the birthday party - The I-94 Bar
You have to admire record labels like Buttercup who dig up decades-old sounds from Australia’s music underground, chuck a new coat of paint on those mouldy old tapes and offer them up for a cash consideration to nerdy record collectors who crave those obscure Australian sounds.
A cynical person would file this Melbourne combo under “'80s Smack Rock”…and of course I’m a cynical bastard. But, hey, being inspired by The Birthday Party or the Bad Seeds isn’t a bad thing. Those groups wrote their own rule books and went where no bands has been before them and if you’re going to be inspired by somebody it may as well be by the greats.
I’m sure Buick KBT shared cups of tea with The Wreckery, The Moodists and The Sacred Cowboys. They certainly shared stages with Venom P.Stinger, Go-Betweens, X , The Laughing Clowns and Dead Kennedys.
"Intoxicated Man. Presenting the Songs of Serge Gainsbourg"
Elder Hall, Adelaide
March 14, 2019
Mandy Tzaras photos
Verdict in a nutshell: Brilliant. You shoulda been there. Get the CDs instead.
It's a strange place, Adelaide. A reputation for bizarre and secretive murder blends with a town which happily dozes for most of the year, abruptly jerks to life as summer hits with the subtlety of a jackhammer, and keeps the long-suffering residents on their toes: the steady stream of utter twatheads who emerge from beneath sordid rocks, blinking into the light of the civilised world for the first time; the ubiquitous meth-heads roaming the streets and communing with the sky; the endless and confusing roadworks; endlessly over-running building works; a hospital which doesn't seem to work very well (though it does provide an excellent example of how to make a place unpleasant for the customers with, presumably, the intent of discouraging their attendance for all but the most involuntary admission)...
These are all everyday local wonders, and frankly we should charge admission. The Festival, The Fringe, the stupid car race, the writers week, WOMAD and so on and so on and so on, all serve to ensure large numbers of normal South Australians keep their distance.
Jasmine Hirst photo.
Lydia Lunch doesn’t particularly care whether people are offended by her art.
From her beginnings in New York no wave outfit, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, to her spoken-word performances, to her collaborations with Rowland S Howard in Shotgun Wedding, Swans’ Michael Gira, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, Bob Quine (Richard and the Hell and the Voidoids), right through to her more recent profane expositions on the United States under Donald Trump, Lunch’s self-defined brief has been deliberately and avowedly confrontationalist.
In her own words, Lunch is a conceptualist, exploring concepts that highlight the exploitation and marginalisation of the individual in contemporary society, the typically patriarchal and oppressive discourse wielded by institutions of power.
If you can’t stand the heat in Lunch’s artistic kitchen, go find yourself a fast-food media joint and starve on the processed, intellectually bankrupt crud that masquerades as entertainment.
In May 2018 Lunch returns to Australia with her Retrovirus concept, trawling across her 40-year career with the aid of Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Chrome Cranks), Weasel Walter (The Flying Luttenbachers) and Algis Kizys (Swans). I spoke to Lydia Lunch in her sometime home town of New York City.
This Guitar Belongs to Rowland S. Howard
Edited by Harry Howard (Ledatape)
This is one of the best books I've bought all year.
Why do people buy books about musicians? For the sex, of course. And the glamour and excess. And to get the dirt. Or to try to understand a bit more about the tortured muse. Or because they're a completist.
What makes a music book crap? If it's not about someone you're interested in, if it's badly written, if it's not factual, if it's (Cardinal Sin Alert) boring.
Forget the words for the moment. "This Guitar Belongs To Rowland S. Howard" is one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen (and I've worked in an antiquarian bookshop for over 20 years).
The reason these two sit together here is that there is a similarity.
Ever since Nick’s "Boatman’s Call" made it acceptable, musicians have been coming out of the woodwork with quiet, intense music. Some are, naturally, better than others. Some remain lost, lost without knowing why, but because they don’t share the same creative origin (or ‘muse’) which sparks Nick.
Still others are compared to Nick when they share only a few of his influences - but produce something which people think they recognise as being in Nick’s … carpark. Think Mark Steiner, Nikki Sudden, Henry Hugo, David Creese, Hugo Race, Michael Plater, … hell, think Louis Tillett, Mick Harvey even.
Yet, if you take the time to listen to these folk, you discover how completely different they are. And, more often than you’d know if you believed the critics… sometimes they’re a lot better.
Boy on Fire. The Young Nick Cave
By Mark Mordue
Lou Reed famously used the phrase "Growing Up in Public", but it's seriously arguable that he ever grew up at all. As represented in "Boy on Fire", Nick Cave grew up in public, and it's that Odyssean journey which we want to follow. 'Cause success, well, that's over-rated. It's nice that you're not poor anymore, but boy, if you had problems before, you could easily have a worse time dealing with them.
So author Mark Mordue begins with some of what he already knew, and of what we already know, before plunging down a rabbit-hole beset on all sides with imminent spiteful criticism, fact-checkers, poor-memory merchants and "it wasn't that way at all" keyboard numptys.
That he suspects what he's in for is quite clear from his early observation of the bond between Nick and his mum before Cave heads off to accept an ARIA Award in 2007. To his credit, although he was only nominated himself, Cave also inducted the other members of The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds on the night. (Most annoyingly, he forgot to mention the band's original drummer, Phill Calvert).
Like I said, brave or damned foolish; it's hard to be a writer, not a hack, and make any money (Mordue has a day job, he's no fool). "Boy on Fire" deserves to be purchased for yourself, your friends and anyone you know interested in music. Period.
One reason is that, if you know enough about Cave, you'll also know that any decent book about him should always have a modicum of humour. I found myself chuckling out loud on the bus within minutes of beginning and, while it's not written with laughter in mind, you will find the several threads which Mark sets up quite early, vividly rewarding. Cave himself, an adventurous mischief-maker, possesses a savage and spontaneous wit, and his company can be addictive. Small wonder that so many who have encountered him either don't comprehend him, or find him boorish, or jaw-droppingly fascinating.