Punk turned Americana country bluesman Peter Blast occupies a musical space vacated by Nikki Sudden and contested by a string of similar-minded outriders. This two-song CD single gives a glimpse of why the others are mostly pretenders.
He might look like his late friend Johnny Thunders’ Chicago cousin and Blast shares his plaintive vocal stylings, but the soulful music he makes is all his own. “Population Zero” is sparse, country blues dressed in a skeletal arrangement and spooky lap slide. Herein lies the Nikki Sudden comparison.
Imagine if the West Coast Flower Power era had happened, not in the City by the Bay but in the middle of England. Within spitting distance of Stonehenge. Only it wasn’t so trippy-dippy and folkish, and had a nasty streak to its sound. Cue: The Neighbourhood Strange and this, their second double A-sided single.
UK-born, American-based Dan Melchoir is a longtime Holly Golightly and Billy Childish collaborator and his old band, The Broke Revue, had a string of albums out on Sympathy for The Record Industry and In The Red.
He’s not as prolific as Childish but he’s not far off. How he got to record in Queensland with two members of Australia’s Ooga Boogas (Richard Stanley and Perl Bystrom) is unclear. I'm willing to bet it came of paths crossing at one of those underground gatherings in the US like Gonerfest.
Members of this early ‘80s Brisbane band went on to Subsonic Barflies and Splatterheads. Taking their cue from American hardcore, Death of a Nun put down these tracks as demos in 1984-85 and Swashbuckling Hobo has exhumed them - or, in the label’s own words, “reached deep beyond the S-bend”.
This single is very much of its time - an era of repression and extreme prejudice against any music that vaguely resembled punk (whatever that is) and “Brisbane” reflects that. It's two-paced (like the Gabba wicket used to be) and would have passed for sophisticated songwriting in the scene of the time. My guess is that somebody was listening to Minutemen.
Every member of the Record Collector Scum fraternity knows that South America has the BEST acid punk garage bands. To paraphrase somebody with small hands and terrible hair, South American garage bands are TREMENDOUS. Los Peyotes might be the best since Los Yorks.
Hailing from Peru and Argentina, Los Peyotes borrow stylistically from The Sonics and The Music Machine and process it through their own blender of primal yet brutally skilful re-arranging. Both sides of this single are sung in Spanish. Comprendes?
These were the first recordings released by Lyres. What else do you need to know? It’s on UK label Dirty Water and listening to it is as close to the state of Garage Godhead that any of us mere mortals will reach.
Boston’s Lyres inarguably were, and probably still are, the pick of the turn-of-the-'70s US bands that went on to wear the “garage” tag. Not that you should use that term in front of Jeff Conolly (aka Monoman), the band’s leader on organ and vocals. And never append “The” to the band’s name. Just don’t.