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sydney

  • lovegrinderLovegrinder The Album – Lovegrinder (self released)

    There’s a popular theory - perpetuated by a few fans of Junkie Rock from Australia’s southern state's capital city – that the so-called salad days of Sydney underground rock and roll were a farrago based on an overdose of second-rate Radio Birdman copyists. 

    Call it a typically defensive Sydney response but while the "Detroit" handle became a tag of convenience, most of the Harbour City’s bands of the 1980s/early ‘90s had tenuous musical links to the Birdmen. There was a handful of short-lived clones, but for the vast majority it was the energy and undeniable fuck-you-we’ll-do-what-we-want attitude of the Radios that were the hand-me-downs, and not their unique, impossible to replicate mutated musical mix.

    Which brings us to Lovegrinder, yet another in the long line of Sydney bands that never progressed higher than the lower support rungs of the very crowded local live scene ladder. Not that there’s any great shame in that. For many, headlining the Tivoli or Selina’s wasn’t the goal because they had no interest in being on the rosters of the omnipotent Dirty Pool, Nuclear or Harbour booking agencies. Playing music was more about knocking around with their mates, consuming beers (or something illicit) and having a good time.

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    Australia's summer is cranking up and so is live music. Thirsty cowpunks The Johnnys are celebrating their relese from COVID lockdown by playing their first Sydney show in more than two years. They'll be at Mary's Underground (formerly The Basement) at Circular Quay on Saturday, January 8 with raunch machine White Knuckle Fever and country rockers Broham (fronted by Simon Chainsaw.) Tickets are here.
  • Scientists Southern CrossTony Thewlis and Kim Salmon fronting the Scientists at Sydney's Southern Cross Hotel in 1982.

    The Scientists at their peak were unmatchable. A glorious collision of droning, caustic, fuzz guitars, minimalist bass, anguished lyrics about alienation and ominous, funereal rhythms, they created something unique after landing in Sydney in 1981. 

    Originally ragged New York Dolls-inspired popsters back in Perth, the re-constituted Scientists stripped their music back to its darkest roots, concoting their own brand of psychedelia and incorporating influences like Suicide, the Stooges and Captain Beefheart.

    Too big for their own Surry Hills backyard, the band moved to the UK in 1982 and, in typical expatriate Australian underground band fashion, starved before going on to influence countless other acts into the ‘90s and beyond.

  • two nights with satanYes, 300 St Claire were another of those noisy, intense and hard-as-a-cheap-pub-steak bands that were around in a crowded Sydney backyard at the cusp of the 2000s and never made a substantial mark anywhere else.  They self-released an EP, gigged around and more or less fell off the radar before the decade was half-done. 

    My own memories include taking away tinnitus from a support they played to Asteroid B612 at the Iron Duke in Sydney one Friday night. By the time Johnny Casino and Co came on, the damage had been done, and every note The Big Fella played fell on ringing ears.   

    As is the way these days, 300 St Claire has reformed - to have fun and sink a few beers, the members will tell you - so now is a good time for their long, lost EP to resurface on Conquest of Noise, complete with extras. It’s every bit as bludgeoning as you’d expect. 

  • vaporized tapeSometimes I want to avoid the fact that I'm becoming an old fart. Sadly, talking up the "good old days" is a sign of this. Even so, it seems relevant when talking about today's Sydney, the bands and the live scene. It's how I view the world. 

    I remember when I was seeing bands most nights of the week. It was somewhat of an outlaw existence and hard to comprehend it all at just 19-years-old. Back then, anyone over 24 was “old”. The veteran bands were the Sex Pistols and Radio Birdman. Then there was Iggy, who was ancient.

    It was the early ‘80s and I was living in Surry Hills in Central Sydney when could you get a room in a shared house hold for $25 a week. There were quality, cutting-edge bands playing within a few minutes’ walk, five nights a week. The Triffids, The End, The Moffs, Salamander Jim, Scientist, The Laughing Clowns, and all that Black Eye art-noise band stuff.  There were venues everywhere - Trade Union Club, Evil Star, French’s, The Strawberry Hills, The Lansdowne and The Hopetoun. Then there were the squat gigs or house parties where everyone put bands on in their lounge rooms. And mostly always, those were free. It’s now all just a faded blur. 

  • voodoo lust web

    Five years after their music last rang in anyone's ears, the enduring rock-pop sounds of Voodoo Lust are about to be heard again. 

    Voodoo Lust returns to Sydney for one show only at The Factory Floor in Marrickville on Friday, November 20 and tickets are on sale here. They play Brisbane's Beetle Bar on November 28 with tickets on sale on the door. 

    Voodoo Lust was an integral part of the explosion of the Australian independent pub rock circuit of the 1980s with a string of independent chart hits and tours with some of the biggest names in rock and roll.

    They’ll be joined by Leadfinger, the power quartet led by Stewart Cunningham (Asteroid B612, Brother Brick), and the gloriously ramshackle inner-west garage rock heroes The Escapes.

  • Gary topGary Slater of Voodoo Lust.    Shona Ross photo

    One of the hottest Sydney days of the year translated to one of the coolest gigs in almost as long when Voodoo Lust made their first appearance for five years in the Harbour City last Friday night.

    With the mercury clocking 42 degrees Celsius (nearly 103 on the old scale) on this fine Friday it was no time for sitting out in the sun (setting or otherwise) and the appointed venue, Marrickville’s Factory Floor, was accommodatingly air-conditioned.

    Remember Voodoo Lust? You would if you set foot in an Australian East Coast rock and roll venue in the late ‘80s. The Voodoos toured the shit out of this place and were a powerpop-punk outfit extraordinaire.

  • look up thereThe On and Ons Glenn Morris and Jon Roberts with guest guitarist Murray Cook . Shona Ross photo

    At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, this was a night of three contrasting but not dissimilar bands when The Smart Folk, Loose Pills and The On and Ons weaved their guitar pop web over Marrickville Bowling Club. It was also the album launch for The On and Ons' wonderful CD "Welcome Aboard".

    These sorts of night are infrequent in Sydney these days. Ones where the bands on the bill complement each other and the venue doesn't turn people off, so they turn out in good numbers.

    You’re here to read a live music review? Hang in there. There's a bit of preaching to go through, first...

  • welcome aboard lgSublime Sydney pop-rockers The On and Ons are preparing to unleash their second album, “Welcome Aboard”, this month on the redoubtable Citadel label.  They’ll launch it at Marrickviille Bowling Club in Sydney’s inner-west on August 26 with special guests, Loose Pills..

    With a line-up of Glenn Morris (guitar-vocals), his brother Brian (drums/vocals), Clyde Bramley (bass/vocals) and Jon Roberts (guitar), this is a band with a musical pedigree that includes the Hoodoo Gurus, the Screaming Tribesmen, Paul Collins Beat and The Barbarellas.

  • no limitNo Limit: Collected Works 1985-89 – Love Minus Zero (Method Records and Music)

    From the Never Quite Made It Department comes this collection of gems.

    Love Minus Zero was a Sydney pop-rock band that was around in the mid-‘80s who managed to release some tracks on Waterfront label compilation and a self-titled EP on Citadel spin-off Green Fez before packing their tent.

    “No Limit” is a pubic service of sorts, not the least reason being that it serves as a reminder of the embarrassment of riches that was the Sydney music scene 35 years ago.

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