2020 Barfly Top Ten: Mick Medew

mick medew 2020

MICK MEDEW
Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers, Mick & Ursula, solo artist, Mick Medeww & The Rumour, Screaming Tribesmen, The 31st
Brisbane

1.  OVERSEAS SHOW OF THE YEAR
Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets @ The Tivoli theatre Brisbane on February 19.

2. COMMUNITY RADIO
Community Radio saves the day again , they save the day for musicians and fans alike as well as shining a light on the injustices that occur in our communities  and beyond

3.   DAVE GRANEY AND CLARE MOORE  "Stage it"  Live streaming shows
Thursday nights have never sounded better

Once more with feeling

extract from the fungusExtract From the Fungus - Celibate Rifles (self released)

Consider it a last will and testament. Eleven songs, cobbled together from restored quarter-inch tape or cassettes, all but one track previously unreleased. It’s music written by other people, which isn’t a detraction ‘cos the Rifles always had the best covers. These are remnants of recording sessions from 1984 right up until a few years ago, but they’re much more than throwaways. 

The Celibate Rifles have a special place in the hearts and minds of most who saw them. A bunch of suburban Sydney boys fronted by a worldly and older larrikin, they began more brazen than cool. Before long, they fitted in with the exploding Australian underground of the ‘80s and ‘90s better than many critics realised. 

Young Nick stripped

boy on fireBoy on Fire. The Young Nick Cave
By Mark Mordue
(Harper Collins)

Lou Reed famously used the phrase "Growing Up in Public", but it's seriously arguable that he ever grew up at all. As represented in "Boy on Fire", Nick Cave grew up in public, and it's that Odyssean journey which we want to follow. 'Cause success, well, that's over-rated. It's nice that you're not poor anymore, but boy, if you had problems before, you could easily have a worse time dealing with them.

So author Mark Mordue begins with some of what he already knew, and of what we already know, before plunging down a rabbit-hole beset on all sides with imminent spiteful criticism, fact-checkers, poor-memory merchants and "it wasn't that way at all" keyboard numptys.

That he suspects what he's in for is quite clear from his early observation of the bond between Nick and his mum before Cave heads off to accept an ARIA Award in 2007. To his credit, although he was only nominated himself, Cave also inducted the other members of The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds on the night. (Most annoyingly, he forgot to mention the band's original drummer, Phill Calvert).

Like I said, brave or damned foolish; it's hard to be a writer, not a hack, and make any money (Mordue has a day job, he's no fool). "Boy on Fire" deserves to be purchased for yourself, your friends and anyone you know interested in music. Period.

One reason is that, if you know enough about Cave, you'll also know that any decent book about him should always have a modicum of humour. I found myself chuckling out loud on the bus within minutes of beginning and, while it's not written with laughter in mind, you will find the several threads which Mark sets up quite early, vividly rewarding. Cave himself, an adventurous mischief-maker, possesses a savage and spontaneous wit, and his company can be addictive. Small wonder that so many who have encountered him either don't comprehend him, or find him boorish, or jaw-droppingly fascinating.

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Bob Short

bob short 2020Bob Short
Filth, Blood & Roses, Dead Rabids, 4 Stooges, The Light Brigade et al
Sydney, Australia

Twenty-twenty is a phrase used to demonstrate a standard of visual acuity. Providing a Top Ten list for the year of that name using normal standards of vision presents certain difficulties.

The harbinger of our civilization's downfall was, of course, the motion picture "Cats".  This was a movie that spent its first hour-and-a-half introducing a series of characters played by celebrities in bad valley CGI mode licking themselves inappropriately whilst singing and dancing.  Spoiler: It ends with the ritual suicide of the most downtrodden character by balloon. 

Its similarity to the year it announced were too staggering to avoid.  All year, we have been bombarded by celebrities entertaining (themselves) us from their living rooms in bad clothes and makeup whilst the poor and broken down die gasping for breath. 

What stands out in the year that broke the world? And make no bones, the world is broken.  Certainly, rock and roll is broken.  It has been a long time coming but that bucket has been firmly kicked.

There has been illness for a while now.  We've all been getting old.  Most people stop adding new songs to their playlists in their early 20s.  Some of us have kept our ears open much longer but that ultimately makes no difference.  You could make the most stunning new music and no one would be there to listen.  The old aren't interested in the new and the young aren't interested in the old.

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Dean DarkCloud of The Dark Clouds

dean darkcloud 2020"Pizza, Punks & Prophets"
Barfly Top Ten 2020
Dean Darkloud of The Dark Clouds
Wollongong, Australia
(Anthony Mitchell photo)

“Rock n Roll ain’t dead. It just sounds a little different”

10. Wreckless Enterprise. Hats off to these two DIY Crazy Cats for doing what they do. With passion and intent, tirelessly flying the flag of creative support. 2020 saw them release, amongst other things the third instalment of their "Short Fuse" compilation series: 15 tracks, all under a minute jammed packed onto a 7” (or CD). It’s a punk rock smorgasbord.

Wreckless Enterprise: keeping the underground above ground. So, if it’s a home grown, all you can eat punk rock buffet that you are after; check out this blossoming grass roots label. "Short Fuse" we salute you!

9. Mike Foxall. The man behind the Art of Fox. You may know him as Inverted Crucifox, guitarist extraordinaire in Neptune Power Federation whom in my opinion are one of Australia's best modern live acts.

Ryders on the storm

Oranges The Long Ryders 2019 Tom Gold 2Making orange juice from oranges...Sid Griffin and The Long Ryders. Tom Gold photo.   

“There wasn’t anything called Americana when we started, but we helped create it, so I’m happy to be associated with it,” Long Ryders singer and guitarist Sid Griffin laughs, when I ask him if he has any empathy with the loosely-defined genre. “I like the Americana thing. I’m not one of those guys who says their band aren’t this or that.”

But while The Long Ryders were at the vanguard of the movement – as well, from a different musico-cultural perspective, the so-called Paisley Underground scene of the early 1980s, Griffin reckons Americana existed long before The Long Ryders formed in LA in 1980.

“People say that Sun Records was Americana, because of the marriage of rhythm and blues with country and western. But the other one that people miss is The Lovin’ Spoonful. They’re definitely Americana. Americana has always been here. No-one said Americana or alt.country until the end of The Long Ryders’ days.”

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Robert Brokenmouth

robertb 2020Robert Brokenmouth
Barfly
Adelaide

The Barman
sent me a message asking some folks to tell us all about our 2020 top tens.

Apart from new recordings from the likes of Hugo Race, Velatine and Michael Plater, and the other few I've written about during the year, I've not been listening to a lot of music. Read a lot (including the three books I've reviewed here - the best three music books I've read this year), including a few Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, John Wyndham and a few books on plagues past and present. 

But really. 2020, huh? What a trip. So many dead. Wept more than a few times myself - but hey, my life's a doddle by comparison to the misery of so many.

But hey! First, we got to see an utterly evil President of the United States trainwreck, taint (and generally fist-fuck with studded gloves) any world-wide respect the USA ever had. I don't use the term 'evil' lightly.

Apart from being genuinely narcissistic and wilfully ignorant, Papa Ubu took great delight in splitting the country into a condition very close to civil war, while being utterly unmoved by the hundreds of thousands who got ill, and the thousands who have died, of which he is a goodly part to blame. If you wrote a modern take on Pere Ubu, Trump would be your starting point.

2020 Barfly Top Ten: Mark Fraser of Redback Rock

mark fraser 2020Top 10 releases for 2020
Mark Fraser
Wrtiter for Redback Rock and Vynil Records label honcho

Bad Dreems- “Doomsday Ballet”
Snotty, raggedly beautiful, punkesque pop that's as honest as a day's work. One beautiful yellow and black splatter platter of endearing, edgy popnificence. Ten double plus!

Dune Rats - “Hurry up and Wait”
The perfect blend of pop and punk, that’s as catchy as a case of COVID. On permanent rotation.

Space Boozzies- “Living’ Up The he Coast”
Summer...beer gardens…downin’ tinnies on the bonnet of the EH wagon down at South Narra. The perfect beachin’ garage album for summer.

Gold Hearts- “Beach Butts” (single)
The Gold Hearts' sounds are pure 60s wahine surf pop...wahoos and all. Gorgeous.

Lachlan Edwards- “Once More” (EP)
From the very first, this is a total charmer. The title track is an instant creeper... gorgeous sparse guitar...semi-yearning vocals and  cruisy riffs that crawl right on in.

Little Quirks - “Florence’s Town” (single)
Gorgeous vocal harmonies...that folk tinged heart warming popestry...and songwriting skills that are way beyond their years.

Glorious stories from one of the quiet ones

small moments of glory cvrSmall Moments of Glory By Jack Howard
(Brolga Publishing)

Another in the Best Books I've Bought All Year Category.

Jack Howard kept a journal from before he joined Hunters and Collectors, and through most of his career with them; his horn work with other musicians predates Hunnas, continued while he was with them, and continues now. Clearly it's a life sentence.

Jack Howard avoids innumerable pitfalls by presenting a book which is purely one thing: older musician looks back on his life with accuracy and smarts, confesses that his early years were riddled with angst and neuroses and, clearly recoiling from his diaries in horror, declines to share the cringeworthy evidence. Instead (and instead of making up some cool-sounding mythology) Jack just says that it happened. And he moves on. Something we could all do well to remember.

"Small Moments of Glory" does not tell Jack's story from the perspective of a (cue neon sign, huge throbbing cathedral organ and scantily-clad models) ROCK GOD, but of a bloke who plays an instrument and starts playing in a few bands and, after a lot of hard touring and yakka and angst, one of these becomes a significant part of our country's backdrop. 

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