"$100-a-Week Hotel" by Dan Denton (Punk Hostage Press)
Holy Toledo! I read this book in just two sittings, even though I have awful eyesight and live in a dark trailer with crazy loud kid media blasting at me around the clock. It's that good, you won't want to put it down.
It's one of those rare books for people like me with short attention spans, it feels more like a movie or record, because his masterful and observant descriptions of everyday people struggling to survive under the boot of oligarchs and jackbooted Gestapo in the shadows of the dying empire's corporatized police state, where most wounded, helpless people are born into extreme poverty, abused, neglected, abandoned, and instructed to piss-test and compete for bottom-feeder, no future jobs that never pay a living wage.
Most of us never really stand a chance. It's refreshingly blunt and real, and does not suck-up to booj college standards of asskiss phoniness. It's the real story of plain-spoken, midwestern, working class heroes and heroines struggling to medicate their pain and find some sort of redeeming intimacies, grace and dignity, any consolation or impression of consolation, before passing out and waking up to a shrill clock radio.
People cannot stop themselves from dreaming, from seeking redemption in the arms of a gypsy-queen of the highway, and from sometimes, losing their cool and freaking the fuck out. All these characters are searching for some kind of higher power, divine intervention, warmth of home, even though they are mostly helpless, cursed, traumatized and all tragically ill prepared to meet the demands of rent and still have coins left over for some malt liquor and gas station food.
It's a night of high octane rock and roll with Simon Chainsaw & The Liberators, The Dark Clouds and Toadvine at the MoshPit Bar in Sydney from 7pm (AEST) on Sunday, April 18. Catch the bands live or watch the stream by grabbiung tickets here.
One More Drink – The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs (Dead Beat Records)
Eighteen years after their last record and a quarter of a century since they formed, the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs have roared back to deliver their best yet. A baker’s dozen songs, overflowing with guitar power and pop hooks. “One More Drink” kicks harder than a toddler with a tooth-ache having a sugar-deprived tantrum in the confectionery aisle of a supermarket.
The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs might be named for the Stooges but they’re from Los Angeles, a shiny and often cruel place that coincidentally did the Dum Dum Boys no favours, but they mix so many influences you might wonder which box to put them in. Don’t bother. There’s punk,Motor City jams, Cheap Trick-style pop and new wave, mixed in with Motorhead-flavoured metal, boogie rock and speedcore.
When Wayne Kramer was in the ascendancy as a solo artist in the early ‘90s, the Cheetahs were his touring support and backing band for a spell. Five studio albums, two live records, a split with the BellRays, singles with Cherie Curie and Deniz Tek, and another EP were the fruits of their hard slog before splitting in 2002.
Face of the Screaming Werewolf – The Fleshtones (Yep Roc)
The Fleshtones always were always out of step with the rest of the pack . Rarely acknowledged in the same breath as the rest of the Class of CBGB partly because they didn’t pander to tastemakers and partly because they arrived from out of town and were slightly late, they were as guilty as any of their peers for washing up on the barren shores of over-indulgence at the expense of mainstream success. So it is that they’ve remained in their own universe for decades now. But they still deliver.
The Fleshtones really do exist on their own terms. They live for the road. They make great records with a touch of eccentricity. They’ve always soaked up classic influences (British invasion, blueswailin’ R&B, garage rock, soul and more) like a sponge to spit them back out like they invented them. There are other bands doing the same thing but few so it so well, or deliver a show.
Days of Swine and Roses – Pigasus (Pigasus) Cautionary Tales - Tim Hudspith and Goldentone (Dead Letter Records) Dirty Paws - Swamp Kitteh (Swamp Kitteh)
All of these folks take me to that small area around Grote Street near Victoria Square in Adelaide, where so much of my life has been spent. Right near the Central Market, Her Majesty's Theatre (where I still remember Willner and Mingus's production of “Tommy” - the stage door was across Pitt Street from my boss's old shop); the Antique Market (where I alternately froze and steamed in amongst the pigeons and dusty volumes for nearly 20 years, formerly Wiggy's Auction Rooms); the recently established Broadcast Bar and the Metro, where I've seen all of the above bands.
All of these place’s are within a stone's throw. You'd think I'd be sentimental.
Not a bit of it.
These three CDs could be the veriest trash, fit only to throw at lepers (and my goodness, our current PM seems to have a collection of those in his Cabinet these days, doesn't he...)
Ultramafic: An igneous rock with a very low silica content and rich in minerals such as hypersthene, augite, and olivine.
This is a short run of 12-inch vinyl, each copy with its own bespoke, hand-painted artwork. They were put together for a series of art exhibitions in Switzerland, New York City, Holland, Germany and France about 10 years ago. It will look great on your wall and sound devastating on your turntable.
The music was recorded by Sonny Vincent and various bands from 1976 onwards – much of it in tiny studios while on endless tours of Europe and the USA. Some of it has been heard in other versions.
The line-ups include Vincent’s Max’s and CBGB staples, Testors, as well as members of Rocket From The Crypt, Sonic Youth, The Damned, the Stooges, Dead Boys, the Velvet Underground. There’s even an appearance by Ernie Knapp, a guy who drummed for Charles Manson as well as the Beach Boys (I shit you, not.) Don’t expect polish. It’s all uncompromisingly raw, but always passionate.
Always the Bridegroom – John Kennedy’s Love Gone Wrong (Foghorn)
This 1987 album was a much-maligned chapter in Sydney artist John Kennedy’s back pages. For a few understandable reasons. The first long-player for Kennedy and his then-band, Love Gone Wrong, got a mixed critical reaction. Its sonic character rankled the band leader, and it presaged the line-up’s dissolution.
The story’s all there in Kennedy’s breezy liner notes (“The Album That Killed My Career”) and a few things stick out: The band was a relatively new line-up and lacked confidence. They’d tried too hard in preceding demo sessions that failed to raise interest from major labels, and the studio approach for the album’s recording killed any prospect of a vibe by using a click track to guide drummer Vince Sheehan.
Trust me on this if you haven’t heard the evidence first-hand: Sonny Vincent’s music punches harder than just about anyone else in the same space.
When those histories of New York punk are written, he and his late-’70s band Testors are never mentioned. Testors didn’t play well with others, in the “industry” sense, and never climbed off the lower rungs of the Max’s-CBGB ladder. History gets written by the few and it’s the way that Vincent has kept the torch of dirty, street-level, rock and roll burning since that really deserves credit.
For 40 years, Sonny’s been punk rock’s ultimate networker, working with members of The Damned, the Stooges, MC5, the Velvet Underground, The Replacements, Dead Boys and too many more to count, always with a vision that’s equal parts visceral power and lingering melody.
After releasing two digital singles “Drone” and “Tape Hiss”, high-energy collective Cousin Betty release a debut EP, “LEFT” via Golden Robot Records on March 26.
Cousin Betty is the brainchild of Australia’s Damien Stofka a guitarist/songwriter, who has created riffs and written songs for Molten Universe, Death Mattel, LITTER and various other projects for the last 15 years.