Albums: Aussie 4-Pack

There are some great Aussie bands at the moment, recent ones that have graced my turntable have included Mt Mountain, Hotel Wrecking City Traders and Dreamtime, just to name three. I guess you could also add King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizzard to that list, but I just can’t keep up with their output. Here’s four more bands to add to the list who all, in their own way, are pushing their case forward. If there was a lowest common denominator here it would be Black Sabbath, since that great band can be seen in all four of these releases… underlining what pioneers they were. If I’m honest you can probably hear Sabbath in the majority of music I write about though.

Zong by Zong

Zong is a three piece (Drums: Henry Bennett, Bass: Michael Grinstead, Guitar: Zac Anderson) from Brisbane, and I have to say that this album is an absolute revelation. Another Cardinal Fuzz release that has seemingly come out of nowhere, this is some heavy shit. Right from the get go Zong hammer down with ‘Cosmic Embryo’ in a way that doesn’t just channel Sabbath but many of the greats that have gone before. This is one of four superb jams on this album that’ll turn your brain to jelly and put a rictus smile on your face that will break out into a massive grim when, ten minutes in, the band change up into overdrive and bring the track home in a stunning way. ‘Arcane Sand’ is also one hell of a trip, in at least two senses of the work… at times there is so much going on here that it’s hard to focus as all three musicians are clearly playing flat out in a manner that reminds me of such as Earthless in the way that they just go for it. ‘Giant Floating Head’ is less frenetic, but no less heavy, and allows you more access into the music and, with it’s spacey dimensions, feels more like a psych journey, while ‘Return of the Ancient King’ also has that strung-out bluesy feel of such as Black Bombaim and Lee Van Cleef, and a brilliant change up seven and a half minute in. All in all this is a bloody brilliant album that’ll have you holding your face in place at times, while at others you’ll find it rummaging around in your head due to its sheer grooviness.

Vinyl & CD available from ZONG directly. Additionally available from Cardinal Fuzz records in the UK/ EU and Praying Mantis records in Australia.

Naturality by Orb

You don’t have to go very far into this album before hearing the Sabbath connection. Opening track ‘Hazelwart’ is replete with it, including a very Ozzy sounding vocal. But that’s not what this album is about as we then go straight into ‘A Man In The Sand’ which is more reminiscent of Barrett-era Floyd, with some Ray Davis melody thrown in. ‘You Are Right’ has that clipped garage rock of earlier King Gizzard while at the same time managing to sound like Iron Maiden in places… all good in my book. ‘O.R.B.’ feels much more like a full on assault with it’s heavy slow opening before breaking out into a massive early Sabbath riff… a total powerhouse of a track which never lets up over each of its eight plus minutes. ‘Immortal Tortoise’ is another classic face melter that’ll also have you off in the stars, while ‘Mother Brain’ initially has a staccato style before firing the riffs up and soaring in an ace mid-section. ‘Flying Sourcer’ strikes me as what elements of post-punk might have sounded like had bands like Sabbath not been persona non grata at the time… it makes for interesting listening, especially in that context. ‘Rainbow’s End’ is one hell of a track to finish with, seemingly bringing together a lot of what has gone before… a great summary for an album that, for me, is growing with every listen.

‘Naturality’, out 6 October, 2017 on Flightless Records (AUS) & Castle Face Records (USA)

From The Centre Of A Parallel Universe by Frozen Planet….1967

Frozen Planet…1969 are a new band for me, but this is their fifth album, and follows on from a ‘Electric Smokehouse’, which was an album of eclectic jams and sonic breakouts, yeah right…what’s not to like? ‘From The Centre Of A Parallel Universe’ is still in that direction with is mixture of massive riffs and interstellar departures into weird realms. This is not space rock in its most conventional terms since there is more than an element of experimentalism to the music. What there is here is a drive.. a forward momentum that keeps the album powering on. What I like most about this album though are the little moments. You could listen to it on one level and get massive arcs of sound that pull you along, but listen another way and each track seems to be a series of improvised vignettes, chapters in an unfolding story if you like, all of which are important for the overall feel. As such this is already proving to be an album that needs to be heard again and again. The closer you listen to it. The exception to this is ‘The Lady and the Archer’ which is a tighter and more focussed piece that is rapidly proving to be one of my favourite tracks of recent times (check it out below). After that ‘Ancient Wings Taking Flight’ seems even more fragmented and out there. Brilliant!

LP out on Headspin Records. Comes in a gatefold sleeve and the choice of either black or orange/black splatter vinyl. Limited quantities will be available here on the Pepper Shaker Records Bandcamp page. “European customers please consider purchasing from Shiny Beast“.

The World Today by Hobo Magic

Arguably a more conventional rock ‘n’ roll band compared to the other ones here, Hobo Magic are all about the riffs… and absolutely nothing wrong with that. Cleaner and less fuzz they really go for it throughout the album with the exception of ‘The Poet’, the traditional ‘slow number’. As such I thought they were well worth a shout out and a great way to finish after listening to the three albums about (all four can be streamed on bandcamp). Indeed the title of the opener ‘Follow The Holy Riff’ tells you all you need to know about this band. I know that most of the bands I write about here have an experimental edge to them, but sometimes you want some straight down the line stuff that you can really rock out too… these guys do that with a series of relatively stretched out tracks that really allow you to get inside the music and shake your skull to oblivion. Hard to pick a favourite but ‘The World Today’ (below) really encapsulates the hard working high energy rock that this band put out.

Album available now from the Hobo Magic bandcamp


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