Dick Draggers formed on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, Australia during the first Covid-19 lockdown. Boogie boarding sessions became the impetus for multiple recording sessions in the newly formed Four Shore Studios in Hallidays Point. Tipsy scribbles by local Bodyboarding champ Mitch Baker inspired countless improvisations on the microphone, fronted by well-seasoned performance artist Timothy Ohl with almost every other sound effortlessly chewed out and produced by surf rocker Rory Parker of Dork Gently. Starting from a surf punk rock aesthetic, Parker and Ohl transcended genres blending funk, blues and heavy rock to produce over 20 demos in under nine months.
Their first single release “Stay Moist” entered the stratosphere (with an intoxicating video clip to boot) which comes on the release of their debut EP Auxiliary. Joining the lineup is bassist Eyal Herzberg and drummer Alex Dumbrell (Caravana Sun, Benji & the Saltwater Sound-system), rounding out Dick Draggers’ live show. This “raw, visceral, expulsion of pent-up frustrations and excitement” is flamboyantly led by a man with a 25-year professional dance career under his belt and is not to be missed. Auxiliary was recorded and mixed at Four Shores Studio and mastered at The Pet Food Factory in Sydney. To describe the band’s “game plan” – Ohl searched through camo pant pockets for lines of lunacy, being hurled boogie slang by Baker, whilst Parker's swirling surf guitar riffs coaxed the ascension of grunge. With a drive like an Australian road train sprinkled with guttural afflictions from a “truckies stream of consciousness,” this delight is best served sucking down oysters after sliding down waves on a summer’s day – spit it out and suck it up again. Alright then, enjoy listening.
The opening track “Slide with Pride” has a raw fuzziness I have not heard in quite some time. With dark tones, guttural singing, and a new wave/punk style, I immediately thought of a mix between the Buzzcocks, Bauhaus, Joy Division, Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Mudhoney and perhaps other band comparisons I forgot. “Stay Moist” keeps the band’s raw, live sound alive with more surfer guitar riffs and a belting rallying cry of lyrics. “Horizons” has got a sweet, trippy, shoe gaze beat. Jammy with a swing, I’d say the band’s style here is part avant-garde, part experimental topped with trippy psychedelic lyrics. I liked their use of “glass/bell” sounding keyboards and an echoing effect on the drums, too. This one made me wonder what would have happened if Syd Barrett allowed himself to keep recording music and then release it for the masses to enjoy. Although, I think he did record some songs for his own pleasure after Pink Floyd. Anyway, it is by far the band’s longest track.
The EP’s title track was my favorite to listen to. In surf punk/garage rock fashion, this one features a catchy low-toned bass groove and a fantastic guitar solo. Picture ‘50s guitar riff pioneer Link Ray teaming up with The Cramps. Next up is “Pledge to the Wedge” and it features another catchy guitar riff with plenty of deep bass and some spooky backing vocals, too. I thought this one sounded danceable as well. The band’s last track is “I Lament” and it’s kind of curveball, in a way. It’s sort of old school hip-hop, meets funk and jazz all in one. Production wise, it’s a cleaner sounding track, as the instruments and vocals sound like they were recorded without any extra embellishments or effects. More great bass lines to this one, too.
Overall, I liked this short but very impressive EP and I hope to hear more from Dick Draggers later, with or without another lockdown.
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