HELL CITY GLAMOURS - Hell City Glamours (Hell City Records)
It ain't punk rock but I like it.
It's 30 years and a world away from the satin and platform heels of the first wave of Aussie glam and pub rock bands like Buffalo, the Aztecs, AC/DC et al to the current crop of Devil Rock Four, The Lazys, Casanovas, Airborne and Hell City Glamours, but there's a constant in the equation. Skinny white boys with long hair and tatts playing chunky riffs to audiences with long hair and tatts (some of them these days are even male.)
Hell City Glamours coalesced in Sydney in 2003 and started grabbing high-profile supports from the get-go. I've caught bits and pieces of their gigs since then but didn't approach this, their debut album, with any hard preconceptions other than that they seemed to have a grip on Aerosmith/Hanoi Rocks blues-metal rock. A bit like a Candy Harlots for the '00s.
First play of the CD blew me away. While I might find some of their influences downright gormless (Guns and Roses, Black Crowes) and some of their contemporaries more stylish than substantial, there's enough swagger and brashness in the Hell City Glamours to push their heads right ahead of the pack. They write good songs and punch them out with energy and verve. Is there something in that you don't like?
Their themes might be well-worn (life on the road, love and hate, money) but if you're looking for a diatribe on the social and geopolitical implications of instability in the Middle East you're sniffing the wrong glove. HCG somehow avoid the mundane and still turn it up to 11. Perhaps it's the Stonesy/Dolls streak showing through.
Musically, HCG have a big groove that swings like King Kong's nuts in a typhoon. Robbie Potts' drumming is especially noteworthy. Guitarists Mo Mayhem and Oscar McBlack have their chops well and truly down on tunes like "The Money" and the super sharp "I'm Not Here". McBlack's vocal attack is more measured than banshee wailing and for that I'm grateful. It's heard to great effect on the leery "Right My Wrongs" where, again, the swing is the thing. Mind you don't snag yourself on those guitars.
Melody is more than an archaic name that's been out of fashion since the '70s for these guys. Listen to the irresistible "Josephine", which is my hit pick of the 13 present. A hard rock shuffle with a snaking riff are welded to a big chorus (and aren't we all suckers for one of them?)
Opening tracks "One Night Only" and "Back To You" grab attention from the outset, rolling into each other like calories in a McMeal Deal when you're nursing a hangover. Eat up, it's good for you.
You get a Southern rocker ("Fly Away") and a vaguely Gram Parsonsesque sensitive rocker with a singalong whoa-oh chorus ("Worst Kinda Man") so yeah, all the bases are covered, but if there's not something to love here you're either (a.) a hard bastard to please, (b.) an indie pop hipster (c.) a heavily-made up emo or (d.) you're taking yourself and this whole Cock Rock caper far too seriously. - The Barman
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