The Vibrajets - The Vibrajets (Fyrebyrd Records)

vibrajets epWith more twang than you can poke a tuning fork at and a vibe that’s positively from the ’50s, this modest little vinyl EP from a Melbourne band is a bona fide gem. Three of the four songs are instrumentals but, unusually for that sort of music, with no surfboards overtly in sight.

It’s valve amp retro rock that draws its inspiration from the pre-surf era of guitar-driven popular music. With Julian Matthews (Stems bassist and also in The Level Spirits) the “star turn” who’s something of a guitar master these days, The Vibrajets embrace the old with a dynanism that steers clear of this ever being authentic for authenticity’s sake.

“Rock til the End of Time” gives rhythm guitarist Sammy-Lee Croissant her time at the mic with a vocal that’s straight out of The Wanda Jackson School. The guitars get up and dance on “33 Errol Street” and while “Petrol Fumes” is a straight-up rocker, “Steak & Eggs” belies its name and is a vibrato monster.

Shake down The Vibrajets on Facebook if you want a mail order copy or hassle them at a show. Reckon Off The Hip would be the right retail place to ask about it in Melbourne if bricks and mortar is your thing.

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Should I Suck or Should I Blow? - Heavy Drapes (Suck-Revolution Records/Tarbeach Records)

suck or blowWhen was the last time you heard a British guitar band with the energy of the Sex Pistols, swagger of the New York Dolls and great songs to boot? Scottish punk band Heavy Drapes (the name’s something to do with Malcolm McLaren/Vivienne Westwood’s shop, apparently) have been making quite an impact since the release of this impressive four-track EP (vinyl or CD on Suck Revolution Records), which has now been re-released as a US edition by New York-based Tarbeach Records.

While many UK punk bands have sunk into a mire of clichéd, pseudo-political lyrics and music to match, Heavy Drapes stand out due to the quality of their songs and the sheer exuberance with which they are performed. The four band members have all adopted appropriate noms de guerre; hence we have De Liberate on vocals, Rikki Stiv on guitar, Jerry Dangerous handling bass duties and Billy Chaos on the traps. Fortunately, there’s much more to this group than just a good dollop of old school show-biz pizazz (which they have in spades.) Heavy Drapes can back up their image with serious musical chops.

Robert Quine remembered

quine marcia resnickMarcia Resnick photo

A handful of songs into just one album, and Robert Quine had staked a claim as one of the most distinctive guitar sounds on the New York punk scene.

Quine was part of that small but influential coterie of musicians, artists-turned-musicians and assorted dilettantes that populated a seedy ex-biker bar called "CBGB and OMFUG" at 315 The Bowery, on the Big Apple's seamy Lower East Side. He was the principal guitarist in Richard Hell and the Voidoids, a unique quartet spitting out some of the New Wave's most disturbing music.

On the 12th anniversary of the passing of Robert Quine, we present this archived interview from May 2000. 

Fuck you Sydney, the Currie was hot in Adelaide

cherie wideJoanne Bennett photo

I missed Babes Are Wolves but caught The Babes (two men, two women), who did a good strong metallish rock set - both bands had people dancing and paying attention despite only using about a quarter of the stage. No mean feat. Both are Adelaide acts and I can see I’ll have to investigate properly.

One of the most enduring memories I will carry away with me from tonight’s show is that this 5’1” thin scrap of a person, Cherie Currie, demonstrated sensibility, strength and love without any of the usual r’n’r proclamatory chest-beating. She still looks gorgeous (her genes should be investigated and the rights procured) with her boyish figure and sexy smirk …

But that’s the last time you’ll see me use the term “sex”. It’s essential to mention, of course, but whereas most of us, at 56, have begun to look like Santa (and the ladies begin to resemble the Family Guy dog’s lost teenage love.. I don’t know if you know the episode, Brian turns up at a shack where some ghastly bovine opens the door and…) Cherie looks good in a way most of us would kill to look like when we were 32.

Ed returns for a second dose of "Lost Cities"

Ed Kuepper returns with part 2 of his "Lost Cities" album Australian tour, performing solo and in duo mode across select dates in Darwin, Newcastle, Sydney, Katoomba and Melbourne.

The duo shows see Kuepper reunite with his old sparring partner Mark Dawson – a collaborator most notably on the celebrated “Today Wonder” and ARIA winning “Honey Steels Gold” albums – between them featuring two of Ed’s most recognisable tracks in “Everything I’ve Got” and “The Way I Made You Feel”. Mark will join Ed for shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Belgrave.

Vaporized! – Vaporized! (cassette and download from Urge Records)

vaporized tapeSometimes I want to avoid the fact that I'm becoming an old fart. Sadly, talking up the "good old days" is a sign of this. Even so, it seems relevant when talking about today's Sydney, the bands and the live scene. It's how I view the world. 

I remember when I was seeing bands most nights of the week. It was somewhat of an outlaw existence and hard to comprehend it all at just 19-years-old. Back then, anyone over 24 was “old”. The veteran bands were the Sex Pistols and Radio Birdman. Then there was Iggy, who was ancient.

It was the early ‘80s and I was living in Surry Hills in Central Sydney when could you get a room in a shared house hold for $25 a week. There were quality, cutting-edge bands playing within a few minutes’ walk, five nights a week. The Triffids, The End, The Moffs, Salamander Jim, Scientist, The Laughing Clowns, and all that Black Eye art-noise band stuff.  There were venues everywhere - Trade Union Club, Evil Star, French’s, The Strawberry Hills, The Lansdowne and The Hopetoun. Then there were the squat gigs or house parties where everyone put bands on in their lounge rooms. And mostly always, those were free. It’s now all just a faded blur. 

Cherie bombs as Sydney stays home

cherie bombGrowing up in Sydney in the ‘80s,  we were spoiled. The amorphous thing called Pub Rock spawned an explosion of live music and it was literally everywhere. The one thing all those bands had in common is still hard to put your finger on but you could term it The Pub Contract.

From the audience side, the Contract read like this: “Don’t give us any airs and graces. If you aren’t any good, we’re going to put shit on you. Due to us consuming social lubricants in prodigious proportions, you need to play hard to get our attention.”

Those days are gone and only a few people care anymore. The ones who might be keen are buried deep under mortgages, families and adulthood.

Maybe it was the lack of a crowd, skewed expectations or the fact that The Runaways were never mandated high rotation listening in my own world, but Friday night’s Cherie Currie show at the Manning Bar in Sydney fell flatter than a soufflé in a bricklayers’ pie oven.

It wasn’t entirely the fault of the headliner.

The Runaways’ place in history is notable if slightly perverse. On one hand, as an all-girl band in a man’s world, they provided inspiration for a later generation of Riot Grrrls and (Punk Rock) Sisters Doing It For Themselves. On the other hand, they were shamelessly objectified, used and abused and have become a cautionary object lesson in exploitation.

Round Eye send a message home to the USA

Expatriate Americans living in Shanghai in China, Round Eye have unleashed a video to accompany their song “Billy” which is a stringing critique on the state of politics back home.

Round Eye recently signed to the Canadian label Sudden Death Records (owned by DOA’s Joey Shithead) and collaborated with the late Stooges sax man Steve Mackay on an eponymous record "Round Eye" last year which you can hear and download via theiur Bandcamp (link below).

“We've lived here for 6 years but have never neglected the issues of home,” explains singer Chachy. “This video is our open letter to the United States.  We really put a lot of work into this to ensure the message is very loud and very clear.”

Round Eye on Bandcamp

Round Eye on the Web

 

Sydney to turn it on for Spencer

SpencerPJonesByCarbieWarbieSydney’s music community is rallying to get behind much-loved rocker Spencer P Jones in an hour of need.

Spencer is battling serious illness and fund-raisers have been popping up all over Australia. Sydney is responding with its own show, The Axeman’s Benefit, on Friday, June 24 at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville.

Died Pretty is headlining a heavyweight bill which will include Spencer’s old band The Johnnys (with guest vocalists), the Hoodoo Gurus (playing a mini-set), home-grown garage up-starts Straight Arrows and psych-punk veterans Young Docteurs.  The Johnnys will close the night.

The killer line-up will be augmented by a bevy of guest musicians including Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil), Simon Day (Ratcat), Jack Ladder, Murray Cook, MC Anthony Morgan, Jason Walker, Peter Fenton (Crow) and Kane Dyson (Spurs For Jesus.) FBi’s Jack Shit will be lending his DJ talents.

All of the acts have played alongside or recorded with Spencer in some capacity.  Died Pretty is fresh from a summer of sold-out A Day On The Green and club shows and is re-convening especially for Spencer.

Although his career has been mainly under the mainstream music radar, Spencer P Jones has been a tremendously influential figure in Australia.

Arriving in Australia from New Zealand in 1976, Spencer came to prominence with hard-drinking cowpunks the Johnnys and then inner-Sydney swamp supergroup the Beasts of Bourbon, he’s also played with the Gun Club, Renee Geyer, Chris Bailey, Rowland S Howard, Nick Cave and Paul Kelly.

In recent years he’s been recording and playing with his own solo bands as well as members of The Scientists and The Drones.

Tickets for The Axeman’s Benefit went on sale last  night and are here. A substantial number have gone already so don't delay.

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