I don’t want to do you like that but you make it so easy babe
A couple of weeks back I was fortunate enough to catch the great Red Kross (supported by locals faves Iowa). Hoo boy, what a terrific night of music it was. What a band. Four guys hurling themselves into three minute, three chord punky power pop over and over again-it was exhilarating and cathartic and joyous, it was a total thing. And oh man the drummer. Let’s just say I don’t feel so sad about never getting to see Keith Moon now (my previous closest connection to the dude was my dad pointing out the spot on his head where a piece of exploding drum kit struck him at a Sydney show in, like, ‘68). All in my very favourite Melbourne venue, the band room of the Northcote Social Club. But this isn’t another gush about Melbourne. This is about my love affair with rock and roll.
I didn’t start listening to music, on a serious level, or attending gigs until my late teens and early twenties, despite my fathers exemplary music taste and history of injuries inflicted by rock gods. The music bug did certainly bite me though and once I’d escaped the small town I was raised in I was seeing gigs as often as possible, though one band cut through like no other. You Am I were a three piece when I first saw them, and I’m glad I got to see them in those early days. I’d fallen hard for their albums but the live shows were a whole other thing. Soul shaking, bombastic affairs of sweat, booze and big stupid smiles, best described by a phrase I discovered around that time and still often use - “music that makes you want to pour a beer on your head”. Most importantly these shows (I stopped counting after about 42) were great fucking fun and instilled in me a passion for top shelf rock and roll-this was my education on the Stones and The Who and The Replacements and Husker Du and so, so much more. I won’t carp on, we need to talk about another band, so just watch this clip.
I mention all this because in seeing Red Kross and discovering Nude Beach I’ve had my rock and roll embers stoked unlike any time I recall since those hedonistic days of the late 90’s. It ain’t just pure nostalgia, it’s a tangible reaction to music that plugs something into me and flicks the goddamn switch. For all the rock and roll that’s around, much is worthless. Pale and pissweak. Nude Beach aren’t that. Nude Beach are very, very good.
Well the radio’s playing a sad song I don’t wanna hear
We’re away with “Radio” and already I’m in this until the end, already I’m thinking about how to get these cats to Australia. That frenetic riff, those yelping vocals, that visceral beat. Yeah it’s informed by early Boss and Westerberg, sure, but this is classic NYC rock and roll, folks. Let’s leave the influences at the door and enjoy ourselves huh? Importantly Nude Beach are a three piece-there’s a something about a great three piece that makes gives them more urgency, makes their ability to power out such whipsmart rock even more impressive. I mean look at these cats-don’t you wanna be there?
If you’re not in by track two “Walkin’ Down My Street” you’re probably taking life too seriously. You’re probably missing out on a whole heap of fun shit.
I don’t care if you see me cry or bleed, I just need you bayyyy-ah-beee
The lyrics are here are almost exclusively concerned with love and heartbreak, mostly from a charmingly juvenile place. Chuck Betz ( no shit!) has a terrific rock and roll voice, he swings beautifully from considered delivery to roof-down-throwing-firecrackers-at-pedestrians-swilling-Budweiser wailing and his phrasing is spot on.
Coz baby this kind of love could bring me dooooooooooooooown
The album is put together as all great rock and roll records are, pretty much. A few crackers to start off, a mid tempo one or two in the middle before a couple more barn burners. The last two don’t quite follow suit though-usually you’d expect a quiet number or two to close and “Don’t Have to Try” is that R’nB flavoured heart bleeder at track 10 but this album closes with a couple more party starters - “Loser In The Game” is one of the albums standouts and one of it’s most energetic.
And though I wouldn’t lie; you just can’t find the secret places I hide; cos they’re so deep inside my mind
It’s as is if Nude Beach don’t want to fade into the night, they want to own the night. They want to be with you until the horrible, glorious end. It’s rock and roll that exists in a realm few can reach and I think that’s mainly that’s because it’s honest and simple-I think it’s a reflection of these guys lives. I don’t know a thing about them, but I’m utterly convinced by the genuine passion beating in every note of this album. Yes, this sort of rock and roll is indeed rare, music that reminds you of the best times of your life and soundtracks the ones still to come.
The music scene in Melbourne has always been strong but recently it seems great bands have been popping up on every street corner, or at least in the bars that share them. Sandcastle are one of these fresh arrivals and their debut EP is a terrific brace of frenetic post punk songs that display great promise.
“Warriors” grooves along with crunching riffs and a pounding rhythm, eventually breaking down to its bare parts before building back up into a glorious, noisy finale. “Red Lights” paces back and forth amongst squalling guitars and more of that insistent beat, building tension and then releasing it in a wall of cathartic sound.
Closer “Ice Cream Treat” is an eight minute epic that sees Sandcastle rising and falling across jagged terrain, it’s a total blast. It’s tempting to make Television comparisons but Sandcastle have more gristle to them than that, for me this has something of the uncompromising sounds of Wipers. High praise, but deserved. Raw, wicked and very exciting indeed.
Today at BCH we’re reverting to a solo operation, with Damien (BCH3P0) and Claire (Huntress) no longer contributing. I’d like to say a massive thanks to them both for all their great picks, writing and help over the last six months or so. It’s been grand. The good ship BCH will power on, with just the one drunken sailor manning the big wheel.