Here’s a record that’s as unassuming as an undercover cop with agoraphobia in a grand final football crowd. You’ll only find a bare bones mention of it on the Internet because it buries rather than hides its bushel under a tree, but it’s superbly played and overflowing with easy rocking charm.
Anytime James is led by Michael Gibbons, once a member of Asteroid B612’s guitar arsenal in the early ‘90s and now living on the New South Wales Far North Coast. That’s about as far removed as you can get from the hard rocking pubs of Sydney’s northern beaches of 15 years ago, but then Gibbons is drawing inspiration from a wellspring that runs deeper than just Sydney via Detroit.
Home, James And Don’t Spare the Horse Power - Anytime James (self released)
The dictionary defines “raunch” as “energetic earthiness; vulgarity”, and the second album from Anytime James has it in bucketloads.
Anytime Who? Read on.
Anytime James is an outfit of musicians from the Far North Coast of New South Wales, assembled and led by former Asteroid B612 guitarist Michael Gibbons. At the risk of (more) accusations of hype, let's toss caution to the metaphorical breeze and say Anytime James might be the best band you've never heard of. Here's why.
The first benefit show for Leadfinger leader Stewart Cunningham has been announced and it boasts a star-studded line-up.
Hoss is headlining the September 14 show at The Tote Hotel in Melbourne. They'll be joined by supergroup The Draught Dodgers, Swedish Magazines, Powerline Sneakers, Wrong Turn, Matty Whittle (ex-GOD) and the Melwayholics, James McCann and Adalita.
Tickets are available hereand there's a GoFundMe pagerunning for people unable to make it to the show. Organiser James McCann says there will be a stack of prize packs of music and merchandise being raffled on the night.
Cunningham, whose past bands include Asteroid B612, Brother Brick, Proton Energy Pills and Yes-Men, is fighting lung cancer.
Erm, Barman..? Five Rolling Rocks in your review for this which follows below? I beg to differ. Seven bottles.
The Barman made the rules up, and he’s scrupulous about playing by them. Reflects well on him. Me, I don’t have the time or inclination to give shit reviews to shit music; if “Friday Night Heroes” didn’t cut it, I wouldn’t review it. A 3 or 4 means the LP is either interesting and promising at the very least, 4 means its very good. Five bottles means that this a damn fine LP.
Today, Leadfinger merit a much greater score because first, these songs are songs which will last, and which will become like old friends, and therefore go higher in our esteem, and second, well, truth is I can’t stop playing the bloody thing. The other rather remarkable thing is that, in context with the rest of the band’s output, “Friday Night Heroes” stands out.
Get in fast if you want to be a part of the Sydney tribute to late Hell Crab City singer Scott “Groges” Barker, who suddenly passed away in January. The gig is on track to be a sell-out.
As well as sets by Hell Crab City with guestr vocalists and 300 StClaire, Asteroid B612 will reform its original line-up (with Bullet McIvor on vocals and Leadinger on guitar) and The Crusaders will make a rare re-appearance.
It's happening on Thursday, April2 at the Factory Floor in Marrickville. All proceeds will go to Scott’s family. Tickets here.
He’s been out of sight but not out of mind since quitting Australia for love and moving to Spain, but Johnny Casino has been busy. On March 1 he notched up a birthday and launched a new album, “Time and Time Again” on LP and CD.
The album was recorded in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, Gandia and Els Poblets, Spain and was mixed in Spain and London, England, starting its life more than four years ago.
Instead of condensing the recording sessions into days or weeks at a time, Johnny was more content to simply only record when the moment or the feel of each song was right. That’s why the record was recorded in five different cities in three different countries.
The star-studded crew playing on the album includes Carrie Phillis (Boobytraps), Adam Pringle, Stew Cunningham (Leadfinger), Jodi Phillis (The Clouds) and Warren Hall (The Drones, Datura4, The Volcanics) as well as Spaniards Julain Marco, Isidro Rubio and Actor Ochoa.
The blurb says: “ ‘Time and time again’ is equal parts dangerous rock´n´roll, homespun rich melodies and sweeping cinematic views and was recorded with a roving cast of Johnny's musical brothers and sisters.In Johnny's words,” No reason to doubt it, but listen for yourself (and buy) at Bandcamp.
Favourite expatrate Sydney son Johnny Casino (Asteroid B612, Johnny Casino & The Secrets, The Egos) has a new album out on August 21. "Vibrations, yours and mine" is a stripped back and expansive sounding record, recorded live in the studio in his adopted home of Spain over four hours, with additonal pedal steel from collaborator Hendrik Rover (Los Deltonos).
It's a mix of trademark heartfelt Johnny Casino originals and intruiging covers, including versions of Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown", the New Christs' "Dropping Like Flies" and The Saints' "Ghost Ships".
"Vibrations, tours and mine" will be on LP through Beluga Records in Sweden and La Vila Nova Recordings in Spain and on CD and digital out through Golden Robot Records in Australia.
It’s a well worn path that The Volcanics tread but they’re not afraid to stretch out and take a slight detour on this, their fourth album. For the most part, however, “Oh Crash…” finds the Perth band doing what it does best: Delivering straight-up, guitar rock and roll.
Yes, the reference points are all obvious - at least to these ears. They include latter-day Asteroid B612, mid-period MC5 (without the tinny production) and the New Christs (in their sullen moments.) Vocalist John Phatorous has that steely edge and lets slip the occasional guttural utterance that conveys that he's not a man to be fucked with - at least on stage. He can sing the shit out of this sort of music, too.
"Hello and Goodbye" is the debut album for The Hot Sweets, a short-lived Wollongong band that folded a couple of years ago. I’m here to tell you, there’s a lot to like about The Hot Sweets, particularly if melodic garage-rock/power pop be your thing.
Yet that catch-all tag is only the tip of the iceberg. To better define The Hot Sweets sound you need to add in the following descriptors – likeable female vocals, melodic sensibilities, hard hitting riffs, infectious choruses and underscoring it all – pop hooks. For as I’ve written a zillion times, no matter what type of sound you are after, if a song don’t have a hook – it ain’t worth the paper it’s written on.
Leadfinger in full flight at Bulli's Heritage Hotel with Carrie Phillis assiting on backing vocals.
They've been around for a decade but I've gotten into Leadfinger a bit late in the piece. I had heard word that they were one of the best bands in Sydney, and I knew their leader, Stewart Cunningham, from previous outfits like Proton Energy Pills and Asteroid B612, with whom I’d shared stages. So we went all the way back to 1989.
The penny finally dropped at the Tim Hemensley Memorial at the Tote in Melbourne about three years ago. Bombarded by the hard Geelong-Melbourne garage rock sound, it was Leadfinger (along with HITS) who were the highlights for me.
Leadfinger played upstairs. I watched a band that was thoughtful, with a great collection of songs and a broad variety of influences. The guitars chimed and lashed out, there were great vocal hooks, and the tunes were memorable. I decided that I liked them a lot.
This year I’m going to go with an all Australian bands top 5 of reissues / older stuff and a top 10 of new stuff.
Old Stuff (in no particular order):
1. SHUTDOWN 66 – Come On Girl Give Me Half A Chance. Reissue of their 4th and final long play release, the original was very limited and is super hard to find, so I was stoked to hear that Soundflat Records from Germany was reissuing this awesome garage punk LP.
2. ASTEROID B-612 – S/T The CD only debut long-player got a long overdue vinyl reissue this year from Spain’s Bang! Records.
4. THE PROTON ENERGY PILLS – S/T A collection of their studio releases. A fantastically packaged deluxe gatefold album. 5. BORED! – "Back For More" and BORED! – "Feed The Dog" A couple of great releases came out this year from Bored! “Back For More” (Bang!) is an awesome compilation with songs spanning the bands career, and “Feed The Dog” (Fantastic Mess) got the reissue treatment with a couple of bonus songs thrown in.
Johnny Casino albums are a treat for the converted and a revelation for those less fortunate. If you’re one of the latter, “Trade Winds” is as good a place as any to start.
It’s been way too long between records for Johnny - both this album and its predecessor "Time and Time Again" are old recordings woodshedded for later release - but well worth the wait. The big fella from Sydney’s Northern Beaches makes Spain his home these days, where he plies his dual trades of tattooing and playing music.
“Trade Winds” was recorded before he emigrated a couple of years ago with a crack band in North Fremantle, Western Australia. Drummer Warren Hall (The Volcanics, Datura 4, The Drones), a longtime Casino sideman, joined with Martyn P Casey (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds /The Triffids/Grinderman) played bass. That’s as fine an engine room as you’ll find.
This one’s an excuse for a trite throwaway line like: “Rock is back”, right? Because that’s what a mainstream music publication would do. Well, fuck that. You can use the fingers of a one-armed man to count the number of Aussie music mags that would give “Transmission” anything more than lip service - and you’d still have digits left over. The Volcanics deserve better than that.
This Perth band has been doing the hard rock thing since the early half of last decade - mostly in and around their hometown (although they're on their way to Europe soon.) There’s only one man standing from the original line-up (that’d be singer Johnny Phatouros) but the vision has been consistent throughout. They’re all about delivering straight-up, high-energy rock and roll that goes for the throat. Simple in theory but not easy to pull off without coming off like a re-heated and inferior version of your influences. Which “Transmission” is not.
Yes, 300 St Claire were another of those noisy, intense and hard-as-a-cheap-pub-steak bands that were around in a crowded Sydney backyard at the cusp of the 2000s and never made a substantial mark anywhere else. They self-released an EP, gigged around and more or less fell off the radar before the decade was half-done.
My own memories include taking away tinnitus from a support they played to Asteroid B612 at the Iron Duke in Sydney one Friday night. By the time Johnny Casino and Co came on, the damage had been done, and every note The Big Fella played fell on ringing ears.
As is the way these days, 300 St Claire has reformed - to have fun and sink a few beers, the members will tell you - so now is a good time for their long, lost EP to resurface on Conquest of Noise, complete with extras. It’s every bit as bludgeoning as you’d expect.
Here’s the exclusive debut of “Cheer Squad”, a non-album digital-only single and taster on Conquest of Noise for Leadfinger’s forthcoming album “Friday Night Heroes”.
“Cheer Squad”is a high-energy bolt from the zeitgeist...it's a song about social media and not fitting in with the crowd, with an attitude that harks back to the ‘70s punk era. “Cheer Squad” is backed up by “The Man I Used to Be”, from the upcoming album. Buy and download the single over the next month and you’ll also get an amazing non-album bonus track called Three Brothers. Three great songs for $A4 and they’re all available here.
Leadfinger will play "Cheer Squad" this Friday night at an I-94 Bar show at Sydney's Marrickville Bowling Club with special guests Simon Chainsaw (with an all-star band of ex-New Christs, Hell Crab City and Filth members) and the garage groove of The Escapes.