Ugly Life b/w I Just Wanna Die – Mad Brother Ward (Ruined Records)
Uplifting choral music, it is not. Mad Brother Ward is best known as being the North Carolina gutter punk fronting Screaming Street Trash among others in the '90s. who joined sometime GG Allin collaborators Antiseen after guitarist Joe Young checked out.
Mad Brother hasn’t done anything under his own name since when creepy Michael Jackson staged a sham marriage to an Elvis progeny when he really preferred the company of children and his chimp. In other words, 25 years ago. Sheesh, Joe Biden was only old then and Trump might have been careless enough to be paying taxes.
“Ugly Life” is slam-me-down-and-kick-me-till-I’m-dead punk rock, with a riff that’s chewed on until its marrow seeps out. You know the drill and it makes its point without hanging around in the memory bank too long. “I Just Wanna Die” is a more measured mid-tempo rant that’s the pick of the pair. Props to guitarist Chris Michael here. If the sentiment within appeals, you can always call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
Both songs are one side of a shiny blue platter with laser etching on the other (non-playable, you dummy) side. Buy or die here.
Munster Times Issue 35
Outside Melbourne? Glad you asked, then. Munster Times is a zine covering Australian underground music that’s still published in hard copy form - and that fact alone makes it stand out from the crowd.
Its Melbourne publisher and occasional I-94 Bar scribe, Matt Ryan, (right) is a fixture on Melbourne’s fertile live music scene. Run the rule over its content and you’ll realise it’s a compelling “must read” even if you live outside of Victoria’s windy/rainy/cold capital city. (OK, my Sydney is showing).
Much of the star billing in this issue goes to people and bands from outside Melbourne – Adam Brzozowski (Woy Woy) of Outtaspace Records, The Dunhill Blues and The Link and Pin Café, Howlin’ Threads (Yass and Wollongong) and Dez Dare (Geelong old boy now in the UK). You might call Munster Times location agnostic.
No less than Dave Graney reckons there’s a lot of the charm of the old St Kilda in the Times and who are we to argue with a member of the Melbourne Music Mafia? The zine has a homespun quality and is home to the legendary Fred Negro and his Pub comic strip.
For the unaware, Pub has institution status in Melbourne (which is about the only place in Australia that still confers such honours). I like Equal Opportunity, and if you read Pub long enough, you’ll find it has something to offend everybody.
Munster Time is A4, mostly black and white and has the odd spelling howler. Good. As long as Matt has no plans to do a Prince of Wales Hotel reno job and expunge any dirt or charm from his own zine’s pages, that’s fine with us.
Trailblazing Australian cowpunks The Johnnys will celebrate their 40th anniversary with a handful of New Zealand concerts in late July - their first tour there since the pandemic and only their third in 32 years.
The Johnnys' barnstorming shows at legendary NZ venues like The Gluepot and Warners back in the ‘80s made an impenetrable impression.Their 1986 album “Highlights Of A Dangerous Life” was a runaway success in Australia and New Zealand. It was firmly embedded in the NZ Album Top 20 chart, where it remained for 10 weeks, thanks to infectious tracks like “Bleeding Heart”, “Injun Joe”, and “(There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown”.
Detroit guitarist Robert (Bob) Gillespie died on June 17 after a long illness.
He played lead guitar and provided backing vocals in a slew of outstanding bands including The Rob Tyner Band, (1976-78), The Torpedoes (‘78-80), The Motor City Rockers (with Jimmy Marinos of The Romantics), Powertrane Featuring Scott Morgan and as a longtime sideman to Mitch Ryder.
He appears on the "Ann Arbor Revival Meeting" album with Powertrane and special guests Deniz Tek and Ron Asheton.
Gillespie wrote songs with Rob Tyner, The Torpedoes’ Johnny Angelos, Mitch Ryder and Jimmy Marinos. He is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Roxie, and brother Don.
A Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk – The Smart Folk (self released)
With a changing of the political guard in Australia, we’ve been assailed with talk about a new, genteel and respectful way of doing business in the Federal Parliament - as if none of the fuckers are going to revert to type and we won’t end up with the same shit-fight on our hands. It’s just as well that 90 percent of the population doesn’t give a rat’s arse.
Rock and roll may be similarly set in its ways, but there are band chosing different pathways to tread. Sixties-derived pop with a jangling edge is where Sydney’s The Smart Folk chose to reside and they're making their mark in their own way.
“A Chance To Relax…with The Smart Folk” is the latest EP from this band of ex-mod scene regulars and if it doesn’t wrap you in a stranglehold and impress with its urgency and energy, that’s fine. It’s mid-paced, obviously freakbeat-influenced guitar pop that has a warm charm – maybe more so than the records that have come before.
You Might Be Through With The Past, But The Past Ain’t Through With You b/w Ruby Baby – Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders (Heavy Medication)
Ex-Lazy Cowgirls leader Pat Todd makes records that his contemporaries wish they could. If you ever see an album by Todd and his band The Rankoutsiders in the wild, just grab it. Get your hands on this non-album track 45 on Polish label Heavy Medication as well.
“You Might Be Through With The Past…” is a prime slice of Americana-via-Chicago-blues goodness with blazing blues harp, bristling guitars, a willing engine room and the knowing vocal of Mr Todd dishing it all up with a side of punk rock attittude. It’s the same crew that brought you “…there’s pretty things in Palookaville…” (on Hound Gawd! Records), one of the best records of 2021 bar none.
Flip it and you get a good-time take on the Leiber and Stoller song “Ruby Baby”, a standard that’s been done to death by evertone from The Beach Boys to Dion. In the hands of Todd and Co, it’s spraypainted with a liberal coat of rough ‘n’ roll charm to sound damned near brand new. Raucous and righteous! Don't walk, run, the purchase link is below.
The night before the Woy Woy storm: Penny Ikinger at Marrickville Bowling Club.
After 150 days, the rain stopped. There was sunshine and it was a Sydney long weekend. Not sure how many built arks and were still floating along while I was driving north on the Pacific Highway to the coastal town of Woy Woy this sunny Sunday afternoon - on a tankful of $2.30 a litre petrol with just enough change to buy a chocolate milk.
The Link and Pin Café at Woy Woy has evolved into the coolest gig - and who would thought the birthplace of Spike Millikan would be a new home away from home for veterans of the Sydney Trade Union Club and Hopetoun Hotel?
And why not? It’s a 90-minute trip by train, road or by ferry across water. It is an adventure that many Sydneysiders are taking to see that anyone from local metal bands, to alternative darlings to Chad Morgan. The venue even launched the new line-up of the Hard-Ons. There is a vibe here and it’s run by hardcore music fans.
Back in the 1980s, Sydney indie label Vi-Nil Records released the likes of singles by Hard-Ons, Lipstick Killers, Psychotic Turnbuckles, Labradogs, Conspirators, The Klerks and more. Forty years on, a new compilation album "Indie Sounds From The Harbour City (1983-1987)" showcases the cross section of bands on the label, and has been pressed on 14-track splatter vinyl and a 20-track, digipak CD.
To celebrate the album and the re-launch of the label, a series of kickarse live shows are locked in for late July. The first album launch is at Marrickville Bowling Club in Sydney on Friday, July 22, featuring the seasoned power pop of The Labradogs, the garage/punk/psych sounds of newly signed teensters Shacked, the stripped back intimate airs of Peter Black (aka Blackie from Hard-Ons) the Detroit garage energy of The Conspirators (playing a very rare show).
Tickets go on sale here on Tuesday.
Lion Island, Labradogs, Shacked and Blackie will play a second launch at Link and Pin Cafe in Woy Woy onj July 23 and the4 Hamilton Station Hotel will host a Newcstle launch on July 24 with Disgraceland, Shacked and Labradogs. Pre-sales for the album are open here.
Lightheavyweight 2 - Jack Howard (self released)
Trumpet player. One of the guys in the Hunnas horn section. And The Horns of Contempt.
Who's been playing with Midnight Oil a lot over the last few years. Special gigs with X, a few with Hunnas, but ... you know. Day job, kids ... who has time to be creative these days?
Jack can't let go of the creative bug. In between all those suburban things, he's been doing solo material, working with the band Epic Brass (a sight to behold) ... good, God, there are 15 releases on his Bandcamp page!