Sometime in the winter of 1989-90, I wandered into New York City’s Midnight Records, a store famous for its deep catalog of ’60s garage and psychedelic music, as well as a strong selection of classic punk rock and a cantankerous French owner with ridiculous hair. On this visit, instead of hearing a puny French bootleg of The Standells or the Seeds, as I opened the door I was enveloped in the massive opening chords to the first song on the Cosmic Psychos’ then-new album Go the Hack. “She’s a lost cause / She’s a lost, lost cause!” blasted into the air at maximum volume. In a perfect cinematic moment, the drums announced my entry, the bass dictated my walk, the air became thick with guitar fuzz and wah-wah, and snarled vocals described perfectly a girl’s descent into a cause which was lost. Instead of record shopping, I felt like I’d stepped into a biker movie and was motoring down a long, straight Outback road on a Harley. This was my introduction to the Cosmic Psychos, and I was hooked.
I loved that a band could be so powerful, sound so big and unapologetically simple, and incorporate so much of what I loved about music—well, basically the attitudes and sounds of The Stooges and Ramones: setting up songs with a good title or idea, matching it with a massive riff, then running it out with squeals of wah-wah and manly disregard for cleverness or adornment. And they called themselves the Cosmic Psychos! They obviously had no regard for “makin’ it” in those days, when an alternative rock band at least had a chance to sell some records. I was an instant fan.
Earlier records proved to be the same formula with even less refinement, and that was definitely a good thing. These were lovably manly Aussies singing about what they knew best: farm equipment, lusting after Elle Macpherson, wishing they were in Van Halen (for the ladies), drinking at the pub, and even more drinking at the pub. Trivia question: In what indie rock song does the lead singer bellow “I love my tractor!”? Answer: None! No scarves or looking like Stevie Nicks straight out of the hairstylist’s for these fellows. They were the real deal before the deal was dealt. And they couldn’t care less.
The Psychos enjoyed a long run through the ’80s and ’90s on such Australian labels as What Goes On, Mr Spaceman, Survival and Rattlesnake, as well as American stalwarts Sub Pop and Amphetamine Reptile. Many bands from that era no longer seem vital today, lost in a murk of crisp drums, loud guitars, flannel shirts and shallow aspirations. These first Cosmic Psychos releases are as timeless and necessary as ever—still a bullshit bulldozer, a blurry loud night at the bar, a rollicking time hanging with the guys. The time has come for a new generation to be uplifted by these initial blasts from the Cosmic Psychos. Goner is proud to partner with Melbourne’s esteemed Aarght! Records to bring these platters of primal perfection back into a world that definitely needs them.
A full-length documentary film, Blokes You Can Trust, accompanies Cosmic Psychos as they tour the United States in the Fall of 2013.