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"Gimme Danger" and the trouble with critics

red carpet iggy

It's becoming increasingly obvious that some people just can't be given nice things. They've just got to pull them apart because... hell. I don't know what their problem is.

Case in point: Jim Jarmusch's cinematic love letter to the Stooges "Gimme Danger" that screened in Sydney, Australia, last Friday and Sunday nights. A world famous director makes a film about your most favouritst band in the whole wide world and you're going to have a massive sook fest? Why didn't they break out a fucking ouija board and interview all the dead guys?

Jarmusch Stooges love letter lacks danger

gimme danger posterDunno what all the online backlash is all about. Jim Jarmusch called his film “a love letter to the Stooges” and that’s precisely what he delivered when “Gimme Danger” made its Australian debut at the Sydney International Film Festival on June 17.

“Gimme Danger” was never going to be a deep dissertation about what made the Stooges tick. Read Paul Trynka’s magnificent “Open Up and Bleed” for that.  It was more like a shallow duck dive into the broad history of the band. Or bobbing for apples.

I enjoyed "Gimme Danger" but this was the Stooges, dumbed-down for beginners. Or “Stooges 101” as someone later said.

Lindsay Bjerre re-animates psych-prog legends Tamam Shud

lindsayWe are not kind to our musical legends in Australia.

The Yanks and the Poms put up plaques and statues at a place where a musical legend bought a hamburger. In Australia, we seem to keep our legends and pioneers in vaults as cherished diamonds that are rarely spoken about. Except for a few who want to document our past and celebrate the unique scene, our music has to be sought out like hidden treasures.

When I look at the local ’60s underground legends, a few names crop up. In Melbourne, there was Lobby Loyde, once with The Purple Hearts in Brisbane and then later fronting the Wild Cherries.

And in Sydney we had Lindsay Bjerre (pictured right) with his bands, The Sunsets and Tamam Shud.

Cigarettes and Alcohol - The Leftovers (LCMR)

cigarettes and alcoholAustralian punk was never the widespread movement as it was in England, or parts of Europe, where for a time, it was mainstream. Unlike Australia. The Sex Pistols(unofficially) went to number-one with "God Save the Queen". The Clash , The Buzzcocks, The Jam and Stranglers consistently charted,alongside Elton John and Cliff Richard.

Kids in the UK sat glued to radio and listened to John Peel as a holy ritual. In the UK there was a certain set of circumstances that led to the rise of “Punk Rock” from the kids who saw Iggy, the Ramones, Patti Smith and Thunders live. Factor in brilliant (if accidental) marketers like Malcolm McLaren and their ilk. Mix in the fact that, in the grip of a serious economic recession, England was a depressing place. It all gave rise to a powerful and widespread movement.

Leadfinger heads a heroic Friday night

leadfinger promo posterOne of Australia's most soulful rock and roll bands, Leadfinger, is unleashing its new album “Friday Night Heroes”. The Sydney leg of the launch tour is at The Factory Floor in Marrickville on July 15...which, fittingly, is a Friday night.

Leadfinger's fifth album was recorded in mid to late 2015 at Sydney’s Linear Recording with Wade Keighran (Wolf & Cub, Steve Smyth Band) behind the controls. It is out now on vinyl, CD and digital through Conquest of Noise Records

Supports for the Sydney launch will be Melbourne band Powerline Sneakers making their first trip to the Harbour City and Newcastle’s Rangers of the Universe. 

Powerline Sneakers feature Sly Faulkner (Splatterheads) on vocals and John Nolan (ex-Powder Monkeys) on guitar, Katie Dixon (ex-Ripe) and Mark Hurst (Guttersnipes/Yes Men) on drums. 

Rangers of the Universe is a new band featuring Scott Nash (ex Asteroid B-612/Carrie Phillis & the Downtown 3) and Jason Maljers (ex-Jim Cobain) on guitar.

Tickets can be procured here.

Have Love Will Travel: The Sonics to make second Australian tour

sonics dig it up

Garage-punk pioneers and stand out performers at 2012’s inaugural Dig It Up! Invitational in Australia, The Sonics, return Down Under this September-October at the invite of Wollongong’s Yours & Owls Festival and for headline shows around the country.

The Sonics laid down the blueprint for garage-rock back in 1963 with the release of their first single The Witch. They followed that up with even up with even more grease and oil soaked nuggets in “Psycho”, “Boss Hoss”, “Cinderella”, “Strychnine”, “He’s Waitin’”, “Shot Down” and “Have Love Will Travel” before calling it quits in 1968. Reuniting briefly in 1972 and again in 1980, The Sonics then took permanent leave while the rest of the world caught up with them.

Law And Order - Ulysses (Black Glove Recordings)

law and orderDon’t judge a book by its cover or a band by its promo shot. They might look like wholefood bearded hipsters in their publicity materrial but even less than a considered listen to their third album “Law And Order” reveals there’s a quirky glam-pop heart beating within.

Ulysses hails from Bath in the middle of England’s West. Now, putting to one side generic Australian jokes that we love so much about Poms and soap, these blokes have been soaking in a tub of diverse influences. The bio cites The Cars, Thin Lizzy (especially), Alvin Stardust (check the label name - ha!), Hot Chocolate (huh?) and Supergrass (of course) but that’s just a start. You could toss in Alice Cooper, The Sweet, The Glitter Band - and a few dozen others.

Beginning At The End - Young Docteurs (Young Docteurs)

young docteurs beginningHas this debut album really been three decades in arriving? The details of how and why are more than a little shrouded in mystery but what counts more is that it’s here and it delivers.

Young Docteurs materialised in Canberra in 1978 with a potent brew of punk-psych that has always been hard to categorise. They made the move to Sydney in the early ‘80s and became part of the rich tapestry of life that was Surry Hills and the Sydney Trade Union Club scene. Despite some heavyweight backing (Jeremy Oxley, Nic Dalton and Steve Kilbey were fans), they never emerged to major prominence nationally and have flashed off and on like a lighthouse in the thickening fog ever since.

The Vibrajets - The Vibrajets (Fyrebyrd Records)

vibrajets epWith more twang than you can poke a tuning fork at and a vibe that’s positively from the ’50s, this modest little vinyl EP from a Melbourne band is a bona fide gem. Three of the four songs are instrumentals but, unusually for that sort of music, with no surfboards overtly in sight.

It’s valve amp retro rock that draws its inspiration from the pre-surf era of guitar-driven popular music. With Julian Matthews (Stems bassist and also in The Level Spirits) the “star turn” who’s something of a guitar master these days, The Vibrajets embrace the old with a dynanism that steers clear of this ever being authentic for authenticity’s sake.

“Rock til the End of Time” gives rhythm guitarist Sammy-Lee Croissant her time at the mic with a vocal that’s straight out of The Wanda Jackson School. The guitars get up and dance on “33 Errol Street” and while “Petrol Fumes” is a straight-up rocker, “Steak & Eggs” belies its name and is a vibrato monster.

Shake down The Vibrajets on Facebook if you want a mail order copy or hassle them at a show. Reckon Off The Hip would be the right retail place to ask about it in Melbourne if bricks and mortar is your thing.

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Robert Quine remembered

quine marcia resnickMarcia Resnick photo

A handful of songs into just one album, and Robert Quine had staked a claim as one of the most distinctive guitar sounds on the New York punk scene.

Quine was part of that small but influential coterie of musicians, artists-turned-musicians and assorted dilettantes that populated a seedy ex-biker bar called "CBGB and OMFUG" at 315 The Bowery, on the Big Apple's seamy Lower East Side. He was the principal guitarist in Richard Hell and the Voidoids, a unique quartet spitting out some of the New Wave's most disturbing music.

On the 12th anniversary of the passing of Robert Quine, we present this archived interview from May 2000. 

Hey Hey, 50 years later they're still The Monkees

monkees posterIt might just be the ultimate baby boomer pop experience. The rumours are true. The Monkees are bringing their 50th anniversary tour to Australasia.

Assembled in Los Angeles in 1965 by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the television series The Monkees, the quartet of Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and the late Davy Jones brought a singular mix of pop, rock, psychedelica, Broadway, and country to their music.

The show itself paid tribute not only to The Beatles, but also to the comedy stylings of The Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy as well as the pop-art sensibilities of Warhol and the emerging San Francisco psychedelic scene.

The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” was released in August 1966, hitting #1 and serving as advance publicity for their series, which debuted on September 12. When the group’s self-titled debut album arrived in stores a month later, it quickly headed for the top spot of the Billboard charts, where it would ultimately sit for 13 of the 78 weeks it remained in the Top 200.

By the time the group’s TV series aired its final new episode on March 25, 1968, The Monkees had seen three further albums top the charts – “More of the Monkees”, “Headquarters”, and “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.”, all released in 1967.

Into The Night - Jeremy & The Harlequins (Yep Roc)

into the nightAmericana Rock and Roll is the new black. No, make that orange. Or whatever colour’s in vogue this week. Make no mistake though: If the trend stays still for five minutes, Jeremy & The Harlequins will be huge.

Jeremy & The Harlequins are from Brooklyn, which is the epicentre of what’s left of New York City’s rock and roll scene. Before that, Jeremy and brother-drummer Stephan came from Toledo, Ohio, where they assembled The Harlequins from remnants of other NYC bands. Their first album was mixed by Matt Verta Ray (Heavy Trash) so you know what sound they were shooting for.

More? - Fast Cars (Method Recordings & Music)

fast cars moreFast Cars grew out of the Sydney mod scene of the 1980s. Home turf was the fertile Sussex Hotel and they made a modest mark with a couple of EPs before moving on. This five-song CD is their first release in 30 years.

Here’s what a mod band sounds like after it grows up. That’s not being trite or dismissive. Creative people don’t stand still - and bands like Fast Cars were no exception. Guitarist Fabian Byrne went on to the dance-orientated Fiction Romance, shifted into management and ran the Method label that gave a leg-up to bands like Allniters, Paul Kelly, Spy vs Spy and The Amazing Wooloomooloosers. So you’d expect “More?” to sound different to Fast Cars of the ‘80s.

A Date With Some Vampires or a Dark Surprise? Masuak joins Phantom Fifth for US mini-tour

phantom fifthNew York City-based band Phantom Fifth (pictured right) has announced that Chris “Klondike” Masuak will be joining them for shows in California and New York in July.

Phantom Fifth is from New York City and is comprised of expatriate Australian bassist Greg Delves (ex-Inner Sleeves, Radio Luxembourg), Irishman Colin McCarthy (drums) and US-born Paul Stinson (guitar, vocals.)  

Formed in 2015, the band bio says it "embraces the sonic sound and dark energy of Nick Cave, Joy Division, The Strokes and The Stooges. The Phantoms' sound is built around dark melodies, shimmering guitars, and propulsive bass lines, with lyrics about wolves, ghosts, murderous paramours, Italian discos, and other manifestations of love and madness".

Originally from California, where he co-founded the "punk Americana" band The Stripminers with members of X and The Donnas, Paul Stinson moved to Brooklyn in 2014 and quickly met up with power pop guru Delves and McCarthy (formerly of Amsterdam-based Belsonic Sound).

The trio immediately began writing, recording and performing in and around NYC and have plans in the works for tours of both the UK and Australia. The band's debut EP is due out in the US Summer of 2016.

July 20 – Brick & Mortar Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
July 22 – The Uptown Nightclub, Oakland, CA
July 24 – The Viper Room, Hollywood, CA
July 29 – The Bowery Electric, NYC

Phantom Fifth on the Web

Chris Masuak on the Web

 

Should I Suck or Should I Blow? - Heavy Drapes (Suck-Revolution Records/Tarbeach Records)

suck or blowWhen was the last time you heard a British guitar band with the energy of the Sex Pistols, swagger of the New York Dolls and great songs to boot? Scottish punk band Heavy Drapes (the name’s something to do with Malcolm McLaren/Vivienne Westwood’s shop, apparently) have been making quite an impact since the release of this impressive four-track EP (vinyl or CD on Suck Revolution Records), which has now been re-released as a US edition by New York-based Tarbeach Records.

While many UK punk bands have sunk into a mire of clichéd, pseudo-political lyrics and music to match, Heavy Drapes stand out due to the quality of their songs and the sheer exuberance with which they are performed. The four band members have all adopted appropriate noms de guerre; hence we have De Liberate on vocals, Rikki Stiv on guitar, Jerry Dangerous handling bass duties and Billy Chaos on the traps. Fortunately, there’s much more to this group than just a good dollop of old school show-biz pizazz (which they have in spades.) Heavy Drapes can back up their image with serious musical chops.

Fuck you Sydney, the Currie was hot in Adelaide

cherie wideJoanne Bennett photo

I missed Babes Are Wolves but caught The Babes (two men, two women), who did a good strong metallish rock set - both bands had people dancing and paying attention despite only using about a quarter of the stage. No mean feat. Both are Adelaide acts and I can see I’ll have to investigate properly.

One of the most enduring memories I will carry away with me from tonight’s show is that this 5’1” thin scrap of a person, Cherie Currie, demonstrated sensibility, strength and love without any of the usual r’n’r proclamatory chest-beating. She still looks gorgeous (her genes should be investigated and the rights procured) with her boyish figure and sexy smirk …

But that’s the last time you’ll see me use the term “sex”. It’s essential to mention, of course, but whereas most of us, at 56, have begun to look like Santa (and the ladies begin to resemble the Family Guy dog’s lost teenage love.. I don’t know if you know the episode, Brian turns up at a shack where some ghastly bovine opens the door and…) Cherie looks good in a way most of us would kill to look like when we were 32.

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