You really don’t want to read another review masquerading as a song-by-song description of an album you’ve never heard? Good. You’re not going to get one.
Drop your preconceptions, too, if you’re a fan of the late great Jim Jones Revue.They’ve been dead and buried for close on three years. His other bands, Black Moses and Thee Hypnotics, have been decomposing in their graves for much longer than that.
You might think of it as just another European label re-issuing an American artist’s old work on vinyl - a smart commercial move because nobody in Europe buys albums on CD - if they can help it.But you should consider Hound Dawg Records' engineering the re-appearance of the first record for Pat Todd’s post-Lazy Cowgirls outfit as a public service. Here’s why:
Once upon a time, in the relatively genteel state of Virginia, there was a self-destructive punk rock band called The Candy Snatchers. Named after a trashy crime flick, they spilt beer and bled all over American stages before their guitarist prematurely shuffled off this mortal coil a decade ago, and they promptly fell apart.
L.A.-based The Ringleaders have Larry May of The Candy Snatchers on vocals and for that reason, among others, you need to pay attention.
The rest of the band – Hans Molnar (the Hellbenders) on guitar with Tim Bender (Death by Stereo) on drums and Mark Ho (Hollywood Hate) on bass – are similarly well-credentialed. Fully cranked, they sound like they’re heading to Hell in a Honda while out of their heads on glue.
Taste for Evil – The Cuthroat Brothers (Hound Gawd)
You’re over all those punk-blues duos? You prefer your blues un-bent, right? And you never want to see red and white stripes again? Think again.
The Cuthroat Brothers are real-life barbers from the US Pacific Northwest city of Tacoma, an area that also spawned The Sonics. One of them (Donny Paycheck) drummed for Zeke. Studio wiz Jack Endino (Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden) produced this, their second album.
They sing songs about “blood, death, drugs, sex, black magic (and) bad relationships” and their music is raucous, rough-edged and rambunctious. What’s not to like?
Rarely does the cliché “all killer no filler” stick in real life but here’s an example where it does. Recorded in 1997, shelved while the band did other things, and then issued digitally 20 years later, this little-known gem has finally made it to vinyl.
Saying it’s been worth the wait is like calling Isis just a little heavy-handed just after they’ve buried your nearest and dearest up to the neck in sand and wheeled out the harvesting machine.
The Candy Snatchers were one of America’s best-kept secrets back in the ‘90s. With the unbridled energy of The Dragons, the unrestrained spite of the drug-fucked Stooges and the sheer power of the Dead Boys, these Virginia Beach miscreants bled over US stages for about 16 years, before guitarist Matthew Odietus clocked out at the tender age of 40. They have returned to stages sporadically without him.
Pat Todd is one of the greats of American music in recent times. I say that not just because he has one hell of a set of pipes on him, and is an incredible songwriter, but because he’s also combined elements of garage, punk and country all into one mix. I can’t think of anyone that has done that as long as he has, or has done it so well.
Todd makes music that I find hard to believe anyone could dislike. He’s one of the great American songwriters. Todd formed his latest outfit The Rankoutsiders in the mid-2000s and they pick up where his legendary group the Lazy Cowgirls left off. Their latest release “…….there’s pretty things in Palookaville”is up there with his best work, but every LP he does is brilliant and it’s hard to pick a standout “classic”.Pat spoke to me from his Los Angeles homebase via Zoom, where Rankoutsiders guitarist Nick Alexandergreets me before Pat comes on.
What a monster of a 45. Two songs of fuzzed-up,slamming ’60s goodness from Germany, wrapped up in a full and contemporary (although not overly so) sound.
Loveland is a vehicle for Lana Loveland, organist for the a lineup of The Music Machine and the now EU-based Fuzztones and the better half of that band’s Rudi Protudi, with whom she has recently birtheed a child. A prog rock lullaby this single is not.
“Stranger Charms” kicks off with a microsecond throb of Rudi Protudi's bass before a wall of crunching, insistent guitar from ex-Fuzztone Lenny Svilar arrives. The song sounds like a cross between the early versions of the Lime Spiders and The Stems. Lana Loveland’s clipped Germanic purr sits perfectly in the middle of the mix while Svilar’s guitar pans left and right.
The aptly-titled “Web of Sound” adds Lana’s pulsing keyboard to the mix and is a nasty slice of acidic punk. Protudi and drummer Oli Freidrich lock in and lay down a sonic bedrock for the other two to add colour. Ms Loveland has an agreeable and authoritative vocal. More serrated edge guitar takes the song out. Again, there are no surprises but so what when it's this great.
Get your mouse pointed at this link and order a copy. I'm off to find myself a copy of the Loveland album that pre-dates it.
Detroit boy and founder of The Gories, Mick Collins, always did love to fuck with expectations in The Dirtbombs. Now, he's doing it again with some new playmates in Heavy Trash's Matt Verta-Ray, Matt's wife Rocio, and members of Swiss creole kings Mama Rosin.
"Subway Zydeco" sounds like it was cooked up in the kitchen of a cajun restaurant in the East Village, with a liberal sprinkling of blues. You can bet a New York minute against a free ride in a checker cab that this was exactly the intention. It's an LP of obscure 45s taken off a Louisiana jukebox and transplanted to a New York City dive bar.
If you came expecting a Blues Explosion - Jon Spencer co-founded Heavy Trash with Matt Verta-Ray - you're in the wrong place. "Subway Zydeco" is more folky than swampy, its pumping rhythms tied to accordion for most of the way.
Americana is a term that excuses all sorts of sins. It’s so sweeping as to be meaningless - and it’s been homogenised to the point of dross - so let’s not speak of it again.
Some folks call Pat Todd “Americana” and it doesn’t remotely cover what he and his Los Angeles-based Rankoutsiders play. They’ve been tagged “Mellencamp with the Les Paul turned right up” by one reviewer, which is a bona fide compliment if you ignore the stuff that charted in Australia…
So, the fifth Rankoutsiders album, “The Past Came Callin’”, is rootsy and muscular rock and roll, an amalgam of rock, country, blues and everything in-between, and a contender for their best yet.
What makes the 14 tracks on “The Past Came Callin’” stand out? The songwriting, for one. Pat Todd doesn’t do mawkish sentimentality and writes from the heart. These are a mix of old and new songs, stories about relationships and crimes - which we all know are sometimes one and the same thing.
The surging, urgent guitars of Nick Alexander and Kevin Keller are another distinctive plus. Like Thunders with a clear head or Keef with a new-found dose of inspiration and less noodling, these guys make you take notice of every lick and steamrolling riff.
Beast - Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons (Hound Gawd)
There’s more fuzz on this than a box of rotting fruit in a share house kitchen. Two guitars, drums, no bass, simple punk rock songs and Puss Johnson’s tuneful, yet in-your-face, vocal is a monstrously good combination.
“Beast” is 12 songs by a UK band with a venomous sound on a German label. Who says Brexit is a thing?
The back story is that guitarist Dirty Jake formed the band in 2002 but it took eight years to find Puss Johnson’s vocal and a more or less settled line-up. Two years later, their bass player was given the flick and The Dirty Johnsons continued as a trio. So they pre-date Amyl and The Sniffers - who are an obvious comparator - by a fair stretch.
If you’re going to raid the garage for inspiration, make sure you’re taking your cues from the best.
Rod Hamdallah grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and was playing gin joints and trashy dive bars before he was old enough to legally drink, steeping himself in blues, '50s and '60s rock and switchblade punk sounds from the get-go.
This 10-inch vinyl EP is a re-issue of Hamdallah’s self-issued debut CD from 2014 and reverberates with rebellious righteousness.
If proof was needed that Brexit was a dumb idea, consider that this is an Italian band on a German label playing music that owes its origins to the sounds of Africa after they were transplanted to North America.
The letter ’s’ is very important in the band’s name because there’s an outfit calling itself The Gentlemen from Sheffield in the UK that plays disco pop. Disco pop? Never heard ‘em but daresay if none of us ever do, we’ve probably dodged a bullet.
The Gentlemens play noisy punk blues. Really good, noisy punk blues. They’re a trio (two guitars and drums) and they sound huge. The absence of bass is not a problem.
Paolo Fioretti is the sole vocalist (he sings in English) and guitarist who also punches in synth and keyboards. His guitar tone is warm and chunky. Not too much chicken scratching here; the man can play. His amico Giordano Baldoni is no slouch, either. They don’t re-invent the form, they work within it and avoid cliches.
Unless I’ve blinked and missed them, it’s been more than a decade since King Brothers appeared on Australian stages and 20 years since they started as a band. Time is rarely kind to any of us, however King Brothers' trademark brand of brutal “hardcore blues” not only remains intact but has blossomed.
“Wasteland” might be their sixth or seventh full-length album - background is hard to dig up on the Interwebs when you don’t read Japanese - and it leaves little to the imagination.
King Brothers are a two-guitars-and-drums trio from Nishinomiya City whose sound has been called “the Germs backing Howling Wolf”. Eric Oblivian reckons they’re the best band in the world and they tour the world constantly.