Silver & Black - Leadfinger (Golden Robot)
Yeah, well, I may have been away for a while. Haven't had a lot of time to listen to music. I mean, for a few months, music was that occasional thing in the background - which is not the way to enjoy music. There are (in fact) only two ways: live and in your face, or turned up loud and in your ears. Any other way, the stuff can only hint at a timeless upland of dancing and carrying on like a horny dog at a wedding, rather than the entire emotional brawl.
So turning on Leadfinger's “Silver and Black” is a bit like a starving, dehydrated man tottering into one of those “45 beers on tap” pubs with an Irish heart-clogging cook, accommodation, someone else's credit card and a couple of months to kill.
Lachlan Valley Dirt – Joeys Coop (Citadel)
Following John Ventura’s pre-release review of the album that appears below is almost redundant, but let’s have a shot now that the record has undergone repeated listening.
It would be lazy to say that if you grew up with the underground sounds of Australia in the 1980s then you need “Lachlan Valley Dirt”. Of course you do - but the appeal deserves to be much broader.
This is a world-class “grown up rock” record – and that label is both a term of endearment and a reflection on the absolute dross that passes for most popular music these days.
Angus Khan II: Wrath of Khan – Angus Khan (self released)
Angus Khan is one helluva biker heavy metal band and “Angus Khan II: Wrath of Khan” is one helluva album, a wonderful 2020 follow up to the most underrated and fabulous “Black Leather Soul”.The Los Angeles-based band’s music has been described as: “Where Angus Young meets Genghis Khan in a back alley fight” and that’ll do me. Both these albums need to be played loud.
Angus Khan was a collaboration band between punk and rock ‘n’ roll acts The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs and B-Movie Rats that spawned “Black Leather Soul” in 2009 and broke up in 2012. “Angus Khan II: The Wrath of Khan” sat on a hard drive for years before being released in digital format.
Mainman Frank Myer (Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, James Williamson and Eddie Spaghetti & Frank Meyer) dropped by the I-94 Bar to give us a track-by-track on the sophomore album. Here’s the download.
Devil in Berlin – The Cutthroat Brothers and Mike Watt (Hound Gawd Records)
“Devil in Berlin” is what you get when you pair two punk rock barbers with a Stooge. Say again?
The Cutthroat Brothers are the US garage punk duo of Jason Cutthroat (guitar/vocals) and drummer Donny Paycheck (Zeke). Their day jobs really are cutting hair and trimming beards. They've roped in legendary bassman par excellence Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, The Stooges).
Duos really are the new black in underground rock and roll and their status as configuration du jour seems sure to escalate as COVID subsides and people realise it’s an economical way to gig and stretches the rider further..
And barbers? Dunno about your part of the world, barber shops were never a big thing in Australia. On the other hand, shave shops operated by bearded hipsters are thicker on the ground in our inner-suburban shopping strips than bomb craters in downtown Beirut, so hopefully the blood that the band has wron on previous album covers has come from one of their number.
Step Into The Light – Paul Berwick’s Magnetic Quartet (self released)
At the risk of damning with faint praise, Paul Berwick made an indelible mark with the shoulda-been-huge Happy Hate Me Nots in the 1980s and ‘90s and he and his new band, The Magnetic Quartet, have much to live up to. This four-track EP “Step Into The Light” is a good start.
Sydney’s HHMNs developed from punk-pop to bona fide power-pop contenders over their first existence but never quite broke out into the mainstream. Another run in the 2000s after the sad loss of bassist Christian Houllemare tried but never scaled the same heights.
Berwick is a talented songwriter with a sharp ear for a melody and has assembled a superb band of old hands in Matt Galvin (guitar), Jim Dickson (bass) and Nick Kennedy (drums). Berwick fills out their sound on acoustic guitar. COVID has limited their live appearances to a handful of well-received gigs, so the question was would their recordings do them justice?
Hard – Fast Cars (Method Records and Music)
In a digital world where old rules are made to be re-written or not read, Fast Cars have resolutely done things their own way.
The one-time Sydney mod band reformed virtually in 2015, assembling music from composite parts written and recorded by principal members, vocalist-guitarist Di Levi and guitarist Fabian Byrne, on opposite sides of the world. It was polished pop with hints of its Sussex Hotel beginnings, lush in lots of places and moiving into the realm of dream pop.
Virtual band, huh? Live shows were where Australian bands traditionally honed their act and of course people interacting in a studio adds an energy that can’t easily be replicated. With Levy visiting Australia from the UK, Fast Cars did a handful of pre-pandemic shows, and part recorded “Hard” with Peter Bennett (The Welcome Mat, Fiction Romance) on drums and David Pye on bass.
Sociopathfinder - Dang!!! (Apollon Records)
What the difference between a “supergroup” and a “super group”?
The answer and five bucks will get you a cappuccino, but only if the pandemic-induced labour shortage that’s hit coffee shops in these parts mean there’s someone on deck to make it for you.
While you’re pondering the problem you might go cold turkey with your Wordle obsession and cock an ear to what’s in these grooves.
Dang!!! is a Norwegian studio collaboration that started with Arne Thelin (ex-Lust-O-Rama, Kwyett Kings) and Stu Manx (ex-Gluecifier) swapping guitar riffs over the Internet during lockdown. One thing led to another and by the time they convened in a real studio with drummer Havard Takle Ohr and keyboardist Geir Nilsen, emailed music parts were flying in from all over the globe like members of the International Olympic Committee on their way to a fine dining festival.