2. New Rock Syndicate Masami Kawaguchi from Tokyo graced us with his stunning soul again this year. Please refer to everything Penny Ikinger said in her Top 10. This gentleman is the most startling, perfect and inspiring guitarist I have ever seen and a true darling of a human being. Eternally grateful to have met him. Look at anything he has done, please. You’re welcome.
3. The Kids Are Alright You know when you’re 32 and you think rocknroll has probably hit its comfortable slippers and pipe phase, and will be unlikely to return to what you’ve felt it to be in your life. Then you get to 39 etc. and realise ashamedly that you were very wrong. About most things, pretty much everything - it is an experience that spans generations, and is one of the many joys of ageing.
So many “young people” (definition pending, vomit pooling in throat) made music that blew my tiny mind out of my ears this year. Please pay attention to a band called Cable Ties, and one called Stiff Richards. Important, incendiary, vital, nasty, gorgeous, respectful, clumsy, intricate, hot, cold and wild. You may select which adjective attaches to which band yourself - like a choose your own adventure! God, this one has been bloody ridiculous, I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
Backstage at the Festival of Sue with (from left) BILLY POMMER JR, CLYDE BRAMLEY and ROB YOUNGER. EMMY ETIE photo.
GUADALUPE PLATA (Donostia, Basque Country) GUADALUPE PLATA are an innovative 3 piece comprising (1) vocals and guitar (2) washtub bass/guitar and (3) drums. The play an eclectic and exotic mix of rock, blues, jazz and rockabilly. I saw them perform live after my solo show in Donostia, Basque Country this year. Pedro’s guitar playing reminded me of my own, at times, demented approach to guitar playing.
KELLEY STOLZ, (Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco). KELLEY STOLZ is a singer, songwriter, musician from the USA. His music has been compared to that of BRIAN WILSON, VELVET UNDERGROUND, NICK DRAKE and LEONARD COHEN. He played an awesome show with SARAH BETHE NELSON as support. Kelley is an all- rounder – a singer, musician and song writer. The real deal.
“A FESTIVAL OF SUE: THE JDS ARE ON YOU” (The Factory Theatre, Marrickville, Sydney) Friends of SUE TELFER banded together to pay tribute to this much-loved Sydney lady with proceeds going to Support Act. A line-up that included myself (with special guest BILLY POMMER JNR on drums), X, the NEW CHRISTS, THE JOHNNYS, KIM SALMON, THE CRUEL SEA (instrumental), FRONT END LOADER, THE MIS-MADE, THE HOLY SOUL, & THE ON AND ONS. Having BILLY POMMER JNR on drums certainly gave me a run for my money. Highlights for me included the NEW CHRISTS, THE CRUEL SEA, THE JOHNNYS and X. Unfortunately, I did not get to see all the acts. Too busy chatting with my friends. It was such a great turn out from Sydney folks! After my trip into the city, seeing so many old buildings torn down (which caused me a lot of distress), it was great to see that Sydney folks still have a heart – a very big heart!
Rock n Roll CPR v Nostalgia Neuralgia TheDean’s 2019 - 10 things you should know
1) D is for Dickhead Hey you! Yeah you sitting on your lounge watching TV. You sitting on your lounge, watching people sitting on their lounge, watching TV. If you’re a fan of that show no worries. I can live with that but if I have to listen to you talk to your mate Thommo about it the next day, way too loudly on the phone in a crowded carriage and your follow up sentence is “all music these days is shit” and that there hasn’t been a decent Aussie Rock Band since the Screaming Jets, you my friend; are a Dickhead.
2) A is for Australian Dirty, Fast & Built to last. The Australian Kingswood Factory album Bloodshot and Shakin’. Get on it. Buy Australian & buy it now! Cow Punk, Punk-a-billy, punk, punk rock, rock punk or just plain old dirty rock n roll? Not sure how to pigeon hole these guys but I do know they are pretty much everything I ever liked in a band back in the day. If you don’t check ‘em out next chance you get, that’s just plain Unaustralian.
2019 was first year for a while that I wasn’t doing a radio show and being in Canberra for work, I felt I was little bit out of the loop. Nonetheless, it was another memorable rock ‘n’ roll year and here’s my top10 in no particular order.
Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests at Marrickville Bowlo in Sydney This took me back to when I first started seeing bands in Melbourne in the mid ’70s. It was no-nonsense loud rock. Two really good guitarists on top of a solid rhythm section. I loved how the band occupied half the stage and hardly broke formation through the gig. The record’s pretty good, too.
Sue Telfer Tribute in Sydney It was really sad to lose Sue. She was seriously special and it was great to see so many people come out and so many good bands turn it on. All the bands I saw were great with X as a four piece the standout. I reckon it was the best gig I’ve seen Steve Lucas do.
1 The Elevator Mood - The Elevator Mood (Bandcamp) 2 Bag O’ Bones - The Reverse Cowgirls (Northern Cowboy) 3 Neon Primitives - Band of Holy Joy (Tiny Global Productions) 4 Dark Times - Doctors of Madness (Cargo Records UK) 5 My War Is Your War - deux furieuses (Xtra Mile Recordings) 6 Heightened Senses - The Cathode Ray (Stereogram Recordings) 7 In Borrowed Shoes, On Borrowed Time - The Sweet Things (Spaghetty Town Records) 8 More Guitars - Tom Rafferty(Bandcamp) 9 Address to the Nation - Chris Masuak & the Viveiro Wave Riders (I-94 Bar) 10 The Kidney Flowers - The Kidney Flowers (Bandcamp)
Gus Ironside is music editor for "Sogo" creative arts magazine and also contributes to "Louder Than War" (online and print), "Vive le Rock", "PennyBlackMusic" and "Is This Music?" He's based in Angus, Scotland.
Open Season - Mick Medew and The Mesmerisers Firstly declaring an extreme bias and a conflict of interest with this one, Mick’s second offering from the Mesmerisers is even better than the last. The addition of ex-Tribesmen tub thumper Michael Charles has added muscularity to the band and they go from strength to strength. Some Sydney and Newcastle Birdman supports really won them some new fans. Brian Mann created a stunning sounding record. My fave album of the year.
Address to the Nation - Chris Masuak and the Viveiro Wave Riders Again, another declaration as I’ve worked closely with Chris over the past thirty years. My second fave of the year… beaten by a short nose. Chris writes killer songs… plays guitar better than any player I have worked with and has a band so tight I couldn’t slide a fag paper between it. A great album, and it gave us a few wry smiles.
The Festival of Sue (X, New Christs et al) The shock of Sue Telfer’s passing pulled together a stellar line up talent who delivered on an emotional night. There were some killer performances but my top two were the New Christs, whose emotion tinged performance left no doubt that they are a top echelon act… but man of the match for mine was Steve Lucas and X. It was a blinding performance, Steve sang and played better than I have heard the band in years, Kim Volkman & Geof Holmes snarled and snorted like a beast. The Barman and Tiffany Palmer did a great job getting it all together, and we raised a great sum of cash for Support Act. I’d like to think Sue would’ve approved.
You want me to write a year in reflection? Well, where and how to start? I will bang on these keys and most likely bang on in my usual stoic warm way.
Mind you, I rarely write about music these days. I look back and reflect on the shit I once wrote and it seems all so naïve, sycophantic almost. But here’s a try and since it’s not the 10 best gigs, nor the 10 best recordings, I have license to mix it up.
Best thing that happened – helping out with the band bookings at MoshPit, a small unpretentious little bar down the south end of King St which now fits 120 people. Yes, it’s small, and don’t go there if you feel paranoid or claustrophobic as you’ll probably hate it. But, in the vein of CBGB’s in NYC, Frenches which was on Oxford Street (Darlinghurst) the Old Bar in Melbourne, and its local counterpart Midnight Special in Enmore, this place oozes fun.
Where else can you put on your favourite bands and liken it to your best ever lounge-room party. There’s a whole range of yummy booze, great staff, the co-owners Pat n Wax, + two sound people who know what they’re doing within limitations. Nunchukka Superfly, Thee Evil Twin, Face Command, White Knuckle Fever and Los Monaros are just some of the great local acts that graced there in 2019. We was lucky and their goodwill was priceless. Sydney needs venues like these so in my unbiased best, please support.
Best things I listened to – newish stuff from Pallet, Small Town Incident, White Knuckle Fever, Sounds Like Winter, Syntax Error, Joseph Leonard, Wreckless Enterprise Recordings volume 1 and 2 – compilations featuring Dirty Slutz, Babymachine, Leftards, Minor Surgery, Space Bozzies, Bitchcraft, Piss to Eme.
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.