relief splitRelief - Art Gray Noizz Quintet b/w  Don't Go There - Gravel Samwidge (Sound Pressing)

Traditional venting opening: Increasingly, we seem to be surrounded by them, don't we? These appalling creatures who always know what's right, even though they don't. And they're so self-obsessed, so over-focussed, that they can't for the life of them see how wrong, how ignorant they are, nor the damage they do.

This single is far, far more important than the trolls and vermin lurking in the limelight, sucking up all the oxygen.

First, most split singles sound like opposites wrestling in glue. “Relief” and “Don't Go There” is a classic match-up. While these songs aren't like the same band, both have a similar filthy, driving sound dripping with droll, nasty humour. Not that you'll be laughing, you'll be too busy tripping over the rug and spilling your gin and tripping over the cat.

It's a pretty package, too: coloured translucent purple or recycled vinyl, and there's a fab insert. And as any fule nose, every decent single is a work of art.

Now, (for once) the press release is bang-on: “These tracks sound fooking killer. PLAY LOUD”.' This in itself is worth mentioning, as a lot of records don't have this crisp savagery. Mikey Young is responsible for the wicked, clear mastered sound. If you don't know about him, first go here for a bit of back story, then investigate elsewhere.

Brisbane’s Gravel Samwidge is, as you know, one of the few brilliant band names. And... their music lives up to the name, been around a few years. Seen them lately? Why not? They've recently returned to action after their last LP, “Complaints” in 2022, been playing with Buddhadatta and Paul Kidney Experience (both of whom are throat-catchingly full live. In fact, get their split LP here.

Samwidge is led by Mark Spinks, who also fronts Mark's Paranormal Disneyland, but who was also one of the inhabitants of an exciting underground scene which existed around a number of inner Sydney pubs about 40 years ago (yes, it really has been forty years ago. We are OLD).

Bass-lead rippling rock'n'roll, “Don't Go There”, is an adventure of a song with a guitar attack like a pair of pincers in the bicep. Difficult not to smile in recognition of confused lap-toppers when Spinks comes out with lyrics like, 'The system says, 'You can’t see'/ I live my life in anonymity/ There’s a bright star/ In the sky/ It’s orbiting no reason why' ...”

Mark's declamatory vocal reminds me somewhat of Kim Salmon in the glory days of the (Hooper/Pola era) Surrealists. I won't spoil the rest of the lyric, and the chorus is simplicity personified. Don't do as the man sings, “Don't Go There” - do. You won't regret it, it's slurping supercharged rock'n'roll.

Just as an aside, you know that 5G/Gates/virus plot thingy? Why do these folks think that checking out an encyclopaedia like Britannica is somehow consorting with an invisible enemy? I have no idea. The dimwits shall inherit the earth.

Anyway. New York City’s Art Gray Noizz Quintet. You should have their self-titled LP by now. No? Why not? Here, you lazy sods, there are stuff-all copies remaining.

“Relief” is, equally, an aural adventure, where shades of B-movie noir squeak against improbably-abbattoired characters with cigs dangling and sneers sneering. If you ever dug later Cramps, the Quintet is for you.

You may or may not know, but Stuart Gray (aka Stu Spasm), who runs the the Quintet, is an old Adelaide boy. There's a documentary imminent, which I assume will focus on his successes overseas.

Many folks here remember Stu; I first remember seeing him from the early 1980s, when he brought two already-existing bands, The Bad Poets and The Brats, into a rough and sharp relief. Rightly disgusted with Adelaide, he was part of the Sydney scene mentioned above (as were quite a few Adelaide folks who got themselves embroiled up there among the fruit-bats and wrap-sellers). At some point in 1989 he returned to Adelaide to extract Renestair E.J. and Martin Bland and, as Lubricated Goat, proceeded to squirm, rather noisily, across the world. 

There's a wealth of history to the man, but that's not where he is now. If we're spared, and if we survive, everyone changes, and this is where Stuart Gray is now. “Relief”? What might initially seem to be a stonking, survivalist rant is in fact a bloody funny take on a well-known trope ... like I say, with elements of savagery (if not black comedy, or comic cruelty).

Now look, you don't know me
But I'm your brother
I was torn, torn
From between two lovers ... 

Yeah I may just take you with me
To a place that you don't wanna go
A place I call relief

If you've not lived in this area, I bet you've visited. Get your souvenir here.