Another label batch of reviews for you. Off The Hip is a record store and label based in Melbourne (381 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria. Phone: +61 3 9621 2044) and is without a doubt my favourite record store in the country. Specialising in power-pop and garage rock, the shop is well-stocked full of rock n roll grub for your consumption. And occasionally, we are lucky enough to be a part of the shop’s label parties where they throw free booze and bands for rock n rollers like us to just wander in, browse the swag, eat chips and drink while the trashy sounds are spewed forth from the vintage amps and PA system. Good times! ANYWAY, What I have dished up here is a whole swag of OTH releases that I have been sent since the last issue of Long Gone Loser Magazine. You can hear tunes from these releases played on the Long Gone Loser Rock Show Podcast that is done each week. Either way, here’s a nice taster of what span in my CD player from the OTH label. Read on and then go out and support these bands either at a show or by simply visiting the Off The Hip website and laying down some cashola.
JOHNNY CASINO AND THE SECRETS – “I Am Who I Am, Not Who You Want Me To Be” (Off The Hip)
Johnny Casino and his band are without a doubt one of the greatest live bands in Australia at the moment. Yes, really. If you disagree, you simply don’t know what you are talking about. Now, he delivers us his new album and it’s quite simply one of the best releases of 2009 with its stunningly superb musicianship and songwriting. Again, Johnny is backed by an all-star line-up of Aussie rock n rollers from various bands such as the Eastern Dark, the Persian Rugs, Hoodoo Gurus, and others resulting in an album that is nothing short of awesomeness. Each song, hand-crafted from the very mold used to create the genre known as rock n roll, is dished up with such precision, you’ll be flamin’ groovin’ in no time. Johnny Casino has done it again buckos. Oh and if you haven’t already, pick up his previous effort, “New Clothes, Old Shoes”. This dude’s got it goin’ on. Two thumbs up.
JOHNNY CASINO AND THE SECRETS – “Live on 3PBS” (Off The Hip)
Seeing Johnny Casino and band live is always an experience. You can’t go wrong. His shows are always entertaining, you will always get a solid performance, and most importantly, the music is fuckin’ great. This live on 3PBS album is a 10 track live to air that he did in 2008 on one of Melbourne’s most prestigious radio stations and to put it bluntly, it’s a powerhouse of rock n roll. Kudos must go out to the mixing and production as the quality on this CD sounds fuckin’ great. It’s well mixed and the songs are played with such high energy that you can feel the sweat dripping through your stereo speakers and trust me, at a Johnny Casino show, there’s bucketloads of the stuff being dripped from pores throughout the room. Turn it up, keep it cranked, rock like fuck. Nice work!
LITTLE MURDERS – “Stop Plus Singles. 1978 – 1986” (Off The Hip)
I had never heard the Little Murders until this CD ended up on my desk. I knew absolutely nothing about them. Now, this CD is perfect for me to catch up on a forgotten gem, or in my case, a never knew about before gem. This disc features 27 tracks of some of the catchiest power pop you will hear and won’t be long before you start singing along. It’s definitely got that blend of UK 70’s punk and jangly pop that was so prominent in the 80’s. A good collection of stuff I had never heard before or a great re-introduction to those who heard and may have forgotten. Hit picks: “Things Will Be Different” and “After The Fire”.
MASS CULT SUICIDE – “Mass Cult Suicide” (Off The Hip)
In the mid-80’s, there were tons of indie labels spewing forth great indie releases across Australia. The country was filled to the brim with so many great indie records and each weekend I would blow my pocket money on buying 45’s and LPs of these bands. How on earth does this relate to MCS? Well, they sound like they are from that era and listening to this record reminds me of those years gone by. I can’t explain it too well but I am sure you get the drift if you were there in that time. Their bio says they are influenced by Iggy, The Damned, Bowie and Lou Reed and you know what? That’s pretty fuckin’ spot on. These cats sound like a combination of those 4 at one time or another on this CD, and sometimes all at once… only from Melbourne. It’s not a bad release at all. Groovy!
MIDNIGHT WOOLF – “Tropical Disease” (Off The Hip)
Surfin’ exotica twangin’ garage rock n roll ala the Cramps and a bunch of other cool shit. I saw Midnight Woolf play a show supporting Johnny Casino one night and upon walkin’ in to the Greyhound I saw these 3 hip cats wearing sunglasses at night beating the hell out of their guitars while a chick in a black halter top was pounding the hell out of her drums all whilst the audience, respectfully, cheered for more. I was blown away, to put it mildly. The Woolf rocked and I’m sure Andrew W.K. agrees. For those counting at home, I am told by the way of their bio that this here is their fourth album. Fourth? What the hell happened to the other 3 and why aren’t they on my desk for review? I’ll have to follow that up. In the mean time, you need to hunt this down like Gary Glitter hunts kids at a primary school. “Tropical Disease” has a nice distinct sound that sounds nothing like all the other Melbourne bands I have heard whilst in my first year of living here. This could be due to the fact that the rumour mill claims they’re Spanish. But this is speculative… even if their names do end in Sanchez. If they are in fact following rock n roll’s highway to hell instead of bull fighting in sequined sombrero’s and tights then let’s give them 3 cheers cos this album is some tiki diggin’ sweetness. Two thumbs up and a plate of nachos. Viva!
RUSSIAN ROULETTES – “R&R” (Off The Hip)
With a resume consisting of members that were in The Specimens, Kamikaze Trio, Digger & The Pussycats, The Go Set, and Legends Of Motorsport, you know you’re gonna get some quality well schooled musicianship on this debut disc right here from these Melbourne sha-waddy-waddys (that’s a cool word). This some lo-fi garage rock cranked up to 11. Everything here has been recorded in its natural garage state. There are 11 ballsy blues-inspired songs of fuzztoned riffs and jams. I like it! Coulda done without the cover of “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” cos it didn’t match up to the quality of their originals. But who am I to judge? I like Skid Row. Anyway, I have never seen these guys live yet but now I know that must change immediately. For fans of The Mummies, Gasoline, and pretty much every other band on the Estrus label. Niceness!
SCREWTOP DETONATORS – “3, 2, 1… I’m Done” (Off The Hip)
When Muscle Car toured Perth on the ‘Single As Usual’ tour, we shared the stage with local band, the Screwtop Detonators. Immediately I became a fan. They had balls, they rocked like fuck, they brought it and they kicked out the jams. Their only problem being that they lived in Perth… far away from the rest of the country where they laid unknown to anyone outside the Swan Basement in Fremantle. A couple years later this quartet came to their senses and moved to Australia’s capital of rock ‘n’ roll, Melbourne, bringing with them a whole swag of new songs, a new sound and the same high energy they had when I first saw them tear up a stage. As soon as I had heard this album was being recorded, the anticipation of its arrival began growing. And labels rejected this, they didn’t think it was any good or they didn’t think it would sell. That was until Mickster at OTH heard the release and immediately signed the band. I bet he’s laughing now. Screw you labels that ignored them! So readers, are you with me yet? You getting the picture here? The rest of the world needs to see this band. They need to hear this record. It’s one of the best Aussie releases of 2008. The tunes are catchy as fuck with guitar and vocal harmonies so damn good that it’s hard to NOT like them. There’s something very fuckin’ good going on here. Sure, the sound has changed since that time I saw them in 2004 but the songs are still as good, if not better. Everyone matures as they grow and that’s just what has happened with the Screwtops. Catch them live, buy this album, rock like fuck and enjoy good time power pop rock n roll… the way it should be played.
THE CHEATS – “Hats Off To The Cheats” (Off The Hip)
Not to be confused with the 274 other bands called The Cheats, this groovy duo hail from Melbourne, Australia and deliver garage blues rock n roll ala The Dexteens, The Gimmicks, The Black Keys, and The Immortal Lee County Killers, yet still manage to hold that sound that makes you instantly think “Australian band!”… Hell, sometimes Julian Tovey’s vocals remind me of Stewie from Brother Brick and quite frankly, I think that’s a good thing. Love that band. The Cheats have wicked guitar riffs and strong musicianship which makes this two-piece soul machine stand alone in a time when it seems everyone wants to do the duo thing. Damn you, Jack White! Granted it does make it easy for touring and obviously = more cash but some days I just like to hear a bass guitar in my mix. Unless of course the guitarist in the band is competent enough to make the recording sound as though there’s more than just 1 guitar track… as heard in his album right here. Cool shit!
THE CREEP OUTS – “Hopeless Friends” (Off The Hip)
These guys hail from England and have that whole beat R&B thing going on. You know the Nuggets boxset? That stuff. This duo know the vintage sound and how to get it. Staying true to the sound of an era long gone by, these 14 tracks will have fans of bands no ones ever heard of decked to the nines in mop tops and suits handing over cash for this hot number in no time. And why? Cos it’s pretty good, that’s why. “Hopeless Friends” is an ode to the beat generation, a time when record collecting would have been tons of fun and a lot harder than it is these days now that the internet has helped us locate those hard to find gems. While it wasn’t the greatest album of the last year, it had some golden moments that will please most fans of the genre. My only beef was a couple of the slower numbers tended to drag a bit but that’s cos I’m a picky cunt who probably listened to too much Ramones as I was growing up.
THE DOMNICKS – “Hey Rock ‘N’ Roller” (Off The Hip)
Dom Mariani (The Stems) and Nick Shepherd (The Clash, replacing Mick Jones when he went off to that Big Audio Dynamite shit) have gotten together to dish up a nice little mini-album of melodic garage rock n rollers. It definitely has that UK R&B soul from the 60’s and early 70’s and the track ‘Already There’ reminds me heaps of Grand Funk. Works for me! I love that shit. Mixed by the team of Rob Younger (Radio Birdman) and Wayne Connolly (The Welcome Mat), they have given The Domnicks a superb sound that is a sure fire hit and destined to be a fave for years to come. You see, truth be told, I am not the biggest Stems fan. I mean, I like ‘em but I am not a diehard “The Stems Are The Greatest!” type of guy so for me to praise this, you gotta trust me that I aint doing it for the cred. I am pissing in these guys pockets cos this is a really good record, well, CD. There’s not a dud track in these 8 songs. That’s pretty good bang for your buck in a world where people are buying singular tracks cos so many albums these days are filled with filler cos bands have gotten lazy. A solid release from these cats and I hope to see a follow up in the not to distant future cos these 8 tracks… I mean, a mini album? Really? Who does mini albums these days? Full length please.
THE GOODNIGHT LOVING – “The Goodnight Loving” (Off The Hip)
First listen had me skipping tracks looking for an instant catch all hooks driven power pop gem. I didn’t find it. I was probably in a stupid mood cos when I went back to this record and listened to it again on a nice sunny day, I kicked myself for previous idiotic thoughts. This album is fuckin’ fantastic! It’s catchy as all fuck and the songs are so well written and structured with sheer perfection that you wanna get up off your ass and dance around the room… which is what I would do if I didn’t have arthritis in my knees. The Goodnight Loving is totally infectious and boppin’. It’s uptempo power pop with a nice jangly garage sound. Sweet to the ears and the harmonious vocals will have you singin’ along in time. Really great stuff!
THE PINK FITS – “Super Mini Album” (Off The Hip)
Oh mate, we have here 6 tracks of great power pop garage rock n roll on the label that hasn’t done me wrong and these boppin’ jivers from Wollongong are creating tunes that do more than just please these ears. The opener, “Saturday Night Millionaire” is so catchy and melodic. It’s garage punky power popness that is just so damn danceable. And I don’t even like dancing. Hot damn, what a tune! Then there’s the third track, “Maybe Tomorrow”; a jukebox boppin’ a loo boppa-doo little ditty that gyrates, grates and rubs you up in all the ways imaginable. Just like you did to your first date when trying to get to second base. This EP is so good and I can’t wait to hear more. It’s like Guitar Wolf would sound if they spoke clear English and actually spent some money on recording an album. There’s something for every fan of kickass jives and boogaloos on this disc. Heaps good and totally recommended.
WRONG TURN – “2” (Off The Hip)
The second album from duo Wrong Turn finds themselves a drummer change but all for the better as they now have good ole Myles Gallagher (The Zeal, The Double-Agents) pounding the skins. Good jivin’ blues here with harmonica and hand claps. You’d think there’s nowhere left to go for a two piece feed with the abundance of bands doing it but I tells ya now, bass players, who needs ‘em? I mean, really? Well, actually that’s not true. Even the ole White Stripes have snuck in a bass on their albums at times, as have The Black Keys. But for Wrong Turn? Bass players not welcome here bucko! Saxophone’s are invited but you 4 stringers can keep out. No trespassing! Recorded on completely vintage equipment, the sound is real lo-fi without sounding shit like a Mummies record (who still somehow sound awesome, by the way). Combined with 2 pretty suave Stones covers (‘Turd On The Run’ and ‘Off The Hook’), there’s 14 tracks here for your consumption and I think you’ll dig it bigtime.