Kinda blue and cooking, X man Steve Lucas pushes his own boundaries

cross that lineCross That Line – Steve Lucas and The Rising Tide (Aztec Music)

The global lockdowns were responsible for la deluge of music – good, bad and indifferent. There was something about being cooped up that frustrated anyone with an artistic bone in their body. It prompted Steve Lucas to do a long run of streamed shows from his Melbourne home, and it birthed  the idea for “Cross That Line”, which was committed to hard drive in a studio as soon as restrictions lifted.

Lucas is best-known for his role as frontman for X, the punk rock and roll vehicle for him, the late Ian Rilen, Steve Cafeiro and Ian Krahe as well as a long line of subsequent bandmates. As sole surviving original member, Lucas still revels in the occasional X show.  This solo album sounds nothing remotely like that. 

Flowers For Jayne's guitars are in bloom

dangerous woman cvrDangerous Woman – Flowers For Jayne (self released)

Guitars are unfashionable, ergo Sydney’s Flowers For Jayne will never be musical flavour of the month with contemporary tastemakers or scenesters. And that’s fine. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not one of those people anyway. You think R&B is Stax or Motown 45s and hip hop is nothing more than softcore aural wallpaper.

Drums, bass and guitar (turned up loud) with a voice somewhere in the middle is a timeless configuration. Flowers For Jayne is a classic “power trio” - both in the heavy sense of the term and for having a keen sense of dynamics.

The band is the vehicle for vocalist-guitarist Jayne Murphy, former Lime Spiders member and woman about Sydney town, and she’s joined by ace rhythm section Jess Ciampa (drums in Bernie Hayes Quartet, The Nature Strip, Dog Trumpet, Jeff Duff Band, Smelly Tongues and others) and Phil Hall(Sardine v, Dropbears, The 68 Comeback, Lime Spiders, Flaming Hands, Matt Finish, Roddy Ray'Da & The Surfin' Caesars).

Digging for Treasure yields more gold

raining treasure2 cvrRaining Treasure 2: More Australian Indie Gold Covers – John Kennedy’s 68 Comeback Special (MGM/Foghorn)

Tribute bands are mostly a blot on the musical ecosystem, right?. OK, they provide a fertile spawning pond for young players and pay bills for the oldsters, but most cover acts faithfully mimic role models just to milk money from morons.

This isn’t about the odd cover thrown into a set of originals because the drummer and the rhythm guitarist like the song or the band jammed out a loose approximation of a chart hit at rehearsal two nights earlier and wants to be ironic.

No, this is a gripe about hacks making money by mindlessly sating the appetites of dim RSL club masses who don’t know what they like but sure do like what they know. These people dance when they should know better or clap hopelessly out of time in the way that only middle-aged white people can.

Which is not territory into which “Raining Treasure 2” ventures on this eclectic collection of songs by Aussie bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s .

Posthumous live album shines a light on a troubled star

drinkin with some angelsDrinking With Some Angels – Cranford Nix Junior (I-94 Recordings)

As soon as I saw the beautiful album cover, my first thought was, how lovely it is, that Cranford Nix Junior's grown kids can look at all this stuff - the albums and heartfelt tributes and fanatical cult followers – appreciate the sentimental testimony of old friends and collaborators and understand how loved and talented their dad was.

Cranford Nix Junior was the charismatic, charmed life, bon vivant, hard-drinking, fringe dwelling, abyss mocking, gone-too-soon, the son of a famous Nashville studio musician. An Americana type songwriter, he was a little bit country, little bit glammy punk ‘n’ roll, like somewhere between Pat Todd and Tyla from Dogs D'Amour, with maybe a little Waylon Jennings, and Paul Westerberg thrown in.

Rats parade their retro roots

the parade epThe Parade EP – Howlin’ Rats (Hiss and Crackle Records)

Doing anything new with the blues is a tough task. Doing something interesting is another matter. Newcastle, Australia, guitar-harmonica-drums trio The Howlin’ Rats, do just that on their debut five-song EP.

Opener “The Parade” is a harp-fuelled boogie stomp, an instrumental that serves to break the ice without busting any new ground. “MVII” is where things get interesting.

It’s an arcane slow-boiler that’s reminiscent of early ‘70s psych. Hobbit Harry’s winsome harp and a haunted vocal swim against waves of distorted slide guitar while drummer Tom Fairlie sits behind the beat and stirs the pot. It’s six minutes of splendour. Grass is optional.

L.A. survivors The Hangmen ride on

cactusville cvrCactusville – The Hangmen (Acetate Records)

In the wake ‘n’ bake legal reefer for rich white people Portland woke college culture, any mention of Burroughs is severely frowned upon because the dude was a bad man who killed his wife, but he accurately predicted this whole modern day dystopian police state NSA culture of surveillance capitalism and snitches and official narrative protecting fact checkers thinking they are helpful helpers doing their part for vegan wokeness. Nobody has the right to be left alone anymore, or mind their own business. That is their college kid idea of virtue, being micro mini Judge Dredd/Judge Judy vigilante deciders. "I like you, I don't like you." They all wanna be the jury, judge, and executioner, and the judgements are severe, as Leonard Cohen sang, in his prophetic, "Waiting For The Miracle To Come".

I-94 Bar