Since, I was recently taken back by Suzie Stapleton’s compelling performance at the Bitter Sweet Kicks album launch Prince in St Kilda on Anzac Day, I did some searching. I found Suzie’s hypnotic and dark EP, “Obadi Diablo”, and it’s been on heavy airplay for more than two weeks. I contacted Ms Stapleton and requested a copy of her self-released debut EP of a few years back. Again, I was not to be disappointed.
Brattish as fuck and more highly-strung than a cosmetically-enhanced girlfriend’s bra strap, “Bite Your Tongue” proves lightning strikes at least twice. This second offering from this Melbourne band is a case of “second album, just like the first”, sonically-speaking, and that’s no bad thing.
Spacejunk operates in that hard-to-pigeonhole musical space that’s vaguely described as “psychedelic punk rock”. It equates to loud, fuzzy guitars, left-field sonic touches and a barely-controlled energy. Mark E. Moon’s lerry, acid-flecked vocal is the crowning touch.
Melbourne’s reputation for throwing up more unique bands than Sydney could ever dream of goes from strength to strength on the back of The Pink Tiles. Their second LP is an unabashed mix of girl pop with garage rock and cheap, synth-y sass goodness.
It took the first spin of a promo burn on a road trip to show that The Pink Tiles stood out from the pack. Some proper listens since then have cemented “#1 Fan” as top-shelf pop. The soundtrack to sunny days in a beer garden or on the back porch.
The Pink Tiles kicked off as a bedroom project and grew into the Melbourne pub scene, adding members as they went. There are six members and Ex-Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury is one of them. He produced “#1 Fan” at his own studio and it’s drenched in reverb, with its sharp edges left intact.
MATT RYAN Editor - Munster Times zine Melbourne, Australia
Top 10 LPs of 2020 (no order)
Adele and the Chandeliers – First Date First thing that grabbed me was that sweet Manchester accent of Adele Pickvance, one of the unsung heroes of Oz music and my new favourite vocalist. Nine cracking powerpop tracks, and a corker Buzzcocks cover. An LP of life, love and the simple things that make it worth living, laid down in a fun and warm LP
The Breadmakers -The Breadmakers Melbourne’s garage gold standard return with their first LP in years. Ten '60s rock 'n' roll inspired tunes, and two covers that "Back from the Grave" aficionados will go nuts for. Proving once again three chords, or less, plus rough and fast is all you need in a track.
Jack Howard and the Long Lost Brothers and a Sister - Dog Songs The Dogs Bar in St Kilda (RIP) did an amazing job of keeping live music going in St Kilda, and one of the marque acts was Jack Howard every first Sunday of the month. With lockdown that obviously came to an end, but this CD was a wonderful reminder of those Sundays. This CD comprises of songs Jack and Co play during their Doggies set. As I listened to this I could see myself standing in the corner, being greeted by landlords Gav and Sonya, while Bernie 2 Legs, Fiona and Josie Jo and I shoot the shit while listening to all these killer tunes, and trying to get Leeroy’s attention behind the bar. One of those bands you can’t really fit into a genre, brilliant songs with an amazing ensemble of musicians.
A scenario The Barman will appreciate: My place of employment has organised for middle-managers to attend a two-day leadership and management session. The notional proposition is clear: to build engagement across and up through to the more senior levels of the corporate hierarchy.
"Engagement", in this context, is a corporate-speak for constructive interaction in the workplace. You can talk to someone, but unless you’re both engaged, it’s just words. And what are words for, when no-one listens anymore?
We’re assembled at the venue, a mid-range hotel-cum-conference venue in Melbourne’s CBD. The room is small and stuffy. The only window looks out to construction works being undertaken across the street. The décor is unimpressive, patterned brown carpet like a Brunswick sharehouse, uncomfortable chairs, inconveniently placed supporting pillars.
They might have started as a jokey Stooges tribute act playing Tuesday nights at Cherry Bar while their other bands were on hiatus but Melbourne’s Prehistoric Douche sound just like the sort of garage-surf monster that most underground rocvk and roll scenes need. Sydney could sure do with them.
“Surfing Douche” starts out like a de-railed Lizard Train song, with a rumbling bottom end yielding to dual flick-knife guitars and banshee lyrics about going surfing. There’s a significant debt owed to the early Crusaders and The Freeloaders to these ears (your own results might vary) but whatever way you cut it, it’s seriously good. The ludicrous accapella Beach Boys breakdown just adds to the mayhem.
The Top 10 People I Love In RocknRoll That Make Me Love People In RocknRoll (2017 Edition)
1. Shannon Cannon Shannon is an A1 World Class Top Shelf Human. She is somehow simultaneously all ticker, all smarts, all love, all staunchness, all practicality and logic yet all compassion and instinct. That kinda mix just don't happen often.
From her borderline illegal and harmful practical jokes on idiots she works with to her endless efforts and love to rehabilitate her dear daschund Bruce to walk again against all odds and massive financial hurdles, she is a wave crossing the full spectrum of traits of inspiring people.
Shannon takes this all into her music, I've seen it get pummelled outta her on stage playing bass like a war machine, I've seen it in the drive and focus with which she has forged Juliette Seizure and the Tremor Dolls (incidentally the majority of which are honourable mentions for this top 10), and I've seen it in the difficult, taxing and uncomfortable work she does/has done to earn money to fund music. I've seen it in the minimal twitch of her eye in place of a fist to the cock that she chose to use to respond to a dear and misguided friend of mine's amazement at her wearing a Dictators shirt ("a chick! Wearing a Dictators shirt!"). Shannon is the real deal whatever the hell that means to any of us.
Honourable Mention: Tremor Doll Graeme Cole (happiest man in rocknroll) and of course Bruce.
Hammered - Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters (Grubby Publications/Beast Records)
“Hammered” is a term I associate with a different era. A time of binge weekend drinking, gratuitous displays of alcoholic masculinity, bloviated local sporting club identities, sub-optimum musical soundtracks (I’m sure I remember hearing Dennis Leary’s “Asshole” about 63 times one Saturday night after a long day in the field) and bleary-eyed Sunday morning recoveries. They were best of times, but only until you come to your senses.
But Jackson Reid Briggs and the Heaters get you "Hammered", it’s a thing of perennial excellence, an ordeal that makes you stronger, better, all the attributes you thought that slab of Southwark Premium was going to do.
Following acclaimed compilations like "Boogie!", "Dirty Jeans" and "Down Under Nuggets" and deluxe reissues of classic albums and material by Sunnyboys, Archie Roach, Frente! and the early Bee Gees, Warner Music’s hertitage imprint Festival Records continues its excavation of great Australian music with a number of releases focussing on Melbourne’s influential ‘70s scene, to be released on October 3.
“(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton: Melbourne’s Countercultural Inner City Rock Scene Of The ‘70s” is a deluxe 2CD set that documents the arts and politics-infused rock scene that gave Australia cultural icons like Paul Kelly, Joe Camilleri, Stephen Cummings, Jane Clifton, Peter Lillie, Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford, Greg Macainsh, Red Symons and Shirley Strachan, as well as author Helen Garner.
Soaked in beer, sweat and sex, Melbourne’s Grindhouse delivers a loud ’n’ fast album dripping with guitar riffs. This is their second offering.
It sure sounds like Ricky “Pony Club” Audsley (lead guitar), Mick “Two Fingers’ Simpson (vocals-guitar), Adrian’”The Father” Cummings (bass) and Liam “Sticky Wicket” Chuffley are having a blast playing these tunes.
Kicking off this assault on the ears is “I Just Want To Drink At The Tote” (a song about a great little hotel in Melbourne’s Collingwood) is a good, old fashioned party song. “Throbbing Eye” and “Why” keep the album moving along. These are drinking songs…pub songs…fuck Facebook songs. “Old Ship” and “Casual Sex” are more flat-out rock ’n’ rollers - and they do rock, baby. LAMF!
Here's the European edition of the twice-repressed album from Melbourne band Bits of Shit. The message is simple: If you haven't nailed a copy of the Australian version on Homeless, there's still hope.
Grindhouse – Melbourne’s most sexy band (their words, not mine) - have released their fifth album. Fuck, this band has been busy. That’s five albums, numerous singles and a couple of split singles. And gig after gig, here in Australia and in Europe .All since forming in 2014.
“Sex Punk Power” is just a really good album with plenty of garage rock to keep you, well, drinking VB after VB.
Grindhouse is fronted by Mick “Two Fingers” Simpson on vocals, guitar, grunts and groans. He’s accompanied by Rick Audsley on guitar, Adrian Cummins on bass and Neil Matthews on drums. They’ve also called on the fabulous talents of Shannon Cannon from Juliette Seizure & The Tremor-Dolls on vocals and guitar.
He’s not a household name (yet) but don’t let that stop you. Ronny Dap is the self-styled King of Aussie Pub Rock DIY, a minstrel for those who wish their weekend trip to Bunnings was for guitar strings and not Ozito home-brand power tools that fall apart, shoddy customer service and a cheap sausage sandwich.
Yobbos. We’ve had a few. For those playing along at home overseas and not familiar with everyday Australian vernacular, Yobbo is the term for “a heavy drinker, who places mateship above all else and lives for those wild memorable moments that are unforgettable”. According to the authoritative Urban Dictionary, anyway.
From Billy Thorpe to the Cosmic Psychos, yobbos have been part of the musical and cultural fabric –the cut of the cloth being comfy jeans and a blue singlet. Turn up your nose if you must, but disdain for the upper crust, accompanied by larrikin behaviour, pre-dates Oz rock and roll by a long way. It’s probably one of the few defining national characteristics most of us can agree on.
Now I have to be upfront here. During the early '80s I was a huge Sacred Cowboys fan. I only saw them twice in Sydney but felt they were The Real Deal: a band in this territory of cool, alternative cowboy/Delta punk be that was coming from USA via people like The Gun Club and Wall of Voodoo, yet with a savage savage edge that was a nod to the "Blood River" period Scientists.
“Nothing Grows in Texas” simply was one best Australian singles of the '80s. Of courses Molly Meldrum slagged them off on TV on "Countdown". So we all knew they had so much going for them. At the centre was Garry Gray and his sneering vocals, somewhere between Alex Chilton and Jonathan Richman with a belly-full of hard, home brewed liquor.
If you were a member of a band who was about to drop off the twig and wanted somebody to preserve your contribution to music for posterity, you’d want the job done by Scotti and John from Buttercup Records.
The boutique vinyl-only label from Victoria, Australia, packages music like nobody else. The latest effort is a seven-inch re-issue of News, the Melbourne band formerly known as Babeez, who neatly straddled the punk rock and art camps of the late ‘70s. It pairs the 1978 “Dirty Lies” b/w “Chop Chop Chop” single with the previously unreleased “H Division Bash” and a scorching live “Mainline Honey” as a 33rpm EP.
These are quite remarkable recordings. Yes, you've heard rehearsal tapes and demo recordings by garage bands before, but these are different. It's all about the timeframe, the intensity and the fact that they're Australian and were recorded in relative cultural isolation.
“Dumb-World” is a serious collection of raw demos and rehearsal tapes from future Sacred Cowboys leader Garry Gray and his early bands between 1974-1978, featuring Judas and the Traitors, The Reals and The Negatives.
To place this in a historic context, the Australian musical landscape was fairly frigid. The local artists’ soundtrack was blaring from commercial AM radio, but it that was drab even though the live scene was flourishing and there were so many gigs for local musicians to play.
One of the enduring paradoxes of the past 18 months has been the adherence of certain apparently progressive communities to the discourse of compliance.
For communities that see their antecedents in rebellion, hedonism, nihilism and two-fingered defiance in the face of state intervention, cleaving to the rhetoric of "doing the right thing" is worthy of lengthy academic analysis – even more so when the impact of compliance on the very existence of fringe communities is thrown into the mix. Still, the discourse of 60s radicals is polluted with self-serving assertions of piety, so it’s nothing new.
Compliance is a necessary thread in social fabric, but it’s not an ends in itself, nor is its practice an invitation to prance around wearing the thin cloak of moral piety. Because no society ever progresses without judicious acts of non-compliance, compliance is a behavioural instinct that must always been second guessed.
Unfortunately, in the current warped political climate, libertarian protestations of ‘freedom’ – itself a nebulously defined and ideologically charged term rarely understood by its cheerleaders – have been become the rambling tropes of wingnut conspiracy theorists and renegade elected officials who wouldn’t know their Derrida from their derriere.
So where does that leave Melbopurne’s Ekranoplans? Bent, most likely, but in a good way.
Melbourne’s royal rock’n’pop trio Even - who did include a stonking cover of the Sex Pistols’ "Pretty Vacant” on their recent “Down The Shops” covers collection - reckon that the Queen’s Birthday is worth celebrating. Indeed, they reckon it is their Antipodean duty to do so, especially given that Prince Philip is now no longer around to start the party.
But with four shows across the holiday weekend at great venues in the city’s inner north, south, east and west, "Even Saves The Queen’s Birthday Weekend” is not just a celebration of a fabulous public holiday, but of the great rock’n’roll city that is Melbourne.
Even’s Friday to Monday run is gonna provide some right royal rocking with four hand-selected support acts adding a unique flavor to each show.
New Cosmic Country queen Freya Josephine Hollick opens proceedings at the Gershwin Room on Friday, June 11. From then it's the tres glam Imperial Leather, featuring entities from both RRR and PBS-FM at the Westwood on Saturday the 12th; stranded Mississippi-based Canadian-Australian bluesy country singer-songwriter Meghan Maike on Sunday the 13th at the Leadbeater; and melancholy and melodious young trio of singer-songwriters the Folk Bitch Trio on Monday the 14th at the Northcote Social Club.
Monday's show is a matinee and under-18's are allowed in if accompanied by an adult.
ESPY - GERSHWIN ROOM Friday 11 June With Freya Josephine Hollick Tickets here
HOTEL WESTWOOD Saturday 12 June With Imperial Leather Tickets here
THE LEADBEATER HOTEL Sunday 13 June With Meghan Maike Tickets here
NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB Monday 14 June (Afternoon) With Folk Bitch Trio Tickets here
The music industry is a shallow trench full of sharks and transient imprints, to paraphrase Hunter S Thompson. Independent record labels come and go with the regularity of manufactured reality TV stars and only a few manage to find their niche and prosper. In Australia, only Citadel is still standing from the halycon days of the 1980s. A few rose in the '90s to fill the gaps left by the demise of Phantom and Waterfront. Since the 2000s, the most enduring has been Melbourne-based Off The Hip.
Off The Hip grew out co-founder Mick ("Mickster") Baty's love of all things garage rock, powerpop and psychedelia. A drummer and veteran of one of Sydney's finest garage-trash outfits, The Crusaders, he went on to killer powerpop bands The Pyramidiacs and The Finkers. Baty saw Off The Hip as an outlet for his own music. He had re-located to Melbourne by then and formed The Stoneage Hearts, a shifting cast of players who produced top-shelf garage rock with a pop bent.
A retail operaiton operating out of his house morphed into a bricks-and-mortar shop in Melbourne's CBD and a floodgate of releases via the fledgling label ensued. It's been an enduring success - on its own terms - since then. Off The Hip - the label and the shop - have inspired and contrinuted to the existence and growth of hundreds of bands.
Last month, the Off The Hip label celebrated its 15th birthday. We decided it was high-time for Mickster to occupy the interview seat.