Victory Motel Sessions - King Mud (Alive Naturalsound Records) & The Power To Kill - Beyond the Stars (Beyond the Stars)

king mud
beyond the stars

These two discs were each made (mostly) by a two-piece band, drums’n’guitar; and vox and guitars, respectively. They’re both something I wouldn’t have believed possible: successful two-person rock’n’roll that sounds fantastic. Each album does have a few other elements, but they’re precious few and … and again, I wouldn’t have believed it, but … you don’t really miss the others that much. Why?

In King Mud’s case, the songs and the delivery gain, hold and manipulate your attention; their two covers (you should be familiar with at least one) taken over by the Mudders to such an extent they may as well have written it themselves.

King Mud are Van Campbell from the Black Diamond Heavies and Freddy J IV from Left Lane Cruiser. They’re full-on rock’n’stuff, the kind of busy guitar which tells the story, shoves the song forward and devil the details. There’s a distinctive ‘70s American style to the Mudders, but you can clearly hear innumerable UK influences as well.

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.

Under Attack of The Busymen – The Busymen (Swashbuckling Hobo)

under attackJust when you thought it was safe to go back into the psych ward, this sliver of shiny black vinyl arrives out of Brisbane’s sub-tropical humidity, stumbling around like a homeless man in a threadbare coat who's baring his arse for all the world to see.

The Busymen don’t seem to have been living up to their name in recent times because this 10-inch EP is their first release since the “Distort All Levels” album of 2007. Put that down to commitments with other bands or members being detained by the authorities for their own good. They’ve certainly made up for lost time.

Half-covers and half-originals, “Under Attack…” resonates with the brutal thump of a Force 5 hangover after an all-night pub crawl through the seedier haunts of their hometown’s party district of Fortitude Valley. The morning after just doesn’t come any fuzzier than this.

A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble (Exploding In Your Mind): The Wizards of Oz - Various Artists (Warner)

MonstrousPsychedelicBubbleCan you define psychedelica? Behind punk, it’s probably the most over-used term in the musical genre lexicon. That won’t change with this sprawling two-disc exploration of Australian psych, past and present.

Mixing ‘60s and ‘70s tracks with contemporary ones is an approach that could have gone horribly wrong.The wonder of this is how well the old tracks blend seamlessly with the new. Compilers Gaz Cobain (aka The Amorphous Androgynous) and Brian Dougans have done a splendid job of unearthing lost, forgotten and current nuggets and the mastering is great. It’s the fourth edition in a global series.

Radio Birdman live in 2014: Two perspectives

emmy-manning-wideEmmy Etie photo

The tour is almost over and the verdicts are in following a re-tooling of the line-up with the controversial omission of guitarist Chris Masuak. We present divergent views of the sold-out Australian run of Radio Birdman shows.

Go here to read an appraisal of the Adelaide gig by Robert Brokenmouth and here to read Edwin Garland's read-out on the band's two Melbourne gigs. You can leave comments on both reviews. Photos are by Emmy Etie and Kyleigh Pitcher. 

A Fistful of Desert Blues - Lydia Lunch and Cypress Grove (Rustblade)

fistfulThe cover - taken by Lydia Lunch - shows the ruins of an ancient desert city. Could be Jericho. Whether Jericho is in the Mid-East or the West of the USA makes little difference. We’re dealing with perennial humanity in a perilous place with a mythological backdrop. But, you know, the Israelis and the Palestinians are still killing each other, and as I say, it’s a big thing on a big, operatic stage with no solution and no apparent beginning, never mind end…

… and there are plenty of abandoned towns in Australia… it doesn’t take much, just a bit of intolerance and a bit of ignorance, and idealism for a hopeless, not very sensible cause…

If Footmen Tire You - The Bloody Hollies (Alive Naturalsound)

bloodyholliesjpgIf one of those great, booze-soaked rock and roll weekends like Garage Shock or the Las Vegas Shakedown were still a going concern (correct me if I'm wrong and one of them still is ) the Bloody Hollies would have been one of those bands that came in unheralded, blew everyone away and sold a ton at the merch table. And anyone who picked this album up would have been plenty satisfied 'cos it's 30 minutes of fire-breathin' punk fury.

Gas - feedtime (In The Red)

gas feedtimefeedtime have come together to release their first album since 1996’s "Billy". A lot has happened in the last 21 years, so what can we expect from the original lineup of Rick, Al and Tom who have been playing sporadically since reforming in 2011?

It starts off well. “Any good thing” opens with a fantastic, sliding bass line before kicking off with pounding drums and a frenetically distorted guitar. My first thought when hearing Rick’s vocals was that of GG Allin’s voice towards the end of his life. The gravel has turned into a metallic growl.

And the pace continues well into “Thought”, before slowing down into "Box n Burn". Both strong tracks with a powerful sound. However, the issues start to arise with "Skilled Enuf". While the musicianship on the track is strong, the writing is quite simple and unengaging, “Skilled enough, to play one chord. Skilled enough to play one note” might be a true description of the band’s minimalist arrangements, but it is unengaging.

Made in Hawaii - Jeff Dahl (Iwannabeahoople Records)

made in hawaiiHere’s news for those who thought Jeff Dahl had put his guitar in a rack and drawn an end to his prolific punk-glam career. He’s back with a new album - and it sounds like he never went away.

Dahl had been laying low with protracted health issues since pulling up tent pegs at his Arizona desert digs and moving back to his own (and his wife’s) childhood home of the Hawaiian Islands. Prior to slipping off the public radar eight years ago, Dahl was a force of rock and roll nature, turning out a string of abrasive, hard-rocking records and publishing one of the world’s greatest magazines, Sonic Iguana.