The time of year when all right-thinking folk set out the Santa traps on Christmas eve, hoping for a big, juicy Santa (and not the scrawny weasel we caught last year, jesus, no meat on him at all) and the traditional charcoal spit-roast Santa in the back yard with all your mates and beer a-flowing. Done just right, the flesh falls right off the fucker's bones and melts in the mouth.
Preferably with apple and cinnamon sauce, but maybe that's just me.
Truth is that, while I heard a lot of wonderful music this year, I really don't feel up to delivering a Top Ten. Sure, there are some which leap out, but I didn't really listen that widely, I don't think. And I hardly went out. All were reviewed, look 'em out if you don't believe me.
DARREN BIRCH Bass player for Black Bombers and former member of Gunfire Dance, Brian James Gang, Walter Lure and The Godfathers Birmingham, UK
It's been a funny old year! I managed to play one gig before the world shut down and didn't get to see any. From the beginning of March, I couldn't leave the house for 15 weeks so books and music became my friends....
My Top 10 for 2020:
1.) “Sing Backwards and Weep” by Mark Lanegan. His autobiography.
2.) “The War is Never Over” by Nick Soulsby. A book and companion piece to the Lydia Lunch documentary of the same name.
3.) “Just A Shot Away. 1969 Revisisted” Volumes 1 and 2 books by Kris Needs.
4.) “Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a UK Sub and Other Strange Stoies” (book) by Alvin Gibbs
You just know some records will be good. UK trio Black Bombers summoned an explosive storm-front in the guise of a seven-inch single (“Crazy” b/w “That Kind”) in early 2015 that sold out its first pressing in a week. To say a full-blooded long-player was anticipated is like saying Kayne West has lots of self-confidence.
Black Bombers hail from Birmingham where everything is either black or Black Sabbath. Those local legends might be held in high regard around the globe but apart from a shared love for riffing and volume, Black Bombers are cut from a slightly different cloth.
"There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in..." (Cohen)
One of the most exuberant and enlivening, new, modern bands I've discovered in what seems like forever, ElectraJets, is led by an Englishman named Jeff Ward and a Canadian named Cynthia Ross. You might be hip to those names from the B-Girls, Gunfire Dance or New York Junk, but the forthcoming full-length album, "Transatlantic Tales", is by their Gotham band, ElectraJets.
It's a rocket through time and space, pulsating with an irresistible beat and likely to appeal to fans of Detroit protest music, Julian Cope's Black Sheep and "Cut The Crap" busking. There's something here for fans of Pretty Things or Blue Cheer, so beautiful it hurts Love & Rockets-style nocturnal pop, '60s prog, '70s glitter, Marc Bolan, Bowie and the Stones.
I told an old pal how awed I am by the ElectraJets' extremely formidable rhythm section, who have a total mastery of that boot boy stompin' 70s' Slade/Leader Of The Gang/Bo Didddley beat, that makes you wanna get out of your sad old man chair and dance in front of the mirror. It's down the rabbit hole rock 'n' roll, with many varying moods, genres, textures and layers - from delicate memories to volcanic eruptions, bruised romanticism and rooftop hymns. It's far-flung and forward thinking, neon hued and cinematic, and it will make you involuntarily want to move your body.
A slinky bass-line and sultry vocal (that’s Rachel Mayfield in the duet, ex-delicious monster) give “Rush” a downright sexy feel.“You take my mind over the top/You make my senses stand up,” intones guitarist Alan Byron before the song’s consumed by a monstrous guitar break and a wave of horns. Sonically speaking, it’s simply spectacular.
Mars - The Venus Fly Trap (Glass Modern) It’s Not a Competition But I Win! – Lucy (Lucy) El Bendito Y El Maldito - Horse Feathers (Polar Bear Records) Yesterday Repeating - The Smart Folk (Self-Released)
The Venus Fly Trap? Never heard of them.
On investigating a little on the Interwebs, it seems that not only have I heard of them, I’ve probably heard them, but forgotten them.
Well, it was about 30 years ago, back when the UK was still reeling in the bass-centric aftershock of bands like Killing Joke, the Fall and the Gang of Four, but more importantly, the Second Australian Wave (you know, The Birthday Party, the Moodists...).
Let’s not forget the impact of The Scientists either... Certainly the Jesus and Mary Chain were heavily influenced by the BP and Kim Salmon’s mob of hairy ruffians; the JMC emerged, screaming like babies with diaper rash, in 1983. Also, around 1986 Big Black were making an impact on the UK (which would lead to a short-lived “subgenre” the UK inkies dubbed “arsequake”; there was another daftly-termed subgenre as well but you get the idea).
Another year with nothin' to do....!! No gigs to speak of though we did manage to fit in one Black Bombersshow just before the years end to blow away the cobwebs..!! Top Ten? Mostly reissues but here goes...
Bored – “Back For More” (Bang!) A UK Record Store Day release. R.I.P. John Nolan
Endless Boogie- “Admonitions” The Boogie is indeed endless.
This is War! Godfathers Live! – The Godfathers (self released) Vol 4 – The Black Bombers (Easy Action) The Second Cumming – The Filthy Gypsies (self released)
Twin guitar assault? Tick. The Godfathers have been around, in one form or another, for 35 years or so. There have been many line-up changes - and this one has just been summarily dismissed by the singer, Peter Coyne.
All I'll say is: brilliantly recorded live Godfathers will boot your bonnet. Their later albums are as much a feature as their earlier ones, and boy, do these songs rock and crackle. The band is tight, tight, tight and come at you with pizzazz and panache.
Last Bite b/w You Take My Money -Black Bombers (Easy Action Records)
So, Black Bombers are on tour through UK, which to many of us may seem bizarre as the place is far more riddled with the stupidvirus than we are in Australia. However, almost everyone's been vaccinated and boosted, and the latest major variant, BA.2 doesn't wallow in the lungs like a family of grumpy hippos like the Delta and Co did.
Now: there's only 300 copies of this single and I can't imagine there'd be that many left. Get on it while you can.
Why? well, first, the BBs are freaking awesome (as the young folk used to say) live and if you only have what they've released so far - a self-titled LP, a seven-inch “'Rush” b/w “Raw Ramp” (a Bolan cover), and the mini-LP “Volume 4”, then you know what you're in for, and any and every release from the BBs is greasy dark manna from Purgatory.
The only disappointment is that it’s six tracks and not a full album. The title “Vol 4” is an obvious nod to their hometown heroes and is as grimy and hard as the worst parts of Birmingham used to be, pre-gentrification.
Black Bombers are one serious raw power trio. Don’t dwell on the Sabbath heritage because they’re a step removed from their fellow Brummies’ relentless attack. Black Bombers lay down a looser groove and leave more spaces. There’s a multitude of influences at work including Motorhead, the Pink Fairies and Blue Cheer.