Title:Bam Balam Explosion vol 2 - Aust Power Pop
Label:Bam Balam Records
Highlights:TV Sound - DM3
My Kind - Chevelles
Girl In A Mexican Restaraunt - Summer Suns
You'd Better Run - Screaming Tribesmen
Make You Mine - Stems

The Bam Balam Explosion Vol 2 is a Spanish retrospective compilation of Australian power pop that was released a few years ago. The booklet is really nicely put together with paintings by surrealist artist Andreu Llodra used to complement each artist while the liner notes are informative despite containing some really bad but funny English.

Of all the songs that were included on this compilation, the best songs are all associated with Dom Mariani, whether it be TV Sound (DM3), Girl In A Mexican Restaurant (The Summer Suns) or Make You Mine (The Stems). In fact Perth bands provide the major highlights on this CD as shown by The Rainyard's Downward Rise, The Chevelles' My Kind and Jack & The Beanstalk's Some Brighter Day. Other great songs include The Screaming Tribesmen's You'd Better Run, the Terraplanes' TV Set and the Spliffs' Are You Happy Now? Unfortunately, this CD is far from definitive and there's a lot of filler. Songs by such bands as Grooveyard, the Genes, the Zimmermen and Roddy Rodya are all either pretty average or have not dated well. And what is with Chris Masuak's terrible It's Christmas Time Again. All in all, this CD is worth having for your collection but if your looking for the definitive Australian power pop compilation then there are better releases.

Title:Be A Caveman
Label:Voxx Records
Highlights:It's Not Me - Telltale Hearts
Green Slime - Fuzztones
I'm Not There - Plan 9
I'll Make You Sorry - Odds
Psychedelic Boy - Leopards
This Ain't My Time - Barracudas

Voxx Records was started at the end of the 70's, by Bomp Record's Greg Shaw, with the plan to release bands playing pure mid-60's music, whether it be garage, psych, surf, beat, folk-rock or some combination of the above. Over the next decade, Voxx records virtually became the catalyst of an entire scene, which sprung up as many young people around the world discovered 60's music and fashion. By the end of the eighties, Voxx Records had released records by many of the genre's leading bands, including The Fuzztones, The Cynics and The Chesterfield Kings, all of which are featured on this CD. Be A Caveman, not only collects 27 of the best tracks released on the Voxx label (many of which are making their first appearance on CD) but also gives an excellent overview of one the least heralded scenes in American music history.

I have to say I was amazed at the authenticity of most of these songs, which not only sound like they were recorded in the 60's but more importantly capture the spirit of rebellion and adventure that makes this style of music so appealing. While most of the songs sound like they belong on a Pebbles compilation, there are a few surprises. The Eyes Of The Mind's She Only Knows is reminiscent of such late 60's British bands as Pink Floyd, Tomorrow and even the Beatles and was recorded by Mark Wirtz, who had produced some of these very bands at Abbey Road Studios in London. The Leopard's Psychedelic Boy is English whimsy satire as originally perfected by the Kinks. However, my favourite track is the Tell Tale Hearts' It's Not Me with it's Bo Diddley opening and genius tempo change halfway through. The only weak track is the Laughing Soup Dish's Teenage Lima Bean, where the band gets lost in their psychedelic excesses.

Just as the Nuggets series introduced a whole new generation to the more obscure and underground side of 60's music (and subsequently caused a rash of 60's garage compilations like Pebbles), this CD might well do the same for the 80's garage band revival. Well, we can only hope.

Title:Cop It Sweet
Label:Antfarm Records
Highlights:Step On The Gas - Orange Humble Band
Stan & Rocky - Scruffs
Matchbox Cars And Marbles - Shouties
Shivers - Spurs For Jesus

Cop It Sweet is the second release in a series of compilations put out by Antfarm Records to highlight up-and-coming new bands out of Sydney. Quite often compilations like this are a hit and miss affair but can be a great introduction to some really good bands. The best song on this CD also happens to be the opening track. Step On The Gas by the Orange Humble Band is nothing short of brilliant power pop and leaves everything else for dead. Cop It Sweet is worth purchasing for this song alone. Unfortunately, however, there are few other strong tracks. The grungy No Return by Free Moving Curtis musically reminds me of Magic Dirt while The Scruffs demonstrate their rough and ready take on power pop in Stan & Rocky. The Shouties Matchbox Cars and Marbles is strengthened by Bernie Hayes strong voice while the Spur For Jesus do a country-redneck version of Shivers. Finally, Kim Salmon gets typically over dramatic on the unreleased When Your Blood Is Up. Other bands like El Mopa, Half Miler and The Honeyhunters show sufficent promise to warrant further investigation but sadly there is nothing else that really captures my interest. With the exception of the above bands, the majority of the bands on this compilation are of the type where being lo-fi is an excuse for being ordinary or boring. Still, for the pricely sum of $10, this CD compilation is still worth having a listen to.

Title:Do The Pop
Label:Shock Records


Do The Pop is a 2-CD compilation that (as the title says) pays tribute to the Australian garage rock sound 1976 - 1987. Compiled by former Dog Meat Records head, Dave Laing, Do The Pop starts with the bands who started it all; The Saints in Brisbane, Radio Birdman and The Psycho Surgeons in Sydney and The Victims in Perth and over the remaining tracks successfully provides an overview of the scene that exploded in their wake, including tracks by such great bands as The Lipstick Killers, Died Pretty, New Christs, Le Hoodoo Gurus, Lime Spiders, Sunnyboys, Hard-Ons, Stems and more. Whilst many people will have these records on vinyl, it is the first time in a long time that many of these tracks have been officially released on CD (if at all) It also gives younger listeners the first comprehensive musical document of a time that was arguably the most exciting Australian rock music has seen. In short, this is an essential compilation for anyone into garage-rock music, regardless of what country, time-period or particular style.

Title:Garage Pop Records Rock'n'Roll Compilation
Label:Garage Pop Records
Highlights:Bang Bang Bang - Quitters
Asterea - Cherry Gun
She Don't Got The Right - Riviera Playboys
Lotion - Grinders
Turantula Raygun - Duke Galaxy & The Pipelines

This compilation was put out by the New York record label, Garage Pop Records, to showcase some of the best rock and garage bands from their home town of Rochester, New York (home of The Chesterfield Kings I might add).The quality of this comp is uniformly quite strong although there is some filler. Disappointingly, I can't say that any one band really stands out from the rest. The bands themselves vary from the punk rock of The Grinders to the 60's garage sounds of Mcfadden's Parachute to the surf guitars of Duke Galaxy to the country vocals of Cherry Gun. Whilst I would be interested in hearing more from the aforementioned artists, I won't be rushing out to buy any of their records.

Title:I'm In Love With That Song
Label:Antfarm/Tomboy Records
Highlights:Alex Chilton - Brad Shephard
Left Of The Dial - Challenger 7
Swinging Party - Icecream Hands
Aching To Be - Golden Rough
Rock 'n' Roll Ghost - DM3

The Replacements were a legendary American band during the eighties that lasted long enough to release eight albums. Despite being relatively ignored at the time, The Replacements are now name-checked by many musicians and were notoriously better known as the most drunken band in the world. It should therefore come as no surprise that they were a strong influence on many Australian musicians, as evidenced by the tribute album, I'm In Love With That Song - 23 Australian Bands Pay Tribute to the Genius of the Replacements.

The compilers (Stu, Mark, Laura and Ian) have done a really good job of ensembling a great bunch of bands who encompass a wide variety of musical styles, including rock, pop and alternative country. For tribute albums like this to be successful it is imperative that the bands are fans first. Reading the liner notes it is immediately obvious that all the bands are proud to be given the opportunity to pay tribute to the Replacements rather than be included in order to look 'cool'.

There are many highlights including Challenger 7's Left Of the Dial and Brad Shepherd's version of Alex Chilton, which not only are the albums opening two songs but are perhaps the albums two strongest cuts. Other highlights include DM3's poignant version of Rock 'n' Roll Ghost, Icecream Hands peaceful Swinging Party and You Am I's really dirty and bluesy version of White and Lazy. Perhaps it is a testament to Paul Westerberg's songwriting ability that his songs sound great when either played as full on punk rock (Brother Brick) or gentle country (Love Me & Golden Rough). If you've never heard of the Replacements, I'm In Love With This Song may well be the best place to start.

Title:The Lost Weekend
Label:Tomboy/Pure Pop Records
Highlights:Sleepin' In - P76
Rock n Roll Sound - Challenger 7
Just Like Nancy - DM3
The B-Side - Innocents
Up To You - Finkers

The Lost Weekend CD is a celebration of contemporary Australian pop music and was released as a companion to a festival of the same name. Over the last 20 years, Australia has been the breeding ground to some of the world's best power pop bands, especially if you look at in on a per capita basis. Unfortunately, while bands like The Innocents, DM3, Chevelles and Pyramidiacs are able to tour internationally they still remain largely unknown at home. Hopefully The Lost Weekend CD will help rectify the situation. Featuring 23 bands from all over the country, it not only includes such legends but also the current contenders like Finkers, Michael Carpenter, P76, Challenger 7 and Superscope. Other bands to watch out for include The Richies, Quick 50, Dreamdayers and The Scruffs. The Lost Weekend easily achieves it's aim, that is to highlight the quality and diversity of the Australian power pop scene.

Title:Yellow Pills Vol 4
Label:Big Deal Records
Highlights:Playing With Jack - Plimsouls
Circles - Chris Von Sneidern
You Mighta Made The Sun
My Home Is Not A House - Jason Falkner
Show You - DM3

Yellow Pills is a world famous series of power pop compilations that are compiled by Jordan Oakes, who also runs a fanzine of the same name. Volume 4 is a good mixture of new up-and-coming bands, forgotten obscurities as well as some more famous bands. Although this is a power pop compilation, there is a lot of variety as well, with the bands cover all aspects of 'pop music', which makes for more interesting listening.

Perhaps the most famous band on this compilation is the Plimsouls, whose Playing With Jack is classic power pop played with raw abandon. Not only is it one of the better songs on this album but is also one of the most rocking. Circles by Chris Von Sneidern perfectly mixes Who/Big Star guitars and Beatlesque harmonies to be another highlight of this compilation. Joe, Marc's Brother insanely upbeat She's Gonna Be My Girl will have you singing along in no time while David Grahame's I Love You Better could be accused of being a Ben Folds Five ripoff, with its rollicking piano and sing along feel, if only it hadn't been recorded back in 1981. The Nines's I Would Never would be another pop masterpiece with its pleading vocal and Beach Boy harmonies if only the recording and mix was better and less muddy. John McMullin's lilting The Thought Of Your Name is simply beautiful as is Dan Markell's You Mighta Made The Sun with its Lazy Sunday feel. Jason Falkner's previously unreleased My Home Is Not A House sounds not at all like an outtake and another strong cut by one of power pops leading artists. Finally, DM3, fuse sparkling guitars and sweet harmonies in Show You.

Yellow Pills Volume 4 maintains the high quality set by previous volumes. As Jordan Oakes says in the liner notes 'I can define one thing about pop: I know it when I hear it - and love it when I hear it again' and no doubt you'll be listening to this compilation over and over again. I know at least I will.

Title:Zipped Up And Down Under
Label:Zip Records
Highlights:Step On The Gas - Orange Humble Band
Stan & Rocky - Scruffs
Matchbox Cars And Marbles - Shouties
Shivers - Spurs For Jesus

Zipped Up And Down (Under) is an interesting double CD release from Zip Records Australia that is both a label sampler and pop compilation that features bands from all over the world.

Disc One showcases the label's artists, who alternate between power and commercial pop. As such, it's a bit patchy but it's a great introduction to the label and bands like Dorian Gray and The Merrymakers (who both incidentally are Swedish). However, for my money the strongest cuts come from the Australian artists such as Superscope, P76, Chevelles and the legendary (but not forgotten) Innocents.

Disc two is a compilation of non-Zip artists and as with disc one, it is a bit hit and miss although there is no way you can miss the killer pop sensibilities of artists like The Rubinoos, Michael Carpenter, Jack & The Beanstalk, The Finkers and Challenger 7. And, even for someone like myself, there is still a lot to be discovered. Artists such as Kyle Vincent, Farrah, Quick 50 and Flavour Of The Month, all of whom were previously unknown to myself, display more than enough potential to warrant further investigation.

Zipped Up and Down (Under) is one of those compilations should cater for everyone's taste, whether you're a casual pop fan or a fanatic like myself. And who knows, you might discover a cool band that has existed all this time under your nose without ever you realising.