heavy medication records - The I-94 Bar
Greetings from Warsaw, Poland! I don't know how many of these Barfly Top 10s will be from folks outside of Australia, but I'd wager a year's salary that mine will be the only one from a former Eastern Bloc country. Here are Top Seven things I enjoyed in 2018:
1) Starting a record label
2018 was the year a long-dormant dream became flesh. All the planets had aligned just right: some good local bands had appeared on my radar, I had a steady income that allowed for occasional extravagance, and the label name had been bouncing around my head for months, inspired by an Action Swingers tune.
And thus in July, Heavy Medication Records was born, and it's been a most-rewarding learning experience since Day One. I got turned on to a lot of cool bands, networked with like-minded labels and music fans, and even got some exceptional reviews that convinced me I wasn't wasting my time. The damage so far: three releases in the can, another three in the works, and a bunch more on the horizon.
I must admit, I didn't listen to many 2018 releases, outside of the ones I put out myself. It's rare that I feel the urgency of snatching up a band's new record as soon as it comes out. There were a few notable releases that caught my attention however...
This re-issued gem on Polish label Heavy Medication is by a band led by an Australian expatriate based in Germany. It was originally released in Europe on vinyl in 2014 and it’s odd-on that if you weren’t in the know back then and you come from outside Europe, you probably wouldn’t have noticed.
Dave Thomas is the Australian vocalist and guitarist in Bella Wreck and, no, he’s not the Dave Thomas from Geetroit legends Bored! For one, he’s about a metre taller. He also has strawberry blond hair down to his arse.
This Dave Thomas lived colourfully for a while in New York City and was a member of Sydney bands Flame Boa and The Crisps. The Crisps included Hoody from The Johnnys and Stuart Wilson (New Christs and Lime Spiders) on drums.
Well Cooked! - Wild Zeros (Heavy Medication Records)
To say there’s anything new in the rock and roll zoo is simply a crock. Recycling is de rigeur but that doesn't equate to a negative. Dig in the right places and you’ll find stuff to light you up good and proper, even if it's been worked over like a re-birthed Renault. Here’s a case-in-point.
French band Wild Zeros are your basic punk rock trio with a bit of musicality. They proffer a bunch of rough-edged riffs and ragged melodies - in the style of The Devil Dogs and the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs. They don’t do anything especially new, but what they do is good and they make their own mark in their own way.
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.
Parallel universes of like-minded underground music scenes exist all around the globe but Poland has to be one of the lesser-known outposts. Poison Heart from Warsaw just appeared on my radar and they might be candidates to pop up on yours.
The Scandi Rock wave of the ‘90s gave high-energy rock and roll a much-needed injection of spirit just as the rippling after-shocks of grunge were making everything bland and homogenised. Poison Heart soaked it all up and “Heart of Black City” makes obvious nods to the Hellacopters and Gluecefier.
Is that a Warsaw Turbojugend logo on your CD slick or are you just happy to see me?
Michael Passman photo.
Pat Todd is one of the greats of American music in recent times. I say that not just because he has one hell of a set of pipes on him, and is an incredible songwriter, but because he’s also combined elements of garage, punk and country all into one mix. I can’t think of anyone that has done that as long as he has, or has done it so well.
Todd makes music that I find hard to believe anyone could dislike. He’s one of the great American songwriters. Todd formed his latest outfit The Rankoutsiders in the mid-2000s and they pick up where his legendary group the Lazy Cowgirls left off. Their latest release “…….there’s pretty things in Palookaville”is up there with his best work, but every LP he does is brilliant and it’s hard to pick a standout “classic”.Pat spoke to me from his Los Angeles homebase via Zoom, where Rankoutsiders guitarist Nick Alexandergreets me before Pat comes on.
What did we say about it being high time for a tribute to New Bomb Turks? Just when you think it’s safe to put your PayPal password away, here’s a second collection from Poland-based Heavy Medication.
Label owner and expatriate American, Derrick Ogrodny, first laid ears on the Turks in 1992 and has been loving them ever since: “Almost 30 years later, we’re still finding traces of the Turks’ flamethrower DNA in hundreds of other bands.
“So it’s in their honor we put together an international tribute of bands interpreting their songs, from garage-punk to motorpunk, from speedrock to action rock — and a few surprises too!”
Pre-orders for vinyl or CD editions are open now and here’s the line-up which includes Aussies Aberration and Howlin’ Threads:
Hell Nation Army– “Point A to Point Blank”
Poison Heart – “Snap Decision”
Aberration – “Rat Feelings”
Doojiman & The Exploders – “Automatic Teller”
Red Crap – “If I Only Could”
Randy Savages – “Leaving Town”
Howlin’ Threads – “Professional Againster”
Ville Fantome – “Born Toulouse-Lautrec”
Flash House – “I’m Weak”
Dog Toffee – “Id Slips In”
The Satanic Overlords Of Rock ‘N’ Roll– “Tattooed Apathetic Boys”
Smalltown Tigers – “Girl Can Help It”
Puffball – “Never Will”
Moron’s Morons – “Wine & Depression”
Jack Saint– “Grounded Ex-Patriot”
Tongue Action– “Telephone Numbrrr”
Hell Nation Army– “I Want My Baby… Dead ?!”
Jet Boys – “Killer’s Kiss”
Reap What You Sow – Jack Saint (Heavy Medication)
The blurb says it’s more “individually distilled” than the last album and maybe that’s why it took time to latch onto what “Reap What You Sow” is about.
The debut “Jack Saint” was a lot more obvious in its display of influences like the Bad Seeds and The Gun Club, while “Reap” seems in the thrall of Jon Spencer without being able to completely divorce itself from early pre-Warren era Nick Cave.
Watch Out! Look Out! - Doojiman & The Exploders (Heavy Medication)
Dunno about you but Scandirock was thicker on the ground in these parts in the 1990s than dandruff at a record collector fair. Doojiman & The Exploders are from Sweden and use a simple recipe of punk guitars from the garage, a sackful of strong songs and buckets of phlegm to attitude to rock the house down.
You gotta to be good to steal the title of a Stooges outtake as the name of your band and Doojiman & The Exploders are. There are traces of The (early) Hives, a less metal-ly Gluecefier and the venerable ‘Copters, sans six-string histrionics, on this 45rpm, nine-track slice of vinyl.