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The story of garage punk in five albums

Your essential primer to garage punk. 

Combining the energy and aggression of the punk rock sound of the late ‘70s and the rawness and fuzz of the garage rock sound of the ‘60s, the sound of garage punk has remained steady and strong for the past four decades. Particularly in Melbourne, the sound and influence of many of the staple acts have shaped much of the punk rock sound of modern day Australia.

Reigning Sound - Too Much Guitar (2004)

Fronted by the prolific Greg Cartwright (also of the equally important Oblivians), 2004’s Too Much Guitar is one of the loudest and most fuzzed-out punk rock albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. Despite the namesake production style maxing out every single element to be over the top and almost overbearing, beneath the chaotic surface is some of the best songwriting around. Strongly influenced by ‘60s garage rock, plus a healthy dose of soul and rhythm and blues, the album was a radical statement from a band previously known for a more subdued alt-country vibe.

The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic (2003)

One of the most poppy and upbeat albums on this list, the sole full-length from the short-lived Portland OR group almost verged on pop-punk at times, plus a glam rock element that somehow all came together and worked perfectly. With simple, juvenile lyrics and a pep-filled backing, the band’s career was tragically ended shortly after the album’s release after most of the band were killed in a van accident on tour. Their legacy will live on in this near-perfect album.

The Powder Monkeys - Smashed On A Knee (1993)

Proudly representing the dark side of the Melbourne garage/pub punk scene of the ‘90s, the drug and alcohol-fuelled Powder Monkeys brought forward some of the most dangerous and filthy punk the country has seen. Putting together ‘60s garage and ‘70s punk by the way of Motorhead, the band was tragically ended in 2001 by the death of frontman Tim Hemensley. Rock in peace.

Dead Moon - Unknown Passage (1989)

Fronted by the recently passed bandleader Fred Cole, Dead Moon was the culmination of Cole’s decades of experience and journey from the original garage sounds of the ‘60s to the ‘80s. Essentially a combination of the weird side of ‘60s garage and psychedelic rock with punk, Dead Moon arguably became the archetypal example of American garage punk. Their strongest album, Unknown Passage is the best example of the band’s dirty and loose sound with the dark side of the ‘60s finding its way in through the back door.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Primary Colours (2008)

One of the most beloved and revered albums to come out of Melbourne in the past ten years, ECSR’s creative high point all came together on their 2008 breakthrough record. While the influences of the band itself were clear, the ensuing influence and impression that this band and this record continues to make on the Australian music scene is immeasurable. Stripped back and raw, the sheer energy and creativity of the band is on full display. An absolute essential.