Therapy that will renew your faith

snake pit therapy albumSnake Pit Therapy – Sonny Vincent (Svart)

I-94 Bar regulars will know that Sonny Vincent is held in high regard around these parts. He is the Fucking Real Deal for whom Rock and Roll is a calling, not a paerttime job. If you’re not a fan of proselytizing on behalf of Real Rock and Roll, you can stop reading now, because even more than the usual level of evangelistic hard-sell follows.

Just the facts: “Snake Pit Therapy” is Album Number 30-something from the indefatigable punk rock veteran and it’s as good a collection of songs as he’s delivered to date, as well as his best-sounding record.

Not to be confused with Sonny's recent book of the same name, “Snake Pit Therapy” blends familiar melodies with powerful downstroke playing and buckets of passion. It’s delivered with a measured wisdom that only a life lived travelling many miles of bad road can bring.

If your party's ruined by this, consider inviting different people

vr volume 5Volume 5: A Label Compilation to Ruin Any Party – Various Artists (Voodoo Rhythm)

A good judge once said that when Voodoo Rhythm releases are good, they’re very good. If you’re applying the label motto, “Music to ruin any party”, this compilation borders on great. Mind you, you’re also inviting the wrong kind of people to your knees-ups.

Voodoo Rhythm is resuming its compilation series after a long lay-off and there’s no better place for the uninitiated to dive in.

Garage Rock is such an overused term. Voodoo Rhythm trade in it – and then some. If it’s not too ableist, let’s call their catalogue “Helen Keller Mistaking a Vegetable Slicer for a Braille Textbook” and be done with it. The aural output is typically raw, violent and bloody.

Mammas Don't Let Your Punks Grow Up to Be Cowboys

hate streetFall In Love On Hate Street ‎- REQ'D (Doomtaker)
Pulling Up Floorboards – REQ’D (Doomtaker)

It’s often said, and not in jest, that inside every punk is an alt.country dude just waiting to bust out just as soon as he or she wears out some body parts. Sluggo from acrobatic San Francisco punks The Grannies is no different.

After 20 years of touring and now a father who, not unreasonably, wanted to be ambulatory in his autumn years, Sluggo formed REQ’D (pronounced: “wrecked”) with a group of Oakland, CA, friends. The idea was to record a song, “Song For Blixa”, written for Sluggo’s then-ill son. The good news is that Blixa is in remission and REQ’D kept the record button on.

Shock! A tribute that (mostly) doesn't suck

ill be your mirrorI’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico – Various Artists (Verve)

Tribute albums usually have their fair share of lowlights bordering on the "what the fucks". Worst still, their highlights usually rank at a mere meh.  At best, someone will pull off a single worthy take of something and rescue the whole project from being a waste of time. 

The first Velvet Underground album is now an unquestioned classic seen as a cornerstone of modern rock.  It does this because of, not in spite of, its "dangerous" themes and avant-garde sound.  Even the "pretty" songs seem to arrive from another world, twisted by low-fi audio recording.

Sir George Martin was not at the mixing desk. And that is why the first Velvet Underground album rules.  Oh, that and genius players and songwriting.  That didn't hurt.

Flying by the seat of his pants: Robert Brokenmouth's punk rock war

smallpox confidential live

Adelaide-based writer, editor, and sometime-musician Robert Brokenmouth took the time, during lockdown — well, lockdown for us non-South Australians, at least — to reflect on his literary and musical trajectory. Its a curious bundle of projects and interests that Brokenmouth juggles — the war buff and the punk music-buff occupy the same territory (no military pun intended) without apparent contradiction.

Brokenmouths published achievements include his chronicling of Melbournes punk scene in the 1996 book “Nick Cave: The Birthday Party and Other Epic Adventures” as well as editing fictionalisedmilitary histories such as Australian WWII navigator Ray Olliss 101 Nights and air gunner John Bede Cusacks “They Hosed Them Out”.  

For Brokenmouth, war and punk have one thing in common, perhaps: both are opportunities for adventure, in very different shapes and forms, but adventure nevertheless.

With COVID-19 limiting opportunities to meet for an interview, Robert kindly responded to my questions via email — and though you might not getting him talking so prolifically in real life, its clear that when he puts pen to paper, or finger-pads to keyboard, hes got a lot to say, and a rollicking history all his own.

Ive pulled out some choice tidbits from Roberts life and career to give you a sense of the BoysOwn, Boys Next Door fan.

Ekranoplans mix irreverence with punk licks

ekranoplansUnconditional Loop – Ekranoplans (LedaTape Organisation)

One of the enduring paradoxes of the past 18 months has been the adherence of certain apparently progressive communities to the discourse of compliance.

For communities that see their antecedents in rebellion, hedonism, nihilism and two-fingered defiance in the face of state intervention, cleaving to the rhetoric of "doing the right thing" is worthy of lengthy academic analysis – even more so when the impact of compliance on the very existence of fringe communities is thrown into the mix. Still, the discourse of 60s radicals is polluted with self-serving assertions of piety, so it’s nothing new.

Compliance is a necessary thread in social fabric, but it’s not an ends in itself, nor is its practice an invitation to prance around wearing the thin cloak of moral piety. Because no society ever progresses without judicious acts of non-compliance, compliance is a behavioural instinct that must always been second guessed.

Unfortunately, in the current warped political climate, libertarian protestations of ‘freedom’ – itself a nebulously defined and ideologically charged term rarely understood by its cheerleaders – have been become the rambling tropes of wingnut conspiracy theorists and renegade elected officials who wouldn’t know their Derrida from their derriere.

So where does that leave Melbopurne’s Ekranoplans? Bent, most likely, but in a good way.

This compilation will ruin any party

voodoo rhythm logoOn the approach to the world's oddest rock and roll label's 30th anniversary, Voodoo Rhythm Records is marking the milestone with a return to its compilation series. 

Vol. 5” is the Swiss cult label’s first collection since 2013 ,and will showcase 15 tracks of new and old cuts from a global stable of outlier artists in the punk, garage, one-man band, cumbia, psychedelic, and country folk-trash genres. 

The bands featured hail from Europe, America, and Japan. They range fromn the amphetamine n' vinyl fetishes of The Devils, the lonesome drifter country-trash ballads of Trixie & The Trainwrecks, the heroin-groove reverb of francophones Destination Lonely, and the dark, rural folk orchestrations of The Dead Brothers. 

This limited edition  compilation will be an exclusive vinyl release with an animated, live-action illustration by Bucharest-based artist Andy "Sinboy" Luke. You can view Sinboy's portfolio, including his gig posters, animation clips, and graffiti work. “Vol. 5” is out in October and pre-orders are here

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Doing The Understanding?

ron blue tjgarvie It should be no surprise that Ron S Peno and The Superstitions have delivered their most fully realised album yet in “Do The Understanding”.

With 12 years and three previous long players behind them, they’re a crack outfit of experienced Melbourne players, fronted by a vocalist who made an indelible mark with Died Pretty.

Everyone has a COVID-19 story, and musicians are doing it harder than most.

But Ron Peno’s own experience was preceded by a diagnosis of esophageal cancer, followed by chemo and radiotherapy, and then remission. A much-delayed Died Pretty national tour in April this year was sandwiched between lockdowns.

“Do The Understanding” has a prolonged and disrupted gestation stretching back to its formative writing in 2018, but it’s a contender for best Australian album of the year.

It’s a record full of drama and delicacy; a superb collection of songs underpinned by soulful playing and (arguably) the best vocals of Ron Peno’s career.

“I really pleased with it. It's taken a while to surface but we're really pleased with the seven songs,” a dapper Peno says over a Saturday afternoon Zoom connection.

“I think it's seven wonderful songs. Nice, strong, rather than putting too many tunes on there.

“It's just an hour. It's seven songs. Nobody says you have to have 10 songs. It's a little journey…start here, you finish there, drift off into the distance, you know, and if it's  too short…play it again. Take the take the journey again.

The Prehistorics pull out the big guns

racket du jour cvrRacket Du Jour - The Prehistorics (Sonic Artillery Records)

The fifth album from Australia's The Prehistorics and it's a real return de force!!

From the first note of the first track “Circus Maximus”, I knew that I was in for a rockin’ good time with this album, as I quickly ran back to the stereo to turn up the volume a little bit more. And, by the time I get to the third track “Scene Queen” and its awesome riffage, I’m yet again turning it up just a bit more. This track would make a great single.

“Caveman” brings on some fun dynamics, the time signature changes from the engine room of producer Michael Carpenter, playing both drums and bass, is almost hypnotic.

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