Since, I was recently taken back by Suzie Stapleton’s compelling performance at the Bitter Sweet Kicks album launch Prince in St Kilda on Anzac Day, I did some searching. I found Suzie’s hypnotic and dark EP, “Obadi Diablo”, and it’s been on heavy airplay for more than two weeks. I contacted Ms Stapleton and requested a copy of her self-released debut EP of a few years back. Again, I was not to be disappointed.
Good god, what a fucking racket.
“Johnny Streetlight” is four-and-a-half bottles of joyous, fresh-faced old school rock’n’roll, soaked in piss and substance abuse and if you treat it right you’ll lose part of your hearing (just don’t eat the worm at the bottom). There’s no bad songs on “Johnny Streetlight”, they’re all good for gold. If this band had been around in the mid-‘80s they woulda been huge.
The inner sleeve pic by Leif Alan Creed makes the band look positively criminal (one gentle soul makes up for his lack of pupils by wielding a rather lethal saw).
Memphis-born Tav Falco has been drawing inspiration from a deep musical well of swamp blues, soul and psychedelia since the early ‘80s. “Command Performance” is his first LP for five years.
Even though there aren’t many places he hasn’t toured, much of the world is yet to catch up with his music so “Command Performance” is another chip at that wall of mainstream indifference.
Trashy wah-wah skronk is what Destination Lonely delivers. In spades.
A bass-less trio from Toulouse, the members have done time in Jerry Spider Gang, The Fatals and Kung Fu Escalators. If those names mean anything to you, you’ll know what to expect. Just imagine them frolicking in a swamp.
This is rock and roll from the dirty side of the street. All the well-to-do people live somewhere else. Opener “Dirt Preacher” sets the scene: Barely audible, angsty vocals under layers of guitar. The wah pedal signifies music that opens up and bleeds, on a regular basis.
Old heads from Brisbane’s Chinese Burns (not to be confused with Sydney band Chinese Burns Unit) and The Standing 8 Count populate this band, which has been kicking around the River City (does anyone even call it that?) for four years. The eponymous record (vinyl and download) is its first output and came out in 2015.
If you know the members’ previous bands you know the postcode in which “Eyes Ninety” resides. There are elements of its predecessors but its music stands alone. Wanna label it? Let’s call it “swampy punk rock”.
New Zealander Delaney Davidson is like a lot of musicians who saturate themselves in the blues, country and modern rock.
Unlike the majority, he still gets it. The music is as vital for him now as when he picked up a guitar. He’s never still, always moving to improve and expand his range. Why? Because he doesn’t want the songs to sound the same.
I must apologise - this has been sitting along with a couple of other CDs, waiting their turn as I try to complete a documentary about a rather brill Australian rock band and another book. I’ve been a tad busy elsewhere too. So the review may be a little old. Should you chase a copy?
Mexican Hillbilly Surf Music - The Mezcaltones (Foghorn/MGM)
For most Australians, Tex Mex music is like Mexican food: Only a handful of us have experienced the real thing. So props to Sydney band The Mezcacltones for cooking up their home-grown variant of the former, and dubbing it “Mexican Hillbilly Surf”.
The twang is the thang as far the sound of this six-piece goes. It’s all over their music. Their brand is country - with some trimmings - and the delivery is slick without being overly so. It’s commercial enough for The Mezcaltones to have played the Tamworth Festival five times.
You wouldn’t know it from the cover but “Rat On!” (1971) is a more polished production effort than Swamp Dogg’s debut from a year earlier, “Total Destruction To Your Mind”. Recorded at legendary studio Muscle Shoals, that’s where the conformity ends. “Rat On!” finds Swamp right in the pocket with a muscular rhythm section and a subversive feel.
Tony Thewlis and Kim Salmon fronting the Scientists at Sydney's Southern Cross Hotel in 1982.
The Scientists at their peak were unmatchable. A glorious collision of droning, caustic, fuzz guitars, minimalist bass, anguished lyrics about alienation and ominous, funereal rhythms, they created something unique after landing in Sydney in 1981.
Originally ragged New York Dolls-inspired popsters back in Perth, the re-constituted Scientists stripped their music back to its darkest roots, concoting their own brand of psychedelia and incorporating influences like Suicide, the Stooges and Captain Beefheart.
Too big for their own Surry Hills backyard, the band moved to the UK in 1982 and, in typical expatriate Australian underground band fashion, starved before going on to influence countless other acts into the ‘90s and beyond.
There’s probably a complicated and entertaining backstory to the career re-birth of Jerry Williams Jr, prolific soul music producer and player also known as Swamp Dogg, but the bare bones are fairly evident. In his seventh decade and after years of relative obscurity, this former flatmate of Jerry Wexler and co-writer with Gary “U.S.” Bonds has hooked up with Alive Natural Sound and opened a floodgate of re-issues - of his own work and artists he’s produced or managed - and the results are pretty cool.
“Touched” LP is this six-piece Wollongong band’s second full studio album release in eight years. Their last long player (“Devil at My Door”) passed by the Bar without dropping in for a beer, so I’m not up-to-speed with everything that’s occurred along the way.
The thing I know is that there’s a marked difference between “Touched” and the early “Guide To Sedation & Isolation” EP, so let’s focus on that.