Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Monday, 1 November 2010


This isn't really a review, it's just a straight from my head to blog spew. 

I was interested to hear that The Little Ugly Girls, an excellent musical unit I associate with a fertile time in Hobart music, were reforming for a one-off gig at a Punter's Club memorial, what ever the hell that might be – actually to get it out of the way, I think pubs, bands and scenes come and go, and that one can wallow a little too much in nostalgia, but the thing is, this is what I’m about to do, and if I could get to the show the LUGs are playing at, I would, with bells on.

Because Little Ugly Girls were a fine band, and had an excellent combination of a very gifted musician (Sloth) and the intense creative energy of Danny and Linda Johnston. There was also a cast of Bass players - Lauren Moore, Cameron Stopps - cripes, I can't remember. It was during The Grunge Years. The focus always seemed to be on Sloth and Linda, and Danny kind of gets missed out a bit I think; he was never a great guitarist in the traditional sense but he used to really think and his playing in LUGs had a very unique expressionist overtone that was nuanced and textured, whilst also being ferocious. He reminds me now of Gareth Williams from This Heat, in that it he always tried to stretch and re-think what he had, and what he could do with it – and this isn't say that he wasn't a whopping good guitar player in the end, it's just that what really made him special was the applied intellect. His sibling Linda was something else again, and far more of performer than again has ever been given credit for. I recall her being mesmerising and ferocious and vulnerable all at once, the mighty voice roaring out the lines that, as the band developed, were far more like poetry than song lyrics. Indeed, by 1996 the band had abandoned a lot of musical tradition, were thinking hard about how to make music, and seemed at the top of their creative game despite earlier triumphs of songs like Power-full and In Plastic. Those early songs saw a good band being a tight musical unit and write well above average hard rock that was well timed for the grunge era, but a series of ups and downs and intellectual criticisms saw the band develop into – well, something else.

Hobart was a melting pot of ideas at the time, with everything being questioned. Noise was being made to some extent and certainly listened to, vital New Zealand band The Dead C were being consumed to some extent, and this had a discernible effect on a few local musicians; people got very high a lot and drunk the rest of the time. It was destructive and creative and Little Ugly Girls, always an emotional whirlpool, were in great form, making excellent new music and shedding skins. Sloth in particular seemed very concerned with arrangement and shutting up when required - less was a whole lot more and the emotional content, the thesis, of the music, was paramount. The controlled, forceful, and expressive nature of LUGs music remained a potent memory for me, but that was all it was: an exciting memory.

That's why I got excited by the posting of this 1996 tape over on 2001 punk greats :  a live recording even, because the LUGs were a formidable live unit at their peak. In my mind they would explode on stage, the people becoming more - well, to me a great band is defined by being more than the sum of it's parts.

This tape documents a very experimental phase for the band. There are songs but structure is manipulated and stretched into different shapes, the whole thing almost charting a reducing of song form across the tape's course until we are left with the remarkable Boxenhoodahayda, with only Linda singing, invoking childhood rhyme, taking the very idea of a song back to where we all first met it and using the resonance of that moment to invoke a strong and potent emotion of a childhood fractured and lost. Simple and deft, it lets us know what we have just been – a journey through lives bruised. We have been set up for it since the first song and the realisation that this is an inter-connected song cycle, a play in music is potent to me, maybe more than ever it was way back then. 

I have no idea what this music is really about but it has always chilled and saddened me whilst being some of the most purging and honest music I ever encountered. The reach into abstraction revealed much that song form had hidden – listen to The Pit, where it is just the Johnston siblings: a guitar that sounds like a suqalling storm of gulls and Linda screaming into the wind. listen to the controlled detonation at the end of Tractor, the driven rhythm section and mid-air freeze at the end of Slip. There was much of what seemed to pain and anger here, so much hurt that was fashioned by these four people into something unique. Yes, I think LUGs had a lot of personality, and that interaction of complex characters with strong and differing creative ideas produced a fantastic set of songs here.

It's so good to hear all this music again.

It was so long ago, and so far away, and it still makes the necks hair bristle.  

Sunday, 24 October 2010

AN OLD SCAB: Watching The Paradise Motel play Sirens

“I'm here to pick an old scab, I suppose”, I said, in reply to being asked why I had come to see The Fucking Paradise Fucking Motel on a windy Friday in Hobart. The reply to that was that I must be covered in old scabs by now, and I suppose I am. I'm quite happy with that; they may even form some sort of armour by now, though I doubt it. It was a good question though; I have never really liked this band all that much, and I was wondering as well why I'd felt such a complete compulsion to go and see the reconstituted Motel play.

First time around, The Paradise Motel were an incongruity to me, mired as I was in the ragged glory of the creative mess of music that fermented in Hobart in the mid 90s, an odd scene that has been over praised and thrashed too hard at the same time, but nevertheless gave Australia some stalwart musicians, many of whom are still at it, incredibly. Some have done well for themselves, others are bitter messes of people and some have not grown up in the least, and none of it really matters anyway. The Paradise Motel were certainly ambitious, certainly interesting and certainly not like much else that emerged from Hobart; they were not feedback drenched punks or brittle minimalists or sonic bludgeons (work out three all allusions there and you get a prize), they were big, lush sounding and wore suits. My head was so elsewhere I could not have possibly appreciated it at the time, and I think I was wondering if I could now, as the intervening years have forced me to remove my head from my arse a fair fair bit, though not entirely.

I wanted to see if I could like The Paradise Motel now, I think. That could have been it. Or perhaps I just wanted to stand there and judge the fuck out of them. They'd just gotten under way when I strolled into Sirens, threw my money on the table like an arrogant prick (what do I mean 'like'? I AM an arrogant prick), and proceed directly to the bar, where I remained for most of the gig, downing stubbies in the company of two other Hobart stalwarts who would not appreciate being named at all, but had similar opinions to me. One would not shut up and got a good stare from Mireda Sussex, and I was sorely tempted to begin heckling the fuck out of the band, but I let it go; I'll do my heckling from over here these days. It was hard to resist though. I had a good one up my sleeve, about travellers from antique lands.

They played well. 
They are a good band, there's no doubt of that. The strengths of writing and arrangement augment the work of the central vocalist, which has lost none of it's power and indeed, she has probably become better as a musician in the eleven year hiatus since The Motel last convened. When she is on point, the vocal attack is a beam of clear, hard light. It's not a siren song, but a reply to one: tied hard to the mast she is Ulysses begging to be set free, and never being allowed.
Yes, she is a pretty good front person, and the songs allowed her to really be that good front person more than once during the performance, but not always. Sometimes the whole thing got lost, and I wondered if I was listening to songs or an arrangement of indulgent histrionics – I mean good fucking grief, what where those bizarre cockatoo cries Charles Bickford launched into at one point? I nearly pissed myself laughing at that moment, it just seemed ridiculous. It wasn't helped by the general sound either – I know The Paradise Motel have a conceit about playing non-standard venues(one with which I concur, I might add), and they could not have known how bad the sound at the high ceiling at Sirens can be, and there had been some valiant work by the band and crew to compensate, but I have to chastise them for not doing a little more homework – they could have sounded fucking incredible at The Brisbane and totally seduced me, or even gone to The Peacock Theatre for a functioning compromise. I like Siren's ambience, but it's hard to make it work sonically. I think the band were let down here, and I also think they should know better by this stage of the game. Whatever else they are, these people are seasoned performers who rely much on good sound and live production to get to their sweet spot.

Nevertheless, a couple of the songs got me in. I moved away from the bar at one point, needing to be front and centre as, for the only time on the night, the band really took off.
“Oh, this is good” I thought.
It was, really. They were working like bastards. I don't know if I truly liked it or not, but watching people try hard is beautiful in and off itself. The moment where good art struggles for transcendence is the moment we all get it, because we all do this, in our own way; one of the reasons we like things like this is the moment when the music is us, the moments when it is a metaphor for life, be it a struggle, as it is for many for much of their lives, or a moment of bliss and relief.
They were nearly there, you know, but I didn't like the next song so much and it was gone, but that's the point I guess. Moments.

Yes, The Paradise Motel are a good band, I really don't know if I like them and there are some things wrong and I can tell you right now they miss some old members a bit, but that is much a bigger scab to pick there, and it is not really mine to pick anyway. I picked at my scab enough for it to bleed a little and the blood caught the blue light and looked pretty enough, and now I'm wondering about the album, and whether or not I should listen to it, because I wasn't going to at all.
Yes, I think I might want to give a good, in depth listen now, and ask all the other questions about why this band even exists, and why Matt Aulich doesn't have a band of his own, and all that crap.
I may even have to buy the fucking thing.
I doubt very, very much that they'll give me one.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

SUPERSTAR 'Floating Weeds / Double Peace' (Totem Tapes)

It's taking me a while to really feel like I'm ready to write anything about anything just at the moment. It's long been a phenomenon with me that I would take ages getting to know things and keep having to go and sit with them again and again; and more to the point, it was also true that I got sick of things that grabbed me straight away. The more confused I am, the better it generally is, and the more I wonder if I am really enjoying something, the more I probably am. I think it's the the wondering itself, the enquiry into music that makes for the best for me – rich complexities that emerge from even the simplest arrangement of two instruments and their subtle interplay – there may not be all that much going on, but the drift back and forth and the choices made by the players – well, I want to get sucked in and a little lost, particularly by something like this cassette.

Yeah, I am reviewing a particular release here. It's a cassette by Super Star, each side an exploration of folding riffs into magic lanterns of sound.
I think I am writing about this cassette, but it's more likely I'm writing about me listening, some layer of mediation of some sort there. It's a bit difficult because it's so laden with mental imagery for me - i see pictures heaps with this one as I unpeel it's sound - it's the soundtrack for some memory of distant past, but not really. I doubt these people where even alive when I was at school.

The music is making me think of other things than itself and I feel right inside it as a result. It's very float tank – I want to be immersed in it and whilst it is quite sweet and simple, something more complex and maybe sinister has emerged over a fair period of time listening – and maybe I read far too much into these things, but possibly I don't at all, maybe they read these things into me.
It does smack of the hypnagogic worlds hinted at by David Keenan in that there essay in the The Wire, but it could also be some trendy inner city art kids with a bunch of Kraut albums and maybe some Tangerine dream – yeah that is possible. Anything's possible.

The tones intertwine like ivy up the old broken swing in the back garden. Spring is here and I really must do some weeding, cuts some things back, water those little corns that got planted. Each movement of Super Star takes me to a new place around my home. Sometimes it's jarring stuff, slightly grating, sometimes it's a ripple that come together. It's a very small universe that one might find in one's pocket by accident.

I do come back to this cassette. It goes better with wine than it does beer, and just fine with herbal tea and a joint. Except I didn't need one and it's morning.

I have to go to work. I don't want to. I just want to turn the tape over and over and over, getting lost in the island of sound. The forward stepping synth riff on the second side – almost jaunty, certainly lively and celebratory – taps my toe. The little stabs of sound turn into awkward memory and all the pictures of segments of plants – with arrows labelling the inner and outer structures are evoked. Yes, it's music from a film I watched at school way back when. Primitive and excited. A bit like that Raymond Scott stuff maybe.

Maybe. I'm not sure as the images cascade past me; perhaps it's not anything more than the sensation evoked and that shall be that.

I really need to do something about my life and my motivational skills. Things like this, that evoke wet swamp worlds made of blue light and winking mould, do not help me hang onto anything like reality. I think this is a good thing but it may not be, but I can really hardly blame Super Star, can I?

Ltd run of 100 cassettes from Totem Tapes.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A. WALLACE / TOM HALL split CS (Sunshine and Grease)

Funny playing field, isn't it, when a cassette release is more of a step up than a CDr, or a download. Sometimes I wonder if it's some odd form of nostalgia at work – but then again, cassettes are a nice format. Maybe it's nothing more than that, or maybe there's some kind of weird-arse cassette manufacturing spot somewhere in Victoria that all these thing are coming from, and it's just about using that service. There's been so damn many recently – I certainly can't keep up, but I like the things, as is possibly clear from the bulk of this blog.
All of which is to say that Aaron Wallace and Tom Hall (the Melbourne one – not the guy from Brisbane, though I have a few things to say about his gear as well, but don't think about that now or you'll get confused) have released a cassette on Sunshine & Grease. 
I got the damn thing and it's been getting the treatment alright. I even listened to the sucker in bath, which was totally great. You should get this, get a pot of some sort of weird tea going and get into a tub of hot water and do the low rent float tank.

Okay. The content.
I gotta tell ya, I have had this spilt for quite some time now and I had all but pressed enter on a review that favoured T Hall over A Wallace and that was totally where I was at at that very point, except that I couldn't quite commit to it. Aaron's mourning keen was fine and luscious, but even the loose structure of his song forms weren't quite there for me. I had some idea that he needed something more before he could truly let rip with the song he obviously heard between his ears, and I was eager to hear it as well, it just wasn't on this cassette. However, before I really tease that out, I really need to deal with Mr Hall.
Tom Hall does a lovely meander on his side that starts with a simple pattern and kind of slowly draws a wobbling loop around and around it, as if he is hurriedly drawing an infinity symbol on a piece of courrgated cardboard with a Biro – the image keeps the same basic pattern but the line goes all over the shop. If you don't get that, go get the Biro and a bit of courrguated cardboard (it has to be corurgated) and draw an infinity symbol - and keep tracing it. Do it with some speed, as there's beat you have to keep to and you'll notice that you don't' quite stick to where you started. You over the edge and it roughens the shape, varies it, makes little slivers here and there or other interactions of line and form keep on occurring. That's how Tom Hall's untitled side is – it stays in one place to go somewhere. It's a beautiful, involved evolution of a musical pattern that really drew me in as a listener from the get-go and only enriched itself more with me over time. I was much more impressed by where it was heading than I was with Aaron's side of the cassette and I was all ready to say so in pixels, but then, well I wasn't.
Thing is, I was not quite sure if that was really the verdict and wondered if it was me and left it to marinate. In the meantime, the cassette itself got a hiding; it became the thing with which I largely make risotto – you kn ow how you hang out in the kitchen and drink some red wine and keep stirring and adding stock? You really need music at that point and Wallace and Hall are nearly my best cooking companions – all sorts of ham-fisted metaphors about simmering and slow boiling aside, I found a domestic groove with this, standing in my socks on a wooden floor.
Over time, A Wallace's tunes really opened up, and it all transformed. It's a great recording and there is a distinction and I do ultimately dig what Hall is up but Wallace is a hell of guy whose plastic take on the song and it's borders fascinate and involve. It may all change again, and that's the mark of a good anything - it's depth becomes clearer with time spent, return listens are rewarded with more complex appreciation. Which I get with this.

In the meantime, as I considered, the whole tiny run of this great thing sold out. I'm even gladder than I ever I got one, and I suspect that will grow rather than diminish.

But don't let that put you off as you can stroll over to this here blog that the dudes aforementioned run, or something, and just download it and see what you make of it all.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010



knicked this from Eternal Soundcheck
It's taken me a bit of time but I'm getting to quite like this guy. His CD, The Saddest, on Bedroom Suck is reviewed below.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

SCUM Compilation cassette (spilt release from Destination Failure and Magic Crowbar)

Oh,  Oh, for fuck's sake.
This thing – and thing it is – is a wonderful mess. I enjoy listening to it when cutting up pictures of Parkway Drive and sticking their heads onto hardcore gay porn from the 70s (I recently found just such a stash in a junk shop – gold), and other wholesome fun; it's just that I have had to work far too hard to work out
which song is fucking which on this compilation, given that my copy of the tape had no FUCKING INDICATION WHATSOEVER which side was which and I've actually
had to – get this – pick my FUCKING way through all these band's attendant myspaces to try and work out what the fuckery was going on. So, despite my basic liking of this cassette comp – GET FUCKED.
Would it have hurt you to have drawn a dick on one side – or ANYTHING?

Mm. Got that off my chest.

Now that I'm not annoyed anymore, yeah, SCUM is okay. It's not stellar and it's not some overly anal document, it's more like an attempt to capture a certain flavour, so I don't think the scene is all that well represented by this collection of screechering blurts and blats, unless you consider this to be a sort of abstract expression of the scene in question, because all the songs butt up against one another, vying for supremacy and writhing about like little grubs. Thing is, I found that working for me in the end, but as mentioned above, splitting tracks apart was a bit of a chore. I need not have took such a ridiculous exercise on, and just enjoyed the mess for what it was, but some bits stood out more than others and I NEEDED TO KNOW what the fuck was going on.

If I'm correct, the best single track came from SUPER FUN HAPPY SLIDE, but there were also moments of enjoyable pants mess provided by COLLAPSED TOILET VIETNAM and OCCULT BLOOD – this angle is more my speed of ferocity than, say, SUFFER ( this act were a wee bit too straight hardcore for me, and I'm pretty over hardcore these days ) or THE KILL. SCUMMY GUMS did something for me as well, though what I'm not sure, there's just something about it – I found their track distinctive and engrossing. It was nearly the pick, but SFHS had to get the mention - what a wonderfully stoooopid band. I feel like drinking beer and eating bisucuits in a paddling pool of my very own urine just thinking about them.

The liner notes indicate that this was all mixed by one Robert Mayson and I think his contriubtion, apart from anything else, was to really squash all the cuts into one, making me think that what was being gone for wasn't a strict representation, but an expressive reaction using the band's material as a starting point. I sort of like that idea and I'd like to hear a more amorphous version one day, where it all does just turn into a chunk of screaming meaty goodness.
Some mention must go about the lovable cover art - it's by well-known punk try hard and trendy art wankstain, the wonderful Stewie "Wolverine's Gay Brother" Cole - go look at his blog, he's doing some of the best stuff he's ever done right now.
Order this cassette from the weirdos over at Magic Crowbar.

Monday, 5 July 2010

ABSOLUTEN CALFEUTRAIL Braybrook (Sabbatical)

One the better small labels in Australia currently, responsible for a range of excellent releases, Sabbatical are hard to pin down – Noise and it's attendants seem to be a focus, but beyond that, the real interest would seem to be quality. One can rely on a Sabbatical release being a fine example of whatever wedge of the sonic spectrum it's emanating from. Basically, I recommend all available product. Releases are limited editions of at the most 200 so sleep not.
I'm fortunate enough to have a fine selection at my disposal and I really should have written more about it all some time ago, but well, I didn't. I aim to rectify this slowly over the coming weeks, beginning this sharp winters day with a pungent confection from Absoluten Calfeutrail entitled Braybrook. A short run of 40 on cassette has allowed few to hear this so it really does want discussing so it's existence can be acknowledged – because it's decent, at the very least.
Braybrook, if we mean the industrial suburb in Victoria, Australia, is not a trendy inner city suburb. Wikipedia tells me it's got a decent immigrant population, and that there is a pentecostal church in the area. It's described as suburb where people live but commute to work elsewhere – a bedroom suburb. I'd not heard that term before today, but it seems to be a fair summation of not only this place but a great many like it that exist the world over. Inhabited but tired and weary, places to sleep. I might be unpacking a little too much from the packaging of this cassette, but it seems to be a puzzle to be picked at; Mark Groves, the author, is cursed with being a deep thinker and it may be that I'm required to engage on a certain level – to submerge myself in this small yet significant release – to get the most from it. Its' easy enough though, really, if I allow myself to go with my first thought – the discussion is class, economics, money based. This would not be all though;  Side one is a planing tone of sound the evokes distance, aircraft flying overhead, a whining sonic that is a giant drill, a flock of mechanical insects, distant traffic and transport which one sleeps and eats in and does little else but watch Hey Hey it's Saturday every Wednesday. Side Two takes a different tactic, as a warbling bleat keeps a kind of rythym underneath which drums of objects turn and voices seem chruned into non-intelligble sound before an eruption occurs then decasy into muttering befoe the final track brings us to another shaking beat that decasy into a an alsmost pathetic thumping before the silence arrives, completing the journey into Braybrook.  It's bleak. Of course it is. It's from a place that is nowhere, nothing.
It's just that it isn't. There are people in Braybrook, there's a community centre, a catholic school (of course there's a catholic school. Catholicism is synonymous with the working class in Australia). There's life. More than that, there's history.

So is this cassette, named for a suburb, is not a hymn to the nothingness of working class lives, but something else, for Mark Groves is cursed with being a deep thinker, and to suggest that this exploration is a trendy Fitzroy wanker freaking out about the horror of the suburbs – well, no. Braybrook is an attempt to discuss history and change in a tiny pocket of Melbourne. I had to research to get that but I've been spoon fed by track names and imagery and it's easy to see the arc of narrative on this release – and I really must say, a noise cassette that's about the history, about the rise and fall of a suburb? That points to the industrialisation of agriculture and all that is implied by that moment for Australia itself? Using the small to point to the large? I never would have thought of that, not being that much of a student of Australina history,  and now I have and I'm the better for it. This sonic reaction to historical moments and events is a well-defined and thoughtful piece that evokes questions and encourages me to think further.
This is an excellent release; the sounds contained herein are interesting impressions of the patterns of history, informed by research and crafted with care. Meticulous, thought out and controlled, they demand a cool listen coupled with thought and research to unpack, although they were pretty good just to have playing while I made dinner as well.
If you can find one of these small gems, get it. Braybrook will satisfy.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Slugfuckers - vintage footage

Good grief, this has turned up on Youtube, and I am quite blown out by it.
I actually recall seeing a Slugfuckers vinyl in Eduardo's the import record store that supplied Hobart in the 70s and 80s. I had no idea what it was and no money, so a life-changing moment slipped through my fingers until Chapter Music released Can't Stop it and I finally got to hear the Slugfuckers- and yep, I have no doubt this is great stuff. Anyway, there's a film these people made, that has some kind of plot and is some sort of art thing, that someone has GOT to release, which this is a clip from. I nearly fell over when I found this via the Magic Crowbar blog.

White Cop

So, after trawling about and checking out the happy family of bands in Brisbane, i found this thing, and I seriously think I could well be in love. What a bunch of jokers !

Monday, 28 June 2010


Well, the charmers at Bedroom Suck – a Brisbane based label – sent me a wad of their dung to sniff, and let me tell you, I'm digging this stuff into the garden during winter because it's earthy and fruitful. It seems, from this far-flung outpost, that Brisbane is damn fertile ground for new and fascinating music these days, and this chunk of fine compost seems to just confirm that from art wangery to drug scuzzery to bedroom tossery., there's fine organic vegetables and fruit available for the discerning palate.
I have this personal idea about fragments. I like art and music and writing that even it is neat and entire, has the feel of being a fragment of greater whole, as if this tiny artefact hints at something more; as if one is not getting the whole story. It could be just the way I view existence, as in it's a random collection of glittering shards that are strewn about my path, the pattern one I impose. Hmm. EXTRAFOXX – The saddest - has this kind of a feel – you know, here's an idea, get it down, there it is. Is he stoned? Is he a shut in? It seems that these things could be true, but there's another hint beyond the sound – the cover art for this CD of 35 songs (Cripes!) is of a tiny home-job tattoo and that's as good a metaphor for this work as any I could muster. Etched onto the skin with the available means, the roughness being the charm of the aesthetic, there was enough skill for the design to be clear, the image is read and then all I'm left with is these small songs, made of the barest of things. Simple lyrics that sometimes hit home, a voice that has a bit of sadness in it, something stumbling and a little flattened – awkward – about the delivery? Guitar strummed clean, something in the back round filling it all out, but not too much, it's always going to be pretty bare and that would seem to be important to what ever this is – a sketchbook, a diary, a bunch of fragments. Some are brighter than others, but it's a collection and the only way to make any sense of it all is to examine the whole thing – because you could just say 'bedroom music' and leave it there, which would not be untrue, but there's a little more to it. There's some comedy and some throwaway stuff that is in some ways the best aspect of the whole thing, but the guy has tones and a something of a palette – sometimes, he just doesn't give a rat's arse. I mean 'why are they trying to turn the hippies into punks / why are they trying to turn the stoners into drunks' and that 's a whole song, basically. There's another song – 'A story' that keeps turning up as well, which would appear to be some kind of punctuation or some such.
Overall, this is pretty good gear, but I'm willing to be that if I knew the guy I'd think it was fucking sublime, and maybe that's a flaw overall, but until the day I meet the dude, if I ever do, this postcard from the outer edges of an ordinary life sung sweet will do me fine.

Totally from the other end of fucked in the head is an old album from LOOK! POND! - dates from 2006 in fact and it's a big wailing thing that could have been recorded better maybe but in the spirit of at least documenting something, they got it all down and here's a CD which sold out but then it was discovered that there was a box on top of cupboard covered in crap or something I got one to listen to – and yeah, I feel lucky, because it's good gear, all mucked up and screeching – look you, kind of know the drill here , because there's long running Australian music trope where a wretched guitar is strangled into a riff that jerks about like water in a pan of hot olive oil, the drums sound like a big stomping swamp bunyip having a wank in the bushes, that sort of deal. Sometimes there's songs and sometimes a sound is wrung out of the air and you can smell the sweat and anger. It's primitive and rushed and slammed together and that, people, is the way it should be – punk primitive of an antipodean variety, which some jerk is surely going to describe as No-Wave or post-punk and that jerk can fuck right off out of it like a bastard. This is not that shit, it's a couple of doors down and it probably never heard No New York. It's just as likely the sound is derived from the quality of equipment these people had access to at the time this existed because there's no attempt to de-construct or any of that horse anus here, more like they write some punky shit, drank a goon, recalled seeing Lubricated Goat on Rage and remembered someone had to get a bus later ,so the set was raced through and then there was a bucket bong with a bunch of kinder surprise toys floating in it and no beer. That'd piss me off and we might record the guitar part again, if we even were getting that sophisticated, which I doubt. LOOK! POND! Is not sophisticated, it's all energy and surging response to whatever the fuck wasn't going on in Brisbane in 2006. Music that leaps out and feeds back and thumps out epic fucking sludge grunts, songs that sound like rolling ten gallon drums down a massive drain, like the 15-minute plus album closer Village – that's one decent track there.
Apparently this is some kind of Ur-Band for the Brisbane scene now – members went on to Slug Guts, Kitchen's Floor and No Anchor, and this does feel a lot like some kind of big bubbling pot that beasties crawl out of and scurry off to do evil, so that works. It's a nice one to hear if you can find it.

I'll shut the trap with MARL CARX for now. Another band that no longer exists from Brisbane – dang, these kids turn over fast. The album that they left in their wake, 'sits obvious' gets a real tick of approval from me for sounding right in that realm that God Is My Co-Pilot charted some years back and then very few followed in what was deadly territory – like, you kind of really need to have good idea of what you're up to attempt to climb this particular cliff – or at least keep it as simple as possible. The last time I heard anything slightly in this world was long-gone Melbourne act JEMIMA JEMIMA who I dug a whole damn lot and never saw, and I'm not going to see this either – coincidence?
I'm sure that helps anyone trying to work out what the hell Marl Carx is, but it's herky-jerky drumming and guitar with vocal lines that converse – these cats, Michaela Sophie Chin (drums) and Glen Schenau (guitar, who also ended up in Kitchen's Floor along with Matt Kennedy from LOOK! POND!) are talking to each other a lot. I wonder what the fuck that's about? We'll never know, and that's all part of the enigma isn't it? Spindly, spidery guitar with a fair bit of treble over some thump thump thumpery, drawling poetry and the occasional sleepwalk vocal bleeding over the edges – it's Spartan but not spacious: there's a real sense of it being tightly structured even when it sounds all messed about. It's also over really damn fast, which is often a good sign for this sort of music – it struts up, swigs your beer, pokes out it's tongue and then strides of, leaving one slightly stunned – and that's it, that's all you get, so think yourself lucky. And think yourself even more lucky that someone recorded this act at all, and that they released it and that I heard and that I can tell you it's worth investigating further. Because it's a rare sound here on this disc that not everyone is going to like because it's something that hangs off the edges of traditional punk – yes, of course there's traditional punk – it's just that this isn't it. Marl Carx has a list of influences over on it's myspace and yeah you can hear it all for sure, but in the end this does manage to rise out of that mire and have a bit of character, certainly enough to make the existence of this recording worth it.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A dubious clustering of unedited ramblings.

WARNING:The following has very little point. I enjoyed writing it though. 
I've just been wading through a vast amount of recent music journalism that's about music journalism, beginning with the 'notorious' Everett True (who seems to be boss cocky of music journo's in Australia and elsewhere these days) dissing of Australian Street press, and the ensuing mass of reaction that spawned. I rather think that much writing  about music in Australian Street Press is dire to the point of excrement (indeed, I line my cat's litter tray with SAUCE, the Tasmanian street rag), but it's a bit of an easy target and doesn't quite get to the core of the boil, which is probably the Australian Music Industry itself, and that could itself be something to do with Australia's general attitude to Arts and Culture, but maybe this is getting all too large already.
Street Press is, in my humble opinion, pretty irrelevant these days  - it exists to sell advertising, and that largely for clubs rather than dedicated live music venues. I really don't know enough about club music to feel that I can say something about it with any degree of knowledge, so even if it's a cop-out I'm going to have to leave it alone, and everything else seems to be about presenting a particular image not of a band or a musician, but of the venue itself, and that includes any writing about a particular night out. Everything, everything comes across as advertorial in street press, and it has for a long time, because street press doesn't seem to have much function beyond selling advertising.  I don't think critical opinion is wanted there, and really, I'm not sure it ever has been, at least not in Australia to any major extent.

I blame Molly Meldrum - he always seemed to like everything.

But I turn an look at my own house first and pretty much, everything here is positive. Am I lame? Probably, but I really don't want to write about stuff that's dull. I started writing a negative review of Calvin Johnson's solo album Before the Dream Faded..., called him a low-rent Tom Waits and then just couldn't be bothered finishing because the album was so dull. It was just dull. Droning baritone, some funny bits, nothing to see here, have a bong and forget it.  I I didn't hate it, it just wasn't the glory of the Beat Happening and that's hardly his fault, and I just sold it on, because someone out there will probably love it.I haven't bought anything I hate in ages because I'm pretty tight and pretty careful and do a bit of research before making a purchase anyway.

So, that's probably me out anyway on that tact.

I do think an awful lot of current music is dire but i hate very, very little of it and if it does not anger me to the point of frustration, I cannot be screwed writing about it, as I don't write here all that much anyway. The last act I really disliked was that atrocity of a band Aleks and The Ramps (a cross between the worst aspects of Pavement and Hi 5ive), who I heckled like a drunk arsehole at the Brisbane one night. What a nasty man I am; I'm told they're nice young people.
I rarely do that these days - when something bores me I piss off to the front bar of the Brisbane and talk to someone, or more correctly at someone.  A band has to be amazingly shit for me to want to tell them to never touch an instrument again. 

So perhaps I'm just noting that at least one reason why I think there's not a lot of decent criticism is that most bands in Australia are too dull to write about, why would you bother?
You'll get nothing out of telling people Ash Grunwald is an awful sonic experience, because people either do not agree or they already know - although Ash is one artist whom you really only need to see a picture of to know he's dreadful. Better to aim locally or more directly into some sub-scene? yeah, but in those areas, I'm going to write about what I enjoy far more readily, as I have done thus far, although I could slag something without fear of income loss. I've been punched for heckling a couple of times, it's just that in the gas-heated comfort of my lounge, there seems to be little reason to subject myself to listening to Grafton Primary for the express purpose of dissing them when I already know they were shite from reading their advertorial disguised as an interview in some rag.

But I will ask this: do you think it possible, since the dominance of cover bands and the relationship between covers bands and the alcohol industry that was cemented in the late 70s and early 80s in Australia that the music industry has been shaped into one big, jolly, way to sell beer to idiots? I mean, paranoid and conspiratorial, and all, but do you think that the relationships between advertising, venues, alcohol, bums on seats and music is all mixed up somehow? Where can you slot criticism into that relationship?

I don't know. I need to think about it more.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

CHROME DOME S/T (Lexicon Devil)

I like Chrome Dome a bunch – or I liked version one a whole lot. When they were a two piece, they came down to Hobart, drank everything in sight and and fell over their keyboards in a totally entertaining manner. “We're just wastoids” Shaun South said after I found him in a South Hobart flat, listening to Rocksteady with Brendan, who had rescued him from Hoart's cold streets, drinking Black label cider and drooling. He'd gone missing the night before and had various adventuresbefore being found and given sanctuary. The gigs had been messy but fun – the simple synth riffs had got my head nodding and the guys despite being total fuggen ratabgs, were pretty hilarious and nice cats to have in one's home. The smattering of recorded material, underwear and Lynx they left at my home served only to cement them in my eyes as a decent act in Australia now. Not the greatest thing but solid and energetic in a woozy, swollen way. I guess they have a sound the reminds one of SCREAMERS or of PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS, but I feel lazy saying that because those bands are 'snyth punk' and I guess these fuckers are as well, and I hate saying this is like that because of instrument choices are some other such guff, but there is a driving energy in the music that is pretty similar – though the vocals are more droney and bored much of the time, not so grumpy as the the Calculators nor as angry as the Screamers.
Anyways, things changed and the half-naked gimp boy was removed or left (someone told me he walked out mid-set – punk as fuck) and two people replaced him and a rather more professional CD has emerged, and on the highly worthy Lexcion Devil label.
It's good and to the point at 17 minutes of length but there's something wrong – why do the songs pull up so quick? I mean sure, do what ya like guys but it'll just be starting to send me and the song finishes. Y'goddamn cock-teasers. I get that these are the breaks, and that sometime all one should have to do is just nail the riffs in place and move on – but I'm here waiting for the epic – I really want something to unfurl and develop over a length of time rather than tease me as this thing has. A dud? Nah; it's just sort of frustrating, like not having quite enough coffee, realising you are sporting a minor addicition and wanting to do something about it. So I wrote this. I doubt it'll have any effect but I have to say something – I like this release, I like the new arrangements, the addition of an actual live drummer has filled things out rather than changing the sound – it's still spartan and bleak - but I want to be driven a little further into the zone rather than just being pointed in the general direction.
Having said all that, this does build on the prior release/band version and I'll be paying attention. I really need to see Chrome Trio live so come down again huh? ?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

FAMILY BAND Blessed Ep (self-released CDR)

Family Band is some kind of creepy new folk or maybe new country that has a wee bit of Low, a smidge of Cat Power and other such things, but gropes around in the mire enough to find some strength of character and stand on it's own feet. I tracked this via the Arthur nexus of cultural detritus and these cats were nice enough to send this five song release all the way to Hobart – and well, it's been played a lot by me ever since it landed in my post box. Craft and song writing are the core of Family Band on this sampler, but I was drawn in by the sweet timbre of vocals and the slight darkening of the instrumental sounds- a little echo here, a tiny muffling there - as if everything was swathed in smoke. A hint of otherworldliness never hurts.
Melancholy and simple, there's something that slowly unfurls with repeated listens – the subtle feedback swatches, the strange poetry of the lyrics all have found a tiny niche in my head. I like to sit in our kitchen and drink red wine of an evening with this one, and it seems that the music likes that too. Wooden floors and garlic and rain otuside.

Check it all out here. Tell 'em I sent you.


This is a huge stumbling splattering mess of sound. It's music as expression, unleashed Id breakout, it throbs and it's a cosmic lurching slug that exists in different time phase, oozes past dimensional gaps, has sex with mountain ranges in the past eras of the earth's geographic history. This music roars, screams, and humps the couch because the whole sound, where it in fact not mere sound but in fact one magic daemonic entity, and said enity would be so, so out of it's tiny mind that it would be certain that the couch is a large sac of molten jelly that can only be prevented from exploding and causing a potentially fatal overload of bad vibes by being humped. Soundly. Because it is, actually, sound. Right?

Alright, calm down. Blimey, was that the caffeine talking. Look this CDR release on Sunshine and Grease is a one-track monster. It's a big old jam by a bunch of freaks from Melbourne. It sounds like these things do, which is like a fucking mess fucking a couch. This is no bad thing at all – I'm a couch-rooting advocate. I've done it and if you haven't – well you're probably too old and may have missed that vital window when couch humping is a genuine option, because you can't fake it – I just tried and the magic is gone.
How lucky am I then, that this big throbbing wave of sonic mess exists to transport me back to a glorious time when I could hump couches with total commitment? I do wish I'd been there to see this recorded because the joyful, expressive explosion of 'music' - and I use the term loosely - is infectious and exciting. This is not some epochal release but it is the sound of people going fucking nuts and loving it, with little regard for form or narrative other than that which is imposed by the tyranny of music's time-based nature. Special mention must go to Matt Gleason for providing propulsion and a thrilling sense of vertigo, but all the players are having a ball, none less than the man himself, Mr Kidney. Screaming and growling and avoiding any semblance of words – well there are some but fucked if I can make them out and why the hell should I try? It's scarcely the point.

The point is that this great big splat of fluoro paint bombing is a great start to any day, a good end to any night, a smokers delight and a fun listen. I guess it might be in the Acid Mother's Temple realm, but then again, it could also just as easily be a squalid little universe of it own, one with elastic boundaries and lots of shrilling guitars that carry screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaming monster with long, skinny limbs into the clouds where they can piss all over the deserts and bring new life, over and over again in an endles cycle of destruction and renewal that echoes Ragnarok itself

Or something like that. I dunno, it's fucking nuts. Good shit.

out now on Sunshine & Grease. In an edition of 100. You snooze, you lose.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Music is Math

Well, I sure have neglected this dang blog of mine - and it's a bit crappy, as I really do have a whole lot of interestng music to waffle crud about, but in the meantime - this is a pretty interesting little talk about well, stuff like music blogs. I'm guilty, we are all guilty, but give this a little time and see what you make of the opinions here:

the fellow making the comments is one Chris Weingarten.