• First review of the album for James Williamson & The Pink Hearts

  • Birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • Why The Fleshtones still drink for free

Entering Anytown USA - Joe Normal and The Anytownr’s (Rankoutsider)

entering anytownBroooooce Springsteen? Can’t abide him. It’s OK if you do. Different strokes for different folks, right? He’s well and truly present on this three-tracker CD - at least in spirit - but I like it in spite of that.

Like Broooce, Joe Normal and The Anytownr’s frontman Joe Normal grew up among the factories of New Jersey - before making  a break for L.A. So the bio says. And he’s landed on Pat (Lazy Cowgirls) Todd’s Rankoutsider Records.  Now you’re talking…

Rankoutsider is an outpost of genuine rock and roll, stripped back to its roots rather than wrapped up in ideas of blandness and mainstream acceptance. Joe Normal is backed by journeymen players whose curriculum vitae includes Stiv Bators, Sussana Hoffs, Syl Sylvain and Izzy Stradlin.So they’ve been around. 

It All Comes Down - Jackson Briggs and the Heaters (Grubby Publications)

it all comes downA couple of historical reference points: Ken Russell, director of the cinematic version of The Who’s Tommy, lurching excitedly toward politico-cultural polemic. “Townshend, The Who, Roger Daltrey, Entwistle, Moon could rise this country out of its decadent, ambient state more than Wilson and those crappy people could ever hope to achieve.” The second, Old Grey Whistle Test host Bob Harris, his sanctimonious attitude almost as dominant as his pearly white teeth, dismissing The New York Dolls as “mock rock’”. 

I first caught Jackson Briggs and the Heaters last year at the Yarra Hotel in Melbourne’s Abbotsford. A tiny band room out the back, the full complement of band members unable to squeeze onto the notional stage.

Driving riffs, one guitarist secreted on the right-hand side of stage, weaving elegant licks like a artisan putting the finishing touches on a roughly hewn rock’n’roll tapestry. James McCann had encouraged me to get along and see them, and I knew why.

Jeff Johnson Does Not Work Well With Others - Jeff Johnson (Swashbuckling Hobo)

jeff johnson epJeff who? Ex-guitarist with Jason and The Scorchers - not the classical jazz guy from Orgegon and certainly not that twat Jack Johnson. This is a blistering four-song single, more abrasive than broken glass in your shaving cream and deliciously low fidelity. The songs, though…

Johnson recorded this with a bunch of players in Brazil with the bass player over-dubbing his parts for two songs from London. Swashbuckling Hobo (from Brisbane) put it out. If you appreciate blues-rock that sounds like it’s been filtered through a gutter, this should live on your turntable.

Only “Call of Submission” sounds much like the output of his onetime band, with a subdued vocal and just a touch of Crazy Horse peeking through its dense wall of sound.  “Believe In You” is a monstrous “Raw Power” outtake with acrid lyrics (“Hey girl, fuck with me/Your love is such liability”) and a chord sequence that twists like “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” in the grip of a muscle spasm. If the production wasn’t so early Husker Du, this would be an enlightened radio hit.

Glaucoma Chameleon - Eyes Ninety (Swashbuckling Hobo)

glaucomaThere’s no chance of mistaking this for a prog rock epic or a pompous concept album. None of its songe figire on the "Bohemian Rhapsody" soundtrack. Eyes Ninety play unadorned, garage rock and roll. Two guitars, bass and drums. Tight when it has to be, looser and ragged when they feel like it. Which is quite a bit.

Music is so often a product of its geography and Eyes Ninety are from Brisbane. Now, lots of people talk about the Brisbane underground scene - and most of them are from Brisbane. If you don’t come from there, you should visit more often. 

For all the constraints of being an Australian capital city, Brisbane rock and roll doesn’t do too badly with its music. There’s a supportive local radio station (4ZZZ), functioning record labels (Swashbuckling Hobo being one) and a reasonable range of venues. What’s more, the bands in Brisbane don’t feel obliged to stick to any formula. 

Cue, Eyes Ninety. For a so-called garage band, they sure mix it up. They get all broody and (dare say) post-punk on “Iceberg Syndrome” while “Laminated Beams” is hooky, edgy and fast. “Another Dimension” hangs off a meandering lead guitar line. “Spinning” is discordant, unnerving and equally catchy. “Lost Sunnies” packs a wallop. And that’s just side one.

BARFLY TOP TEN: Next Big Thing blogger and Cramps Fan Club founder Lindsay Hutton from Scotland

lindsay hutton 20182018 kicked off with the release of Amy Rigby’s “The Old Guys” (Southern Domestic). That was probably my outright, most spun album of the year and always played from start to finish in its proper sequence. Produced by Wreckless Eric, this really should be on every year end list. I hope that one day, the world will catch on because it could sure use her music as a balm right about now.

The Dahlmanns “American Heartbeat” mini album (Beluga/Ghost Highway) features  six songs whereupon Moss Rock City’s finest team up with Björne Fröberg (Nomads) and Chips Kiesbye (Sator) to deliver another chapter in timeless pop. It has a semi-baroque, almost folk quality. Line’s voice really has that Linda Thompson quality come to the fore. When I say folk of course I mean the LOUD variety, not that finger in one ear malarkey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

My patience with one and two-person acts is often stretched but The Courettes are the exception to that rule. This fuzztastic duo make records that actually live up to the dynamite show. It’s nice to see them receiving the praise they deserve and how things are actually growing for them. “We are The Courettes” is their latest and unreservedly recommended album.

Lucy and The Rats, who are in Australia as I tap away, were the best thing I saw at the Wurlitzer Anniversary weekend in Madrid this past September.

Moving Target - The Peawees (Rum Bar Records/Wild Honey)

moving target peaweesLet’s see. It’s been 18 years since I first heard a Peawees record and this is Album Number Six. The Italian combo from scenic La Spezia by the sea has been kicking out pop-punk jams since the mid-‘90s. Despite having only one constant member in guitarist-vocalist Hervé Peroncini, they sound pretty much like they did way back when.

There's something to be said for longevity in rock and roll. Perhaps there's a clue to The Peawees' secret in the album title. One thing The Peawees haven't done down the years is stand still, and there's enough stylistic variation on this album to keep things interesting.

It's not all about the Ramones. The bar room boogie of "Reason Why" or the Jam-like rush of opener "Walking Through My Hell" are proof enough. If that double-punch to the solar plexus doesn't get you gasping for air, you're a corpse.

BARFLY TOP TEN: Melbourne music scribe Patrick Emery

patrick 2018Spencer P Jones. Spencer’s untimely and tragically premature passing was a lowlight of 2018. The only silver lining was the outpouring of love for the man, his music and his unbridled generosity. There will never be another like Spencer.

Beasts of Bourbon, Prince of Wales. Has there ever been a more emotional gig? Brian Hooper wheeled onto stage by nurses from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, plumes of smoke emanating from his oxygen mask. Spencer Jones, frail but determined to accompany his fellow Beast on stage for one last time. It was as sloppy as the Beasts once were, way back in the day. But it was beautiful.

Brian Hooper - "What Would I Know?" Recorded at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room property-cum-recording in Nagambie, Hooper’s reaction to the initial recording sessions was scathing. “It’s all shit,” he told me one day. But McGee saw enough in the recording to convince Hooper otherwise. A mixture of love, passion, pathos, self-loathing, resilience and gusto, this is a record brimming with emotional depth and musical complexity. RIP, Brian.

Jackson Briggs and the Heaters. James McCann put me onto these guys. Grinding country rock jams that should go on forever. They’ve got a new album out. Listen to it. Enjoy. Repeat.

The Breeders, Forum Theatre. It had been almost 25 years since I first saw The Breeders, at the Big Day Out in Adelaide, February 1994. On a Sunday night at the Forum Theatre The Breeders proved their every bit as vital as they were back in the day. I could listen to that riff in ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’ anytime.

Sydney going Green over Spiders

green spiders webFor 20 years, Sydney’s Lime Spiders cut a swathe through audiences in Australia - and for that matter, right around the world.  

Beginning as acolytes of the ‘60s acid punk sound, the band developed its own hard rock style, signed to a major label and toured extensively, attracting praise from the likes of Jello Biafra, Iggy Pop and Joey Ramone. Three studio albums and a live record attest to the band’s power.  

The Green Spiders could be called the “sequel” to the Lime Spiders. Featuring three-quarters of the Spiders’ most prolific line-up,

The Green Spiders were born in 2018, out of a desire by the members to play together again.  Their originals are written or co-written by Ged Corben, Tony Bambach and Tom Corben and naturally include a generous portion of Lime Spiders material.

There’s also a serving of obscure 60’s guitar rock/pop and a dash of 70’s punk.

Ripley Hood (Mushroom Planet, Funhouse, Gun Control, Brando Rising and the Four Stooges) fills out the Green Spiders line-up as lead vocalist. 

Their February 16 show at Marrickville Bowling Club will be their debut Sydney gig.

They’ll be joined by power pop supremos The Loose Pills, now in the throes of completing their second album and deservedly one of Sydney’s best live bands. 

Making its debut will be The Second Chance, a collection of Detroit rock veterans gathered around vocalist Pete Patterson (ex-Mother Jones, Melting Skyscrapers and Rattlesnake Shake.) 

Tickets are selling here.

BARFLY TOP TEN: Sydney scribe Edwin Garland

edwin 20182018 was a shit year but with some amazing gigs intertwined.

We have a sub-culture, in which fragments of our past local music scene survive from a time that was exciting (as Damian Lovelock said) “as England in 1966 or NYC in 1975”.

The folk who peruse and read this website are either musicians, sound engineers writers or rock pigs mostly from a by-gone era. Generally, a generation that was made of weekly trips for vinyl hunts on Sydney's Pitt Street, in particular Ashwood’s and independent record shops like Phantom and The Record Plant. A generation that had subscriptions to RAM Magazine, or Rolling Stone and read fanzines.

Our world was pre-gaming, home computers, no Netflix, no Internet, no YouTube. What mattered was music, and it was our obsession. We were playing in bands, producing bands, writing about music, collecting vinyl records before the hipsters made it expensive.

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