You can’t half tell the folks at Unbelievably Bad zine are Hard-Ons fans. So is anyone with a modicum of taste. So this edition of UB should sell its arse off. It’s wall-to-wall Hard-Ons. More Hard-Ons, in fact, than the US Navy on shore leave after six months at sea.
hard-ons - The I-94 Bar
The exhaustive program of bonus-packed re-issues by Australia’s favourite pop-punk shit-stirrers the Hard-Ons continues unabated with 1990’s “Yummy” getting the treatment.
Open Season - Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers
Firstly declaring an extreme bias and a conflict of interest with this one, Mick’s second offering from the Mesmerisers is even better than the last. The addition of ex-Tribesmen tub thumper Michael Charles has added muscularity to the band and they go from strength to strength. Some Sydney and Newcastle Birdman supports really won them some new fans. Brian Mann created a stunning sounding record. My fave album of the year.
Address to the Nation - Chris Masuak and the Viveiro Wave Riders
Again, another declaration as I’ve worked closely with Chris over the past thirty years. My second fave of the year… beaten by a short nose. Chris writes killer songs… plays guitar better than any player I have worked with and has a band so tight I couldn’t slide a fag paper between it. A great album, and it gave us a few wry smiles.
The Festival of Sue (X, New Christs et al)
The shock of Sue Telfer’s passing pulled together a stellar line up talent who delivered on an emotional night. There were some killer performances but my top two were the New Christs, whose emotion tinged performance left no doubt that they are a top echelon act… but man of the match for mine was Steve Lucas and X. It was a blinding performance, Steve sang and played better than I have heard the band in years, Kim Volkman & Geof Holmes snarled and snorted like a beast. The Barman and Tiffany Palmer did a great job getting it all together, and we raised a great sum of cash for Support Act. I’d like to think Sue would’ve approved.
TOP 11 ALBUMS
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - All in Good Time
Nine years is a long time between drinks, but this was well worth the wait. For my money the most important Melbourne band of the last 20 years returns with an LP up there with their first two albums. In true Eddy Current style this LP just all of a sudden dropped out of nowhere, with no shows and little media presence to promote it. Garage rock the way it should be, messy but tight, loose and fast and songs ending whenever it feels like that’s enough.
Hexdebt- Rule of Four
Punk meets shoegazing with social’political messages that come straight in your face. The long awaited debut LP of Hexdebt backs up their reputation as a killer live outfit
Cereal Killer – The Beginning and End of Cereal Killer
The first and last long player of this Geelong supergroup. I saw ‘em live a few years back with feedtime and was blown away, so was keen to hear the LP as I wanted to see how that stage show was put on record. The LP has plenty of the power of the live show, combining elements of garage, punk and electro, one of the most fresh and finest releases of 2019.
Plastic Section - Trouble is Our Business
Sun City meets John Spencer. Killer '50s guitar and vocals, two ripper instrumental tracks and only one song cracks the three minute mark. Its sounds old but in a new way, powerful but not flashy guitar. Singer-guitarist Ben Edwards sounds like he could ave played with the Killer himself.
Mick Trouble- Here’s the Mick Trouble LP
Thanks to Ritchie Ramone at Strangeworld for putting me onto this. Was amazed this came out this year as I thought it was a lost Television Personalities recording. One of those gems I would only discover via the man behind the record store counter. Buzzcocks style harmonies meets the storytelling of Wreckless Eric.
Imperial Wax - Gastwerk Saboteurs
Pete Greenway, Dave Spurr and Keiron Melling had been the core of the Fall for the last decade of the band's existence until the passing of Mark E Smith. The three lads hooked up with Sam Curran to make an LP their old taskmaster would ave been proud of. It’s not the Fall, but without MES how could it? Theres certainly elements of the Fall in there but the lads ave their own approach and ideas, much like the Fall, taking a simple idea and expanding, taking rock music to new places.
Wild Billy Childish & CTMF - Last Punk Standing
With the exception of Mark E Smith no one has given me more joy then Billy Childish. Pretty much every year theres an LP with the name Childish that appears in the top 10 list. The mans a hero of mine. On top of the massive discography of amazing albums, what I love about him is the fact the man just gets on with it. Bangs out two LPs a year, with just two, if that, chords and bangs out a record in one take. No overdubs no time for being precious, just doing it and doing it well. I wish I had this talent and discipline.
Vive Le Rock magazine writer and Mule Freedom PR publicist
TOP TEN TRACKS FROM 2020
Like going deaf or blind, a lack of gigs seems to have sharpened my other music-loving senses, so I’ve been digging more sounds than ever this year. This is just the tip of a very big, and very loud, iceberg. Working as a PR, I’ve taken the flaming liberty of including some of my own wares in here – can you spot ‘em? But I make no excuses: I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to get to work with people whose stuff I love. I hope after reading this, you’ll love it too. - Gerry x
PS - The Celibate Rifles' "Extract From The Fungus" would’ve been No.1 if I’d heard it yet.
10.) James Williamson & Deniz Tek – "Jet Pack Nightmare"
They may be getting on – ain’t we all? – but Ann Arbor’s finest can still cut the Stories For Boys action rock! A venomous boogie riff to kick off "Two To One", the album that was bound to happen one day.
9.) Blue Öyster Cult – "The Alchemist"
It’s taken them nine years to come up with a new studio album and when they do, it’s recorded in lockdown conditions. And it’s still the best thing the boys from Stony Brook have done in donkeys’ years. Fourteen newly minted and totally Cultish songs, "The Symbol Remains" is conspicuously low on epics, but this six-minuter – with its "Flaming Telepaths" dink-dink-dink – hits the spot.
Top 10 releases for 2020
Wrtiter for Redback Rockand Vynil Records label honcho
Bad Dreems- “Doomsday Ballet”
Snotty, raggedly beautiful, punkesque pop that's as honest as a day's work. One beautiful yellow and black splatter platter of endearing, edgy popnificence. Ten double plus!
Dune Rats - “Hurry up and Wait”
The perfect blend of pop and punk, that’s as catchy as a case of COVID. On permanent rotation.
Space Boozzies- “Living’ Up The he Coast”
Summer...beer gardens…downin’ tinnies on the bonnet of the EH wagon down at South Narra. The perfect beachin’ garage album for summer.
Gold Hearts- “Beach Butts” (single)
The Gold Hearts' sounds are pure 60s wahine surf pop...wahoos and all. Gorgeous.
Lachlan Edwards- “Once More” (EP)
From the very first, this is a total charmer. The title track is an instant creeper... gorgeous sparse guitar...semi-yearning vocals and cruisy riffs that crawl right on in.
Little Quirks - “Florence’s Town” (single)
Gorgeous vocal harmonies...that folk tinged heart warming popestry...and songwriting skills that are way beyond their years.
PETER “BLACKIE” BLACK
Hard-Ons and Nunchukka Superfly guitarist and solo artist
My "top ten" is a mess and i know some of the records i'm yakking about, i only got this year. OK? Sometimes, ya gotta play catch up,
1. Canine – “In Dog Years Ya Dead”
Came out last year but i only scored it half way thru this year…really progressive in parts, top notch! And at the same time i brought Concrete Lawn’s “Aggregate”. Saw ‘em live and thought, "Fuck yea". Played the record and thought "FUCK YEA!" The singer Maddiso sounds like Cal from “Grave New World”-era Discharge.. ..there's no complaints from me :-)
2. Dead – “Raving Drooling”
HUGE actually they sound slicker yet heavier than ever before.. love it.
3. Some killer sludge from both Lucifungus – “Derek” (check out the track “Quintro”) and Witch Skull's third album, “A Driftwood Cross” \\m/
4. Rivers Of Snake – “Sleight of Hand”
Go straight to track two “Black and Gold”…then you may start the album again.
5. Owen Guns – “Violating Community Standards”
Remind me of the wonderful Aussie punkers, Rocks.
Hard-Ons and Nunchukka Superfly bass player, chatterbox and all-round nice guy, Ray Ahn, has been telling entertaining yarns on his Facebook feed for eons.
They've irrevent, rollicking tales that have taken on a life of their own lately, generating a big following and constant comments to the effect that Ray should write a book.
He's done the next best thing and is putting his stories into a blog. You can read it here.
If This Is The Hand I’m Dealt – Peter Black (Cool Bananas)
I’m Gonna Cheat As Much As I Can - Peter Black (Cool Bananas)
At first blush it’s D-U-M-B-everyone’s-accusing-me for an artist to release his sixth and seventh albums simultaneously. Flooding the market breaks a fundamental rule in the mythical music industry marketing manual about (a.) controlling supply to build demand and (b.) maximising the impact of “product”.
But Peter Blackis the guy who, in 2016, set himself the challenge of recording a year’s worth of music and releasing one track a day, and you know that convention is for squares.
BARFLY TOP TEN: Sydney bassist for The Smart Folk and The Amazing Woolloomoloosers and avid gig goer Keith Claringbold
I couldn’t find a clear winner for Gig of the Year for 2018. Here are 10 that were special.
TODD RUNDGREN – Oxford Art Factory.
His Toddness, the runt ,the hermit of Milk Hollow. Backed by a cracking band Davey Lane’s Drunken Blue Roosters, Todd took us from The Nazz, through his AM hits and on a detour to play many songs he admitted to not having played live for some time, if at all.
Great songs, top musicianship and Todd really seemed to be enjoying himself.
Hand-Ons/Nunchukka Superfly guitarist, singer-songwriter and much-loved Australian punk-rock icon Peter "Blackie" Black has dropped the first video from his solo album "If This Is The Hand That I'm Dealt”.
The album was released late last year in tandem with another solo record, "I'm Gonna Cheat As Much As I Can". The two albums, when taken together, reveal the breadth of Blackie's pop smarts, the quirkier and heartbroken ends of which can both be heard in "What The Fuck Should I Be Thinking".
The film clip was co-directed by Jonathan Sequeira (director of the acclaimed Radio Birdmandocumentary "Descent Into the Maelstrom") and his partner in Cheap Music Videos, Wade Jackson. When asked to comment about the video, Jonathan said:
"‘I thought Blackie was joking when he told me about wanting to do the pec dance. But he got it one take so we knew he’d been practising in front of the mirror’.
“That is actually true, but probably not the quote you want.How about:
"'It was great to work with Peter, one of Australia’s best songwriters, and I love the new albums so was keen to do a video. He had a simple idea and really let me run with it, which wasn’t difficult because he gave such a great performance, and it was a lot of fun shooting it.'"
I first saw Blackie when I was 16. It was the Hard-Ons’ 21st birthday tour, and I was stuck in Coolangatta, a long way from home. I knew nothing of the band but the name intrigued me so I went along. To this day it’s one of my top five gigs.
Hit after hit of pop punk brilliance, and for me the Hard-Ons are the gold standard in the genre. And here was guitarist Blackie, who combined metal style shredding with fast three chord punk rock playing. My tiny mind was blown.
Since then Peter Black has launched a solo career. 2020 marks the release of his sixth and seventh solo offerings. One electric, one acoustic. Aside from being one of the country’s best guitarists, Blackie’s solo work proves what a beautiful songwriter he is. The man can do no wrong
I-94 Bar: Now you’re playing a gig this Saturday with the Hard-Ons, and I saw a while back you did a gig in Sydney with Nunchukka Superfly, which was 20 people only. You obviously love playing live, but I take it with the lockdown period playing live now must be that extra bit more special?
Blackie: Man, I tell you how fucking weird this is. We did a couple of gigs recently, where I played solo and with the two bands, and I did a solo gig with John Kennedy’s 68 Comeback Special. But three weeks ago Nunchukka played a gig with a band from Canberra, and it didn’t really occur to me, as I had been driving for three-and-a-half-hours, it was all so trippy, like fucking hell, now I got to sing!
It hit me as it’s the first time I had been out of Sydney for 10-11 months. It was weird, but awesome. I’m like now I got to find the venue, find a park, and lug the gear. I loved every second of it
So I Could Have Them Destroyed – The Hard-Ons (Music Farmers)
We need to talk. Oh, yes, we do.
There were doubts about this one. I’d seen the songs played live. Whether it was unfamiliarity or just an off night, to these ears the set didn’t gel. It cried out for more light and less shade. Ease off that pedal-to-the-metal thing, baby. Not in a greatest hits way, but maybe with the odd well-chewed pop bone thrown in. It wasn’t bad. Just not earth shattering.
Then the album arrived and hit the disc player.
Fessin' up first: I didn't much like "Dickcheese" when it originally came out in 1988. You didn't need liner notes to hear the overt heavy metal influences. The album swung from catchy punk-pop with buried melodies to bottom-heavy stoner riffing. There was no lack of energy but the mix sounded muddy and bore little resemblance to the sound of the Hard-Ons live. Many years down the track and all that stylistic bouncing around makes much more sense.
It’s leading up to the Festive Season but don’t expect to hear Christmas carols at Sydney Rock 'n' Roll & Alternative Market on Sunday, November 26.
Hard-Ons - just back from a successful European tour and pictured above- and swamp rock elder statesmen Kim Salmon head the musical entertainment.
Yes, you’ll get the usual range of cottage and unique goods, records, Tiki mugs, art, homewares, food, drinks, fashion and Tiki mugs at The Manning Bar at Sydney University.
But you’ll also cop a double blast of Hard-Ons and Salmon, the latter in solo mode after hisnational tour by the classic line-up of his old band, The Scientists.
Joining them earlier in the day are Hanks Jalopy Demons, Keiron McDonald Combo and the usual array of DJs. Entry is $6 before 12pm and $8 after, with kids under 12 free.
The famed I-94 Bar podcast Drunk and Disorderly is back. Download it, stream it, do whatever the fuck it is that you do. Tracklist after the More button...
The Hard-Ons are vinyl fans. They believe, like many others who are a bit greyer, that vinyl records that were released before the digital age tell fascinating stories about the song/artist/record label, that streaming and MP3s can’t quite relay.
The band is playing two shows this month that celebrate vinyl. The big news is that the first 120 punters to arrive at the June 1 show at the Chippendale Hotel in Sydney and the June 2 gig at the Cambridge Hotel in Newcastle will receive a discretely brown paper-bagged seven-inch single from the personal collection of the band members
Says Ray Ahn: “There are 240 random records culled from our personal collections and the like. Some are GREAT. Some are good. Some are OK. Some are pretty shithouse. All are from another time and place, there will be records from 50’s, 60’s, 70’s 80’s. In addition, three mega-rare Hard-Ons records that are probably worth a fair amount from the HARD-ONS’ archive will be up for grabs to six lucky punters.”
The band promises loads of Hard-Ons seven-inch records will be on sale at the merch table as well, including some long deleted rarities.
FRI 1 JUNE: CHIPPO HOTEL with WHITE DOG + HELLEBORES
SAT 2 JUNE: CAMBRIDGE Hotel NEWCASTLE + Human Failure + Obat Batuk
And later this month, the Hard-Ons hit Europe again:
Hard-Ons in Europe
20 - TBA
21 – La Rochelle
22 - Clisson, Hellfest
24 - Orleans, Blue Devil
25 - Essen, Don't Panic
26 - Osnabrück, Bastard Club
27 - Hamburg, Port Klang
28 - Berlin, music & peace
29 – Tampere
The forthcoming Hard-Ons documentary by "Descent Into The Maelstromn" producer Jonathan Sequeira has qualified for tax-deductible donation status with Film Australia. There are no crowd-sourcing rewards other than enduring gratitude (and maybe a name-drop) but don't let that stop you. You can tell from the trailer that it'sgoing to be great. You can send some cash here and claim it on your tax return if you're Australian.
The Mis-Made in fulll flight at Sydney's Lansdowne Hotel.
The Hard Ons + Arse + The Mis-Made
Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney
December 13, 2019
Didn't think I would get to see this gig but very happy I did. If anyone says that girls can't rock, they obviously were not at the Lansdowne tonight to see The Mis-Made.
Mis-Made kicked off the proceedings with a tight set of blitzkrieg killer metal tunes. This is the sort of set that gives you goosebumps. Guitarist-singer Jessamine Finlayson's vocal style reminded me of Patti Smith and the band was tight.
Arse came up next with a toxic concoction of brutal, kinetic energy. In your face rock and attitude. Always a pleasure to watch.
Those pop-punk-metal-psych-whatever legends the Hard-Ons are having a 30th birthday party and Australia (and anyone who wants to fly in from overseas) is invited.