I had these two on, over and over, back to back while I was cooking, driving and then again the other night. And then again, and again. There's a cool groove about both; and while I prefer "Afloat" to "Red Church", my tastes ain't yours (thankfully).
"Red Church" is nothing like "Afloat", when each finishes, the start of the next is a bit like getting to the top of a staircase and trying to climb another step which isn't there. A bit startling. Could be dangerous.
The seven songs on "Red Church" all favour Veil's huge voice; and here she must owe a debt of thanks to the very talented guitarist Henry Hugo, the ex-Argentinian New Australian (via Switzerland - and no, he's not a banker or a money lender in his spare time).
Most of Hugo's songs he recorded in Zurich, with overdubs and mixing by Hugo and Dugald Jayes (who adds an air of brash mystery to the proceedings) in Melbourne. Mark Steiner helped by recording Gunnar Motland's drums on a couple of tracks. Lyrics and vocals ... this is where "Red Church" comes to life.
Most people outside of his native Norway would think it’s been a long time between drinks (or other substances) for Hank von Hell, The Artist Formerly Known as Hank von Helvete of death-punters Turbonegro.
Lifestyle issues twice rendered him an ex-member of his old band and he finally pulled the pin on them in 2010. A second spell in rehab (via a conversion to Scientology) put him back on his feet. Since then, he’s been a radio host, starred in a film, written an autobiography, appeared as a judge on Norwegian Idol, married a model and fatheried a daughter. All of which proves that fact is stranger than fiction when you consider Hank kick-started his career singing about having an erection..
Hank had a number-one hit in Norway as a solo artist in 2009 and fronted the post-Turbonegro supergroup Doctor Midnight and the Mercy Cult for a time. He’s now back on the boards in his own right with the release of “Egomania”, a record that might be a concept album themed loosely on the pitfalls of performing.
Consensus is that Turbonegro peaked with 1998’s “Apocalypse Dudes” and have been delivering ever-diminishing returns since then. There might be some truth to that but since “RocknRoll Machine is the band’s fifth studio album since then, that’s a lot of backsliding over 20 years.
Let’s cut the Denim Demons some slack here. “Dudes” was a masterpiece, a clever and visceral cop of many of rock’s great moments, unashamedly woven into a punk-glam merkin and proudly worn in public. You liked “Ass Cobra” better? Buy yourself a sailor hat.
“Self-parody” is a term many reverred acts have had thrown at them - often by critics who can’t abide a band playing to its own strengths, or not knowing that a purple patch of three or four consecutive great albums is a rarity for a long-running outfit. Just ask the Ramones- if you can find one still living) - or the Cramps (although they did morph into something approaching a conventional rock band.)
Only an old fart would start a review with the statement: "Everything old is new again."
But it is really just to say that way back in the early ‘90s - when big festivals like the Big Day Out involved more people playing musical instruments than laptops - there was a rash of Californian bands pushing a brand of punk rock crossed with powerpop and ska that dominated stages and airwaves.
The Offspring were inspired by seeing Social Distortion at a school dance, The Bay Area’s 624 Gillman Street scene spat out Green Day and Rancid occurred after someone from Operation Ivy watched too many Clash videos. You know the rest.
Tav Falco is one of rock and roll’s outliers who sits in a unique musical space and time of his own creation. “Cabaret of Daggers” is a mix of traditional American, lounge, jazz and rootsy blues-rock songs that nobody else on the planet could have made.
Tav continually dips back in time and cherrypicks music to place into his own setting. That setting being his Italian version of Panther Burns. “Cabaret of Daggers” was recorded in Rome with vocals tracked at Sun Studios. It will be a LP run of 750 copies released on Record Store Day on November 23.
Johnny Casino albums are a treat for the converted and a revelation for those less fortunate. If you’re one of the latter, “Trade Winds” is as good a place as any to start.
It’s been way too long between records for Johnny - both this album and its predecessor "Time and Time Again" are old recordings woodshedded for later release - but well worth the wait. The big fella from Sydney’s Northern Beaches makes Spain his home these days, where he plies his dual trades of tattooing and playing music.
“Trade Winds” was recorded before he emigrated a couple of years ago with a crack band in North Fremantle, Western Australia. Drummer Warren Hall (The Volcanics, Datura 4, The Drones), a longtime Casino sideman, joined with Martyn P Casey (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds /The Triffids/Grinderman) played bass. That’s as fine an engine room as you’ll find.