SOUNDS FROM THE OTHER SIDE - Tumbleweed (Shock)
The portents were good. A reformed band, firing live and determined not to be a heritage act. Old burned bridges rebuilt. New songs. Reunited with the producer of their best-sounding work and taking the time to make sure they hit the mark in the studio.
And they did. Make no mistake. This is Tumbleweed's best moment since 1995's "Galactanphonic" and it might even eclipse it. Paul McKercher's chunky production gives full scope to the trademark fuzzy guitars and the swing is back in the big bottom end. The songs are keepers and the performances are on the money.
FOUR (ACTS OF LOVE) - Mick Harvey (Mute)
To start with the obvious, when a musician whose talent has appeared to grow over time such as Mick Harvey writes an album about love, giving it a listen is mandatory. Mick comes to us from a big, busy, eventful life stuffed with everything from near-misses and frustration to giddy success and associations the world can only gape at.
The cover depicts a beautifully chaotic night sky, the rear cover a scorching, flaming sky - we of course rarely look up, or around us to see the grand, glittering dance of burning chaos.
The label doesn't lie. "Todo Roto" ("All Broken") is the third long player for Wau y Los Arrrghs and the description of "1966 punk style from an Iberian garage" - writ in capital letters, just in case you don't get the message - is accurate. If you like your fuzz raw and unbridled, look no further.
HITS BACK - The Clash (Sony)
Welcome to my new favourite Clash album. Well that’s an odd statement, isn’t it? I mean to say, it’s just a compilation album, isn’t it? Another entry in a seemingly endless series of Clash compilation albums bearing titles like “Story of”, “Essential”, “On Broadway”, “Singles” and “Super Black Market”. Who actually needs another reshuffling of this well trod back catalogue? According to Sony Music, we do. Like, surely this is an anniversary of something or other. This time the compilation explores the central conceit of a “hand written set list by Joe Strummer.” This begs the question; was there ever a set list that wasn’t hand written before, say, the early nineties and the availability of the home computer with printer to even the most drug addled musician? Love the hand writing and spelling, Joe. Slade and the City of London Freemen’s School would be proud.
THE DIRTY EARTH - The Dirty Earth (self released)
The Dirty Earth is a Sydney band that cites the MC5 as a precursor among others but to be blunt, right now their sound is more Maroubra Seals Club than Grande Ballroom.
The Dirty Earth coalesced around the core of soulful singer Mandy Newtown and an engine room of Greg Refeld and Jim Allison in mid 2011, under the name Bottle Rocket. After a personnel re-shuffle (the I-94 Bar's occasional writer Earl O'Neill was originally onboard) guitarists Raf Iacurto (ex-Thumlock) and Scott Campbell joined.
Here's the European edition of the twice-repressed album from Melbourne band Bits of Shit. The message is simple: If you haven't nailed a copy of the Australian version on Homeless, there's still hope.