The really, really good news is that guitar-based, garage-punk rock is not dead, and Melbourne band, Civic are at the forefront of a movement which is showing that it is well-and-truly alive and kicking.
‘Taken By Force’, their follow up long-player to debut, ‘Future Forecast’, sees the band (Jim McCullough [vocals], Lewis Hodgson [guitar], Roland Hlavka [bass], Jackson Harry [guitar] and Matt Blach [drums]) continue with their brand of maximum velocity rock & roll.
The album kicks off with Dusk, a 30 second intro track replete with wailing sirens set to a military snare-drum beat which merges into lead single, the pacey End Of The Line, a proto-punk rocker of the highest order. Next up is the title track, Taken By Force, a melodic surf-punk number with a killer lead solo which leads in to the punchy Fly Song, a short and sweet 2 minutes worth of fast and furious, classic punk rock.
The album’s longest song, Trick Of The Light slows the pace before finishing with a crescendo of wah-peddled guitar goodness. However the pace rips back up to eleven with Born In The Heat before moving onto the slightly menacing, and metronomic feel of Neighbourhood Sadist. Time Girl and Wars Or Hands Of Time reignite the punk aesthetic. Blood Rushes, the album’s penultimate track, is propelled by a pummelling drum beat which guides a wall of distorted guitars over which lead singer, Jim McCullough evokes his tale about new love, and trying to protect that in a violent world.
The final track, Dusk, is a total surprise, and entails 3 minutes and 46 seconds worth of waves gently washing onto the shoreline, as if to ease the listener’s mind following on from the frenetic delivery of the preceding music and the venting of the existential dread, so apparent in many of the lyrics.
This album is a veritable cornucopia of late 70’s and early 80’s Australian rock royalty influences from The Saints, Radio Birdman, early Sunnyboys & Hoodoo Gurus, The Lime Spiders and The Hitmen, while even being imbued with hints of Iggy Pop & The Stooges. Far from being derivative however, Taken By Force sees the band solidifying their sound into one which is uniquely their own.
The glory days of Aussie pub rock, when hundreds of sweaty punters crammed venues to the rafters, may be largely gone, but Civic are a sledgehammer reminder that the music and the exhilaration of those heady times lives on.
Taken By Force, is out on Cooking Vinyl Australia, and is available on all platforms here.