Even if writing about music really is like dancing about architecture, applying descriptors is still a necessary evil. You could probably tag Brisbane’s Prog Psych. Americans would probably call them a Jam Band. Both would be correct.
Dreamtime hails from the depths of Brisbane’s underground scene and its music is as exploratory as it gets these days. Both feet are planted firmly in the late-‘60s scene of the US West Coast with a bit of Syd’s Floyd thrown in for good measure. These are meandering, weighty jams built on guitars and a nimble but minimalist engine room. “Sun” pulls in influences like Eastern ragas and percussive touches like chimes.
Sometimes I think I’m a bastard instead of being just somewhat scatterbrained. See, I put this order in to Easy Action and they sent a couple of other CDs as well. Generous of them. And I never thanked them.
Alright, I’d had a couple of man-flu health ishoos, and there were other inconveniences. But I never fucking thanked them. And they’re a generous, intelligent company. I feel like a small limp dick confessing this. But you should know some of the circumstances.
Comeback kings the Sunnyboys have announced a full-blown Aussie summer tour, along with deluxe releases of their second and third studio albums.
The 2015 tour will include shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide plus a slot at the Perth International Arts Festival, just the second Sunnyboys appearance in the W.A. capital since 1984.
Brisbane and Sydney will be treated to appearances by their former sparring partners, the Riptides. Other guests on the February tour include The New Christs (Melbourne and Sydney) young punks Bad // Dreems (Adelaide) and Dom Mariani's post-Stems vehicle DM3, in Perth.
Fifteen years after it was recorded, this superb piece of Nomads ramalama sees the light of day as a split single with psychedelic collective Donovan’s Brain.
Recorded in Montana while they were sweeping through the nooks and crannies of North America, Sweden’s finest manage to lay waste to this rippling instrumental (written by studio owner and Brain ringmaster Ron Sanchez) like it was one of their own. This is desert driving music, simple as that. A big, fat fuzz bassline and tumbleweed guitars from the severely underrated pairing of Hans Ostlnd and Nick Vahlberg - supplemented by Sanchez and bandmate Richard Teece - make this something special.
Donovan’s Brain plays a whole different ball-game to the Nomads but the flipside keeps up the pyrotechnics levels. “Bread Man” is a Sanchez vocal-led heavy psych rocker fleshed out by Deniz Tek lead guitar. It’s over too soon. “Snow in Miami” eschews vocals and goes for a roughed up surf sound. It dates from 1998 with then-Brain guitarist Richard in place, adding some tasty skronk.
1/4 - The Nomads
- Donovan's Brain
Career Records on the Web
Tuned-down, thuggish riffage played by a Birmingham power trio of veterans, “Crazy” is the sort of song best played at stun volume. Dave Twist’s heavily propulsive drumming recalls Rock Action on the A side. Paint-stripper guitar and a fuck you vocal make “Crazy” glow with more menace menace than a short-changed back-street mugger after chiucking out time.
These guys have doubled as Walter Lure’s UK backing band and although “Crazy” is more Sabbath than “Going Steady,” you can appreciate that Waldo’s foot soldiers are tarred with a similar brush. The B side is even better than the A. Alan Byron locks onto a riff and doesn’t let go. Darren Birch’s simple bass-line throbs away under a ragged vocal. An album of this stuff would go down well.
The band has issued this on their own label but it’s being distributed via Easy Action. Go here for the goods or risk a good thumping.
Chuck Trend photo
For the first time in their 21-year existence, Memphis garage rock legends The Oblivians are touring Australia.
As well as the Golden Plains Festival near Meredith in Victoria, The Oblivians will play headline dates at Newtown Social Club in Sydney (March 4), Brisbane Hotel in Hobart (March 5), Barwon Club in Geelong (March 9), Wooly Mammoth in Brisbane (March 14) and a special three-night residency at Melbourne's iconic The Tote on March 11, 12 and 13.
Riding to Newcastle to catch the first show of Radio Birdman tour is the obvious choice. Didn’t quite seem like it, trying to get outa Sydney on a Friday arvo. I took a quick spurt up the footpath a few times to relieve the tension. Then we hit the freeway and Jenny gave me that tap on the left hip that means ‘slow down’ but I was doing 90mph through one of the tighter curves and slowing down wasn’t the point. Nor possible. Can’t brake a motorcycle unless it’s reasonably upright.
1982, the first time I really heard Radio Birdman was the 1976 2JJ show at midnight on a Monday. Used to be a lot of good movies on late back then, ‘Vanishing Point’, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, ‘Five Easy Pieces.’ One night I walked into my little bedroom at the back of the house, flicked on the radio and my life changed.
Every friend and lover, every beautiful terrible moment, it all started then. It’s been one hell of a ride and the road rolls ever on.
The battle-lines used to be clearly drawn between Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney was the home of high-energy guitar rock in its many variants, many of them Motor City-derived, while Melbourne spawned an artier, darker strain of music with one foot squarely planted in territory that became known as junkie rock.
These days Sydney’s musical crown is less faded than displaced. Melbourne is in the ascendancy. Its thriving music scene retains an artiness but it rocks as well. The place still does darkness better than most but its palette seems broader. Its tentacles seem to spread further than any other scene in Australia.
Norwegian-American Mark Steiner has visited Melbourne and gulped hard on water drawn from its musical well. He did an Australian tour a few years back but the influences were obviously already in place. There’s a Bad Seeds/Rowland S Howard/Wreckery streak several kilometres wide running right down the back of his bluesy music, but it’s marked by poise rather than self pity.
This review could start with a pithy line about Melbourne cornering the Australian market for bluesy, ballsy female vocalists but it won’t - even if it might just be true. Let’s just say that Fiona Lee Maynard and her band, The Holy Men, face stiff competition in their home city, but manage to be at the head of the pack.
You might know the singer’s name from fronting In Vivo, the outfit whose ranks included Dave Thomas (Bored!) about 15 years ago. She was also in the more mainstream powerpoppy Have A Nice Day. The Holy Men are a lot more “street level”. Think of an Antipodean Johnette Napolitano with an Aussie pub-honed band behind her.