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.

Boogie Pimps - The Juke Joint Pimps (Voodoo Rhythm)

boolgie pimpsThere’s only one thing to do with this album: Play it. Loud. Over and over, Recorded in an analogue Italian studio in two days by a German duo, it’s soaked in whiskey, boogie and blues.

You can bitch about bands that go out of their way to sound vintage and to some extent you’d be right most of the time, but there’s no faking this stuff when it’s played correctly and in the right spirit.

“Bogies Pimps” is not self-consciously retro - it actually sounds contemporary but without the affectations you might expect, or a clean-up. It’s  stripped back Chicago blues and The Juke Joint Pimps could be playing in your lounge room. Only on the closing “Mister Vegan” do the Pimps allow themselves a brief surrender to a looped electronic rhythm track.

Thee Rum Coves - Thee Rum Coves (self released)

thee rum covesIs it really a surprise in 2015 to hear rocking garage soul that has its origins in the UK played better than almost anyone else around by a band that comes from Auckland in New Zealand? Meet Thee Rum Coves.

These guys (and girl) should be the toast of the summer festival circuit in Europe. They deserve to fill the vacuum left by the demise of The Jim Jones Revue. Thee Rum Coves have everything going for them for a shot at success in Europe…except geography. Not that this should matter.

Individuals & Get Some Fun - Sunnyboys (Feel Presents)

get some funindividualsIt’s time to kiss and make up. When “Individuals” was released back in 1982, as a follow-up to the Sunnyboys’ barnstorming eponymous debut, it was justifiably unloved by many.

The songs were…good…but slower. Its lead-off single, the curious “This Is Real”, was stilted and a million miles removed from the infectious “Happy Man” and “Alone With You”. The biggest drawback, however, was the record’s lifeless production which reduced the sound of the Sunnyboys to an empty husk. It lacked warmth and sounded distant.

Lady Luck - The Villenettes (Off The Hip)

villenettesThey’re four girls with guitars and this is their debut album. It twangs a lot and is laced with reverb in all the right places. It rocks like my vintage mono jukebox and the songs are ace. That’s it in a nutshell, but of course you want more…

Being an all-female band is fraught with dangers, not the least of which is that a certain percentage of sneering (probably male) arseholes won’t take you seriously. Don’t make that mistake. The Villenettes play this ‘60s garage psychobilly hellcats thing with skill and feeling.

Black Chameleon Prayer - The Dogs (Astma Records)

black chameleon prayerIt’s said you should never judge a book by its cover and the same goes for records. This is apparently Album Number Three from this Oslo, Norway, six-piece and they sound nothing like the middle-aged lay preachers standing ankle deep in water under a bridge that they appear to be. Hallelujah.

The Dogs (not to be confused with the late French band or the still kicking one from L.A. via Detroit) rock like they mean it. They worship at the shrine of the ‘60s garage/‘80s garage revival scenes but they bring enough manic energy to these songs that makes them stand apart from the rest of the pack. Cock an ear to the furious “Stay Away From Her” with its Dicatoresque vocal and melodic bass-line behind its driving guitars to know as much.

Watch Your Skull - Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two

kit convictHey Kit Convict - the people of Medway called and they want their Billy Childish back.

Just kidding. But there is an strong resemblance between the music from most of Billy’s 55,000 albums and what Kit Convict and his stripped-back combo pump out.

This is short, sharp, simple and very catchy garage punk. I know “garage punk” is a broad descriptor and a little imprecise - hence the Childish reference. That the influences for this Melbourne band are obvious isn’t a problem. Like Billy, they’ve gone digging until they hit the right, rich vein and they’re mining from it.