Psssssst…..don’t tell anyone but The Monsters may just be the wildest, most uncompromising manic high priests of unhinged and trashy garage rock in the world, or at the least Switzerland. There are a lot of names you can throw up in opposition (Guitar Wolf the most prominent) but I simply won’t believe it until my own abused and bleeding ears tell me so.
voodoo - The I-94 Bar
Originally a member of South American garage band Los Peyotes, Rolando Bruno is now a solo artist in his own right. He’s peddling the weirdest brew of salsa-garage-exotica heard outside of an Buenos Aires coke den.
Los Peyotes were on Dirty Water Records. Rolando dipped his toe in the solo artist water while still with them. Voodoo Rhythm Records is his new home. The label has a habit of signing weird and wonderful one-man bands (case-in-point: its owner Beat-Man) and Bruno is no exception to the rule.
I have actually lost count of the number of times I’ve played this. I keep doing it. In the car, on the computer and around the house. Bloody hell it’s good.
Ever find yourself in the situation where you’re presented with a band with an unpromising name, an enigmatic if not daft cd title which, upon listening, you are so transported and delighted with that you play the item over and over in amazed disbelief, discovering as you go, humming and singing around the room, that the band have been in existence for quite some time and have five more LPs to their name and you paw miserably at your spartan wallet, realising that the next pay packet will have to do..?
Yes, Black Moose is one of those albums. Like listening to a smart blend of Lovecraft, R.E. Howard and the darkest American blues and country while reading Grimm to a terrified child. It’s as real as reality, and as tangible as imagination.
There’s only one thing to do with this album: Play it. Loud. Over and over, Recorded in an analogue Italian studio in two days by a German duo, it’s soaked in whiskey, boogie and blues.
You can bitch about bands that go out of their way to sound vintage and to some extent you’d be right most of the time, but there’s no faking this stuff when it’s played correctly and in the right spirit.
“Bogies Pimps” is not self-consciously retro - it actually sounds contemporary but without the affectations you might expect, or a clean-up. It’s stripped back Chicago blues and The Juke Joint Pimps could be playing in your lounge room. Only on the closing “Mister Vegan” do the Pimps allow themselves a brief surrender to a looped electronic rhythm track.
More weird and wonderful garage grunt from Swiss label Voodoo Rhythm, this time from a Spanish five-piece combo making their long-player debut.
It’s pretty bleeding obvious where Brisbane’s Dr Bombay is aiming. It’s that elusive but enviable sweet spot - right where melodic pop intersects with loud and fast rock and roll. Bullseyes are a rare thing but, more often than not, the Bombays land close to their target.
Sydney might be shrivelling up and Melbourne has so much going on that at times it appears to be eating itself, but Brisbane’s rock and roll scene remains viably focused, “owning” a few venues in and around the inner-city. It stays strong because it has a centre. Like many contemporaries, Dr Bombay is four (mostly old) guys getting together for a weekend blast without ambitions to conquer the world, but they sure have this pop-rock thing nailed.
Mr Junior has a hell of a quirky appetite, ranging from dirty ultra-hawkwindish rawk to a dirtier electro punch in the head (‘Jetzt’ is killer) some sort of hip-hoppy thing. He’s a former boyband member (!) from Switzerland who plays everything himself.
This is a man who covers a lot of ground in a very short space of time, forcing your feet onto the floor at the same time. If you bought “Max Q”, get “Dr S and Mr P” right the hell now. If you like Ollie Oleson, Culturcide, SPK, Iggy and the Stooges, nasty soundtracks…
(ED: Urban Junior has shared stages with John Spencer Blues Explosion, Bob Log III, John Schooley, Jack Oblivian, Iggy Pop, G. Love & sSpecialSauce, Thee Oh Sees, King Khan, the Pussywarmers and Reverend Beat-Man. That might give you some more clues.)
This is dead dirty rock’n’roll and it’s like being seduced by an oil-stained camel in Doc Martin’s boots (not the star of the TV show Doc Martin, tho, …)
Three-and-a-half bottles. Oh, fuck it, four bottles.
There should be a law against small record companies punching above their weight. And against brilliant rock’n’roll bands showing up all the mainstream slags as ugly, dull, leaden and tedious beyond belief. Why people listen to radio at all when they have bands like Movie Star Junkies to make their mixtapes steam like kids on the backseat.
Ten songs, 36 minutes. I like that. So I won’t spend too long here, other than to repeat what I’ve said before, Voodoo Rhythm do records and CDs which should fill your collection. And “Evil Moods” is another one you need to have.
Fuzz garage trash rock's best-kept secret is a multi-headed, twin-drummer-driven thing that eats the frail and aged and comes from Switzerland. The aptly-named Monsters have three albums ("Birds Eat Martians", "I See Dead People" and "Youth Against Nature") to their credit, and this compilation on Australia's busiest underground label compiles their best, adding a couple of exclusive bonus recordings.
INTO THE PRIMITIVE - The Future Primitives (Voodoo Rhythm)
It took a few plays to work out what makes this South African garage trio such a compelling listen. The sparse, echo-ey production from straight out of 1966 is one thing, the simple songs that would do Billy Childish proud are another, but in the end it's the pure energy and urgency of the playing that's the winner.
French one-man band King Automatic now has four albums on Voodoo Rhythm and still can’t make up his mind what musical genre we should put him in. Amen to that. This record is his most cosmopolitan so far.
“Lorraine Exotica” bounces from exotic organ-drenched garage to fuzz-soaked blues to Jamaican rock steady, with maracas, Russian folk music and trash exotica thrown in along the way. It jumps around like a tenderfoot tourist in Fiji lingering too long on hot coals. King Automatic has toured everywhere from Eastern Europe to South America and this album sounds like he’s sending a musical postcard from every stop.
This pigeon pairing of albums by Switzerland's finest garage trash band The Monsters isn't so much chalk and cheese as the musical equivalents of festering offal and last week's maggot-ridden steak. They're offensive, distorted representations of rockabilly and its variants, chopped up and put through an industrial shredder. Which is exactly why you need them.
Whoever took the danger out of rock and roll forgot to tell The Monsters. Thank fuck for that. "Masks" is the "lost album" from 1989 andthe product of The Monsters going into a studio for the first time. Long-gone label Record Junkie Records (an off-shoot of the shop where Beat-Man worked) saw fit to issue it and it's been long out-of-print.
Monsters leader and Voodoo Rhythm label owner Beat-Man thinks "Masks" is embarrassing - although not to the point that he stopped short of re-issuing it. He need not recoil from the amateurish nature of parts of this record. It's raw, lyrically perplexing and a lot of fun, recorded to two-inch tape in the most basic of studios with needles bordering on the red.
Everybody into this sort off music raves about The Mummies and fair enough, but for mine The Monsters are better. I mean, there's nothing on "Masks" likely to surprise, but the guitar sounds grates in all the the right places and the drummer in this line-up had a bit of swing. Beat-Man's vocal swings from angry yelp to tonsil-shredding croak. Plus, they massacre "Wild Thing" in a way The Troggs could only dream of.
"The Hunch" (named after one of Hasil Adkins' nom de plumes) dates from 1992, is half-studio and half-live and much better recorded. There's a bunch of covers sprinkled throughout and one of the cuts ("The Creature Form The Black Lagoon") made it onto Dionysus Records. It's proof garage punk doesn't have to sound like abysmal shit to stay true to its roots.
Hands up who wasn't a Cramps fan in the late '80s and early '90s? This version of "Drug Train" is pretty great. "Day Of The Triffids" and "Drag Is Back" have their rockabilly roots on show and pulse with energy.
The live side picks up a couple of songs from the first record ("Teenage Werewold", Wild Thing") and prominent covers ("Be Bop A Lula" and "The Witch"), and is a little light on the bottom end but who's going to pick nits? My guess is they ran out of studio time or got bored. This stuff should never be too polished.
Oh Yeah - Dear Thief (Sartorial Records), Holy Motor - Sloks (Voodoo Rhythm) and Comes the Light - MJ Halloran (Off the Hip)
London-based trio Dear Thief's fantastic record (yep, vinyl) is a couple of years old but I doubt they've had much press.
They seem to be an occasional band rather than a constantly gigging behemoth; nonetheless they sound exactly like some sort of rabid mammoth wandered into the No studio and went berko.
Those of you who notice such things might think you're being reminded of a particularly vicious Fall gig - drums, bass, guitar - but I find myself rather startled to realise that it's time I pulled out my "Woman" LP again.
What a strange, fuzz-drenched trip this boy-girl duo from Naples in Italy take us on. The Devils are as basic as rock and roll comes, playing music that’s stripped barer than a Christmas leg ham in a tankful of piranha.
The story goes that Voodoo Rhythm honcho Beat-Man was in the same French studio as The Devils when Jim Diamond was recording this, their first album. It was love at first listen and Beat-Man had a pen and a contract in their hands quicker than you can say: “Fuck me, that shit sounds distorted.”
It’s a re-issue from the mid-‘90s but most of us missed it the first time around. The Monsters are from Switzerland and that put them at a serious disadvantage in places like the USA, where they did attempt to break only to find they were swimming against the tide, no tsunami, of grunge.
he Monsters are right up there with the likes of The Mummies, Thee Headcoats and a handful of others setting a benchmark for trashy lo-fi rock and roll. That’ll become obvious with even a cursory listen to “The Jungle Noise Recordings”, now in expanded form with extra tracks.This is perfect junkyard fodder.
Austin, Texas, resident John Schooley was a substantial blip on the I-94 Bar radar in the mid-1990s when Australian label Dropkick put out one of his records (“ You Won't Like It... 'Cuz It's Rockn'Roll!”) with his band The Hard Feelings.
Here was a guy who crunched rootsy Americano with raucous garage grit in the most emphatic fashion. “You Won’t Like It...” even scored a write-up in Rolling Stone - but died a comercial death when the label head was struck down with cancer and couldn’t press up any more copies. Thankfully, he recovered - and Schooley, too, is still kicking. Like a mule.
Five years after their music last rang in anyone's ears, the enduring rock-pop sounds of Voodoo Lust are about to be heard again.
Voodoo Lust returns to Sydney for one show only at The Factory Floor in Marrickville on Friday, November 20 and tickets are on sale here. They play Brisbane's Beetle Bar on November 28 with tickets on sale on the door.
Voodoo Lust was an integral part of the explosion of the Australian independent pub rock circuit of the 1980s with a string of independent chart hits and tours with some of the biggest names in rock and roll.
They’ll be joined by Leadfinger, the power quartet led by Stewart Cunningham (Asteroid B612, Brother Brick), and the gloriously ramshackle inner-west garage rock heroes The Escapes.
A compilation of 17 of the most bent, raucous and screwed up lo-fi musical artists from New Zealand? Sounds like a concept worth bottling and who better than Switzerland’s Voodoo Rhythm to bring it on?
The not-very-mild-mannered chap behind this is Joke Lanz and he will be 50 next year.
Sounds like he’s 22 and rising furious.
Wolfli’s Nightmare is brutish, powered by the sort of simplistic emotional reasoning which makes your guts churn prior to crying. Pushy, nasty robot rhythms don’t so much take you away as take you out the back and give you a kicking.