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Strange Ways – Some Jerks (Pig City Records)

strange waysIt’s OK to like pop. Real pop, that is. You won’t hear it on mainstream radio. What they play is a watered-down variant that’s polished and homogenised within a centimetre of its life. So go straight to the source, go online or (gasp) experience it at a gig, cherry-pick what sounds good and forget the rest. That’s where a band like Some Jerks comes in.

Recommending music is such a personal thing that we behind the bar are often criticised for going over-the-top in some of our evangelistic rants. Well, fuck you: No, there won’t be an apology for that, because we (mostly) review the shit that we like. Speaking of evangelism…

Josh Lord: Art for work's sake

josh lordJosh Lord is, despite the agit-prop-like art, a conservative. The morning after the opening of his Melbourne exhibition, Josh rose at 7am and started work on his next series of artworks. Then he went to town and did an interview. Then, finally realising he was still wrung out from the night before, he crashed.

Now, if most of us had worked all year and put everything into one night - granted the exhibition runs for a while yet, but the opening was “the event” - we’d be reeling around all wibbly-wobbly and a bit dazed for most of the following two days.

Josh is a working man, really. And art is his business. Whoever said that all capitalism is evil? Josh makes art which criticises both art and capitalism, but capitalism itself doesn’t have to be evil. There’s a lot of evil nasty sods out there. And it only takes a small percentage.

Jeff Dahl re-emerges - and does he have a deal for you

dahl and hofnerPunk rock icon Jeff Dahl is making his first album in eight years and has launched a spectacular crowd-funding campaign to float it.

Dahl’s long career as a solo artist (and collaborator with the likes of Poison Idea, Cheetah Chrome and half the LA punk scene) went on hold after he upped stakes and moved home from Arizona to his former home of the Hawaiian Islands.

Health issues precluded him from doing much, musically-speaking, but he’s now well and itching to record.

As well as baseline offers of an album download and physical copy of the CD (the latter only available to pledgers), Dahl has has opened his own treasure trove of personal memorabilia to sweeten the deal.

“Since I have no children and I am almost as old as dust I've decided to part with some of my precious, precious...," Dahl says.

"Like my Hoyer 5060, Les Paul-style guitar which was previously owned by Stooge Ron Asheton used during his New Order days, and Gregg Turner of the Angry Samoans (pictured).

“Want my wretched old leather touring jacket? It has enough of my DNA to clone an army of Jeff Dahl's!

“One of Stiv Bator’s old belt buckles and with some cool memorabilia? Ian Hunter's book with his and Mick Ronsons autograph? That would look good on your shelf.

“You say you want test pressings? I got 'em! 45 Graves' first release, various Jeff Dahl, MF 666, Vox Pop? Yep, I gots 'em and you can buy 'em! How 'bout some rare old vinyl with autographs by folks like Neil Young or the 'Classic" Motorhead line-up of Lemmy, Philthy and Fast Eddie? Nikki Sudden? I got him too! “

The campaign is here.


No winners: The Case of The Music Industry and Social Justice Warriors vs Ms Louise Dickinson

lemon 16Half a Cow in the inner-western suburb of Glebe was the coolest bookshop in Sydney; an advocate of the underground with shelves bulging with left-of-field fanzines, authors who had been banned and musical output from alternative voices.

It was a literary anti-establishment.  It all came crashing down, in my view, one afternoon in early 1993, during my fortnightly visit to the shop.

A phone call had been made earlier that day and I witnessed the removal of issues of “Lemon” magazine from the shelves.

I asked: “What has Lou done?” and was shown a review of indie-folk pop stars Club Hoy, buried in the back pages. 

It was just six words: “These girls deserve a good raping."

"Lemon" magazine was now officially banned. It started one of the most controversial weeks in the history of the modern Australian music industry.

Indeed, it was the flashpoint of the underground openly clashing with the mainstream.

Kim Salmon and Hugo Race: Separate shows, many parallels

kim at wheatyThis was the weekend that Hugo Race and Kim Salmon played separate shows in Adelaide on successive nights. At first glance, there might seem little to compare the two. But there’s plenty.

Both guitarists, both swimming against the stream writing songs which are, essentially, written as much for the ages as us. Both Hugo and Kim are touring professionals who love playing live, giving to a crowd.

Arguably, both also make the kind of music which seems to endlessly slip between the cracks in a modern world so devoted to novelty (rather than a trend) and the appearance of substance or significance, as opposed to any depth or meaning.

Kim Salmon - Mandy Tzaras photo

Caravan Park Summers & All Bets Are Off - The Coolites (One Crowded Hour)

caravan park summersLooking back doesn’t have to be awkward as The Coolites demonstrate on their “Caravan Park Summers” album and “All Bets Are Off” EP. Their music is clever, winsome rock-pop and very Australian.

This Sydney band is the brainchild of drummer/multi-instrumentalist Simon Gibson who did the rounds with a slew of bands in the ’90s (Sneeze, Modern Giant, the Aerial Maps and Lazy Susan) and wrote these songs while teaching in an international school in  Vietnam for seven years. So he was not just looking back but gazing from afar, with al the clarity that distance affords.

all bets are off

It takes a lot to entrust someone else to sing your songs and Gibson gives that role to part-time TV presenter Peter Colquhoun on “Caravan Park Summers”, and parts of “All Bets Are Off” where other bandmates like guitarist Mark Hyland and bassist Danny Yau chime in. Familiar names like Matt Galvin (guitar), Tim Byron (keys) and Stewart Cahn (guitar) are part of the collective.

Shine & From 3 EPs - The Rosemary Beads (self released)

shine rosemary breadsThe Rosemary Beads are a band that sound completely original yet wear their influences as a badge of honour. 

Emerging out of the West Australian indie rock music scene during the ‘90s, they released three exceptionally good EPs that ranked as some of the best pop from that side of the country. It was music that was highly ignored and startlingly brilliant

“From 3 EPs” is a compilation of their output ("Breath", "Dog" and "I'll Come When I'm Good And Ready" - two of them on Citadel) from the band’s original run that ended in from 3 eps1995. “Shine” is their first full album and ther comeback recording (they disbanded after the death of their drummer, Cam Munachen) and arrives after 20 years of silence.

“The Diving Song” opens “Shine” with a huge splash of classic alternative rock. It is melodic and there was a time this would have been on high rotation all around the country with a good chance of crossing over to the mainstream. Of course that was back when there was a glimmer of hope for new and exciting bands to be given airplay.

R.I.P. Duncan Stewart

duncan stewartTributes are flowing freely for Duncan Stewart, onetime host at iconic Sydney and Melbourne rock venues like the Petersham Inn and St Kilda Bowls Club, who has passed away.

Ex-Bambalams frontman Brendan “Wig” Kibble described Duncan as “a true original who gave so much to the music scene”.

“A lot of us found it tough getting gigs in Sydney because of what we played, (and) Duncan gave us a 'home' at the Petersham Inn and the Britannia. He touched the lives of a couple of generations of musicians and punters. We're all so lucky to have connected with Dunc.”

Psychotic Turnbuckles singer Jesse the Intruder met Duncan when he was publican at the Petersham Inn in Sydney and said his passing was “very sad news”.

“Duncan was one of the true great supporters of The Psychotic Turnbuckles (when he) ran the Petersham Inn during the glory days of Sydney rock and roll. Duncan has sadly left this earth for a better place. God bless Duncan.”

Turnbuckles gigs at Petersham became legendary and Stewart re-named the hotel's back room as The Pismo Bar in honour of the band.

Charlie Maclean of Sydney band 50 Million Beers said Duncan was “charismatic, stylish, funny and loyal” and “a natural enthusiast of subversion and the music that made its soundtrack. Before Americana was du jour, Dunc was on a mission to support the music he loved come hell or high water. In doing so he helped and encouraged countless young musicians who shared his passion.”

Photo by Dominic O'Donnell

Command Performance - Tav Falco (Twenty Stone Blatt)

command performanceMemphis-born Tav Falco has been drawing inspiration from a deep musical well of swamp blues, soul and psychedelia since the early ‘80s. “Command Performance” is his first LP for five years. 

Even though there aren’t many places he hasn’t toured, much of the world is yet to catch up with his music so “Command Performance” is another chip at that wall of mainstream indifference.

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