Top Tens for 2021: Edwin Garland of Sydney bands Moonlight 5, Waxworks and Dwarfthrower
This is not a real Top Ten list as such. Just a list of personal highlights that were beacons in what was another shit year for most of us.
The passing of Johnny Nolan (Bored!, Powder Monkeys, Powerline Sneakers) did not help. After his death, I read through al private messages we exchanged over the past decade. Johnny was a man of passion and so much love for music a genuine lovely bloke with his bands. R.I.P.
The Sonny Michaels Show
This shambolic pisstake on the bad ‘70s TV host has equal parts Norman Gunston and Don Lane. We get two hours per month. It is so funny. Paula and Mike Brown are a talented duo and the Sonny Michaels character is world-class. They also present at least 15 artist videos who would not normally get viewed outside their YouTube channels .Great work.
A killer of show at Enmore and the Australian tour that was snuck in between lockdowns for the promotion of “The Makarata Project” It was an amazing gig featuring two-and-a-half hours of our finest First Nation performers; from ballads to full throttle Oils blistering rock. In true Midnight Oil tradition, a healthy cheque was presented to Indigenous causes. Then, after two singles from the forthcoming album, 2022 marks the last year of a great band. No-one else compares.
It's hard to make comparisons but Sydney's Bob Short makes Mark E Smith appear to be a fan of Delta Goodrem in any stoush. From his daily Covid Facebook reports and commentary in lockdown with the odd folky punk cover, to the showing of “Nosferatu” for which he wrote a new soundtrack, to his appearance on "The Sony Michaels Show", he edges towards brilliance and every step he takes is caustic
Leadfinger has been wearing the crown of one of Sydney’s best bands for a decade. They combine their influences and to claim their own patch of dirt; equal parts Flamin’ Groovies and Thin Lizzy with those street level lyrics A couple of top shelf singles and a killer show at the Marrickville Bowlo means they left their mark on 2021
Another year of gigs and a blistering three track EP for Jupiter five that manages to combine Black Sabbath, Dictators and ‘60s garage rock with dash of humour. They have put the stamp on Sydney as the main exponents of loud proto punk and garage rock over the last 12 months. It's that tough-as-concrete and tight rhythm section and those blazing guitars Great band.
With two singles (including the AMRAP topping, “Marliese”) and with an EP on way in 2022, this band is raw and intense with ex- Nitrocris guitar goddess Jess really developing into a mighty fine song-writer. The vocals are stunning and nicely wrapped in howling ‘60s organ. There’s so much intensity here with a punk ethos and a layer of soul.
Simon Robert Gibson
Gibbo to his mates and old band mate: that does mean I am biased. Simon has released his second solo album last year without any fanfare. Based in Bali and between surfing he writes these sentimental tales of the time long gone King Street, Newtown, and a distant music scene of characters and lost talent based in Sydney pubs like the Hoey and the Sando. The songs are full of melody and heaps of hooks, set against a backdrop of nostalgia and sensitivity.
"Space Travels" - Sonic Garage
This was my rock record of the year. Phil Van Rooyen disbanded the Circus Chaplains after the death of his close mate Luke Lovelock. Born out of a difficult time, “Sonic Garage” is soulfull with a rock edge lifted from pure exponents like the Stooges. It’s inspired Sydney Northern Beach street level rock. The influences of Birdman and the Celibate Rifles are obvious but it’s delivered with freshness and urgency. “Asteroid” is, for my money, the song of year by any local band,
Johnny is a musical tradesman: earthy, and with no crap tolerated. He’s all about the job. You get the feeling that he only tolerates the music industry. His videos about his guitars and stories behind them are like having your best mate talking to you online, and I even expected a tip on the last race at Rosehill. That aside, John is writing best songs of his life. With another killer album of guitar-driven craftsmanship, he should be headlining Bluesfest in 2022. We can dream.
“Skin and Bones - HD Horne
Mark Horne’s song has some awesome mandolin and a cameo by Johnny Casino, overlayed with its writer’s unbridled passion. This was a brilliant single - almost like if The Bad Seeds were performing a Pogues song. It was like Johnny Cash locking horns John Lyndon. Swirling, and hypnotic, it was like falling helplessly into a pit of sound powered by skilful song-writing; I look forward to the new album and if it’s up to this standard, it could be the local album of 2022.