Jackdaw - Edward Clayton-Jones (self released)
I've been looking forward to hearing “Jackdaw” for a while, but I must confess I didn't expect it to be this damn good. The last thing I said to Ed was, “Well, look, you know me. If I don't like it or I think it's bad, I'll tell you I can't review it. I'd rather have the friendship.” He understood.
Bad reviews, pfft, they're mostly just juveniles showing off how clever they are, and I've got better things to do with my time. Also, I'm not clever. Years ago, the New Musical Express and Melody Maker used to hire such clever types and, while they could sometimes be amusing, they would often miss brilliance in preference to their own self-swagger (for example, XTC copped endless daft reviews which completely missed how fucking sharp, funny and evocative they were). So to “Jackdaw”.
Eternal Life – Guttercats (Take The City/Wishing Well/Sweet Grooves)
If you’re one of those genre freaks with a need to categorise every record, good luck. There’s enough going on here to challenge the most obsessive.
Guttercats are from Paris and take their cues from The Only Ones, Rowland S Howard, the Jacobites, the Bad Seeds and The Gun Club. Their fifth album mixes melodramatic Baroque folk-pop with garage rock, punk and Gothic blues. It’s either hopelessly mired in the ‘80s or bravely staking a claim to a unique place in today’s bland music scene.
EP2 Electric Boogaloo – The Owen Guns (Riot Records)
Hardcore never went away. It just sprouted grey hair, developed prostate awareness and, in some extreme cases, took out a mortgage.
The Owen Guns have been flying old school punk’s flag for a year or two, blowing the roof off venues in Sydney and Wollongong. Members are based in both cities. They wear leather jackets, have weathered heads and their faces look like dropped pies. This is coming from someone who's no Paris model, but you get the idea. And in punk’s finest traditions, they could not give a flying fuck what me, you or anyone else thinks of them.
Punk is about economy and the seven songs on this, The Owen Guns’ second CD EP, clock in in at under 10 minutes.
Music Lab 2020 - Captain Spud (self released)
As you may gather, “Captain Spud” is a pseudonym.
No way the bishop held up that squalling, red-faced brat, smacked it's ugly arse and plunged it face-first into the font, intoning: “I christen thee Captain Spud”. Kid might've drowned, for starters. Awkward questions might have ensued. Simply hours of paperwork. Remember, pop kids, if you're going to go into the Catholic faith, don't drown the little shits. More trouble than the brief pleasure it might give.
Speaking of starters orders, I find in a cursory search for the great man from Adelaide (he's been a musician and music-maker for over 40 years) references to a blogger (“Captain Spud is Amazing” - I'm sure he is, hem-hem), several YouTube channels (including a chap who paints little dolls, and a chap blowing stuff up on a vidgame), a pseudonym for a gamer (still not the great man) and would you believe - a racehorse (“a three-year-old gelding by Toronado out of the Street Sense mare, Dane Sense”) once owned by Danny Frawley (a kicker of balls, apparently).
The Devil's Weight - Eric Mingus (Ouch! Records)
I first saw Eric Mingus on stage at Her Majesty's Theatre in Adelaide a few years ago, masterminding (with producer Hal Willner) a production of The Who's 'Tommy' ... which I confess I didn't expect to work. But, not only did it work, it took my breath away.
If you don't feel like reading the full review, on the night I described Eric on the night as an "offhand, casual narrator with a fabulous, rich voice with a gobsmacking range who sets us up for a mischievous, powerful story, more human because it’s all happening right in front of us. What for some was a rather stilted and peculiar concept LP has become an alive, twisting, emotional creature; the story is instantly in us. His later (all too brief) scat singing is incredible, just amazing".
Defiled! A Heavy Medication Tribute to New Bomb Turks - Various Artists (Heavy Medication)
Can’t profess over familiarity with the back catalogue of New Bomb Turks. Nothing personal, mind you, it’s just that when they were at their busiest back in the ‘90s, there was so much else around. Their potency can’t be disputed.
These Ohio high-energy punks churned out nine (yes, nine!) studio albums until life got in the way and ushered them into semi-retirement, and this tribute record from Polish label Heavy Medication testifies to their take-no-prisoners reputation.
Rember when tribute albums were all the rage, back before the Interwebs became fully embedded in our heads via vaccine-encased 5G chips? They grouped bands of a common mindset and showcased sounds you might not have otherwise heard. Like Spotify without ridiculously microscopic royalties.