Live album is a fitting testament to Les Thugs

les thugs parisLive Paris 1999 – Les Thugs (Nineteen Something)

The first overseas signing for soon-to-be famous label Sub Pop, championed by Jello Biafra and Greg Shaw, and one of the few French bands to tour relentlessly around the USA, Les Thugs deserved to be more than a blip on the world’s music radar. 

You could go broke collecting the back catalogue of Les Thugs. It’s all out of print and the rarest of it fetches biggish money on eBay. The band lasted from 1983-99 and bounced around on various labels. This album is their 10th and  documents a show on their farewell tour of their homeland.

The sound of Les Thugs – named for the 12th Century Indian brotherhood of the ThuggeeThuggee who used to kill the rich for their money, not your standard bovver boys - is a few steps removed from their punk rock beginnings when they were formed, DIY-style, by brothers Eric and Christophe Sourice. It’s dense and intense, two guitars with enveloping harmonics and textured bass-lines.

Stick a fork in it, I'm done

bbq haqueBBQ Haque - BBQ Haque (Spooky Records)

There’s a term we’ve been debating at home recently: Disassociative. Apparently it describes a state of existence where consciousness is disassociated from physical and ordinary psychological presence.

Some drugs are disassociatives; not sure what the others are (associatives?). According to a friend, if you have a series of late nights, coupled with a day job, you can become disassociated. I thought that was just being over tired, but never let critical assessment get in the way of a specious pseudo-medical term.

I’d describe Melbourne instrumental-psych-garage band BBQ Haque as transcendental; maybe they’re disassociative. Either way, you can get lost in BBQ Haque. But you’re not really lost, you’re just on a different plane. It’s a plane with a dusty spaghetti western edge ("Chilangos de los Chios’" and mesmerising beats and psychedelic chants. You’re dragged in, wide-eyed, devoted to the cause, if only you knew what it all meant.

Richard Duguay's sonic magnificence evokes rock and roll's real spirit

badjujuBad Juju – Richard Duguay (self released)

"My empire lay in ruins..."

"You don't know if you're lost or found.."

Oh, my stars and garters! Richard Duguay is amazing! I don't get around much, anymore, ya know, I'd seen some pictures of the dude online here and there where he looked like a distant relative of Andy McCoy and Willie Deville, but I'd never heard his music until very recently and I'm a diehard fan, already.

An ex-member of Canadian band Personality Crisis and now based in Los Angeles, Duguay makes exactly the kinda music my friends and I loved growing up, when I worked at a hick record store in the middle of a midwestern cornfield and our vintage turntables and ghetto blasters were always spinnin' Dogs D'Amour, the NY Dolls, Hanoi Rocks, Bowie, Iggy, Cooper, ancient Aerosmith, all that kinda stuff.

Take me to the river

sleight of hand Sleight of Hand – River of Snakes (self released)

The fuzz pedal is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century - and Melbourne’s River of Snakes sound like they have shares in it. Let’s hope that canny investment buys the three members a mansion each in the exotic locations of their choice.

The band has been around for a decade. The commercial music world may have moved in a wholly different direction since then, but their sound has stayed firmly rooted in the share-house, college radio universe of the ‘90s…a time when guitars were king and punk - or whatever you wanted to call it - briefly looked like it might drive a stake through the heart of blandness. Of course, that ridiculous but romantic notion was not to be…   

Loki's compelling journey into atmospherics

the trap velatineThe Trap - Velatine (Spooky Records)
Store Atmospherics - Velatine (Spooky Records)

Well, pop tarts, you're all wondering what the fuck to do during lockdown (apart from fucking, fighting, boozing and drugging), so here I am to sprinkle sparkles of hope and joy...

This is my first and probably last music review for 2021. So this will be short, but sweet. 

As I may have reflected, we live in a golden age of music, where the vast majority of what is popular is unbelievably smug and gittish.

Unlike, to take one label by way of example, Spooky Records (sometime home of such mainstays as The Beasts of Bourbon, 6 Ft Hick, Sun God Replica, Shifting Sands, The Braves, Spencer P. Jones, Brian Henry Hooper, Lost Talk, Harry Howard and the NDE, and a host more), whose releases are exciting, curious, intriguing and often downright addictive.

The Number of the Surf Beat

swamped quick sixesSwamped – The Quick Sixes (Outtaspace)

There’s an awkward charm to the sound of The Quick Sixes that’s hard to resist. Equal parts twang, space retro blues and garage shimmy, this Geelong quartet is a cross between Brisbane’s late, lamented Hewkawis, The Modern Lovers and Shutdown66 (but with better manners.)

The Gee-troit Sound is long gone but if you think of The Quick Sixes as Barwon Heads Beat you can’t go wrong. It's surf music for the loveless and landlocked. It'll occasionally make you cry into your beer. It's sometime a little loose around the edges, but it's a load of fun. Variety is a by-word, too.

The Monaros proudly let their skid marks show

bogan rdBogan Rd – The Monaros (self-released)

Hello I-94 Barflies. The Monaros’ “Bogan Rd” is the latest release from Warnambool’s hardest working band. Shit, this must be their seventh or eighth long-player and it’s chock-a-block full of humour and wit.

Just listen to “Parma”. It’s a classic tune about, well, a Chicken Parmigiana. “Ring A Root’,”Kick It Long” and “Dunlop Volleys” are all so bloody Australian. This is a CD to get drunk to, stoned to and maybe not get fucked to – although the track  “King Brown” is kind of sexy.

From Japan with love

rock n roll undeadRock'n'Roll Undead – Mad3 (Rock'n'Roll Kingdom)
Upon the Dentigire - 2yago: (Zygeltigit)]

These albums by Japanese bands Mad3 and 2yago were pressed into my hands by one, Paul Slater, who runs the 3D Radio show ”'It's Always Rock'n'Roll” out of Adelaide on Monday nights (and whose adverts occasionally send him to Facebook Jail.) Paul is one of those music nutters who often knows the people who make the music, and has travelled overseas (France, Japan, UK) just for the bands (rather than the touristy T-shirts, towels and gastro).

Mad3 is built around guitar hero Eddie Legend (I-94 Bar readers will know him from the 5.6.7.8s) and are simply incredible. They're one big, bad, really sharp and clever rock'n'roll rollercoaster road trip - you're dragged kicking and squealing into a comic-character world of underground surfer/phantom/doom guitar noir. Play very fucking loud. Eddie has an incredible guitar sound.

Looking back but not in anger

sound of sydney 4Sound of Sydney Volume 4 - Various Artists (Method Records and Music)

What is “the sound of Sydney”? It’s a rhetorical question, if not an outright non sequitur.

If you asked 20 different people, you’d get as many different answers. Someone young might say it’s Triple J - which would be laughable but it’s, you know, it is somebody’s reality. You can fight media fragmentation but it’s like yelling at a cloud. Boomer.    

 “Sound of Sydney” was a series of compilation albums- appearing in 1983, ’84 and ’86 - and the work of Method Records’ Fabian Byrne, of mod-pop band Fast Cars. They were fine records - and very diverse and that in itself was reflective of what was going on in the underground.

Once more with feeling

extract from the fungusExtract From the Fungus - Celibate Rifles (self released)

Consider it a last will and testament. Eleven songs, cobbled together from restored quarter-inch tape or cassettes, all but one track previously unreleased. It’s music written by other people, which isn’t a detraction ‘cos the Rifles always had the best covers. These are remnants of recording sessions from 1984 right up until a few years ago, but they’re much more than throwaways. 

The Celibate Rifles have a special place in the hearts and minds of most who saw them. A bunch of suburban Sydney boys fronted by a worldly and older larrikin, they began more brazen than cool. Before long, they fitted in with the exploding Australian underground of the ‘80s and ‘90s better than many critics realised. 

I-94 Bar