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Dumb-World - Negatives, Reals and Judas Iscariot & The Traitors = 1974-1978 (Loaded Skull Discs/Shock)

dumb worldThese are quite remarkable recordings. Yes, you've heard rehearsal tapes and demo recordings by garage bands before, but these are different. It's all about the timeframe, the intensity and the fact that they're Australian and were recorded in relative cultural isolation.

“Dumb-World” is a serious collection of raw demos and rehearsal tapes from future Sacred  Cowboys leader Garry Gray and his early bands between 1974-1978, featuring Judas and the Traitors, The Reals and The Negatives.

To place this in a historic context, the Australian musical landscape was fairly frigid. The local artists’ soundtrack was blaring from commercial AM radio, but it that was drab even though the live scene was flourishing and there were so many gigs for local musicians to play. 

R.I.P. Billy Miller of Norton Records

billy roy miriam

Billy Miller (left) with ex Flamin Groovies frontman Roy Loney and Miriam Linna.

Co-owner of legendary label Norton Records and former member of the A-Bones, Billy Miller, has passed away after battling long-term health complications.

Miller founded the label with his future wife Miriam Lina (a former Cramps drummer) in 1986, originally to issue the music of Hasil Adkins.

Hundreds of releases followed for bands as diverse as The Wailers, The Sonics, The Dictators, Reigning Sound, Esquerita, Ramones, the Pretty Things, the Flamin' Groovies, the Alarm Clocks, Question Mark and the Mysterians, Dale Hawkins, Andre Williams, Jack Starr, the Flat Duo Jets, the Untamed Youth, the Phantom Surfers, the Hentchmen, Wade Curtiss, Jackie & the Cedrics, the Church Keys, and Iggy Pop’s alma mater, The Iguanas.

Miller had lost a leg to complications from diabetes a year ago. He had been back in hospital in recent months.

Bigger Than Life - Jack Lee (Alive Natural Sounds)

bigger than lifeIf Jack Lee went to his grave only known as the guy who wrote the Blondie hit “Hanging On the Telephone” he’d be more noteworthy than all of us combined and then some. The irony is that only music publishing houses and fans of his former band, The Nerves, would know this. Sad, but that’s the state of music in the ‘00s.

Just the facts: Their recorded output was scant but The Nerves were one helluva great power-pop band, operating out of LA in the mid-‘70s, and Jack Lee was (and probably still is) a consummate songwriter. Lee formed The Nerves and played guitar. His similarly talented bandmates were Peter Case (bass) and Paul Collins (drums.) They all sang and wrote the songs. That’s probably too much talent for one band and of course they didn’t last long…

The Man He Used To Be: Stewart Cunningham tells the Leadfinger story

Leadfinger Heritage 2016
Leadfinger in full flight at Bulli's Heritage Hotel with Carrie Phillis assiting on backing vocals. 

They've been around for a decade but I've gotten into Leadfinger a bit late in the piece. I had heard word that they were one of the best bands in Sydney, and I knew their leader, Stewart Cunningham, from previous outfits like Proton Energy Pills and Asteroid B612, with whom I’d shared stages. So we went all the way back to 1989. 

The penny finally dropped at the Tim Hemensley Memorial at the Tote in Melbourne about three years ago. Bombarded by the hard Geelong-Melbourne garage rock sound, it was Leadfinger (along with HITS) who were the highlights for me.

Leadfinger played upstairs. I watched a band that was thoughtful, with a great collection of songs and a broad variety of influences. The guitars chimed and lashed out, there were great vocal hooks, and the tunes were memorable. I decided that I liked them a lot.

Dirty and Dumb - Labretta Suede and the Motel 6 (self released)

lab suedeA lot of you guys have got me dead wrong. I don’t actually want to write reviews tearing bloody strips from your flesh. I don’t want to kick you in the balls. I don’t want to take your daydreams of fame, glory and love and cruelly crush them. But sometimes a man has got to do what a man has got to do.

I’d like to say that it wasn’t your fault and it was mine. But I’d be lying. It’s all these crap records you keep making. And you know you’re doing it.

You keep including self-written third person press releases announcing your godhood. You present me with expectational cheques your butt can’t make good on. The general idea is, you have to convince someone else to write something nice about you in the third person. If you write about yourself in the third person, you’re asking to be slapped down. So, find someone else to sing your praises. But that’s not going to be me.

Edge of a Dream - The Jangle band (Off The Hip)

edge of a dreamIf you worship at the altar of Big Star, the Beatles and The Byrds you’ll go nuts for this. The dream cited in the title is all about chiming open chords, (gently) duelling Rickenbackers and tuneful choruses that stick.

The Jangle Band bills itself as “Australia's second-best Rainyard/Header/Mars Bastards tribute act” because they’re three of the powerpop bands its members have played in. Throw in The Palisades and Jack and the Beanstalk as well. The membership has form.

Thrills & Chills – The New Trocaderos (Uncle Mike's RnR)

thrils and chills“Thrills and Chills” is full of old school rock 'n' roll combined with big power-pop songs. This album is a winner, from the fantastic opening track “What The Hell Did I Do” until the closer, “Business To Tend To”.

This wonderful album is the New England band's first full-length effort after a string of EPs and has a little bit of everything for everyone. Led by the three guitars of Brad Marino , Kurt Baker and Jeff Palmer (who swap between rhythm and lead and bass guitar), the band also mixes the lead vocal role. Kris Rogers and Rick Orcutt fill out the ranks on keyboards/piano and drums respectively.

Hi-Fab! - Little Murders (Off The Hip)

hi fabFifteen years ago, talented Victorian songwriter Danny McDonald told me that Little Murders was THE great lost power-pop band of Australia’s halcyon musical underground days of the 1980s. They were defunct at the time and an Off The Hip re-issue of their early material - and another reformation - were away off in the future.

Of course, Danny was right. He’d grown up with the band’s songs and they’d left a permanent mark. Little did he know that in 2015 he’d join Little Murders for their fifth and latest studio album “Hi-Fab!” - or that it might be the best thing they’ve ever recorded.

Tumbling Heights – The Come 'n Go (Voodoo Rhythm)

tumbling heightsWelcome to the crazy world of acid trash/garage punk rock n roll  that’s populated by the wonderful Come ‘n Go.

They’re busting guitar strings and spitting out no bullshit licks, throwing a bit of Swiss chic punk around like there is no tomorrow. In short, this album is very good.

It’s on the Voodoo Rhythm label and production is handled by Markus Staehli (Roy and the Devils.) “Tumbling Heights” is the fourth offering from The Come ‘n Go, who formed in Biel/Bienne in Switzerland in 2001. These punks have had some line-up changes over the years, but seem to have settled on Marina (drums and vocals), Philippe (guitars and drums), Franz (guitar), Rob (bass), Alain (vocals, harmonica and keys) and Markus (noise.) Benu guests on guitar on “What It Is”.

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