Smallpox Confidential - Smallpox Confidential (self released)

smallpox confidential coverWhen records are possessed of avant garde qualities, it is often difficult to assess them without addressing the political and social milieu from which they arise. Throbbing Gristle? Psychic TV? Half of the explanation comes out of the statement of intent.

Claim the key to the brown note. Wank your way to self realisation. Decisions. Decisions.

Because one man's meat is another's poison. Upside is down. Why is one man's white noise better than another? Judgeth not thy feedback lest thy feedback may be judged.

Smallpox Confidential is, at least in main part, the brainchild of one Robert Brokenmouth of this parish. It is less abstract than his previous release but that doesn't mean there's not enough feedback and rant poetry to go around.

Trouble Is Our Business - Plastic Section (Off The Hip)

Plastic Section Trouble Cd Off The Hip LluisWay back in the last century, there was a band kicking around Sydney called The Milky Bar Kids. They were minimalist rockabilly, stripped back to the bare basics of stand-up bass, twangy guitar and a tiny kit. They had simple songs, in the style of early Elvis, and they were wonderful.

Fast forward to a bar in Wales a year or two later and I laid eyes (and ears) on a similar band whose name is lost in the mists of time. Again, it was a bunch of people tapping the source of rock’s roots and it was as enjoyable for its raw simplicity as its songs. 

The international angle is important because the band being reviewed has that sort of history. Vocalist-guitarist Ben Edwards is an ex-Sydneysider based in Melbourne and has another line-up of Plastic Section based in Bangkok. 

Boy Howdy! Creem magazine documentary makes its debut

boy howdy poster"Boy Howdy: The Story of Creem Magazine"
Alamo Ritz Theatre
Austin, TX  U.S.A.
Thursday March 14 2019 

,I was surprised to learn that there was a documentary film on Creem magazine. Then, I was pleased to learn that it would be featured as part of the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX

As I'd planned on attending SXSW this year, I thought that I'd look into seeing it.

In the early 1970s, I discovered Creem Magazine. I must've been about 13-years-old. The magazine was quite a bit different from the magazines that I'd read. It was irreverent and enthusiastic. Creem was based in Detroit, Michigan and offered coverage of Musicians and Bands from that region. It was during this time that I'd discovered The Stooges and The MC5.

I remember after bringing home my first issue that my Mom asked me not to purchase Creem anymore. Of course, I continued to do so.

Shake, Stomp and Stumble - Greg Antista & the Lonely Streets (Primal Beat Records)

AntistaStatement of the obvious: Three-minute pop punk songs (mostly) don’t get old. “Shake, Stomp & Stumble” - the debut album for Californian Greg Antista and his Lonely Streets - is littered with them.

This is a record of its SoCal birthplace. Orange County local Antista grew up in the 1980s with most members of The Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion and Middle Class as his buddies. He recorded and toured two albums with the band Joyride with Steve Soto (The Adolescents) in the early ‘90s. 

“Shake, Stomp & Stumble” wears all those influences on its sleeve. It’s a little punk, a lot pop and all of it smeared with large dollops of country and Americana. Antista has an emotive vocal with a touch of melancholy to it - when needed. Not a bad attribute if you're dipping your toe into country waters. Johnny Cash was a punk rocker, you know.

Shine - E.T. Explore Me (Voodoo Rhythm Records)

shine et explore mePLAY REALLY FUCKING LOUD! 

It's rated 15 beer bottles. Out of five. Classic, fucking brilliant disc. Starts with a genre, fucks it over and you end up, amazed and wild-eyed, at the end of the night, guzzling from a bottle of polish spirit and yowling at the moon with irate citizens throwing the contents of their chamber pots ... OK.

First, E.T. Explore Me is possibly the perviest name for a rock band ever. Never mind 10CC or the Lovin' Spoonful, that's just wilful boys will be boys stuff. E.T. Explore Me, I mean, ew. 

In fact, E.T. Explore Me, EEEEWWWW! 

Blessed Is The Boogie - Datura4 (Alive Naturalsound)

blessed be the boogieIt's Album Number Three for the blues-psych-boogie West Australian combo built by Dom Mariani (The Stems, DM3) and mates and it’s like the members sat in a studio and conspired to make everything heavier than what came before. If you want to be technical, they set the pan pots to Full-On Raunch and slammed the faders waaaay up to 11. All while wearing double denim.

While "Demon Blues" and "Hairy Mountain" had their feet stubbornly wedged in the mud of a rain-soaked Sunbury Festival paddock, "Blessed Is The Boogie" dives into the back of a Holden Sandman and posts a "If it's rocking, don't bother knocking" sign on the curtained back window and goes about its business.

Selfless Shame Promotion - Live at the Old Bar - Lost Talk (Wild Animal Records)

live at the old barThis is rated six bottles. Seven if you were at this gig and still have your hearing. What we know so far is that Lost Talk's first LP, "Symbol/ Signal" was released last year on Spooky Records. When I heard it I lost my shit.

"Selfless Shame Promotion" is a cassette-only physical release (and yes, you can get it on download so you can burn it onto CD and play it in your car and give the pedestrians a headache) released to remind you what the band are like, prior to a new LP and presumably gigs in your town.

The track list, in case I get lost, is A: Cheap Crimes/ Thin Skin/ Shoe Shine/ Igloo/ Annie; and B: Chrome Alone/ Spotless Temperament/ Enter the Muskrat/ Jesus-Centaur

Vol 4 - Black Bombers (Easy Action)

vol4The only disappointment is that it’s six tracks and not a full album. The title “Vol 4” is an obvious nod to their hometown heroes and is as grimy and hard as the worst parts of Birmingham used to be, pre-gentrification.

Black Bombers are one serious raw power trio. Don’t dwell on the Sabbath heritage because they’re a step removed from their fellow Brummies’ relentless attack. Black Bombers lay down a looser groove and leave more spaces. There’s a multitude of influences at work including Motorhead, the Pink Fairies and Blue Cheer.

We Who Are - The Embrooks (State Records)

who we areThere’s a steely edge to “We Who Are” that sets it apart from the pack of ’60-influenced Paisley revivalists and winkle-picker wearing pretenders. It’s apparent in the uncompromisingly serrated fuzz tone of Alessandro Cozzi-Lepri and the economical and direct songs this trio writes.

Most of us have a soft spot for garage rock and ‘60s punk. If you grew up in Australia, it’s probably the US variants (and especially the acid punk end of the genre) that appeals. It fuelled a rash of bands in the ‘80s. You know their names. The Embrooks came late to that particiular party, not forming until 1996, but were no less formidable than their immediate forebears.

If we’re going to talk genre, The Embrooks were masters of freakbeat - the English take on psychedelia, beat pop and Mod - that sprang up in the mid-’60s and fittingly spent time on the Voxx label before calling it a day in 2004. Their reformation for this, their fourth long player, was much anticipated.

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