Gotta Lotta Move - Boom! - James McCann and The New Vindictives (Off The Hip)
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.
There was a time when McCann sounded like he could have cracked the US heartland with killer records like “Last Night I Met The Devil” and all its brash twang and sweeping, burned plains lyricism. If you’re sweating on him approaching his dotage by morphing into an alternative Paul (snore) Kelly, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed. “Gotta Lotta Move - Bang!” finds McCann taking The Low Road…and doesn’t he make life the gutter sound like fun.
This is street-level music; dirty and raw. Punk. Not as single-mindedly low-fi as its scuzzy predecessor, “James McCann and The New Vindictives”, but not compromising on any level, either. It’s been mastered for maximum sonic punch - and it burns like a swig of cheap Tequila on a stinking hot day, after you’ve unsuccessfully tried to sleep off a night out that ended with you greeting the morning sun.
The pre-release review copy was the nine-song LP version (the CD has a few more tracks) and, sequenced for vinyl, it’s a relentless succession of rants and angry guitar-fuelled outbursts. There’s a let-up (of sorts) at the end with the relatively reserved “Nick’s Song”, but the rest of the trip is like a walk through a carpet bombing target zone with guitar rigs turned up to stun. It’s raucous and riotous, with a lot of humour in the lyrics.
“Sheena Says” is a pop moment - if your pop moments are about wayward women and delivered with a barking chorus that feels like a giant finger poke to the chest. It’s naggingly great but so is most of the album. If the squawling guitars and ragged vocals that propel “Tar On The Lip” don’t paddle your canoe then you’re up Shit Creek without a clue.
It’s not everyday you can sing along to a lyric like: “I’m a fuck up, yeah I’m a loser, yeah I’m a winner, yeah I’m a cunt” (that’d be “Lies Start Here”), so if you’re the kind that wears an iPod on the morning train or bus commute to blot out those pesky humans, be warned.
If you do get in a spot of bother with the law, McCann and crew go on to do a scorching cover of Spencer P Jones’ “Life In Jail”. Oh, and McCann’s stuttering “Hotel Hospital Bed” could have been written by Spencer. It’s that good.
The observant will note that “I Can Control Your Mind” was the lead-off track online and features a guest contribution from Penny Ikinger (backing vocal and Pennycaster.) It’s another slingshot punk-blues rocker that shows no restraint. No wonder James breaks into a cackle at the end. The fucker knows it’s a keeper.
It’s been a vintage year (2017) so far for tough Aussie guitar rock records, with long-players from Powerline Sneakers and Sabrina Lawrie. And it just got better.
Off The Hip is doing the CD and the vinyl is out in September on Beast Records in France. James McCann and The New Vindictives play a rare Sydney show at Marrickville Bowling Club, supporting the New Christs, on July 15.