Sunday, July 09, 2006

EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING. Apparently that's the name given to a scientific occurance involving magnetic fields, conductors and some other crap I'll never understand, though it's also the name of a new-ish Melbourne band you'll be hearing a whole lot more of in the future. I caught them this Friday just passed at Revolver, of all places (yes, kicking and screaming all the way... it being a local chickenhead/yuppie a-hole haunt of some repute in Melbourne, if you don't know), and left so suitably impressed I feel it is my duty to inform you of their existence. Of course, I had seen them before on several occassions, but this time it really clicked: ECSR are one hell of a band, and in fact may just be the best currently operational rock unit in Australia today.

A four-piece w/ no apparent pretentions whatsoever, they've nailed a sound which no one in living memory has managed to perfect south of the equator. It's a weird beast to witness in the flesh. Singer, "Brendan Suppression", looks like Joe Blow on the street except he possesses the hilarious habit of always donning leather "singing gloves" on stage to screech with, yelps w/ an unfiltered Aussie accent and likes to do a great deal of his yelling off the stage. Like, in the audience. Bassist, "Rob Solid", looks like he should be playing in the Cockney Rejects, though he alarmingly plays his instrument arched at chest level - New Wave style - and with his fingers. It's a brave move, though his obvious enthusiasm pulls it off. Guitarist and occasional keyboardist, "Eddy Current", has the weediest guitar sound this side of Tom Verlaine, though w/ a booming rhythm section carrying most of the load, his rake-thin inflections serve a perfect decoration and, when needed, he strums out some hip-shaking power chords. Drummer, Dan Helada (and I believe that is his real name) makes me jealous w/ his skins prowess. Never too fancy with his fills, he is, as they say, the Human Metronome. He also has some nice tattoos. That's the band.

Their sound is a tough one to pin down, if only because it falls into approximately three different categories. Most of it falls roughly into a late '70s, minimal and aggressive punk vibe not too dissimilar to the debut long-player efforts from Wire and the Saints. It's clean and disciplined a la Pink Flag, though the 'Strine drawl has me thinking of no one else but a young Chris Bailey. The second element of the band sees them taking on a more conventional, though occasionally HC-paced, take on '60s beat/rave-up raunch of the Easybeats/Yardbirds mold. You'll stomp, shimmy, shake and have yerself a good time. Lastly, there are the moments when Eddy Current - that's the man, not the band - drops the guitar and takes up the keyboard. I drew a long bow to a friend on Friday night and told him such moments bring to mind the Screamers. I think I was full of it. Let me retract that statement and tell you that the third element of the band sees them delving into chintzy old-school keyboard-driven garage rock of the Seeds/? And The Mysterians ilk. That clears that up. They excel at all three.

So excited was I by the performance, the exhilaration of seeing a local Rock Band who not only wrote and performed such strong material with real guts, passion and lack of any pretention whatsoever in my own backyard, I hopped on down to Missing Link the next day and purchased one of the two 7"s they now have available. I would've bought them both, but one was out of stock. I settled for their self-titled 3-track EP on Corduroy, which deftly shows up all three elements of the band just discussed within its grooves: the art-punk, the freakbeat and the organ groove. Attending the show w/ Richard Stanley from Dropkick, who has just signed the band to release their just-recorded full-length debut on his label, I turned to him after the last chord was struck and said, "You know, I think you may just have a hit on your hands". He nodded his head and said some comment about the last song being a killer. I had to set him straight: "Not just that song, but the whole band, they're great! You should hassle Larry at In The Red about licensing them. Americans will love them". Of course I've been full of shit on many occasions before, but this time I think I'm right. ECSR are a band of perfect ingredients, all in the right doses. I don't write about contemporary "garage rock" much in these pages, because I rarely, if ever, listen to it. That's Jay over at Agony Shorthand's bag. He has the knowledge, the recordings and the writing skills to give the better bands way more justice than I can. I'm writing this as a wake-up call to all you foreigner types: your future favourite Australian band will be Eddy Current Suppression Ring.

HIGH FIVE:

1) COMUS - First Utterance LP
15 years of Current 93 fandom, and I've finally cracked and bought their greatest inspiration!
2) ALICE COLTRANE - World Galaxy LP
Yes, bought a cheap, slightly beat-up copy from eBay last week. Still not available on CD in the West, this is another great early-'70s outing from the First Lady of Psychedelic Ethno-Jazz (after all, somebody has to be). Features the great Frank Lowe on a couple of tracks, the man responsible for my all-time fave ESP jazz platter, 1973's epochal Black Beings.
3) BETTY DAVIS - This Is It! 2LP
4) NEW YORK DOLLS - All Dolled Up DVD
Recently released doco put together by photogropher/blowhard, Bob Gruen, with him following the band on their first west coast tour in '73, Beta camera in tow. The LA footage, especially the nightclub scenes in Rodney Biggenheimer's English Disco, floor me; the live stuff and recent spins of their two studio LPs have me convinced they may have been a better band than the Stooges. Really.
5) ZOMBIES - Odessey And Oracle CD
It's taken me a long time, but this saccharine slice of airbrushed psychedelia has finally won me over. A perfect moment of west coast psych-pop in the Byrds/Love vein from a group of bespectacled Limeys.

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