rob younger - The I-94 Bar

BARFLY TOP TEN: James McCann from James McCann and The New Vindictives

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James McCann leading The New Vindictives in Europe.  JUXE photo. 

1) The Damned @ 170 Russell St, Melbourne
I’ve always loved The Damned: the rush of energy of their first few singles and albums. My wife is a big fan and she educated me on all things Damned. I missed them last time around so I was pumped to see them finally, to say the least.

I didn’t want to be disappointed so I did my homework and watched recent live shows on YouTube and read recent reviews. By all accounts the band was on fire , so I was ready for it and they didn’t disappoint.

They are still Punk Rock weirdos at heart and it was side splitting when Captain Sensible talked about Kurt Vile playing before them at Golden Plains: “It used to be Phil Collins and Paul Weller , but I’ve found a new one KURT Fucking Vile , what a fucking tosser “ It's true so much contemporary underground music is middle of the road , like Bread in the 70’s or LRB , this shit is still the enemy, even though I’m sure Kurt Vile is a lovely guy.

New Christs and James McCann and The New Vindictives bring fire to a cold Sydney night

new christs mville2Sometimes you get all philosophical. The penny dropped on Saturday night, after a succession of $14 jugs of beer with a mate, that the New Christs are probably the band that I’ve experienced live for the longest number of years.

Of course there have been so many line-ups that a statement like that becomes very elastic. But the wrist stamps don’t lie...

And they go right back to 1984 when a loose and limber Rob Younger bounded onto the stage of Sydney’s Capital Theatre, fronting the band’s first live incarnation, in support of Iggy Pop.

That line-up of Chris Masuak, Tony Robertson, Mark Kingsmill and Kent Steedman (the Rifle later to be subbed by a Spider, Richard Jakimyszyn) might have been equalled by the “Distemper” one (Charlie Owen, Jim Dickson and Louis Burdett/Nick Fisher) but never bettered. The former had a brutal edge, the latter a bluesier, expansive feel with jazzy inflections.

The current configuration of Dickson, Paul Larsen, Dave Kettley and Brent Williams measures up nicely in the history of the New Christs, probably sitting at level-pegging with the late-‘90s line-ups. They’ve all served up differing sounds and brought something different to the stage, with the one constant being Younger’s undeniable presence and bitter-sour song-writing.

“Emotional Jihad” and “Word Salad” are terms that others have used down the years to describe Younger’s lyrical vision. You can’t do much better than that.  

Oh Crash…- The Volcanics (Citadel Records)

oh crashIt’s a well worn path that The Volcanics tread but they’re not afraid to stretch out and take a slight detour on this, their fourth album.  For the most part, however, “Oh Crash…” finds the Perth band doing what it does best: Delivering straight-up, guitar rock and roll. 

Yes, the reference points are all obvious - at least to these ears. They include latter-day Asteroid B612, mid-period MC5 (without the tinny production) and the New Christs (in their sullen moments.) Vocalist John Phatorous has that steely edge and lets slip the occasional guttural utterance that conveys that he's not a man to be fucked with - at least on stage. He can sing the shit out of this sort of music, too. 

Raw Art Act - Asphalt Tuaregs (Antitune Records)

raw art actIt’s a truism that many bands from Europe rock but don’t rock and roll. It’s not their fault, of course, it’s just a matter of cultural conditioning. Rock and roll is not their first musical language and the “high art” the place is steeped in suffocates that "low art", like any other form of musical expression, into submission.

So when you find a Continental band that “gets it”, you better latch on to them, tight. 

Some of us are (ahem) old enough to remember a French band called Fixed Uo, who were on Sydney’s Citadel label, and made it to Australia to play and record in the mid 1980s. Rob Younger and Jim Dickson produced an album for them. Soulful garage rock was their stock in trade. They “got it”. 

TENZEROEIGHT - The Undermines (self released)

the undermines albumIt’s taken me a little while to get to this one, and I wish I’d got here sooner.

There’s 12 tracks, nine by guitarist Dylan Webster, three by other guitarist Jason Sharples. With your bass by Dave Lundquest, drums by Serge Ou (no, really, that’s what it says here) and vocals by Michael Preiss… we’re looking at a band capable, if we read the back of the CD right, of constructing and delivering the twin guitar assault.

Do they?

My oath they do.

You don't need to be Big Ears to catch these Noddys

mutated noddys

Blink and you’ll miss them. The Wollongong band that got away, The Mutated Noddys, are playing one reformation show at Jane’s Cafe in their hometown on December 23.

With their roots firmly planted in the Detroit and ’60s punk scenes, the Noddys blazed away for the best part of a decade in the 1980s and early ‘90s, playing many high-profile supports and recording an EP and an as yet unreleased album with producer (and fan) Rob Younger.

Apart from a one-off in Sydney in 2010 to support GBH, the Noddys haven’t been sighted since and have no plans to play any other gigs due to one member living in the USA. Crapulous Gee Saw and Oceedeecee (yes, that’s a Ramones tribute band) will support there, Tickets are a bargain at $5 on the door and Jane’s is at 40 Flinders Street in North Wollongong.

You're gonna be re-arranged by "Descent Into The Maelstrom"

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Many people have tried to make a Radio Birdman documentary. For a variety of reasons, only one has succeeded.

And it would have been so easy for Jonathan Sequeira to fuck it up.

Don’t worry. He hasn’t. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

“Descent Into The Maelstrom” was screened to a select audience of band members, followers, media and other hangers-on in Sydney last night. The venue was the Chauvel Cinema, deep inside – ironically enough – Paddington Town Hall, the scene of the definitive Radio Birdman line-up’s last Australian stand.