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.

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.

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.

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.

Entering Anytown USA - Joe Normal and The Anytownr’s (Rankoutsider)

entering anytownBroooooce Springsteen? Can’t abide him. It’s OK if you do. Different strokes for different folks, right? He’s well and truly present on this three-tracker CD - at least in spirit - but I like it in spite of that.

Like Broooce, Joe Normal and The Anytownr’s frontman Joe Normal grew up among the factories of New Jersey - before making  a break for L.A. So the bio says. And he’s landed on Pat (Lazy Cowgirls) Todd’s Rankoutsider Records.  Now you’re talking…

Rankoutsider is an outpost of genuine rock and roll, stripped back to its roots rather than wrapped up in ideas of blandness and mainstream acceptance. Joe Normal is backed by journeymen players whose curriculum vitae includes Stiv Bators, Sussana Hoffs, Syl Sylvain and Izzy Stradlin.So they’ve been around. 

It All Comes Down - Jackson Briggs and the Heaters (Grubby Publications)

it all comes downA couple of historical reference points: Ken Russell, director of the cinematic version of The Who’s Tommy, lurching excitedly toward politico-cultural polemic. “Townshend, The Who, Roger Daltrey, Entwistle, Moon could rise this country out of its decadent, ambient state more than Wilson and those crappy people could ever hope to achieve.” The second, Old Grey Whistle Test host Bob Harris, his sanctimonious attitude almost as dominant as his pearly white teeth, dismissing The New York Dolls as “mock rock’”. 

I first caught Jackson Briggs and the Heaters last year at the Yarra Hotel in Melbourne’s Abbotsford. A tiny band room out the back, the full complement of band members unable to squeeze onto the notional stage.

Driving riffs, one guitarist secreted on the right-hand side of stage, weaving elegant licks like a artisan putting the finishing touches on a roughly hewn rock’n’roll tapestry. James McCann had encouraged me to get along and see them, and I knew why.

Glaucoma Chameleon - Eyes Ninety (Swashbuckling Hobo)

glaucomaThere’s no chance of mistaking this for a prog rock epic or a pompous concept album. None of its songe figire on the "Bohemian Rhapsody" soundtrack. Eyes Ninety play unadorned, garage rock and roll. Two guitars, bass and drums. Tight when it has to be, looser and ragged when they feel like it. Which is quite a bit.

Music is so often a product of its geography and Eyes Ninety are from Brisbane. Now, lots of people talk about the Brisbane underground scene - and most of them are from Brisbane. If you don’t come from there, you should visit more often. 

For all the constraints of being an Australian capital city, Brisbane rock and roll doesn’t do too badly with its music. There’s a supportive local radio station (4ZZZ), functioning record labels (Swashbuckling Hobo being one) and a reasonable range of venues. What’s more, the bands in Brisbane don’t feel obliged to stick to any formula. 

Cue, Eyes Ninety. For a so-called garage band, they sure mix it up. They get all broody and (dare say) post-punk on “Iceberg Syndrome” while “Laminated Beams” is hooky, edgy and fast. “Another Dimension” hangs off a meandering lead guitar line. “Spinning” is discordant, unnerving and equally catchy. “Lost Sunnies” packs a wallop. And that’s just side one.

Moving Target - The Peawees (Rum Bar Records/Wild Honey)

moving target peaweesLet’s see. It’s been 18 years since I first heard a Peawees record and this is Album Number Six. The Italian combo from scenic La Spezia by the sea has been kicking out pop-punk jams since the mid-‘90s. Despite having only one constant member in guitarist-vocalist Hervé Peroncini, they sound pretty much like they did way back when.

There's something to be said for longevity in rock and roll. Perhaps there's a clue to The Peawees' secret in the album title. One thing The Peawees haven't done down the years is stand still, and there's enough stylistic variation on this album to keep things interesting.

It's not all about the Ramones. The bar room boogie of "Reason Why" or the Jam-like rush of opener "Walking Through My Hell" are proof enough. If that double-punch to the solar plexus doesn't get you gasping for air, you're a corpse.