There’s more than a touch of Birdman about this Australian-Japanese collaboration recorded in Tokyo - and that shouldn’t be a shock. Deniz Tek’s involved as a player, co-writer and arranger. His guitar’s all over the both tracks of this CD single, with the rest of the backing provided by Japanese players.
“Gin No Suzu” - apparently it’s Japanese for a meeting place at Tokyo’s main railway station - is a neat rocker, one of those driving songs built on a tightly-wound riff and Penny Ikinger’s assured vocal. It’s more straight-up than Penny’s noir rock and psych pop outings and would sound great as enlightened radio fare.
“Ride On Cowboy” is a touch darker with a chunky bass-line, double-tracked vocal and compact guitar solo. If this is indicative of the album that’s currently being shopped, bring it on.
"Yesterday’s Town" is huge. You think you know where she’s going, but she doesn’t take you there. The lyrics are like a stripped-back novella. Suzie really nails the slow/uptempo dynamic with her romantic guitar and sweet and smoky (by turns) voice.
Suzie’s been going about her career the right way (photos, film clips bios and downloads here.). She's moved from Melbourne to London and is building a profile. Her production on "Yesterday’s Town" is superb, and the song itself begs for mainstream airplay, and I can only assume the majors are scampering with intent toward her right now.
Dave Favours & The Roadside Ashes is a Sydney band that plays both sorts music - Country and Western - whose debut single recalls T Tex Edwards, the maverick punk-country artist from Dallas, Texas.
Band leader Dave Favours used to be in The Delivery and has been at this alt.country thing a while. Like T. Tex, Favours has an appreciation for country’s less-travelled roads and a bit of punk in his background.
“Part Time” has a laconic, resigned feel, with pedal steel bleeding through the lyrics about demons, deep inside, and drinking. Dave Hatt (bass) and Simon Li sit in the pocket nicely.
The single is not dead. It’s just shifted sideways. These days it’s a taster or a teaser to a new LP, rather than a serious stab at the big-time.
Long gone are the days when The Temptations, Slade, or REM could issue a song and watch the dollars roll in.
Never heard of Lonely Stretch? It’s their first release, I don’t think they’ve played any gigs yet (spare me that tedious bullshit about how "ya gotta’ play a bazillion gigs and go into thousands of dollars worth of debt before you’re considered to have paid yer dues") and they’re all Adelaide, kinda, with a knowing series of drives to and from Melbourne under their belt.
Never heard of Lyres? Consider this review an education. The rest of you with the remotest interest in the band or the seven-inch vinyl format should just scroll to the end and hit the Buy It link.
In the beginning, there was DMZ, a ‘60s-influenced Boston “punk” band of the late ‘70s who signed to the Bomp and then Sire labels..,and promptly fell off the edge of the earth.
They can find live recordings but a studio EP and a solitary eponymous album were their only recorded output during their brief lifespan (the latter spoilt by over-production - thanks Flo and Eddie!) DMZ were especially notable for two things: Recording a killer cover of “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and spawning Monoman, aka Jeff Connolly.
Connolly was the organist-vocalist for DMZ and a more ornery, irascible devotee of ‘60s rock and roll Nuggetism you’d be unlikely to uncover. His online outbursts on the old Bomp mailing list were the stuff of capslock legend. Within days of DMZ dissolving, he’d assembled a new band, Lyres. Other DMZ members would go on to play with The Cars and Ya Lo Tengo. Lyres have colaborated with the likes of the late Stiv Bators and Wally Tax (from Holland's wonderful Outsiders.)
Monoman (so called because of his predilection for the audio format) has a vocal not a million miles away from that of Roky Erickson. He’s been the one constant in countless line-ups of Lyres, some of which have contained DMZ members. Lyres live on today.
“Lucky 7” assembles 16 Lyres tracks over seven, 7” singles and is the last word in the garage rock revival scene (a term Connolly hates) of the 1980s. Most of the songs appeared on Ace of Hearts Records, the band’s Boston home. They’re compiled on an accompanying CD which is part of the box set, not a standalone at this stage. This review is being written from that.
Lyres - never “The Lyres” or the more heinous sin of “Thee Lyres” - made (and continue to make) wired, melodic, energetic, hooky, organ-propelled rock and roll. It’s peerless in its simplicity, soulfulness and freshness.
Its epitome is the first Lyres album, “On Fire” (1984), and especially the first side, where tremolo-edged gems like “Help You Ann” and “Don’t Give It Up Now” blow away anything else in the ballpark. It’s the peak but all the subsequent releases are worth your time of day.
A box set of singles is the ultimate vehicle for Lyres songs. All the greatest pre-download bands should be summed by their 7” singles. This set includes the band’s first recording, taken from an acetate of “How Do You Know?” And “It’s All Right”, put down a fortnight into their existence. These are rough recordings and largely of historical interest (the definitive “How Do You Know?” Is on disc two.) The other singles span the pre and post “On Fire” output.
You might know “She Pay The Rent” from the Nomads’ rather different cover. Great song either way you cut, it but Lyres’ version wins hands-down on economy. “We Sell Soul” brings up the rear on the final single and it’s a magnificent cover of a brooding song by Roky Erickson’s pre-Elevators band The Spades.
How often can you hold up a box set and say there isn’t a dud in the tracklist?
So why is a free downloadable single such a significant item?
Because it’s not just a cheaper snapshot into an artist’s work. It can be an Instagram into an imaginary, lush and extraordinary world. The single worships the song itself, transforms it from one more song in a sequence (as with a CD or LP) and one more song in a set, and draws the song into greater, more concentrated focus.
Which means, when you hear something labelled a single, if it’s an old single, like from before the 1990s, you really do have to imagine the new owner playing the song over and over.