SING SONG SUNG EP – La Rocca (Illustrious Artists/Reverberation)
THE COPS EP – The Cops (Illustrious Artists/Reverberation)
First to La Rocca and this Irish band's song, "Sing Song Sung", (try saying that aloud six times, fast) was one of the gems on Illustrious Artists' formidable "Playing Favourites" collection, so this five-track EP was always going to attract our attention.

Recorded at in their hometown of Dublin and mastered at (reverent pause) Abbey Road, it's mostly timeless pop-rock that sometimes approaches the flashes of brilliance shown by Melbourne band The Pictures. La Rocca also made a brief Australian visit in early 2004. (If you blinked, you would have missed it).

So what's doing? Vocalist-guitarist Bjern Baillie sure has a fine set of pipes, but I'm not sure the songs live up to "Sing Song Sung". "Waiting in the Wings" plods and puts me in mind of Oasis. I also guess there must have been some degree of exposure to Rolf Harris at one stage ‘cos here's even a keyboard part that strays across the melody line of "Waltzing Matilda". Apologies if the La Rocca members were inadvertently exposed to Rolf in their childhood. Even Irish parents can be cruel.

Similarly, the closing "Capitol Pill" is a little too emo (whatever that means) for these tastes. But the other three rockers - the title track, "Built a Gun" and "Hiding Sway" – now you're talking. And we managed to review an Irish band without mentioning Van the Man, U2 or the Boomtown Rats. Ooooops.

There might never be a cop around when you need one (and let's make that the last police pun in this review) but there's something, uh, immediately arresting (sorry) about The Cops, a four-song EP from a little-known Sydney band by the same name.

The Cops are largely the work of Simon Carter who recorded this in 2003 on an eight-track in his parents' basement "with a crap mic and a pretty damn good vibe".

Vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist Carter is joined by guitarists Jimmy Stack and Andrew Gilbert and bassist, Rebecca Darwon, with drummer Nick Kennedy the only name I recognise (occasional Died Pretty skinsman and timekeeper for Big Heavy Stuff). So what is it? Make up your own tag. In short it's four slices of rusty-edged guitars, snatches of keyboards and chunky drums. Proto-metal-garage-rock? An aural assault that demands attention. Whatever. Not even going to bother trying to draw comparisons, but it rocks mightily.

Opener "The Shake" grinds and slams itself about with some frantic basswork and drumming before staggering to a halt. No mucking around. There are more ideas crammed into the two-and-a-half-plus minutes of "Rectify" than in most peoples' box sets, with a baffling stream of clever half-spoken lyrics hitting you between the ears at a million miles an hour. "Identify" nags away in its own special way. "Treat You Like a Dog" sounds half-finished and is a relative footnote to what's gone before.

The whole shebang's less than 10 minutes in duration. The Rock might be an old man's game but it's reassuring to know there are a few upstarts around with the balls to make it sound fresh and alive. Muco recommended.
The Barman

1/2 - La Rocca

- The Cops