Heirloom Varieties - Donovan’s Brain (Career Records)

heirloomAmericans watch their football games in four quarters. The Rest of The World tends to do things in halves. Just because “Heirloom Varieties” is neatly sliced into a couple of equal portions of contrasting music doesn’t make it any less of a trip to the psychedelic and pop backwoods of the US of A.

The first half (the review copy is a 14-track CD but you can score it as an 11-song LP) plays out in Paisley Underground territory, circa California 1986, with a huge nod to the jangly folk-psych of two decades earlier. That’s to say Rain Parade (that band’s Matt Pucci is a member), Green On Red and The Dream Syndicate. Steve Wynn fans will lap it up. The second half switches the mood to something darker and more psychedelic.

Another Place Another Time - The Phringe Dwellers (self released)

another time another placeDamned if this isn’t one of the best releases of the last few years out of Sydney and its by an all but unknown band. Saying Phringe Dwellers have a low live profile is like labelling Motorhead as a bunch of guys who played moderately loud. Paradoxically, this EP from the blues rock trio sounds like it was forged in the furnaces of a thousand suburban beer barns.

Of course its members are no strangers to live stages. Bassist-vocalist-harmonica player Carl Ekman and guitarist John South were members of The Hunchbacks in the ‘90s and King Felix in the ‘00s with four albums between them. Expat Melbournite and drummer, Simon Li, is a singer-songwriter who used to keep time for World Punk exponents The Balkan Grill.

Count To Ten - Jukebox Zeroes (Rankoutsider Records)

count to tenYou know these guys, even if you haven’t heard their music. They come from Philadelphia but they belong on New York City’s Lower East Side, circa the early 1980s. That puts them on the side of the good people and we’d be fucked without their like.

This is the second album in a career of more than a decade (there are three EPs scattered in there along the way) and none of it diverges from Jukebox Zeros’ stock-in-trade. Which is to say that they play it hard and fast and very much in the style of the Heartbreakers, the Dead Boys (especially), the Dictators, Kevin K, Sonny Vincent and dozens of others who were either there when it counted or dearly wish they had been.

Live dates to mark Herr Kuepper's 50th

Four decades after the release of his first record, the iconic Australian classic ''(I'm) Stranded'' by The Saints, Ed Kuepper returns with an album that may well be considered a high point in his lengthy and uncompromising career.

Recorded over three days in August at Gasworks Studio, Brisbane ''Lost Cities'' is Kuepper's 50th release (excluding compilations) and is on his own Prince Melon Records label. It is Ed’s first entirely solo and electric release, a format Herr Kuepper likes to refer to as Solo Orchestral.

Peter Black brings you a song a day

blackie song a dayWould you buy a song a day from this man?

Peter "Blackie" Black, notably of the Hard-Ons and Nunchukka Superbly, has always done things differently. He’s taking his own path again as a solo artist, releasing a song a day via his Bandcamp site Subscribe to Peter Black Solo.

Why, you ask?? When we asked him, after scrunching his face for a few minutes, his reply was: "Why not!"

The Complete Matrix Tapes - The Velvet Underground (Universal)

complete matrixIt seems totally ridiculous to tell you how important the Velvet Underground were. What do you think I am? The god damn professor of punk? I know there are some squares who blew in too late but if you haven’t made this particular scene by now, you won’t be reading this. Keep sucking on that caffeine free soy latte and tell me reading about music is so 20th Century.

I’m writing this review for those who want to know why they should fork out big bucks for this top shelf item, a box of four CDs. Those who drink out of jars and buy LPs ironically need not apply. For those people, it’s time to start feeding a new habit. Shave off that frigging beard. Go out and listen to these CDs, one through four. Take some drugs. Bad drugs.

The Dictators: Go Girl Crazy! 40th Anniversary Reissue - The Dictators (Sony)

go girl crazyThis album did not change my life. It affirmed it. When I was a pre-teen I was way into Pro Wrestling. That translated to automatic retard status among peers and adults. After all, it was fake, only an idiot would be so into it. And having Slade as my favorite band was not earning me any coolness points at school either.

And then, first darned rock mag I ever bought - either Circus or Circus Raves - there was a review by one Gordon Fletcher of this now-classic. Man, it sounded like everything I was looking for. I got the LP right away and was blown away by everything about it.

Most especially the songs of course, but also the graphics - just like my wrestling mags - and the fact that not only did they have wrestling promos on the record, they knew who Verne Gagne and Dick The Bruiser were. They really knew their stuff! Plus, like me, they were Jews from NYC.

Louder Than Love - The Grande Ballroom Story

louder than love coverSeismic changes in music don’t occur spontaneously. They’re usually a result of people unwittingly being in the right place at the right time, running into a catalyst and stumbling over a big stockpile of serendipity.

Does anyone think CBGB would have been anything more than the source of dogshit on the soles of a few Bowery bums’ shoes if Hilly Krystal hadn’t been conned by a supposed bluegrass band into giving live music a try?

How quickly would the Sex Pistols have fizzled out if Queen hadn’t cancelled on Bill Grundy at the last minute, presumably so Freddy could get his nails done? McLaren had no more planned the TV outburst that propelled his band to infamy as Steve Jones had sworn off the booze.

In 1966, a former dance hall on the shady side of Detroit called The Grande Ballroom became both a focal point for the counter culture and a scene. It attracted and generated a strain of high-energy, blue collar rock and roll, the likes of which have been seen rarely anywhere else. It came into being through good management, but also through incredible luck.

Till Death Do Us Party - Levitating Churches (self released)

till death do us partyThe catchcry “No Squares Or Hippies” re-appears on the LP’s sleeve and it’s as apt as the “Play Loud” instruction on the back cover. Levitating Churches deal in a jagged, jarring blend of psych blues and hard rock on their second, vinyl only long player. Lovers of the flute or banjo need to seek their kicks elsewhere.

A little less psych and more straight-ahead than its predecessor “Levitating Churches”, “Till Death..” shows a band whose feet remain planted firmly in the garage scene of the late ‘60s. If these guys dig Roky more than Iggy and that’s a truism rather than a criticism.

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