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.

Creeper Vine - Luke Escombe and The Corporation (Dri-Clean Only Records)

creeper vineBetween battling and building awareness about Crohn’s disease, writing and delivering comedy routines and playing bluesy rock songs, hyperactive Sydneysider Luke Escombe makes records. Here’s one of them - an EP, in fact - and it’s a fun ride.

“Creeper Vine” is a five-song package of observations on 21st Century urban life. Its stated musical reference points (Freddie King, Chuck Berry, Elvis) are as clear as its themes (coping through coffee; the role of the axe in a happy marriage; female Prime Ministers.)

It’s all played with spirit by a well-honed band that includes veteran bassist Harry Brus (Kevin Borich, Billy Thorpe.) Escombe does the singing and most of the guitar playing and is no slouch in either department.

Conjure Time - Hi Alerts (Twenty Stone Blatt)

hi alertsGarage blues and freakadelia had a baby and they named it Hi Alerts...

Over the last two or three years, something very interesting has been happening in the Glasgow underground scene; in contrast to the blandness of current high profile Scottish acts, from the derivative stadium rock of Biffy Clyro to the glossy coffee table electro-pop of Chvrches (they really should get the "U" key fixed on their computer), an exciting garage rock scene has coalesced around one of Glasgow's greatest, yet least heralded rock groups, The Primevals.

Formed by Michael Rooney in 1983, The Primevals blazed an uncompromising path through the '80s Scottish music scene. Inspired by such luminaries as The Cramps, Tav Falco & Panther Burns and The Gun Club, Rooney's barmy army of fellow punk-forged rock 'n' roll obsessives had no truck with the prevailing trends. Their outsider status within the Scottish music scene was in many ways analogous to that of Radio Birdman when they established their "Detroit South" Real O-Mindset in Sydney, Australia in the mid-70s.

Black Moose - The Dead Brothers (Voodoo Rhythm)

black mooseI have actually lost count of the number of times I’ve played this. I keep doing it. In the car, on the computer and around the house. Bloody hell it’s good.

Ever find yourself in the situation where you’re presented with a band with an unpromising name, an enigmatic if not daft cd title which, upon listening, you are so transported and delighted with that you play the item over and over in amazed disbelief, discovering as you go, humming and singing around the room, that the band have been in existence for quite some time and have five more LPs to their name and you paw miserably at your spartan wallet, realising that the next pay packet will have to do..?

Yes, Black Moose is one of those albums. Like listening to a smart blend of Lovecraft, R.E. Howard and the darkest American blues and country while reading Grimm to a terrified child. It’s as real as reality, and as tangible as imagination.

Hot Box 1974-79 – Destroy All Monsters (Munster Records)

DAMboxIt’s high time this stuff was collected in one place. If you’ve no idea who Destroy All Monsters were, boy, you’re in the wrong place. If you are in the know, consider yourself lucky, take a pill and strap yourself in for a short history lesson.

Come the second half of the ‘70s, the Greater Detroit music scene was a forgotten No Man’s Land, an expanse of grey somewhere between the industry strongholds of New York City and the West Coast. The rabble-rousing and boundary-pushing of the cusp of the late ‘60s was gone, replaced by cover bands and blandness. Motown had moved to LA. Punk was just a figment of some future zine writer’s fevered imagination. Nobody cared about Detroit. 

After the Sun - The Dark Clouds (self released)

after the sunOld-fashioned, gnarly hard heads making energetic, rocking guitar music. In an age where there’s no luxury or compulsion to absorb more than a morsel of information at a time, there’s your review, right there. But you want more, don’t you? As you should…

The Dark Clouds are a two-guitar rock band from the relatively nondescript Australian city of Wollongong. The “nondescript” tag is meant in the nicest possible way. The 'Gong used to be a rough and ready, blue-collar, rock and roll town. (I know, I used to hang out there.) Now the heavy industry is mostly gone and it’s being gentrified. A few rough edges remain, but its status as a fertile rock and roll breeding ground is being steadily chipped away.

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 …