Hot and Bothered:
Smooch Give Us a Wet Dream Sort of First Kiss
by Jay Armstrong
If you put on your scratchiest ill-fitting black t-shirt and close your eyes with “Pucker Up” playing, you can actually smell the late eighties. Smooch come off sounding how Alice Cooper imagined Constrictor would before hearing the masters for the first time. Streetwise struttering start to finish, it is hard not to get proverbially wet in the right places as members from some of our favorite Australian bands create something arrogant as always without the all-or-nothing near accosting approach we have come to expect.
This time around there is a dialing-in on the era of music jammed between arena big hair and new wave sensitivity—to call noise this heavy “soft” puts in perspective the level of loud and raw the last ten years has accustomed us to coming off their block. I’m not saying it is Downy but soft nonetheless for a bunch of misfits who we can safely assume were temper tantruming their way out of nap time with Judas Priest and Vacant Lot blasting while American parents were trying to ban Teletubbies for corrupting the morals of the youth. Don’t get me wrong, this leans closer to Driveway Service than it does The Someloves, just saying there is a comfortable all-in-it-togetherness which makes these songs inviting rather than the usual demand we must choose to stand on either the take it or the leave it side.
Maybe I am stretching here but “Can You Hear Me” hits how The Runaways might have turned out had Kim Fowley not been Fowleying up the whole thing—hold your horses little fillies, that ain’t a dig at what glam’s Phil Spector was able to shape into our ears by mentally and physically abusing a couple of the coolest thirteen-year-olds ever getting the grit to try their hand at rock n roll; I’m just saying this vibes the way things might have turned out had they been able to be themselves without having to walk away from the band first; tempo kicked back slightly, less life-or-death pressure on hitting the chorus like a Convair CV-240 making a novel attempt at slash-and-burning some Mississippi southern magnolias, straight guitar first good timin’ absent only of upper lip sniffing; still in denim though.
Featuring members of Drunk Mums, Dumb Punts, Mesa Cosa, and Meat who collectively decided to avoid the perpetual eviction notices by jumping on the same lease together. Supporting the high dollar substance costs of sustaining lives lived dangerously once more finds the necessity of cramming talent and friendship under the same roof on the burnout side of life resulting in a nurtured magic of the naturally organic sort. No doubt there were chaffing ego moments; no doubt their shower looks like the sort of truckstop restroom where the attendant hands you a hubcap chained to the key; no doubt the floor in their place looks like a Texas Roadhouse with the peanut shells substituted for Marlboro Red filters; as long as we get more sounds like this out of it you can keep your goddamn judgments to yourself.
Do not take this lightly dear friends, you better get that order in for the seven-inch right now! If there is one thing I have had to learn the hard way it has been how heartbreaking waiting until you are no longer broke to grab an album out of Melbourne turns out. Drunk Mums are stapled to my all-time top five bands list and I have been looking to grab that self-titled (or Gone Troppo while we are at it) for less than a hundred bucks on Discogs for years and it ain’t happening. I didn’t type word one of this article before ordering my own copy of these first Smooch songs; lived and learnt. Catch a Lipstick Red vinyl via Pissfart Records or Silverbullets via Dero Arcade; both have traditional black as well (links below).
Anyway, Smooch are giving us the goods. Australia had their shit together way before we did stateside and are already back to putting on mind-lifting shows, so these songs likely take on a different meaning on their side of the world. Meanwhile, here we are still debating on how best to beat the shit out of our nitwit uncles to the point they start wearing a mask properly while out revving their pickup engines at every stoplight, driving a hundred m-p-h from gun show meetups to Qanon conspiracy swapmeets. As we actually see a green light on the horizon for getting back into our previously scheduled lives, these two songs feel near anthemic. Then again, Australia is heading into winter and I was hitting the backroads yesterday in a ripped t-shirt doing ninety on the bike making my way over to getting my first vaccination shot; the weather here is normalizing in the eighties next week and likely not to dip back below it for another eight months; so my envy of the existence outside of Texas has some Achilles heeled limits. I doubt I am alone though in wishing for more of this Melbourne pixie dust lifting us as we grope along searching for the appropriate reminder of how to once more go about existing as misfits in never-neverland.