blues rock - The I-94 Bar

Gypsy Mojo - The Hollerin Sluggers (self released)

gypsy mojoBorn out of a surf club fundraiser, this trio from the Manly Dam Delta on Sydney’s Northern Beaches have just rolled out album number two. “Gypsy Mojo” makes it clear that if The Hollering Sluggers have sold their souls to the Devil at the Brookvale Oval crossroads, they ain’t getting a refund.

The Sluggers are a trio playing blue collar blues with a distinct rock and roll edge. There’s no new ground being broken on “Gypsy Mojo” but that’s not going to worry fans of this style. It’s honest and unpretentious blues-rock.

Are You Ready To… - Squeeze the Pig (self released)

are you ready toHere's the theory: Inside every serious Aussie bluesman, prog artiste and serious muso type of an older demographic, there's a yob rocker waiting to break out and release his (or her) inner Thorpey. Turn it up to 11 and and yell: "Suck more piss!"

Some yob rockers do it with all the subtelty of a semi-trailer being driven through the wall of an outback diner, while others let their Sunbury freak flag fly with slightly more poise. That's where bands like Squeeze The Pig come in.   

"Are You Ready To..." is the second EP from Perth’s Squeeze The Pig and it’s a competent mix of Oz rock blues and ‘80s garage punk. Art rockers need not apply.  The band members’ ethos of fast bikes, cold beer and banging out four chords at the pub on a Saturday night is nowhere more apparent.

“On Ya Bike” is harmonica-powered blues-rock. Nothing more, nothing less. Vocalist Ian Laurie has that everyman sound to his pipes and the band is equal to the task. “The Band Is A Rockin’” mines the same vein and Steve Bee’s slide wraps itself around Peter Brown’s greasy blues harp. 

Easter Monday - Mustang Jerx (J-Pop)

easter monday mustang jerxIt's the fourth full album for Japanese trio Mustang Jerx and while they're not a household name in Australia, there's a small but willing fanbase here awaiting their third visit on the back of this record.

"Easter Monday" is nimble blues-rock with a swing in the bottom-end and a scything slide guitar up front. Their 2019 visit to these shores will follow similar hit-and-run missions six and five years before, and will owe much to the mutual admiration between them and Sydney band Bunt.

Mustang Jerx sing in their native language so the lyrical themes are impenetrable to these ears, but the music they grind out is universal in its rawness and punchy appeal. It's dirty and unpolished - and you know that's gotta be a plus when you mix it with sticky carpet and liberal amounts of beer.

Let It Slide - Mark Porkchop Holder (Alive Natural Sounds)

let it slide porkchopHard to comprehend that this is Mark Porkchop Holder’s debut album. He’s a founding and former member of the blues-stomping raunch machine, Black Diamond Heavies, and that should tell you something straight away, even before you play a single track.

“Let It Slide” is roadhouse blues - no, not those “Roadhouse Blues” with the drunken clown out front singing about mute nostril agony. I mean the shit you might hear in little bars when you get off the interstate highways in Tennessee or Louisiana. Best served with a corn dog side dish, grits and catfish fried in possum sweat. As featured on "Man versus Food".

Mystery Train – Chickenstones (Crankinhaus Records)

mystery trainThis is one angry sounding record. Its 11 songs seethe and burn with fuzzed-up, roaring guitars and are propelled by an engine room whose controls are set for the carpark just outside the Gates of Hell.  

That’s a place with which Chickenstones main man Andy “Doc” Temple Ellard has become familiar over the last 18 months. In early 2018, he and the band were riding high on the back of a new album, “Johnny Streetlight”, and preparing for a tour of Europe when Doc got a tap on the shoulder from some fucker called Cancer.

Now, that prick comes in many guises and the kind that came cold-calling was especially nasty and persistent. Doc is a Registered Nurse so he had an understanding of what would be involved, but all the forewarning in the world doesn’t make the fight physically easier. Many rounds of treatment later, Doc’s emerged at the other end - with shorter hair and a deeper suntan - and he’s still looking over his shoulder.

Straight Up Booglaoo – The Muggs (Bellyache Records)

straight up boogalooHere's proof that there is still life in the rockin’ Mid-West. The Muggs come from Detroit and play razor sharp, power-trio blues rock ‘n’ roll that’s grown exponentially over the course of their five albums.

It’s true that The Muggs don’t do much more than mix classic rock (Sabbath, Mountain, Humble Pie and Led Zep) with the blues but, fuck, they do it well. This is a record with bigger balls than King Kong but its heavy thwack is tempered by Fay Wray-like, melodic touches.

Sublime - Charlie Marshall and The Curious Minds (Charlie Marshall) & Silver/Lead - Wire (Pinkflag)

sublimeWire do enjoy their titles. “Akin to A Bell is a Cup (Until it is Struck)”, “Silver/ Lead” hints at alchemical alteration of roles and realities. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all…

Being from Melbourne, Charlie Marshall is more direct. He says exactly what he means. “Sublime” is his view of the machinery of the universe and our world - that stuff up out there, and that stuff all around us down here. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all... 

silver lead wire

Both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” are magical. Both reach out and touch your heartstrings, both have a confident sensuality about them. Both wield lyrics like conversation: we discuss all manner of things, how we’ve changed our world, what it is, and our place in it. All this without being either preachy or boring; falling into both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” is in like one of those enlightening conversations in a pub without an argument. Although both Sare in many ways rather different, they beat as two hearts. Both belong in your collection.

The day a Rambling Man touched down in Tulsa

les dudek live

I was taken aback to learn that Les Dudek was booked to play a club date here in Tulsa. Being familiar with his work from years ago, it was a pleasant surprise.

Mr. Dudek recorded a number of albums for Columbia Records back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In addition, he has worked as a session musician for the Steve MIller Band, Boz Scaggs, and many others. He was also involved with Dickie Betts and the Allman Brothers. writing and playing on their "Brothers and Sisters" album but not receiving any credit. He plays on their major hit "Ramblin' Man", playing harmony guitar on that song with Betts.

The Promised Land - The Hollerin Sluggers (self released)

the promised landThere is some nasty ’n’ dirty, gravel-based blues-rock ’n’ roll coming out of Sydney and nobody is doing it better than The Hollerin Sluggers. This powerhouse trio from the Northern Beaches is fucking grooving. They have all the awesome songs and guitar riffs you'll need to have you jumping around.

“The Promised Land” is a must for blues and rock enthusiasts alike. It’s a “must have” if you like slide guitar, open tuning, gritty vocals and no over-production. That’s what they recorded and that’s what you get here and - fucking hell - I can’t stop playing this.

From the first track, it’s a throwback to the great early ‘70s guitar bands. “Come Over” is the opener and what a rocker! The band is Owen Mancell (guitar and vocals), powerhouse drummer Andy Thor and Tim Cramer on bass. They’ve only been together a couple of years and this is their first album.