mackapanhandlerlpMad Macka's history should need no recounting but, fuck it, let's assume you're entirely clueless or you live outside his native Brisbane.

From the slamming punk of The Onyas to the fast and loose jams of The Egos and back to his recruitment into Cosmic Psychos, he's been a fixture on various levels of the Australian underground for years.

"Seminal Robots" finds him and his Brisbane band Panh Andler in gutter blues territory but don't slip it on and think you're going to hear "Fuckwit City". It's mostly music stripped back to its basic elements. The Big Fella is naked, more or less. 

But "Panh Andler"? Mad Macka's far from uneducated - the man's been a lawyer as well as a pizza deliverer - so you can assume the name is an ironic reference to bluesmen. One of those many online dictionaries describes a "panhandler" as "an urban beggar who typically stands on a street with an outstretched container in hand, begging for loose change". "Buddy can you spare me a recording session?"

"Seminal Robots" is a mix of two greasy guitar blues-rock cuts with a full band and six sparser songs - just vocal, guitar and blues harp - with an intimate feel. The latter were recorded using the same four-track (same model, at least) that Bruce Springsteen used for his "Nebraska" album.

Brisbane's a long way from the dustbowl of Broooce's Woody Guthrie record. Mad Macka's songs are stories about ordinary people, shop-lifting, drug dealers and drop-outs. They're told in a maudlin way. Initially, you might think the record's a drag, but listen properly and the black humour seeps out.

The two full band tracks kick off each side of the LP: "Newman Blues" jumps out in blustering glory and "Dead Blues" is a swaggering slow burn with harmonica and some scorched earth guitar and skronking sax. Me, I would have loved to have heard an album fully recorded in this vein. They're in sharp contrast to the vocals-and-piano-only "Poor You", the most minimal arrangement here. The point shoudl be made that the stripped-back songs are good in their own right and Macka's guitar-picking is top-shelf when heard without stun-volume. 

Don't abide with those reviews that say da bloos is best heard in the early hours of the morning, a whisky close to hand and all sharp objects hidden from view. You should listen to "Seminal Robots" in 35-degree heat with the curtains wide open and a glaring Australian sun shining through your windows. With a stinging hangover.


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