Pretty In Punk
Author: Bernard Zuel
THE LIVING END
Roll On (EMI)
This Terrible Place (Chatterbox/Phantom)
New punks find rock; old punks find style. Odd but true.
The Living End still have the upright bass but they have shed the last vestiges of the rockabilly past, which were growing tenuous even on the previous album. In their place is a firmer commitment to their real love – the sounds of The Clash and bands who inspired The Clash, such as The Who, with the odd nod to Van Halen of all people.
Lyrically, this is evident in attempts at wry character studies (Uncle Harry who is “pissing in the bath again” and Dirty Man who is “on the run, thought you could get away with it”) and a strong political line. It’s unsophisticated (the occasional clumsiness of Riot on Broadway and the obviousness of Revolution Regained) but singer/guitarist/ songwriter Chris Cheney is at least well intentioned, waving the flag for jobless wharfies in the title track and the stolen generations in Killing The Right.
It’s musically that Roll On will confirm this band’s status as one of the biggest in the country. Boasting a beefier sound and a more consciously melodic vein, these songs have taken the pop/punk energy and grafted on a pair of heavyweight bovver boots, crunching chords like good pub rock of yore and offering plenty of chant-along choruses. The only thing missing is some Mick Jones relief from the Joe Strummer parade: some change of pace for anyone a bit older than 14 with testosterone rising.
Amazingly, it’s there in spades on the new album from Sydney’s original rude-boy ’80s punks, the Hard-Ons, who have been threatening to do this for nearly 20 years.
Here is an album of sometimes-bubbling. sometimes-lethal power pop mixed with brutal moments and frat-boy humour, a combination that succeeds more often than is reasonable. Ice Cream could be the dreamiest of the lo-fi American bands; Time Won’t Let Me and I’m Bringing You Death are underground metal; Sadly Ever After is Jonathan Richman on steroids; and Birthday is what the rising band Lo-Tel are aiming for – a balance between My Bloody Valentine and The Archies.
From Oyster Sauce, the garage-band homage that opens the album to the Syd Barrett-ish faux silliness of I Hate Clubbers that closes it, This Terrible Place sounds classier than the Hard-Ons have ever sounded.
And being able to have the words classy and Hard-Ons in the one sentence is bizarre enough to recommend this album.
Music Feast’s A Steal, Baked Here For Half Price
Author: Peter Gotting
It’s the ideal time for an all-Australian music festival. With the dollar so low, promoters are having difficulty attracting overseas acts but for today’s Homebake the exchange rate doesn’t matter.
As the name of the annual youth festival says, the acts that will perform today were baked right here – all 41 performing on the four stages at The Domain are Australian.
Organiser Ms Jessica DuCrou realises the fortunate position she is in. Promoters for festivals such as the Big Day Out have had difficulty securing big-name overseas acts for next year.
And it’s a good time for an all-Australian line-up anyway, given that Sydney is enjoying some post-Olympic patriotic fervour.
“People feel ownership of the show a lot more than other festivals,” Ms DuCrou says. “And I don’t know whether the whole Olympics this year has added that extra Sydneysider thing. I think it could have.”
About 20,000 people are expected at the Domain from 10 am for the sixth Homebake festival, featuring the likes of Spiderbait, Resin Dogs, Sonic Animation and Friendly
The headline band this year is Melbourne rock band The Living End, although they don’t like to refer to themselves as such.
“We wouldn’t say headline,” says drummer Travis Demsey. “We would say the last act. We are just at last.”
He says Homebake is the best festival in Australia “because it’s all Australian”. Bassist Scott Owen calls it “kind of a patriotic moment – it’s just good that Australia can put on such a strong festival”.
With weather forecasts predicting early showers clearing to a fine day, the band advises punters to “slip, slop, slap” and drink lots of “beer, water, beer, water, beer, water, beer, beer, beer” to get them through the day. At these festivals, the threat of overheating is just as scary as the threat of heavy rain.
As well as the traditional rockers, electronica acts are making a big splash this year. Ms DuCrou says electronica and dance music acts have “come of age” over the past 12 months, which is why acoustic and “lo-fi style” acts and DJs will have their own big top, the Hopetoun Stage, named after the Surry Hills hotel – one of Sydney’s most prominent live music venues.
And extreme action sports will be carried out in the middle of the park, with the Max Team showing off “trampoline boarding”, motorcross and inline skating.
First act starts at 11 am today The line-up includes: The Living End, Regurgitator, Magic Dirt, Spiderbait, Tumbleweed, Resin Dogs, Alex Lloyd, Jebediah, Bodyjar, Something for Kate, Screamfeeder, Augie March, Wicked Beat Sound System, Pnau, 78 Saab, Rocket Science, Skulker, Endorphin and Frenzal Rhomb