2rrr-fm - The I-94 Bar
KEVIN "BIG DADDY K" CHERRY
2RRR-FM host of "Sydney Sounds"
I'm sure that everyone agrees that 2020 has been a shitty year. The worst I can remember in my 60 years on this planet. I'm not generally into reminiscing and my bad short term memory usually prevents me participating in these types of lists. Living on the Northern Beaches area of Sydney and being in lockdown for the second time, however, I've decided to attempt to give my impression of the year's music events.
The last band that I saw before the first lockdown in March (which resulted in all the gigs I had planned to go to in the following weeks collapsing before my eyes like a stack of dominoes) was THE MEZCALTONESat The Orient Hotel in Sydney’s The Rocks district.
THE MEZCALTONES are a fantastic Mewxican Hillbilly Surf band from the Northern Beaches fronted by COL “PADRE” PORTER, his guitar-slinging wife NERALYN and whip-twirling, go-go dancing, singing percussionist, MISS MIMI, as well as the three other members. They always put on an entertaining performance of original songs and crowd pleasing covers and obscurities. They attract an audience that loves to get up and dance.
I also saw them at a socially distanced performance at The Marrickville Bowlo, which was a different atmosphere due to the restrictions, which meant that none of the audience could get up and dance or even stand with a drink in their hand.
First heard this outfit on Big Daddy K's Sydney community radio show (2RR, 6pm AEDT Saturday nights). They'd released a single ("Dog's Breakfast" b/w "Stitched", and I was smitten. So I got in touch. Turns out the band have released an LP, but as so many do, it's virtual at present.
You'll excuse me. Many, many bands show their influences. Sometimes these are subtle or complex. When I first listened to "Any Port..." I thought they were familiar with Chris Walsh's bass in The Moodists... but no, apparently not. They've taken the bits of bands which have most impressed them, and created... some sort of powerful monster.
Shark Arm are anything but subtle. They've taken aspects of The Birthday Party - but not the bits the Jesus and Mary Chain took - the violence at gigs, the shriek-y feedback, the singer leaning on the the guitarist onstage, and - of course - the big hair. None of that. Instead, we're looking at a two-piece (drums, and guitar/ vox) who use ugly bass loops, sing clearly about ugly truths, and whose guitarist has learned about space as well as position.
In no particular order...
Garry Gray & The Sixth Circle:
The former Sacred Cowboys frontman's "Diamond in the Forehead" was one of the stand out albums of the year. Great songs, big unhinged guitars, fantastic vocals and solid rhythm section behind it. You could be forgiven for thinking that their show at the Factory Floor would be sell out, but no. Barely 50 people witnessed one of the gigs of the year. Supports Leadfinger were fabulous (they always are) and the Chickenstones put on the best show I've seen from them.
Leadfinger’s "Friday Night Heroes":
Stew and the boys were back with their fifth and best to date album in "Friday Night Heroes". Great songs for grown ups, plus two excellent guitarists and a top notch rhythm section. The album was backed up with some fantastic shows. Probably Sydney's best rock band at the moment and it makes me wonder what things would have been like in another era when people actually bought and went out to see this stuff. One of the albums of the year.
Jim Dickson’s "Coelum Verses":
The year's most unexpected debut? Yep. This is not what I would have expected from the New Christs and Birdman bassist. It took a few listens before I really got into and then the penny dropped – one man's journey through a life of listening to and playing music. Anyone who's had a beer with Jim knows that he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and is a hell of a nice guy too. After each listen, this record was becoming less surprising and more enjoyable. Great songs, great band, great production. Can we have a live show please Jim?
Iggy Pop’s "Post Pop Depression":
Over the last 25 years or so, Iggy's records have been patchy at best. This one was recorded with a small band with production responsibilities handed over to Josh Homme. Stripped back, tight and brooding, it looks backwards and forwards. It's the sum of where he's been and may be where he intends to go. For mine, his best since the Berlin albums he did with Bowie. Compelling. Iggy's not done yet.
Underground music would be even further below the radar without community radio. That's why a group of Sydney-Central Coast bands are putting their weight behind a fund-raiser for 2RRR next month.
Aberration, The Balkan Grill, The On and Ons and The Baddies (pictured right) are playing North Ryde RSL on October 7. The gig runs from noon and admission is $20 at the door.
+ The Balkan Grill
+ The On and Ons + The Baddies
North Ryde RSL
- Oct 7