Easter Monday - Mustang Jerx (J-Pop)

easter monday mustang jerxIt's the fourth full album for Japanese trio Mustang Jerx and while they're not a household name in Australia, there's a small but willing fanbase here awaiting their third visit on the back of this record.

"Easter Monday" is nimble blues-rock with a swing in the bottom-end and a scything slide guitar up front. Their 2019 visit to these shores will follow similar hit-and-run missions six and five years before, and will owe much to the mutual admiration between them and Sydney band Bunt.

Mustang Jerx sing in their native language so the lyrical themes are impenetrable to these ears, but the music they grind out is universal in its rawness and punchy appeal. It's dirty and unpolished - and you know that's gotta be a plus when you mix it with sticky carpet and liberal amounts of beer.

Sometimes When - The Golden Rail (Candlestick Records)

sometimes whenIf you heard the debut album you know what to expect: These four veterans - supplemented by producer and multi-instrumentalist Nick Batterham - have been around too long to put a foot wrong, so it’s stellar guitar pop all the way.

With origins going back to Perth popsters like The Palisades, The Rainyard, Header, Summer Suns, DM3 and The Jangle Band, a
re-grouping in Australia's music capital, Melbourne, would be hard-pressed to fail.

The 10 songs are co-writes by guitarists-vocalists Jeff Baker and Ian Freeman and they're exactly what you don't expect to hear on mainstream radio. In other words, they're full of understated melodies, feels that sit back in the pocket and chiming guitars.

The Golden Rail's evocative sound winds things back to the '80s, capturing echoes from the preceding decades.

Brass Knobs, Bevelled Edges (And In 25 Different Positions) - Green Circles (Off The Hip)

green circles reissueFifteen years ago, this record from an Adelaide band sounded like one of the best pop rock records to have been crafted at Abbey Road in a hundred lifetimes. There's been a lot of water under the Albert Bridge since then but nothing's different today.

Don't know if any of The Green Circles members have been within a bull's roar of Abbey Road. Their album - the first in a string of worthy records - was put together in a more humble studio setting in Adelaide. Regardless of its origins, it's timeless, '60s-inspired greatness that's been re-issued, with bonus tracks, for a generation of fresh ears.

"Knee Jerk Reaction" kicks off the album with an onslaught of fuzz and an irresistible rhythm. It's pure pop with a cutting edge. "Colour Me There" is similarly fuzz-toned and sounds like one of the early Stems 45s on Citadel. The dynamics and hooks are firmly in place.

"Love Surrender" is atypical - it sounds like the Celibate Rifles in a lighter moment - but that's not to mark it down. "Given Time" reverts to form by bringing the jangle and marrying it to the warm glow of an organ.

Country legend Chad Morgan to share a stage with his biggest fans The Johnnys

johnnys chadRock and roll cowpunks The Johnnys are proud to be sharing a stage for two special shows with a true Australian country music legend, Chad Morgan, in April.

The Johnnys will perform with Chad Morgan at the Hardys Bay Club on the NSW Central Coast on Friday, April 5 and Marrickville Bowling Club in Sydney on Saturday, April 6.

Chad Morgan, 86, has been performing to generations of Australian music and comedy fans for more than 50 years. Dubbed “The Sheikh of Scrubby Creek” after one of his most popular songs, Chad released his first album in 1952.

He is renowned for his vaudeville style of comic country and western songs, and goofy stage persona. Chad is the ultimate comic of Australian country music and is instantly recognisable for his unique trademark – those teeth!

A platinum and gold record artist, Chad has an enormous and devoted following and is constantly touring the country, performing songs such as “I’m My Own Grandpa”, “The Shotgun Wedding”, “Double Decker Blowflies” and “There’s Life In The Old Dog Yet”.

Tex Morton once described Chad as the only original country music artist in Australia. Slim Dusty called him the crown prince of comedy. When Gordon Parsons came up with “The Pub With No Beer”, Chad’s the bloke who wrote the words down and contributed a verse of his own.

Chad and The Johnnys go back 30 years. Guitarist Slim Doherty said: “Chad Morgan played a few shows with us in Sydney many moons ago and loved us as we did him.

“He has a cameo in our 'Buzzsaw Baby' film-clip and it is an honour to have shared the screen with this legend. I have an Eko Electric guitar Chad 'signed' with his pocketknife which I still treasure immensely.”

The Johnnys are Slim Doherty, bassist Graham Hood and drummer Billy Pommer Jr and they will be coming fresh off a national you’re with The Beasts. These shows will be a unique pairing and will sell out so don’t delay. Pre-sales tickets are available here.

Hookline and Singer - Kim Salmon (Tym Records)

hookline and singerIt was the moment I knew the relationship was in trouble. It was April, 1993 at Le Rox in Adelaide. Ed Kuepper was headlining, but it was support act Kim Salmon - in solo mode - who was holding our attention. 

Just as Salmon strummed the opening chords to “Words From a Woman To Her Man’”– still, when push comes to shove, one of my two favourite Salmon tunes (the other being its companion piece, “Something to Lean On”), a punter in front of us turned and rebuked my girlfriend for disturbing the aural ambience with her loud commentary.

I knew the relationship was in trouble because I wanted to side with the anonymous interlocutor from the crowd.

Americana Hero: Alejandro Escovedo's long journey from punk to troubadour

nancy rankin escovedoNancy Rankin-Escovedo photo.

In 2018 Alejandro Escovedo released "The Crossing", an album based on the story of two boys, one Mexican and one Italian, travelling across the United States. “I’ve always lived along the border in California and Texas, so it’s been part of my story,” Escovedo says. But while immigration is fundamental to the evolution of modern America, in recent years it’s has become a hot political topic.

(To accentuate the point, a few hours before my interview with Escovedo, US President Donald Trump invoked emergency powers to secure the funds to continue the building of his border wall between Mexico and the United States.)

Escovedo didn’t set out to write a political album; it’s just that “whenever you talk about immigration at this time it tends to be political because of what’s going on in America”.

Ghosts of the fallen honoured as The Beasts take shape

the beasts clip

The Beasts

Croxton Park Hotel, Thornbury, VIC

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I’m pretty sure Spencer Jones is the only member of the Beasts of Bourbon, past or present to have played the Croxton Park Hotel, back in ita heyday. That would have been in 1982, when Spencer was playing guitar in the psychedelic cabaret troupe North 2 Alaskans.

Back in those days The Croxton – ‘the Croc’, to its more familiar patrons – was a bastion of the suburban beer barn circuit. AC/DC played there back in the day, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Chisel, all the Oz pub rock greats.

The Alaskans didn’t really fit in with the pub rock crowd, but they were as funny as a fit, and damn good musicians too. The Alaskans were, in hindsight at least, a link in the chain that led to the formation of the Beasts of Bourbon.

Triage - The Gentlemens (Hound Gawd)

triage gentlemensIf proof was needed that Brexit was a dumb idea, consider that this is an Italian band on a German label playing music that owes its origins to the sounds of Africa after they were transplanted to North America.

The letter ’s’ is very important in the band’s name because there’s an outfit calling itself The Gentlemen from Sheffield in the UK that plays disco pop. Disco pop? Never heard ‘em but daresay if none of us ever do, we’ve probably dodged a bullet.

The Gentlemens play noisy punk blues. Really good, noisy punk blues. They’re a trio (two guitars and drums) and they sound huge. The absence of bass is not a problem.

Paolo Fioretti is the sole vocalist (he sings in English) and guitarist who also punches in synth and keyboards. His guitar tone is warm and chunky. Not too much chicken scratching here; the man can play. His amico Giordano Baldoni is no slouch, either. They don’t re-invent the form, they work within it and avoid cliches.

Let's Go Wild! - Kurt Baker Combo (Wicked Cool)

lets go wildTwo thoughts sprang to mind after one spin of "Let's Go Wild!" and both are for sharing: (1.) What a cracking album and; (2.) Let's all move to Spain.

American-born Kurt Baker has done just that, calling Madrid home for about a decade and fronting his own Kurt Baker Combo, based over on the other side of the country in Leon, Spain.

If the fact that "Let's Go Wild!" Is on the Wicked Cool label isn't a clue, the sticker on the cover with the ringing endorsement from Paul Collins should tell you that it's a winner in the power pop stakes. Baker has a great voice, his band powers and the songs are full of fuzzy hooks. 

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