145. Backwood Creatures, Spencer P Jones and The Escape Committee Labour in Vain 1/8/2010.
My new flatmate and I trekked up to Fitzroy, in the cold winter, only to find the Labour buzzing with a flurry of punters. I take it they were there for the fundraiser for one of The Labour’s footy players, whose leg was broken.Backwood Creatures: people love them, but I just can’t – it’s that brand of white man blues rock.
Spencer P Jones was in fine form, complete with a new drummer, doing a short set. The guy was on fire, with an arsenal of good rock songs, complete with that lead guitar that cuts through his songs. Relatively tight, although he broke a string, this was the kind of pub rock gig that will make you move your head. Here’s what Spencer P Jones does: classic Aussie pub rock with lyrics that tell of a man who’s full of piss and vinegar. Great songs. Whilst witnessing Spencer P Jones, I had a brain wave: he needs to have a tribute CD for his song writing ability. But who should be on it? I wonder….
146. Matt Bailey and The Bulls The Old Bar 1/8/2010.
Matt Bailey is a shy singer songwriter with electric guitar who wails into a mic, and plays guitar. His songs are short and sharp, but he could do with two things; a dash of confidence and a band to fill out his songs. The Bulls performed their new album they’ve just recorded, in the same order and what can I say? Linda is a powerhouse; a jaw-dropping brilliant vocalist, conviction to boot and a storyteller. Bean is a great guitarist. I can still hear their songs in my head. Whilst they’ve got a mixture of folk, pop, country is the direction Linda should go in. Country is the future.
147. Steph Brett, Skyscraper Stan and Jane Dust, The Old Bar 3/8/2010
Steph Brett did her whimsical charming act, and delights audiences with her jazzy acoustic talent. SkyScraper Stan was tall, thin and funny. Great lyrics, well crafted songs. He plays slide guitar, he croons, he’s self deprecating, but he’s excellent, for I’d say one to watch. Jane Dust did her folky thing. She probably had the smallest audience of the night, no doubt disheartening. But Jane speaks to her audience on a different level, using a different tone, and taps into a different mood. Some would say she’s boring. I’d say she’s probably too sophisticated for the Tuesday night drinking crowd. Her record Launch for Jane Dust is at NSC with Sir. Not to be missed.
148. Laura Marling The Hi Fi Bar 4/8/2010
English neo-Folk singer with delicacy and twee. It didn’t really grab me, but the young JJJ Mumford and Sons loving audience adored it. I stayed for 4 songs.
149. Ukeladies with Captain Mannis, Toot Toot Toots and The Puta Madre Brothers The East Brunswick Club 6/8/2010
Armed with lipstick, glamourous dresses and ukuleles, the Ukeladies are beautiful – they look like movie stars and their soft sounds gently take you to another place. They even did a cover of cheesey beach boys Kokomo and still make it sound magical! Sometimes the Ukeleles were swapped with miniature piano accordion, or glockenspiel, but they always sounded brilliant. At the very end of their set broad shouldered and moustachioed Captain Mannis jumped up, dressed in Safari suit top, bad moustache and tight curls and sang Harry Belafonte covers. Excellent stuff. I missed the Red Brigade Band, not thinking they probably wouldn’t have to sound check because they’d be so loud.
Toot Toot Toots are a party band with two Go Go dancers, and wear matching blue Indian tops. Why don’t I like them? Their music doesn’t take me there.
The Puta Madre Brothers book interesting line ups, tonight was no exception. What makes them interesting is the kook factor, drawing in an audience of kooks. Puta Madre brothers performed without festive lights, but their music DOES manage to take me there – a bit Mexican, a bit Flamenco, blazing guitars, a dash of surf, intensity, ludicrous lyrics. Add that to the already insane concept of 3 x 1 man bands! Tonight they were excellent, and they sold their show out, audience members crowd surfed, went wild and generally enjoyed themselves. Excellent gig and I walked home.
150. Pete Ewing Union Club Hotel 8/8/2010
The gig guide said surprise band. That excited me, and I went down to find that it was the same line up as last week. I had to leave due to personal awkward issues. Shame I couldn’t stay because it looked as if James McCann were on afterwards.
151. Spencer P Jones Labour in Vain 8/8/2010
Went to the Rainbow just beforehand to see who was on. It was no good, but caught the second set of Spencer P Jones with the Escape Committee. Excellent work with guitars ablaze. Great pub rock from a sour man.
152. The Cliffords The Standard 8/8/2010
Alt country rock. OK background music but nothing really special.
153. Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist The Old Bar 8/8/2010
I love Dave Graney’s banter. Sure he’s a wanker but he was wearing wide legged flares in the age of the skinny jean. I laugh a lot. Clare Moore on drums is surely the coolest muso in town. Stu Thomas on bass seems pretty funny. Their best music is their midnight music.
Their best song was one not recorded – about not fitting it – nobody owns us! About him and Clare.
154. Coralea’s Pepper Teas The Gem 11/8/2010
Sweet, pure sounds of Coral Farrow playing electric guitar backed by a drummer and Trombonist. Her best work is her rockabilly.
155. Marf Loaf, Quodabe, Joseph Liddy and the Skeleton Horse and Heavy Yolk at The Birmingham 14/8/2010.
Dissappointed by the cancellation of the Old Bar Elvis tribute I searched the street press frantically to find something, then reminded myself that I don’t need to have heard of the band before, to try it out. So I tried something new: Marf Loaf. Simple 2 and 3 chord songs of a decent quality backed up by a pretty good young guitarist, who at times put his Strat on his lap and played slide.
The next act on was Quodabe, singer songwriter also from Sydney who did a Gothic style folk. As mentioned by an audience member you couldn’t understand what he was saying. And when it’s important for him, then it should be important for the audience too. The banter between songs conveyed his wryness and cynicism, and he called himself a white Dennis Russos.
Blues Rock with screamy moments. That was how I’d sum up Joseph Liddy and the Skeleton Horse . It took me a while to warm to them. They’re young and there’s time to develop. They’ve definitely got style, but their lead singer could have worked on their nuances. Too much scream. But when they were good [especially the last song] I was really impressed. Searching for comparisons? The Drones. Guitarist from Marf Loaf returned on stage, along with a Japanese guitarist, who guitars dueled, lady bassist and strong drummer.
Heavy Yolk – I’d been planning to buy eggs all week, and on the day I did, I saw a band called Heavy Yolk. But it was not my fate to see them. They were terrible. The mix took too long and then it was too loud when it was done. The bespecalled sound guy was under pressure. I left to get home by midnight.
156. Knave Knixx as Elvis imposter with Clinkerfield The Gem 15/8/2010
I daresay I’d never seen the Gem so busy, but it was a whole lot of fun. Logan as Comeback Special Elvis, then later in Vegas Elvis. Jimmy Stewart playing second fiddle, and Chris Altmann on drums. There were a number of vocalists: the bizarrely charming Jimmy Stewart, Molly from the Level Spirits, Chris Altmann at times, but Logan as Elvis was hilarious – really cheesey and a real showman. The crowd was full of Elvis fans- dress-alikes. Dan Sultan was getting into it so much I thought he was about to seize the microphone during My Way. Standing at the sidelines, conducting the group, and singing along with gusto.. Testament that people love Elvis. Heaps of fun!
157. Matt Grimm, Plague Doctor and Graveyard Train, The Old Bar 15/8/2010
Sad to leave that gig, but dearly wanted to catch Graveyard Train at the Old Bar before their European tour.
Matt Grimm did his rough, raw white man blues singing. Plague Doctor rock my world – Tim Molloy is such a hilarious performer- and he dedicated a song for his girlfriend, which was really beautiful. Their songs are great, their performances are engaging. I adore this band, especially their gospel southern songs which make you want to step out of your seat and testify. But whilst the crowd responded well to Plague Doctor, they were there for Graveyard Train. The Old Bar sold out and Graveyard Train did what they do – high energy, spirited performances by the young men of horror country.
158. Charles Jenkins Labour in Vain 17/8/2010
Lovely Charles Jenkins plays Tuesday solo with a guitarist using pedal effects. Very nice.
159. Miserable Little Bastards, The Junes, Van Walker and Band The Corner 20/8/2010.
Launching his album, Bush League Baird, Van Walker and friends were out in force. Unfortunately the crowd wasn’t, so the gig was pretty empty. Miserable Little Bastards consisted of Clinkerfield with a banjo and fiddle, minus the drums. They sang anthems, slow and upbeat tunes. I liked them better than Clinkferfield – better songs, well crafted.
The Junes are Gleny Rae, Sarah Carroll and Suzannah Espie accompanied by a big burly bass player and drummer[who looks like he’s from the Badloves]. They are a supergroup. Espie plays guitar and Mandolin, Sarah Carroll plays guitar and Uke, Gleny Rae plays fiddle like the devil and squeezebox. Their songs are upbeat and fun. Their banter is hilarious and their enthusiasm is contagious. They’re all great vocalists, sharing singing duties. There’s no time to get bored. I just adored Gleny Rae’s dedication to Coralea, Ramblin’ Girl. Gleny Rae just let loose and what we got was a spirited performance from the heart. They were excellent and These women are FUN!
This was another fine Van Walker gig, consistent with the rest. The difference was he had a full band; Chris ALtmann on pedal, Brother Cal on Mando and guitar, Zane on Bass, Liz Stringer on Piano and Banjo, Greg Fielding on fiddle, Squeezebox Wally, and Jeb Cardwell on Dobro. Nice songs, nothing offensive. My only criticism is that songs were crowded full of instruments. But it was a live performance – a record launch, so it had to be more than just Van. More does not equate to better though… The audience seemed to be regulars; south of the river; Tasmanians
160. Little John and Jimmy Tait, NSC 22/8/2010.
Post election night, everyone on stage and in the crowd looked fucked up. Little John played their set as they do, and included an acappella song. My favourite song is their second last, it highlights each of the band members talents. Sara Retallick is an amazing woman about town, she’s a multi-instrumentalist in so many bands. Jimmy Tait featured Eugene on keys, Sunny on bass, Adrian Stoyles on guitar, an unknown drummer and Sara, front woman. Her songs are as her website describes, richly textured. They rise and fall, and what remains is the steady focus of Retallick. I’d love to see her let loose, but each time there’s a chance, she turns her back to the audience. Perhaps that’s not her style but if she’d share that with the audience, her connection with the audience may be more effective.
161. Midnight Wolf, Johnny Casino and The Secrets, Los Chicos, Buried Horses The Tote 22/8/2010.
I missed The Russian Roulettes, since I was hanging out for the BBQ, only to find that I arrived too late. I rushed to get a 6pm kebab on Smith St. I returned for Midnight Wolf, a band I’d heard about but never seen. They were awesome; 2 guitars ablaze, shit hot drumming and a bassist in a Sun records T-shirt. They played surf guitar, with killer drums, they mixed it up, and I never got bored. Guitarists bounced around the stage, energy fired everywhere to the degree where they simulated sex with their axes. I could have been offended. I loved every moment.
Last time I saw Johnny Casino and The Secrets, I wasn’t that impressed, this time they blew me away. Tight performance, good songs, and Johnny on guitar. What can I say? This is a man who embodies rock and roll to me. Doesn’t matter what he looks like, he feels it right to the core and it emanates from the guitar, and radiates through to the audience. It’s the desperation to rock out, and he’s the ultimate rock dude. Props to crazy keys player for his over the top key bashing.
Los Chicos had a habit of jumping onstage with all the other artists so I figured I knew what I was in for. Fortunately I was wrong. Spencer P Jones occupied the beginning of their set. He kicked it off with The Bogans. Then he did something else. Instead of raising the rock temperature, he played down tempo introspective tunes with engaging melodies. It was the perfect break for the audience, and called for a different mood and dynamic. It was awesome, even spine tingling and proof that he’s one of the best songwriters living in this country. He was later joined on stage by Los Chicos who felt privileged to play backing band for Jones. And it sounded unreal.
Los Chicos then took over with their wild man antics, hilarious banter, they fell in love with Australia – said they’ve been living a dream for the past 3 weeks. Their style is rock with garage swagger, and bluesy bass, then there’s a bit of cowpoke too. FUN. That’s what they were. The crowd agreed, head bopping, dancing, and smiling. The hardened Melbourne rock crowd were smiling to the Madrid band. Solid heart racing and exciting rock and roll. It was accompanied of the hedonistic beverages; they were drinking jugs; a concoction of the cheapest red wine and the cheapest coke. A number of times, they walked through the crowd. They even got everyone to sit down, while the band played on, then made them stand up, the tempo picked up and the crowd rocked out. They featured guests, guy from guitar Wolf, Johnny Casino. Casino helped bring them out and it came out he’d actually met them about 9 years ago in Madrid and they’d been friend ever since. They finished by playing a cover that featured John Nolan playing the guitar lick on My Pal, by God. They felt privileged by the opportunity – saying “you see him walking down the street and you just think oh that’s John , but when we see him walking down the street we say OMG THAT’S JOHN NOLAN!!! The cover sounded bad but the crowd lapped it up. Julian Wu declared it the gig of the year.
162. Teeth and Tongue, 6’s & 7’s The Workers Club 27/8/2010
Teeth and Tongue do indie pop. 2 boys, 2 girls and the brunette takes lead. Instrument swapping, which leads to delays in the performance. Some songs were in the wrong key for the lead singer, but their best work was performed slow, and their simple and repetitive tracks worked best.
6’s and 7’s looked nothing like I thought they would. They were not new kids on the block, but old indie people who were easily in their 40’s and a younger woman who played trombone. All their songs were solid pop tracks full of warmth, and melody and they sounded as their album sounded. I was thoroughly impressed with their effort and would highly recommend them to anyone who hasn’t heard of them. This is the brand of Indie pop that Australia should know about. So the question is, why don’t they?
163. Skyscraper Stan Labour in Vain 28/8/2010
Self conscious crooner Skyscraper Stan played a more bluesy set than I remember. I thought he did more pop. But pop is where he excels. He is young, and needs to work on his banter, but he is good and there’s so much potential for him to be awesome. His band back him well.
164. Nicky Del Rey and the Slowtown Social Club Retreat Hotel 28/8/2010
I went to this gig because Denise Hylands told her listeners today that we had to go and see Nicky Del Rey. I had no-one to go with and didn’t fancy going on my own. Fortunately, I bumped into David Heard at Labour and he came out on this Brunswick adventure with me. He said he promised Nick that he would go at the Geelong match earlier in the day. Originals and covers, it’s country bliss and Nicky sings with a soft tone, his guitar jingles and it’s all very pleasant. Accompanied by a bassist, drummer, but the real highlight is Ed Bates on pedal steel who has a brilliant sensibility for mucking about and making it sound like magic. Together their sound is divine, and I wonder where the crowd are, since the room was mostly full of middle aged men. Gaudy interior of the Retreats front bar feels so familiar and if you try a little you could momentarily think you’re in Austin.
165. Sideshow Brides Marquis of Lorne 29/8/2010
Two brothers guitar and double bass fronted by two sisters, singing harmonies and wielding guitars. Add drums. To look at, they’re a motley crew, one looks like a bad seed, another from the 90’s both era, the drummer looks like a jazz man and the girls have cute florals and cowgirl boots. Sound wise I heard bent guitar strings blending surf, rockabilly twang mixed in with a little Holly Golightly. A little sloppy but never offensive. Pleasantly surprised, really lovely, and gosh I’d see them again.
166. Fruit Jar’s Old Timey Sessions The Old Bar 30/8/2010
Meaning to go for this for ages, but had a million excuses; weather, tired; Monday and alone. So it was Monday again and I was alone. I’d missed out on my Old Bar fill on Sunday so I went. And it was lovely. Two violins, guitar, banjo, double bass, and banjolele. It seems that this is merely a jam session, and together and the musicians just show up, bring their instruments and play along to old timey music. There were probably more musicians than punters, but it was quite lovely. Not flawless, but isn’t that how it should be?
167. DJ Windup and Rick Husband The Old Bar 31/8/2010
Imagine my surprise when I walk into the Old Bar on this cold wintry night and find one man with a top hat on stage, playing 78’s on alternating record players?! Absurd I know. He played Hank Williams Honky Tonk Blues, followed by Dixie Ramblers Waltz by the Dixie Ramblers. Turns out he’s been collecting for 30 years. DJ Windup is his name.
Rick Husband followed him. This consisted of Selwyn Cozens drumming and a guy on guitar playing dick and love songs. Best song was the last song. Got to hang with Emma Burt which was a delight.