I was once told that if I ever wanted to make a friend, like, ever, then I might want to break the ice with a joke. So, here goes: What do you get when Mikey Young from Eddy Current Suppression Ring and all round musical god starts up another band with some kick arse prodigal entities that love the shit out of some Scientists? Ooga Boogas second, self-titled album of course! Are you guys laughing as hard as I am right now? Are you laughing at all? Do you want to be friends? I made a replica of you out of peanut butter and your old toenails! I promise it’s not an effigy! Where are you going? It’s cool, I’ll see you tonight, when I watch you sleep and bottle your snores in a sealed jar.
Anyway, my creepy manifestations aside, this is a brilliant record that you should consider getting if you want to be associated with the phrase ‘…good music taste…’. Yes, Mikey Young, of aforementioned Eddy Current fame, has taken time out from being a godlike genius behind the control panel (this dude is a renowned producer, of everything from Anti-Fade records to local acts like Food Court, and acid legends The UV Race, and taken up his rightful throne as Aussie garage king. So much allusion in one sentence, I know, but deal with it princess. Anyway, Ooga Boogas create distinctly Australian music that throttles like a V8, is toasty as a Sunday arvo barbecue, and as good as a ripper sunset. I have never typed, nor spoken the words ‘ripper sunset’ before, that’s the sort of power this record has over me.
It’s undulating a weird, and shows an underbelly to garage music that you wouldn’t normally find in your average Aussie garage jammers, of which there is currently an abundance. Opener ‘Circle of Trust’ is a real ball-licker, boasting a classic Eddy Current addictive bass line, and the off-putting, cult-like. When frontman Stacky (Of Sailors fame, a damn fine garage band, up there with the likes of Native Cats/Terrible Truths) chants ‘Come join, come join us’ and then the hypnotic melody kicks in, I’m not sure whether I should take the red pill, the blue pill or both (Yeah, I pulled a Matrix reference, AND linked in a Taco ad. Where is your God now?). ‘FYI‘ is a synthy, crazed jolt of reference to 80’s synth-pop, but done with the deliberately botched care of a 1950’s mad scientist or Mel Brooks. It’s a black and white, hands to your face, stilled circumnavigation of the brain, poisonous organ sounds infiltrating from every side and burning holes left and right. ‘Mind Reader’ is a Nick Cave-y ballad sort of thing, done with the upright tempo and disturbing lyrical content that makes these kinds of songs so arresting. You think what I said in the first paragraph was fucked up? ‘You said that you were sleepy/ So I made you some Camomile tea/ And I slipped a little something in your drink to help you sleep/ But when you woke up in the morning, I assessed you were less than impressed!’ cries Stacky, in what could be the worst case scenario sequel to Grinderman’s ‘No Pussy Blues’. The first track on Side B, ‘Sex in the Chillzone’ is another creepy thing that makes every hair stand on end, and totally puts you in the frame of mind that the song is describing: having sex with a stranger whilst being incredibly high on drugs. Not many songs can claim that. Stacky’s voice is suitably plaintive and forceful, as if he’s pushing each lyric into your ear, and choking you with the song’s potently simple ryththm.
Fortunately, after the clasp of ‘Circle of Trust’, ‘Archie and Me’ seems to assure the listener that Ooga Boogas don’t want to pour cyanide down your throat, but rather take you out on a friendly trip to the Nullarbor. Name-checking almost as many Aussie tools as ‘Down Under’ by Men at Work, ‘Archie and Me’ is something You Am I might have chucked out on their better albums, and is a friendly, cooling jam that softens what could have been a bitter blow for many after the overwhelming first track. This seems to be imminent on the whole record, as every time Ooga Boogas freak out, they pull back on the next track, and drape you in something nice and comforting to remind the listener that the album is your weird-as-fuck mate, and not the serial killer who lives down the street and always smells like pomegranates and has a dingo’s pinkie on a necklace around his neck. Hell, the closers on both Side A and Side B are not only affable, but are at home with embracing you as a family, like a Midnight Oil song that isn’t shit. ‘It is A Sign‘ is a tantalising love spill, and ‘A Night to Remember’ is something you play whilst circling around a fire in country Victoria, jumping hand in hand with a loved one as it blasts out of the radio. It could be a Go-Betweens track or possibly a Paul Kelly track, but there’s no doubt it belongs on an Ooga Boogas record.
The beauty of the record lies both in it’s ability to shock, scare, comfort and warm the listener. Whilst some points might have you perking up and weirding out, it’s perfectly balanced by the moments in which a smile just crosse your face, and your brain explodes in an endorphin overload. This is a prime Australian treasure, and Ooga Boogas show that they will play their own game, and despite that, guarantee you entertainment. It’s a diverse love letter of a record, and stands out on its own, something that an Australian band, especially in a genre that can be derivative such as garage, should claim as a solid stakehold in the music they produce. If ever there were a band to replace The Scientists as the prodigal sons of Australian garage, the honour would go to all the dudes from Ooga Boogas.