Eddy Current Suppression Ring - All in Good Time Nine years is a long time between drinks, but this was well worth the wait. For my money the most important Melbourne band of the last 20 years returns with an LP up there with their first two albums. In true Eddy Current style this LP just all of a sudden dropped out of nowhere, with no shows and little media presence to promote it. Garage rock the way it should be, messy but tight, loose and fast and songs ending whenever it feels like that’s enough.
Hexdebt- Rule of Four Punk meets shoegazing with social’political messages that come straight in your face. The long awaited debut LP of Hexdebt backs up their reputation as a killer live outfit
Cereal Killer – The Beginning and End of Cereal Killer The first and last long player of this Geelong supergroup. I saw ‘em live a few years back with feedtime and was blown away, so was keen to hear the LP as I wanted to see how that stage show was put on record. The LP has plenty of the power of the live show, combining elements of garage, punk and electro, one of the most fresh and finest releases of 2019.
Plastic Section - Trouble is Our Business Sun City meets John Spencer. Killer '50s guitar and vocals, two ripper instrumental tracks and only one song cracks the three minute mark. Its sounds old but in a new way, powerful but not flashy guitar. Singer-guitarist Ben Edwards sounds like he could ave played with the Killer himself.
Mick Trouble- Here’s the Mick Trouble LP Thanks to Ritchie Ramone at Strangeworld for putting me onto this. Was amazed this came out this year as I thought it was a lost Television Personalities recording. One of those gems I would only discover via the man behind the record store counter. Buzzcocks style harmonies meets the storytelling of Wreckless Eric.
Imperial Wax - Gastwerk Saboteurs Pete Greenway, Dave Spurr and Keiron Melling had been the core of the Fall for the last decade of the band's existence until the passing of Mark E Smith. The three lads hooked up with Sam Curran to make an LP their old taskmaster would ave been proud of. It’s not the Fall, but without MES how could it? Theres certainly elements of the Fall in there but the lads ave their own approach and ideas, much like the Fall, taking a simple idea and expanding, taking rock music to new places.
Wild Billy Childish & CTMF - Last Punk Standing With the exception of Mark E Smith no one has given me more joy then Billy Childish. Pretty much every year theres an LP with the name Childish that appears in the top 10 list. The mans a hero of mine. On top of the massive discography of amazing albums, what I love about him is the fact the man just gets on with it. Bangs out two LPs a year, with just two, if that, chords and bangs out a record in one take. No overdubs no time for being precious, just doing it and doing it well. I wish I had this talent and discipline.
Signed-up member of the Melbourne Music Mafia, Malcolm Hill, is premiering a new single with his band Malcolm Hill and Live Flesh.
"Cosmic Love", and its companion song "Anybody Seen My Girl", are a digital precursors to a full album later this star from Geelong-born Hill, a writer and staple of the 1980s Melbourne underground music scene with Buick KBT and Head Undone. Hill has guested with the likes of Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes, Nick Cave and The Dirty Three so he's well-credentialled to say the least.
It's been over two years since I've seen Harry Howard and the NDE live and I feel a bit like a kid with too much red cordial and wedding cake sloshing around inside. So I'm on the lemonade tonight.
Arriving at the Metro a little late (it's Friday night and we've been home to feed, listen to the band do a sterling four songs and interview on local radio 3D, guzzle red cordial and cake, change and dash back out) I catch a few songs of the St Morris Sinners ripping up a rug and am dragged just outside to breathe the same air as half the smokers in Adelaide.
Harry Howard and The NDE at The Facory Floor. Lyndal Irons photo
Many years ago when Sydney was full of thriving, original music venues, Friday night for me was always a combination of either playing gigs or checking out new bands.
There was never a shortage. I grabbed my copy of "On the Street" on the Wednesday, eased into my chair and sat there with my red pen. After reading the odd review, I would scrawl and circle names of bands to see in the “What’s On.”
Every now then I would get to the Lansdowne, Evening Star, Hopetoun and many others and be happy with just finding a new band. Well, times change. Nothing remains the same. Seeing a new band is a rare night out these days.
The Melbourne music scene is world-renowned for being a bubbling volcano of rock 'n' roll fire and creativity that throws up rare diamonds and musical gems. The Leaps and Bounds Music Festival honours its stars each year with its Living Legends series.
Beginning in 2014, the Living Legends feted that year were rock gods Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon and Charlie Owen. This year the honour is bestowed on another trio who are fully legendary in the eyes of their peers and music lovers.
Everybody of a certain vintage who follows non-mainstream rock and roll has a soft spot for ‘zines. One of the reasons you’re reading this electronic magazine is down to two, 48 Crash and Vicious Kitten.
48 Crash was the archetypal Sydney zine of the early ‘80s. Hand-written (and coloured, sometimes), its photocopied pages spoke of Le Hoodoo Gurus, the Visitors, the three-piece Screaming Tribesmen and the Lipstick Killers - bands that struggled to attract mainstream attention elsewhere. It championed the so-called Detroit Sound that fuelled the Sydney music scene for more than a decade.
Ten years later, Vicious Kitten was an offshoot of the record label of the same name and professional publication that aimed its lens at people like Johnny Thunders, Kevin K, Jeff Dahl and Freddy Lynxx. Very Lower East Side, in spirit.
An honourable mention also to Sydney's B Side, that covered the left-of-centre, extreme local musical scene. Unbelievably Bad fills the same niche today. There were the rock local papers (RAM, the bible, and Juke) that were consumed religiously, but zines had all the cool stuff and never mentioned Chisel, Icehouse or Farnham.
Don’t call it cabaret. Dave Graney makes reference to the tag on one of these tracks, pointing that he and his band, the mystLY, would be on a higher pay-scale, and no doubt playing in a different class of gin joints, if that’s what they were.
In longevity terms, Graney is an “elder statesman” of the Australian music scene. He was a punk. He existed as expatriate dirt amid critical acclaim in London. He came home, entered the major label lifestyle for a time, became our King of Pop and decided that he could get along just fine on his own terms, playing music that didn’t fit radio programing templates.
If you enjoyed the Laughing Clowns and their slightly wonky, soaring horns, and which Hunnas later wielded to equally great effect, you're in for a treat. Speedboat (from Adelaide) supported both bands and, I can attest, to great effect. While LC and H&C certainly influenced Speedboat, one wonders if the influence was all one-way.
If you don't know Speedboat, what they were about came from many unlikely sources (their name apparently springs from an Elvis movie), and I'm not giving away the joy of Tom Stehlik's liner notes).
Liner notes? Do Speedboat rate that?
By fuck they do. 'Plenty of Soap' holds the equivalent of four LPs plus a fistful of singles and b-sides, Stehlik's liner notes actually tell the story of the band. Frankly, most bands - especially a band held in such high regard as Speedboat (and all without a recording contract) - fuck up entirely.
This one gets seven bottles. Seven. Harry Howard and Ed Preston have excelled themselves in the most extraordinary way.
Right, I’ll calm down and try and explain. First, both HHNDE records have been natural progressions, with damn fine songs, and plenty to bounce around the room to. Memorable in every sense.
In 2016, it seems that times have changed. Time was when the “third album” was perceived as “difficult’; that a band found it difficult to develop onwards from their initial impetus and squirt to stardom. The Ramones’ third LP was written at the same time as their first, so no problem there. I suspect much the same could be said of the Stranglers, whose live sets in 1977 featured 90 minutes of ugly hits. However, these are exceptions.
For those waiting for the grooving Dave Graney to re-enter the rock world, wait no more. The Golden Wolverine, High Plains Drifter and The Savage Sportsman is reforming his hard-arsed but grooving 1990s chart outfit, The Coral Snakes, for a handful of shows.
Graney, Rod Hayward, Gordy Blair, Robin Casiander and Clare Moore were The Coral Snakes and they had a string of major label albums, pushing their way into the mainstream. They ain't afraid to be heavy and rock and roll is where Sir Dave hides
Dave Graney 'n' the Coral Snakes 2015 AUGUST 7 & 8 – Memo Music Hall, St Kilda SEPTEMBER 4 – Newtown Social Club, Sydney 5 – Lizottes, Newcastle OCTOBER 23 & 24 – Crown & Anchor, Adelaide
If the '90s and early '00s were the era of young folk aping the look of punk junkies (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the Twenteens will be remembered as the era of OI! BEARDFACE! YOU! FACE THE FUCKING AUDIENCE! You are PERFORMING! YOUR BACK DOES NOT PERFORM! YOU FUCKING TWAT!
Kid Congo and the NDE Curtin Hotel, Melbourne Wednesday, November 13, 2019 Alex Lianeris photo
It's said John Curtin (whose name was taken by tonight's venue) used to get on the sauce a lot, back before he became Australian Prime Minister and took on the mantle of one the Labor Party-endorsed accolade of "Australia’s greatest ever wartime Prime Minister".
In truth, there’s not much competition: Bob Menzies was only PM long enough for his Country Party colleagues to politically knife him, and back in the heady days of World War I, Billy Hughes’ leadership style made him less friends than a Metwurst merchant in downtown Paris.
Anyway, I digress. Curtin cleaned up his act, got the PM gig in 1941 and dropped off the twig four years later, two months after Russian tanks had barrelled through Berlin, and a month before the Enola Gay put a brutal end to the war in the Pacific.
Kid Congo used to do a lot of shit, a lot of bad shit that probably should’ve killed him a few times over. His band mates and friends haven’t fared so well; some years back Kid realised his own habits were suffocating his love of music, and his punk rock attitude, so he quit the juice, the sauce, the gear, the candy, the rock, the powder, the stuff and the snuff.
Harry Howard had his own near-death scare; indeed, his health was so dire his doctor still reminds him how close he came to mortality (the scare provided the inspiration for the title of Howard’s band – NDE (Near Death Experience). Indeed, one of Howard’s NDE members, Dave Graney, got his own rude awakening some years back when he coughed up blood on the Paris Metro.
Kid is back in Australia for the fourth time in under five years, coinciding with the launch of his old friend Kim Salmon’s new biography. The Pink Monkey Birds have stayed home, so Kid’s picked up a local backing band in the form of Harry Howard and the NDE. It’s a neat synergy – back in the day Kid Congo moved in common circles with Howard in Crime and the City Solution and These Immortal Souls, and with Dave Graney and NDE drummer Clare Moore during The Moodists’ UK tenure.
Tonight is Kid’s only headline gig at the (John) Curtin Hotel. It’s a packed crowd, squeezed in the Curtin’s sometimes sub-optimal confines.
Kid is as iconoclastic as ever. He’s wearing a middle-age man’s wig that probably deserves its own flammability warning, his face contorts into a myriad of deranged expressions last seen on the 11.34pm train to Hurstbridge and his arms flail around like a psychedelic praying mantis. When Kid tells a story, it rambles like your eccentric uncle telling a story about his latest entrepreneurial plot, seems like it’s getting to a notional conclusion than ambles out to pasture. But no-one cares.
Dave Graney is as sartorially impressive as ever, the combination of brown bowler hat and pencil moustache suggesting a devious banker on the sidelines of ‘Peaky Blinders’ (and special mention of Dave’s periodic bass guitar swipe across the front of the crowd – that man knows moves). Harry Howard churns out those chunky post-punk chords that makes his band so good, and Edwina Preston could be playing the phone book and it’d still make the band even better. Every band Clare Moore has ever played in has been shit hot – and that’s more than simple coincidence.
|The set starts in Pink Monkey Birds territory ("LSDC", "I Found a Peanut", "Black Santa"), then slides into some NDE ("The Only One") and back in time to The Shangri-Las ("Sophisticated Boom Boom"). The band sounds just like you might think it should – dirty and garage but in a post-punk sort of way. "New Kind of Kick" is intense without intimidating, and the cover of Suicide’s "Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne" provokes shit-eating grins across the crowd.
Then it’s back to NDE territory and a call and response between Kid and Ed Preston on "She Doesn’t Like It", before rounding out the first bracket with The Gun Club’s "Sex Beat".
The encore starts with a Bowiefied cover of Spencer P Jones’ "When He Finds Out", and we remember that Spencer’s last ever appearance on stage was alongside Kid, 18 months earlier. Age shall weary Spencer no longer, tragically for all who knew and loved him. Then we get The Cramps’ "Garbageman", the ultimate trash song in more ways than one. We’re all garbage in a sense, waiting to be put out when the time comes. But until that happens we’ve got Kid Congo to remind us why life is worth living.
Let's get one thing straight: Musicians do work. It may not be work as we know it, Jim, but it is a form of employment, and it requires a well-defined skillset.
Talent is important but so is patience. Professional musicians do more waiting around than almost any other occupation on Earth. Other than midwives - and at least they receive universal praise.
Solo artist, ex-Moodist and leadr of the White Buffalos, Coral Snakes and more, Dave Graney, knows this about his trade and much more. He conveys much wisdom in "Workshy". It is the ideal read for anyone thinking about sending their offspring into rock and roll. Which is where Dave hides. Pun intended.
"Workshy" is Dave's second autobiography. I know what you're thinking: He might have been crowned King of Australian Pop but where does Graney get off writing TWO books about himself? Well, Billy Thorpe managed to do it. And more of Dave's books might be true. Both men have bodies of work with parts that are wryly funny. I could be referring here to The Aztecs' "The Hoax Is Over". "Workshy" is considerably more focussed than that mess.
There are more musical and cultural references in the latest Dave Graney album than a shelf-full of fourth year undergraduate sociology theses. Over a baker’s dozen songs, “ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS?” - we’ll call it “ZIPPA” for short - is a wander through the backblocks of Graney’s singular musical mind.
It’s self-described “classic rock” but don’t expect Journey or Van Halen to spring out of the speakers. “ZIPPA” is in-the-pocket, pop-rock played by a well-drilled ensemble. Drumming national treasure Clare Moore, consummate bassist Stu Thomas and jazzy guitarist Stuart Perera have been in more trenches together than the cast of “Hogan’s Heroes” and Graney’s respect for stylistic boundaries is on a par with Nancy Pelosi’s affection for Donald’s pipe-dream Wall.
Opener “Baby I Wish I Could Have been a Better Pop Star” is classic Graney: There’s more piss being taken here than in the bathroom of a highly-paid Macquarie Street urologist, and you don’t have to wait for the results from the lab to know who Dave’s talking about.