MD Horne heads down the road less well travelled

red dirt bitumanRed Dirt Bituman - MD Horne (self released)

This is a clever stripped-down blues-rock album, a stark and personal journey full of evocative twists and turns and as grittilyAustralian as its wilfully mis-spelt title suggests. 

“MD Horne” is Mark Horne, Sydney bassist for many bands but most notably the brutal 300 st claire and Johnny Casino and the Secrets. Mark recorded it on a sojourn to Spain, where his mate Johnny is domiciled. MD handles acoustic guitars and vocals, and Señor Casino plays everything else.

“Red Dirt Bituman” is Horne’s debut solo album and its title plays on the dichotomy of a man torn between his connections to the city and the bush. Truth be told, most Australians cling to the coast like limpets on a tin boat and wouldn’t be seen dead on a dirt road. M.D. Horne, has travelled plenty of dirt tracks and blacktops and his music speaks of both.

A Cult classic revisited

40 boc40th Anniversary Agents of Fortune Live 2016 - Blue Oyster Cult (Frontiers Records)

And you’re asking, Why? And possibly with good reason. For starters, it’s 2020 and that makes the anniversary four years late, right? And surely these guys aren’t still going?

They are - albeit with just two original members. Australia was lucky enough to host them a few years ago. The last studio album was “Curse of the Hidden Mirror” 19 years ago (and it was pretty good.) There’s even a new studio record pending. This live celebration is a valid addition to the BOC catalogue, even if most of the appeal will be for rusted-on fans.

Sparks of punk and glam brilliance power "Electric Junk"

electric junkElectric Junk - Jeff Dahl (Iwannabeahoople Records/Ghost Highway Recordings)

Jeff Dahl w,as born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1955 and then relocated to Hawaii in 1960. He moved to Los Angeles and the rest is SoCal punk rock history.

This most underrated singer-guitarist has released about 26 albums, serving time in the wonderful Angry Samoans and going on to play with with Cheetah Chrome (Dead Boys) ,members of The Germs and 45 Graves, and collaborating with Poison Idea. Not a bad rap sheet. He's now living back in Hawaii. 

Receiving Jeff's new album, "Electric Junk", I was very exited to hear some new tunes from this living legend. Let me tell you: It just rocks with those songwriting and guitar playing skills shining like a harsh Hawaiian sun.

Mind blown by a bloody French love letter

love is bloodLove is Blood - Frenchie's Blues Destroyers (self released)

Hello, I-94 Barflies! Hopefully, you're all well and healthy folks, and with all this self isolation it certainly gives you plenty of time to listen to the music we love.

Sometimes, something comes along and totally blows your mind. Well, ain't that just fine. So if you want your mind blown, you have to get your gloved hands on this fucking masterpiece.

Frenchie's Blues Destroyers are from Austin, Texas, and "Love Is Blood" is full of dirty sounds. It's based on huge guitar riffs and some quality vocals. But this ain't a blues album; this is garage rock meeting pop, with just a dollop of country blues.

Freshly baked and impossible to resist

the breadmakersThe Breadmakers - The Breadmakers (Soundflat Records)

The Breadmakers are a Melbourne institution in a town that has plenty of them. They’ve been peddling their authentic brand of rhythm and blues around the Victorian capital, its environs and various parts of the world since 1989, and their seventh album sounds as fresh as any of its six predecessors.

R&B. Everybody’s on the correct page regarding R&B, right? The term’s been appropriated by the global music machine in recent decades, and applied to bland, largely soul-less genre of soft pap that permeates the airwaves like an insidious virus.

Gimme some skin. The Bobby Lees are made for measure

skin suitSkin Suit - The Bobby Lees (Alive Naturalsound)

If you were on the cusp of releasing your first "real" record, had US and European tours booked and ran head-first into the current viral shit show, you'd feel like you'd been whacked around the head with the Unlucky Baseball Bat, wouldn't you? Such is the lot of a young band in The Age of The Phlegm Plague.

Upstate New Yorkers The Bobby Lees sound mightily pissed-off on "Skin Suit", but the album was recorded long before Covid-19 was kicking anybody's arse.

The Bobby Lees play snotty, raucous blues thrash with all the rough edges left intact. Little wonder that Jon Spencer produced "Skin Suit"  - the band's explosive blues sound is right up his alley.

Men are from Mars and Rough Trade is from Venus

rough trade from venusRough Trade From Venus - The Secret Buttons (self released)

Their third release, on which the West Australian trio unleashes six songs of dirt-encrusted sonic goodness, each delivered with the subtly of a MyGov website crash.

Remember that lame concoction of a "band" called Wolfmother? Cooked up to ride the global wave of so-called New Rock in the early 2000’s, they were as dangerous as eating a soufflé in the shower. They gave trios a bad name. No wonder they were originally named While Feather. The Secret Buttons are nothing like them.

Knuckle sandwich is on this menu

kebabAll I Wanted Was a Kebab - White Knuckle Fever (self released)

Strap yourself in. Or strap it on. It’s going to be that sort of ride.

White Knuckle Fever is Sydney duo Celia Curtis on vocals and Ross Johnston on guitar and everything else. Ross used to be 3kShort in Machine Gun Fellatio and Celia goes by the name Cruella, Lady of Steel, in macabre vaudeville act Circus Bizarre. So they should be easy to find if the cops issue a summons.

In live performance (remember that?) the duo supplements things with loops and the like. On recordings, they sound like a five-headed Hades houndog that's chewing on the scrotum of Satan. 

Fuzzed-up and French

nervous breakdown destination lonelyNervous Breakdown - Destination Lonely (Voodoo Rhythm)

There’s more fuzz on “Nervous Breakdown” than an ageing punnet of strawberries from the back of the fridge a month after their use-by date. The band responsible, Destination Lonely, is described as “three angry men from Toulouse”, and they sound more crankier than one of their countrymen at the end of a crash diet when they’re told by the baker that he's fresh out of baguettes.

Sometimes a large meal is best consumed in a couple of portions and that might be your best approach to “Nervous Breakdown”. It’s 17 tracks long and sometimes all that distortion and primal skronk becomes hard going - like on the 14-minute noise fest “Nervous Breakdown (big band)”.