CALLING ALL CARS – “Hold, Hold, Fire!” (Genius A.D./ Shock)
Back in February this year, AC/DC toured Australia with Wolfmother and everybody was excited. I mean, why wouldn’t you be? It was AC/DC, OUR band on Australian shores doing what they do best. Then one day I was walking to the Corner Hotel in Richmond when I saw one of those huge posters for the show, you know the ones that people always try to rip off the walls but the glue on the back is too sticky and they end up ripping half of the poster off? Yeah, those ones. So we got a photo standing in front of the poster, cos, like, they looked cool. Without even realising it until I got home, I noticed there was another band on the poster. Calling All Cars? Um, who? Never heard of them. This started the debate around tables at many bars (namely the Tote, Cherry Bar and Yah Yahs), “Who the hell are Calling All Cars and how’d they get the support?” Of course this sent a flame war and people who had no idea who they were, started getting all pissed off and bad-mouthing the band (which is a very Australian thing to do so this didn’t seem out of the ordinary to me). I held back my judgement. As I have gotten older, I find little upsets me now cos hey, I know how this industry works.
One Sunday I was at a BBQ with a French friend of mine and I didn’t know anyone so we all just started talking about how we knew each other. It then clicked that I knew these people from emails but had never met them. One of the girls told me that this band called “Calling All Cars” was a band she worked with and said I should give them a chance. So being the adventurous open minded chap that I am, come the day for AC/DC, I got there early enough so I could see Calling All Cars do their thing and let’s be realistic here, opening for the world’s greatest rock n roll band was never going to be easy. The crowd’s tough. Actually, they’re more TUFF than tough. Once 7:45 rolled around, the lights dimmed and the band hit the stage. My opinion? Good show! They nailed it. Some kids behind me were all like “Calling All Cars are shit! I bet they suck!” before the band had started and I was thinking that this is the problem with kids today, making their mind up without even hearing a band first. I mean, sure, if you hear the name Justin Bieber, you know it’s gonna be shit regardless. But this is a rock band. At least give them a chance. Do as I do, not as I write. Or something.
So recently I was forwarded a copy of Calling All Car’s debut album called “Hold, Hold, Fire!” and I gotta tell ya, it ain’t bad. Nope, not at all. It opens up with this blinder called ‘Disconnect’ which had the toe tappin’ and the pen being twiddled amongst my arthritic fingers. Which is weird for me cos I type, not write. I guess I was just fidgety. The album carries through with melodic anthem after melodic anthem. There’s a lot of guts here and you will sing along. Yeah, seriously. There’s a track called ‘Soldier On’ which is so darn catchy that your fist will be punching the air and once it hits the breakdown in the middle, I can picture drunk dudes turning to their mates at the gigs and singing the vocals into each other’s face before breaking out into some air guitar. Yeah, I’ve seen it happen. I know this behaviour all too well.
As each track plays, you won’t be left feeling unfulfilled and for a 3 piece they have a very tight sound. The drums on this album sound really REALLY good (to the point where capital letters are the only way to describe just how good the drums do sound). I used to be a drummer so I can pick up on this kinda stuff and I think the playing on this album is really solid, not just the drums but the guitars and vocals too. The bass tone especially sounds nice and beefy, kinda like Shellac’s sound. “Hold, Hold, Fire!” comes complete with great production and the whole deal. It’s powerful while not being smothered in noise, kinda like Fugazi’s sound mixed with early 90’s Seattle-era minus the fuzz toned big muff pedals. Even the slightly weaker tracks like ‘This Ship Will Sail Without You’ and ‘Accident Waiting’ still pack a punch and don’t let up on the anthemic chorus’ which is good cos I like singing, not that I can, I just like to.
The album’s finale, ‘Little Red Hands’, I felt ends a bit abruptly and I have to admit I was expecting something really huge and epic but the deal with this band is they get in there and out in just over 38 minutes. You know, I read once that some bands like to make their albums the exact length that a good bout of sex takes. This means you can start an album and then by the time you’re both laying back saying “that was awesome!” your album comes to an end. I dunno if there is any truth to that (although the Beasts of Bourbon album, “The Low Road” is the perfect love making album, try it if you don’t believe me) and I don’t know what this has to do with a 38 minute Calling All Cars album but I just thought of it then. Yeah, I’m weird. This album’s good. I’d give it 8.5 outta 10. I have to deduct a little bit cos I think the cover art is kinda plain and a bit too art-student but it’s the music that counts and in a day and age when people get shit off iTunes, they won’t even see the cover anyway so what does it matter?
Oh, and if you were wondering (and I am sure you all were) both Wolfmother and AC/DC were fuckin’ ace that night. Just sayin’.
You can find Calling All Cars online at: www.myspace.com/callingallcars
DOGS BOLLOCKS – “Smokin’” (Helium Records)
Switzerland is one of the coolest places in the world. Really. The atmosphere is awesome. You wander around feeling good about stuff. And when you are surrounded by absolutely beautiful women all day and night, how can you really find find fault in a place that awesome? You can’t and I believe that it’s not just a coincidence that hot women in your country breeds great rock n roll. How much more inspiration do you need? You wake up in the morning next to your gorgeous girl, you go to work, you are surrounded by gorgeous girls, you get home, you have dinner with your gorgeous girl while listening to rock n roll records and then you go to sleep with your gorgeous girl. That to me sounds like the best way to write great music. It’s been working in Sweden and Norway for years so it only makes sense that it would be working in Switzerland too. Trust me.
Dogs Bollocks come from Basel, a city about 50 minutes drive from Bern (Switzerland’s capital). I’ve been there and it’s nice and relaxing; very quaint and quiet and full of gorgeous girls (no surprise there). This CD arrived in the post and I was thinking that with this band name, it would be full-on punk rock but hey, it’s not! It’s kinda like 70’s rock mixed with a little 80’s without the big hair and voice-boxes. Packed with a bunch of hard rockin’ tunes to raise your hands (horns) to while livin’ on a prayer, this album is a real good time. It’s not perfect, but either was Venom’s “Black Metal” and that’s the greatest metal album of all time (hey, I don’t make the rules). I hate to say it but there was a bit of Gotthard in there which is not something any Swiss band wants to read in their review. I don’t know why cos Gotthard are awesome but no self-respecting rock n roll dude seems to agree with me. I guess it’s that bloody soccer song (“Lift U Up”) they did that burnt their bridges even though I don’t mind the song. Yeah, I said it!
There’s a track on this album called “Desperate Kingdom of Love” which has a chorus that was a tiny bit like the Gotthard tune “Come Alive” (off their fantastic ‘Domino Effect’ album). But hey, it might be a Swiss thing. Then there’s the early Iron Maiden-esque “The Court Of Last Resort”. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s really upbeat and each player is more than competent in their role delivering what they do with ease. The solos are shredding and full of wah pedals while the vocals wail away and the drums kick it and the bass randomly plays its way giving a solid rhythm section.
I really got into this album a lot. It’s way cool 70’s metal meets rock n roll and I think lovers of the genre who get into the likes of KISS, Maiden, Gotthard, Dio, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, etc. are gonna lap this up. I do think the band’s name is misleading but hey, it might be a Swiss thing cos Gotthard aint such a great name either.
Nice cover art too. Really catches the eye and yeah, good stuff all round. If they had a Facebook page you’d see something like “Damo Musclecar likes Dogs Bollocks” on my news feed. True story.
You can find Dog’s Bollocks online at: www.myspace.com/dogsbollocksbasel
GRENADIERS – “Songs The Devil Taught Us” (Casadeldisco / Shock)
I used to live in Adelaide in South Australia and I gotta tell ya, it’s boring. Besides seeing my awesome family, there’s really nothing to do there except eat Balfours Custard Tarts, go to Bigstar Records on Magil Road, listen to 3d Radio’s “Smash It Up” on Thursdays (between 11am and 1pm), and look at the giant rocking horse in Gumeracha (trust me, it’s pretty impressive lookin’). Adelaide is one of those places that everywhere else in Australia looks down on and the rumour mill has it that it is the only city in Australia where the convicts were not sent when its colonisation happened (but that doesn’t explain its validity for being the serial killer capital of the world). I moved away from the city where everything appears to be “heaps good!” to the city of Melbourne in December 2007 to revel in the awesomeness that the city brings in terms of everything artistic. And why not? Of course!
Then this album by the Grenadiers arrived in the mail. I had never heard of them before but maybe they started in January 2008 which would explain everything. Alas, it arrived and I quickly spun the disc to be a part of the buzz that is currently surrounding this Adelaide trio. First listens told me “yep, these dudes like Queens Of The Stone Age” cos it is hard to remove the similarities between vocalist Jesse’s style with Mr. Homme’s. I mean, lets be honest here. There’s no beating around the bush, I am sure QOTSA are a big influence on these guys but hey, that’s no reason to write them off cos there’s more to the sound of the Grenadiers than Josh and Co’s drugbuzzed fuzz (even if the Grenadiers do come from the pot smoking capital of Australia).
The album which was recorded at Capital Sound (easily Adelaide’s best studio, Anj is a legend there for his work with any band’s album that sounds good from Adelaide) kicks off with a killer track called ‘Abandon Ship’. The drumming is the first thing you notice and pounds through the song with power while the vocals cry over the top “No! No! No!”; the guitars run on the strings and the bass holds the song in place. An interesting mix and one that carries right on through the album, kind alike the way the bass is a prominent instrument in recordings by the band Nunchukka Superfly or The Mark Of Cain.
I must say that the vocals on the track ‘Nothing To Say’ got me thinking “Danzig!” (which is cool cos that first Danzig solo album is a right classic) whilst the songs “A Song The Devil Taught Me” and “Good Advice” (which kicks off kinda Motorhead-ish) really reminded me of shades of Brisbane’s Giants Of Science which is a great compliment cos I always thought the Giants were one of Australia’s top bands. The final track, ‘Bad Hand’ was one of my faves cos it just had this rumbling drum beat while the guitars did this nice rock progression ala Electric-era The Cult or The Hives. It’s way cool and highly catchy. A nice anthemic way to finish an album after being brutally hammered with heavy noise and I must say that as the album travels on, the QOTSA similarities become less and less and the straight up rock n roll becomes more and more which I think is great. Nothing against the Queens, I’m just sayin’ it’s good to be your own thing.
I give two thumbs up to the Grenadiers CD. Highly powerful songs drive this album and I expect good things to happen for these guys… as long as living in Adelaide doesn’t hold them back like it does most artists from the big country town. They probably should move to Melbourne.
You can find Grenadiers online at: www.myspace.com/grenadiersmusic
MCRACKINS – “It Ain’t Over Easy” (Wolverine Records)
I first heard the McRackins way back in the day when I bought this album called ‘What Came First’ purely off some good reviews and the fact it was on a label called Shredder which was the same label responsible for some Parasites stuff and a compilation 7” that had a Jawbreaker tune on it. That was good odds me thinks so how could I lose? I layed down my cash and got the album, took it home and cranked it up. I loved it. It’s kind of funny that two of them think they’re eggs and the drummer thinks he’s a dog. That is clearly insane but you know what? That’s funny. It’s been 16 years and this band have been cranking shit out all over the world in 14 albums which is a top effort. That shows prolific song writing at its best. Then this album turned up. Their latest offering.
I tore open the packet and threw this straight into the CD player. The song ‘Candy’ took off with a chord progression that sprang a similarity to the Hard-Ons track, “Sunny”, except this was ‘Candy’ and they added an extra chord. Nice! Works for me. I was dancing in the drivers seat of my car as I tore around the city visiting friends, telling everyone I came into contact with that they had to hear this gem. It’s feel good music and is perfect for the Summer (which it won’t be for about 6 months here in Oz) cruising around down by the beach with the top down and your girlfriend’s pretty hair blowing in the wind. I tell ya what, I felt good once I heard this. Like really good. I was smiling from ear to ear and kept the album on repeat for much of the 8 hour drive from Adelaide back to Melbourne. That’s a pretty good stint!
The song “Need Somebody” just knocked me on my ass as it was just so damn good and just the song I needed to hear at that particular moment of my life. This band ain’t no one hit wonder (actually, I don’t think they have had any hits, but I digress) and they ain’t a band to write off quickly as they have proved that they’re in it for the long haul and they have the songs, strong songs that will suit anyone at anytime. The whole album runs smooth and is full of should-be hits! That’s a great achievement as these days, how many albums run perfect from start to finish? Yeah, you probably couldn’t count them on both hands and feet. It appears as if the music world got lazy once the MP3 was introduced and the majority gave up on writing quality albums. But not these guys. No, this album has become one of my favorite albums of 2010 and is easily in my top 5 so far. If I had a girlfriend, I’d be makin’ out with her to this for sure. Preferably at the drive-in, in the old man’s Ford or down the basement til she’s screaming for more! More! MORE! Or I’d at least play tracks like ‘In The Year 3000’ to get her groovin’ and boppin’ and hopefully she’d think I was awesome, get naked and dance around the lounge room. Hey, a man can dream!
This new plate of punk rock is served up for your enjoyment. There’s 14 tracks and you’re gonna love ‘em all. High five to the McRackins and to Bil, Fil and Spot, happy 16th birthday cos you’ve most definitely dished up a winner! May the punk rock world embrace “It Ain’t Over Easy” and deliver you the dues you so deserve.
Visit the McRackins online at: www.myspace.com/mcrackins