Vive Le Rock magazine writer and Mule Freedom PR publicist
TOP TEN TRACKS FROM 2020
Like going deaf or blind, a lack of gigs seems to have sharpened my other music-loving senses, so I’ve been digging more sounds than ever this year. This is just the tip of a very big, and very loud, iceberg. Working as a PR, I’ve taken the flaming liberty of including some of my own wares in here – can you spot ‘em? But I make no excuses: I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to get to work with people whose stuff I love. I hope after reading this, you’ll love it too. - Gerry x
PS - The Celibate Rifles' "Extract From The Fungus" would’ve been No.1 if I’d heard it yet.
10.) James Williamson & Deniz Tek – "Jet Pack Nightmare"
They may be getting on – ain’t we all? – but Ann Arbor’s finest can still cut the Stories For Boys action rock! A venomous boogie riff to kick off "Two To One", the album that was bound to happen one day.
9.) Blue Öyster Cult – "The Alchemist"
It’s taken them nine years to come up with a new studio album and when they do, it’s recorded in lockdown conditions. And it’s still the best thing the boys from Stony Brook have done in donkeys’ years. Fourteen newly minted and totally Cultish songs, "The Symbol Remains" is conspicuously low on epics, but this six-minuter – with its "Flaming Telepaths" dink-dink-dink – hits the spot.
Sydney radio host*
Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Top Ten in Twos
1. Two Hendrix covers
Lucie Tiger – The Wind Cries Mary"
Sydney country singer transcribes one of Jimi’s more melodic tunes for solo piano with stunning effect, but leaves the song intact. Lucie acknowledges where it’s come from, but takes it somewhere new. Hear it.
Lachie Doley - "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)"
Sydney blues and soul keyboard master gives the whammy clavvy a serious workout on this. Check out the vid.
2. Two political songs
Chuck Prophet – "Get Off The Stage"
Subtle demolition job on the soon to be Toddler-in-Chief. The late great John Prine rates a mention even though the song was recorded pre-Covid because (as Chuck said when I interviewed him) everyone needs to listen to John Prine.
Matthew Caws– "When History Comes"
Nada Surf front man delivers one of the best protest songs in decades. Totally in your face without being cruel and ends with a rallying call to vote because “it’s important”.
SCAG, New Vindictives, Dirty Skirt Band, Spencer P Jones, Selfish Gene, Gutterville Splendour 6, The Drones, Nunchukka Superfly, Harpoon
Here's some music i picked up in 2020 that made my year a little more fun! But first, some news.
I've resumed work on the James McCann & The New Vindictives album produced by Rob Younger at SoundPark Studios, Melbourne. We should be doing the finished mix with Rob in February. We are happy to announce James McCann & the New Vindictives with guest Claire Birchall at the Tote Hotel, Melbourne, on Saturday, March 20.
I've recently finished production work on Voluimer One of the double vinyl Spencer P Jones Tribute Album, which i co-produced with Spencer himself over the last six years. To be released on French label Beast Records, it will feature Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Adalita, The Drones, Chris Bailey, Violent Femmes, Jim Moginie, Alejandro Escovedo and many more!
Guitarist with Moonlight 5, Waxworks, Dwarfthrower
I-94 Bar reviewer
I am sure many will say the same: This has been a shit of a year. Even so, I included much more than ten. Who cares !!
The passing of Greg Sawers
One piece of news hit me in the guts: Greg Sawyers’ death. What more can be said about this real local legend and complete old school identity. He could be fit equally well at the Marrickville Bowlo or Annandale Hotel (R.I.P.) or the Wentworth Park dog track with his working -class dreams and love of supporting pure rock ‘n’ roll. Band manager Greg Sawyers took over when God got drunk. For Ian Rilen, Louis Tillet, Steve Lucas and Steve Balbi, he was their minder and advocate. He always had a couch for those in need and was willing to cook up his bacon and eggs when they woke sometime after midday. Greg was all heart and part of a Sydney music scene that is now gone.
Featuring tracks from Molting Vultures, Datura4, The Stooges, The Dry Retch, Peter Black, Mick Medew, Johnny Casino, Smalltown Tigers, The Bot Bots, David Johansen, Paul Collins’ Beat and Sunnyboys.
CHRIS KLONDIKE MASUAK’S TOP SEVERAL OF 2020
Guitarist, Viveiro Wave Riders
Ex-Radio Birdmnan, Hitmen, Screaming Tribesmen, New Christs
Viveiro, Galicia, Spain
We were having fun at the start of 2020.
The Viveiro Wave Riders had already been hither and yon … around the country and up to Breizh (“Yec’hed mad!” with the emphasis on “mad”) when it all came to a shuddering halt.
Life abruptly became somewhat more complicated, confusing, and occasionally alarming, but that’s not to say it stopped being entertaining.
We jumped on protocols pretty quick-smart over here in Spain, even as our hospitals became alarmingly overwhelmed and morgues literally over spilled.
We were heartened, encouraged, and edified by the sage advice that flooded social media from other apparently more civilised and informed countries.
We hardly even scratched our heads in wonder at their oblivious dawdling procrastination and general goldbricking, or as they gathered in teeming proliferation to demonstrate in support of their “rights” even as their “leaders” unequivocally let them know Just What The Priorities Actually Were.
PETER “BLACKIE” BLACK
Hard-Ons and Nunchukka Superfly guitarist and solo artist
My "top ten" is a mess and i know some of the records i'm yakking about, i only got this year. OK? Sometimes, ya gotta play catch up,
1. Canine – “In Dog Years Ya Dead”
Came out last year but i only scored it half way thru this year…really progressive in parts, top notch! And at the same time i brought Concrete Lawn’s “Aggregate”. Saw ‘em live and thought, "Fuck yea". Played the record and thought "FUCK YEA!" The singer Maddiso sounds like Cal from “Grave New World”-era Discharge.. ..there's no complaints from me :-)
2. Dead – “Raving Drooling”
HUGE actually they sound slicker yet heavier than ever before.. love it.
3. Some killer sludge from both Lucifungus – “Derek” (check out the track “Quintro”) and Witch Skull's third album, “A Driftwood Cross” \\m/
4. Rivers Of Snake – “Sleight of Hand”
Go straight to track two “Black and Gold”…then you may start the album again.
5. Owen Guns – “Violating Community Standards”
Remind me of the wonderful Aussie punkers, Rocks.
Guitarist, Howlin' Threads and ex-The Fools
1. It’s great to see that Stew "Leadfinger" Cunningham of Leadfinger is recovering well from cancer and getting back into rock n roll with an album recorded. Thankful also to see that the New Christs emerged from lockdown (much appreciation to Dave Curley for the great live footage!). Tumbleweed’s blistering return to earth with killer new material is cool. Plus, Covid restrictions has often meant enjoying bands vicariously through images/video, so a big thank you to the great work of photographers like Matt Houston, Kaza Black and Keith Claringbold who allow us all to enjoy live shows.
2. 2020 did a good job scuttling so many gigs and opportunities that bands need to promote new music. Despite this setback, Howlin’ Threads pressed on and released a new EP and a separate follow up 7” vinyl single ("Edge on the World") this year. It was a real privilege to have Lenny Curley (Tumbleweed/Pink Fits) contribute lead guitar to our recording of "Professional Againster"; a feature track on a European compilation tribute to the New Bomb Turks (release Feb 2021). And, working with Cub Callaway (ex-Saints) is always a pleasure. Howlin’ Threads CDs, vinyl, digital downloads can be ordered via Bandcamp.
Bogan Rd – The Monaros (self-released)
Hello I-94 Barflies. The Monaros’ “Bogan Rd” is the latest release from Warnambool’s hardest working band. Shit, this must be their seventh or eighth long-player and it’s chock-a-block full of humour and wit.
Just listen to “Parma”. It’s a classic tune about, well, a Chicken Parmigiana. “Ring A Root’,”Kick It Long” and “Dunlop Volleys” are all so bloody Australian. This is a CD to get drunk to, stoned to and maybe not get fucked to – although the track “King Brown” is kind of sexy.