beast records - The I-94 Bar
Shifting Sands are partly comprised of members of SixFtHick and Gentle Ben, whom you may have heard of … and quite a number of Shifting Sands’ songs are ludicrously radio-friendly.
No, I mean FM radio cross-over, cover of Cosmo friendly; "Boyfriend" and "Other Girls" are the tracks suggested; but that’s not where the band always hang. My favourites include "New Flame", "Dead Memory" and "Airway", the latter being a rather clever inversion of your expectation. In fact, the majors should be sniffing around right now.
Tamara and Evil Dick. Caroline Burston photo
In a parallel historical universe the vast southern continent now known as Australia might have been conquered by France.
While France was still a functioning monarchy at the time Captain James Cook invoked the now discredited legal fiction of Terra Nullius to claim the territory on behalf of the English throne; by the time Arthur Phillip lobbed into Botany Bay in 1788, France was starting to buckle in the face of rising bourgeois unrest, and had bigger internal fish to fry (or heads to lop, as the case may be).
Ben Corbett makes a point to the crowd as SixFtHick play on.
In May 2012, I had the good fortune to travel to Brittany in France to see HITS plays three club shows in the cities of Brest, Lorient and Lannion. The brilliant Ben Salter happened to be touring France at the same time, so he arrived, guitar in hand, to see his friends in HITS - and was promptly added to the bill for those gigs.
HITS and Salter were welcomed with open arms and rapturous applause, but I started to hear French people say the same thing to them after every show - "You have to play at Binic!"
Hammered - Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters (Grubby Publications/Beast Records)
“Hammered” is a term I associate with a different era. A time of binge weekend drinking, gratuitous displays of alcoholic masculinity, bloviated local sporting club identities, sub-optimum musical soundtracks (I’m sure I remember hearing Dennis Leary’s “Asshole” about 63 times one Saturday night after a long day in the field) and bleary-eyed Sunday morning recoveries. They were best of times, but only until you come to your senses.
But Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters get you "Hammered", it’s a thing of perennial excellence, an ordeal that makes you stronger, better, all the attributes you thought that slab of Southwark Premium was going to do.
You might hear a better Australian album this year but I’m not sure I will. “Crystal Cuts” doesn’t have the immediate, dark pop rush of “Beach Coma” but that’s only by a matter of degrees. It works its way into your listening psyche through much more subtle means.
That’s not to say “Crystal Cuts” shouldn’t be occupying airwaves and taking up streaming bandwidth, worldwide. It manages the rare trick of being commercial (whatever that is) and subtle at the same time. Shit, I’d settle for hearing “Would’ve Killed Each Other” over “Hotel California” on the supermarket PA system, as I forage the health and beauty aisle of Coles for razor blades. Safety ones, of course…
The vocal combo of Geoff Corbett and Izzy Mellor makes for a rare treat. Yin and yang. It’s the gnarly, weather-beaten Serge matched with the darkly alluring, slightly diffident Jane. They’re like a Sarah Lee supermarket cake (remember the TV ad with the annoying line about “layer up-on layer up-on layer”? – me neither until now) with a serve of sugar icing atop a crusty old base.
Melbourne’s Bitter Sweet Kicks believe in the ethos of hitting hard and fast and then moving on. Each of their three releases to date has been a seven-track affair, long on dirty, high energy rock and roll and short on indulgences.
A more apt title couldn't have been penned for this nine-tracker from two underground legends - after all, Texas Terri and Kevin K have been throwing fuel onto the flames of their respective rankings as perpetual outsiders for years. "Firestorm" continues down the unpaved track of exemplary punk rock and roll that both have traveled for as long as anyone can recall.
A heads-up that the wonderful debut album from Brisbane’s HITS, “Living With You Is Killing Me”, is being re-issued in re-mixed and re-mastered vinyl format on both sides of the world.
Brisbane label Merenoise is doing the business in Australia with Beast Records unleashing this baby in France for Europe and the Rest of the World.
They won’t last long so avail of the links in the label names. We’ve heard a digitised version and even that sounds great, with greater dynamic range and new life in the bottom end.
In musical terms, Melbourne's James McCann has traversed more miles than that ditzy blonde travel agent chick from the local Flight Centre. Unlike Sharon, however, McCann hasn’t done his miles with the benefit of industry junkets and a staff discount. In short, he’s paid his own way.
Back in the ‘90s, McCann co-founded The Drones in Perth, before moving to Sydney where he played with Harpoon, Lowdorados and an early version of the shape-shifting Nunchukka Superfly. Relocating his voice and guitar to Melbourne, McCann’s played under his own name or with his own bands, like The Dirty Skirt Band and The New Vindictives. The odd foray to Europe has kept his passport stamp collection growing.
A Comedy of Horrors - Burn in Hell (Beast Becords)
“It’s rock and roll, Jim, but not as we know it.”
That might make sense if you’re a Trekkie, but of course you’re not.
(ED: Sorry. Robert Brokenmouth has hacked this review. Normal transmission will be resumed, momentarily.)
Burn in Hell is from Melbourne and is as rock and roll as AC/DC. Makes sense. The band comes from the home of AC/DC Lane, for fucksakes. They just play their songs as readily in waltz time as in 4/4. “A Comedy of Horrors” is their fourth album in close to 10 years and it’s off-the-wall, curious, warped, challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. It's an album for people who hate the mundane.
Tags are annoying to most musicians but even James McCann must acknowledge he gets to wear the ‘veteran’ badge when he arrives at the company Xmas party by now. There at the earliest days of The Drones and Nunchukka Superfly, he’s been one of those “best kept secret” solo artists Australia seems to bury for more than a decade, making a name for himself in his adopted home of Melbourne (and in France) but deserving much wider attention.
“James McCann and The New Vindictives” was a couple of years in gestation with French label Beast Records taking its time to squeeze it into their schedule. Contrastingly, the band and the recording came together with spontaneity very much the name of the game.
You probably know that we like our blues all smudged and dirty and it don't come much filthier than Chicken Snake. Hailing from the Manhattan Delta and home to Jerry Teel (Honeymoon Killers, Boss Hog, The Chrome Cranks, Knoxville Girls, Little Porkchop, Jerry Teel & The Big City Stompers ) and his songwriting partner/ wife Pauline Owens-Teel, they've been messin' with heads since 2009.
"Lucky Hand" is the debut album and it's said to have sprung from the Teels' loins after an extended stay in N'Orleans. Swamp rock is a term that's over used to the point of abuse but it's almost adequate to describe what Chicken Snake plays. That said, they haven't abandoned the grim back blocks of New York City (what's left of 'em) - the extended "Trouble In Your Mind" is more "Sister Ray" than "Dust My Broom" with waves of squawling guitar, a grinding rythm and sheets of feedback.
Side one of the LP was recorded at Ocropolis Studio in Brooklyn and has a dense and very live feel. Side two sounds cleaner and more dry. Pick what you prefer, they're both great. Side two's lead track, "Coat Tail Blues", is country-rock with a keen guitar edge, while "Moonshine Blues" is a shuffling duet with Jerry Teel's wheezy harmonica fitting just right.
There's more to Chicken Snake than Mr and Mrs Teel, however, and the band comes into its own on "Hand Me Down Some Snake Skin Shoes", locking in like Dylan's ensemble on "Highway 61 Revisited". This is good juju. How can you go past a swamp blues band with a guitarist called Josh Lee Hooker? Guest Jack Martin adds switchblade slide on half a dozen tracks and ex Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert plays on three.
Not a lot more to say except that it's on vinyl on French label Beast Records and there's a newie called "Trouble On My Doorstep"coming down the turnpike. Oh, and you should own a copy.It's procurable through any good European online shop or directly from the label.
This Parisian band brags they’ve been “playing garage-blues-punk since 2003” and that’s no mean feat in a city where rock and roll gets simultaneously downtrodden by dance music and high culture.
Two more things in their favour is that they’re on Beast Records, a well-established home for music that flies a ragged freak flag, and “Memories From a Shithole” was produced by expat Detroiter Jim Diamond, the ex-Dirtbombs bassist and sonic master now spending much of his work-time in Montpellier. His credits include the Bellrays, the Fleshtones and the White Stripes so he’s qualified to make this sort of noise.
Whodunit aren’t your standard ‘60s acid punk rehash or two-chord crash-er-rama thrash artists. They don’t play second-rate Serge lounge tunes or bother trying to de-construct the blues. They just go for broke.
What's it worth? Four bottles if not more.
Melbourne's Burn In Hell has a hell of a rep on the live circuit, both in Australia and overseas: it’s easy to see why. "Monkey Bones" (uhm, 2014) is world-class rock’n’roll which jangles your fillings and fills your jangles.
Onetime Australian alt.country poster boy Dan Brodie has taken the low road. One wheel's scraping against the gutter on "My Friend The Murderer" and it makes the ride more interesting.
It’s the third album for one-man bent bluesman Chicken Diamond and it marks another point on his descent into sonic hell. Ten songs of dirt-flecked distortion with a rusty sawtooth edge.
The Chicken’s coop is France where anything that has the odour of being musically underground is driven so far below the surface you’d need a miner’s helmet and a canary in a cage to find it. Thankfully, brave labels like Beast are around to facilitate tours of the aural subterranean catacombs and cast some light.
Who says the French don't "get" rock and roll? There's plenty of evidence to the contrary - especially on these two albums from Brittany power trio Ultra Bullitt, who are coming to Australia in 2013 to show us how it's done.
No one really sounds quite like Suzie Stapleton. Being an original artist, that is a supreme compliment. Suzie also really takes risks with her music - and that is another compliment.
Reviewers still have a hard life, don’t they? All those free CDs and free gigs and backstage perks. Not this little black duck. The free CDs arrive and, as this ain’t the day job, they bank up a tad. Because I review music because I love it, if La Bastard were merely playing soft-core mimicry to a “classic” period, with that mushy, vacant intent, you wouldn’t be reading this.
I’ve listened to “Ooh La La Bastard” (“surf-rock party animals from Melbourne, Australia!” the back cover announces) several times now. Loved it more, each time. The front cover is a rather brilliant modern pastiche of ‘50s LP artwork which makes everyone look peculiar, French, and spectacularly jaded. Lluis Fuzzhound must be some sort of genius at large. Let’s just say La Bastard live a full life, and lay it down on the disc.
Recently I saw Lilith Lane perform as part of the Murder Ballads evening in Melbourne; there were many performers, but Lane was one of a handful who impressed. She’s sharp, smart and has a terrific voice.
"Pilgrim" was Recorded live at Sónica, Madrid, Spain, in October 2012 and released in 2013, It is a rather wonderful live recording, and shows off the great control and power of Lillith's voice; what I like about her is that she’s so natural and approachable with her gift.
The guitarist, (one "Pedro") is damn groovy. It’s a kind of oddly Spanish-flavoured blues '50s rock thing, but you don’t really pay that much attention once Lilith starts singing. You’ll be dancing in a graceful, bopping way.
Beast Records on the Web
Lillith Lane on Bandcamp