Erm, Barman..? Five Rolling Rocks in your review for this which follows below? I beg to differ. Seven bottles.
The Barman made the rules up, and he’s scrupulous about playing by them. Reflects well on him. Me, I don’t have the time or inclination to give shit reviews to shit music; if “Friday Night Heroes” didn’t cut it, I wouldn’t review it. A 3 or 4 means the LP is either interesting and promising at the very least, 4 means its very good. Five bottles means that this a damn fine LP.
Today, Leadfinger merit a much greater score because first, these songs are songs which will last, and which will become like old friends, and therefore go higher in our esteem, and second, well, truth is I can’t stop playing the bloody thing. The other rather remarkable thing is that, in context with the rest of the band’s output, “Friday Night Heroes” stands out.
My Way Or The Highway – The Dark Clouds (self released)
It took ‘em a couple of goes but it’s finally recorded and released and it’s a triumph. The Dark Clouds’second album “My Way Or The Highway” is as bombastic, in-your-face and rocking as you could have hoped.
It’s seven years since “After The Sun” but cut ‘em some slack: a plague intervened and that managed to fuck up the plans of the best of us. The Wollongong band did convene in a studio in-between waves of COVID, but weren’t happy with the results.
“After The Sun” had its best moments when it wilfully matched the best Aussie underground sounds of the ‘80s to lyrics laced with wry societal observations. The state of rock and roll, the inane cult of celebrity and the dumber side of life in The Lucky Country all got their comeuppance, done in a style that nodded in multiple directions.
It's an all-too-familiar story: Veteran of the Sydney and Wollongong underground scenes, Stewart “Leadfinger” Cunningham, has been undergoing treatment for lung cancer since June. Friends are rallying behind the vocalist-guitarist with a GoFundMe appeal launched and at least one benefit show in the pipeline.
Stewart has been a stalwart of the Australian underground music scene for the last three decades in bands such as Proton Energy Pills, Brother Brick,The Yes Men, Asteroid B-612, Challenger 7 and for the last 12 years, Leadfinger.
You can’t replicate the past but you sure can borrow from it. Two founding members of ‘80s Wollongong upstarts Proton Energy Pills have teamed with three younger players to lay down some of their old band’s unrecorded songs and the results are satisfying.
As predecessors to Tumbleweedand the vastly underrated Brother Brick, the Protons lit a fuse under their hometown and made righteous noise on the national touring circuit before falling apart. Three decades on, there was never an intention to release these recordings and their progress to completion was stymied by various health issues. After hearing the fruits of their labour however, original members Dave Curley and Stew Cunningham(he of Leadfinger) thought: Why not?
Leadfinger in full flight at Bulli's Heritage Hotel with Carrie Phillis assiting on backing vocals.
They've been around for a decade but I've gotten into Leadfinger a bit late in the piece. I had heard word that they were one of the best bands in Sydney, and I knew their leader, Stewart Cunningham, from previous outfits like Proton Energy Pills and Asteroid B612, with whom I’d shared stages. So we went all the way back to 1989.
The penny finally dropped at the Tim Hemensley Memorial at the Tote in Melbourne about three years ago. Bombarded by the hard Geelong-Melbourne garage rock sound, it was Leadfinger (along with HITS) who were the highlights for me.
Leadfinger played upstairs. I watched a band that was thoughtful, with a great collection of songs and a broad variety of influences. The guitars chimed and lashed out, there were great vocal hooks, and the tunes were memorable. I decided that I liked them a lot.
This year I’m going to go with an all Australian bands top 5 of reissues / older stuff and a top 10 of new stuff.
Old Stuff (in no particular order):
1. SHUTDOWN 66 – Come On Girl Give Me Half A Chance. Reissue of their 4th and final long play release, the original was very limited and is super hard to find, so I was stoked to hear that Soundflat Records from Germany was reissuing this awesome garage punk LP.
2. ASTEROID B-612 – S/T The CD only debut long-player got a long overdue vinyl reissue this year from Spain’s Bang! Records.
4. THE PROTON ENERGY PILLS – S/T A collection of their studio releases. A fantastically packaged deluxe gatefold album. 5. BORED! – "Back For More" and BORED! – "Feed The Dog" A couple of great releases came out this year from Bored! “Back For More” (Bang!) is an awesome compilation with songs spanning the bands career, and “Feed The Dog” (Fantastic Mess) got the reissue treatment with a couple of bonus songs thrown in.
Here’s the exclusive debut of “Cheer Squad”, a non-album digital-only single and taster on Conquest of Noise for Leadfinger’s forthcoming album “Friday Night Heroes”.
“Cheer Squad”is a high-energy bolt from the zeitgeist...it's a song about social media and not fitting in with the crowd, with an attitude that harks back to the ‘70s punk era. “Cheer Squad” is backed up by “The Man I Used to Be”, from the upcoming album. Buy and download the single over the next month and you’ll also get an amazing non-album bonus track called Three Brothers. Three great songs for $A4 and they’re all available here.
Leadfinger will play "Cheer Squad" this Friday night at an I-94 Bar show at Sydney's Marrickville Bowling Club with special guests Simon Chainsaw (with an all-star band of ex-New Christs, Hell Crab City and Filth members) and the garage groove of The Escapes.