Organ Grinders - Demented Organ Duo (Demented Organ Duo) and Baile Bruja Muerto - Reverend Beat-Man and Izobel Garcia (Voodoo Rhythm)

organ grindersOne of the greatest things punk gave the world was that you, too, can make your own music and, if only in your bedroom, be a genius rock star. 

Adelaide’s Chris Spud (aka Demented Organ Duo), the stay-at-home musician (except when playing in a horrible local punk rock band), has the most satisfactory musical and literary taste.  There are four songs here; all recorded, cut and edited laboriously in Spud's luxuriously cramped studio. 

“Organ Grinders” is a brilliant, sarky, creepy, savagely knowing piece of theatre. If you dug, for example, Tom Waits' circus/fairground-type music, you'll dig this - and so would Tom.

Atomic Zeros - Atomic Zeros (Atomic Zeros) and I Hope You OD - Bad Mojos (Voodoo Rhythm)

atomic zerosIt's been argued over, and if you fancy arguing again, go right ahead. I'll wait.

Finished?

Okay. Before punk was PUNK (as it was decreed and seized upon by the black leather beetle backs), there were bands which formed a sort of disaffected underbelly. There were loose things in common.

Some of these bands were utterly alien to the world at large (I'm looking at you, Suicide, Chrome, Pere Ubu), their forefathers being outfits like The Velvet Underground and The Stooges; while others were, by contrast, relatively straightforward. Like the MC5 and later, Radio Birdman.

Entering Anytown USA - Joe Normal and The Anytownr’s (Rankoutsider)

entering anytownBroooooce Springsteen? Can’t abide him. It’s OK if you do. Different strokes for different folks, right? He’s well and truly present on this three-tracker CD - at least in spirit - but I like it in spite of that.

Like Broooce, Joe Normal and The Anytownr’s frontman Joe Normal grew up among the factories of New Jersey - before making  a break for L.A. So the bio says. And he’s landed on Pat (Lazy Cowgirls) Todd’s Rankoutsider Records.  Now you’re talking…

Rankoutsider is an outpost of genuine rock and roll, stripped back to its roots rather than wrapped up in ideas of blandness and mainstream acceptance. Joe Normal is backed by journeymen players whose curriculum vitae includes Stiv Bators, Sussana Hoffs, Syl Sylvain and Izzy Stradlin.So they’ve been around. 

It All Comes Down - Jackson Briggs and the Heaters (Grubby Publications)

it all comes downA couple of historical reference points: Ken Russell, director of the cinematic version of The Who’s Tommy, lurching excitedly toward politico-cultural polemic. “Townshend, The Who, Roger Daltrey, Entwistle, Moon could rise this country out of its decadent, ambient state more than Wilson and those crappy people could ever hope to achieve.” The second, Old Grey Whistle Test host Bob Harris, his sanctimonious attitude almost as dominant as his pearly white teeth, dismissing The New York Dolls as “mock rock’”. 

I first caught Jackson Briggs and the Heaters last year at the Yarra Hotel in Melbourne’s Abbotsford. A tiny band room out the back, the full complement of band members unable to squeeze onto the notional stage.

Driving riffs, one guitarist secreted on the right-hand side of stage, weaving elegant licks like a artisan putting the finishing touches on a roughly hewn rock’n’roll tapestry. James McCann had encouraged me to get along and see them, and I knew why.

Glaucoma Chameleon - Eyes Ninety (Swashbuckling Hobo)

glaucomaThere’s no chance of mistaking this for a prog rock epic or a pompous concept album. None of its songe figire on the "Bohemian Rhapsody" soundtrack. Eyes Ninety play unadorned, garage rock and roll. Two guitars, bass and drums. Tight when it has to be, looser and ragged when they feel like it. Which is quite a bit.

Music is so often a product of its geography and Eyes Ninety are from Brisbane. Now, lots of people talk about the Brisbane underground scene - and most of them are from Brisbane. If you don’t come from there, you should visit more often. 

For all the constraints of being an Australian capital city, Brisbane rock and roll doesn’t do too badly with its music. There’s a supportive local radio station (4ZZZ), functioning record labels (Swashbuckling Hobo being one) and a reasonable range of venues. What’s more, the bands in Brisbane don’t feel obliged to stick to any formula. 

Cue, Eyes Ninety. For a so-called garage band, they sure mix it up. They get all broody and (dare say) post-punk on “Iceberg Syndrome” while “Laminated Beams” is hooky, edgy and fast. “Another Dimension” hangs off a meandering lead guitar line. “Spinning” is discordant, unnerving and equally catchy. “Lost Sunnies” packs a wallop. And that’s just side one.

Moving Target - The Peawees (Rum Bar Records/Wild Honey)

moving target peaweesLet’s see. It’s been 18 years since I first heard a Peawees record and this is Album Number Six. The Italian combo from scenic La Spezia by the sea has been kicking out pop-punk jams since the mid-‘90s. Despite having only one constant member in guitarist-vocalist Hervé Peroncini, they sound pretty much like they did way back when.

There's something to be said for longevity in rock and roll. Perhaps there's a clue to The Peawees' secret in the album title. One thing The Peawees haven't done down the years is stand still, and there's enough stylistic variation on this album to keep things interesting.

It's not all about the Ramones. The bar room boogie of "Reason Why" or the Jam-like rush of opener "Walking Through My Hell" are proof enough. If that double-punch to the solar plexus doesn't get you gasping for air, you're a corpse.

Memories From a Shithole - Whodunit (Beast Records)

memories from ashitholeThis Parisian band brags they’ve been “playing garage-blues-punk since 2003” and that’s no mean feat in a city where rock and roll gets simultaneously downtrodden by dance music and high culture. 

Two more things in their favour is that they’re on Beast Records, a well-established home for music that flies a ragged freak flag, and “Memories From a Shithole” was produced by expat Detroiter Jim Diamond, the ex-Dirtbombs bassist and sonic master now spending much of his work-time in Montpellier. His credits include the Bellrays, the Fleshtones and the White Stripes so he’s qualified to make this sort of noise. 

Whodunit aren’t your standard ‘60s acid punk rehash or two-chord crash-er-rama thrash artists. They don’t play second-rate Serge lounge tunes or bother trying to de-construct the blues. They just go for broke. 

More Blood, More Tracks - Bob Dylan (CBS)

more blood on the tracksThis may be Dylan's best album ever. It might also be his most unnecessary. He recorded these songs. Sent out promos. Then he changed his mind.

Was it right to dump this version and re-record it? Absolutely.

In the early ’70s, this album would have had its fans. It would have sold. But it would have disappeared into the back catalogue. Too much more of the same.

The second go at the songs that become the Blood on the Tracks album are a force of nature that captured the zeitgeist. They buried the copyists and pretenders. That album was a lion amongst cattle. It turned Dylan's career around.

One For The Road - Bigger Than Jesus (Dinner For Wolves)

btjYou can’t separate Steve Lucas from his X history – at least not in this bar and not in this part of the world.

The early members of X eschewed the punk tag because they regarded themselves as a rock and roll band. The delivery might have been rawer than a steak in a trendy French bistro but the band’s musicality raised it above the average two-chord wonders.

Since the deaths of most of X’s many members since formation, Lucas has firmly held onto the band’s legacy, while not limiting himself musically. Bigger Than Jesus is proof of his determination to branch out.

We all might say we hate labels but we all still use them. If X was (and is) his “punk” band, The Groody Frenzy his blues rock outfit, Pubert Brown his psych-Kinks trip and A.R.M. his Oz Rock monster, Bigger Than Jesus is Steve Lucas’s “metal” group. And how.