• A conversation with First Lady of Soul, PP Arnold

  • Birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • Why The Fleshtones still drink for free

Blues Trash - Reverend Beat-Man and The New Wave (Voodoo Rhythm)

beat man and the new waveAfter 30 albums or so under a variety of monikers, Beat-Man could take the easy way out and keep churning out records of garage skronk. You know, music to kill any party, as the label slogan goes. Instead, he’s continuing to take chances.

The Swiss madman's brief with this project was simple: Pick a collaborator and play them a song once. Set the tape running. Use the first or second take. No overdubs. No arguments. 

The Reverend describes the album as “a mix of blues trash, new wave folk and dark no wave garage punk and rock'n'roll”. No arguments. Stylistically speaking, “Blues Trash” IS all over the shop. The bands behind him and his friends range from minimal duos to full-blown folk groups.

Kevin K and the CBGB Years - Kevin K (Realkat Records)

cbgb yearsCBGB is, of course, no more. It’s a designer clothing store run by Detroit old boy John Varvatos. 

At this point, permit me a personal aside.

No matter how many times the new owner’s rock and roll cred and commitment to “tastefully” preserving elements of the old club on The Bowery are thrown at me, I can’t come to terms with this particular march of progress. 

My own CBGB experiences may have only been as a beer-swilling tourist living vicariously through the sounds of those on-stage, but turning a rock and roll hovel into a shop selling $300 T-shirts will only get you so far. 

LAX - Fast Cars (Method Records)

LAXWhere they’ve come from is academic; it’s where Fast Cars are now that counts. The onetime ‘80s Sydney mod-power-pop band has been a creative duo since reforming in 2015, working on opposite sides of the globe. “LAX” suggests distance only makes the creative muse all that much stronger. 

“LAX” is what people used to call a “concept album” - back when single song downloads weren’t the staple currency of the musical economy. I know what you’re thinking: Concept equals Pretentious. Wrong. “LAX” stays well away from that precipice. It’s 12 songs of classy psych pop, alternately dreamy and lush, occasionally funky or wrapped in strings, and framed loosely on the theme of seeking your dreams in a big city. 

“LAX” is also a Dropbox record. Dropbox is the cloud app that’s become stock-in-trade for projects like this. With vocalist-guitarist Di Levi based in Bristol, UK, and guitarist-songwriter Fabian Byrne living in Sydney, Australia, the swapping of ideas, sketches, recorded parts and, ultimately, fleshed-out songs, had to occur online.

Win a cruisy time on Saturday with Sydney's Tombstone Ramblers

 tombstone ramblers

Sydney Harbour and rock and roll cruises go hand-in-hand, especially in times of good weather. That’s why dirty, Morricone-influenced garage-psych rockers Tombstone Ramblers (members of The Dolly Rocker Movement, The Escapes and The Dunhill Blues) are determined to hold up the tradition by launching their new single on the waves this weekend.

They’re commandeering The Rhythm Queen ferry for a harbour cruise with their mates Stone Cold Fox, purveyors of dirty, slow grindin' blues, and Wollongong’s Baby Machine, personal favourites of the Hard-Ons and expert proponents of the loudest and filthiest rock.

The cruise leaves King Street Wharf Number Six at 11.45am on Saturday, returning at 4pm for an after-party at a venue to be announced. Tickets are selling fast here.

You can win a double pass by emailing us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and naming a brand of beer that might be served on a cruise on Sydney Harbour. Entries close at 6pm on Friday and you must be able to be at King Street Wharf in time to set sail.

Sydney is enjoying an Indian summer and last time we looked it’s going to be 26 degrees and fine on Saturday. Get onto it now!


Folk me! Rustic America meets Melbourne

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In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s ascendency to the American presidency, political sociologists scratched their heads trying to explain the emergence of the Trump vote. While some fumbled for the convenient crutch of a conspiracy theory, others acknowledged that there had been, maybe only temporarily, a seismic shift in the American voting demographic.

For those outside of the comfort zone of institutional politics, economic security and politically correct discourse, Trump’s colourful rhetoric was a beacon of hope.

Michael Hurley is a product of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960's. Back in the day, the Village was a haven for earnest singer-songwriters whose blend of poetic lyrics and folk melodies laid the musico-cultural foundations for the more celebrated counter-cultural movement that peaked toward the end of the decade. Some, like Bob Dylan, mutated into pop cultural icon; others, like Hurley, remained on the fringes.

Let There Be Rock: Greats gather to honour Gillsey

let there be rock"Let There Be Rock!" brings together three long-standing heavyweights of the Australian underground rock scene: The Celibate Rifles, Hard-Ons - Official and The New Christs in celebration of the life of Andrew Gillies.

"Gillsey", as he was more affectionately known, was a fixture at shows by all three of these iconic Sydney acts for over 30 years - the first decade as a resident of Sydney and the remaining two in the Northern NSW town of Uki. Even the tyranny of distance would pose no problem to Andrew’s enthusiasm and drive to see, and support, his musical heroes.

In addition to being a major fan of all these acts, young Andy also served as stage tech for the Hard-Ons touring Australia, Europe and the USA from the late '80s through the early '90s, a role he also commandeered for Ratcat, Ed Kuepper, Died Pretty and others.

A slipped disc while working as carpenter reduced his participation in such activity reduced him to more domestic tasks, though, he still continued to tour Europe with his beloved Hard-Ons working as their merchandise seller right up until 2017.

He Gets Up Again

brian and the angelsBrian Henry Hooper being attended to by his angels, his nurses. Carbie Warbie photo.

Four weeks ago Brian Hooper lay in intensive care, surrounded by family and his closest friends. The tumour doctors had found on Hooper’s lung just before Christmas was preventing Hooper from breathing without medical and mechanical assistance. Specialists suggested the even Hooper’s short-term survival was in the realm of miracles.

It wasn’t the first time Brian Henry Hooper had been told to fear the worst. Just over 14 years ago Hooper was told by specialists he may never walk again, after the balcony he was standing on at a gathering in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula collapsed, sending Hooper crashing to the ground, his back mangled from the fall.

Over the next 12 months, Hooper pulled himself back from the edge of permanent paralysis. Hooper’s resilience and psychological strength astounded all around him. In late 2004 Hooper limped back on stage with the Beasts of Bourbon for a gig at the Greyhound Hotel. Towards the end of the set, his battered spine unable to withstand the trauma of standing any longer, Hooper lay on the ground. His bandmates, save for Tony Pola on drums, followed suit, three battle-hardened rockers lying prostrate on the stage in sympathy for their comrade-in-arms.

Meeting the Mexicans: Live in Melbourne - The Celibate Rifles (self released)

meeting the mexicansIt’s 14 years since the last Celibate Rifles release, the accomplished studio effort “Beyond Respect”, so this one’s timely. It’s the third live album in the Rifles’ 39-year history and a departure of sorts. 

If you expected trademark explosive guitar from the outset (a la “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”) adjust your expectations. “Meeting the Mexicans” - the title refers to playing to people in Melbourne - is from a half-electric/half acoustic gig at the Thornbury Theatre in Victoria in mid 2017. The first half is the Cellies mostly unplugged, with the full-blown configuration front-and-centre for the last five tracks only. 

The unplugged thing has been going on for a few years on the Celibate Rifles’ infrequent live runs. It’s an idea that links back to the 1996 “On The Quiet” album and mixes things up for fans and band alike. Considering the bulk of their songs were written on acoustic guitars before they were taken anywhere near a studio, it works. Plus, you get to absorb the words in a way that doesn’t happen at a “normal” gig. 

Hey Australia: Lydia's coming to Lunch

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American Singer, poet, writer and actress, Lydia Lunch returns to Australia with her all-star cast of sonic brutarians in a no-holds-barred survey of her musical output from 1977 to the present.

Lunch will be including music from Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, 8 Eyed Spy, Queen of Siam, 1313 and Shotgun Wedding.

Lydia Lunch Retrovirus features members from Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Chrome Cranks, The Flying Luttenbachers, Child Abuse and more and marries No Wave, Skronk, Hard Rock and Psychedelic Out Jazz to create a dynamic live performance which is dangerous, infectious and aggressively sexy the way Rock music once was.

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