Weather Vane

Ouzo! State of Affairs / Balloons 7″

This feels like a decidedly un-punk opinion, but I love an aperitif. Lay out a dainty spread of snacks and offer me a high ABV fancy liqueur, and I’m in heaven. Were I at all musically inclined, I’d consider writing a “Heroin”-like ode to the sensation of slowly sipping something like an ouzo on an empty stomach, the immediate warmth you feel in your gut and the way it gently spreads throughout your body. Nothing gentle about consuming OUZO!, though! This Melbourne four-piece, who’ve been at it for a couple of years now, constructs songs by layering loose, sped-up psych riffs over an extremely tight rhythm section, then smashing that up against what sounds like the UNDERTONES had they chosen to emphasize downstroke punk and bratty glam over pop melodies. The two tracks on this 7″ are immediate and mean and cool and pack quite the wallop. Apparently, the Greeks frown upon going too hard on their most famous spirit with too little to eat, a practice they call going “dry hammer.” Coincidentally, that’s what it feels like OUZO! is smacking you with…in the best possible way. Get some in ya!

Set-Top Box Max Headroom EP

This has gotta be like—what—the fourth or fifth release by this guy just this year? For those who don’t know, SET-TOP BOX is one of the (at least) three solo recording projects of Ishka Edmeades (he also does stuff as TEE VEE REPAIRMAN and SATANIC TOGAS), which he finds time to work on while he’s not helping out in other bands/projects (RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION, GEE TEE, MAINFRAME, etc.), designing record sleeves (like this one—looks pretty good, right?), or running his label, Warttmann Inc. Dude is busy! But he’s still cranking out the hits. This four-song EP starts out with one of the catchiest tracks he’s written. “Nothin’ At All” takes that eggy start/stop jerk you can’t escape these days and smooths it out a bit with some rubbery cartoon funk, resulting in a little groove that would compel even the grumpiest of punks (like me) to nod along. It alone is probably worth the price of admission, but the rest of the EP is solid enough—it’s full of the Heathcliff-meets-DEVO punk you’ve come to expect from this project. He’s teetering on the edge of putting out too many things to pay attention to, but this EP ain’t tipping him over.

Sewer Side Fuzz Beach EP

Back in 2017, Goodbye Boozy put out a single-sided 7″ from this project. As is generally the case with Mr. Boozy’s releases, the record seemingly came out of nowhere, was by an unknown artist, and offered zero information about the act in the liner notes (comically, the record insert was just a rough doodle of what looks like a really high dog). The music had an air of mystery to it as well—it was loose, fuzzy psych in the vein of early BLACK LIPS or STRAIGHT ARROWS, but the vocals were unintelligible, droney, and sounded like they were captured on some distant plane of existence. It also featured an odd smattering of warping and skipping effects. The whole record made you feel like you were on drugs. I loved it. So, of course I jumped at the chance to review this EP, the first released by the project since then. There’s still not a ton of information out there about the outfit, but this appears to be a solo endeavor from Geelong/Melbourne musician Julian Wild. And while I was hoping for another mind-melter, I’ll have to settle for four competent but fairly typical psych/garage tracks. The two tracks on the “Beach” side of the 7″ sound like the gentler stuff the OH SEES were putting out back in the late aughts, and the two on the “Fuzz” side sound an awful lot like what TY SEGALL was doing around that same time. Again, it’s a solid record, and there don’t seem to be too many folks doing this exact thing these days. So, give it a listen, but seek out that first 7″!

The Floaties Now in Colour EP

These days, I’d normally think you’re signing your own death warrant being compared to DEVO. This band managed to flirt around the same atmosphere without getting sucked in too close, however. The active, syncopated riffing and humanist machine vocals are reminiscent, but the band also brings a power-popping confidence to the table as well. Through four cuts, the band keeps your head bopping the whole time. The vocals have a great sonorous quality to them and the rhythm section absolutely rumbles. Then it goes off the rails, as “Dead Right” swings in like a Stiff Records classic. The track builds brilliantly from a repetitive dual riff and vocals to a full-on jam: think WRECKLESS ERIC morphing into THIN LIZZY before your very eyes. That’s the kind of trick of the ear I can come back to a thousand times. Killer brainy rock‘n’roll.