TOP TEN GIGS 2019
Ashley King photo
It is always hard to cut it down to ten but here goes.
Ice Cream Hands supported by Bryan Estapa Band- Factory Floor, Sydney
A great night of cleverly and carefully crafted power pop from Ice Cream Hands as Charles Jenkins and co bewitched us again with their sublime sounds. Support act Bryan Estapa Band were also a delight with their songs that owe a bit of a nod to high quality 70s AM radio sounds.
Charlotte and The Harlots/COFFIN/Turbobelco/Generation Landslide/Hy Test/Neptune Power Federation – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney
All killer no filler as this mighty bill saw each band up the ante and be better than the one before them. COFFIN and Neptune Power Federation were especially outstanding.
Thee Marshmallow Overcoat – The Caravan Club, Oakleigh, Melbourne.
Ashley Naylor, Davey Lane and Brett Wolfie playing two sets of their favourites from the 60s and 70s. Do I need to say more?
Ice Cream Hands – The Caravan Club, Oakleigh, Melbourne.
Oh yes, the night after Thee Marshmallow Overcoat, at the same venue. Bliss, heaven on a stick and a more sympathetic mix than was apparent at the Factory Floor show.
The Dark Clouds/Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers/Radio Birdman – Factory Theatre
The Dark Clouds showed why they are one of the best hard rock bands around but it was Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers who wowed the crowd with their set. Peppered with tracks from the Open Season album and select gems from Mick’s back catalogue they were the stars of the night. Radio Birdman also delivered a fine set and it was probably Rob Younger’s best vocal performance with RB for some time.
“Just A Bad Dream: Sixty British Garage & Trash Nuggets 1981-89”– Various Artists (Cherry Red)
While most of us in Australia in the ‘80s and ‘90s were obsessing with the US resurgence in trashy ‘60s garage rock, the Brits were having a wild old time with the same sort of stuff. This stellar three-disc, clamshell box set lifts the lid on what was going on behind the Warm Beer Curtain, in cracking fashion.
Flash back to the dawn of the 1980s: Boxed in by the constraints of punk rock - which had morphed into a fashion parade by then - and repulsed by the rise of New Romanticism, a good many Brit bands made like it was still raining German V2’s and headed deep underground.
To be fair, you can also blame the Cramps for much of this, although the Poms were arguably able to tap their own deep, local wellspring. We Aussies, on the other hand, got locked into our own US ‘60s punk trip, thanks to our own tastemaker bands, and those buyers for local record stores who spent most of their time in the States.
Thee Sweeders - Thee Sweeders (Let’s Sweed Records)
No idea if there’s a decent garage rock “scene” of any sorts in Annency, France. The French tend to do to rock and roll what Australia's backpacker killer Ivan Milat did to tourists, both using a place called a shallow grave, but if there is, it’s lucky to have Thee Sweeders as part of it. This release is six tracks on vinyl of fine, hard driving punk rock and roll.
Comparisons are often odious and best avoided but let’s pause and consider a couple:
The Murder City Devils gave equal prominence to keys and guitar and produced some of the best Stooges-in-the-garage skronk to come out of Seattle, Washington, in the wake of grunge in the ‘90s.Thee Sweeders peddle a similar style, with Oliv’s swirling electric piano mixing it with Cuibs’ chunky guitar. Sweeders vocalist Gilles approximates Spencer Moody’s uncivil yowl - and probably speaks better English.