Raining 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 .
Drinking 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.
The 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.
Cactusville – 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".
Landfill – Suburbia Suburbia (self released)
Suburbia Suburbia’s new album, “Landfill”, is anything but rubbish. It is bloody awesome, It is full of screaming guitars, loads of wonderful harmonica and rolling bass lines and pounding drums. It’s just bloody good.
Suburbia Suburbia is Tony Townsend on vocals, Robdog Dekker (guitar), Allan 'Krock' Lyon (harmonica), Robbie Jib (bass), Rowie Riot (lead guitar) and Noel Gardner (drums.) They also have Ian Taylor (rhythm guitar) and Mark Godfrey (bass) on a couple of tracks.
These seasoned musicians have come up with eight tunes that just rock - a combination of blues and good old pub rock and roll. I cannot recommend this highly enough because it’s pure gold.
A Light In A Dark Place – The Media Whores (Twenty Stone Blatt)
Four studio albums into this punk rock caper and The Media Whores aren’t mellowing with age. History records that there have been more battles in their home of Stirlingshire, Scotland, over the last 500 years than most old school Aussie pubs, so it’s only fitting that they keep fighting wars on multiple fronts.
Wanna talk about old punks? The creative fulcrum of Craig (vocals and guitar) and Doogie Mackie (bass and backing vocals) lit their first fire together in 2008 and the band almost won a mainstream industry Mercury prize in 2017 for their caustic “Dangerous Minds” long player. Presumably, a win would have been the kiss of death so let’s give thanks for the judges’ lack of good taste.
Return Of The Space Mariachis – Stories From Shamehill (self released)
Surf-tiki rock from the Netherlands? I’m in. Let’s face it: stranger things happen in Amsterdam - usually involving special cakes sold at coffee shops - and this trio of reverb-obsessed retro heads is nothing if not inventive.
With assistance from The Hot Habanero Horns (actually two horns and a harmonica), Stories From Shamehill worked up their second full studio album over five days in 2021 and it’s a barrel of fun.
The Stories have been riding their surf wave since 2012 and have even managed to tour and record in California. Talk about taking coals to Newcastle…