Sydney band Straight Arrows return with a new slice of ramalama garage rock ‘n’ roll called ’21st Century’. Killer breakbeat, rolling bass and guitar chops! It comes from their forthcoming new LP On Top, due out October 21st. Look out for a 7″ 45rpm single release coming soon.
Hit the Bandcamp link to hear the single (plus ‘Out & Down’) and preorder the album.
Red Bull continue their support of local music with this sponsored show curated by the good folk at I OH YOU. It was a super low door price and first in first served which ensured punters were queuing at the door early.
You Beauty had a false start to their set with guitar amp issues causing a minor delay before they returned to the cramped Plan B stage for thirty minutes of woozy, chiming guitar, tight pulsing bass-lines and Will Farrier’s quirky sports-chic frontman style. In the past they’ve sometimes seemed tentative and under-rehearsed but tonight they were in fine form as Farrier shimmied and darted around the stage, conducting regular sorties into the audience. They know how to hit a fine groove – part sleaze, part tongue-in-cheek and with tracks taken from both their albums they were consistently danceable.
Straight Arrows are all about intensity and lurching around the tipping point between reckless abandon and musicianship. Of course they nail it every time. From the ramalama Beatles on speed of Bad Temper, the warped psych shake of Mind Control to the ghoulish prowl of Haunted Out, they showed yet again that they hands down the finest exponents of garage rock in this country. Toward the end of their set a toilet paper fracas ensued amongst the churning bodies front of stage, adding to the chaotic nature of their performance.
Gold Class are now a band that sound more balanced – a clearer sum of their parts. In the past the focus has been mostly on singer Adam Curley with his distinctive stentorian voice. It’s been a year since their debut album was released and they’ve played a ton of shows, here and overseas. It shows too. Drummer Mark Hewitt was tension personified. Taut, insistent rhythms, jerky and propulsive while the bass surged and pulsed overhead. Guitarist Evan Purdy slashed out claustrophobic chords that sounded both submerged and like stargazing squalls. New songs were aired and they were tantalising prospects for the next album. It was a masterclass in intelligent and compelling post punk that capped off a superb night of music.
Straight Arrows‘ debut LP was well received across the country and internationally so it’s great to see the follow up is due for release in March next year via Rice is Nice in AU and Agitated in the UK/EU. Until then we’ve got a brand new single Make Up Your Mind to keep us happy (stream/download below) plus a run of live dates where no doubt more of the album will be previewed.
Thursday Oct 24 – The Great Northern, Byron Bay
Friday Oct 25 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday Oct 26 – The Zoo, Brisbane – SOLD OUT
Sunday Oct 27 – The Zoo, Brisbane
Thursday Oct 31 – Mojo’s, Fremantle
Friday Nov 1 – Amplifier, Perth
Saturday Nov 2 – Uni Bar, Adelaide
Monday Nov 4 – The Corner, Melbourne
On Saturday July 20th Carriageworks in Sydney will host At First Sight which is being billed as a ‘vinyl romance’ style festival with 11 bands and more than 10 DJs soundtracking the day while you peruse the record bins of record stores, labels and private sellers. This is a killer line-upof bands that you are unlikely to see all on the same festival stage. Great music, great concept – embrace it.
HTRK, along with Twerps, The Laurels, Beaches, Super Wild Horses, Straight Arrows, Songs, Holy Balm, Day Ravies, Client Liaison, and Shining Bird
Yo Grito, Jimmy Sing, Count Doyle, Noise In My Head, Marcus King, Smokie La Beef, Basslines, Nic Warnock, Flash Back, Beat Club.
In a rare use of the Sydney Town Hall for rock n roll, Sydney Festival honoured both the original and seminal 1972 Nuggets 60s garage rock compilation and its recent Australian tribute Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era. The night was a chance for six of those bands to play short sets that gave a snapshot of their own Nuggets-spirited sound. It would have been amazing to see the hall packed to capacity, heaving to paint-peeling psych garage rock but though the crowd wasn’t disappointing it was still far from capacity.
The trio Bloods christened the stage with an endearing mix of enthusiastic and pop-leaning primitive rock. Though their cover of Farmer John wasn’t a touch on the original their other songs showed they can write catchy hooks. A band was needed to embody the spirit of ‘kicking against the pricks’ rock n roll attitude and The Gooch Palms were the ones to do it. The drums/guitar pair have their Cramps /Iggy schtick perfected and were only one song in when singer Leroy dropped his gold hotpants to reveal all before turning and proudly spreading his cheeks to the crowd. For all the aping and shock value they backed it up with some excellent primal theremin swamp rock that also drew from 50s rock n roll and doo-wop. Step-Panther took a few songs to get into their groove but they showed their are continuing to evolve, dropping some of their ADD song structures and making use of Steve Bourke’s great guitar playing. Melbourne representatives The Murlocs and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard felt like a double act – sharing members, sounding like authentic 60s garage rock outcasts and providing the peak of the events offerings. The Murlocs have a blues streak, complete with harmonica while King Gizzard threw in rnb basslines amid a ramshackle punk dive vibe. The sound of the venue best suited these acts with their white-hot treble sonics and while it was decidedly average overall, if any type of music was going to make the most of the acoustics it was this bunch. The Laurels always deliver but here they sounded out of place, their songs felt like lumbering, epic space rock, lacking the knife edge sound of the other acts. It was left to hometown heroes Straight Arrows to put the exclamation mark on the night and they staggered and lurched through a set of new and old tunes that concluded with a volley of toilet rolls into the audience.
The venue was oversized for this type of music but Nuggets was still fun, primarily due to the spirit of the audience and the bands. Hopefully the organisers take note and build on this foray into underground local music for future arts festivals.
this review was first published in Drum Media / The Music
Artist curated events like this have been extremely popular overseas in recent years, primarily due to the success of All Tomorrow’s Parties. Unfortunately here in Australia similar festivals have been few and far between with the most notable being the 2009 ATP shows in the hands of Nick Cave. The Hoodoo Gurus have sought to rectify the situation with Dig It Up! – a celebration in style marking their 30th anniversary with some of their favourite bands.
With the Enmore Theatre as the centrepiece bands also played the smaller stages at Notes Live and the Sly Fox with the more intimate Green Room Lounge hosting DJs and comedy. Kudos must go to the organisers under the all seeing eye of Tim Pittman as it was an exceptionally well planned event. Queues were minimal and using a city venue(s) with existing facilities meant that there were bars, eateries and toilets aplenty.
Kicking off proceedings were Hard-Ons, still shirtless and shredding guitar strings and drum sticks as they have done for the past 30 years. Surprisingly this was the first time they’d played the Enmore Theatre and even though the crowd was still rolling in at the start of the day they played like it was Saturday night at the Sando. Blackie was a blur of hair and fingers as he threw out his best rock moves while the rhythm section laid waste with their pummeling mix of metal, punk and hardcore that made for a nice palette cleanser to start the festival.
At Notes Live, Straight Arrows christened the PA with one of their tightest sets in recent memory. Touring has honed them into that kind of band that can sound effortlessly locked in with each other, creating that illusion of controlled chaos as Owen Penglis and Alex Grigg lurched and thrashed around the stage sharing vocals and garage rock riffs. From the tripped out bass groove of Haunted Out to the all out effervescent chant of Bad Temper, Straight Arrows proved to be one of the highlights of the day.
The Fleshtones have been around since the 70s and have obviously honed their craft with exceptional attention to detail. There were choreographed spins, guitar dips and regular crowd visits and while they sounded great and were somewhat endearing their shtick wore thin pretty quickly. There seemed to be little impromptu rock n roll action amid their glam power pop set but the crowd lapped it up as the band exited the venue through the crowd and the foyer.
Local psych pop exponents The Lovetones and Belles Will Ring share some similarities in sound and band members yet they are traveling on different musical tangents. Matt Tow’s Lovetones took things into a more ethereal and dreamy headspace with his 12 string electric and some wonderfully ‘lose yourself’ song arrangements. Belles Will Ring on the other hand have mastered a unique take on dark psych pop complete with flute and trumpet. Their sound was enhanced by the great mix at Notes and they were one of the most rhythmic and pop heady acts of the day.
Undoubtedly the most anticipated (and worst kept ‘secret’) of the day was the reunion of The Sunnyboys (under the pseudonym Kids in Dust) in their first live show since the Mushroom 25 Concert in 1998. There was quite the communal feeling in the theatre as Jeremy Oxley and the original lineup of the band took to the stage and transported the crowd back to their youthful days sweating it out at venues like the Trade Union Club. There were tears, there were arms in the air and around mates shoulders as the band knocked out all the classics like the seminal Love to Rule, What You Need, Happy Man, Show Me Some Discipline and Alone With You. After a slightly nervous start any doubts about whether they would still sound good were alleviated. Oxley’s vocals were as strong as ever, the guitar lines sounded clean and sharp and the rhythm section still kept things concise and punchy. The band seemed to having a blast with family watching from the wings and an audience giving them an overwhelming ovation as they left the stage.
The tougher end of the musical spectrum was strongly represented by Tek & Younger playing a muscular set of the highlights from their shared careers. New Race was fast and bruising and though it lacked the full band punch of Radio Birdman the sounded tough and menacing with Rob Younger showing just the right amount of disdain and snarl that has made him one of the greatest frontmen to come from these shores.
Redd Kross last toured Australia in 1994 with Hoodoo Gurus so it was fitting that they return to play with the same hosts. Still looking like they hadn’t aged in 18 years the McDonald brothers and band played the tightest set of the day with songs like Switchblade Sister and Lady in the Front Row and Jimmy’s Fantasy from their classic Phaseshifter LP alongside songs from their forthcoming new album. Their drummer was highly entertaining with his stick tosses into the Enmore rafters and a catch and drop ratio that got better as the set progressed. Redd Kross mixed power pop with camp garage rock n roll perfectly and stood out as a strong crowd favourite from the response of the punters.
A quick dash back to Notes Live to catch the end of Royal Headache’s set and a characteristically frenetic one at that. Shogun was bounding and pacing like a caged animal while the band studiously built a frantic wall of guitars and drums around him. The soul element of Shogun’s voice is what makes their sound unique, highlighted by their closing version of Womack & Womack’s Teardrops which is quickly becoming a crowd favourite.
Another time slot, another seminal Australian act, this time it was Died Pretty fronted by the enigmatic Ron Peno who makes for compulsive viewing with his gyrations, mime-like gestures and crotch grabs. The man is a weird amalgam of Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and Roger Daltrey yet his voice has its own singular identity. The band was made up of their definitive line-up with Brett Myers’ guitar a particular standout on tracks like the anthemic Sweetheart. Died Pretty continued the theme of the day that bands may split up and go their separate ways but it takes the individual identities of those bands to really make the original songs come back to life again.
One of those bands that surprised many by re-emerging from the past in recent years is The Sonics. Their peak was in the mid 60s but 45 years later they showed they can still deliver some searing rock n roll and garage rock with shared vocals from the Bon Scott-like bassist Freddie Dennis and keyboardist Gerry Roslie. Their set was padded out with a few classic covers like Louie Louie and Have Love, Will Travel but they really hit their stride with the closing trio of hits Strychnine, Psycho and The Witch. Not many acts can do that.
It was left to our venerable hosts the Hoodoo Gurus to close out the night with a full run-through of their first album Stoneage Romeos flanked by inflatable palm trees and with a blow-up Tyrannosaurus Rex looking over drummer Mark Kingsmill’s shoulder. Leilani, Dig It Up, My Girl and I Was A Kamikaze Pilot all sounded fantastic and even though they returned to the stage for a bunch of their other hits it was the Stoneage Romeo section of their set that was the most rewarding. Like Wow Wipeout and Bittersweet sounded like permanently ingrained alternative national anthems as the band left the stage grinning in the knowledge they’d been able to indulge in their own musical passions, play with some of their heroes and and give the crowd a thoroughly rewarding day of rock n roll both old and new. People were calling for them to do it again next year but special events like this are best left as one off moments enabling those that were in attendance to say “I was there…”.
The Gooch Palms set off the evening with some nudity, tattoos and wild garage rock and it was impressive stuff for a two-piece of just guitar and keyboards. Granted there were some pre-recorded drums thrown into the mix but most punters probably didn’t notice the lack of a drummer with the over-the-top antics of frontman Leroy Macqueen. With an impressive chest tattoo. bleached hair and hot pants he was the jester and the showman all rolled into one. Keen to shock and provoke the crowd he courteously introduced us in person to his balls and his arse cheeks amid the garage punk rama-lama sounds. The Gooch Palms were raucous, hilarious and strangely captivating both musically and visually.
Straight Arrows are heading off to tour the USA so this was a farewell show of sorts for them. Spirits in the band and audience were high with party poppers being thrown around, unlimited stage energy and one of the best sound mixes at GoodGod in recent memory. Their album from last year It’s Happening was a trebly and suitably ramshackle sounding record but live they have mutated into a well rounded and solid garage rock outfit. Bad Temper was gloriously bratty and played even faster than the album version. What makes Straight Arrows such a great band is their ability to play quick and dumb before heading into more finessed territory like the melodic gem It Happens Again and the sleazy ghost sounds of Haunted Out.
Super Wild Horses are still playing tracks from last year’s Fifteen and now that they’ve lived in and have been played over and over they sound a lot freer and less mechanical than they have in the past. There was a real balance between Hayley McKee and Amy Franz with both sharing the guitar, drums and vocal duties. Playing music so simple requires the confidence to deal with the spaces and they’ve refined their sound to get maximum impact from limited resources. Mess Around and Fifteen were both irresistibly catchy yet the songs where they allowed more texture and shadows into the guitars and cymbals also made for some superb highlights. Adrian felt like a 60s west coast beach party soliloquy while Golden Town was Super Wild Horses showing they can play create a big and dense and heady sound when they want to.