BARFLY TOP TEN: Simon Li, drummer for Sydney band The Fringe Dwellers and solo artist

simon li 2018Neko Case "Hell-On" CD
Another top release, especially considering Neko's then home apparently was lost in a fire, during recording

Lindi Ortega "Liberty" CD
Still got the goods, despite Lindi thinking she was done with it.

Margo Price @ Factory Theatre, Sydney
Great voice, top songs, fine show

Bad Reputation - Joan Jett documentary
Joan tells her story/her side of The Runaways story

Baby 8 - "Painkiller" video clip
Great clip for a tune from an album with an interesting name

Brothers-in-arms, Chickenstones put on a pearler of a show on their home turf

chickenstones beah clubWhen you realise we came up to Sydney from Adelaide solely to see The Chickenstones you may deduce from this that I am a tad biased towards the band. However, if I were able, I would simply be at every gig they do, because, to my mind, they really are that good. 

However, one of the reasons I can't dash all over the country is the inevitable lack of money (donations are welcome), and another is that I work in a family-operated business, so I fit myself around what everyone else is doing. Mostly this means that there are things on interstate which I would love to see, but can't. 

Opening band Dias - pronounced Dee-az - have good songs and the young folk love them. I think they may also be currently in a bit of transition, as some of the songs showed a similarity of purpose, while some of their others seemed to be coming from some other place.

Guitar and vox, bass and drums; it's amazing how varied people can make such a traditional set-up. While comparisons are effectively fairly useless, my photographer was reminded of The Whitlams, a musician in the audience was thinking about The Strokes, and I was reminded a little of early Go-Betweens. Truth is, I'd characterise them as a richly shiny, slow-burning surf waltz.

They went down well with the very mixed crowd (old unionist surfers and their wives, and folks who may as well be their university-aged grandkids ... hell of a mixture). I don't know if I'd liked Dias if they'd still had their other guitarist - what interested me was that, as I say, I think they're still trying things out - which is always an excellent reason to see a band.

Vocal Remover Requested - Honest John Plain and The Beetle Trumpets (Action Recordz)

vocal remover requestedIf you see the Action Recordz label on an album and you’re a regular at the I-94 Bar, pick it up with confidence. The French label doesn’t often miss and its in-house producer Johnny Cat has an impeccable touch. 

If you didn’t know, Honest John Plain was/is a member of London’s The Boys, an under-appreciated and wonderfully melodic punk band that grew out of the rehearsals-only London SS. After stints with various outfits (including The Lurkers) he started cranking out records under his own name in 1996 and “Vocal Remover Requested” is his latest.

It’s a record full of Plain’s trademark buzzy guitars, unassuming hooks and meat-and-potatoes vocals.  There’s nothing wrong with the latter - the album title is presumably ironic - and Honest John is in a long line of singers with a guitar player’s voice. You expected Aled Jones? 

Jack Saint - Jack Saint (Heavy Medication)

jack saintFor an Australian, Jack Saint comes across as Warsaw's own version of Tex "The Everyman" Perkins crossed with Sir Nicholas Cave. If that means he's destined to star in a country and western stage show and become a conjoined twin to Warren Ellis, so be it, but it's a meeting of the musical minds that we're talking about.

Jack Saint sure sounds like took advantage of the lifting of the Iron Curtain to sip deep at the well of St Nick and his Seeds and (more relevantly) the Beasts of Bourbon. "Girl What You Looking For?" sounds like it could have fallen off "Sour Mash", the 1988 Beasts record where Tex and the boys got all bent out of shape over Captain Beefheart. 

"Girl...?" changes direction four times over its course with Wolf's repeated jagged guitar figure the familiar reference point. Jack Saint (the singer) intones/preaches like Jeffrey Lee Pierce. The band's cover of The Gun Club's "Stranger In Our Town" is a dead giveaway of another influence.

Extra dates added to Alejandro Escovedo tour

The great Alejandro Escovedo (The Nuns, solo) is coming to Australia and New Zealsnd in March and two more Aussie shows have been announced. He’s doing extra gigs at Brisbane’s Junk Bar (early and late shows) and the Camelot Lounge in Sydney. What’s more, he’ll be accompanied on guitar by Tim Rogers of You Am I.

Escovedo's new album "The Crossing" features goes spots by James Williamson (Iggy and the Stooges) and Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys.) His Australasian tour is stripped-down but the clip below gives you an idea of the power of the man's music. Full dates and ticketing information in the Read More link.

Organ Grinders - Demented Organ Duo (Demented Organ Duo) and Baile Bruja Muerto - Reverend Beat-Man and Izobel Garcia (Voodoo Rhythm)

organ grindersOne of the greatest things punk gave the world was that you, too, can make your own music and, if only in your bedroom, be a genius rock star. 

Adelaide’s Chris Spud (aka Demented Organ Duo), the stay-at-home musician (except when playing in a horrible local punk rock band), has the most satisfactory musical and literary taste.  There are four songs here; all recorded, cut and edited laboriously in Spud's luxuriously cramped studio. 

“Organ Grinders” is a brilliant, sarky, creepy, savagely knowing piece of theatre. If you dug, for example, Tom Waits' circus/fairground-type music, you'll dig this - and so would Tom.

The Dunes - The Dunes (Off The Hip/Oak Island)

the dunes self titledAdmit defeat when you see it: The groovy font and blue-on-blue titling on this album made reading the song names impossible for ageing eyes. Fortunately, you don't need to know the name of a track to dig it. On with the review...

The Dunes are a young band with Adelaide playing on old style of drone-y, fuzz-laden, psychedelic rock. Their songs are dark and blissful at the same time. Played at stun volume, they're deeply engaging. Reverb-laden girl and guy vocals, winsome organ and shimmering, tuned-down guitars, It's easy to get lost in the flow.

There are nine songs - two of them are the same one ("The Intergalactic chic Drifters Inn Welcoming Centre Theme Song Pts 1 and II") placed as book-ends at the start and finish - and they all hover around the six or seven-minute mark. If you, too can't work out the titles, their Bandcamp page will help. It doesn't really matter. They're all outstanding.

Baile Bruja Muerto - Reverend Beat-Man and Izobel Garcia (Voodoo Rhythm)

beat man isobel garciaIzobel Garcia’s collaboration with Reverend Beat-Man was one of the best things on the latter’s most recent album, “Blues Trash”, so a full-length long-player from the pair was always going to be a tasty prospect. Those high hopes have been met.

“Baile Bruja Muerto” (translation: "Dance Witch Death") evokes colours of a dark hue; West Coast Mex cool meets decadent garage trash. Gospel, swamp and skronk meet in a parking lot to imbibe god knows what.

Ms Garcia is an L.A. artist of Mexican descent with a stunning voice. Beat-Man is a frequent visitor to the City of Lights as he has relatives in the area. The pair met at a downtown rock and roll gig. Beat-Man picked Izobel for a musician because she looked odd. It takes one to know one.

Atomic Zeros - Atomic Zeros (Atomic Zeros) and I Hope You OD - Bad Mojos (Voodoo Rhythm)

atomic zerosIt's been argued over, and if you fancy arguing again, go right ahead. I'll wait.

Finished?

Okay. Before punk was PUNK (as it was decreed and seized upon by the black leather beetle backs), there were bands which formed a sort of disaffected underbelly. There were loose things in common.

Some of these bands were utterly alien to the world at large (I'm looking at you, Suicide, Chrome, Pere Ubu), their forefathers being outfits like The Velvet Underground and The Stooges; while others were, by contrast, relatively straightforward. Like the MC5 and later, Radio Birdman.

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