Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Wolfpack, The Revengers, The Filthy Hacks at Musicman Megastore Bendigo Friday October 9 2015

Bendigo is a strange ol` town when it comes to supporting musical acts original in creation or nonconformist by nature. The familiar and the polite is king in this historical gold field city.
So many superbly inventive bands hit the state centre, yet lose out badly to cover bands, tribute shows and to the more polite spectrum of the musical realm.

We have some fantastic venues in this city, run by good passionate folk who really do work hard in an attempt to feed something positive into a scene that is not in a good way when it comes to acts playing…A: Anything they wrote themselves  B: Any post 1995 cover. C: Impolite music of volume and joyous effrontery. Its an uphill battle waged against a rather conservative mindest. One that cocoons itself in that which is reassuringly familiar.

Five bands performed on this night (Friday October 9) at Bendigo`s Musicman Megastore which was also the eve of a neo Nazi invasion. Thanks United Patriots Front…I detest your hateful work.

I`m going to start off on this recount by talking about the Punk acts on the bill… I am a Rock guy! Punk, Hard Rock, Garage, Psyche, Power Pop, Grunge I love it all!…That`s the shit that gets the good juice pumpin` in my veins. 

The Filthy Hacks are Bendigo`s very own. They are a good time lot that don`t seem shy of a drink and who I`ve seen play live many times now.

Indeed the first time I saw Filthy Hacks play live a year or so ago an excited venue owner, on asking my opinion of the performance, pre-empted my evaluation by saying ``Great aren`t they? They just have fun and don`t give a fuck!`` …That indeed was a most splendid account of a raw and splendidly exciting introduction to a band whose don`t give a fuck attitude makes for a bloody good fun show.
The Filthy Hacks don`t take themselves seriously at all. They rip through short sharp songs with manic intensity and a fair degree of delightful piss take…I was most pleased indeed by a song that lasted mere seconds that decried the United Patriots Front as being a pack of cunts…which of course they are.

The Revengers, also locals to Bendigo have just released one of my fave albums of the year so far, by way of their most frenziedly splendid debut ``Bad Seed``.
Always a great live act, the Revengers buzz sawed their way through a strikingly vigorous set that comprised the very breed of the most outrageously catchy, high velocity Punk Rock, the kind that never fails to make an old Rock nerd (me that is) feel oh so happy. It is indeed a wondrous feeling seeing such music still being embraced, celebrated and smashed home with wildly black humoured enthusiasm.

Gotta say too, that it was such a great sight to see members from both local bands still at the venue at nights end, supporting the venue and supporting the other acts that played throughout the evening. That doesn`t happen a lot in this town. I`m getting so used to bands that turn up, play their set then bugger off with their mates in tow soon after their half hour on stage has transpired…Bendigo! The city of the every revolving audience…a new crowd for every local act and visiting acts often play to just a smattering of diehard appreciators.

Wolfpack is a band I caught live for the first time a couple of months ago at the Brunswick Hotel. I was really struck with the bands unhinged energy, lyricism that rallies against the more abhorrent aspects of a society that is going through most challenging times and their strong sense of positivity, a positivity that radiates above all.
It was damned good to have Wolfpack hit up ol` Bendigo town.
Being the last band to hit the Musicman stage for the night I wasn`t sure whether anyone would stick around for Wolfpack`s set. But, it was a fairly healthy crowd that enjoyed a mighty lashing of the pure stuff…this was a frantic energised release and exorcism proliferating throughout a marvellously ramshackle delivery that was wrought with conscience and positivity. Raw power indeed!

I don`t do bad reviews. Yeah! I`ve been accused of being sycophantic by some, and of being disingenuous or blowing smoke up peoples asses by others. I think such criticisms are redolent of a cynical society that embraces the negative and in fact expects and grapples towards it. I`d always rather consider what excites me and hopefully convey that excitement in some manner. If I don`t like something I`m happy to leave it aside rather than savage it.

So, on that front, we had two metal bands on the bill, Behold the Defiant and Weight of Silence…Not my cup of tea I`m afraid.

Both metal acts went down well with the audience, obviously are good at what they do; but, I`m a Rock/Punk/Garage guy…that’s the music that has always spoken to me. In fact I found myself growing bored and restless while the metal guys did their thing. I don`t mean that to be a criticism. It’s just not a scene or a music that moves me in anyway…so therefore I`m ill equipped to offer a fair opinion.
So therefore this account is now concluded.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Empra - Rebecca Single Launch at Revolver Night Club

Empra is a band who`s music invokes a sense of joy in me. To these old ears at least there is an air of optimism and celebration in the music they make. Maybe I`m way off the mark, but that’s what I hear and that’s the message that resounds most for me listening to the band’s music.

``I Won`t Give Up``, a track from the band`s debut album (not played on this night) is one that has pretty much ingrained itself in me. Throughout those awkward moments in life that get to us all, that’s the one song that I crank up loud to blast the blues away with. It is a fantastic affirmative discharge!  I once asked former band member Matt Gault about this track in a radio interview we did a couple of years back, and he told me, that for him, it kind of exemplified the Empra philosophy of positivity.

The latest Empra single ``Rebecca`` has been on constant replay in my humble musically cluttered abode and has become a staple on the community radio shows that I host of late.

 ``Rebecca`` possesses a massive fat sound, lyrically it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and it has a soaring unforgettable quality that ingrains itself further with every listen.

Melbourne`s Revolver nightclub on Saturday September 19 played host to the Melbourne launch for ``Rebecca``. It was also the final show of a five week tour by Empra, and was the bands final show before they head to the U.S for 6 weeks. It has also been billed as Empra`s last Australian show for many months.

I got to the venue around 9.00PM to be greeted by my friend Fernando who is the drummer for incredibly eccentric hard/punk/heavy Melbourne rockers Bricks. Sadly he informed me that I had just missed his other band, Lieutenant Jam, play their set. I hate it when that happens! I`d mistakenly assumed that doors at 8.00PM meant first band at 9.00PM. That’s how it rolls in Central Victoria…Yes indeed; it is with good reason that my young son is most fond of calling me Daddy Doofus.

Tasmania`s Verticoli is a young band who`s exceptional new album ``Punching Bag`` I`ve been enjoying enormously of late.  This is a band that is earning their way through relentless gigging and a profound determination to push through and get heard. This old school approach appears to be paying off for this exceptionally gifted band. Man I gotta say, Verticoli are tight! Being blessed as they are with such impressive material and a dynamic, yet low key charisma. This is a band I do hope to see achieve great things.

There is one thing that strikes me as most obvious as Empra take to the stage, and that is that this is a band that most genuinely loves what they do.

 There is no faking the smiles emanating from the stage, nor the positive nervous energy that abounded so magnificently throughout a set that flies by way too fast; yet which bears notice to the fact that this is a band abundant in great songs…Truly great songs! Yes they are a powerful live band! But, at the heart of Empra is a wonderful knack of writing marvellous songs that draw from a variety of influences and styles.

Opening with the sublimely beautiful `Sabrina` Empra then took us on a wondrous musical journey that incorporated a lot of high energy power pop, rock & roll and the raucously jubilant lady of the night ``Rebecca`` and of course a rousing chill the fuck out singalong before culminating in an epic ``Only Love`` that saw singer/guitarist Sanny Veloo join the audience for a truly magical communal choir gathering.

At nights end I was reaffirmed of the fact that Empra make music that makes me happy. I know that happy isn`t an emotion that is looked upon with cool idyll…But fuck that shit! I`m an old music nerd, a bit of a hippy tragic at heart…and if happy it is, well so be it. I wear happy with great pride.

That live music experience never gets old for me.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Mama`s New Bag - Save Yourself/Broken Man Blues Single Reviews

I was first introduced to the music of Mama`s New Bag through an interview I recorded with one the bands founders, that being long serving Rose Tattoo bassist Geordie Leach a couple of years ago. Along with vocal dynamo Andrea Szabo and a cast of some mightily experienced and respected musicians they form the basis of Gold Coast based Blues act Mama`s New Bag.

The bands self-titled debut album was released in 2013. That release contained a wealth and diversity of classic Blues tunes from the likes of Elmore James, T-Bone Walker, Patty Griffin, Lieber and Stoller, all delivered respectfully and enhanced with the bands own unique feel, experience and personality.

2015 has been a good one for Mama`s New Bag, with two crackin` new singles released and hopefully a brand new album sometime soon.

`Save Yourself` was released in July and it is this track the marks the band’s debut video.

Beginning as slow mournful wail `Save Yourself` soon sets itself into a boisterous slide guitar driven, knee slappin`  rollick, with an extraordinary range being exhibited of Andrea Szabo who through the course of this track runs the gamut of low guttural moans to long, high pitched exaltation’s. I love this track! It`s got a gloriously unwashed characteristic to it, of which the accompanying video sums up most magnificently…This is the sound of great muso`s having fun, and it shows.

``Broken Man Blues``  the second Mama`s New Bag single for 2015 opens with an outstanding six string flurry courtesy of Australia`s premier guitar hero Kevin Borich who`s inimitable scorching style is etched throughout a smouldering Blues workout. Again this is a superb vocal showcase that imbues the track with gloriously smoky, late night appeal. Pure class!

As much as I enjoyed Mama`s New Bag`s debut album, I`m getting the sense that this is a band that is really finding their own distinct groove and personality with the release of these two singles. If you’re a fan of great Australian Blues and have an appreciation for genuine musicianship then you`re gonna love Mamas New Bag…Now bring on the album!

Check out more on Mama`s New Bag:

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Freya Wilcox & The Howl - Bareknuckle Love

The front page of Freya Wilcox & the Howls website pronounces the band as ``Cutting Brooklyn Blues-Punk with a road rash howl`` and a pretty damn fine self-assessment that is from a band that, on the evidence of ``Bareknuckle Love``, is kicking maximum ass.

Musically Freya Wilcox & the Howl cover a dynamic range that incorporates elements of Rock, Blues and folk and all entwined with a maverick punk spirit. There is a genuine sense of gleeful chaos that lends itself so wonderfully to the overall thrust and spirit that burns so evidently throughout the EP`s five tracks.

The sound and vibe throughout is magnificently boisterous, but the energy is pure, bristling with a smoky intensity that is born for the barroom.

`Bareknuckle Love` is something of a continuum from Freya`s solo acoustic 2013 EP `Dirt Music` with some tracks from that release being revisited and benefiting greatly from the contributions of bassist Craig Shay and drummer CJ Dunaieff who bring to this release a chunky, assailing texture that builds wonderfully upon its more rustic predecessor.

Calling this band the Howl is a remarkable statement of intent as this is indeed music that howls …It also screams, bites, spits and bristles with an almost unrestrained wildness.

Vocally I have seen Freya Wilcox compared to Janis Joplin, which I feel is a lazy means of categorizing any female singer who stamps their material with a passionate rough-hewn authority. Freya Wilcox is very much an original who`s full-blooded roar is very much of her own character and stamped with a vehement charisma that marks her as a true original.

The only let down with this release for me is that it is too damn short. I have to admit that being a child of the 70`s and 80`s I grew up in an era of the album. With EP`s being the prevailing norm at present I am continually finding the journey is over just as its really taking hold. But that`s just an old man’s lament that I have to learn to take in my stride.

`Bareknuckle Love` is a magnificent display of visceral emotion, evocative lyricism and impassioned performance, centred round a gloriously ramshackle Rock & Roll heartbeat.

Check out The Freya Wilcox and the Howl Bandcamp page:

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Turbulent Hearts - Panic / The Rage E.P Reviews

Being a fan of the band Civet, this here Rock & Roll tragic couldn`t help but be excited on learning that Suzi Moon (Homewrecker) had gathered herself a brand new L.A based Rock & Roll posse, going by the moniker of Turbulent Hearts.

The two EPS were released so close together (Panic –June 2015, The Rage – August 2015) that I decided to review both in one hit. I also have to admit that it was the 2nd release ` The Rage` that was my first true introduction to this mighty fine band.

What we have spread across both releases is ten tracks of resplendently riotous Rock & Roll at its finest.

It is indeed a modern day malaise that there is an implicit need to genre specify music…So for that purpose let`s call Turbulent Hearts a Punk band. But, they are so much more than just that.  Both releases are blessed with such a wondrous diversity that can often touch on the polar extremes of say Power-Pop and Blues to give but one example… I just call it Rock & Roll!

Some personal favourites of mine are the swaggering semi balladry of ``Never Getting over You`` and the raw calamitously energetic discharge that is ``Panic``. ``The Rage`` is a stunningly lo fi acoustic lament, while tracks such as `On My Own` and `Hanging Around` are outstanding examples of infectiously catchy Rock & Roll that one would imagine going over a perfect storm with audiences played live.  Another big favourite is the bluesy strut ``Redwood Nights`.

Every track standing of its own accord across the both E.P`s is instilled with its own distinct personality.

Suzi Moon evokes vivid imagery through exceptional lyricism and vocals that portray many distinct characters and emotions all the way through, be that a plaintive wail, a full blooded roar or imbuing the material with an almost playful essence.

If you love your Rock & Roll pure at heart then Turbulent Hearts is a band for you. To quote the band themselves ``Damn that shit feels nice``.

Head over here to check out Turbulent Hearts: 

Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene - Facing the Ruin

Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene are one of the few heavy acts out of Melbourne that I haven`t had the chance to see live as yet. I guess that comes with the territory of living in a conservative rural Victorian city, which increasingly necessitates travel on my part to get my live fix of pure Rock & Roll.

On the strength of this most magnificent release Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene are a band I`m champin` wildly to see in a live setting.

If you’re a fan of greasy stoneresque Rock & Roll saturated in sledgehammer riffs aplenty then you`re seriously going to lose your shit (in a good way of course) delving into `Facing the Ruin`.

Musically I`m hearing a lot of diverse influences throughout the seven tracks that comprise this release; having cut my teeth on the classic 70`s Hard Rock of Sabbath, Leaf Hound, Purple, Atomic Rooster, Zeppelin etc. I do detect a somewhat spaced-out retro vibe in places with many of the tracks surging maniacally between extremes of heavy as fuck Sabbath like grooves that frequently ignite into euphoric bursts of frantic whiplash intensity.

There is so much to recommend here with some of my fave tracks ranging from the furious riffage of `White Crystal Lady`, the epic title track (and at 9:41, I do mean epic)`Facing the Ruin and the sonically atmospheric post coital come down that is album closer `Leaving`

The CD version of this album is pure class by way of striking cover photography that perfectly sums up the contents within. Production wise this is a huge sounding album boasting some truly magnificent playing, of particular note being some astonishing guitar throughout.

Head over to https://fuckthefitzroydoomscene.bandcamp.com/ to have listen to samples of Fuck the Fitzroy Doom Scene`s `Facing the Ruin…Then buy it!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Beautiful Monument - The Lost

``I might be old…but I got to see all the cool bands`` - So goes that annoyingly condescending meme that rears its boring ugly head on social media with monotonous regularity.

Well here`s one for you. I`m really fucking old and I`m seeing all the cool bands right at this very moment in time! One case in point is the magnificent young Melbourne based band the Beautiful Monument who have just dropped their debut EP ``The Lost``.

The Beautiful Monument first came to my attention at an all day/night band event in Bendigo approximately 18 months ago. They were an unqualified stand out possessing as they do such genuinely memorable songs, a confident entertaining stage presence, and a gloriously unbridled youthful energy.

Since that gig there have been line-up changes and I`m sure no end of frustrations confronted by the band; their perseverance however has paid off in spades by way of a stunningly feisty debut recording.

If you had to impose a musical label upon the Beautiful Monument then Pop/Punk would be the most obvious to apply, although there are many more elements at play. It does no justice placing a simple branding upon a band that boasts so many heavier influences and a maturity that belies their youth.

Singer Lizi Blanco is a dynamo who is pure conviction throughout all five tracks. This is a singer who commands a defiant authority, as is most evident on ``You’re the Reason I Purr`` with its gloriously middle finger flagging ``FUCK YOU!`` intro and lyrics that are spat out in a gleeful exorcism.

Production wise ``The Lost`` sounds absolutely huge! This is commercial music in the sense that it strikes immediately with clever song-writing imbued with a soaring quality that marks every track instantly stamped on your memory, all the while characterised with a triumphantly malevolent quality that marks the material with an unpretentious sincerity.

It is such a wonderfully creative time in music right here, right now. So many great bands recording and performing on a world class level…The Beautiful Monument is one such act. I am most looking forward to seeing where their next musical strides take them.

Check out the Beautiful Monuments ``The Lost`` at:

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Revengers - Bad Seed

It is indeed a most glorious occurrence when a great live band succeeds in capturing their manic live energy when it comes to laying it down in the studio. Bendigo based punks The Revengers have done just that by recording one of the finest albums by a Regional Victorian band I have heard in many a year.

The Revengers debut album `Bad Seed` is an out-and-out blast of buzz-saw guitar and choke hold catchiness set to a bleak tale of one bad seeds life of ruin and ruination.

Being a bit slow on the uptake I wasn`t aware that `Bad Seed` is something of a punk concept album until I had it spelled out to me by singer/guitarist Matty Worthington following an interview that we did recently for local community radio.

Opening with the title track the album then weaves through tales of sordid perversity ``Snowdropper/Teen Stalker``, addiction ``Rehab/Withdrawals``, dysfunctional relations ``Crackhead/Misfit Love`` before the conclusion that is ``Numb/Torture Chamber/Its Hell``. 

While the subject matter may be bleak, this is in no way a bleak listen. Musically it bristles with a delirious vigour and I can`t help imagine that the band has had a hell of a lot of fun delving into the psyche of the albums central character.

In true punk fashion the songs are short, sharp, to the point. The 14 tracks that comprise this release roar by with an astonishing velocity that see`s you wanting for more.
Head over to https://revengers.bandcamp.com/album/bad-seed to have a listen and purchase The Revengers ``Bad Seed``.

Dear Stalker - Since When Were We Enemies?

Melbourne`s Dear Stalker are a band I have been a big fan of for a couple of years now. They are an incredibly exciting live band who have to date released just two exceptional EP`s.

It has been too long between releases with Dear Stalkers last release being over two years old now. The wait however is nearly over with the impending (October 2015) release of `Since When Were We Enemies`.

`Since When Were We Enemies` comes in the wake of a period wrought with frustration for Dear Stalker that resulted in the aborted recording of what the band had hoped would be their debut full length album release.

 Many of the six tracks on this new release delve into themes of frustration. It appears, to me at least, that there is a venting at play which marks this E.P with an intense and undeniable energy.

`Suffocating/overthinking/fucking with my head` – seethes the title track. Thematically tracks such as `A Minute` and `Little People` mine similar lyrical themes, rocking ferociously throughout. While there is plenty of angst, this is a release that  boasts a marvellous versatility throughout

The exquisite `End of the Earth` is a track that singer/guitarist Lisa Murphwell describes as the closest the band has ever come to writing a love song. `Wearing White` atmospherically sweeps from a gentle acoustic intro to a full blooded sonic soar, and there is `Turning Blue` a truly epic track that lyrically and musically weaves dramatically within the frame of an hypnotic pulse.

`Since When Were We Enemies` is in summation a simply stunning release from an outstanding band. Intelligent, passionate and  bristling with a fervent  indomitable power thoughout.