Back in July I was sitting in a governmental café, waiting for the outcome of a court case and a lift to Byron Bay. That’s the start for a good story right there. Instead, I spent two hours listening to Hozac-sanctioned garage rock gems, specifically the new album from Shocked Minds.
Today I sit on a train weaving its way from Maryborough West to Brisbane, where I will drop off assessment pieces to a local university, pack a bag, have one final meeting about a special, exciting event that I am about to embark upon, then see mates in Ghost Notes and Cobwebbs support Chicago legends Cave (you can still gettickets here) before I wing my way to the UK. We have reached Nambour, where we have sat for an hour after a truck somehow ran into a bridge. I don’t know how to soundtrack the amount of emotions that are bolting around in my heart, my chest, my ever overactive brain. So now, much like that surprisingly balmy winter’s morning, rather than attempt to sum it up, it’s time to counter the apprehension and anticipation with some bludgeoning Hozac heaven.
First Base! No, I haven’t had a pepped-up virile lady sit next to me on the train – she’s four rows down, chugging mini red wines at 12.45pm – it’s the power-punk buzz of an album from the same-named Toronto sugarpunks. Its effervescent crack, hard to stay angry (or any other emotion other than giddy deliriousness) when this stuff is coursing through your brain like mainlined sugar. It has elements of a Superchunk/Thermals hybrid that loved Del Shannon and 80s made, 60s set high school romantic comedies a little too much and couldn’t make it out of their own basement, yet had more than enough money to build a good studio-slash-bunker so that they never had to leave. Song titles include ‘I’m All Alone Again’, ‘Get A Taste Of Your Love Again’, ‘She’s Boy Crazy’ and ‘That’s My Girlfriend’, seemingly attesting to such notions – but then tracks like ‘I Broke My Mind’ give a clearer notion to these crackpots’ machinations. Crazy yet gloriously infectious. The organ is what really sells this – a wailing call of the warm and fuzzies.
Then we have the excellent Epicycle, a late 70s punk act that Hozac are thankfully shining a light on once more. These clean cut snots from Chicago were healthily instilled in the brotherhood of punk's true pioneers, but their relative obscurity is a goddamn shame. This retrospective, You’re Not Gonna Get It, beautifully exemplifies the juxtaposition of Epicycle’s raw-edged pop with their propensity for scabrous wit and sweaty abandon. So it swings from Ramones aping, Kinks aping, The Who aping… Yet rather than remain an adept and chameleonic tribute band, Epicycle transcend due to their excellent songwriting chops and their insistent mining of insidious hooks. Seriously, I wish these guys could play at my wedding, if I ever get married of course. Perfect soundtrack to what I see as a tumultuous, scary yet life-affirming event. Or the soundtrack to a train ride with a bunch of tweakers. Plus they have the song ‘Radical Attitude’ with the line “I’m the guy that you shot down/I’m the guy with the long hair and a radical attitude/I'm the nigger white honky Jew all wrapped up in one.”
So we have the pop fizz with the sardonic fuzz. My day is infinitely better. How about yours?