Sonically speaking, there’s an awful lot going on here. It's like a bowl of musical ramen.
For those not in the know (that’d be most of us) Masami Kawaguchi is a underground legend in Japan, playing with a string of bands (Miminikoto, Haino Keiji's Aihiyo) and touring the USA and Europe numerous times. He sings, plays guitar and occasionally holds down the bottom end on bass.
There is an Australian connection: Tokyo-based Masami toured and recorded with Penny Ikinger and Deniz Tek in Japan a few years ago. He plays guitar in Penny's latest album. His solo record, the quirky and earthy "The Mad Guitar Sings”, came out in Australia a year or more ago, and he played some solo shows.
Penny onstage with Dimi Dero, Vinz Gulluliy and Johnny Casino at Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia in Basque Country.
In no particular order:
1. GUITAR WOLF (Japan) and Mach Pelican at The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne Ah! Guitar Wolf! Boy, can these guys fly! Liberating and exhilarating to listen to and watch. Every now and then I go to a gig and get a guitar lesson for the price of the entrance fee! This is the second time I have seen these guys, and there I was, right up the front again, with my comrade in arms, Julian Wu, protector of rock ’n’ roll women in volatile crowds.
2. CHARLIE OWEN at The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Charlie melded instruments - electronic, electric and acoustic - in a way only Charlie knows how. Situated in the Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, a tremendous building built in the gold rush era of the 1850s, the setting was opulent and reverential. Charlie had his very own pulpit/stage so to speak and kept us spellbound for an hour or so.
Penny and her trademark Ikinger Pennycastor. Carbie Warbie photo
1. Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds at The Caravan Club, Melbourne - Wow!!! What a band!!! It was like being given a music lesson!
2. Radio Birdman, Max Watts, Melbourne. A really diverse and powerful set of new and old classics.
3. James McCann and the New Vindictives - James McCann’s new band is truly awesome - punk meets well crafted songwriting with a good strong dose of youthful & invigorating mayhem. I have been guesting as vocalist and guitarist at their live shows singing a Spencer P. Jones song and another I co-wrote with James for their soon to be released album.
In a parallel historical universe the vast southern continent now known as Australia might have been conquered by France.
While France was still a functioning monarchy at the time Captain James Cook invoked the now discredited legal fiction of Terra Nullius to claim the territory on behalf of the English throne; by the time Arthur Phillip lobbed into Botany Bay in 1788, France was starting to buckle in the face of rising bourgeois unrest, and had bigger internal fish to fry (or heads to lop, as the case may be).
She’s been called “fuzz queen, sonic chanteuse and primal mistress of dark folk” and Europe is getting a brief opportunity to come up with more superlatives for Melbourne's Penny Ikinger and her unique brand of rock and roll this Northern summer.
Penny is promoting a CD single “Gin No Suzu” b/w “Ride On Cowboy” (that's the cover art at right), from her forthcoming album with a short series of dates in Spain and France, the peak of which will be appearances atAndoaingo Rock Jaialdiain Spain (June 17) and as part ofFete de la Musique at Petit Garagein Paris, France (June 21.)
In musical terms, Melbourne's James McCann has traversed more miles than that ditzy blonde travel agent chick from the local Flight Centre. Unlike Sharon, however, McCann hasn’t done his miles with the benefit of industry junkets and a staff discount. In short, he’s paid his own way.
Back in the ‘90s, McCann co-founded The Drones in Perth, before moving to Sydney where he played with Harpoon, Lowdorados and an early version of the shape-shifting Nunchukka Superfly. Relocating his voice and guitar to Melbourne, McCann’s played under his own name or with his own bands, like The Dirty Skirt Band and The New Vindictives. The odd foray to Europe has kept his passport stamp collection growing.
Brian Henry Hooper being attended to by his angels, his nurses. Carbie Warbie photo.
Four weeks ago Brian Hooper lay in intensive care, surrounded by family and his closest friends. The tumour doctors had found on Hooper’s lung just before Christmas was preventing Hooper from breathing without medical and mechanical assistance. Specialists suggested the even Hooper’s short-term survival was in the realm of miracles.
It wasn’t the first time Brian Henry Hooper had been told to fear the worst. Just over 14 years ago Hooper was told by specialists he may never walk again, after the balcony he was standing on at a gathering in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula collapsed, sending Hooper crashing to the ground, his back mangled from the fall.
Over the next 12 months, Hooper pulled himself back from the edge of permanent paralysis. Hooper’s resilience and psychological strength astounded all around him. In late 2004 Hooper limped back on stage with the Beasts of Bourbon for a gig at the Greyhound Hotel. Towards the end of the set, his battered spine unable to withstand the trauma of standing any longer, Hooper lay on the ground. His bandmates, save for Tony Pola on drums, followed suit, three battle-hardened rockers lying prostrate on the stage in sympathy for their comrade-in-arms.
It’s renowned as one of Melbourne’s most spectacular rock and roll shows and it hits Sydney’s Factory Theatre at Marrickville on Saturday. Epic Brass is the brainchild of Hunters and Collectors horns man Jack Howard and employs a stellar cast of underground stars to showcase the songs of the Saints, X, Laughing Clowns, Painters and Dockers, the Hunnas and Midnight Oil.
Former Sydneysiders Ron Peno (Died Pretty), Steve Lucas (X), Penny Ikinger (Wet Taxis) will join Jack Howard and Fiona Lee Maynard, with John Archer (Hunters and Collectors) on bass and Ash Davies on drums. Tickets here.
If you’re of a resident of Sydney’s Inner-Western Delta, you won’t have far to catch two sideshows before and after Saturday. Steve Lucas plays a free solo show at the Golden Barley at Enmore from 8pm on Thursday night with Penny Ikinger backing up at the same venue at 7pm on Sunday, also gratis.
Feedback songstress Penny Ikinger is pulling together an all-star band for a special one-off show in Sydney on October 17 with special guest Masami Kawaguchi from Japan.
Billed as a “psychedelic machine gun guitarist” by Wire magazine, Tokyo-based Kawaguchi will open the show at Marrickville’s The Factory Floor with a solo spot before joining Penny’s headlining line-up comprising Deniz Tek and Jim Dickson (Radio Birdman) and drummer John Fenton (Crow.)
Kawaguchi has played with Japanese bands Miminokoto, LSD March and Broomdusters and is said to be a master of Blue Cheer-meets-Nuggets fuzz zone. He played guitar on Penny’s new album, recorded in Tokyo. He is touring Australia to promote the release of his own solo album: “The Mad Guitar Sings” on Black Petal Records.
Main support will be The Maladies whose notoriously wild live shows swing erratically from tender croon to demented howl. Expect to see something intense and abrasive!
This is a one-off, never-to-be-repeated event and tickets are on here.
The New Christs are playing their last gigs for some time, with Rob Younger going back on active duty with Radio Birdman, and they’re going out with a flurry that includes two interstate gigs.
Friday, July 6 finds them fronting up for two sets at Beaches Hotel at Thirroul in New South Wales for free. On Saturday, July 7 they’ll return to the scene of their Marrickville Bowling Club triumph with James McCann and the New Vindictives almost a year ago with precisely the same bill.
On Saturday, July 14 they’ll play a rare Melbourne show at the Cherry Bar, again with James McCann and the New Vindictives plus Penny Ikinger. And Saturday, July 21 finds them headlining the Fly By Night Musos Club in Fremantle, Western Australia, with The Volcanics and The Shakeys supporting. This will be the New Christs' first-ever WA show.
Penny Ikinger’s third solo album, “Tokyo”, is on the way in Australia with launch shows in Melbourne and Sydney.
“Tokyo” is an international collaboration with guitarist Deniz Tek from Radio Birdman and musicians from the Japanese psychedelic rock underground.
“Tokyo” was released on Kerosene Records in Japan when Penny Ikinger performed in the Japanese capital with local band The Silver Bells last month. The Silver Bells will also back her at the Australian Tokyo album launch at Melbourne Museum’s Nocturnal on Friday, September 7.
Penny Ikinger “Tokyo” album launch dates Friday 7 September - Nocturnal at Melbourne Museum with The Silver Bells, Taipan Tiger Girls, The Pink Tiles & Adalita (DJ set) Friday 22 September - The Union Hotel, Newtown, solo with The Maladies Sunday, 23 September – The Golden Barley Hotel, Enmore (solo)
Australian sonic chanteuse Penny Ikinger is taking her unique sound to Japan again - this time to record as well as play live.
Penny has teamed up with Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek to write new material on the first stage of her next musical offering. Stage two then takes Penny back to Japan to team up with her Japanese musical crew to record the songs.
“I’ve collaborated before but this time I’ve taken it to another level to really challenge my approach to writing and to bring a fresh new sound to the music being created,” Penny said.
“Deniz is a fabulously talented musician and opening up the music for a true collaboration was an experience that brought new energy and ideas to the whole process.”
But that’s not the end of the story. Penny will now take these songs to Japan where she will further collaborate with her Japanese musical partners from recent tours.
“Last time I went to Japan in 2012 I performed with some amazing psychedelic rock musicians – Masami Kawaguchi (guitar), Louis Inage (bass) and Keiichi Sakai (drums),” Penny said.
“This time around we’ll play a few gigs, but the main focus will be recording this new material and having the guys bring their unique flavour to the songs.
“I’m really excited about the possibilities of where we might go with this – the crew in Japan are extremely talented musicians and although their sound aligns with my style, they are quite different in their approach.”
One of Australian underground music’s most special, enduring and well-travelled talents Penny Ikinger will play shows in Perth and Fremantle for the first time in May, en route to Japan to record with Deniz Tek.
Jack Howard’s Epic Brass has already blitzed hometown Melbourne and he's taking it north to Sydney's Factory Theatre on June 2 with an all-star cast.
Jack Howard’s Epic Brass is a celebration and an exploration of the great horn hits and hidden gems of Australian rock – from Hunters and Collectors and the Oils to The Saints, The Laughing Clowns and Wet Taxis, the show features an incredible set list of killer brass tunes.
The Epic Brass band features a mighty four-piece horn section. Jack is joined by a terrific cast of guest singers and players – Ron Peno (Died Pretty), Paulie Stewart (Painters And Dockers), Steve Lucas from X, Penny Ikinger (Wet Taxis) and Melbourne sensation, Fiona Lee Maynard, who bring their style and energy to this uniquely powerful show.
There’s a healthy rock and roll exchange program between St Kilda and Paris that’s being maintained by underground musicians from both sides of the globe. On the Franco side, it’s through semi-regular visits to Australia by players from bands like Dimi Dero Inc, Tex Napalm and Dimi Dero and Holy Curse (R.I.P.). 3 Headed Dog is the latest addition to the list and their musical trail leads to the seamy side of town.
Japanese guitarist Kawaguchi Masami has a reputation for heavy riffage and dreamy soundscapes in his long string of bands, but in solo mode he leans heavily towards the latter. “The Mad Guitar Sings” bears more than a reference in name only to Syd Barrett’s post-Floyd stuff but is perhaps even darker in its tone.
Masami has been in bands like Miminokoto, New Rock Syndicate, Los Doroncos (with Doronco of Les Rallizes Denudes), Aihiyo (with Keiji Haino), LSD March and Broomdusters, all of which are just names to me but well regarded by those grounded in Japanese heavy rock and psych.
In early May thieves broke into Dan Sullivan's Johnston Street recording studio in Melbourne and stole guitars, effects pedals and recording gear worth thousands of dollars.
Despite the best efforts of friends and fellow musicians, the equipment and gear has yet to be recovered, leaving Sullivan and James McCann personally and financially devastated.
The studio has recenty been used (for free) to record tracks for an upcoming Spencer P Jones tribute album.
On Sunday, 22 May members of the Melbourne music community will come together at The Tote in Melbourne to raise money to replace the missing gear. The event will feature performances from Kim Salmon, Garry Gray & the Sixth Circle, James McCann & the New Vindictives, Penny Ikinger, Midnight Scavengers, Fraudband, Los Dominados, Claire Birchall & the Phantom Hitchhikers, Jules Sheldon, Helen Ryder and Tex Napalm.
Come along and see some great music, while helping out some hard working members of the Melbourne music community in a time of need. Keep an eye on the Facebook event for playing times and to spread the word.
It's a long time between Penny Ikinger records but the results are usually worth the wait. "Tokyo" follows "Penelope" (2010) and "Electra" (2003) and is as evocative as ever but with a slightly rockier disposition.
"Tokyo" was recorded with a batch of top-notch Japanese psychedelic musicians, with heavy input from Radio Birdman's Deniz Tek. The latter's influence is evident - not just in some flammable splashes of lead guitar but also in the odd lyric. That Four Winds Bar sure has done some mileage since being name-dropped by Blue Oyster Cult all those years ago...
Even so, "Tokyo" is very much a Penny Ikinger record. Gone are the days where she needed to be referenced as "a past member of Wet Taxis" or as "Nico defrosted". As clever as that last marketing line was, Nico ultimately shut out the world. Penny embraces its musical possibilities and has her own distinctive voice.
Melbourne's James McCann is one of Australia's iunderrated rock and roll talents. This is "I Can Control Your Mind" from the forthcoming album "Gotta Lotta Move-Boom" (Beast Records vinyl/Off The Hip CD) co written with Penny Ikinger. and was shot on location at Nighthawks in Coliingwood, Melbourne. Say James: "Penny plays the Pennycaster and sings on it too. Working with Penny is an honour and a joy. She is the real deal."