Open Season - Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers (I-94 Bar Records)

open season review

Hello from the Dimboola Farmhouse, I-94 Bar barflies. Mick Medew is a legend, a Queensland Music hall of famer and Australian pub rock icon, and he absolutely nails it with his new album “Open Season” with his band the Mesmerisers.

The Mesmerisers? We have Lois Andrews bringing the bass and her beautiful backing vocals, and she is amazing. Michael Charles is on drums. Yes, that Michael Charles, drummer on Mick’s most famous Screaming Tribesmen EP, “Date with a Vampire”. The pair just nails it and make a fabulous rhythm section. 

Rounding things out on lead guitar is Brian Mann, also ex-Screaming Tribesmen and a gifted player who also doubles behind the recording board. He produced this album and it was mastered by Don Bartley. These gentlemen know how to get the sound down.

Good Things - Graham Day and The Forefathers (Damaged Goods)

forefathers god thingsA re-issued collection of hits and misses from 2014 with extra tracks, “Good Things” is a revelation to these ears. 

That really shouldn’t be the case with two members of The Prisoners on board. Power abounds with this UK trio on their 15-track effort, which is out on the always great Damaged Goods label, which is the home of the so-called Medway Sound.

Medway, you say? It’s the name for a style of beat-garage based out of Kent that takes its lead from the Kinks, the early Pretty Things and a host of similar bands that walked the rough side of the street in the ‘60s. Billy Childish is its most famous son, or titular head. Long may he rule...

Bedouin of the Fitzroy Evening - Lonely Stretch (self released)

bedouin"Bedouin of the Fitzroy Evening" is the first album by Adelaide's Lonely Stretch.

You've probably heard of The Dunes, who are deservedly gaining increased amount of fame and favour. Lonely Stretch is, essentially, a side project spearheaded by Matt Reiner (guitar, 'programming', vox).

He's joined by the occasional Dune (Brett Walter, keys) and other likely  musicians such as Max Tulysewski (drums), the multi-talented Matt Hills (production, 'programming', bass and other guitars), and Romana Ashton (vox).

Queen of the Pill - The Jackets (Voodoo Rhythm)

queen of the pillI read Voodoo Rhythm label head booster Beat-Man's customary over-the-top accompanying blurb for this Swiss band. Other people, famous folk whose music you love, rate The Jackets very high. Who? Well ... Alice Cooper. 

Nah, can't be that good.

It's better. 

Every song is crafted, clever, and a blazing, shooting, call-out-the-army riot in a small town over a misplaced pair of slippers. 

The band are: Jack Torera aka Jackie Brutsche (guitar, vocals), Chris Rosales (drums) and Samuel "Schmidi" Schmidiger (bass).

You have to imagine a slightly different 1960s. Where the studios were better. Where short, sharp, powerful bolts of lightning strike over thundering drums and a glorious fuzz drone (no song here is over 3 minutes). Where more women were into the macho world of r'n'r. 'Queen of the Pill' is ten supercharged luscious slabs of dance-frantic, limbo-struttin', death-defying rawk that'll come close to blowing your head off.

Quake Up! - Surfquake (Surfquake)

surfquakeIt’s a (mainly instrumental) surf album but “Quake Up!” covers more genres than you can shake a wax stick at. Movie and TV themes, sci-fi and garage pop litter the wake of this Essex quartet like pebbles on a Pommy beach. It's probably a reason for surf music purists to hate ‘em.

Surf music isn’t a language that openly speaks to everyone these days but it’s murmuring away in the background. From an Australian perspective, scratch the veneer of any of our greatest rock and roll bands from the last 50 years and you’ll surf music lurking underneath. The blues and beat pop that British migrants brought with them rode right over the top of surf in the early ’60s.

Bella Wreck - Bella Wreck (Heavy Medication)

bella wreckThis re-issued gem on Polish label Heavy Medication is by a band led by an Australian expatriate based in Germany. It was originally released in Europe on vinyl in 2014 and it’s odd-on that if you weren’t in the know back then and you come from outside Europe, you probably wouldn’t have noticed.

Dave Thomas is the Australian vocalist and guitarist in Bella Wreck and, no, he’s not the Dave Thomas from Geetroit legends Bored! For one, he’s about a metre taller. He also has strawberry blond hair down to his arse.

This Dave Thomas lived colourfully for a while in New York City and was a member of Sydney bands Flame Boa and The Crisps. The Crisps included Hoody from The Johnnys and Stuart Wilson (New Christs and Lime Spiders) on drums.

A Tribute to Sonny Vincent - Various Artists (Disturbed Records)

sonny tributeThree years ago, family tragedy thrust Sonny Vincent from being a cult New York punk legend into the role of full-time carer. 

Based in Europe for two decades from where he prolifically recorded and toured, he was suddenly pulled back to the USA by a home gas explosion and fire that left his son, daughter-in-law and grandson on life support in a North Carolina hospital.

Sonny’s family has survived but his music is on indefinite hold. Day-to-day life now revolves around his 12-year-old grandson Cayden, still undergoing skin grafts while trying to live the life of a schoolboy. Sonny hasn’t picked up a guitar since that fateful night and has been existing on donations.

Scuttlers & Scoundrels and Barrels of Death - Geof Holmes (self released)

scoundrels boxGeof Holmes is a name you should know, but the reality is that he’s unfamiliar to anyone outside a tight circle of Sydney musicians and followers of a certain vintage.

Holmes was one of the guitarists with Evil Roomers, the 1977 precursor to seminal Australian band X. With his close mate Ian Krahe on guitar, Steve Lucas on vocals and Ed Fisher on drums, they were in rehearsals when joined by bassist Ian Rilen, already on his way out of Rose Tattoo.

For various reasons, that line-up of Evil Roomers never got out of the practice room. Rilen, Krahe and Lucas would hook up with ex-cop Steve Cafeiro on drums to form the first line-up of X. Holmes went on to join Lucas, Rilen and Fisher in a potent 21st Century line-up of X. Last year, he sat in with the Lucas-only version of the band in Sydney for one song.

Liquorice - The Ramalamas (Half a Cow)

licouriceThis is an intruiging and charmingly all-over-the-shop album on which this Sydney five-piece sheds its alt.country label and heads for a garage in a swamp. There's more variety in this Licourice than a pallet-load of Darrel Lea Allsorts. 

The Ramalamas have been around for a decade or so, led by Chris Nielsen (vocals-guitar) and subsisting in their city’s fragmented live circuit while putting out a string of albums, of which this is their fourth. Nielsen name-checks the usual ‘60s references (Kinks, Stones) with a nod to the US West Coast’s psychedelic folk-pop scene. 

As well as owning a serviceable pop voice and playing nifty guitar, Nielsen is an award-wininng illustrator and his work adorns the CD cover and inlay.