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? ?