Don't adjust your TV. Normal programming will not be resumed soon

lockdown hoiidayLockdown Holiday – TV Smith (Easy Action)

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.

Chow down on some 12-bar bile

complaintsComplaints – Gravel Samwidge (Swashbuckling Hobo)

Remember in the 1990s when rock and roll was still vaguely dangerous and one of the eternal sources of fascination was seeing which underground act would be the next for the evil major labels to sink their fangs into and attempt to “cross them over” into the mainstream?

It was a grim game of Russian Roulette where you knew that whichever band succumbed was at short odds to either end up on a scrapheap with the creative life sucked out of its bones, or limp on as a cashed-up and pale shadow of its former self. 

A deckfull of Black diamonds

if this is the hand im dealtIf This Is The Hand I’m Dealt – Peter Black (Cool Bananas)
I’m Gonna Cheat As Much As I Can - Peter Black (Cool Bananas)

At first blush it’s D-U-M-B-everyone’s-accusing-me for an artist to release his sixth and seventh albums simultaneously. Flooding the market breaks a fundamental rule in the mythical music industry marketing manual about (a.) controlling supply to build demand and (b.) maximising the impact of “product”.

But Peter Black is the guy who, in 2016, set himself the challenge of recording a year’s worth of music and releasing one track a day, and you know that convention is for squares.

Go shopping and get Even

down the shops smDown The Shops – Even (Cheersquad Records and Tapes)

Even’s newest release, “Down The Shops” is a collection of covers recorded and released between 1996 and 2019.

Many appeared on Even‘s CD and vinyl singles and others are better known from tribute albums. The songs are a mixture of studio recordings and live performances.

While the selection of songs points to obvious influences- Kinks, Beatles, Yardbirds, Master’s Apprentices - it also encompasses less obvious sources such as the MC5 and the Sex Pistols.

Live album is a fitting testament to Les Thugs

les thugs parisLive Paris 1999 – Les Thugs (Nineteen Something)

The first overseas signing for soon-to-be famous label Sub Pop, championed by Jello Biafra and Greg Shaw, and one of the few French bands to tour relentlessly around the USA, Les Thugs deserved to be more than a blip on the world’s music radar. 

You could go broke collecting the back catalogue of Les Thugs. It’s all out of print and the rarest of it fetches biggish money on eBay. The band lasted from 1983-99 and bounced around on various labels. This album is their 10th and  documents a show on their farewell tour of their homeland.

The sound of Les Thugs – named for the 12th Century Indian brotherhood of the ThuggeeThuggee who used to kill the rich for their money, not your standard bovver boys - is a few steps removed from their punk rock beginnings when they were formed, DIY-style, by brothers Eric and Christophe Sourice. It’s dense and intense, two guitars with enveloping harmonics and textured bass-lines.

Stick a fork in it, I'm done

bbq haqueBBQ Haque - BBQ Haque (Spooky Records)

There’s a term we’ve been debating at home recently: Disassociative. Apparently it describes a state of existence where consciousness is disassociated from physical and ordinary psychological presence.

Some drugs are disassociatives; not sure what the others are (associatives?). According to a friend, if you have a series of late nights, coupled with a day job, you can become disassociated. I thought that was just being over tired, but never let critical assessment get in the way of a specious pseudo-medical term.

I’d describe Melbourne instrumental-psych-garage band BBQ Haque as transcendental; maybe they’re disassociative. Either way, you can get lost in BBQ Haque. But you’re not really lost, you’re just on a different plane. It’s a plane with a dusty spaghetti western edge ("Chilangos de los Chios’" and mesmerising beats and psychedelic chants. You’re dragged in, wide-eyed, devoted to the cause, if only you knew what it all meant.

Richard Duguay's sonic magnificence evokes rock and roll's real spirit

badjujuBad Juju – Richard Duguay (self released)

"My empire lay in ruins..."

"You don't know if you're lost or found.."

Oh, my stars and garters! Richard Duguay is amazing! I don't get around much, anymore, ya know, I'd seen some pictures of the dude online here and there where he looked like a distant relative of Andy McCoy and Willie Deville, but I'd never heard his music until very recently and I'm a diehard fan, already.

An ex-member of Canadian band Personality Crisis and now based in Los Angeles, Duguay makes exactly the kinda music my friends and I loved growing up, when I worked at a hick record store in the middle of a midwestern cornfield and our vintage turntables and ghetto blasters were always spinnin' Dogs D'Amour, the NY Dolls, Hanoi Rocks, Bowie, Iggy, Cooper, ancient Aerosmith, all that kinda stuff.

Take me to the river

sleight of hand Sleight of Hand – River of Snakes (self released)

The fuzz pedal is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century - and Melbourne’s River of Snakes sound like they have shares in it. Let’s hope that canny investment buys the three members a mansion each in the exotic locations of their choice.

The band has been around for a decade. The commercial music world may have moved in a wholly different direction since then, but their sound has stayed firmly rooted in the share-house, college radio universe of the ‘90s…a time when guitars were king and punk - or whatever you wanted to call it - briefly looked like it might drive a stake through the heart of blandness. Of course, that ridiculous but romantic notion was not to be…   

Loki's compelling journey into atmospherics

the trap velatineThe Trap - Velatine (Spooky Records)
Store Atmospherics - Velatine (Spooky Records)

Well, pop tarts, you're all wondering what the fuck to do during lockdown (apart from fucking, fighting, boozing and drugging), so here I am to sprinkle sparkles of hope and joy...

This is my first and probably last music review for 2021. So this will be short, but sweet. 

As I may have reflected, we live in a golden age of music, where the vast majority of what is popular is unbelievably smug and gittish.

Unlike, to take one label by way of example, Spooky Records (sometime home of such mainstays as The Beasts of Bourbon, 6 Ft Hick, Sun God Replica, Shifting Sands, The Braves, Spencer P. Jones, Brian Henry Hooper, Lost Talk, Harry Howard and the NDE, and a host more), whose releases are exciting, curious, intriguing and often downright addictive.

The Number of the Surf Beat

swamped quick sixesSwamped – The Quick Sixes (Outtaspace)

There’s an awkward charm to the sound of The Quick Sixes that’s hard to resist. Equal parts twang, space retro blues and garage shimmy, this Geelong quartet is a cross between Brisbane’s late, lamented Hewkawis, The Modern Lovers and Shutdown66 (but with better manners.)

The Gee-troit Sound is long gone but if you think of The Quick Sixes as Barwon Heads Beat you can’t go wrong. It's surf music for the loveless and landlocked. It'll occasionally make you cry into your beer. It's sometime a little loose around the edges, but it's a load of fun. Variety is a by-word, too.

I-94 Bar