cosmic psychos - The I-94 Bar
Greetings from Warsaw, Poland! I don't know how many of these Barfly Top 10s will be from folks outside of Australia, but I'd wager a year's salary that mine will be the only one from a former Eastern Bloc country. Here are Top Seven things I enjoyed in 2018:
1) Starting a record label
2018 was the year a long-dormant dream became flesh. All the planets had aligned just right: some good local bands had appeared on my radar, I had a steady income that allowed for occasional extravagance, and the label name had been bouncing around my head for months, inspired by an Action Swingers tune.
And thus in July, Heavy Medication Records was born, and it's been a most-rewarding learning experience since Day One. I got turned on to a lot of cool bands, networked with like-minded labels and music fans, and even got some exceptional reviews that convinced me I wasn't wasting my time. The damage so far: three releases in the can, another three in the works, and a bunch more on the horizon.
I must admit, I didn't listen to many 2018 releases, outside of the ones I put out myself. It's rare that I feel the urgency of snatching up a band's new record as soon as it comes out. There were a few notable releases that caught my attention however...
Some re-issues are blatant money-making efforts and others are a public service. Think of these two as the latter. They’re both on vinyl. No digital downloads.
Dismissing The Onyas as a sub-tropical, Johnny-come-lately version of the Cosmic Psychos does both bands a disservice. Both bands are still going (The Onyas sporadically) and share a member in John McKeering (aka Mad Macka). You might say him joining Cosmic Psychos was inevitable. Some have.
The production veers towards the threadbare in parts but there's a lug-headed charm about this CD from a blokey band from Perth. "Lager Than Life" is the debut release for Squeeze The Pig.
At eight tracks long it's too short to be an album and too long to be an EP. Let's stick with the tried and tested label "Mini Album" for the time being.
As if you hadn't guessed from the cover art, "Lager Than Life" is all about fast cars, motorcyles, beer, smokes and rock and roll. It's meat and potatoes and doesn't try to be anything that it isn't.
Mad 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?"
There’s always something to recommend Unbelievably Bad even if their tastes extend to the extreme end of the cultural scale (black metal, splatter movies, hardcore) compared to your average, probably older, I-94 Bar reader.
There’s not much in the ranting of Cannibal Corpse’s ex-frontman Chris Barnes or the chick from the so pretentious Circle Pit to trouble me, but on the other hand a lengthy chat with Ian Cunningham from Birdman fans The Chosen Few is alway going to be a worthy read. Issue 16 is a cracker with the other stand-out an interview with Ian “Bobsy” Millar, the last surviving link to Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls. It’s also timely with the “When Sharpies Ruled” compilation recently dropping.
It’s not just the ripper cover of “Bomber” that summons up a Motorhead comparison but more on that later. This is Album Number Four for Adelaide’s Meatbeaters and it’s their best to date.
Meatbeaters are in a cohort of Aussie bands that you can classify as Yob Rock. Cosmic Psychos, the VeeBees, The Onyas and Shrewms all play it fast and aggressively with no concession to multiple chords or lyrical niceties. They also share a gutter-level sense of humour.