift and Naked Eye) and drummer Sandy Sputnik - you may not have stumbled upon something particularly new, but therein lies the real attraction to a band of this nature. How the world has not already taken to the songs/stage presence/teenage sensabilities of Tommy Love and The Casanovas seems quite astonishing. However, you are wondering also, what kind of rock'n'roll outfit are they? Influences? Try these for size: The Powder Monkeys, The Dictators, Kiss, AC-DC and Johnny Thunders, oh, don't forget to throw in some Turbo Negro and in particular LA 80s glam rock/metal and the associated glam rock/metal vocal stylings. Although the trademark glam rock falsetto vocals (from Tommy Love) are not in full cry, throughout all three cuts, they continually surprise those who go check out the band live, where the magic of such vocal stylings is in maximum effect. A killer debut from these "10 out of 10", lady killers, The Casanovas. - Simon Li




SCIENCE FICTION MIND - Stuntcar Drivers (Full Toss)
Prior to this single, the band's foray into vinyl, was the split CD release with friends, Concorde, fronted by Scott Crawford (ex-Affected/Acer, who puts in a guest vocal on the B-side to this single). "Science Fiction Mind" continues the band's fascination with television and trash culture. The twin-guitar attack of Gerard and James can be heard here, like never before, tight and solid as ever. As the band pulls back somewhat from the its full throttle rock, with a raunchy Stonesy/Big Star-esque groover. "Like your Style" keeps your toe-tappin' with some classy piano from Screamin' Steve (The Hekawis) and (as previously mentioned), backing vocals from Scott Crawford, as the solid rhythm section keep the beat pumpin' and shakin' along.. Definitely for those keen for some good time Stonesy/Groovies style rock action.
- Simon Li

1/2




SLOW DOWN, TAKE A LOOK b/w 16 WITH A BULLET - Scott Morgan with the Hellacopters (SubPop)
Detroit veteran Scott Morgan(ex Rationals, Sonic's Rendezvous Band, Hydromatics and solo artist in his own right) is probably not as well known to the current generation of rockheads as the Hellacopters and that's a pity. If, like me, you find most of the Hellacopters' stuff like a guitar solo in search of a tune, you might give this one a miss. If so, you'll miss out on a real treat. Given two great Morgan songs to work with, the 'Copters really rip in, giving a nasty wah-wah edge to "16 With a Bullet" (reprised from Morgan's "Rock Action" album) and capturing the soulful edge of "Slow Down..." And of course, with Morgan's voice, you can't go wrong. - The Barman
1/2

 


2001 b/w THIS IS ALL I CAN DO - The Monarchs (Ivy League)
Do I like this? "Yeah, yeah! Yeah, yeah!" Dumb enough to be Truly Rock. Smart enough to carry a hook that will implant itself in the memory banks and stay there. Raucous guitars, courtesy of Messrs Brad Shepherd and Greg Hitchcock, and a thudding backline machine gets the brew cooking, before the barrage of words kicks in (and if I'm not mistaken, Mrs B. Shepherd even rates a mention.) There's already a contender for Lyric of the Year in "Techno is a neurotoxin". The B side puts me in mind of the Blue Oyster Cult in heavy mode. There aren't too many copies of this so buy it before they all go. Someone sign 'em and bring on an album! Someone do something more outrageous and play it on the radio!- The Barman



FUN THINGS E.P. - The Fun Things (Penniman Records)
Who woulda thunk one of THE greatest (and rarest) pieces of Oz punk from the '80s would be (legitimately) re-issued? If you've never heard this before, run, don't walk, to your nearest cool retailer, or grab a copy online from the small Spanish label who were lucky enough to ask Brad Shepherd for permission to put it out. (If you are familiar with it, you've probably already done so.) Although it's been booted a few times - all four tracks made it onto the recent "Murder Punk" CDs, while "Savage" and "Lipstick" were put out (without permission, apparently) by French label Sonics in the late '80s - the original E.P. is all but impossibel to find. In its original crude state, this was one awesome release. Given the magic remix by Cameron McCaughley, it rocks even harder. There's more presence in the guitars, the bottom end sounds crisper, and the vocals have a touch more clarity. This could be the best black platter you buy all year. - The Barman
3/4

 


RED TIDE RIDER E.P. - Shifter (Paildo's Records)
Enough guitars to fry your ears by a big-sounding band from a band from Wollongong, south of Sydney, about whom I've been told good things. I missed a chance to catch 'em live recently and the loss is mine, judging by the sound of this four-tracker. "Holes Been Dug" sounds a little like Nunchukka Superfly, taken down a more conventional rocking route, while "Scrambled Eggs" recalls early Motorhead. "Make It Drive" does just that. Shifter occupy a space somewhere between the heavy psych of stoner rock and the full-on assault of '80s punk, recalling bands like feedtime and Bored! Not a bad place to be when you do it well. The album will be worth a listen.- The Barman



NEST OF VIPERS LOVES THE STOOGES - Jeff Dahl/Deniz Tek Group (Nest of Vipers)
French split single of live cuts of Stooges songs by these two rock worthies, each in their own way doing more than most to keep the music alive. Not sonically hi-fidelity but any audiophile concerns are more than offset by the quality of the performances. Dahl (aka Mr Treble) and Co uncoil the snake that is "Dirt" (and you can even hear the bass), while the Deniz Tek Group (the Tek-Dickson-Steedman-Rieth line-up) reprise "Not Right" from the "4-4 The Number of the Beat" mini-album in sizzling style. - The Barman
1/2


WE ARE THE JETSET - Thurston Howlers (Corduroy)
Taster for the forthcoming album, "Lodge Party", and a pretty fair effort from Sydney's self-crowned kings of frat-surf-60s punk. Fans will know the title track as the solo spot from the live show for keyboardist Jet Powers, and it's a fair tune for sipping a martini and wearing a fez to (smoking jacket optional). Two of the remaining cuts are instrumentals: "Theme from She Creatures From Hilbilly Surf" takes us deep into surf territory while "Sinquake" rolls out of a graveyard near Pismo Beach. "Cotton Pickin' Chicken Pickers" fires up the griddle and gives the Cramps a good run for their money (circa "Cornfed Dames"). - The Barman
1/4

 

 

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