Tombstone N Bones - Chicken Snake (Beast Records)

tombstone n bluesWe were in a diner eating breakfast in downtown New Orleans about 25 years ago, labouring through the aptly-named "Hungry Man’s Special" (eggs, toast, links, bacon, and enough salt to saturate the Mississippi Delta), when a couple of locals at an adjacent table heard our accents and started up a conversation.

“Where y’all from?” they asked. Geo-cultural introductions completed, the discussion strayed onto the social, economic and political idiosyncrasies of New Orleans.

“Y’all know why the roads are all so bad ‘round here,” we were asked rhetorically. “It’s ‘cause Washington said we couldn’t have any money for roads until we raised the drinking age to 21! So we said ‘Fuck you! We’d rather have our beer than decent roads!”

Lager Than Life - Squeeze The Pig (self released)

lager than lifeThe production veers towards the threadbare in parts but there's a lug-headed charm about this CD from a blokey band from Perth. "Lager Than Life" is the debut release for Squeeze The Pig. 

At eight tracks long it's too short to be an album and too long to be an EP. Let's stick with the tried and tested label "Mini Album" for the time being.

As if you hadn't guessed from the cover art, "Lager Than Life" is all about fast cars, motorcyles, beer, smokes and rock and roll. It's meat and potatoes and doesn't try to be anything that it isn't.

King Cobra - The Senior Service (Damaged Goods)

king cobraEffortlessly cool instrumental soundtrack music by a band drawn from the UK Medway scene. The Senior Service make epic songs.

If you don’t know the names Jon Barker (organ), Graham Day (guitar), Darryl Hartley (bass) and Wolf Howard (drums and percussion), you’ll know the bands they’ve played in, like Billy Childish and the Buff Medways, The Mighty Caesars and The Prisoners.

Hammond organ to the forefront, The Senior Service march to a drumbeat made familiar by predecessors like Booker T and the MGs. This is their second album and it could have filled the soundtracks of any number of spy movies, film noir thrillers or whimsical British dramas.

Carry On The Con - The Braves (Spooky Records)

COTCAnother day, another of those astonishing records from Melbourne label Spooky. The Braves, now on either their fourth or fifth LP, show no signs of that "running out of ideas" thing which so many bands suffer. On the contrary.

In fact, you might not like The Braves. Face it, you play what you're used to, or variations of it. Partly, I accept, because what's common on the mainstream formats is such awful rotten sludge, but partly because... you're all used to the ordinary.

Not my fault you no longer have an adventurous bone in your body, you old fart. And as for you young 'uns who haven't yet worked out that just because it's new doesn't mean it's any good...

Live PBS 106.7FM - No Fixed Address (No Fixed Address)

no fixed address liveSaw this unexpectedly in Streetlight Records in Adelaide and instantly snaffled it.

No Fixed Address (or NFA, as the Social Security acronym had it) was what every itinerant/traveller/boho put down as their address when they turned up in a strange town and went to lodge their form. Meant they weren't entitled to rent assistance. 

The reason this release only gets its beer bottle rating is for the songs - not the memories. Certainly not for the sound - whoever did this was either having difficulties or not paying attention. The bass doesn't dominate like a liquid hot night in Adelaide, somehow to the fore and in the background at the same time; the guitar seems cleaner than I remember it, the pace seems slightly faster (though that could be time playing tricks) and, perhaps Veronica Rankine wasn't playing that night as I can't hear her sax.

Past Masters Volume 1 - The Bils (self released)

the bilsGoing in with open ears and no expectations, this unassuming album is a revelation. It launched with little fanfare and was spoken about online but was unheard by these ears until after a copy was pressed into my hands backstage at a gig. 

Somebody said it was country. A little. It's copped a flogging on the CD player. It’s mostly warm and breezy blues-pop, from a husband and wife duo, one of whom you might know in their other guise. 

The Bils are Bil and Michelle Bilson. They play everything between them (guitars, bass, keys and drums) and share vocals. Bil’s other gig is drumming with reincarnated Australian power-pop legends the Sunnyboys. He also played with The (Sunnyboys-related) Sparklers and the gloriously acid punk Doctor Stone. Can’t confess to knowing Michelle’s musical pedigree but it doesn’t much matter. The back story’s not as important as what's going on at the front-of-house.