Listen up, punks and noiseniks: The Canadian band’s fifth album in 17 years is inarguably their best. It rocks like fuck; It scratches like a rabid kitten. It’s tuneful and noisily offensive at the same time. All of which should tell you something about The Ex-Boyfriends even if you’ve never heard of them.
The Ex-Boyfriends come from Calgary and I’m willing to bet they’re the best-in-breed in that neck of the woods. If Calgary’s music scene is half as fractured as anywhere else, it takes a lot of balls to be a rock and roll band. Big ones if you play noisy punk rock. Shamefully, I’d forgotten they were around until a notice about this heavy-diuty chunk of vinyl landed in the post box.
This is a simple and simply beguiling record, pared back rather than pared to the bone and impregnated with pop smarts. If the Johnny Cash take-off on the cover art didn't tell you already, it doesn't take itself too seriously either.
If you didn’t twig already, Honest John Plain is one of the survivors of the UK punk scene, recruited into the first line-up of the band that became The Boys way back in 1975. In-between re-appearances by The Boys, Plain has been surfacing in his own bands ever since.
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 Allincollaborators Antiseen after guitarist Joe Youngchecked out.
Mad Brother hasn’t done anything under his own name since when creepy Michael Jacksonstaged a sham marriage to an Elvisprogeny 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.
This may well be the only review of the Amyl and the Sniffers LP that makes no mention of mullets, sharpies, bogans or moles.
(I must mention, however, that one of the best mullets I have ever seen is the bass player from the mid-period line up of The Angels as seen in the film clip of that "No Way Get Fucked" song...although he is no match for Bob Spencer who in the same video has no hair and a monster rat's tail! Awesome!)
Amyl and the Sniffers are a young Australian punk rock band from Melbourne...and they play like they really mean it. Unlike some fake punky rockers over the past 40 years who, despite having the right shoes, clothes, haircuts and an obscure Killed By Death seven-inch that sells for $800 on eBay, were just trendies with no guts, heart , soul or songs.
Brisbane’s legendary RAZAR will reform for a one-off show on October 14, celebrating that city’s punk rock history.
The Triffid is the venue for “Return To White Chairs Vol 2”, the second instalment in reunion gigs for the punk and counterculture music loving crowd that met and drank at the infamous Elizabeth Street bar in Brisbane City between 1977-‘87. RAZAR will be joined by Ipswich darlings The Toy Watches as the main support.
A massive undercard that spans punk, new wave and rockabilly genres and includes old timers The Horny Toads, Scrap Metal, Public Execution, The 5 Hanks, Vacant Rooms and The Chrysalids. Contemporary Brisbane bands Dr Bombay, Dangerous Folk, The Bollocks and Cultured Few will fill out the bill, which is raising funds for the Growing Nepal Foundation.
Hailing from the sleepy Brisbane suburb of Mt Gravatt in the mid ‘70s, RAZAR began as a high school garage band, comprising 18-year-old Greg Wackley on drums, his 16-year-old brother Robert Wackley on bass, vocalist Marty Burke and Steven Mee (both 16) on guitar.
There’s a school of thought that says continual exposure to dumb rock and roll will lower your I.Q. by a significant degree. Well, fuck that. You don’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to enjoy hard and fast, Real Rock Action. But don’t be getting off on your snobbery trip, either.
Rock and roll can be thoughtful, intelligent and insightful. That doesn’t stop it also being thicker than a San Franciscan fog. Chuck Berry had his subversive moments, but “Johnny B Goode” ain’t one of them. Little Richard: “A whop bop a lu lop a-whop bam boo”? What the fuck is that about? Don’t even mention “Ob-la-di ob-la-da”. It’s a shit song anyway.
The point is that you can like smart rock and simultaneously roll around in the swill trough. It shouldn’t be one or the other. They’re not mutually exclusive. The Franklin School were flat out wrong. (Look ‘em up if you don’t know.) High art is one thing but getting high (or drunk) mindlessly at warp speed is another. Even if you're not into over-indulging, rock and roll is as much about fun and having a laugh as anything else. And it doesn’t get much funnier than middle-aged Melbourne punks Grindhouse.
So a band you’ve probably never heard of, let alone heard, releases its debut 45 and The Barman says it shakes more shit that a dunny carter’s truck on a cobblestone street and therefore you should own it? Best believe it. Four punk rock songs on this baby outta Brisbane, and they’re uniformly raw and energetic.
“Uber To The Penthouse” is perhaps the least developed in that it’s a handful of lyrics wrapped around a riff and the briefest of lead breaks, but it kicks like a motherfucker. Nicko (guitar) is a paint-peeler vocalist and the engine room of Dr Rock (bass) and Tom keep it simple, stupid, and economy is the watchword.
He’s not a household name (yet) but don’t let that stop you. Ronny Dap is the self-styled King of Aussie Pub Rock DIY, a minstrel for those who wish their weekend trip to Bunnings was for guitar strings and not Ozito home-brand power tools that fall apart, shoddy customer service and a cheap sausage sandwich.
Yobbos. We’ve had a few. For those playing along at home overseas and not familiar with everyday Australian vernacular, Yobbo is the term for “a heavy drinker, who places mateship above all else and lives for those wild memorable moments that are unforgettable”. According to the authoritative Urban Dictionary, anyway.
From Billy Thorpe to the Cosmic Psychos, yobbos have been part of the musical and cultural fabric –the cut of the cloth being comfy jeans and a blue singlet. Turn up your nose if you must, but disdain for the upper crust, accompanied by larrikin behaviour, pre-dates Oz rock and roll by a long way. It’s probably one of the few defining national characteristics most of us can agree on.
EP2 Electric Boogaloo – The Owen Guns (Riot Records)
Hardcore never went away. It just sprouted grey hair, developed prostate awareness and, in some extreme cases, took out a mortgage.
The Owen Guns have been flying old school punk’s flag for a year or two, blowing the roof off venues in Sydney and Wollongong. Members are based in both cities. They wear leather jackets, have weathered heads and their faces look like dropped pies. This is coming from someone who's no Paris model, but you get the idea. And in punk’s finest traditions, they could not give a flying fuck what me, you or anyone else thinks of them.
Punk is about economy and the seven songs on this, The Owen Guns’ second CD EP, clock in in at under 10 minutes.
This is a marriage made in Fast Food Heaven. “10 Piece Feed” pits Adelaide scuzzballs The Missile Studs against Sydney’s recently dissolved punk trio Thee Evil Twin over a 10-song split LP, and it’s hotter than a fire in a chip shop grease trap.
Split albums can be disappointing but the contrasts and similarities in both bands work well here. The Studs are more of your traditional thrash-y punks while Thee Twin have a ‘60s garage undercurrent. Neither band is a slave of studio polish, and they possess equal amounts of humour and energy. Breast or Thigh? Plenty here to appease fans of either - or both.
Corporate con or well-meaning act of benevolence? History tends to deliver a verdict of the former. for "Lethal Weapons", the 1978 compilaiton album of Australian "punk".
"Lethal Weapons" was a product on an offshoot of major Australian label Mushroom (the same people who brought you Chain, Skyhooks and the Sunnyboys) and it was clearly a cynical attempt to commercialise underground music scenes then burgeoning in Melbourne and Sydney, especially.
Compiled by would-be A & R man Barry Earl, the album was notable for its eclectic cast which included The Boys Next Door (soon to become The Birthday Party), JAB, The Survivors, whose members would go onto Sacred Cowboys, The Moodists, Radio Birdman, Teenage Radio Stars and the Bad Seeds.
Trevor Block went in search of many of the original protagonists in bands that signed to Suicide. We're reprising his article to mark 40 years of "Lethal Weapons", and the decade since its CD re-issue.
Here's your first taste of the new album "Snake Pit Therapy" from old school New York City punk Sonny Vincent, out September 19 on Svart. Pre-orders are open here and you can read a rewview of his book by the same name here.
Noise for Heroes Complete 1980-83 Vol 1 Noise for Heroes Complete 1988-91 Vol 2 Noise for Heroes Complete 1991-2004 Vol 3 Edited by Steve H. Gardner
Imagine a decade like the 1980s without zines. For the uninitiated (because they weren’t born then) zines were self-produced magazines, often photocopied and sometimes hand-drawn, focused on subjects that the authors were passionate about. More often than not, the topic was music.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of zines in a pre-Internet world. Along with college radio, theypowered the American underground music circuit. In Australia, they connected underground bands, and fans across a country of disparate cities and gave insights into scenes overseas in a way mainstream music papers could never reflect. In Europe, they were oxygen for a culture considered low brow that fought to find an audience.
Zines were lapped up by people into punk, high-energy and left-of-centre music that didn’t manage to gain exposure elsewhere. They were the epitome of DIY culture, making the passion of others tangible. You’re “consuming” the digital equivalent of one right now.
One of the best was “Noise for Heroes” from San Diego, USA. The very lanky Steve Gardner kicked it off with some like-minded friends in 1980. It initially had a focus on punk rock. In its second life, it moved onto the Aussie and Scandinavian underground scenes with Gardner its writer rather than editor. Steve drummed in bands, ran his own record label, NKVD, and had a mail order music business.
Punk rock icon Jeff Dahl is making his first album in eight years and has launched a spectacular crowd-funding campaign to float it.
Dahl’s long career as a solo artist (and collaborator with the likes of Poison Idea, Cheetah Chrome and half the LA punk scene) went on hold after he upped stakes and moved home from Arizona to his former home of the Hawaiian Islands.
Health issues precluded him from doing much, musically-speaking, but he’s now well and itching to record.
As well as baseline offers of an album download and physical copy of the CD (the latter only available to pledgers), Dahl has has opened his own treasure trove of personal memorabilia to sweeten the deal.
“Since I have no children and I am almost as old as dust I've decided to part with some of my precious, precious...," Dahl says.
"Like my Hoyer 5060, Les Paul-style guitar which was previously owned by Stooge Ron Asheton used during his New Order days, and Gregg Turner of the Angry Samoans (pictured).
“Want my wretched old leather touring jacket? It has enough of my DNA to clone an army of Jeff Dahl's!
“One of Stiv Bator’s old belt buckles and with some cool memorabilia? Ian Hunter's book with his and Mick Ronsons autograph? That would look good on your shelf.
“You say you want test pressings? I got 'em! 45 Graves' first release, various Jeff Dahl, MF 666, Vox Pop? Yep, I gots 'em and you can buy 'em! How 'bout some rare old vinyl with autographs by folks like Neil Young or the 'Classic" Motorhead line-up of Lemmy, Philthy and Fast Eddie? Nikki Sudden? I got him too! “
Contest the claim if you like, but there isn’t a better Ramones album than “Leave Home”, their second long-player.
Yes, the debut was retrospectively ground-breaking and a beacon for rock and roll’s shift back-to-basics, but “Leave Home” surely should have been the point where “punk” (at least as America knew it) crossed the line, converting from Cult Curiosity to Mainstream Soundtrack.
High-tensile guitars, off-colour humour, melodies and energy live large within its groove. Bubblegum, doo-wop, pop and rock bundled into the perfect musical package, married to an image of teen rebellion, leather jackets and shades. What the fuck is there not to love?
They’re from Mid Coast New South Wales (that's be north of Newcastle) and this seven-song CD is as old school protopunk as you’re going to find in those parts - or almost anywhere else these days. Moot don’t tell it like it is as much as speak it as it should be. In other words, their language is straight-up, rocking and simple.
Record Collector Scum call this sound KBD (“Killed By Death”) after the ‘80s bootleg series of the same name that documented the burgeoning American punk scene. Most of it was uncompromising, politically charged and energetic, but with a sense of musicality. Moot has it nailed but they pack their punch in a variety of stylistic gloves and add a decent whack of Aussie sarcasm for good measure.
Lovely and raw. You do know those two words go together? This return 45 by Brisbane’s DangerMen after a five-year absence is as ragged as Grandpa’s undies after an unfortunate late night accident on the way home from the pub, with a sound that’s more than a little Stooge-efied, thanks to some single-note piano and Dr Rock and Dover’s“Raw Power” guitars.
“Wrong Train Home” is about an ill-fated train trip while tripping, and sounds like what health professionals these days call “a lived experience”. Zoltane the Maniac’swail is both wrong and just right. Flip him, Danno, and you’ll sing along to “Quicksand” which, it must be said, is more of the same. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Buy it as a download if you must but drop some cash on the seven-inch here and you’ll get something that’ll last almost as long as herpes.
Three things you need to know before we start: This is the sound of miscreants making mischief. Stylistically speaking, it's all over the shop like a mad woman's breakfast. And lyrically, "Nuder Than Nuder Than Nude" sounds like a public exhibition of schizophrenia.
The Nudists were reputedly around in Brisbane for a handful of shows in the mid-2000s and were lured into the studio by Swashbuckling Hobo Records over two days to lay down their first “proper” record. The immediate take after a few listens was that they sound like Lubricated Goat on bongs.
LIsten up, revheads and rock dogs. The exclusive world debut of the video clip for Melbourne punks Grindhouse’s latest song is upon us. “SLR 5000” is from Grindhouse’s second album, “Crazy Pussy”, which was recorded with Red Kross and Off! legend Steve McDonald at his Los Angeles studio, The Whiskey Kitchen.
If you can't work out the narrative, here's how Grindhouse describes their video: "In a high stakes, high octane duel to the finish line Two Fingers and Dick Rider battle it out for the title of the Grindhouse 1000. But who will win? Created by the legendary mind of Mike Foxall at Art Of The Fox, it’s a drive back to a simpler, more dangerous time". Works for us.
“Crazy Pussy” is billed as “12 tracks of blazing idiocy”. It's the second album for Grindhouse and it’s being launched this Saturday at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar from 2pm with an all-star line-up that includes Meatbeaters, Killerbirds, Kit Convict & The Terrible Two, Sheriff Don Fernando, Birdcage and My Left Boot.
You can grab a copy of “Crazy Pussy” on limited edition red vinyl or CD from Conquest Of Noise now. Go here for the red platter and herefor the shiny silver thing.
Only an old fart would start a review with the statement: "Everything old is new again."
But it is really just to say that way back in the early ‘90s - when big festivals like the Big Day Out involved more people playing musical instruments than laptops - there was a rash of Californian bands pushing a brand of punk rock crossed with powerpop and ska that dominated stages and airwaves.
The Offspring were inspired by seeing Social Distortion at a school dance, The Bay Area’s 624 Gillman Street scene spat out Green Day and Rancid occurred after someone from Operation Ivy watched too many Clash videos. You know the rest.