Title:The Years Of Quality Control
Band:The Phantom Surfers (America)
Label:V8 Records
Highlights:The Hearse/El Aguila
Klingons Vs Daleks
Move It
Poison Clam

The Years Of Quality Control 1988-1999 is a compilation of various singles, album tracks and rarities released by the Phantom Surfers over the last ten or so years. Virtually all of the songs are authentic surf instrumentals and the few that have vocals aren't even worth talking about (they're deliberately terrible). Dressed in masks to hide their identity, it is quite obvious that the Phantom Surfers don't take themselves too seriously; a claim backed up by such tracks as Klingons Vs Daleks and their ridiculous cover of Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport. I don't mind listening to surf music now and again but I can't see anyone except the most ardent of surf fans enjoying this album as the sound if rather thin and poorly recorded (although I'm hoping that it's just that the record is poorly pressed). If it is any consolation, The Phantom Surfers more recent material is an improvement on their earlier work, meaning that I'm still curious to investigate their more recent albums.

Band:The Phantom Surfers with Davie Allan
Label:Lookout Records
Highlights:Curb Job
Drag Run

Skaterhater is probably not only the world's first and only surf instrumental rock opera but also the first instrumental album that contains actual songs (those wacky Phantom Surfers...) Performed as a collaboration between The Phantom Surfers and Davie Allan (The Man With The Fuzzrite), Skaterhater is actually pretty good. The theme is based loosely around the somewhat silly story of how, back in 1966, the residents of a town called Sidewalk City conspired and subsequently managed to rid their town of all skateboarders. For nearly 30 years they managed to keep their town free of the skateboard skurge until one day they reappeared and once again the residents of Sidewalk City and the skaters went to war.

Of course, being an instrumental album, such storylines doesn't count for much and instead it's the playing that counts. Skaterhater is dominated by Davie Allan, whose guitar sound is so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. The sound is also pretty good for a Phantom Surfer's record especially seeing the whole album was recorded on a one track. All in Skaterhater is not an essential album but is pretty cool all the same.

Title:Time Wounds All Heels
Band:The Powdermonkeys
Label:Dogmeat Records
Highlights:Insane Old Game
Wasn't Born Yesterday
Straight Until Morning
The Supernova That Never Quits
2000 Sins

Melbourne's Powdermonkeys sure pack a punch. For their second album, Time Wounds All Heels , they sacrificed technical proficiency for raw power and as a result the sound is suitably 'live' and in your face, making for a powerful listening experience. From the very start, The Powdermonkeys get down to business, peaking in the explosive The Supernova That Never Quits and finishing with the punishing 2000 Sins, all while never giving an inch. Alongside the usual 'Detroit' influences of The Stooges, MC5 and Radio Birdman; Motorhead and AC/DC can be also heard loudly reverberating throughout the Powdermonkeys sound, which means that it shouldn't come as a surprise that The Powdermonkey's aren't the most subtle band. However, their brand of no bullshit punk rock is far more dangerous than that of the many pretend punk bands you hear today.

Title:Lost City Blues
Band:The Powdermonkeys
Label:White Jazz Records
Highlights:Ain't No Stranger To Dirt
Lady Muck
Running Outta My Head
Unfair Dismissal
Before I Turn Sleazy

Recorded during their last European tour in Stockholm with Fred 'Atlas' Estby (Hellacopters etc) Lost City Blues is the The Powdermonkeys' most realised album yet. Although marginally slicker than previous releases, Lost City Blues retains the nervous energy and manic edge of previous releases but lacks the raw power of Time Wounds All Heels.

On first listen I was disappointed with Lost City Blues but that's because there's too much raunchy blues based rock and roll one side A. In all honesty, the first three songs are the weakest and the band is only getting warmed up for the onslaught that follows. Things really begin to take off with the awesome Ain't No Stranger To Dirt. Just listen to Tim Hemmensly as he discovers the key to unlock the sound of his voice. The momentum is carried through onto side B through Running Outta My Head and Unfair Dismissal before the album climaxes with powerful Before I Turn Sleazy and Mjolk Maid Blues. Lost City Blues should see The Powdermonkeys consolidating their position at home but significantly increasing their profile overseas, especially in Scandinavia. Is there a more intense 3 piece in the world today?

Title:The Priests
Band:The Priests (USA)
Label:Garage Pop Records
Highlights:The Tingler
Now She's Gone
Xiola Blue
Gates Of Hell

The Priests play fucked up garage punk in the tradition of The Sonics, Cramps and Mono Men. Things get off to a pretty good start with the short instrumental The Tingler. However, things go downhill pretty quickly thereafter. Whilst the band themselves are pretty good (I especially like the surf overtones of guitarist Mr Tyranny, something perhaps he should develop further), I can?t stand the over-dramatic vocals of lead singer Madeline. On top of this, the recording is basic as best. Whilst they might be fun to see live, there is little about this album to recommend unless you love this type of music more than anything else.

Title:Holy Water In Satan's Drink
Band:Psychopunch (Sweden)
Label:White Jazz Records
Highlights:Down In Flames
Goin' Crazy
Good For Nothing At All
Stranded (For Holly Ramone)

I have to admit that I was a little dubious about this band at first and was expecting them to be some Hellacopters tryhards or something. However, I'm pleased to say that Psychopunch are more than mere imitators. Their debut album, We Are Just As Welcome...., is a consistent listen from start to finish. The songs are well constructed and lead guitarist Joey plays really well. However, I'm not a huge fan of lead vocalist J M's gruff vocal style. All the same, anyone into Swedish hard rock or bands like Nashville Pussy and Motorhead will more than likely love this album. Personally, I wouldn't rate it as essential but worth having all the same.

Title:Nobodies Fools
Band:The Pyramidiacs
Label:Rock Indiana Records
Bye Bye
Make Up Your Mind
Can You Feel It

The Pyramidiacs have been playing their brand of power pop around Sydney now for a good decade without much success, at least at in this country. To date they have toured extensively in Southern Europe on four occasions while they have also performed in L.A. at the International Pop Overthrow festival. Nobody's Fools is the band's fourth album, which like their last album, Anywhere/Anyhow, was produced by Michael Carpenter (now the band's drummer) and only released in Spain.

And while Nobodies Fools isn't the knockout I was expecting, it is still a very consistent album from beginning to start with strong emphasis on catchy songs and inventive background vocals. It's only really downfall is the lack of one real standout song - the most instantly memorable song is their cover of Chris Bells's classic You And Your Sister. Nevertheless, it is hard to highlight any other weaknesses except to say that the album is perhaps a bit too long - they would have been better limiting the number of songs for greater impact. Still, this is a small criticism in an age when you can always program your own running order but one that can't go unsaid.