When touring Norwegian-based musician Mark Steiner was here in Australia recently he kindly thrust this upon me. It’s a DVD documentary about Greenland’s first rock band, Sume, which means “Where?” in Greenlandic.
Greenland is a rather huge island continent, with a vast inhospitable interior and most of the population living in coastal villages, the population (mostly Inuit who settled there some 700 years ago) ruled by Denmark. Slowly but surely Denmark’s modern, western society eroded the culture and way of life of the Greenlanders; in order to get jobs (rather than fishing in kayaks) every young Greenlander had to go to Denmark to study. Meanwhile, older Greenlanders found their way of life being destroyed and being replaced with despair and purposelessness.
In 1972 four young Greenlanders, each from a different coastal village, met in Copenhagen … and formed a band. Malik Hoegh, the main lyric writer and singer-guitarist, and Per Bethelsen, produced songs in tune with the times of rebellion against an uncaring ruling state, even touting revolution as a way forward…
Adelaide's Metropolitan Hotel is on the corner opposite Her Majesty’s Theatre, a favourite venue of Barry Humphries and host, in a few weeks, to Leo Sayer. The difference in capacity between these two venues is significant.
Touring Norwegian-via-New York musician Mark Steiner's guitarist, Henry Hugo, made the comment that for all the millions of flowers, only a few are seen.
I might add that certainly, as we get older, we tend to flock to the art which made us happy in our youth, and that we tend not to examine the new as rigorously or with such delighted determination as we did all those years ago.
If the Scandi-Rock-meets-punk thing is over somebody forgot to tell P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. And just as well. This one presses a boot to the windpipe and doesn’t let the victim up until he’s out of air and long done squirming.
There’s something timeless/placeless about this stuff but the fact the single was recorded in Sweden had me convinced P.R.O.B.LE.M.S. were another hair, denim and leather outfit off that country’s esteemed production line. I was impressed to find out they’re from somewhere that’s arguably even more isolated (Portland, Oregon) and that their ranks contain Pierced Arrows and Poison Idea members. As do most bands from Portland, Oregon.
The Strawberry Teardrop takes off where Steve Lucas’ fab Pubert Brown Fridge Occurrence from the early ‘00s left off. It’s a pared-down studio line-up - a trio with Lucas handling vocals, bass and guitar, helped out by drummer Levin Franco and percussionist Herbie Mayhem - but the single’s ’60s garage-psych origins are patently obvious.
A side “Love On The Run” couples a knowing Lucas vocal to a basic rocker that plods a little and takes a while to get out of second gear. Perhaps this one could have done with some extra trimmings. B side lead-off “Corporate Girl” switches the mood to fuzz guitar snarl with chunky chording and a straight-up backbeat pushing Lucas’ ready-for-the-weekend vocal to the front. More than a little bit of alright.
Onetime X howler Steve Lucas returns to the record store racks with a couple of seven-inch singles, this first one under his own name. If you’re hoping for “Hate City” you’re fresh outta luck.
“Living & Loving In The USA” is a double-headed ode to marital bliss that could have been called “Where We Went On Our Honeymoon”. It's the (true) story of two people eloping. Clean guitar, sweet backing vox from Mrs Lucas (aka the very rocking Joey Bedlam from Dollsquad) and all done without a hint of fuzz or distortion. It’s rocking mid-tempo pop with bongos, a hint of Tex-Mex and a great and heartfelt vocal from Mr Lucas.
They’ve discarded the keys and horns and are now going around live as a four-piece, but Sydney's Dunhill Blues have lost none of their musty garage charm. “Ronnie Wood” is a jagged guitar figure that's (as far we can make out) a homage to the wayward Stone.
"Ronnie Wood" has a meat and potatoes sound with minimal overdubs and just some buried handclaps and female back-up vocals lightening the attack. Scrappy and fun.
He never lets the grass grow under his boots so it’s no surprise to see another Deniz Tek single drop. Such things are essential, really, if you want to make money on the road in Europe and these two tracks were taken from a early sessions for a forthcoming Tek album.
“Crossroads” is a back-to-basics slice of chunky riff-a-rama that wouldn’t have been out of place on the Doctor’s “Outside” album back in his major label spin-off days. Its immediate and stripped-back production doesn’t sound as dense as that record but it’s coming from a similar Birdmanesque place. There's no fresh ground broken but most will feel there probably doesn't need to be.
This Captain Spud chap, with his mildly alarming synthetic-bop is in the alternative charts down here in Adelaide with this CD single. This could mean anything. What it actually means is that Spud has done it again.
While I believe that men like this should be surging up the charts, exposing the dross and bogus aspects of the entertainment industry, the reality is that gorgeous little tunes like this, with its toyland-‘60s-musical aspect placed in a modern context … don’t.
Well, this is a first, I think. This is a four bottle CD, and I really do dislike it. However, I disliked it a lot less after the second listen, and by now (fourth spin) it’s beginning to grow on me.
Michael Cullen’s last CD, 2011’s “Love Transmitter”, I am unfamiliar with, but it seems all who heard it loved it. This fact, plus the quality of “True Believer” (I can see shedloads of you shelling out to hold it in your hands, then scampering out to see the man in the flesh) gives me pause.
“True Believer” takes us through loves lost and almost won, via European streets and Melbourne alleys, dashed hopes and determined belief and - a certain contempt amid the vulnerability.