Listen up, punks and noiseniks: The Canadian band’s fifth album in 17 years is inarguably their best. It rocks like fuck; It scratches like a rabid kitten. It’s tuneful and noisily offensive at the same time. All of which should tell you something about The Ex-Boyfriends even if you’ve never heard of them.
The Ex-Boyfriends come from Calgary and I’m willing to bet they’re the best-in-breed in that neck of the woods. If Calgary’s music scene is half as fractured as anywhere else, it takes a lot of balls to be a rock and roll band. Big ones if you play noisy punk rock. Shamefully, I’d forgotten they were around until a notice about this heavy-diuty chunk of vinyl landed in the post box.
On the 40th anniversary of the release of The Saints classic album "(Im) Stranded", founding member, guitarist and songwriter Ed Kuepper will revisit the material performed by that seminal Australian band.
Originally spawned in the early '90s, The Aints sought to bring justice to the sound and attitude of the original Brisbane-based band, capturing their energy and iconic onstage presence.
The gig at Melbourne's Caravan Music Club has joined Sydney's The Factory Theatre as a pre-tour sell-out. Limited tickets remain for the other Melbourne show (November 18 at the Corner Hotel) and all other shows in Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Due to demand, Sunday, November 26 has been set aside for a performance at Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast and tickets are on sale via aussieworld.com
This year was returning to my childhood and gromit years - teenage times as well as inner-city music, alternative and garage rock, beer-soaked pubs and the alternative. Namely the Beatles, Midnight Oil and Patti Smith.
Patti Smith and Paul McCartney get the guernsey for the best gigs of the year. And for the same reasons. Both artists are incredible live and these final tours were a massive thank you to the fans…
1 Macca at Suncorp Brisbane Sir Paul delivered on all fronts. With the most thoughtful visual show and a hit every minute over those three hours and ten minutes, it ranged from pure, four-on-the-floor garage rock with guitars sonically attacking to more mellow stuff.
From “I Want To Be Your Lover” which would have made the Stones sound like a get-together at a nursing home to “Helter Skelter”, to the bombastic, “Live And Let Die” which inflamed the stadium, the cheesy “Mull of Kintyre” with a 25-piece pipe band, to the solo acoustic moments with “Blackbird”, this was gold. Macca’s voice, his insights, wit and humility, and his guitar playing were magnificent; 42 songs played. I won’t forget it a hurry.
1 Patti Smith at the State Theatre and spoken word at Sydney Opera House Another pair of gigs where Patti gave 300 percent. Patti engaged us with insights, stories and, as with Macca, showed a great deal of humility. The band, led by Lenny Kaye, at times still had the intensity of 1975 CBGBs Patti, yet with overtones of a grandmother and an earth mother.
Brian James recorded this in 1990. That’s post-The Lords of the New Church, when his co-founding of The Damned was a shrinking image in his own career rear vision mirror. It was his debut solo album when it came out on French label New Rose, yet it barely rates a mention in summaries of his back catalogue.
Cue: UK label Easy Action to right that wrong and drop a big, fat vinyl re-issue.
If Brian James had only played on all (and written most) of “Damned Damned Damned” and then pulled a Jim Morrison by growing a beard and a beer gut and bunking off to live in obscurity in Africa, he’d still be remembered as one of British punk’s great progenitors. The guy was equally integral to The Damned's second album, “Music for Pleasure”, too but the band disowns that one for its lame production.
Australian punk was never the widespread movement as it was in England, or parts of Europe, where for a time, it was mainstream. Unlike Australia. The Sex Pistols(unofficially) went to number-one with "God Save the Queen". The Clash , The Buzzcocks, The Jam and Stranglers consistently charted,alongside Elton John and Cliff Richard.
Kids in the UK sat glued to radio and listened to John Peel as a holy ritual. In the UK there was a certain set of circumstances that led to the rise of “Punk Rock” from the kids who saw Iggy, the Ramones, Patti Smith and Thunders live. Factor in brilliant (if accidental) marketers like Malcolm McLaren and their ilk. Mix in the fact that, in the grip of a serious economic recession, England was a depressing place. It all gave rise to a powerful and widespread movement.
The shadow of the original Saints looms large in most places where people give a toss about punk rock but Switzerland seems the most unlikely. Think Switzerland and banks, cuckoo clocks and expensive chocolate spring to mind before “Nights in Venice” but then you’ve probably never heard of The Goodbye Johnnys.
The Goodbye Johnnys are named after a Gun Club song and hail from Zurich but Petrie Terrace, Brisbane, (circa 1976) is their spiritual home. Their LP sounds a lot like the early Saints with less sonic leakage and a few rough edges filed off.
The long-awaited “The Church of Simultaneous Existence” album from Ed Kuepper and his Aints! Is almost upon us, with a September 21 release date announced for CD, LP and digital formats. The album will be accompanied by an Australian tour taking in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and WA over October-November, culminating in a show at the Meredith Music Festival on December 7.
This version of the Aints! differs from previous ones in its focus on not only revisiting the material of the original Saints but mining a well of woodshedded songs intended for what would have been that band’s fourth LP.
Bob Dylan once said: “I should have never been successful: I was a fluke” In other words: Music that I write and perform, historically speaking, has never had mass appeal, he explained.
I have to agree with that; art that is intelligent, at times challenging and thoughtful does not generally have mass appeal (with a few exceptions.) KISS, One Direction and The Eagles have all sold mega tonnes of albums. delivered in massive crates (along with packs of Cornflakes) to mega stores, and still play sold-out arenas.
Meanwhile, artists like Ed Kuepper are down the road performing in small clubs, releasing music on their own labels and playing in intimate settings to refined music geeks and fans who like to think about their music.
It was tiny clubs where you could go to see Coltrane, Mingus or, on another level, Dave Van Ronk. It is perfect that we can see Ed in these venues.
The Camelot Lounge is quite a special place. It is a decent live venue in Sydney. So much care and thought has placed into this venue, which also includes the downstairs Django Bar.
It’s like a well-manicured museum - right down to the camel obsession and the food announcements that mimic RSL clubland bingo calls.
“No 67 your pizza ready and that rhymes with heaven” is quaint, and annoying at the same time: that said the booze is a good price. Places like this are truly a godsend.
The King of Reinvention, Ed Kuepper, is at it again. The ex-Saints and sometime Laughing Clowns guitarist recorded his first truly solo album in the mid-‘90s – just himself myself and a couple of acoustic guitars.
Ed Kuepper. Photo by Richard Sharman of Blackshadow Photography.
Posted October 29, 2008: If the thought of re-convening the classic mid-'70s Saints line-up presents more problems than formulating a lasting Middle Eastern peace plan, the organisers of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival series must be among international diplomacy's canniest operators.
The improbable becomes reality in January 2009 when ATP establishes an Australian beachhead, with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds curating and the Saints a feature act.
Yes, you read right. The Saints. Not any old Saints or even The Aints. The Kuepper-Bailey Saints, fercrissake, will be part of a varied and eclectic line-up over three locations and four days.
John Dowler with his band The Vanity Project. David Laing photo.
In his 1981 feature on Australian powerpop pioneer John Dowler in Roadrunnermagazine, Melbourne rock writer Adrian Ryan commented on Dowler’s then-new band, the short lived Everybody’s So Glad. He said they played with a certain kind of soul, and a type of sound that hadn’t been heard in town since Paul Kelly & The Dots underwent a line-up change too many, and since the Saints were last here. It was the kind of sound that “had nothing to do with horn sections and screams, but rather with jangling guitars, a passionate beat, allusions to something half forgotten.”
I love that soul and those jangling guitars. Being Melbourne born, I heard a bit of at as I was getting into music. It’s not the jangle of some insipid jangle-pop band, it’s a hard jangle, which is where the Saints come in. Ryan was referring to the Saints that recorded such classic tracks as “Call It Mine”, “In The Mirror” and “Let’s Pretend”.
Four decades after the release of his first record, the iconic Australian classic ''(I'm) Stranded'' by The Saints, Ed Kuepper returns with an album that may well be considered a high point in his lengthy and uncompromising career.
Recorded over three days in August at Gasworks Studio, Brisbane ''Lost Cities'' is Kuepper's 50th release (excluding compilations) and is on his own Prince Melon Records label. It is Ed’s first entirely solo and electric release, a format Herr Kuepper likes to refer to as Solo Orchestral.
Last night, Jim Dickson (of the New Christs et al) feigned fear of my venomous penmanship. As if I’d write a bad word about Jim! The trouble began when the Barman sent me a pile of his old rubbish over to review. It’s not my fault he needed someone to put the boot in. Besides, I just called it as I saw it. Now everyone thinks I’m out to do them in. Here’s a review to prove that you only need fear me if you produce crap. I will give you every chance to prove me wrong and I’ll admit it when you do.
It’s a brilliant idea so why didn’t someone do it before?
What’s that? you say. Record a bunch of iconic, mostly Sydney, underground songs in a way that honours the originals but makes them their own – at least for a few minutes.
UK-born, Brisbane-bred John Kennedy became a fixture on Sydney inner-city scene in the 1980s after cutting his musical teeth in his hometown. His distinctive “urban western” songs, and his bands JFK and The Cuban Crisis and John Kennedy’s Love Gone Wrong, earned him a healthy niche in a city that back then was groaning with musical talent.
John Kennedy was always backed by excellent bands and inevitably joined his peers in spreading their versions of the word on the national touring circuit, before moving overseas for a time. He and various line-ups of his John Kennedy’s ‘68 Comeback Special have been kicking around the now skeletal Sydney scene (read: Inner-Western Delta) for the last decade or so.
By the time you read this, Ed Kuepper and his new favourite band The Aints will be ensconced in Phil Punch’s Sydney studio, recording their new album.
“The Church of Simultaneous Existence” was previewed on the recent runs of Aints shows across Australia, and will consist mostly of old songs intended for a fourth album by the early (definitive) version of the Kuepper-Bailey Saints.
The Aints lineup is Peter Oxley (bass), Paul Larsen (drums) and Alister Spence (keys) with Kuepper on vocals and guitar, backed by a three-piece horn section. The photo at right of Peter Oxley in the studio yesteday is courtesy of Feelpresents.
Last Friday night at Sydney's Marrickville Bowling Club, The Aints played a bracket of the album songs in their entirety. They backed up that blistering show with an appearance the following night at the Gumball festival in the Hunter Valley..
Did we say recording “a new album” (singular)? The Aints are also recording a new Ed Kuepper album - with strings.
It’s the same “electric trio” configuration that appeared with Ed and the Nonsemble Strings at Leftys Old Time Musical Hall in Brisbane in December 2017.
No release dates have been announced for either album but mixing sessions have been scheduled, so watch this space.
“Second Winter” feels almost like a concept album. Those are familiar with Kuepper’s work since his solo debut of “Electrical Storm” of 1985 will find it all like a passage between the past and the shadows of previous melodies and phrases. It's rather haunting.
Even the cover of the record has captured the ambience of the front of his first solo album (also made with long term collaborator, drummer Mark Dawson.) This shot shows four identified figures leaving an entrance of a stone building.
For more than 40 years, Ed Kuepper has been creating music. Over that time, he's claimed a place as one of the most progressive and critically acclaimed singer-songwriters and guitar players to emerge from Australia.
Ed has been (mostly) in the shadows of the mainstream and has always forged his own path.
No-one sounds like Ed Kuepper.
I was about 12 when “I’m Stranded” blared from my television set. With a mouthfull of Milo and with my school bag thrown on the sofa, I raced over and turned the volume up of the old National 18-inch colour “telly”. I was blown away by the sound and the image. It was the afternoon show ABC ‘s Flashez that I recall and an interview followed with people who seemed like street urchins. It was explosive. These blokes – The Saints - were the real deal.
Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers famously played “rent parties” at the turn of the ‘70s when they’d finished living in the UK and were back home in New York City.
What proportion of the proceeds from their sporadic gigs went towards keeping a roof over their heads was purely speculative. There were other activities to feed and audience members used to throw loaded syringes onto the stage.
Things were a world removed at the Manning Bar in Sydney on Friday night, where the audience threw two bouquets of flowers at Ed Kuepper.
We’re drawing a very long bow here, I know. This was the first leg of a modest two-city run (the next one in Melbourne on March 23) by Ed’s band The Aints. Chances are, the most popular drug in the room was Lipitor. The objective here is not to pay the rent – shit, Ed Kuepper now has a Brisbane park named after him so he can always live on a bench there - but to fund new recordings.
If that’s not exciting news, you’re in the wrong bar.