Share FULL BORE - Hell Crab City (Turkeyneck Records)
Rock and roll used to at least be honest about its intentions. I'm talking about the stuff that was mainstream 20 years ago and is now largely marginalised; Bands playing no-frills, grubby-arsed rock and roll with no concession to fashion or airplay. Those bands have been driven to the far edges of the cultural map by popular music being Beiberized to within an inch of its life. It's going the way of jazz, music for cultists and dillentantes.

Maybe not. Which brings us to Sydney's Hell Crab City, long-time members of the down-and-dirty fraternity. Their second album "Full Bore" proves that the flame's still burning - brightly - and some people just ain't giving in.

"Full Bore" doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't - if such a thing would be possible when there 's so much early Rose Tattoo (without so much boogie), Turbonegro (with the glam turned down) and Powder Monkeys in its DNA. The soup has a lot of meat and potatoes in the bowl - not watery gruel. The album name's a giveaway isn't it? Hell Crab City isn't pretty to look at it but their music sure does the ears and heart a power of good.

"Full Bore" is a quantum leap forward from the debut "Nicotine Blues", which for all its grit and aggression, suffered from lame, two-tone production that left the grunt at the door. "Full Bore" doesn't just sound better, but has superior songs and is played by a band with much more confidence.

Guitarist Big Al Creed is the obvious marquee player with a pedigree that includes the New Christs, Panadolls and Dr Fruitworld. His formidably lyrical yet economical lead-work is all over these songs and the second guitar support from vocalist Scott Barker (ex-Jim Cobain) adds the backbone.

Vocally, Barker hangs out with his high register and howls like a less melodramatic Angry Anderson. That air raid siren, blues shouting style might grate with some and it gets limiting fast, but it also hits the spot in this context.

The engine room of tub-thumper Marko Darko (ex-WWXXIV) and four-stringing Rob Buttery adds the momentum that the songs crave. Hell Crab City is like a mangy big tabby cat in a string shopping bag - get too close and it's liable to draw blood.

From the Morriconne-tinged opening chords of the paint-stripper punk "Dirty Kid" to the karma-laden closer "Fair Man's Share", these are fuggin'/chuggin' quality tunes, the sort that accompany a big night at the local with a bellyful of your bevy of choice. It's not rocket science or a night of an opera. Park pretension at the door.

Lyrically, there's a streak of social justice running through half of the songs ("Toecutters","Black Ghosts") and a fair chunk of irony ("Lucky Country") with a modicum of preaching (the wake-up-to-yourself-or-check-out "Ugly Things"). Hell Crab City keep it simple, stupid, and if you can't work out the point of a line like "But seriously folks we hate the Strokes" ("Strokes") then you're not trying.

The instrumental ("The Craw") gets a call-out not just because it name-checks a Get Smart villain, but through virtue of being a crushingly good song. - The Barman

1/2

 

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NICOTINE BLUES - Hell Crab City (Hell Crab City Records/Reverberation)
Thirteen tracks of dirty swaggering punk rock & roll boogie from Sydney’s Hell Crab City. “Balls to the wall,” I think they used to call this kind of thing. I sat in a small hot room, smoked 30 cigarettes and drank a dozen stubbies of Coopers’ Pale Ale on my first couple of back-to-back listens. And I think I just managed to create the required ambience needed to appreciate it.

The opener, “Promise The Boys”, is sharp enough to merit inclusion on the recent Carbon 14 magazine “Monsters Of Australian Rock” giveaway CD, along with tracks by other I-94 Bar favorites like Radio Birdman, Tiger By The Tail and Johnny Casino.

“Rock & Roll Heaven” tells the story of God and Satan combining the various dead rockers in each of their respective kingdoms into one almighty (or should that be Almighty?) band. Yeah, it’s a kinda silly tongue-in-cheekhymn to rock, but great stuff nevertheless.

“Hey Mate” wears its Aussie accent and influences proudly, namechecking both Angus Young and Tim Hemensley. It’s a short sharp lesson to wanna-bes everywhere that it takes more than long hair and a wide legged playing stance to really get the job done.

“Death Song” the only vaguely “serious” track on the album, veers a bit close to mystical metal for my taste, but it’s a good chance to leave the room to grab another beer.

Their cover of “PUB” recently scored a berth on the Cosmic Psychos tribute series issued by Mr. Records out of Norway, of all places. There’s a full European deal waiting in the wings for them, too.

The only trouble in Hell Crab City is the recent loss of drummer Dani Danger, who is moving up to Brisbane for personal reasons. I don’t envy them trying to find a replacement- she’s vital here, but then again there are no weak links, just plenty of effortless sounding guitar crunch. Her stool is still vacant, by the way- so if you think you have what it takes, drop the band a line via this link. It will be a real shame if this does turn out to be their epitaph, and the fact it’s a mighty fine one is no consolation. TJ Honeysuckle





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