Every once in a while an album comes along that almost completely flies under your radar but the tunes on offer stop you in your tracks and kick you straight between the legs like some musical steel toe capped boot.

‘Black Door’ the all-new eleven tracker from Australian five-piece The Volcanics is just such a record. Boasting a Jim Diamond mix job this record cuts, like a fucking knife, the tunes are that sharp. The songwriting adding a fantastic pop twist to the already well-worn garage rock/punk rock formula that sees oh so many bands falling at the final hurdle when it comes to having that extra edge to make them stand apart.

Perhaps The Volcanics secret ingredient is the huge presence of vocalist Johnny Phatouros who shines throughout, and where some singers might just put their foot on the monitor and scream out belters like ‘Talk’  and the album’s title track, Johnny throws in off-kilter vocal hooks that at first seem at odds with the band’s throbbing backbeat, however once they sink in you cannot help but marvel at just how simple and effective his approach is. In many ways, he is like the band’s Pelle Almqvist or their Skye Vaughan-Jayne.

Talking of Skye for a moment the immediate buzz I got when listening to ‘Black Door’ for the first time was this could very easily have been the follow up to The Chelsea Smiles awesome ‘Thirty Six Hours Later’ album from 2006, and if you are familiar with that classic, you’ll know that we don’t make comparisons to that work of absolute punk rock genius that often here at RPM towers. So, if that’s sparked your interest then ‘Changes On My Mind’ is the tune I suggest you listen to first (via the Bandcamp link below) and trust me when I say “have a cold beer in hand when you press play” and “just let the music do the rest.”

With influences as wide-reaching as You Am I and AC/DC The Volcanics actually remind me more of Radio Birdman and Midnight Oil, albeit with (thanks to the aforementioned Diamond mix) a sound that manages to hammer home the intensity of the band whilst retaining the clarity of the melodies, the latter being the essential difference and why tracks like ‘2000 Years Ago’ and ‘You Don’t Even Know The Song’ work so bloody well.

To be honest I’m a little bit gutted that I’m only just discovering The Volcanics now. five albums into their career. Still better late than never eh, and when the first tracks I get to hear by them are as fucking fantastic as those on ‘Black Door’ then the real positive about this situation is I’ve now got four more Volcanics albums to look forward to catching up on.

Look I can’t recommend The Volcanics highly enough, they are chock full of positivity in an age of the negativity and I challenge you right here and now to go listen to ‘Black Door’ and not get the same buzz I did the first time of listening.

Album of the year material? You betcha.

Author: Johnny Hayward

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Ghost Highway Bandcamp

Ghost Highway Shop

Dead Moon was formed in Portland, Oregon. They existed from 1987 to 2006, Featuring the talents of singer/guitarist Fred Cole,  bassist Kathleen “Toody” Cole, (Fred’s wife), and drummer Andrew Loomis. The Band toured Europe’s mainland which is where most of their support was to be fair.

They announced that they were breaking up with the last gig at the Vera club in Groningen late 2006. Fred and Toody owned and operated their own guitar shop, Tombstone Music, for 30 years and also ran the Tombstone General Store in Oregon for about eight years.

Sadly drummer, Andrew Loomis, died on March 8, 2016. at the young age of 54 then little over a year later Frontman Fred Cole died in the November 2017 at the age of 69 the band recorded just under a dozen albums as well as numerous live and compilation records and a heap of singles.

Nineteen of those tracks have lovingly been interpreted by the likes of The Hellacopters who do a stunning version of ‘Rescue’ to open up proceedings and take ownership doing a really neat Hellacopters job on owning the song. In fact of the bands I already knew well like Sator, Chuck Norris Experiment, “Demons”, Nomads, Lovesores, Marys Kids and King Mastino there were others I’ll hold my hands up to not being too familiar with and mixing up the bands is a great way to discover more ways to spend money on records.

 

As I disappear down the wormhole that is Dead Moon tribute album I’m not disappointed with the likes of Nomads who breath new life into the songs with passion and stunning interpretations of great tunes.  By the end of the record, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe Dead Moon was one of those bands who were overlooked but clearly left something on a scene and have managed to have a chunk of their catalogue rediscovered by others who dare I say it made the tunes better!  There I’ve said it.

Side B featuring “Demons”, Fellow Portland rockers Lovesores, The Nomads, The Boatsmen and Monomen steal it on the line with the strongest performances (not that this is a competition I know that) but I love this group of songs and each performance is different and excellent.  There are one or two that didn’t sing to me like some of the others which I guess is natural some of the more Grunge interpretations maybe on side C like Dirty Coal Train and their take of ‘The 99’s’ reminds me of Sonic Youth but I loved La Secta and Buffalo with a dark garage take on ‘Dead In The Saddle’. The Brooms went psychedelic whilst Suicide Notes blew me away with ‘Johnny Got A Gun’ before King Mastino wrapped it all up nicely with a great ‘War Is Blind’.

If your not familiar with Dead Moon or any or many of these bands then I suggest you get involved quickly and check this out.  Ghost Highway always delivers quality and this is the latest in a long line and a wonderful journey of discovery it is too now we’ve given you the heads up what are you waiting for?  Get out of here!

 

Buy Tribute To Dead Moon Here

Chaputa! Records

Setzer, Rocker and Phantom back together in the same room recording kick-ass rock and roll after forty years together.  who’d have thought that?

Whilst they might be plying their tried and tested trade they’ve never been about reinventing the wheel they just want to preserve 1950’s Rock and Roll as best they can and look cool as doing it.  Whilst techniques have changed and equipment has changed dramatically – Hell, how we listen to our music has also changed significantly over the last decade never mind forty years!

I guess it doesn’t matter what decade or timeline you’re preaching from if it ain’t got no soul it can’t Rock and Roll and the one things The Stray Cats can still do all the decades later is Rock and Roll and they’ve never forgotten how to write a tune or two either.

The album was recorded as a live band in a room in a couple of takes, pretty much as you’d hear them live I guess which in today’s money is a nuts way to do things and would puzzle a new bunch of kids.  Most people don’t even spend time in the studio together they post in their parts and record ’em at home for the most part. To go back to the old school is a brave move even for these cats but the rewards are a rich sound that full of vitality and vibrancy.

Twelve cuts of prime lean Stray Cats is expected and to be fair the trio duly delivers the goods  No special guests, no studio trickery – No autotune no sirs. It’s not so much the standard Rockabilly tunes that do it for me either, it’s the curveballs that I’m gonna champion.

Sure they kick off in super safe territory with the familiar shuffle of ‘Cat Fight’, ‘Rock It Off’ and ‘Got Love If You Want It’.  All fairly safe even if they’re done to perfection this is the stuff these three can do in their sleep.  It’s the rougher ‘Cry Danger’ that sets this record alight for me with its rolling guitar lick from Setzer and the cool backbeat that makes it a fine fine tune. Some impressive guitar playing from one of the greats but very understated.  A top tune.

To follow that with the excellent ‘I Attract Trouble’ which is the coolest song they’ve come up with for many a year.  again a great riff and throwing in a ‘pipeline’ riff as the swamp tone is smokin’.  You can settle down then for some classic rock and roll fifties style with ‘When Nothing Going Right’ being an uptempo song that’s cool as but I’m not sure there was any need to throw in a mid-tempo instrumental in the middle with ‘Desperado’ but hey nobody said it was perfect.

If you’re looking for that smoldering ballad to close this bad boy then have a word with yourself because ‘I’ll Be Looking Out For You’ is a mean uptempo scorcher and one of the best tunes on offer and its a joy to hear Setzer let rip on that old Gretsch of his but they leave no room for a soft song for tough guys instead ‘Devils Train’ is swashbuckling and a really good ending to a well above average record.  I was hoping it was going to be good but I think to be fair its exceeded my expectations, by including a few really good songs that aren’t so formulaic and honoring that traditional 50s structure is great to hear even after all these years that The Stray Cats can challenge themselves whilst keeping the quality of the songs so high.  So ’40’ is a big Yes from me and if you like a bit of old school teaching you new tricks in these fast-moving times then you won’t go far wrong with this new Stray Cats record.

Buy ’40’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley

The Making Of ’40’

Watch behind the scenes of the making of '40'

Posted by Stray Cats on Monday, 11 March 2019