TOP 11 ALBUMS
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - All in Good TimeNine 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 FourPunk 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 KillerThe 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 BusinessSun 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 LPThanks 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 SaboteursPete 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 StandingWith 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.
Michael Halloran is playing upstairs at The Tote with Light Magnetic on Thursday 14 November.
Michael Halloran is busy, but he’s not in a hurry. Back in Melbourne from Mexico to see family and friends and to squeeze in a couple of live shows and some recording, Halloran is taking things as they come – organically, if you will.
“That’s where I’ve kind of got to now,” Halloran muses. “Fuck the whole organising and rehearsing, I’m too old for that – maybe not too old, but I’ve got my experiences.”
Having left Melbourne for New York five years ago, Halloran’s nominal home base is now in Mexico, where he runs a bed and breakfast. Earlier this year, Halloran returned to New York to put down some tracks with long-time collaborator Dee Pop and expatriate Australian musician Rob Mason:
“I lived in New York for about five years so I’ve got a lot of musical contacts and friends. It’s a very strong musical community,” Halloran says. “I’ve had this idea that I’ve wanted to do recently, which is to record with different people at different places. Basically to turn up there, stay for a month, get a feel, get back into the vibe and check some unique music, stuff that’s going on.”
London-based trio Dear Thief's fantastic record (yep, vinyl) is a couple of years old but I doubt they've had much press.
They seem to be an occasional band rather than a constantly gigging behemoth; nonetheless they sound exactly like some sort of rabid mammoth wandered into the No studio and went berko.
Those of you who notice such things might think you're being reminded of a particularly vicious Fall gig - drums, bass, guitar - but I find myself rather startled to realise that it's time I pulled out my "Woman" LP again.
The reason these two sit together here is that there is a similarity.
Ever since Nick’s "Boatman’s Call" made it acceptable, musicians have been coming out of the woodwork with quiet, intense music. Some are, naturally, better than others. Some remain lost, lost without knowing why, but because they don’t share the same creative origin (or ‘muse’) which sparks Nick.
Still others are compared to Nick when they share only a few of his influences - but produce something which people think they recognise as being in Nick’s … carpark. Think Mark Steiner, Nikki Sudden, Henry Hugo, David Creese, Hugo Race, Michael Plater, … hell, think Louis Tillett, Mick Harvey even.
Yet, if you take the time to listen to these folk, you discover how completely different they are. And, more often than you’d know if you believed the critics… sometimes they’re a lot better.
Woke Up and Seen my Reflection - M.J. Halloran (Torn & Frayed Records)
Well, it's been nearly a month since I was almost not here at The Bar anymore. And here I am, finally getting to a few reviews before I shut down again and get on with “my book”.
MJ Halloran's “Woke Up and Seen my Reflection” was recorded in Melbourne live to two-inch tape with his long-time collaborators Steve Boyle (Moler, Hungry Ghosts, Rowland S. Howard, Brian Henry Hooper, among others) and Tim O'Shannassy (The Paradise Motel, Penny Ikinger, Belle Phoenix, Brian Henry Hooper, among others) with the addition of Andrew McGee (the founder of Shock Records), and guest performances from Kim Salmon (who you've never heard of, right?).
There's a good back story to how it came about too.
Steve, Tim, Andrew and MJ decided to try, in Melbourne, what they'd done previously with Steve Albini in Chicago. That is, recording in one room without overdubs. So, they'd better get it right first go. MJ's press notes remark that Link Wray was a good reference point, as Wray did something similar with his 1971 self-titled record from 1971, which he recorded in a converted chicken barn.