Supergroup The Monkeywrench are touring Australian shores for the first time.
Co-founded in 1991 by Mudhoney's Mark Arm and Steve Turner with Tim Kerr (guitarist for the Big Boys and Poison 13), The Monkeywrench was intended to be a one-album band. With additional members Tom Price (U-Men, Gas Huffer) and Australian Martin Bland (Lubricated Goat) they ended up recording three LPs: “Clean As A Broken Dick Dog” (1992), “Electric Children” (2000) & “Gabriel’s Horn” (2008).
Earlier this year, the band reunited to play ATP Festival in the UK plus shows in Seattle and London. With another performance at Sound on Sound Festival in Austin this November, the band decided to add Australia to their schedule.
With another reformation unlikely in the foreseeable future this could be the only time to see these legendary players on the one stage together as The Monkeywrench.
THE MONKEYWRENCH (USA) AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2016
THURS 17TH NOV CROWN & ANCHOR, ADELAIDE Tix via Moshtix
A vinyl fanatic you may be, but owning most of these 26 tracks in their original format would set you back almost as much as a down-payment on a modest piece of real estate in the over-heated Sydney property market. So put aside your collector scum aspirations and focus on the merits of this formidable collection of ‘60s gems on CD instead.
Australia’s garage and beat history is under-appreciated - despite the best efforts of labels like Raven and others of dubious legal standing - so new imprint Playback is a welcome market entrant. “I Want, Need, Love You” focuses on the output of The 5, Toni McCann, The Black Diamonds and The Pogs, spanning the period 1965-68, with about half the tracks new to CD. As many as possible have been sourced from the original masters.
Packing their fourth and probably strongest album so far, Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds are heading back to Australia in August.
“La Araña Es La Vida” summons the Mexican muse of The Great Spider Goddess of Teoticuhan, who sprouts hallucinogenic morning glories and protects the underworld, or in Kid’s eyes, the world of underground music.
Recorded at The Harveyville High School gym in Kansas by guitarist-vocalist Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds), bassist Kiki Solis (Baby Baby Dance With Me, Knife in The Water, Rhythm of Black Lines), drummer Ron Miller (Switch Hitter, Up The Academy) are joined by Chicano, Mosrite playing guitarist Mark Cisneros (Medications, Deathfix), it’s on In The Red Records.
Kid Congo and his band toured Australia to rapturous reviews in January 2016. The extensive tour just seven months later covers five states and the Northern Territory.
KID CONGO & THE PINK MONKEY BIRDS AUSTRALIAN TOUR THURS 18 AUG - Lighthouse Theatre, Darwin Festival, NT FRI 19 AUG - Mojo's, Fremantle, WA SAT 20 AUG - Crown & Anchor, Adelaide, SA WED 24 AUG - The Bridge Hotel, Castlemain, VIC THURS 25 AUG - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC FRI 26 AUG - Friday Nights @ NGV, Melbourne VIC SAT 27 AUG - Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC THURS 1 SEPT - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW FRI 2 SEPT - The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD - Tickets
If you are looking for some nice, FM radio-friendly songs with melodies, coherent vocals, studio overdubs and perfect mixes, stop reading now. This album is not for you.
"Landfill" is one fast, fuck-knows-what album that’s like getting a shot of who-knows-what, you-know-where. Getting much info on the band off the internet isn't great but who cares this album is a good, fast 30 minutes of Brisbane punk rock at its best.
After half a dozen albums you’d expect these Swedish veterans to be good at this thing called Garage Pop and they don’t let anybody down on this meaty four-song EP. It’s catchy, rough-edged pop with twin-guitars.
Dee Rangers are firmly stuck in the 1980s but that’s a positive around these parts. Sweden, the US West Coast, the UK and Australia were all hot spots back for garage rock with distinct ‘60s overtones back then and this release reminds you as much.
Prime cut “I Want You” is straight out of Burbank with a surging organ line, gritty guitars and an impassioned vocal all hanging off a catchy hook. Pers Nystrom announces Utte Petterson’s lead-break with a howl before we’re dropped back into the chorus. Killer stuff.
Love Cans play minimalist garage punk and and come from Switzerland. No, that sentence isn’t an oxymoron. The Land of Bankers, Cuckoo Clocks and Chocolate is, in fact, a rich breeding ground for this sort of music and Love Cans nail it as well as any.
Being a bare bones trio (guitar-keys-drums) of psychos, they revel in the lower end of the aural spectrum. Parochially speaking, this is the precisely the sound Australian kids are devouring in an underground scene that most people don't see because it generally operates outside of established "rock" venues. I'm sure things aren't much different in Europe.
Organist Dany Digler’s drawled vocal is buried in the mix on “Scary Eyes” which is a vaguely rockabilly-tinged work-out that meanders a little. The sound’s more jagged and strident on “Grave Yard” with Bab Digler’s distorted guitar to the fore. Dany’s Lux Interior-styled vocal (wailing about “too many dead”) and hypnotic organ sound give “Grave Yard” a seamy feel and its corpse is kicked along by Meryl Love’s simple but forceful drumming.
The vinyl single doesn't come with a download code but you can solve that problem (if it is one) by checking Love Cans out on Bandcamp where this is available as a physical product and download. If you like what you hear, Burning Sound can hook you up with another five track digital release.
It’s just not fair. They couldn’t just be content with releasing “Friday Night Heroes” - a record that’s on the (very) short-list for Aussie Album of The Year. Those unassuming Leadfinger blokes went and put on a live show to launch their record that was as good as Real Rock and Roll gets.
You can dismiss the above statement as hyperbole and never hunt down their music but it would be your loss. If Sydney’s live music scene replaced half its acts with bands as good as Leadfinger, we’d be Melbourne. Venues would magically re-open. People would go out again. It’s that simple.
The dilemma in Sydney is that gig-goers who used to consume live music regularly now conserve their funds and energy for something special or familiar. That indirectly pushes down the quality of bands – except, maybe, on a subterranean level , where the kids go – and that makes punters less likely to take a chance. Ergo, The Law of Diminishing Returns collides with Cultural Fragmentation. Hello: Cover Bands and Heritage Acts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at the right time and place, but if it wasn’t for originality, we’d have no history to chase down.
And you worry about minor shit like Trump getting his hands on the thermonuclear launch codes…
Tamara, Richard and Stacey on-stage at the Tote. Matthias Baratheon O'Meara photo
It has now been six years since was lining up at the Excelsior Hotel in Sydney when Jim Dickson (New Christs and Radio Birdman bass-player) told me about this band from Brisbane that I had to check out. Knowing Jim for three decades from his time selling Indian food down at Max’s in the late ’80s, I had never heard him express how blown away he was by a local band.
It’s 25 HITS gigs later for me. I’ve been seeing them from a time when only about five of us living outside their home of BrisVegas were convinced that they could be the greatest exponents of dirty, street-level rock ’n’ roll in this country.
Nowadays, HITS are the band on everyone’s lips. That’s why I am flying down from Sydney to to see my favourite Aussie band to play The Tote in Melbourne, not long before they’re due to embark on their second tour of Europe.