• Celibate Rifles

    Earl O'Neill traces the birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • The Real Kids

    David Laing speaks to John Felice of the Real Kids

  • James Williamson

    James Williamson on Re-Licked

Sunny summer as Sunnyboys announce tour and more re-issues

sunnyboys-logosComeback kings the Sunnyboys have announced a full-blown Aussie summer tour, along with deluxe releases of their second and third studio albums.

The 2015 tour will include shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide plus a slot at the Perth International Arts Festival, just the second Sunnyboys appearance in the W.A. capital since 1984.

Brisbane and Sydney will be treated to appearances by their former sparring partners, the Riptides. Other guests on the February tour include The New Christs (Melbourne and Sydney) young punks Bad // Dreems (Adelaide) and Dom Mariani's post-Stems vehicle DM3, in Perth.

No Cops, Haul Ass - The Nomads b/w Bread Man Burning/Snow in Miami - Donovan’s Brain (Career)

no-copsFifteen years after it was recorded, this superb piece of Nomads ramalama sees the light of day as a split single with psychedelic collective Donovan’s Brain.

Recorded in Montana while they were sweeping through the nooks and crannies of North America, Sweden’s finest manage to lay waste to this rippling instrumental (written by studio owner and Brain ringmaster Ron Sanchez) like it was one of their own. This is desert driving music, simple as that. A big, fat fuzz bassline and tumbleweed guitars from the severely underrated pairing of Hans Ostlnd and Nick Vahlberg - supplemented by Sanchez and bandmate Richard Teece - make this something special.

Donovan’s Brain plays a whole different ball-game to the Nomads but the flipside keeps up the pyrotechnics levels. “Bread Man” is a Sanchez vocal-led heavy psych rocker fleshed out by Deniz Tek lead guitar. It’s over too soon. “Snow in Miami” eschews vocals and goes for a roughed up surf sound. It dates from 1998 with then-Brain guitarist Richard in place, adding some tasty skronk.

martiniratingmartiniratingmartiniratingmartinirating 1/4 - The Nomads
martiniratingmartiniratingmartiniratingmartinirating - Donovan's Brain

Career Records on the Web

Crazy b/w That Kind - Black Bombers (Key of E/Easy Action)

black-bombersTuned-down, thuggish riffage played by a Birmingham power trio of veterans, “Crazy” is the sort of song best played at stun volume. Dave Twist’s heavily propulsive drumming recalls Rock Action on the A side. Paint-stripper guitar and a fuck you vocal make “Crazy” glow with more menace menace than a short-changed back-street mugger after chiucking out time.

These guys have doubled as Walter Lure’s UK backing band and although “Crazy” is more Sabbath than “Going Steady,” you can appreciate that Waldo’s foot soldiers are tarred with a similar brush. The B side is even better than the A. Alan Byron locks onto a riff and doesn’t let go. Darren Birch’s simple bass-line throbs away under a ragged vocal. An album of this stuff would go down well.

The band has issued this on their own label but it’s being distributed via Easy Action. Go here for the goods or risk a good thumping.
martiniratingmartiniratingmartiniratingmartinirating

Oblivians announce Down Under tour

oblivians-chuck-trendChuck Trend photo

For the first time in their 21-year existence, Memphis garage rock legends The Oblivians are touring Australia.

As well as the Golden Plains Festival near Meredith in Victoria, The Oblivians will play headline dates at Newtown Social Club in Sydney (March 4), Brisbane Hotel in Hobart (March 5), Barwon Club in Geelong (March 9), Wooly Mammoth in Brisbane (March 14) and a special three-night residency at Melbourne's iconic The Tote on March 11, 12 and 13.

Radio Birdman in Newcastle and Sydney

rb-flagRiding to Newcastle to catch the first show of Radio Birdman tour is the obvious choice. Didn’t quite seem like it, trying to get outa Sydney on a Friday arvo. I took a quick spurt up the footpath a few times to relieve the tension. Then we hit the freeway and Jenny gave me that tap on the left hip that means ‘slow down’ but I was doing 90mph through one of the tighter curves and slowing down wasn’t the point. Nor possible. Can’t brake a motorcycle unless it’s reasonably upright.

1982, the first time I really heard Radio Birdman was the 1976 2JJ show at midnight on a Monday. Used to be a lot of good movies on late back then, ‘Vanishing Point’, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, ‘Five Easy Pieces.’ One night I walked into my little bedroom at the back of the house, flicked on the radio and my life changed.

Every friend and lover, every beautiful terrible moment, it all started then. It’s been one hell of a ride and the road rolls ever on.

Fiona Lee Maynard & Her Holy Men (independent)

holy-menThis review could start with a pithy line about Melbourne cornering the Australian market for bluesy, ballsy female vocalists but it won’t - even if it might just be true. Let’s just say that Fiona Lee Maynard and her band, The Holy Men, face stiff competition in their home city, but manage to be at the head of the pack.

You might know the singer’s name from fronting In Vivo, the outfit whose ranks included Dave Thomas (Bored!) about 15 years ago. She was also in the more mainstream powerpoppy Have A Nice Day. The Holy Men are a lot more “street level”. Think of an Antipodean Johnette Napolitano with an Aussie pub-honed band behind her.

(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton: Melbourne’s Countercultural Inner City Rock Scene of the ‘70s - Various Artists (Festival Records)

sun-setsFirstly, a big thumbs-up to compiler David Laing who is very much responsible for bringing us old bastards the best Australian ‘70s and ‘80s sounds that need to be re-issued (think “Do the Pop!” compilations, the Hitmen and Screaming Tribesmen reissues.)

Laingers (as we call him) has moved HQ from the “indie” Shock Records to the multinational Warner Music and has already unleashed cool comps of ‘60s Aussie garage (“Down Under Nuggets”) and 70s Aussie hard rock/ blues (“Boogie”). Now we have this fine collection of ‘70s Melbourne treats.

Snakes alive! Melbourne and Wollongong invade Sydney

river-gigIt’s an invasion: Melbourne's River Of Snakes and Seedy Jeezus are teaming with Wollongong acts, The Nice Folk and Babymachine, to lay siege to Sydney on Friday, November 28 when they play Paddington's Captain Cook Hotel.

River of Snakes have released their debut LP, “Black Noise”, and will use the Sydney gig as a warm-up for that weekend’s Hy-Fest in Wollongong.The band is fronted by Magic Dirt, Midnight Woolf and The Ape guitarist Raul Sanchez with Elissa Rose from The Loveless and Ben Wrecker from Hotel Wrecking City Traders. They bill themselves as “a three-pronged attack of wild punk-rock laced with feedback, noise and pop-hooks”.

Bands start at 8pm and admission is just $10.

 

Radio Birdman live in 2014: Two perspectives

emmy-manning-wideEmmy Etie photo

The tour is almost over and the verdicts are in following a re-tooling of the line-up with the controversial omission of guitarist Chris Masuak. We present divergent views of the sold-out Australian run of Radio Birdman shows.

Go here to read an appraisal of the Adelaide gig by Robert Brokenmouth and here to read Edwin Garland's read-out on the band's two Melbourne gigs. You can leave comments on both reviews. Photos are by Emmy Etie and Kyleigh Pitcher. 

Extend a helping hand to an I-94 Barfly

craig-and-jackA committed underground music fan and member of acid rock cover band The Resurrection Men, Sydneysider Craig Norman is also the father of eight-year-old Jack, who is battling a non-operable brain tumour.   

Craig and wife Tanya are fulltime public servants who have burned up much of their annual leave and are battling to give their son a decent quality of life, while also caring for their young daughter.

I-94 Bar patrons who can give a donation can help out here.

 

Saudade - Mark Steiner and His Problems (Plug Ugly)

saudadeThe battle-lines used to be clearly drawn between Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney was the home of high-energy guitar rock in its many variants, many of them Motor City-derived, while Melbourne spawned an artier, darker strain of music with one foot squarely planted in territory that became known as junkie rock.

These days Sydney’s musical crown is less faded than displaced. Melbourne is in the ascendancy. Its thriving music scene retains an artiness but it rocks as well. The place still does darkness better than most but its palette seems broader. Its tentacles seem to spread further than any other scene in Australia.

Norwegian-American Mark Steiner has visited Melbourne and gulped hard on water drawn from its musical well. He did an Australian tour a few years back but the influences were obviously already in place. There’s a Bad Seeds/Rowland S Howard/Wreckery streak several kilometres wide running right down the back of his bluesy music, but it’s marked by poise rather than self pity.

Harry Howard and the NDE, The Holy Soul and The Nice Folk in Sydney

lyndal-irons-nde
Harry Howard and The NDE at The Facory Floor.    Lyndal Irons photo

Many years ago when Sydney was full of thriving, original music venues, Friday night for me was always a combination of either playing gigs or checking out new bands.

There was never a shortage. I grabbed my copy of "On the Street" on the Wednesday, eased into my chair and sat there with my red pen. After reading the odd review, I would scrawl and circle names of bands to see in the “What’s On.”

Every now then I would get to the Lansdowne, Evening Star, Hopetoun and many others and be happy with just finding a new band. Well, times change. Nothing remains the same. Seeing a new band is a rare night out these days.

Carlton compilation gets Sydney launch

rick-grossman-parachute

The much-awaited Festival Records compilation "(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton: Melbourne’s Countercultural Rock Scene of The ‘70s" is in the shelves and gets its Sydney launch on the evening of December 5 at Redye Records.

Kicking off at 5.30pm, the event will take the form of a Q&A hosted by rock writer/broadcaster Stuart Coupe and featuring a panel of Rick Grossman (Bleeding Hearts, Parachute, Eric Gradman Man & Machine and later the Divynils and Hoodoo Gurus); John Power (Jo Jo Zep & The Flacons, Company Caine) and Chris Worrall (Pelaco Brothers, Captain magtchbox Whoopee Band, Bleeding Hearts, Stiletto and The Dots.)

(That’s Rick Grossman in our photo above, back when he played with Parachute.)

Entrance is free, no booking is required, and refreshments will be provided.

We’re featuring a review of the compilation and will post an article about the scene in the days ahead but it’s a landmark collection documenting the arts and politics-infused rock scene centred on Carlton.

It gave Melbourne and Australia such multi-faceted cultural icons as Paul Kelly, Joe Camilleri, Stephen Cummings, Jane Clifton, Peter Lillie, Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford, Greg Macainsh, Red Symons and Shirley Strachan, as well as author Helen Garner and media identity H.G.Nelson.

Taking its title from the famous song by the scene’s best known band Skyhooks, the 2CD set traces the countercultural scene’s development from its beginnings in venues like the TF Much Ballroom and Carlton’s La Mama and Pram Factory theatres through Skyhooks breakout success to the thriving pub scene found in legendary venues like Martinis and the Tiger Lounge.

It also gives a glimpse of the birth of Melbourne’s hugely influential 3RRR-FM, which was born out of this scene.

On an emotional roller coaster with the Rolling Stones in Sydney

rolling-stones-sydneyHard to pick when I first heard the Stones. They've always been around, the songs, like a family member, those classic ‘60s hits: “Ruby Tuesday”, “Paint it Black”, “Get Off My Cloud”, “Mother’s Little Helper” and so on.

I knew heaps of Stones songs growing up. “Get your Ya Yas” out was popular at parties in Brisbane in the ‘70s. Flogged, it was. “Midnight Rambler” goes right alongside some drunken maniacs lurching around in a Brisbane backyard dancing the Pre Vomit Shake.

"You heard about the Boston" THUMP !

J Mascis announces extensive Australian and NZ solo dates

jmascis2-thumbRegular visitor, Dinosaur Jr frontman and guitar-guru J Mascis returns to Australia and New Zealand in February 2015 for a stack of solo shows.

The Mascis itinerary includes an appearance at the Adelaide's Garden Of Unearthly Delights Aurora Spiegeltent, two spots as special guest to premier ambient / noise outfit Mogwai at Perth's International Arts Festival, headline performances along the Australian east coast (including first time solo appearances in Hobart and Canberra) and three gigs on the north island of New Zealand.

The 2015 tour follows the release of "Tied To A Star", the second solo album from Mascis that picks up exactly where 2011's debut "Several Shades Of Why" left off.

Banks of the Lea - Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers (Stovepony Records)

banks-of-the-leaIt’s evident that Italian-born Stiv Cantarelli is a musical creature of his environment. Basing himself in the US in the ’00s, his records reeked Americana and a return to Tuscany in 2012 spawned a dirty alt-country album (“Black Music/White Music”). 

Fast-forward a couple of years. “Banks of the Lea” finds him relocated to London with a reconstituted Italian band and churning out urgent, punky blues rock with a dark streak. Music of a time and place.

It might be a prime tourist patch but when you scratch the surface, London is just another very big city. Cantarelli immersed himself in the everyday ordinariness of Hackney, of all places, and this record is the result.

More Articles...