Sunday 27 May 2012

Grooveyard - Avalanche Of Love 7" G.R.E.E.N. BTS-1246, 1983

Like the Assassins here's a good record that's easy to find. Also like the Assassins, it's somewhat ignored for that reason. We'll provide the public service and bring it to your attention. You could argue that big '80s production is starting to kick in and that points should be deducted. Points taken, but not deducted - the drums aren't shitty and the sound is big without sounding antiseptic. You could also argue the singer sounds like John Kennedy - you'd be right, we're a mark for that gravelly power pop style I guess. You could argue the rockabilly breakdown at the end of side 2 is unadulterated shite... OK you've got us there.

I don't know if you'd describe Grooveyard as a supergroup, but the members all had lots of involvement in the '80s Sydney scene. Sean Maguire on drums and "panicking" (might explain the rollicking rhythm of I Told You So) had done time in Coupe De Ville and Minuteman. Robert Hood we know well from his time in Razar and the Buddies. Guitarist Ian Little would end up in the Bam Balams. Other guitarist Jonn Schofield went to the Chinless Elite before joining Paul Kelly's bands.

The band also contributed to the Drown Or Swim cassette put out by 48 Crash fanzine and then there was a 12" in 1989, but our collections have chronological cutoffs as well as the obvious aesthetic cutoffs, so you'll have to chase that down yourself.

Avalanche Of Love [Download]

I Told You So [Download]

Promo flyer

Sunday 20 May 2012

Paradox - I Don't Care 7" Unpopular/Local LOCAL 2, 1979

Despite living out at Merrylands for all of two weeks once, we are far from experts on the Western Sydney state of mind. Prejudicial reputation would have it as the place culture fails to thrive. We hope we've done something to redress this. Check out Walrus, hard rock being the genre that the hive mind would have as the region's speciality. Then there's Invader, proof positive that punk did take on out there. Of course, we always knew that due to what we'd find on our record shopping trips to the formerly fertile Blacktown and Liverpool shops. R.I.P.

Then there's evidence of the truly odd popping up out that way via our old friend Mopsie Beans. Mopsie was, by matrix number at least, the first release on the Local Label, based in Doonside, near Blacktown. Local did a small run of records, the third of which is today's subject, Paradox. Between Mopsie and Paradox was another off kilter 45 by The Worms. While the artwork has the hallmarks of a DIY masterpiece it's unfortunately not much chop; we've decided we're not gonna cover it on this blog. 

So to Paradox. Like The Worms, it sports rudimentary artwork giving hope something demented lies inside. Again, like The Worms, that's not the case. What you do get is a decent piece of demo pop with nods to the Oz rock style of riffing. Which is to say they'd probably seen the Angels live many times, but they're not a hard rock band. Another case of accidental pop/grillfat cross-pollination. The flip side, although starting with a great, glammy power chord, quickly descends into something you don't need to hear.

In the end Local's approach was perhaps too much heterodoxy and too little quality control. A member of label-mates The Sheiks outlined the approach in the comments to their Wallaby Beat post
Arch Browne, Local Label impresario, always wanted to release the quirky, the rough, the...exact opposite of what we thought was cool and sometimes it paid off.
Sometimes, sometimes... 

I Don’t Care [Download]

Sunday 13 May 2012

The Vacant Lot - Living Underground 7" Doublethink 13055, 1981

Here's another good Canberra punk record, helped along by, surprise surprise, some great guitar! The Vacant Lot played around the national capital in the early '80s - photos can be found at the Canberra Punk and Beyond facebook page (or check the video below). Band members were Alex Anderson, Fergus Armstrong, Bruce Hart, George Howson and David Philip. In yet another one of those threads that seem to run through the things we write about, their one record was produced at M Squared by the the Scattered Order team (see the Sheiks, Seems Twice, Nervous System).

For a long time it was something of a mystery as to just how this record fit into the whole Doublethink label scheme. Common knowledge would have their discography ending on a high note in 1980 with the Seems Twice EP (DTDT12). Less known, for good reasons, Doublethink then attempted to kill the label with the odious Undertakers 7" (DTDT13, 1980). Then there was this in 1981. In the ensuing decades this record was pretty much unknown outside Canberra and, sporting just an EMI Custom catalogue number, rather than a DTDT one, its place was unclear. The connection was that drummer David Philip was Thought Criminals' guitarist Stephen Philip's brother, and his label was always happy to give a young punk band a hand up.

We hear there's a prospect of the EP and some live tapes being reissued at some stage so we're just giving you two of the four tracks. Tattslotto Night is the highlight. Tattslotto was the lottery that ran weekly in Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital and Northern Territories back then. It's a tale of suburban desperation and the idiot box. After last week's reflection on the punk era's talking points recurring, the Melbourne Demons, who are name checked thrice in the lyrics, were rubbish in 1981 (finishing last with one win), and currently sit winless at the bottom of the table in 2012. Some copies of the EP contain a Tattslotto entry form.

Multinationals, as the lyric insert asserts, speaks for itself...

The other tracks see the band veering off in a more experimental direction, perhaps recalling the dark punk sound of bands like Crisis and UK Decay.

Tattslotto Night [Download]

Multinationals [Download]

                     Many band photos in this video.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Double O's - Music Set Us Free 7" EMI Custom 13422, 1983

Like our old pals the Flying Calvittos, the first single by Sydney's Double-O's depicts events which have shaped the Australian psyche. Thirty years later, it's interesting to see how the front cover's snapshot of Australia-wide goings on c.1983 has lingered in public discourse. Last month saw the retirement of Bob Brown, founder of the Australian Greens, who spearheaded protests against Tasmania's Franklin Dam. In February, a fourth coronial inquest considered whether Azaria Chamberlain was taken by a dingo in the Northern Territory. A few years ago, a popular television mini-series dramatised the machinations of the marijuana mafia in Griffith, New South Wales. And shark attacks are as salient as ever, though in 2012, it's not South Australia but Western Australia that has inherited the reputation as one of the world's most dangerous travel destinations.

Many of these events inspired worthwhile music. Most famously, imagery of Queensland as a police state can be found in Razar's Task Force (and less famously, in the logo of the Peanut Republic label). Dingoes and pork pie hat-wearing Griffith crime bosses as subject matter for Australian punk are stories for another time. But all of that begs the question: How did the Australian cultural landscape filter through in the music of the Double O's?

Well, if the cover's iconography is channelled here at all, it's via Victoria (Bitter) - fun, carefree surf-pop, the soundtrack to a sunny beach barbeque over a few beers. The two songs featured here are catchy '60s-inflected pop with overtones of the era's prevalent garage influence, but fall just short in delivering on the requisite "power". Remember, we're hard-arses when applying that term. We're even more hardline when it comes to ska. Wallaby Beat is a ska-free zone (Nasty Nigel doesn't count), and keeping it that way prevents us from posting the EP's two remaining tracks.

That stylistic lapse in taste made the Double O's perfect candidates for the dreaded Method label. A later song (We Can Overcome) can be heard on Method's Sounds of Sydney Vol. 3 LP. The second Double O's single has been posted in full over at My Life's A Jigsaw; there you'll find details about band membership and a brief history. Our only addition to the story is to quibble with the existence of a third 45. We've uncovered just the two, but as always we welcome evidence that proves us wrong.

Oh, and for the record, our VB-fuelled barbeques are more like this.

The Point [Download]

Surf 'n' Sand [Download]