Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cracked Jaffers, Trodds & Golden Bats

For what may be the only September installment of the Breakdown, I have decided to highlight the standout track from a few rather forgotten 80's 7" EPs. All the bands spotlighted in today's post were proudly and without question influenced by the sounds of 60's rock, but in three completely different ways.

The Cracked Jaffers - "Greatest Mistake" from the Drop In EP

The band is Australian, but the sound is pure west coast jangle with harmonica straight out of the Sunset Strip '65. The playing is comfortably inept, from the eager if labored guitar solo to the way the 3rd verse vocals go deep into the red - in other words, what they lack in musical chops is made up for with earnest sincerity. The flipside features inspired covers of New Zealand's La De Da's debut 1965 single, "Little Girl" and the Motown classic and garage band standard, "Leaving Here." While again the playing is not top-shelf, the energy is undeniable and ultimately infectious. One gets the impression that an evening spent in a crowded Melbourne pub circa 1987 with the Cracked Jaffers playing was a night well spent and one to remember. Unlike many bands on the blog, the Jaffers followed up this EP with a full-length album and at least another 7". Still, they seem to have become a somewhat forgotten mainstay on the highly regarded 80's Aussie garage punk scene, and worthy of rediscovery.

The Trodds - "Angular Velocity" from the We Mean You No Harm EP

From the prolific and still-running Boston-area label Stanton Park comes this 1982 neo-psychedelic oddity, featuring label owner Aram Heller, later of more well-known 80's psych outfits World of Distortion and Plan 9, on vocals and guitar. Most of the 4 tracks on the EP are in an almost Zappa range of non-rock silliness, but patient listeners are rewarded with the closing track heard here. Things get off to an exciting start as a slowly building drone of overdriven guitar explodes into a heavy acid riff and go-for-broke drumming, while an acoustic rhythm guitar adds texture beneath the storming battery. The inspiration is clearly Pink Floyd of the Syd Barrett era, in fact the other EP tracks with their playful lyrics and fey accompaniment could be said to cop the sound of Syd even more - but while the band is able to re-create the sounds of London 1968, the vocal and lyrics are undeniably teenage prep-school punk. This is hardly a bad thing, however, as the contrast creates a distinct sound that sets it apart from some of the more straight-forward copycat bands working this genre in that era on Voxx and the like. More Trodds material has since been made available to the public, but I'm pretty sure this was their only original release.

Golden Bats - "You Can't Love Me" from the S/T EP

Finally, we have Golden Bats, a band that brings a 60's inspiration from the early days of the decade, when the influence of early rock & roll and rockabilly were still strong, if not generally as eager and unbridled as it's 50's roots. I picked up the EP on the basis of the label alone, Wasp Records of Virginia, who released the masterful power pop LP by the Strand not long after this. The good-time rock and roll elements can wear on you quickly with the other 3 tracks from the EP, but the song posted features an edgier vocal and some very pleasing chord progressions. Apparently my copy is missing a picture sleeve that should have been present, and would have helped dress up the post with a little more flash.

1 comment:

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