shifting sands - The I-94 Bar
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.
Well. It's that time of year.
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.
I mean, look:
Gigs to remember:
The Animals and FriendsThe Animals and Friends
Gang of Four
The Gig of Glory (which I didn't review, but was the same line-up as the Banned from the Fed gig, but with the immortal Sean Tilmouth bringing up Fear and Loathing to international status, and the proper line-up of the Filthy Gypsies - ditto international status)
Cradle of Filth
The Drama Dolls
In no particular order, The Barman’s Top 12 albums of 2019:
“So I Could Have Them Destroyed” – The Hard-Ons (Music Farmers)
You could say “What a comeback!” but only if they’d really gone away. So much variety yet it hangs together so well.
“The Devil Won't Take Charity” - Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests (Beast Records)
Kim and his band have that Stonesy-Keef vibe down pat. Raunch and roll.
“Mystery Train” – Chickenstones (Crankinhaus Records)
Sydney’s best kept secret. Doc might be driving the bus but Preacher Phil really steps up. Soulful and abrasive tunes played with heart.
“Shake Yer Popboomerang Vol 3” - Various Artists (Popboomerang)
Some of the material back-tracks but it’s a collection of rolled gold. Aussie power pop for the ages.
“Black Door” – The Volcanics (Citadel)
High-energy, passion and variety. Their best to date. The Volcanics are truly a world class band.
“The Aints! Play The Saints” - The Aints! (Fatal Records)
Will we ever see their faces again? Maybe. Maybe not. This is a white-hot snapshot of what they delivered live.
“Ann Arbor Revival Meeting” - Scott Morgan’s Powertrane featuring Deniz Tek & Ron Asheton (Grown Up Wrong)
As historical artefacts go, this is as good as they get. It’s a generously appointed re-issue of a stellar, all-star show.
Shifting Sands are partly comprised of members of SixFtHick and Gentle Ben, whom you may have heard of … and quite a number of Shifting Sands’ songs are ludicrously radio-friendly.
No, I mean FM radio cross-over, cover of Cosmo friendly; "Boyfriend" and "Other Girls" are the tracks suggested; but that’s not where the band always hang. My favourites include "New Flame", "Dead Memory" and "Airway", the latter being a rather clever inversion of your expectation. In fact, the majors should be sniffing around right now.
Ben Corbett makes a point to the crowd as SixFtHick play on.
In May 2012, I had the good fortune to travel to Brittany in France to see HITS plays three club shows in the cities of Brest, Lorient and Lannion. The brilliant Ben Salter happened to be touring France at the same time, so he arrived, guitar in hand, to see his friends in HITS - and was promptly added to the bill for those gigs.
HITS and Salter were welcomed with open arms and rapturous applause, but I started to hear French people say the same thing to them after every show - "You have to play at Binic!"
You might hear a better Australian album this year but I’m not sure I will. “Crystal Cuts” doesn’t have the immediate, dark pop rush of “Beach Coma” but that’s only by a matter of degrees. It works its way into your listening psyche through much more subtle means.
That’s not to say “Crystal Cuts” shouldn’t be occupying airwaves and taking up streaming bandwidth, worldwide. It manages the rare trick of being commercial (whatever that is) and subtle at the same time. Shit, I’d settle for hearing “Would’ve Killed Each Other” over “Hotel California” on the supermarket PA system, as I forage the health and beauty aisle of Coles for razor blades. Safety ones, of course…
The vocal combo of Geoff Corbett and Izzy Mellor makes for a rare treat. Yin and yang. It’s the gnarly, weather-beaten Serge matched with the darkly alluring, slightly diffident Jane. They’re like a Sarah Lee supermarket cake (remember the TV ad with the annoying line about “layer up-on layer up-on layer”? – me neither until now) with a serve of sugar icing atop a crusty old base.
Karina Astrup photo
A lot of bands say they're unique but Six Ft Hick’s claim is real. A two-headed mutant from deepest Queensland in Australia’s sub-tropical north, the Hick has been trashing stages around their home country, and further afield in Japan and Europe, for two decades.
Over four studio albums and a live long-player since 2000, Six Ft Hick have carved out a space for themselves somewhere between amped-up (vaguely) rockabilly and full-steam ahead trash rock, but it’s as a stage entity that they’ve made their most lasting mark.
With vocalist-brothers Geoff and Ben Corbett running off each other like crazed wingmen at a testosterone party, they’re an irresistible and confronting beast that’s impossible to ignore. Smashed glasses (mainly on their own heads), broken furniture, casualty ward visits and ringing ears are de riguer.
Izzy Mellor and Geoff Corbett. Cyrille Bellec photo.
Sydney rock and roll fans are in for a special treat on November 17 when a roadshow of diverse but related Brisbane acts rolls into town. Marrickville Bowling Club will bear witness to the spectacular, self-destructing antics of Six Ft Hick, fronted by Geoff and Ben Corbett. The undercard is full of quieter moments, with Gentle Ben & his Shimmering Hands - a vehicle for Ben - and Shifting Sands, led by Geoff.
Burning dive bars like bridges Brisbane’s inconsolable Shifting Sands erode into Marrickville’s Factory Floor in Sydney on Friday, July 3.
Sprinkling their trademark downbeat alcho-aesthetic, one part piano bar depresso-core and one part island funeral, Shifting Sands play all the hits from their stunning debut long-player “Beach Coma” – one of the albums of the year for ours.
Support comes your way from Devotional, who level it drenched and panoramic, and new project for Yvonne Moxham and Cec Condon (Mess Hall), Roadhouses. Buy your tickets here. There's a film clip after the MORE link.