in the red - The I-94 Bar
This double A-sided single of new recordings from the reconstituted Scientists, released in time for their recent US tour, is all kinds of wonderful. You could spend hours ruminating about what lineup of the band was/is definitive but you’ll be hard to please if the current configuration of Salmon-Thewlis-Sujdovic-Cowie (nee Chock) doesn’t please.
“Braindead” is an old song re-done and although it dates from a later period, it recalls the sound of the earlier “Blood Red River” with a steak of sustained feedback and fuzzy guitar counterpoint. Kim Salmon and Tony Thewlis sound like they’re having five kinds of fun and the relentless engine room lays down a simple but effective feel. Handclaps add a touch of groove that past productions sometimes sacrificed in pursuit of volume.
“SurvivalSkills” lands the band squarely back into the swamp as Salmon intones grimly over a cauldron of barely muted guitar. It’s more abstract and reminiscent of the 1980s band’s later explorations while in Europe, sans drum machine. “There’s always a cost,” Kim reminds us. In this instance, it’s well worth you putting down your heard-earned and making a beeline for the In The Red website. There's a 12" single with another 7" in the wings, both on the same label.
Kim will be launching that one, a new split solo/Scientists single and his biography, "Nine Parts Water One Part Sand. Kim Salmon And The Formula For Grunge", at Memo Music Hall in St Kilda, Melbourne, on November 9.
The Victims are now Ray Ahn, Dave Faulkner and James Baker.
Given the current restrictions on social gatherings, there is a certain irony in the story of The Victims’ first gig in Perth in early 1977. Perth, by some calculations, the most isolated capital city in the world, didn’t have a big punk rock scene. After all, this was the era of bland commercial radio, flaccid cover bands and conservative social attitudes.
When drummer James Baker, guitarist Dave Faulkner and bass player Dave Cardwell set up at the sharehouse in one of Perth’s light industrial inner suburbs to play in front of 50 enthusiastic garage and punk rock fans, they’d pretty well captured the entire Perth punk market. But get that many people in a house right now, even to listen to a Ramones record, and you’d be breaking the law. Back then, all the audience cared about was that there were other people who felt the same way about music.
“Music for us was rebellion against the conformity of the city, being so isolated. Because everything we loved was so far away,” Faulkner says.
Much-loved Sydney blues-punks feedtime are releasing their first new album in 20 years on March 24. "Gas" will be on In The Red and "Any Good Thing" is the preview track. Pre-orders are happening here.
Against the backdrop of the burgeoning inner city music scene, feedtime was formed in 1979. Taking notes from the incendiary live shows of X and Rose Tattoo, feedtime set about creating their own interpretation of the events unfolding before them, a blues-noise that was equal parts abstract minimalism and working class roots-rock. Post-punk, yet right in the thick of it; miles ahead of the pack and not many seemed to notice.
feedtime have come together to release their first album since 1996’s "Billy". A lot has happened in the last 21 years, so what can we expect from the original lineup of Rick, Al and Tom who have been playing sporadically since reforming in 2011?
It starts off well. “Any good thing” opens with a fantastic, sliding bass line before kicking off with pounding drums and a frenetically distorted guitar. My first thought when hearing Rick’s vocals was that of GG Allin’s voice towards the end of his life. The gravel has turned into a metallic growl.
And the pace continues well into “Thought”, before slowing down into "Box n Burn". Both strong tracks with a powerful sound. However, the issues start to arise with "Skilled Enuf". While the musicianship on the track is strong, the writing is quite simple and unengaging, “Skilled enough, to play one chord. Skilled enough to play one note” might be a true description of the band’s minimalist arrangements, but it is unengaging.
Iconic bands recording new music years after their prime-time is fraught with peril. Recapturing old magic is nigh impossible when every member has inevitably moved on, musically speaking. Only a few succeed.
The Scientists - as in the Salmon-Thewlis-Cowie (Chock)-Sudjovic line-up - have been an off-and-on, reformed concern for years, coming together for occasional festivals or the odd juicy support tour as, and when, members are available. They put together this five-song 12" vinyl EP between Australian shows and released it to promote their first US tour in 2019.
These days, their laboratory is spread over two continents with guitarist Tony Thewlis living in the UK and the rest of the band in Australia, so parts of the recording have been worked up inisolation and stitched together. Knowing how the sausage was made, in this case, doesn't detract from the taste. The EP, and the single (an updated oldie) that goes with it, rocks in its own uniquely primeval way. Completists should note that it was was proceeded by a digital-only single in 2017.
“Horror Smash EP” - The Victims (In The Red)
“Horror Smash” is four old songs re-recorded in two sessions over 2017 and ’18 by a tweaked version of The Victims. They were Perth’s (almost) first punk band and a launching pad, of sorts, for Dave Faulkner (nee Flick) of the Hoodoo Gurus and James Baker of the Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon et al. Hard-Ons bassist Ray Ahn is the new third wheel and this single - on blood-spattered clear vinyl - has come out on revered US label In The Red.
The first thing to say is that it sounds like The Victims. No airs and graces. No frills. Downstrokes and rawness. No solos. No backing vocals. Black humour lyrics. Strap yourself in and hope you make it to the end. At which point you’ll get up and flip the thing over.