Reap What You Sow – Jack Saint (Heavy Medication)
The blurb says it’s more “individually distilled” than the last album and maybe that’s why it took time to latch onto what “Reap What You Sow” is about.
The debut “Jack Saint” was a lot more obvious in its display of influences like the Bad Seeds and The Gun Club, while “Reap” seems in the thrall of Jon Spencer without being able to completely divorce itself from early pre-Warren era Nick Cave.
It’s 17,378 kilometres from Villarreal in Spain to Marrickville in Sydney, Australia, and more than three years since Stewart Cunningham was last there. At times, it must have felt like he’d crawled all those kilometres home on his hands and knees.
Villareal is where he and his band, Leadfinger, played the last gig of their first overseas tour in 2017. It was nearly their swansong.
It's said what doesn't kill you just makes you stronger. And so the Ed Kuepper-Jim White convoy reconvened last week (following the Melbourne COVID disruption) for sold-out New South Wales performances in the Blue Mountains and two at the Sydney Opera House.
Even Thurston Moore made the scene; surfacing in Sydney after a two week quarantine prior to his Dark Mofo appearances, Moore promptly went on line on the rare chance tickets might be available and managed to score two seats released just that day from the guest list.
There’s a sprinkling of sell-outs and new shows posted as the tour rolls on. Dates as per below and tickets at www.edkuepper.com Dates after the fold.
Snake Pit Therapy by Sonny Vincent (Far West Press)
Don’t let its diminutive size lull you into thinking this book is in any way insubstantial. It’s pocket-sized so you can carry it on your person - like a concealed weapon.
Punk survivor Sonny Vincent’s first formal foray into being A Published Author packs a hefty punch in its 91 pages. Is it a memoir, a collection of prose or a bunch of musings from a hyperactive, creative mind? All of the above.
It’s not just punk rock and roll. “Snake Pit Therapy” bounces from childhood rejections of authority to tripped-out excursions around a dry-cleaning shop (‘You get $100 a day and all the cocaine you can snort,” read the note on the laundromat’s bulletin board’.)
There’s a bizarre vignette (“My Evil Little Krishna”) arguing with itself in the finest post-modern style, an ode to formica and an impenetrable prayer. There’s a story of a doomed smalltown newspaper run scam.
You also get to hear about pulling one over ex-Velvets member Sterling Morrison on a road-trip around Europe and going to therapy with onetime-Replacements guitarist Bob Stinson. You find out why Scott Asheton was not just a Stooge but also one of nature’s gentlemen.
Ever wonder what it was like to crawl through the decaying underbelly of downtown New York City’s punk scene with Max’s Kansas City and CBGB as your musical playgrounds? Sonny Vincent opens the window on that and gives us all a whiff – so inhale hard. Nobody will see those days again.
Sonny’s writing is a mirror image of his music: Urgent, aggressive and propelled by a passion for music, and pent-up energy.
You can smell Burroughs in the way chapters of “Snake Pit Therapy” become an evolving stream of consciousness with bubbles of sharp humour bobbing about on top. And just when you think you have the man’s format nailed, an odd passage of abstract prose will jump out at you like a mugger on an Alphabet City alley.
Jackdaw - Edward Clayton-Jones (self released)
I've been looking forward to hearing “Jackdaw” for a while, but I must confess I didn't expect it to be this damn good. The last thing I said to Ed was, “Well, look, you know me. If I don't like it or I think it's bad, I'll tell you I can't review it. I'd rather have the friendship.” He understood.
Bad reviews, pfft, they're mostly just juveniles showing off how clever they are, and I've got better things to do with my time. Also, I'm not clever. Years ago, the New Musical Express and Melody Maker used to hire such clever types and, while they could sometimes be amusing, they would often miss brilliance in preference to their own self-swagger (for example, XTC copped endless daft reviews which completely missed how fucking sharp, funny and evocative they were). So to “Jackdaw”.
Iggy & The Stooges Onstage 1967-74 by Per Nilsen (Sonic Bond Publishing)
Cutting to the chase: This is an amazing book and an essential item for any Stoogephile. Swedish author Per Nilsen has pedigree – he wrote the world’s first Iggy Pop biography, “The Wild One”, way back in 1988 – and he’s an academic, so you know it’s going to be researched to, er, within an inch of its pretty face going to hell.
The concept is simple: Nilsen divides the original lifespan of the Stooges into logical chunks, provides contextual information and then lists every show played, accompanied by as much information as is available. Yes, every show. He draws on a mix of primary sources and published interviews. He relies heavily on advertisements and reviews from local papers, underground press like The Fifth Estate and Natalie Schlossman’s fan magazine “Popped”.
You can’t beat great research. Nilsen picks up inaccuracies published elsewhere and rules out advertised gigs that were never played. He even calls out a minor error in Paul Trynka’s definitive “Open Up and Bleed” book. I’m not sure the road crew accounts here of the alleged Goose Lake shutdown tally with the Third Man Records record of the same show, but they make fascinating reading.
The roll-call of first-hand accounts is impressive. Early manager Jimmy Silver is a big catch. James Williamson’s bad guy rap for poisoning the band is shown to be the ill-considered myth that it is, with tour manager John Adam (aka The Fellow) confirmed as the real catalyst for various members’ heroin habits.
The Decline Years of the Stooges, post-Mainman, hold a certain fascination for hardcore fans. Part of it is voyeurism – a peek into the on-the-road medicine cabinet and the approval-seeking, self-insulating excesses that it fuelled in a damaged singer – and the other part is wondering why the band kept going on its march of death.
Eternal Life – Guttercats (Take The City/Wishing Well/Sweet Grooves)
If you’re one of those genre freaks with a need to categorise every record, good luck. There’s enough going on here to challenge the most obsessive.
Guttercats are from Paris and take their cues from The Only Ones, Rowland S Howard, the Jacobites, the Bad Seeds and The Gun Club. Their fifth album mixes melodramatic Baroque folk-pop with garage rock, punk and Gothic blues. It’s either hopelessly mired in the ‘80s or bravely staking a claim to a unique place in today’s bland music scene.
EP2 Electric Boogaloo – The Owen Guns (Riot Records)
Hardcore never went away. It just sprouted grey hair, developed prostate awareness and, in some extreme cases, took out a mortgage.
The Owen Guns have been flying old school punk’s flag for a year or two, blowing the roof off venues in Sydney and Wollongong. Members are based in both cities. They wear leather jackets, have weathered heads and their faces look like dropped pies. This is coming from someone who's no Paris model, but you get the idea. And in punk’s finest traditions, they could not give a flying fuck what me, you or anyone else thinks of them.
Punk is about economy and the seven songs on this, The Owen Guns’ second CD EP, clock in in at under 10 minutes.
Remember tours? Thee fuzz-toned and fabulous Cha Cha Chas have escaped the Victorian lock-down and are bringing their one-woman-one-man-band goodness to New South Wales this month.
“The Day Is Done Tour” kicks off on June 4 at Link & Pin in Woy Woy with The Not Nots, The Mild Times, Space Boozzies and Imaginary Things, and spans the following two weekends with gigs in Newcastle and Sydney. The band escaped Victoria before the COVID-19 drawbridge went up late last week.
Thee Cha Cha Chas, comprising Kylie and Lluis Fuzzhound. have been tearing up stages in hometown Melbourne for years with their gravel-rash-guitars-and-deadbeat-drums sound, and busted an EP, “It’s Coming After You”, out of the morass that was lockdown in early 2020.
The I-94 Bar has a hand in organising two free gigs at The Golden Barley Hotel in Enmore. Mark down Sunday, June 6 and a return bout on Sunday, June 13 for double doses of all the lo-fi rifferama your head can handle. June 6 finds them matching primal beats with the rough and raw Dunhill Blues as supports, while June 13 they’ll have the Sabbath-in-the-garage sounds of Jupiter 5 opening up. The tour is brought to you by Hog Wild Records and Outtaspace Presents.
The Cha Cha Chas
“Day Is Done” NSW Tour
4 - Link & Pin, Woy Woy - June 4
+ The Not Nots + The Mild Times
+ Space Boozzies + Imaginary Things
5 - Mayfield Bowlo
+ Dunhill Blues
6 - Golden Barley, Sydney
+ Dunhill Blues
10 - Frankies Pizza, Sydney
+ Scatter Light + The Object Project
13 - Golden Barley, Sydney
+ Jupiter 5