birthday party - The I-94 Bar
Beauty In The Ordinary - Astrid Munday (Behind the Beat)
Catharsis through music is not new but Astrid Munday manages to weave a dignified and reflective joy into “Beauty in the Ordinary”, a tribute to her departed husband Tony Cohen.
It’s been 14 years since her last album and three since the passing of Cohen, one of the greatest producer/engineers to occupy an Australian studio in the last four decades. If you’ve heard an album by the Beasts of Bourbon, Hunters & Collectors, The Go-Betweens, The Cruel Sea, Dave Graney, Kim Salmon, the Birthday Party or the Blackeyed Susans, chances are that Cohen had a hand in it.
First heard this outfit on Big Daddy K's Sydney community radio show (2RR, 6pm AEDT Saturday nights). They'd released a single ("Dog's Breakfast" b/w "Stitched", and I was smitten. So I got in touch. Turns out the band have released an LP, but as so many do, it's virtual at present.
You'll excuse me. Many, many bands show their influences. Sometimes these are subtle or complex. When I first listened to "Any Port..." I thought they were familiar with Chris Walsh's bass in The Moodists... but no, apparently not. They've taken the bits of bands which have most impressed them, and created... some sort of powerful monster.
Shark Arm are anything but subtle. They've taken aspects of The Birthday Party - but not the bits the Jesus and Mary Chain took - the violence at gigs, the shriek-y feedback, the singer leaning on the the guitarist onstage, and - of course - the big hair. None of that. Instead, we're looking at a two-piece (drums, and guitar/ vox) who use ugly bass loops, sing clearly about ugly truths, and whose guitarist has learned about space as well as position.
Psycho-Acoustic Processor – Shark Arm (self released)
Don't argue, just get it, and make sure you catch them live.
The Iowa brothers make enough bloody racket for eight men. Even though you'd swear they were a four-piece on first listen. Bass, drums, vocals, guitar.
Three of these are played by Nathan Iowa, while Damian pounds the hapless skins. Their songs are a rumbling chaos shot through with ordered lightning and purple viscera.
The late ‘70s in the UK saw a deluge of explosive music and art colliding, and while not all was good by any means (much was utterly dreadful), some was brilliantly wayward. The Pop Group are one such, and they are doing only THREE shows in Australia in March.
The first is at the Adelaide Festival on Thursday 5th March, the next day they’re in Sydney at the Factory Theatre, and the last gig is at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne (where they will be supported by the rather swish Harry Howard and the NDE). Then, they’re slugging through the USA and back to Blighty to cause more sore feet and body odour. Toting a brand new album "Citizen Zombie" that's relevant and brilliant.
Once upon a time, a review of the first album from Lubricated Goat could have used the line: “There’s something here to offend everyone” and left it at that. In these days of live-streamed jihadi beheadings, jaded millennials and older people with permanent confected outrage, however, you have to do better than that.
Most people will recall The Goat from their appearance on the Australian national broadcaster, nude and lip-synching a song called “In The Raw”. Yes, they flashed their wedding tackle. A media meltdown followed.
Of course the raison d’etre was to outrage. To go to a Lubricated Goat show in Sydney in the late ‘80s at Max’s Petersham Inn or The Evil Star you had to be severely disconnected from the rest of society, chasing the band’s offer of free beer for turning up naked or on smack.
From the spectacle of the Rolling Stones the previous night, I awaken somewhat seedy and blasted. It’s been a huge week, dealing with our Beasts of Bourbon documentary, taking note of Stoneswatch, seeing the Stones on a stage half a soccer pitch away and now… Rowland, who would have been 55 the previous day (AKA Stonesday here in Adelaide).
Ho to the Wheatsheaf Hotel on a borderline suffocating hot day, where Alison Lea’s photographs of young Rowland (the infamous late 1980 Adelaide tour, where scrawny Nick Cave painted a skull and tentacles on his chest, performed topless with the paint running to buggery and beyond.) If you’ve seen the cover of the Nick the Stripper 12”, that’s Alison’s photo. If you need more information go here.
There were two sets, the first being These Immortal Souls, and the second devoted to Rowland’s solo work. It wasn’t the line-up for the Melbourne shows; Hugo Race wasn’t there, nor was his sister Angela, nor Ed Kuepper.
I haven’t been so profoundly moved all year. Partly because, after interviewing him on many occasions and brought him down to Adelaide for a few gigs, I knew Rowland reasonably well. Which meant that seeing these songs being performed by his friends had me rather teary. It was painful to watch, confronting, nasty even; more poignantly, his words are now far more loaded…
We Mainline Dreamers - Garry Gray and Edward Clayton-Jones (Spooky Records)
Top-drawer stuff from the Sacred Cowboys frontman Garry Gray and the wicked guitar sidemagician best-known for his work with The Wreckery and The Bad Seeds, Edward Clayton-Jones.
Hasten thou to the magic credit card...
In the next few weeks I shall be taking a sabbatical from reviewing for most of a year. However, I must unzip myself first. "Full disclosure" as The Barman says.
First, I've eaten salt, broken bread and shared a jug of wine with both culprits (and I've written songs with Garry).
Second, while I have a tendency to get very excited over new music, when it's closer to home, when reviewing I am if anything more restrained. Also, there's always that slight anxiety before I start listening: will this be crap?