The 31st - The 31st (LCMR)

the 31stCopies of these four songs have been circulating for years and two have surfaced on compilations. The balance were re-recorded by members’ subsequent bands. But don’t kid yourself that you don’t need this vinyl only 12-inch EP.

The 31st started when future members of Died Pretty (Ron Peno and Chris Welsh), the Screaming Tribesmen (MIck Medew) and the Hitmen/New Christs/Screaming Tribesmen (Tony Robertson) started playing shows in a strip club and anywhere else that would have them. Evidently, they played no one style of music - which must have been confusing for the Brisbane punks, boogie-heads and blues fans to pin a tail on.

The 31st were a future supergroup before those things were called that in Australia. They kicked around the undergrowth of Brisbane’s downtrodden music scene in the early 1980s, and fell to pieces before anyone outside of it saw or heard them.

Future Hoodoo Guru Brad Shepherd was to briefly become a member although he's not on these recordings. 

King Hit - Sons of Jaguar (Conquest of Noise)

king hitWoolgoolga is a town on the New South Wales North Coast, and Sons of Jaguar have been making quite a noise around the pubs of that wonderful part of Australia for the past year or so. "King Hit" is their debut album  recorded in two days and laden with some fine twin turbo guitar riffs, wonderful bass playing and drumming. 

This is one fine album.

So, I-94 Bar users and abusers, things kick off with a sonic fuzz blast in the guitar riff of "Park Beach" - and you just know things are about to get wild. "Dead Beat Dad" is a classic driving guitar song that is just awesome, and the break in the middle off this tune is just a groovy '60s sound. This song is worth the price of admission alone.

Songs From The Land of Nod - Beechwood (Alive Natural Sound)

songs from the land of nodThey don’t have Real Rock and Roll bands in New York City any more, do they? Don’t kid yourself, kid. They might be hard to find but they’re still there, their beating hearts buried under 50 feet of radio-friendly dross and cultural fragmentation.

No, Virginia, there’s no CBGBs. They made a shitty telemovie about it and moved the awning to an airport bar, somewhere. It was a shadow of what it was, even when I got there in the mid-‘80s. There’s no Max’s, either. Times Square is more family friendly than a Disney dance party. Even The Continental is just a dive bar now, more famous for (literally) banning a figure of speech than the Joey Ramone parties it used to host in the ‘80s.

Gentrification has a lot of downsides and one is squeezing cultural outsiders to the extreme margins. Art mostly doesn’t pay the rent, pegged or non existent. The NY rock “scene” is in Brooklyn these days, by all accounts. It has been for quite some time but it’s mostly disposable pop. Thank fuck, then, for Beechwood.

Catzilla - Catzilla (Off The Hip)

catzillaHello from the farmhouse, I-94 Bar users and abusers! I can tell you that this week the farm has been grooving to Catzilla, a band from Perth with a surf/horror, '60s inspired sound that is very contagious to one's ears.

Every track on this self-titled album is crafted with love. The guitar fuzz of Andy Jarvis is so locked in with Coo Jarvis (keyboards and vocals), it's kind of hard to believe this fine band has only been playing a little over two years. Throw in the thumping bass of Tracey Devery and the drums sound that Trevor Judd has going and it all adds up to a great album...14 Catzilla tracks of groovy goodness.

How Green Was My St Kilda Day or Mr Brown Goes to Melbourne

powerline sneakers adbtgThe Powerline Sneakers at The Day By The Green. Noni Dowling photo. 

Well hello fellow I-94 Bar abusers! I took my skinny white bum down to Melbourne on the Friday morning – a 5am bus from the Farmhouse here in Dimboola, only a lazy 1000ks there and back - but folks, if they rock, I will travel. And A Day by the Green, the next day, was well worth it. Some call this long-running mini-festival “a day on the green”…well, it is held in St Kilda, after all.

They had a fabulous line-up, led by Melbourne rock royalty in John Nolan (ex- Powder Monkeys), in his most awesome band, The Powerline Sneakers. Also on the bill: River of Snakes, The Pro Tools, Seedy Jeezus , Cold Harbour, The Fiction, Me Graines and a couple of other bands that I missed (my bad.) I’ll be early next time.

SO FUCK DID IT RAIN. LET’S JUST GET THAT OUT OF THE WAY. Inside the dry setting of The St Kilda Sports Club, there were about 150 punters there when I made my grand entrance. No-one noticed, of course, because The Me Graines were pumping out a fine set of tunes, with a new drummer and a couple of well-chosen covers. They were right on the money - a $20 entry fee – and I got my money’s worth right there. And it’s only gonna get better.

Big Attraction/Giddy Up - Amyl and the Sniffers (Homeless Records)

amyl and the sniffersThis may well be the only review of the Amyl and the Sniffers LP that makes no mention of mullets, sharpies, bogans or moles.

(I must mention, however, that one of the best mullets I have ever seen is the bass player from the mid-period line up of The Angels as seen in the film clip of that "No Way Get Fucked" song...although he is no match for Bob Spencer who in the same video has no hair and a monster rat's tail! Awesome!)

Amyl and the Sniffers are a young Australian punk rock band from Melbourne...and they play like they really mean it. Unlike some fake punky rockers over the past 40 years who, despite having the right shoes, clothes, haircuts and an obscure Killed By Death seven-inch that sells for $800 on eBay,  were just trendies with no guts, heart , soul or songs. 

Vol 10 - The Heartbrokers (Off The Hip)

heartbrokersThere’s no long history for this band apart from the collective curriculum vitae of the Melbourne people involved and the obvious fact they have an affinity for each other’s playing. It was recorded in a suburban shed on an oppressively hot day in 2014. It also grooves and rocks like the proverbial.

There are no Volumes 1-9 or even an 11. The Heartbrokers are Van Walker (Tasmanian-born singer-songwriter) on guitar and vocals, bassist Cal Walker, drummer Ash Davies, roots-rocker Jeff Lang and rockabilly-country pianist Ezra Lee. Plus friends like Jack Howard (sax).

Names can confuse and so can genres. Just as they toy with their title, these guys confound pigeonholing with their broad range. More (early) Seger than (doomed) Thunders but maybe a little Petty in terms of borrowing some sounds from Americana, The Heartbrokers defy categorisation other than good, old-fashioned, boogie and blues-based rock and roll.

One of Those Fine Days - Guy Littell (AR Recordings)

guy littell coverWhen you take your surname from a character in a James Ellroy book, you nail your colours to the mast as a fan of most things American. Naples-born Guy Littell might be as Italian as pizza with a cappuccino on the side, but his music is drenched in Americana.

Littell’s biography mentions his links to Steve Wynn (of The Dream Syndicate and a long solo career) on whose next album Guy guests, and the impact of hearing Neil Young and Mark Lanergan. “One of Those Fine Days” shows those influences writ large - plus a deep dish serving of Matthew Sweet. 

Littell might not have the pipes of Sweet - who does? - but he and his band tackle these 10 self-penned songs with a similar measured, rock-pop aplomb.

Head Undone: 1982-1988 -Buick KBT (Buttercup Records)

buick kbt coverYou have to admire record labels like Buttercup who dig up decades-old sounds from Australia’s music underground, chuck a new coat of paint on those mouldy old tapes and offer them up for a cash consideration to nerdy record collectors who crave those obscure Australian sounds.

A cynical person would file this Melbourne combo under “'80s Smack Rock”…and of course I’m a cynical bastard. But, hey, being inspired by The Birthday Party or the Bad Seeds isn’t a bad thing. Those groups wrote their own rule books and went where no bands has been before them and if you’re going to be inspired by somebody it may as well be by the greats.

I’m sure Buick KBT shared cups of tea with The Wreckery, The Moodists and The Sacred Cowboys.  They certainly shared stages with Venom P.Stinger, Go-Betweens, X , The Laughing Clowns and Dead Kennedys.