Greetings from Warsaw, Poland! I don't know how many of these Barfly Top 10s will be from folks outside of Australia, but I'd wager a year's salary that mine will be the only one from a former Eastern Bloc country. Here are Top Seven things I enjoyed in 2018:
1) Starting a record label2018 was the year a long-dormant dream became flesh. All the planets had aligned just right: some good local bands had appeared on my radar, I had a steady income that allowed for occasional extravagance, and the label name had been bouncing around my head for months, inspired by an Action Swingers tune.
And thus in July, Heavy Medication Records was born, and it's been a most-rewarding learning experience since Day One. I got turned on to a lot of cool bands, networked with like-minded labels and music fans, and even got some exceptional reviews that convinced me I wasn't wasting my time. The damage so far: three releases in the can, another three in the works, and a bunch more on the horizon.
I must admit, I didn't listen to many 2018 releases, outside of the ones I put out myself. It's rare that I feel the urgency of snatching up a band's new record as soon as it comes out. There were a few notable releases that caught my attention however...
Resurgent Ausitralian label Dog Meat Records is thrilled and proud to release a new album by a resurgent rock 'n' roller and an old friend Pat Todd and his band The Rankoutsiders.
“Sons Of The City Ditch” is the seventh album by LA's finest rock'n'roll band and comes some 36 years after Dog Meat’s first dalliances with Pat, back when he fronted the legendary Lazy Cowgirls.
The new album shows that Pat’s voice and songwriting have only gotten stronger, and that he's got another killer band behind him, one that mixes classic '70s punk rock roots with country, blues and rock'n'roll in a manner that sits somewhere between “Exile on Main Street” and “LAMF”.
Pat Todd will be touring Australia solo, in a double-bill with Mad Macka from The Cosmic Psychos and The Onyas in late 2023. Stay tuned for details.The new album is highlighted, as usual, by Todd's fantastic songs. A prolific writer with an eye on life in the margins - whether they be in small towns or the big sprawling city he has called home for 40 years - Todd routinely hits the mark where youth and the advancement of age find common ground in alienation and wilfulness.
Some re-issues are blatant money-making efforts and others are a public service. Think of these two as the latter. They’re both on vinyl. No digital downloads.
Dismissing The Onyas as a sub-tropical, Johnny-come-lately version of the Cosmic Psychos does both bands a disservice. Both bands are still going (The Onyas sporadically) and share a member in John McKeering (aka Mad Macka). You might say him joining Cosmic Psychos was inevitable. Some have.
The production veers towards the threadbare in parts but there's a lug-headed charm about this CD from a blokey band from Perth. "Lager Than Life" is the debut release for Squeeze The Pig.
At eight tracks long it's too short to be an album and too long to be an EP. Let's stick with the tried and tested label "Mini Album" for the time being.
As if you hadn't guessed from the cover art, "Lager Than Life" is all about fast cars, motorcyles, beer, smokes and rock and roll. It's meat and potatoes and doesn't try to be anything that it isn't.
Mad Macka's history should need no recounting but, fuck it, let's assume you're entirely clueless or you live outside his native Brisbane.
From the slamming punk of The Onyas to the fast and loose jams of The Egos and back to his recruitment into Cosmic Psychos, he's been a fixture on various levels of the Australian underground for years.
"Seminal Robots" finds him and his Brisbane band Panh Andler in gutter blues territory but don't slip it on and think you're going to hear "Fuckwit City". It's mostly music stripped back to its basic elements. The Big Fella is naked, more or less.
But "Panh Andler"? Mad Macka's far from uneducated - the man's been a lawyer as well as a pizza deliverer - so you can assume the name is an ironic reference to bluesmen. One of those many online dictionaries describes a "panhandler" as "an urban beggar who typically stands on a street with an outstretched container in hand, begging for loose change". "Buddy can you spare me a recording session?"
Bogan 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.
At the MoshPit Bar in Sydney. Sandra Kingston photo
Celia Curtis’ Top Ten-ish of 2021 (in no particular order)
Pat Todd & The Rank Outsiders - “...there’s pretty things in Palookaville...” Album.Sixteen songs from the Punk/ Country/ Blues/ Rock’n’roll master craftsman. Pat Todd is the real deal! Sure, it’s not as instantaneously enthralling as 2008’s “Holdin’ on to Troubles Hand”; But seriously, SHOW ME AN ALBUM THAT IS? “..pretty things” grows on you like a stubborn fungus.
Literally anything Pat does in a year is Top 10 worthy. Luckily he put this record out so I didn’t have to rate one of his turds. (Which would have been good shit by the way).
THE FARMHOUSE TOP TEN
Hello Barflies, another year nearly gone, another Top Ten and what a wonderful 12 months it has been. I got off the farm a few times for my horrible public transport trips to Melbourne. A thousand-kilometer return trip is getting harder and harder to get motivated to do, but some bands are bloody well worth it. Oh, and family and friends also. Big shout out to my gig buddy, The Tasmanian Bushman. 2023 - bring it on! So folks, here you…here’s my humble Top Ten.
X at The Tote X live at the Tote Hotel playing ”X-Aspirations” for its 40th anniversary. What a blast this night was. Steve Lucas’s screaming guitar and vocals are always great but at the old stomping ground, the Tote Hotel in Collingwood, they were something else. A memorable night and the gift of a scarf from Kim Volkman made my evening.
THE JOHNNYS The Johnnys at St Kilda Bowls Club was another wonderful gig. It was made all the better because it was my birthday and Bushy got me a wee bit drunk. And I got a present from Billy Pommer Jr.
There’s always something to recommend Unbelievably Bad even if their tastes extend to the extreme end of the cultural scale (black metal, splatter movies, hardcore) compared to your average, probably older, I-94 Bar reader.
There’s not much in the ranting of Cannibal Corpse’s ex-frontman Chris Barnes or the chick from the so pretentious Circle Pit to trouble me, but on the other hand a lengthy chat with Ian Cunningham from Birdman fans The Chosen Few is alway going to be a worthy read. Issue 16 is a cracker with the other stand-out an interview with Ian “Bobsy” Millar, the last surviving link to Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls. It’s also timely with the “When Sharpies Ruled” compilation recently dropping.
It’s not just the ripper cover of “Bomber” that summons up a Motorhead comparison but more on that later. This is Album Number Four for Adelaide’s Meatbeaters and it’s their best to date.
Meatbeaters are in a cohort of Aussie bands that you can classify as Yob Rock. Cosmic Psychos, the VeeBees, The Onyas and Shrewms all play it fast and aggressively with no concession to multiple chords or lyrical niceties. They also share a gutter-level sense of humour.
Australia's Cosmic Psychos have racked up 40 years and will play three very special shows in rural Castlemaine, Victoria - a short stagger from mainman Ross Knight’s farm.
The main shindig takes place at the Theatre Royal on December 1-3 with Cosmic Psychos rounding up all their favourite bands (and some very impressive surprise guests) for a wild weekend down at Knighty’s local.
In addition to the big bash, there will be more events and parties around town so grab some mates, load the esky and fang it to Victoria’s goldfield country for a big ol’ bender.And, because it’s their anniversary, Cosmic Psychos also want to kick back and enjoy the festivities, so they’ve roped in some very special bands to headline each show.