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.

What Happens Next - Gang of Four (Metropolis/ Membran)

whathappensnextYou may have heard of Gang of Four, maybe even, if you’re very lucky, have seen them.

In 1979, the Gang of Four’s first 7”s had a huge impact on me, particularly their first, "Love Like Anthrax", using feedback as an integral part of the song, drowning us as we heard Jon King’s vocals speaking simply - a little like The Velvet Underground’s "The Gift", but so different that the comparison didn’t occur to me until years later.

Their first LP, "Entertainment!", bristling with slappin bass lines, brittle, spiky guitar runs had me dancing like a demon, and …

Play mystLY For Me – Dave Graney and The mystLY (self released)

play mystlyDon’t call it cabaret. Dave Graney makes reference to the tag on one of these tracks, pointing that he and his band, the mystLY, would be on a higher pay-scale, and no doubt playing in a different class of gin joints, if that’s what they were.

In longevity terms, Graney is an “elder statesman” of the Australian music scene. He was a punk. He existed as expatriate dirt amid critical acclaim in London. He came home, entered the major label lifestyle for a time, became our King of Pop and decided that he could get along just fine on his own terms, playing music that didn’t fit radio programing templates.

Lorraine Exotica - King Automatic (Voodoo Rhythm)

lorraine exoticaFrench one-man band King Automatic now has four albums on Voodoo Rhythm and still can’t make up his mind what musical genre we should put him in. Amen to that. This record is his most cosmopolitan so far.

“Lorraine Exotica” bounces from exotic organ-drenched garage to fuzz-soaked blues to Jamaican rock steady, with maracas, Russian folk music and trash exotica thrown in along the way. It jumps around like a tenderfoot tourist in Fiji lingering too long on hot coals. King Automatic has toured everywhere from Eastern Europe to South America and this album sounds like he’s sending a musical postcard from every stop.

Twin Horses - Lydia Lunch and Cypress Grove/ Spiritual Front (Rustblade)

spiritual frontThis is a kind of split album thing; one side Lydia works with Cypress, and the second is Spiritual Front’s.

What Cypress Grove is doing with Lydia Lunch is what I think of as “real”, modern blues. I mean, there’s progressive and “progressive”, you know? I mean, you’ll doubtless be annoyed with me when I say I recall Robert Cray’s first LP, and thinking it was very well done, but horrible.

Maybe it’s just me but I dislike cleverness without substance, and Cray just struck me as lopsided. Oh, sure, I suppose I’m doing him a disservice, for I’ve never listened to a Cray track since (to my knowledge), but can you say you’ve never treated a notable performer any differently..? Take Van Morrison.

Please, I mean take the bugger out behind the bike sheds and blow his head off.

Shambolic And Other Love Songs - Donovan's Brain (Career Records)

shambolicIf “Shambolic” needed a Facebook relationship status, it would use “It’s Complicated”. 

It's a reconstructed Donovan’s Brain record, not intentionally written as a “concept album”, but becoming one along the way. It was recorded over the space of many sessions and three years, only to be left unfinished and abandoned for a decade-and-a-half.

The name’s a misnomer. It’s no shambles by any stretch, more a twisting and turning trip, set to words and music by principal band member Ron Sanchez.

Beach Coma - Shifting Sands (Spooky Records/Beast Records)

beach comaShifting Sands are partly comprised of members of SixFtHick and Gentle Ben, whom you may have heard of … and quite a number of Shifting Sands’ songs are ludicrously radio-friendly.

No, I mean FM radio cross-over, cover of Cosmo friendly; "Boyfriend" and "Other Girls" are the tracks suggested; but that’s not where the band always hang. My favourites include "New Flame", "Dead Memory" and "Airway", the latter being a rather clever inversion of your expectation. In fact, the majors should be sniffing around right now.