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Drexler - Drexler (One Punch Records)

drexlerWell, this was a totally wonderful surprise. 

I found this in a record shop a few weeks back and it hasn’t left my player. If this is only a sample of what this band are like live, I need to see them. Full-on, credible lyrics (there’s a lyric sheet) and delivery, the kind of scathing pop the likes of Rage think denotes punk, Drexler are one of my finds of the year.

Melbourne’s Drexler call themselves punks but this little EP is more of a powerpop a beauty, positively rippling with clever riffs, fast guitar and a berko rhythm section. Remember when punks had choruses and you could bellow along? They got them.

White Horse - Dirty Streets (Alive Naturalsounds)

dirty streets white horseNo, I’ve never heard of them either. Dirty Streets are an assured, big sounding, thumping rock outfit from Memphis whose style of music I normally run a mile from. But “White Horse” is a compelling listen, if you can manage it in between bopping around the room.

See, there’s a sense of joy and excitement pouring out of Dirty Streets. They love playing, and there’s a real freshness to them. The production, recording, mixing and mastering is damn fine, too. It’s really up-front and vivid.

Back in the actual ’70s I think I was well and truly horrified by many of the bands everyone else seemed to love; that Dirty Streets can get me to revisit this terrain, and have me interested enough to want to hear more is high praise from this grumpy old goat. Perhaps it was just that I kept hearing the plod-plod of it all, the absurd pompous prattery more clearly than those around me …

Eight Years of Moonlight – Tamam Shud (self released)

eight years moonlightThis is a mind-blowing album on several fronts.

Firstly, because Tamam Shud formed almost 50 years ago: and could be last Australian band still standing from the ‘60s (certainly from the alternative and underground.) I cannot think of anyone else. The album features two of the founding members, Lindsay Bjerre (vocals and guitar) and Peter Baron (bass) from 1967; and two more members who were there four years later, in Tim Gaze (guitar) and Nigel MaCara (drums) from the ”Morning of the Earth” soundtrack era.

Historically, Tamam Shud was the first Australian band to put out a an album full of original compositions when “Evolution” was released late in 1968: There is not one Australian band that I can think of with original members, from their heyday; that has come up with a new album nearly 50 years later so the release of this on vinyl is an historical event.

Sin, You Sinners - The Devils (Voodoo Rhythm)

the devilsWhat a strange, fuzz-drenched trip this boy-girl duo from Naples in Italy take us on. The Devils are as basic as rock and roll comes, playing music that’s stripped barer than a Christmas leg ham in a tankful of piranha.

The story goes that Voodoo Rhythm honcho Beat-Man was in the same French studio as The Devils when Jim Diamond was recording this, their first album. It was love at first listen and Beat-Man had a pen and a contract in their hands quicker than you can say: “Fuck me, that shit sounds distorted.”

Ooh La La Bastard - La Bastard (Beast Records)

oh la laReviewers still have a hard life, don’t they? All those free CDs and free gigs and backstage perks. Not this little black duck. The free CDs arrive and, as this ain’t the day job, they bank up a tad. Because I review music because I love it, if La Bastard were merely playing soft-core mimicry to a “classic” period, with that mushy, vacant intent, you wouldn’t be reading this.

I’ve listened to “Ooh La La Bastard” (“surf-rock party animals from Melbourne, Australia!” the back cover announces) several times now. Loved it more, each time. The front cover is a rather brilliant modern pastiche of ‘50s LP artwork which makes everyone look peculiar, French, and spectacularly jaded. Lluis Fuzzhound must be some sort of genius at large. Let’s just say La Bastard live a full life, and lay it down on the disc.

"Gimme Danger" is neither a success or a failure

GimmeDangerPressConferenceIggy and Jim Jarmusch at a media conferecde in Cannes.

“Gimme Danger” is not a great movie. It is flawed.

That said, no-one expected the Citizen Kane of rock documentaries. This was a cut about the MTV Iggy doco that you can see online for free, but was mixed in with arty pretensions.

“Gimme Danger” is screening at major film festivals around the world. Tonight (June 17) it is the turn of the State Theatre and the Sydney International Film Festival. The audience is evenly split between film people who might not have heard of the Stooges and are there to judge a film on its filmmaking merits, or hardcore rock pigs who want be blasted with Stooges music.

Jarmusch Stooges love letter lacks danger

gimme danger posterDunno what all the online backlash is all about. Jim Jarmusch called his film “a love letter to the Stooges” and that’s precisely what he delivered when “Gimme Danger” made its Australian debut at the Sydney International Film Festival on June 17.

“Gimme Danger” was never going to be a deep dissertation about what made the Stooges tick. Read Paul Trynka’s magnificent “Open Up and Bleed” for that.  It was more like a shallow duck dive into the broad history of the band. Or bobbing for apples.

I enjoyed "Gimme Danger" but this was the Stooges, dumbed-down for beginners. Or “Stooges 101” as someone later said.

Cigarettes and Alcohol - The Leftovers (LCMR)

cigarettes and alcoholAustralian punk was never the widespread movement as it was in England, or parts of Europe, where for a time, it was mainstream. Unlike Australia. The Sex Pistols(unofficially) went to number-one with "God Save the Queen". The Clash , The Buzzcocks, The Jam and Stranglers consistently charted,alongside Elton John and Cliff Richard.

Kids in the UK sat glued to radio and listened to John Peel as a holy ritual. In the UK there was a certain set of circumstances that led to the rise of “Punk Rock” from the kids who saw Iggy, the Ramones, Patti Smith and Thunders live. Factor in brilliant (if accidental) marketers like Malcolm McLaren and their ilk. Mix in the fact that, in the grip of a serious economic recession, England was a depressing place. It all gave rise to a powerful and widespread movement.

Hey Hey, 50 years later they're still The Monkees

monkees posterIt might just be the ultimate baby boomer pop experience. The rumours are true. The Monkees are bringing their 50th anniversary tour to Australasia.

Assembled in Los Angeles in 1965 by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the television series The Monkees, the quartet of Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and the late Davy Jones brought a singular mix of pop, rock, psychedelica, Broadway, and country to their music.

The show itself paid tribute not only to The Beatles, but also to the comedy stylings of The Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy as well as the pop-art sensibilities of Warhol and the emerging San Francisco psychedelic scene.

The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” was released in August 1966, hitting #1 and serving as advance publicity for their series, which debuted on September 12. When the group’s self-titled debut album arrived in stores a month later, it quickly headed for the top spot of the Billboard charts, where it would ultimately sit for 13 of the 78 weeks it remained in the Top 200.

By the time the group’s TV series aired its final new episode on March 25, 1968, The Monkees had seen three further albums top the charts – “More of the Monkees”, “Headquarters”, and “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.”, all released in 1967.

Into The Night - Jeremy & The Harlequins (Yep Roc)

into the nightAmericana Rock and Roll is the new black. No, make that orange. Or whatever colour’s in vogue this week. Make no mistake though: If the trend stays still for five minutes, Jeremy & The Harlequins will be huge.

Jeremy & The Harlequins are from Brooklyn, which is the epicentre of what’s left of New York City’s rock and roll scene. Before that, Jeremy and brother-drummer Stephan came from Toledo, Ohio, where they assembled The Harlequins from remnants of other NYC bands. Their first album was mixed by Matt Verta Ray (Heavy Trash) so you know what sound they were shooting for.

Before Before – Infinity Broke (Luke Come to the Dark Side)

before beforeOne thing about being a reviewer, apart from the teetering pile of CDs getting in the way of real life, is that you encounter bands you probably would never go near.

La Bastard is such a great name for a band that, if you were schlepping past a pub on the way to nowhere in particular (as so many of us are) and you saw that a band called La Bastard were playing, you’d stop dead, turn and walk right in. No question. If you instead saw an Aussie band named “Infinity Broke”, you probably wouldn’t.

"Gimme Danger" and the trouble with critics

red carpet iggy

It's becoming increasingly obvious that some people just can't be given nice things. They've just got to pull them apart because... hell. I don't know what their problem is.

Case in point: Jim Jarmusch's cinematic love letter to the Stooges "Gimme Danger" that screened in Sydney, Australia, last Friday and Sunday nights. A world famous director makes a film about your most favouritst band in the whole wide world and you're going to have a massive sook fest? Why didn't they break out a fucking ouija board and interview all the dead guys?

Lindsay Bjerre re-animates psych-prog legends Tamam Shud

lindsayWe are not kind to our musical legends in Australia.

The Yanks and the Poms put up plaques and statues at a place where a musical legend bought a hamburger. In Australia, we seem to keep our legends and pioneers in vaults as cherished diamonds that are rarely spoken about. Except for a few who want to document our past and celebrate the unique scene, our music has to be sought out like hidden treasures.

When I look at the local ’60s underground legends, a few names crop up. In Melbourne, there was Lobby Loyde, once with The Purple Hearts in Brisbane and then later fronting the Wild Cherries.

And in Sydney we had Lindsay Bjerre (pictured right) with his bands, The Sunsets and Tamam Shud.

Leadfinger heads a heroic Friday night

leadfinger promo posterOne of Australia's most soulful rock and roll bands, Leadfinger, is unleashing its new album “Friday Night Heroes”. The Sydney leg of the launch tour is at The Factory Floor in Marrickville on July 15...which, fittingly, is a Friday night.

Leadfinger's fifth album was recorded in mid to late 2015 at Sydney’s Linear Recording with Wade Keighran (Wolf & Cub, Steve Smyth Band) behind the controls. It is out now on vinyl, CD and digital through Conquest of Noise Records

Supports for the Sydney launch will be Melbourne band Powerline Sneakers making their first trip to the Harbour City and Newcastle’s Rangers of the Universe. 

Powerline Sneakers feature Sly Faulkner (Splatterheads) on vocals and John Nolan (ex-Powder Monkeys) on guitar, Katie Dixon (ex-Ripe) and Mark Hurst (Guttersnipes/Yes Men) on drums. 

Rangers of the Universe is a new band featuring Scott Nash (ex Asteroid B-612/Carrie Phillis & the Downtown 3) and Jason Maljers (ex-Jim Cobain) on guitar.

Tickets can be procured here.

Have Love Will Travel: The Sonics to make second Australian tour

sonics dig it up

Garage-punk pioneers and stand out performers at 2012’s inaugural Dig It Up! Invitational in Australia, The Sonics, return Down Under this September-October at the invite of Wollongong’s Yours & Owls Festival and for headline shows around the country.

The Sonics laid down the blueprint for garage-rock back in 1963 with the release of their first single The Witch. They followed that up with even up with even more grease and oil soaked nuggets in “Psycho”, “Boss Hoss”, “Cinderella”, “Strychnine”, “He’s Waitin’”, “Shot Down” and “Have Love Will Travel” before calling it quits in 1968. Reuniting briefly in 1972 and again in 1980, The Sonics then took permanent leave while the rest of the world caught up with them.

Law And Order - Ulysses (Black Glove Recordings)

law and orderDon’t judge a book by its cover or a band by its promo shot. They might look like wholefood bearded hipsters in their publicity materrial but even less than a considered listen to their third album “Law And Order” reveals there’s a quirky glam-pop heart beating within.

Ulysses hails from Bath in the middle of England’s West. Now, putting to one side generic Australian jokes that we love so much about Poms and soap, these blokes have been soaking in a tub of diverse influences. The bio cites The Cars, Thin Lizzy (especially), Alvin Stardust (check the label name - ha!), Hot Chocolate (huh?) and Supergrass (of course) but that’s just a start. You could toss in Alice Cooper, The Sweet, The Glitter Band - and a few dozen others.

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