As Comets on Fire burnt out – inevitably perhaps, given the band’s incendiary exploration of psychedelic expression – guitarist Ethan Miller looked to the warm and free spirited grooves of ‘70s rock when forming his new band, Howlin Rain.
For lyrical inspiration, Miller cast his eye over the complex cultural melting pot that is the United States. Howlin Rain’s fifth album, “The Alligator Bride”, was released mid-way through the Trump era; the band’s latest album, “Dharma Wheel”, was conceived just as Trump’s tumultuous presidency ran head long into the descending clouds of global pandemic.
A prolific touring act, Howlin Rain had been scheduled to tour Australia in April 2020, only to find itself marooned at home as international borders banged closed. Now heading back to Australia for the first time since Comets on Fire toured here 15 years ago, and with “Dharma Wheel” finally released after 18 months’ abeyance, Ethan Miller talks about Howlin Rains’ symbiotic relationship with America, American culture and Americana.
When Can I Fly? The Sleepers, Tuxedomoon & Beyond By Michael Belfer Foreword by Jon Savage Hozac Books
I'm not that into art rock or prog rock, or Devo or the Residents, or any shit like that, right? I'm a Dead Boys guy, not a Pere Ubu guy, you know what I mean? Man oh man, though, once you get about 20 pages into this book by San Francisco punk scene pioneer Michael Belfer (guitarist with The Sleepers and Tuxedomoon) it reads like a crazy fuckin' movie. What a wild freakin' life this dude had! WHOA!
If you read my columns and rants on a semi regular basis, you are probably already hip to my ongoing theory that there ain't many good bands no more in part because controlled media consolidation pummels us all day with time-waster buy shit/puppet celebrity fakes we never asked for, and partly, because there is such a shortage of affordable real estate spaces available to rehearse in, since the banking scum jacked up all the rents everywhere under Obama and Holder who actually even went to work for 'em after failing to prosecute anybody for the mass mortgage scams, and the landlords who used to rent working class homes to working class people flipped all their rentals into Airbnb’s and act like they're doing you some big fuckin' favor for painting their front porch steps purple, adding a hot tub and a Buddha statue to the yard and charging you $300 a night. These old punk bands paid like $300 a month, ya know?
Tim Rogers frontign the Hard-Ons is As Beautiful as a Foot.
Hard-Ons Ratcatcher Enigma Bar, Adelaiude Saturday, April 3, 2022
Long story short - I'm still reeling. The Hard-Ons have crossed the Rubicon and what they're doing in Australia is anyone's guess. Right now they should be out slaying the world, Europe then USA, then South America. We're damned lucky to have them. I might add, I don't reckon we deserve them.
Cull was mean to be the opemnig band but cancelled. Dammit. I've tried about six or seven times to get out of the door to see them. The one time I get there ... Reports have reached me that they're damn fine.
New support, Ratcatcher, went on later than planned because one of the folks in the band second on the bill couldn't do it – thanks COVID.
Suburbia Suburbia’s new album, “Landfill”, is anything but rubbish. It is bloody awesome, It is full of screaming guitars, loads of wonderful harmonica and rolling bass lines and pounding drums. It’s just bloody good.
Suburbia Suburbia is Tony Townsend on vocals, Robdog Dekker (guitar), Allan 'Krock' Lyon (harmonica), Robbie Jib (bass), Rowie Riot (lead guitar) and Noel Gardner (drums.) They also have Ian Taylor (rhythm guitar) and Mark Godfrey (bass) on a couple of tracks.
These seasoned musicians have come up with eight tunes that just rock - a combination of blues and good old pub rock and roll. I cannot recommend this highly enough because it’s pure gold.
Last Bite b/w You Take My Money -Black Bombers (Easy Action Records)
So, Black Bombers are on tour through UK, which to many of us may seem bizarre as the place is far more riddled with the stupidvirus than we are in Australia. However, almost everyone's been vaccinated and boosted, and the latest major variant, BA.2 doesn't wallow in the lungs like a family of grumpy hippos like the Delta and Co did.
Now: there's only 300 copies of this single and I can't imagine there'd be that many left. Get on it while you can.
Why? well, first, the BBs are freaking awesome (as the young folk used to say) live and if you only have what they've released so far - a self-titled LP, a seven-inch “'Rush” b/w “Raw Ramp” (a Bolan cover), and the mini-LP “Volume 4”, then you know what you're in for, and any and every release from the BBs is greasy dark manna from Purgatory.
You need this gritty, honey-dipped red platter of imminent death and vaulting beauty on your turntable now.
And when I say “now”, you need to get your skates on. 150 were pressed, and Spooky has less than half left. This single is pure, powerful Euro-class with tinges of Dead Can Dance, Laibach and Depeche Mode...but with the kind of darkly angelic singer that spotty teenage boys top themselves over.
Have you heard Velatine's first few long-player releases yet? “Store Atmospherics” and “The Trap” (both on Spooky in 2020). Mean, moody and magnificent. Remember that soundtrack to “Twin Peaks”? Well, imagine a similar series set in the Alphabet City, the midnight Gotham of our souls - Velatine slide right in. You can even wear your leather biker jacket. These songs were the result of, as the media release says: "Loki Lockwood delving deep into the world of electronica in an unconventional way, combining a love of cinematic, industrial and pop".
Leadfinger launch their superb new album "Silver & Black" in Sydney at an I-94 Bar show on Saturday, April 9. Drugs in Sport and The Smart Folk are supporting them at Marrickville Bowling Club. You can buy cheap early bird tickets here.
JOEYS COOP + THE SMART FOLK MoshPit, St Peters, NSW Saturday 26 March, 2022
A Sydney night of intermittent rain stifles the post-COVID nightlife revival. Or so it seems. The Best Little Small Bar in Sydney, The MoshPit, has other ideas - and so do Joeys Coop and supports The Smart Folk.
It almost goes without saying that pandemic lockdowns have put obstacles in the way of everything. Joeys Coop put the release of their second album on ice and tonight is the Sydney leg of a much-delayed world (read: New South Wales) tour to launch “Lachlan Valley Dirt” at The MoshPit in Sydney’s inner-west.
The impacts of the dirty little virus live on. A whole bunch of MoshPit patrons who were at the King Street Crawl gigs a fortnight before were taken down by it. An unrelated infection forced The Smart Folk to play the Sydney Rock ‘n’ Roll & Alternative’s Sixities Stage without bass-player Keith Claringbold.
Tonight’s news is that another wave of COVID infections and the seven-day isolation rule has shut down a two-band bill at the nearby Golden Barley Hotel. A few punters and unaffected band members make their way to this show.
X are Geof Holmes, Rick Studentt, John Butler and Steve Lucas. Photo by The Barman
SYDNEY ROCK 'N' ROLL & ALTERNATIVE FESTIVAL I-94 BAR STAGE X + JUPITER 5 + SONIC GARAGE + THE DARRANS The Factory Floor, Marrickville, NSW Sunday, 20 March 2022
Finally a gig that got me into the city, out of my COVID slumber and ignoring the daily infection numbers.
The rare spark of motivation was the Sydney Rock and Roll & Alterative Festival, an extension of Tiffany Palmer’s amazing and long-running Sydney Rock ‘n’ Roll Markets This event had become an institution in this city over the last decade - until COVID put an end to and anything half decent in a dull and corporate investment hub.
I was here at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville for The Barman’s I-94 Bar Stage in the room called The Factory Floor, but I did manage to peek at a few other stages. I discovered that cowboys and cowgirls were out in force with line dancing alive and well. It’s practiced by people whose childhood was dominated by episodes of “Hi Five”. Line dancing is allegedly cool and has left its mark on society with community colleges teaching the stuff. As a bloke who grew up in the bush, this pretentious King Street urban country fashion is amusing.