Collapse Board mix tape 2 – Australia: What are they putting in the water?
So I thought I’d tackle the flipside with a mix of Australian rock from the heavier, darker and grittier side of the tracks. I could have gone to town on the weird shit that lives in the shadows but lets keep it listenable (for now). These are my favourites and should I do another one like this, I’m sure the numerous other great bands like The Hard-Ons and such won’t get pipped at the post. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere though.
1. Ouch My Face – Knockout (3:51)
Now this is a band that can get a party started right! With the perfect mixture of pretty and ugly all tied together with a shit-hot groove, this song is a standout from the bands 2009 debut album. Singer/guitarist Celeste is a small lady who when on stage commands your attention and can channel the wrath of the gods though here SG.
2. Spiderbait – Footy (1:53)
No one has ever been to a festival in Australia and NOT seen Spiderbait. They are to OZ rock what vegemite is to our culinary appetite. This dirty little punk rock number is from the bands early 1991 10-inch EP on the legendary Augogo label and it brings together everything we love about being Australian: rock’n’roll, cutting loose and of course, sport! Saying anything to the contrary could get you glassed at any of this country’s pubs.
3. Regurgitator – FSO (1:43)
This is an unpleasant and mangled slice of rock and punk that still amazes me 12 years after first hearing it. If you’ve ever seen the blood flow from the serrated scorn of Quan’s guitar and screeching vocals while a moshpit of ten thousand adults thrash along then you have to wonder if any of them realise how candid this song is about domestic violence and the way it destroys lives. This band was always way to cleaver for it’s own good and releasing this 1998 single as one track with the song buried in the middle of 16 minutes of unlistenable noise and effects was simply another middle finger to the fans who saw them as nothing more than a soundtrack to cut sick too.
4. The Eastern Dark – Johnny & Dee Dee (3:01)
I can’t recall when the Ramones finally got to Australia, but back in 1985 the seven-inch single that this song was from was the best thing this country had in pop punk. Produced by Radio Birdman’s Rob Younger, this was a great slice of what we heard from afar and turned into something we could call our own. Death within the band cut this great group’s career horribly short in 1986.
5. Kim Salmon & The Surrealists – Gravity (4:11)
Can you believe that the Sin Factory-era Surrealists supported U2 on their Zoo TV tour in 1993. Something so ugly and drenched in the swamp of The Cramps must have freaked out many of the kiddies. Even today, they are still Kim Salmon’s post-Scientists high-water mark!
6. Standing 8 Counts – Broke Neck Blues (3:28)
Sticking to the swamp and the garage. This Brisbane band took 10 years to release an album and subsequently broke up the night of its release, back in 2007. The children of the aforementioned Kim Salmon, Beasts Of Bourbon and the far off garage of The Gories and The Oblivions – this song was a staple that survived a lot longer than many of those in the group and was a standout from a band with no equal in their hometown.
7. Front End Loader – Pulse (3:08)
For anyone thinking rock n roll is dumb, well please don’t ever engage this band in conversation because they’ll never let you forget it. This Sydney four-piece almost had a hit with this song in 1997, detailing the god-awful tale of one of the band members watching his girlfriend pass away in his arms. It’s always made me uncomfortable to think that this song is so catchy and upbeat that you almost want to sing it in the shower. An amazing rock band with scathing wit that have always been criminally ignored.
8. Screaming Tribesmen – Igloo (4:02)
I’ve never really heard a guitar sound like this one. This Brisbane/Sydney band came and went before I ever discovered this song but it stands out against everything that the historians have savoured from music in the year 1982. I’ve been told this song is all about drugs but I don’t much care – it just sounds like rock music from another planet. Back in 2003 I remember standing in the 4ZZZFM basement rifling through boxes of old local demos and I came across the quarter-inch master-tape for this song. A few years later I asked a station volunteer what happened to all those demo tapes and I was told they were thrown in the trash.
9. Hotel Breslin – Death Row Road (4:00)
Brisbane in 1988 was an ugly place run by a tyrant called Joh Bjelke-Petersen who would have his boys in blue arrest you just cause you looked different. In the shadows of all this was the abomination called Boggo Rd Jail just south of the city centre. This song is as close to the horror of that place that I’d ever want to get. It also has a ferocious bass guitar sounds that great even from my original seven-inch!
10. Mark Of Cain – Battlesick (5:16)
No one else in Australian music has taken the unpleasantness of the human condition and made a definable sound and career out of it like Adelaide’s Mark Of Cain. The core of this band are the brothers John and Kim Scott, both ex-army personnel and 1989’s ‘Battlesick’ is the band’s blueprint. It isn’t an anti or pro-war song, it’s quite simply a war song for anyone who wonders what it must be like out there. These days the Scott Bothers have John Stanier (from Helmet) on drums.
11. Black Sea – Nation Blue (4:33)
I’ll go on the record right here and say that this Melbourne trio is the best band this country has. I could have put 10 songs here equally as good as this one from their last three flawless albums, but this 2007 song is as good as any a place to start. This is dark and maligned music that that has always filled me with as much hope as it does despair. It’s not punk rock, it’s not noise rock and it’s nothing as boring as rock’n’roll. This is a band for anyone who has wanted not just entertainment but redemption to come in the form amplified guitar strings and the human voice.
12. Turnpike – Some Basic Elements (4:25)
I think this trio are simply too good at what they do and subsequently left too many folks confounded by their bristling rock complexities to ever become massively popular. Many of us have revelled in Turnpike for more than a decade now and the band’s numerous and criminally limited releases (this one’s from 2003) may always stay as Brisbane’s best kept secrets, but the band doesn’t seem to mind and as long as we get to see them live, well neither do we.
13. John Lee Spider – Queen Bee (8:48)
(note: might not be actual band photo)
What happen when a bunch of really talented dudes into heavy music decide to go weird in Brisbane? Well, back at the turn of the century, John Lee Spider is what happened. This song is not indicative of what they did when they were around, but it’s a great song that typifies the kind of strangeness that so much of Australia’s darker rock bands all possess in their own weird way.
You can listen to the mix tape here.