Top Tens for 2022: Spencer P Jones biographer Patrick Emery
Patrick couldn't make the photo session so he sent Halfrid.
1. Spencer P Jones tribute night, Tote Hotel, 16 April.
Everything I’d hoped from that gig, and more. Foggy Notion, James McCann, Digger and the Pussycats and the Escape Committee led by the incomparable, indefatigable Helen Cattanach. The opening three song salvo – “Terrorise Your Friends”, “What’s Got Into Him” and “Your Pretty Face is Going to Waukeegan” – with Sly Faulkner on vocals and The Last Gasp horns, was as powerful a start to a set that I can remember. So much love in the air. Spencer would’ve loved it.
2. Cactus Room, Thornbury, Melbournety
Band for band, beer for beer, room for room, gig for gig, vibe for vibe, scene for scene, this is hands-down the best music venue in Melbourne. Some highlights from this year: The Baudelaires’ album launch, Grinding Eyes headlining a night of front lobe crushing psychedelia, White Flower Society walking us through a garden of post-punk soul, Neon Goblin exploring Zappa through a prog filter and various appearances from Cactus owner/manager Dave Houston’s kaleidoscopic desert outfit, Black Bats.
3. The Baudelaires, "TiLT".
The Baudelaires have been around for the best part of a decade and reappeared this year with one of my three favourite Melbourne albums. Within every song is a dirty rock lick, layered with psychedelic beauty.
4. Wild City.
The winner of this year’s Local Band that James McCann Told Me About Award (previous winners Foggy Notion and Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters). Solid, sparkling riffs wherever you look and listen.
5. Split System.
Speaking of Jackson Reid Briggs, Split System finds Jackson out front, sans guitar, fronting a local supergroup of sorts. Number one with a razor-edged punk bullet on the Local Garage Punk Hit Parade. Go and see them. You know you should.
6. Digger and the Pussycats.
I worked out I’ve known these guys for a third of my life, which I don’t know is more disconcerting to Sam and Andy or me. Digger’s set at the Spencer tribute gig was perfect for the occasion: all the fan favourites, a cover of The Gun Club’s “She’s Like Heroin to Me” and finishing up with Beasts of Bourbon’s “Ten Wheels for Jesus” segueing into Andre Williams’ ”Let Me Put It In”. A special moment to remember. Youse guys are just awesome.
7. Persecution Blues.
Don’t let lead singer Joe’s wild antics fool you (though they’re certainly enough to distract) – this is a tough, tight rock’n’roll band from the same riff factory that gave the world Rose Tattoo, AC/DC and Powder Monkeys. Saw them a few times this year, including a 1.30am show at the Tote which was stupidly good fun. If you’ve seen Persecution Blues, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
8. Minami Deutsch, Bendigo Hotel, 8 December 2022.
Enchanting. From the brutalist colours of Krautrock to the shores of California rock, to the edges of contemporary LA pop melody, to the head banging intensity of cognitively functional Sabbath. Still processing it. Can’t talk now, coming down.
9. Richie Ramone’s Strangeworld Records.
If it’s worth getting, Richie has got it, or will find a way to get it, because you really should listen to this record, you’ll absolutely love it, take my word for it. I’ve got a special spot in my record collection titled ‘Great records Richie pushed on me’. This year’s favourite additions: Fanatasm and Hooveriii. Still on high rotation.
10. Enrique Morente and Lagartija Nick, “Omega”.
Juan from Bang! waxed lyrical about this recording from some years back and sent me a copy of the CD to prove the point. Astounding, almost indefinable musical collage that pays homage to Leonard Cohen, built upon Enrique Morente’s freakishly brilliant flamenco guitar skills, spliced with industrial strength lo-fi new wave punk attitude of Lagartija Nick. The sort of record that changes your brain forever. Thanks Juan.