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    James Williamson on Re-Licked

Sydney rocked by sudden loss of Hell Crab City's Scott Barker

grogesSad news: Singer and guitarist for Sydney band Hell Crab City, Scott “Grogan” Barker, has passed away suddenly at the age of 51.

Friends say Groges appears to have had a heart attack earlier today. 

Hell Crab City immediately cancelled an appearance at the multi-band Punk Rock Bar-B-Q at Sydney’s Town and Country Hotel.

Previously of punk band Jim Cobain, Scott had been a fixture in Hell Crab City since the band formed in 2003.

Hell Crab City has released two albums with a third part-finished. 

Scott's shock loss is reverberating through the Sydney music community with outpourings of grief all over social media.

Bandmates posted on Hell Crab City’s Facebook page: “Undisputedly, the nicest guy in rock'n'roll, his love for his family and for his music was total and unequivocal.

“Naturally, we're all incredibly stunned, and to say that we loved him and will miss him is clearly understating it.”

Scott is survived by his partner Zara and son Harry. Details of his funeral will be posted when we have them.

Ratcat back for some Blind Love

ratcat 2015Sporadically reborn Aussie punk popsters Ratcat (pictured) are making a rare return to a stage in their hometown of Sydney in February after gigs in Melbourne and Perth last year.

They’ll play the Factory Floor at Marrickville on February 13 to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of their national number-one album “Blind Love”.

Joining them will be special guests Smudge (themselves only recently back in the saddle) and Alannah Russack, of fab buzz pop band The Hummingbirds. 

 

Adieu to a Hoodoo Guru: Kingsy leaves the band

kingsmill
The Hoodoo Gurus have announced the departure of Mark Kingsmill, their drummer for the last 30 years, from the end of March.

In a Facebook post, frontman Dave Faulkner said: “I won't invade Mark's privacy by going into elaborate detail about his reasons other than to say he feels he's had enough of this vagabond rock 'n' roll lifestyle we all lead.

“Though he still enjoys playing drums, Mark has completely lost his appetite for the endless travelling and the many hours of hotel room boredom.

“The physical demands of playing the drums as energetically as he does are also exacting a higher toll on his body than ever before. Really, who can blame him for wanting a change?”

Sonics release taster of new album

Here’s a taste of the forthcoming studio album by garage rock pioneers the Sonics. Recorded at Seattle's Soundhouse Studios with killer producer Jim Diamond behind the controls, It will be their first LP release since 1980 and first album of all-new material since 1967.

The album will be accompanied by a US tour (check our Living Eye section at right for dates.)   

HITS announce East Coast "disaster" run

disaster relief

One of Australia’s few remaining dangerous rock and roll bands, Brisbane's wonderful HITS, is heading out on the road again in February…and it’s all in the name of Disaster Relief.

WTF? We’ll let the band explain in its own words:

“As many of you already know 2014 was a bittersweet year us little Hitsies, but behind the scenes things went quite a bit shit.

“Gregor broke his leg quite badly, Evil is currently sporting two broken ribs and ringworm, Tam almost had her finger amputated, Stace fell off her balcony and someone tried to cut Andy's rats tail off while he was asleep. But we aint dead yet!!!

“We are hitting the road again with some of our best friends and bringin' our bullshit with us to spread across your toast like Vegemite.”

Here’s the word on the dates they’ll play. More details about venues and supports as soon as they send ‘em:

FEB 26. NEWCASTLE with FRONT END LOADER
FEB 27. SYDNEY with FRONT END LOADER
FEB 28. WOLLONGONG with FRONT END LOADER
MAR 6. MELBOURNE with THE NEW CHRISTS
MAR 7. GOLDEN PLAINS FESTIVAL (SOLD OUT)
MAR 9. GEELONG with THE OBLIVIANS (USA), WARPED + More
MAR 13 BRISBANE WITH MICK MEDEW AND THE RUMOURS
MAR 20 ADELAIDE WITH THE MEATBEATERS
MAR 21 ADELAIDE WITH THE MEATBEATERS

Owners launch campaign to save Manitoba's from closure

manitobasbarfront

New York City landmark Manitoba’s – and it is The World’s Greatest Bar (believe us, we’ve personally checked out a few) - has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to avoid closure in the wake of a legal dispute.    

Owners Handsome Dick Manitoba (of the Dictators) and Zoe Hansen (his better half) say their iconic watering hole has no choice but to settle with a litigant or shut its doors.

Sume. Mumisitsinerup Nipaa Lyden Af En Revolution (Sume: The Sound of a Revolution) - Bullitfilm

sumeWhen touring Norwegian-based musician Mark Steiner was here in Australia recently he kindly thrust this upon me. It’s a DVD documentary about Greenland’s first rock band, Sume, which means “Where?” in Greenlandic.

Greenland is a rather huge island continent, with a vast inhospitable interior and most of the population living in coastal villages, the population (mostly Inuit who settled there some 700 years ago) ruled by Denmark. Slowly but surely Denmark’s modern, western society eroded the culture and way of life of the Greenlanders; in order to get jobs (rather than fishing in kayaks) every young Greenlander had to go to Denmark to study. Meanwhile, older Greenlanders found their way of life being destroyed and being replaced with despair and purposelessness.

In 1972 four young Greenlanders, each from a different coastal village, met in Copenhagen … and formed a band. Malik Hoegh, the main lyric writer and singer-guitarist, and Per Bethelsen, produced songs in tune with the times of rebellion against an uncaring ruling state, even touting revolution as a way forward…

Hit and Run b/w 45 Minutes - P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. (Doomtown Sounds)

hit-and-runIf the Scandi-Rock-meets-punk thing is over somebody forgot to tell P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. And just as well. This one presses a boot to the windpipe and doesn’t let the victim up until he’s out of air and long done squirming.

There’s something timeless/placeless about this stuff but the fact the single was recorded in Sweden had me convinced P.R.O.B.LE.M.S. were another hair, denim and leather outfit off that country’s esteemed production line. I was impressed to find out they’re from somewhere that’s arguably even more isolated (Portland, Oregon) and that their ranks contain Pierced Arrows and Poison Idea members. As do most bands from Portland, Oregon. 

Living & Loving In The USA b/w All That I Want (Is You) - Steve Lucas (Perfect Pitch)

living-and-lovingOnetime X howler Steve Lucas returns to the record store racks with a couple of seven-inch singles, this first one under his own name. If you’re hoping for “Hate City” you’re fresh outta luck.

“Living & Loving In The USA” is a double-headed ode to marital bliss that could have been called “Where We Went On Our Honeymoon”. It's the (true) story of two people eloping. Clean guitar, sweet backing vox from Mrs Lucas (aka the very rocking Joey Bedlam from Dollsquad) and all done without a hint of fuzz or distortion. It’s rocking mid-tempo pop with bongos, a hint of Tex-Mex and a great and heartfelt vocal from Mr Lucas.

Crossroads b/w Oh Well - Deniz Tek (Career Records)

crossroadsHe never lets the grass grow under his boots so it’s no surprise to see another Deniz Tek single drop. Such things are essential, really, if you want to make money on the road in Europe and these two tracks were taken from a early sessions for a forthcoming Tek album. 

“Crossroads” is a back-to-basics slice of chunky riff-a-rama that wouldn’t have been out of place on the Doctor’s “Outside” album back in his major label spin-off days. Its immediate and stripped-back production doesn’t sound as dense as that record but it’s coming from a similar Birdmanesque place. There's no fresh ground broken but most will feel there probably doesn't need to be. 

Sydney's Stepfords step out again

stepfordsIt’s shaping as a Blink And You Might Miss It Moment: Star-studded Sydney band The Stepfords are reforming "for one night only" on April 11.

The gig will coincide with New York-based singer Monica McMahon being in Australia and guitarist Jon Schofield (ex-Paul Kelly & The Messengers) celebrating his 60th birthday.

The Bat and Ball Hotel in Redfern is the venue and fittingly so - it was one of The Stepfords' favourite haunts.

With a line-up of McMahon, Schofield, Jim Bowman (ex-Ed Kuepper), Clyde Bramley (ex-Hoodoo Gurus) on bass and Iain Shedden (ex-Saints) on drums, The Stepfords were a staple on the inner-Sydney scene of the ‘90s.

Rock and Roll Markets kick off with blast of rockabilly and stoner blues punk

gay paris cherry
Gay Paris rocks Melbourne's Cherry Bar.

The Sydney Rock 'n' Roll & Alternative Market blasts into 2015 on Sunday February 1 at University of Sydney’s Manning Bar with a distinctly rockabilly-wild blues flavour.

Part record and collectables fair, part retro clothing gathering with food and entertainment thrown in, the Markets have become a fixture on the Sydney calendar and open at 10am for a nominal entry fee.

The February entertainment line-up features Gay Paris (stoner rock and blues-punk), Papa Pilko & the Binrats (wild blues and slick, swingin' country rock n' roll with horns), The Satellites (voted Australia’s Best Rockabilly Band at the Wintersun Festival) and The Drey Rollan Band (rockabilly, blues, doo-wop and country.)

Mark Steiner And His Problems in Adelaide

steiner-adelaideAdelaide's Metropolitan Hotel is on the corner opposite Her Majesty’s Theatre, a favourite venue of Barry Humphries and host, in a few weeks, to Leo Sayer. The difference in capacity between these two venues is significant.

Touring Norwegian-via-New York musician Mark Steiner's guitarist, Henry Hugo, made the comment that for all the millions of flowers, only a few are seen.

I might add that certainly, as we get older, we tend to flock to the art which made us happy in our youth, and that we tend not to examine the new as rigorously or with such delighted determination as we did all those years ago.

Love On The Run b/w Corporate Girl + They Took My Baby From Me - The Strawberry Teardrop (Perfect Pitch)

love-on-the-runThe Strawberry Teardrop takes off where Steve Lucas’ fab Pubert Brown Fridge Occurrence from the early ‘00s left off. It’s a pared-down studio line-up - a trio with Lucas handling vocals, bass and guitar, helped out by drummer Levin Franco and percussionist Herbie Mayhem - but the single’s ’60s garage-psych origins are patently obvious.

A side “Love On The Run” couples a knowing Lucas vocal to a basic rocker that plods a little and takes a while to get out of second gear. Perhaps this one could have done with some extra trimmings. B side lead-off “Corporate Girl” switches the mood to fuzz guitar snarl with chunky chording and a straight-up backbeat pushing Lucas’ ready-for-the-weekend vocal to the front. More than a little bit of alright.

Ronnie Wood b/w Fuck The Clowns - Dunhill Blues (Outtaspace)

ronnie-woodThey’ve discarded the keys and horns and are now going around live as a four-piece, but Sydney's Dunhill Blues have lost none of their musty garage charm. “Ronnie Wood” is a jagged guitar figure that's (as far we can make out) a homage to the wayward Stone. 

"Ronnie Wood" has a meat and potatoes sound with minimal overdubs and just some buried handclaps and female back-up vocals lightening the attack. Scrappy and fun.

Poor Old Man - Captain Spud and the Nifty Keens (Spudland)

spud-art-nifty-keensThis Captain Spud chap, with his mildly alarming synthetic-bop is in the alternative charts down here in Adelaide with this CD single. This could mean anything. What it actually means is that Spud has done it again.

While I believe that men like this should be surging up the charts, exposing the dross and bogus aspects of the entertainment industry, the reality is that gorgeous little tunes like this, with its toyland-‘60s-musical aspect placed in a modern context … don’t.

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