If pressed to name a heartland for rocking hard pop you don’t normally nominate Birmingham. Call it the loudmouthed opinion of an Aussie who blew in once to drink some warm pints, but its Industrial Revolution décor and shitty weather makes it more of a Black Sabbath kinda place.
Of course the West Midlands of England has pumped out its share of pop (Duran Duran, anyone?) but, musically speaking, if you’d heard of Cult Figures you wouldn’t put them be among that crew. (Fun Fact: Roger Taylor drummed for them for one show.)
The forthcoming Hard-Ons documentary by "Descent Into The Maelstromn" producer Jonathan Sequeira has qualified for tax-deductible donation status with Film Australia. There are no crowd-sourcing rewards other than enduring gratitude (and maybe a name-drop) but don't let that stop you. You can tell from the trailer that it'sgoing to be great. You can send some cash here and claim it on your tax return if you're Australian.
Back in the ‘90s, Darren Smallman was immersed in the fertile Geelong-Melbourne punk rock scene in Australia as a player, label head and manager. These days, the ex-member of Toad, Warped, Thee Vinyl Creatures, The Wells Collective and The Sound Platform lives in the UK, working in the charity arts sector and producing his own music under the moniker Dez Dare.
Dez Dare and Melt Citizen (El Paso, USA) have unleashed a DIY fuzz EP , "Spl;itz", that they promise will “melt your brains and hearts”. It’s available through Bandcamp with a crowdsourcing campaign underway to get it out on vinyl.
In the pair’s words: “Hidden away in spare rooms and makeshift studios while in very different pockets of the earthly domain, there were two who worshipped at the altar of guitar pedals and heavily discounted recording plugins. This split EP digs deep into the cacophonous divide between reality and the two countries entrenched in denial, grasping to find a way out of the long grass. Back into the light.”
Philadelphia is a place that’s always punched above its weight. Bill Haley, Todd Rundgren, Hall and Oates (yikes) and Pink are among musical offspring of the City of Brotherly Love. And for the fourth year in a row, Philly has more homicides than New York City, a place four times its size, and currently ranks second on the USA per capita Murder League Table.
So here’s a recommendation if you’re a fan of rough ‘n’ ready, no bullshit garage rock and roll: Look up Thee Minks. Hook into this album like there’s no next week. Go to their Bandcamp and plonk down your credit card number or Paypal handle. Do it right now, baby. Thank you. You’ve been a great audience. I’ll grab my hat and coat.
Destiny Street Complete – Richard Hell and the Voidoids (Omnivore)
Reports that “Destiny Street” had been re-recorded and was being pressed on vinyl in 2004 were alarming. The late Robert Quine was five years gone and his wired, highly-strung guitar-playing was an essential and revered element of just about anything the Voidoids did. This was surely an act of madness, if not sacrilege.
Its prime creator, Richard Hell, had never been happy with “Destiny Street”, the 1982 follow-up to “Blank Generation” that was recorded in troubled circumstances. Hell was debilitated by a drug habit and absent for much of the sessions. His penchant for intravenous coke to counter his reliance on smack had left him fried and unable to leave his apartment for long periods of time. His attempt to make his mark while largely AWOL was to summon up guitar overdub after overdub.
In case you never noticed, this place often celebrates the weird and non-conformist end of the rock and roll spectrum, and it doesn’t come much stranger than Swiss band Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle.
Resident on the Voodoo Rhythm label (“Music to Ruin Any Party”) since it first released this, their debut 10-inch mini-album, back in 1996, its mix of bass-less, guitar distort-skronk and megaphonic vocals sounded fucked up then and sounds fucked up today.
It’s worth adding context: “Good Morning Blues” was unleashed on a world full of techno and the Real Rock and Roll landscape was a wasteland. Major labels still roamed what a musical Jurassic Park, looking for underground bands from which they could extract blood and turn into mainstream melange. A dead dog’s scrotum had more chance of being signed than Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle.
Write about the things you know, the critics say. And when songwriters do, they run the risk of being taken down in a hail of journalistic bullets for crimes like inauthenticity, awkwardness or bandwagon jumping.
There’s no risk of TV Smith suffering that fate with his latest album, “Lockdown Holiday”, a stark and compelling take on his own experience with the dreaded COVID clusterfuck.
The ex-Adverts punk is still standing after 50 lives dates were cancelled - a fate shared by many in these fucked-up times. - but his own experience was enlivened, somewhat, by him and his partner being mowed down by The Plague. following close contact with an infected roadhouse patron in the early stages of the pandemic.
Better late than never, Melbourne’s the Casanovas will get back to doing what they do best – rock ’n’’rolling under lights, on a stage, in front of an audience – when they launch their much-acclaimed fourth album “Reptillian Overlord” at Richmond’s Corner Hotel on March 6.
Released back in August 2020, Reptilian Overlord was the Casanovas’ first album in five years and arguably the best-reviewed album of their 20 year career.
Produced by iconic Oz Rock engineer/producer Mark Optiz (AC/DC, Angels, Chisel, Divinyls), and featuring singles “Hollywood Riot” (which was appropriately picked up by legendary LA DJ Rodney Bingenheimer) and “Lost and Lonely Dreams”, it attracted plenty of attention and thoroughly deserved a live launch. Our Man in Dimboola Ron Brown's review is here.
It's quite unpleasant, and I may never listen to it again.
But if I do, it will be very loud, and I will end up in jail.
I like Gravel Samwidge. They're out of kilter with everything else around right now. The songs put the listener right in the singer's place, their intense, irritated narrative. The Gravels write songs as natural to Australia as the King Brown Snake, and just about as cuddly.
The Barman's right when he makes the comparison to Kim Salmon and the Surrealists (see "Don't You Know", with the silly/ griping sax, or "Briz 31", with the topply structure), but The Gravels have their own - possibly stranger - take on the universe and our misplacement in it. 'Long Distance Drive' captures that horrible last part of a long drive, when you're almost home, spaced out from too much driving and methadone, frantic to get there (Spinks' manic guitar sounds like a whizz-head on violin) yet forcing yourself to stay calm.