Posts Tagged ‘Aussie Punk’

Civic – “Radiant Eye”

Hey its Bandcamp Friday once again, which means that the inbox is stuffed to bursting and I’m desperately trying to parse through the best of the glut. Aussies Civic return today with a new double-sided scorcher that puts their frenetic brand of punk at the forefront and adds a nice touch of horns. Not something I was expecting to enter the Civic arena, but “Radiant Eye” torches through the speakers with a whiff of ozone on the air and the band follow it up with a beaten and battered cover of The Creation on the back, making the familiar rally cry from Rushmore feel like less of a ‘60s jangler and more of a sonic scorcher in times when sitting still truly feels like a luxury. If you’re throwing around a bit of monetary support today, you could do worse than to give Civic some coin for this AA vision of punk bash.




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Smarts

A jittery shot in the arm reaches the masses today with the proper debut from Smarts. The band brings together some ace Aussie talent, with members of Living Eyes, Ausmuteants, Parsnip and School Damage in tow. Smarts captures the kind of fork in the light socket jolt that spread through the Midwest around the tail of the ‘70s, injecting punk with a stable of bands who were heavier on damaged scope than effortless cool. They knit together Devo’s caustic worldview with the jagged edges of underground currents like The Pink Section, Pere Ubu, MX-80, Dow Jones and the Industrials, and Geza X. Though they’d drop down nicely next to current squirm-punk purveyors like Uranium Club. While planty of punks, especially in their vicinity are looking to the smashed glass school of riff wrangle, Smarts wield their fury with a sense of fun.

The band has an admirable ability to not take themselves too seriously, while still drawing quite a bit of blood musically. The pace is breathless and its pretty easy to see how multiple players behind Living Eyes and Ausmuteants are in the mix here. The latter’s sense of chaotic drive comes to mind more than once over the course of the album’s scant playing time, though they don’t drop too heavily in the shadow of their former bands. The blasts of sax from Stella Rennex lace the record with Downtown ‘70s vibes. The chewed foil guitars butt heads with ozone-crusted synths and Billy Gadner’s nasal delivery gives this one a perfectly fried-nerve approach. The best of the ‘70s twitchers weren’t in it because picking up a guitar made you cool, they were tearing apart the rock idol with each ragged riff. Who Needs Smarts, Anyway is born out of that bloodline and it jolts just as hard.


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Smarts – “Real Estate Agent”

Another jolt here from Aussie band Smarts and it’s just as fun as the first. The band’s really nailing the Midwest boredom breakers — echoing an era of punk that was caustic yet careening towards sneered and smeared fun. This time around the band ups the pacing past practical and lets the track wobble in and out of control with only the thick blast of horns keeping this one tied to the tracks. “Real Estate Agent” truly chomps down hard on the Geza X and Black Randy vibes they profess a love for, but there’s a bit more of a party atmosphere to what Smarts are laying down, feeling like they might have hit a raucous house party alongside Pylon down about Athens in the ‘80s before a tour of the American rust belt. The band throws a bit of glitter into the eyes of punk purists, blinding the ornery itchers in the process. They don’t take themselves too seriously and like a few of their Geelong peers the feeling makes the hooks hit twice as hard. This one’s coming down from Anti-Fade and Feel It in tandem and believe me the whole thing is a damn delight.


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Smarts – “Cling Wrap”

A defibrillator to the soul from a new Aussie unit (with some familiar names) out of Geelong. Smarts nail nervy, synth-jolted punk to the wall and the first cut off of their upcoming LP Who Needs Smarts, Anyway? is an absolute bumper car wreck of sprinting guitars, gulping at serotonin and slamming into whatever’s in their way. The band brings Anti-Fade helmer Billy Gardner (Cereal Killer, Ausmuteants) back together with his Living Eyes bandmate Mitch Campleman. They round out the crew with Sally Buckley keeping the synths greasy, Anti-Fade regular Jake Robertson (School Damage, Hierophants), and Stella Rennex (Bananagun, Parsnip) on sax. Like Devo knocked up half a speed and bent through wonky wiring, the band is chomping at the squirm-punk pedigree of the loner class of the ‘70s. They’re picking through the garbage of Suburban Laws and Black Randy & The Metrosquad while finding some purchase with the Midwestern glue brigade from Ubu to Dow Jones and on through the anti-social teardowns of The Uranium Club. Somehow the players in this crew are constantly exhuming Geza X, but I think that’s a more of a pet project than a selling point. If they connect it to enough bands one of you listeners is bound to check that lost classic. The LP is split between Anti-Fade in Aus and Feel It for US, and I’d recommend getting it locked on your speakers soon.




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Vintage Crop

No secret around here that I have a penchant for Aussie punk, and some of the best singles banging out these days come not from Melbourne or Brisbane, but from Geelong via Vintage Crop. The band’s bit hard on the live socket swagger of Wire, The Fall, and other such ‘70s spitters with jagged leads and caustic choruses. The record swings from pit-sweat thrummers to the kind of writhing, coiled killers that have made the band such an endearing presence the last couple of years. Serve To Serve Again was recorded with Mikey Young and there’s certainly a reverence for Young’s own ECSR legacy in the mix. With Young at the boards VC are accentuating the spring-loaded attack and brittle ends that have let punk and post-punk copulate in the current Aussie environment to create a sickened and swinging brand of propulsive punk that won’t be pinned to the floor.

Bass lines bulge at the seams, barely fitting into their niche, guitars scorch, slash, dart, and dodge the microphones and atop the glorious din Jack Cherry lays into the louche life with a sneer that can be felt through the wobble of the speakers. Unfurled late-stage capitalism, wage slave doldrums, and the festering tension of a generation left in the lurch all leak into the lyrics. The band wraps Jack’s invective around their supple songwriting, mulling the bile before letting it loose into the water supply. Vintage Crop have been hammering out squirm-inducing sonics for the past few years, but with Serve To Serve Again I do believe they’re peaking.




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The Buoys – “Linda”

Still hard to miss with the serrated edge of Aussie punk these days and jumping up the ranks of cutters from Cable Ties to Mod Con and Moody Beaches is this new EP / singles collection from The Buoys. The band’s been letting out some fraught and fun gems over the last couple of months but they’ve saved the most savage for last, letting out this video for the gnarled and snarled “Linda” on the eve of the EP’s release. The song’s built on a fifteen foot riff and the tension of toxic acquaintances. The guitars shift from rubber twang to a battering ram rumble by the time the song crashes to an end. Fans of Bleached who were looking for a little less pop on the last outing should find a lot to love here as well. All This Talking Gets Us Nowhere is out now.

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Vintage Crop – “The North”

A second bent and bulging single from Aussies Vintage Crop comes with an austere Video in tow. “The North” is built on the same bulbous basslines that pushed the band’s previous cut, but there’s a dash of New Wave keys splashed on top as well that add an infectious itch. That said, this song is driven by the guitar/bass battle for which is gonna gum the most gristle. The tones are thick and satisfying and the band proves that they’ve got post-punk nailed to the door with every note. There’s not a miss on their upcoming album, but this is a prime example of the band at their peak. The record arrives August 7th as a split release between Upset The Rhythm and Anti-Fade.



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Vintage Crop – “Gridlock”

Brand new ripper today from Aussies Vintage Crop. The band’s been issuing records up to this point on Aussie Indies Weather Vane and Anti-Fade, but while they remain on the latter at home, they make a jump internationally to Upset The Rhythm for their latest, Serve To Serve Again. ‘Gridlock’ is indicative of the band’s tightly coiled punk — muscular, slightly paranoid, and pulsing with an energy that’s hard to ignore. The song’s full of frustration, and its grit-teethed delivery is a bit cathartic in weary weather. Jack from VC provides a bit of backstory, including the note that the song was inspired by actual traffic, though the feeling pours over into areas of stagnation in life elsewhere for sure.

“The title for the song came first;” he notes, “stuck in traffic and running late to a gig a few years ago. We laughed at the name and threw it onto a few different songs before it stuck, after Tyson finally penned the lyrics. Thematically, ‘Gridlock’ is frustrated, pushy & stressed, which are emotions that we felt that day when we were stuck in traffic. It’s one of the first songs we finished for Serve to Serve Again and is a perfect example of the band’s songwriting. It’s got everything that we do – unbalanced riff-work, tight drumming & sharp lyrics.” The LP is out August 7th on Upset The Rhythm / Anti-Fade.




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Cable Ties

On their sophomore album, and first for US label Merge, Aussies Cable Ties retain the fire in their bellies, but stoke it with a few helpings of melodic pop and a quiet contemplation that may have been missing in the past. Throughout their early singles the band was a sonic jackhammer, tearing through injustice, sexism and classism while spitting in the face of a world that long since turned its back on the youth of today. Their first album refined the point on their knives, and did pretty good job of sharpening the rest of their blades as well. With a wider canvas they spared no one who’d earned their ire, and it quickly became evident that anyone on the receiving end of Jenny McKechnie’s gale force vocal torrents were lucky to get out with only a racing heartbeat and a clutch of psychic scratches. On Far Enough, the band barrels into maturity with the same bile in their throats, but also a good deal of calm contemplation as well. They balance their poles of their personality, and now when McKechnie lays into the full force of her anger, its a payoff that hits the listener with the whiplash force that makes the pummel all that much more powerful.

She picks up the lash from so many punk predecessors, and while there’s definitely a cocktail of Tucker, Hanna, and Styrene as the easy to top notes of the bunch, she and the Ties have taken the full force of progressive punk into their tank and turned out a record that’s much more than the fumes of its fuel. They chum the waters with the brooding calm of “Lani.’ They swallow the constant lump in their throats on the dizzying “Pillow,” — driven by bubbles of bass and vocals that cool to a croon. They’ve even captured the complexity of where we lie in wait at the start of 2020 with “Hope” — a song that brims with doubt and desire. Its a societal push-pull with uncertainty, age, generational distance, and the ideals of activism in the face of mounting evidence that no amount of rivets will stem the tide when the dam bursts.

Woven between these careful shadings lie the paint-peeler anthems that nail the fuckers to the wall, and when we hear the crack of bone on concrete its a satisfying snap indeed. On “Self Made Man,” Sandcastles” and in the titanic swells of “Anger’s Not Enough” the band shows that their fire’s never faded. Where the other songs stoke the coals and let the glow warm the listener, here they prove that those coals can build to a blaze bound to burn. What’s best about Far Enough is that it needs time to settle into the system. Their early singles and debut were instantly gripping, but like the best works this one takes a few runs through before it all locks into place. The builds and crouches become clear, the abrasive progressiveness of “Anger’s Not Enough” snaps into their place on an album that’s not a wild swing at its aggressor, but a patient plan of attack that topples its targets in good time.



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Cold Meat

There’s a time for cool waters and calm heads and there’s a time for the righteous infection of fire-forged punk. Somehow its been time for both in these past couple of weeks, but right about now the latter is feeling pretty apt. Perth scorchers Cold Meat have graduated from their early short-form firestarters to a full length that showcases their pounding, primal, elastic scratch. Built on a foundation of tire-thick rubber riffs, the band kneads and pounds the basics of punk through an emotional and musical ringer. The riffs are meaty and land with enough force to bruise heavily. The bass ricochets around the speaker space with a sinewy menace. While squarely in the mold of punk purveyors like Magazine, X-Ray Spex, or The Adverts, they borrow the alternating current corruption of post-punk terrors — finding common ground with the hot bile invective of The Au Pairs and the writhing discomfort of Pylon.

None of the garments of the past quite fit them, though, and that’s to their credit. They chafe at categorization, but Cold Meat mostly look to take a hammer to the societal mirror and do it with a wicked smile on their face in the process. Doesn’t hurt tat they’ve got the twenty megaton howl of Ashley Ramsey in their corner as well. While the music beneath her squirms in pain, Ramsey rounds up every last inch of sneered and seared animus and hurls it at the listener. I’m a sucker for a voice that packs a versatile volley of grievance, pain, disappointment, and derision and she nails the nuance every time. While I can’t say I levy Andy unsettled scores with ZZ Top and their fanbase as the band seems to, elsewhere Cold Meat seem to bring good reason and welcome harbor to their various picked bones. Its a record of its time — bred on the scraps of the past but fueled with the earned anger of a younger generation left in the cold to fend for itself.



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