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M - The Monsters (Voodoo Rhythm)

m monstersThey’ve spent years trying to smell like rotting prawns in a hot European sun and on their newest album, the succinctly titled “M”, Swiss garage-trash combo The Monsters can finally lay claim to being tighter than a fish’s arse.

“M” celebrates 30 years of fuzz mania with a dozen songs of dubious intent that are delivered with grim precision. Some of this stuff makes a Helmet record sound sloppy, You couldn’t insert a cigarette paper between the furious boogie riffing of “Dig My Hair” or the dramatic “I Don’t Want You Anymore” if you tried (although why you’d want to do that is beyond me.) At the same time, The Monsters manage to sound unpolished.

Proto-punk is so yesterday: Garry Gray on St Kilda, Sacred Cowboys and making Sydney sit up and listen

sacred cowboys st kildaSacred Cowboys on St Kilda Beach with the SS Minow.

“Sydney audiences can expect to hear much of the ‘Diamond in the Forehead’ album and a number of songs that will comprise our second album. Expect rock and roll out of the early 1970s, expect high volume in the guitar department, expect Nobel Prize-winning freak flag songs”

Garry Gray wrote this to me, and I visualise him, pounding the keyboard with pride about his forthcoming shows in Sydney in mid-November.

Gray has been making music for 42 years. I imagine by now he knows when he has a killer album ("Diamond in the Forehead") and a killer live band (The Sixth Circle) locked in. As I wrote a few months ago who when I caught The Sixth Circle live at the Tote Hotel and was blown away by a great, pure rock, street-level band:

All that dark and shade in this set; theatrics and drama. The tempo pulls back with “Club Siren”. “Our God hangs #6” is wild rock beat and with the guitars blues-based. Gray’s menacing vocals howling: 'I got hung without a trial'. "Cadillacs” has that proto punk rawness and a blues progression. There are elements of deep soul with raw gritty urban blues, and a solid rock 4/4 backbeat. Live, it is a no-nonsense rock monster.

Road Series by Hugo Race (Transit Lounge)

road series coverFrom the first sentence in "Road Series", you’re in Hugo’s world, his past, present and by implication, future.

“Road Series” is one of the main reasons that a poor bloke like me can’t ever get history quite right: we have the dates, the events, the chronology lodged and squared away. But people like Hugo carry the emotive rationale, the anti-rationale, and the … moving finger writes inevitability of their lives locked inside them.

I suppose we could all say we have that, but few, very very few of us could write it out and get it right, express it right, show us who warn’t there just how it wuz.

We instantly inhabit Hugo’s world because, first and foremost when you’re reading a memoir, the writer is telling their story. Second, “Road Series” possesses a vividness, a real-in-colour sensation to it which so many memoirs of the punk and musical new wave period completely miss in their hurry to put down their rivals, tell juicy anecdotes and, basically, gossip.

And I’ll just say this, for an autobiographical account of a significant St Kildan musician from this rather bitchy, backstabbing period, there is an astonishing absence of tittle-tattle, knife-wielding and general spite. Hugo is remarkably matter-of-fact about things, and (again, from page one) the maelstrom continues like that whirling Tasmanian devil from the Warner Brothers cartoons.

69BC - 69BC (I-94 Bar Records)

69 bc cover smallRaw garage rock ’n’ roll in the Australian pub rock tradition, with an obvious nod to ‘70s hard rock and the “Pebbles” collection. A record made distinctive by the classic Aussie twin-guitar attack. Those were my first thoughts on this CD from a band made up of members of Psychotic Turnbuckles, Sheik the Shayk and Buffalo Revisited.

It was recorded in Zen Studios, the capital city of Sydney’s inner-western Garageland region, by Geoffrey Lee over seven years, and what hit me straight away is that none of the live intensity has been lost. It captures a raw and live garage/pub band warts, belching and all…I can see a bloke over there who once drunkenly spilt beer on me and that other idiot that pushed me over in the mosh pit. And then I’m lifted up by another and patted on the back…

Josh Lord: Art for work's sake

josh lordJosh Lord is, despite the agit-prop-like art, a conservative. The morning after the opening of his Melbourne exhibition, Josh rose at 7am and started work on his next series of artworks. Then he went to town and did an interview. Then, finally realising he was still wrung out from the night before, he crashed.

Now, if most of us had worked all year and put everything into one night - granted the exhibition runs for a while yet, but the opening was “the event” - we’d be reeling around all wibbly-wobbly and a bit dazed for most of the following two days.

Josh is a working man, really. And art is his business. Whoever said that all capitalism is evil? Josh makes art which criticises both art and capitalism, but capitalism itself doesn’t have to be evil. There’s a lot of evil nasty sods out there. And it only takes a small percentage.

No winners: The Case of The Music Industry and Social Justice Warriors vs Ms Louise Dickinson

lemon 16Half a Cow in the inner-western suburb of Glebe was the coolest bookshop in Sydney; an advocate of the underground with shelves bulging with left-of-field fanzines, authors who had been banned and musical output from alternative voices.

It was a literary anti-establishment.  It all came crashing down, in my view, one afternoon in early 1993, during my fortnightly visit to the shop.

A phone call had been made earlier that day and I witnessed the removal of issues of “Lemon” magazine from the shelves.

I asked: “What has Lou done?” and was shown a review of indie-folk pop stars Club Hoy, buried in the back pages. 

It was just six words: “These girls deserve a good raping."

"Lemon" magazine was now officially banned. It started one of the most controversial weeks in the history of the modern Australian music industry.

Indeed, it was the flashpoint of the underground openly clashing with the mainstream.

Strange Ways – Some Jerks (Pig City Records)

strange waysIt’s OK to like pop. Real pop, that is. You won’t hear it on mainstream radio. What they play is a watered-down variant that’s polished and homogenised within a centimetre of its life. So go straight to the source, go online or (gasp) experience it at a gig, cherry-pick what sounds good and forget the rest. That’s where a band like Some Jerks comes in.

Recommending music is such a personal thing that we behind the bar are often criticised for going over-the-top in some of our evangelistic rants. Well, fuck you: No, there won’t be an apology for that, because we (mostly) review the shit that we like. Speaking of evangelism…

Jeff Dahl re-emerges - and does he have a deal for you

dahl and hofnerPunk 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! “

The campaign is here.

 

Shine & From 3 EPs - The Rosemary Beads (self released)

shine rosemary breadsThe Rosemary Beads are a band that sound completely original yet wear their influences as a badge of honour. 

Emerging out of the West Australian indie rock music scene during the ‘90s, they released three exceptionally good EPs that ranked as some of the best pop from that side of the country. It was music that was highly ignored and startlingly brilliant

“From 3 EPs” is a compilation of their output ("Breath", "Dog" and "I'll Come When I'm Good And Ready" - two of them on Citadel) from the band’s original run that ended in from 3 eps1995. “Shine” is their first full album and ther comeback recording (they disbanded after the death of their drummer, Cam Munachen) and arrives after 20 years of silence.

“The Diving Song” opens “Shine” with a huge splash of classic alternative rock. It is melodic and there was a time this would have been on high rotation all around the country with a good chance of crossing over to the mainstream. Of course that was back when there was a glimmer of hope for new and exciting bands to be given airplay.

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