digger and the pussycats - The I-94 Bar
Australia’s one-man punk rock machine Brat Farrar (aka Sam Agostino, of Digger and the Pussycats, Russian Roulettes! and Kamikaze Trio) emerges from the Melbourne lounge room with another cracker release. This one’s a three-track vinyl single limited to 100 copies so you’re advised to move fast.
The title track (full name: “Being With You That Night”) is a pounding electric beat that’s really a stage for duelling twin guitars. It’s over in a minute-and-a-half but leaves a large scorch mark. “Let It Go” is just as frantic but the guitar sheen sounds like it's been sonically buffed to take the edge off. Don't worry. It’s still terrific.
For a musician who spends many of his recording hours in a bedroom, Brat Farrar is more Punk Rock than you or I will ever be. This is the second album of short and snappy homemade songs from Melbourne-via-Europe Sam Agostino (one-half of Digger & The Pussycats) and it delivers in spades.
There’s a lot to love about “Brat Farrar II” if only because it sounds like “Brat Farrar I”. In fact, you could interchange many of these songs on an iTunes mix playlist (or something similar) and be hard pressed to pick what came from where.
It’s his third minimally-titled, full-length offering and Brat Farrar has toned down the electro sounds and gone straight for the throat with guitars at warp speed. It’s more raw, edgy and melodic punk-cum-stoner rock with a true DIY spirit shining through.
Brat (aka Sam Agostino) was half of Digger and The Pussycats and a third of Kamakaze Trio. He might bill himself as a bedroom musician but he’s still to be seen performing in his home city of Melbourne and in Europe, where Digger and The Pussycats had carved out a fan-base. Farrar is nothing if not prolific, churning out a dozen releases in varying formats, and plays everything on his records.
Mighty little Melbourne label Buttercup has taken up the cause of split singles by some of its home city's finest that Infidelity Records was rolling out when they shut their doors. The concept is an A side from a headliner backed with a couple of bands covering the lead-off band on the flipside. Putting The Meanies, Digger & The Pussycats and The Double Agents on the same slab of seven-inch vinyl is an inspired idea.
The Meanies are as much a Melbourne institution as that odd football game they follow and the venerable Tote Hotel. Their song, “Gravity”, is a particularly sticky piece of ear wax with a catchy vocal line and sharp guitar solo. The vocal harmony fade out will have you reaching for the turntable tone arm to play it again, even if your name isn't Sam.
Flip the 45 over and the explosive cover of “Gangrenous” is typical of the musical hand grenades that duo Digger & The Pussycats have lobbed in pubs and cafes from Geelong to Lower Europe. Bratty and brilliant and at 1min43sec it’s over before you can get bored.
The other cover song by The Double Agents is (as far I know) posthumous and only a touch over a couple of minutes long, But what quality minutes they are. The groove on “Cock Rock Lips” sounds like The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hitting high-gear in their tour van on a boozy road trip through the wilds of St Kilda. Too good not to hear again.
Buttercup Records on the Web
"Execution Days, A Celebration of the Life and Music of Spencer P. Jones"
The Escape Committee
+ Adalita, Penny Ikinger, Sly Faulkner, Phil Gionfrido, Digger & The Pussycats,
The Pink Tiles, Claire Birchall, James McCann, Jules Sheldon, Foggy Notion,
Henry Hugo, The Last Gasp Horns
The Tote, Collingwood, Melbourne
Saturday 9 April, 2022
Photos by Michael Barry
Before we start, a disclaimer: I am a close personal friend of Patrick Emery, the author of "Execution Days: The Life and Times of Spencer P. Jones”and organiser of this gig. So therefore all objectivity is likely to be thrown out the window.
Patrick and I first saw the Beasts of Bourbon in a relatively small venue, Le Rox, in the city of Adelaide in early 1992. After the first few bars of the opening song, "Chase the Dragon", singer Tex Perkins kicked over the mic stand, the band abruptly stopped playing and Tex stormed off the stage headed towards the mixing desk. We were standing roughly in that area as he came charging in our direction and I was genuinely in fear that he was about to wreak some savagery upon us as part of the collateral damage of castigating the sound guy.
Patrick couldn't make the photo session so he sent Halfrid.
1. Spencer P Jones tribute night, Tote Hotel, 16 April.
Everything I’d hoped from that gig, and more. Foggy Notion, James McCann, Digger and the Pussycats and the Escape Committee led by the incomparable, indefatigable Helen Cattanach. The opening three song salvo – “Terrorise Your Friends”, “What’s Got Into Him” and “Your Pretty Face is Going to Waukeegan” – with Sly Faulkner on vocals and The Last Gasp horns, was as powerful a start to a set that I can remember. So much love in the air. Spencer would’ve loved it.