Crystal Cuts - Shifting Sands (Spooky Records/Beast Records)

crystal cutsYou might hear a better Australian album this year but I’m not sure I will. “Crystal Cuts” doesn’t have the immediate, dark pop rush of “Beach Coma” but that’s only by a matter of degrees. It works its way into your listening psyche through much more subtle means.

That’s not to say “Crystal Cuts” shouldn’t be occupying airwaves and taking up streaming bandwidth, worldwide. It manages the rare trick of being commercial (whatever that is) and subtle at the same time. Shit, I’d settle for hearing “Would’ve Killed Each Other” over “Hotel California” on the supermarket PA system, as I forage the health and beauty aisle of Coles for razor blades. Safety ones, of course…

The vocal combo of Geoff Corbett and Izzy Mellor makes for a rare treat. Yin and yang. It’s the gnarly, weather-beaten Serge matched with the darkly alluring, slightly diffident Jane. They’re like a Sarah Lee supermarket cake (remember the TV ad with the annoying line about “layer up-on layer up-on layer”? – me neither until now) with a serve of sugar icing atop a crusty old base.

Shiny and New - Charlie Marshall and the Body Electric (Charlie Marshall)

shiny and new"Shiny and New" is quite a trip. For a start, there's not so much a wall of sound as a wall of optimism, to the point that, because I've been smiling so much, my face is hurting. 

There's a ton of soul, great swathes of bouncing joy, all wrapped up with a powerful sensibility of constant delight at the universe around us. I mean, who on earth apart from Stephen Hawking would conceive of a song about gravity?! And be able to realise it so magnificently? (Oh yeah, that's Hawking out. Couldn't sing worth a damn.)

I found myself wondering if the choice of covers came after the rest of Charlie's original songs had been assembled; "Mercy Mercy Me" - Marvin Gaye; "Move On Up" - Curtis Mayfield; and "God Only Knows" - Brian Wilson and Tony Asher. Because they snuggle effortlessly alongside Charlie Marshall's songs, swinging with style and pizzaz, providing such perfect thematic links. Ontime Harem Scarem frontman Marshall has made these classics his own. 

Politics gets left at the door for good time rock and roll

angry bob metroAngry Andrson pontificates and Bob Spencer enjoys it. Shona Ross photo.  

Rose Tattoo
Hard-Ons
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Friday, March 29 2019

Photos by Shona Ross

There were plenty of people giving plenty of reasons why people should not go to this gig. The announcement that Rose Tattoo would team with the Hard-Ons for a the national "Still Never Too Loud" tour caused some people to lose their shit online - and not in a good way. More on that soon.

The more mundane reasons were timing (“it’s a Friday night in Sydney after a long working week, maaaaan”), the venue (“the sound at The Metro is sooooo dodgy”) to ignorance (“I never heard that was on”) so most of it was nothing unexpected. Another apathetic night in the Harbour City.

Then there was The Angry Issue.

A little bit of Magic as jangle pop returns

the magic numbers colour2Subtract-S warm up The Gov. Rick de Pizzol photo.

The Magic Numbers 
Subtract-S
The Gov, Adelaide
March 26, 2019
Photos by
 Rick de Pizzol 

Ho to the Gov once more, to attempt to find a car park which may not exist, to finally succeed in an adjacent suburb, and plodge back the way I drove, feeling not remotely conspicuous as a I pass several pubs with the locals whooping it up, trailing behind a herd of badly-dressed bumpkins heading, it seems, in the same direction.

No, thankfully, they're not; the Entertainment Centre across the road has another do on and the streets are filled with the aforesaid bumpkins and, perhaps needless to say, their cars. I don't know whether the local council is aware of the hideous car parking problem in these suburbs, caused mostly by the Ent Cent, which I thought had ample parking, but I have decided every night from now on I shall drive to where I left my car tonight, and walk to the Gov and back. Excellent cardio.

Trouble Is Our Business - Plastic Section (Off The Hip)

Plastic Section Trouble Cd Off The Hip LluisWay back in the last century, there was a band kicking around Sydney called The Milky Bar Kids. They were minimalist rockabilly, stripped back to the bare basics of stand-up bass, twangy guitar and a tiny kit. They had simple songs, in the style of early Elvis, and they were wonderful.

Fast forward to a bar in Wales a year or two later and I laid eyes (and ears) on a similar band whose name is lost in the mists of time. Again, it was a bunch of people tapping the source of rock’s roots and it was as enjoyable for its raw simplicity as its songs. 

The international angle is important because the band being reviewed has that sort of history. Vocalist-guitarist Ben Edwards is an ex-Sydneysider based in Melbourne and has another line-up of Plastic Section based in Bangkok. 

Shake, Stomp and Stumble - Greg Antista & the Lonely Streets (Primal Beat Records)

AntistaStatement of the obvious: Three-minute pop punk songs (mostly) don’t get old. “Shake, Stomp & Stumble” - the debut album for Californian Greg Antista and his Lonely Streets - is littered with them.

This is a record of its SoCal birthplace. Orange County local Antista grew up in the 1980s with most members of The Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion and Middle Class as his buddies. He recorded and toured two albums with the band Joyride with Steve Soto (The Adolescents) in the early ‘90s. 

“Shake, Stomp & Stumble” wears all those influences on its sleeve. It’s a little punk, a lot pop and all of it smeared with large dollops of country and Americana. Antista has an emotive vocal with a touch of melancholy to it - when needed. Not a bad attribute if you're dipping your toe into country waters. Johnny Cash was a punk rocker, you know.

Smallpox Confidential - Smallpox Confidential (self released)

smallpox confidential coverThe only problem with avant garde music is that you need to be in the mood to absorb it. Or on really strong prescription drugs.

Do you know anyone who’s listened to “Metal Machine Music” all the way through and hasn’t been scheduled under the NSW Mental Health Act, or who doesn’t think that much of John Cage’s output should be kept in one? 

Taste really is in the ear of the beer holder. So strap yourself in with a cold six pack or two nearby for the rough ride that is the debut of Smallpox Confidential, a mysterious noise combo from Adelaide fronted by Robert Brokenmouth.

Boy Howdy! Creem magazine documentary makes its debut

boy howdy poster"Boy Howdy: The Story of Creem Magazine"
Alamo Ritz Theatre
Austin, TX  U.S.A.
Thursday March 14 2019 

,I was surprised to learn that there was a documentary film on Creem magazine. Then, I was pleased to learn that it would be featured as part of the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX

As I'd planned on attending SXSW this year, I thought that I'd look into seeing it.

In the early 1970s, I discovered Creem Magazine. I must've been about 13-years-old. The magazine was quite a bit different from the magazines that I'd read. It was irreverent and enthusiastic. Creem was based in Detroit, Michigan and offered coverage of Musicians and Bands from that region. It was during this time that I'd discovered The Stooges and The MC5.

I remember after bringing home my first issue that my Mom asked me not to purchase Creem anymore. Of course, I continued to do so.

Selfless Shame Promotion - Live at the Old Bar - Lost Talk (Wild Animal Records)

live at the old barThis is rated six bottles. Seven if you were at this gig and still have your hearing. What we know so far is that Lost Talk's first LP, "Symbol/ Signal" was released last year on Spooky Records. When I heard it I lost my shit.

"Selfless Shame Promotion" is a cassette-only physical release (and yes, you can get it on download so you can burn it onto CD and play it in your car and give the pedestrians a headache) released to remind you what the band are like, prior to a new LP and presumably gigs in your town.

The track list, in case I get lost, is A: Cheap Crimes/ Thin Skin/ Shoe Shine/ Igloo/ Annie; and B: Chrome Alone/ Spotless Temperament/ Enter the Muskrat/ Jesus-Centaur

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