Who Can It Be Now?

Will Silverchair's platinum success yield a golden opportunity for a slew of Aussie imports?

Australia's teeny grunge sensation Silverchair is the biggest (and youngest) band to conquer down under and beyond since the Easybeats had Friday on their minds way back in 1967. Silverchair's debut, Frogstomp, entered the Australian charts at No.1--a first in Aussie rock. And, like this country's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the kids love 'em, but anybody who strains to remember puberty is left scratching his head and going, "Wha?"

In three months, Silverchair also has garnered tremendous stateside support from U.S. young ones clamoring for their very own Nirvana Lite. Evidently, when 16-year-old singer Daniel Johns yowls, "There's the bathroom and there is the sink/The water in the tap is very hard to drink," he hits a direct feed to the souls and wallets of white early teens and teens-to-be everywhere.

I'm not ashamed to admit it: I fear the 'chair. I fear it with all my heart and soul, because this is a band that sucks kangaroo doo, and there is nothing you or I or anybody else can do to stop it. A lot of you think the rock press could fell these little twerps with just a couple of meanspirited reviews. Untrue! Any harsh criticism hurled at Silverchair at this stage will only return to sender like a brand-new boomerang. Sure, the trio's lyrics are uniformly awful, but what do you say--"I know tenth-graders who can write better words than that"? It's futile, I tell you. The lads don't even do interviews (too much homework, I'll bet). Our only hope is that the parents of Silverchair's members ground them for life.

I got the early poop on Silverchair several months ago from a friend who periodically visits his native Melbourne, and I was pleased to find that, this time around, he'd returned with a cache of new Australian pop releases that have yet to make it to these shores. Each one set him back $29.99 Australian (roughly $23 U.S.), so consider this roundup the cheapest way to sample some pricey Aussie imports.

Ah, but therein lies the silver lining to Silverchair: If the band turns out to be just another flash in the pan (not bloody likely), then we're rid of it. If not, American labels are sure to jump on the Oz wagon, and you'll soon see some of these titles at a CD emporium near you! G'day, mate!

Silverchair is scheduled to perform on Sunday, December 17, at Party Gardens, with Smile. Showtime is 3 p.m.

You Am I
Hi Fi Way
(Ra Records/WEA)

One listen to the 'chair's "My Suicidal Dream" and "Pure Massacre," and it's obvious the tykes got their angst secondhand from Pearl Jam and Black Sabbath recordings. Older and wiser, You Am I knows what true despair is--working shit day jobs. One song's called "Pizza Guy." "Handwasher" has Tim the busboy waxing Westerbergian about how he must "wash my hands in shame 4,000 times a day/For while I service your greed/I'm just dying to be clean." And you may never wanna order a grilled cheese sandwich after this appetizing couplet: "For every sandwich I know/There's a sack o' shit to be dosed." Yum!

Musically, You Am I is like Foo Fighters meet Badfinger. And of all the imports listed here, Hi Fi Way has the most irresistible single: a possible "girls wanna be with the girls" song called "She Digs Her." You'll dig it, even though You Am I commits the unspeakable Tin Pan Alley sin of going into an epic instrumental bridge without ever returning to the main melody or the insanely memorable chorus. The result: You wind up playing the darned thing over and over. There's an exciting, Who-style rave-up during "The Applecross Wing Commander," complete with an Entwistlesque bass solo and dive-bomber guitar maneuvers. Everything from listing the 14 song titles on the front cover to having song bridges with hooky left turns suggests that this is a band with a healthy understanding of how to make a great pop album.

This Is Serious Mum
Machiavelli and the Four Seasons
(Genre B. Goode)

If only there were enough space here to call attention to every great gag on this satirical masterpiece by a band of techno/house jokers called This Is Serious Mum. The artwork alone is worth paying whatever exorbitant import price a stateside record dealer might charge. There's no mention of This Is Serious Mum anywhere on the outer packaging; instead, it's presented as an ersatz 1963 album by one Machiavelli and the Four Seasons. Actually, the gold-lamed six-man band pictured on the front is the Hollywood Argyles, who had a hit in 1960 with "Alley Oop." The decoy back cover lists ten songs, including "I Love You Baby," "It's You I Love Baby," "Love; Baby-You" "Baby Baby Baby," "Love, Love, Love," "Baby Love" and, of course, "I.L.Y.B."

Inside, the song titles are another story: the inflammatory but funny "All Homeboys Are Dickheads," "Lose Your Delusion II," "Play Mistrial for Me" and the showstopping "(He'll Never Be An) Old Man River." That tune's infectious chorus: "I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix." This Is Serious Mum also partook of the sandwich Mama Cass choked on, drank "the slab that killed Bon Scott," "injected some of Hendrix's junk," and even "booked a seat on Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane"!

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