Archive for March, 2011

On Friday night, I was at The Tote hotel watching Leadfinger do their album launch for their brilliant new CD, “We Make The Music”, and before the gig, I was talking with Stewie Cunningham (Leadfinger main man) and James Cassidy (Muscle Car’s lead guitarist) when a discussion turned to the most important singles in Aussie rock history. Now, of course, anything like this is going to have people complain, voice opinions and argue with the choices below but these are some that we felt should be in every fan’s collection of Aussie rock n roll. Feel free to add any notable worthy additions in the comments below. And keep in mind, this isn’t a list of just songs we like, this is a list of singles that for some reason or another should be in your collection, whether in a reissued form or the original, it doesn’t matter. Let’s get started…

GOD – “My Pal” (Au Go Go)
An obvious and no doubt cliche’d decision, but let’s face it, the song kicks every amount of ass that’s handed to it. Whether you care to admit it or not, My Pal, is an anthemic piece of work. That repetitive guitar riff is instantly recognisable and Joel Silbersher’s adolescent vocals has many new listeners amazed in disbelief that this 17 year old sang with such strength, heart and balls. Oh, we haven’t even gotten to the B-Side and reality is there’s a good chance it may take you hours to get there from the repeat listening of side A. And rightly so. But don’t stop at just this one song, the band recorded a whole slew of great material but truth be told, My Pal is definitely the cream of the crop and deserves to be a part of your collection if you have any taste at all.

THE HARD-ONS – “Girl In The Sweater” (Waterfront)
The first day I heard this single, I couldn’t believe my ears. From that opening pick-slide to the woo’s at the end, this song is infectious and perfect in every single way. I have only dreamed of writing songs this good. The 3 kids from Punchbowl, NSW, totally killed it on this record. Another perfectly written tune that many bands have tried to copy and failed. It’s hard to better something that is already the best. The B-side, “I Heard Her Call My Name”, while not as instantly catchy as it’s A-sided counterpart, it still fits nicely on the flip and shreds away in a skatepunk thrash style.

FUN THINGS – “Fun Things” (???)
I feel inferiour including this because I don’t even own a copy of it myself but I have heard it and I know how important this record is. It’s the only thing they released and if you can find it, get your mits on it. A classic 4 track 7″ vinyl from 1980 that is made most famous by the song Savage. If you haven’t heard it, you need to search this song out, STAT. I don’t know what else to say besides this being as essential as air and water, which would explain why I am always sick. Somebody please help me find a copy of this that’s not going to cost me the earth. Oh, what’s that? Collector scum want me to pay $50 or more? Well they can fuck off. I want to listen to the thing, not put it in a cupboard for years to sell later on at a profit. Meh, you and I both need this. Unsure of the label of the original but I believe the re-issue was on Pennimann, a Spanish label.

THE EASTERN DARK – “Julie Is A Junkie / Johnny And Dee Dee” (Waterfront)
Let’s be quite blunt and honest here, if you truly claim to be a fan of Australian rock music then you should already be quite familiar with The Eastern Dark, and in particular, this single. I will never understand people who say they love Australian music but have no idea who The Eastern Dark are. I mean, it’s like your birthright as an Australian to hear these tunes upon leaving your mother’s womb. I have an excuse, I was born before 1985, but still, I got into this as soon as I could. Kids today have no excuse except their own ignorance. The first day I heard the song Johnny And Dee Dee I couldn’t believe such a song existed. Not only was it possibly the catchiest single I had heard at the time, but it was about 2 guys who were in the coollest punk rock band of all time. What’s not to like? Sadly, The Eastern Dark’s lifespan was cut short with the tragic death of singer / songwriter, James Darroch. At least we will have these songs to remember him and just how good Australian music can get. You need this… more than you need your next beer.

BORED! – “Satisfaction” (Dog Meat)
OK, so with this last entry, you kind of have a small excuse to not own it being that there were only 1200 copies pressed… BUT, the songs have been reissued on their Chunks and Negative Waves albums so technically, that excuse is still kinda void. Bored! came out of Geeling with all wah-pedals blazing, creating a storm of wailing solos and screeching vocals. This 3 track single not only tore stereo speakers apart with the blinder of an A side in the song Satisfaction (which has one of the coollest wah pedal tapping solos you’ll ever hear), but the 2 B-sides were just as shredding and found themselves on the many mixtapes I made for friends in the following years. Armed with the dual guitar talents of future Powder Monkey, John Nolan, and future Magic Dirt member, Dave Thomas, this single was and still is a killer record of rock proportions. BORED! gave a whole new meaning to the Cry Baby Wah Pedal. Aussie rock doesn’t get much more awesome than this.

Just sayin’.

I have said it before and I will say it again, Scandinavian musicians have this incredible knack for writing pop melodies better than most others. I mean, for example: Millencolin, I’m From Barcelona, The Yum Yums, hell, even fucking Abba were riddled with melodies guarenteed to stick in your mind for days on end, if not weeks… months… years! Caddy’s melodies are no different. From the get-go, “Electric Hero” is an infectious hook-laden punk rock album of early Hard-Ons inspired tunes. Fronted by the extremely talented Tomas Dahl (ex-Wonderfools, Turbonegro, The Yum Yums, The Vikings, etc.), this album is 14 tracks of quality catchyness and it’s quite possible that Tomas played every instrument on this album himself. He’s a talented cookie and it wouldn’t be far from the truth.

The opening track, Hanging On To Nothing is as perfect as songwriting can get. A power pop anthem that was so addictive, I needed some kind of methadone to bring me back to earth as this song wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone. it just played over and over again in my head. Even when I was trying to think of something else, I still found myself singing it. And it doesn’t end there. This album continues with songs filled with happy sounds and good rockin’ guitar work. Turn Up The Radio should be ON the radio. Waste of Space reminded me of Turbonegro. It’s all good. Even when the album gets as radio friendly as it can get such as in songs like Dumb Angel and Calling California, it is still acceptable and welcomed with open arms. All of it, it’s really fuckin’ good!

I know fuck all about this band besides this album but I sure hope there is more to come because this album is full of positive vibes and good times. There needs to be more music like this in the world today. Not everything has to be about hating your parents and burning down churches.

www.myspace.com/caddymusic
www.dinerjunkie.com

It’s cold, overcast and around me are thousands of kids, all dressed in black, waiting for the doors to open so we can get the much anticipated Melbourne Soundwave Festival underway. Once inside, it was full steam ahead to the main stage to catch UK power pop rockers, FEEDER, start the day with a 30 minute set including Come Back Around, Lost & Found and my personal favourite, Just A Day.

THE SWORD packed in as many Sabbath-esque grooves as they could into their half an hour and once they hit the opening riff to How Heavy This Axe, the crowd erupted into a small circle pit of crazed topless slam-dancing. Horns were raised, thanks for coming.

MONSTER MAGNET have always been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to a live show and this time was no different. Armed with no fancy back drops and no onstage gimmicks, these 5 guys delivered the goods, as they rocked the hell out of the main stage kicking off with Tractor, new song Dig That Hole, and powering through their anthemic hits like Powertrip, Dopes To Infinity, and crowd favourite, Space Lord.

The biggest eye opener and surprise of the day would have to go to GANG OF FOUR. These veterans of the post-punk genre took to the stage proving that age is a just a number as they tore through 30 years of music. Guitarist Andy Gill beat his Fender like it had done something wrong, throwing it across the floor, kicking and attacking it in-between riffs and the occasional smirk whilst vocalist Jon King commanded the people like he was giving a sermon to an audience that seemed focused on every word. Truly mesmerising.

SOCIAL DISTORTION came on next to a thunderous applause. It has taken them 30 years to get to Australia and the crowd showed its appreciation by kicking into a moshpit frenzy as Mike Ness and his band kicked off with The Creeps. New song Machine Gun Blues went down just as well as old favourites Mommy’s Little Monster, Don’t Drag Me Down, Story of My Life and their staple roaring rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire. Let’s hope it’s not another 30 years before they come back.

I struggled to come to grips with HIGH ON FIRE getting a measly 30 minutes for their set but once they took to the stage after Dimmu Borgir ran overtime, I didn’t care. Matt Pike’s 9 string guitar belt out epic after epic of heavy riffage starting with Rumours of War and finishing with the title track off their latest offering, Snakes For The Devine, which would go down as one of the best live tracks I have ever heard played by anyone in years.

The MURDERDOLLS are still plodding along as the 2-man band complete with some hired guns as they entertained the crowd with their horror business goth punk rock. I didn’t hang around too long though as I needed to secure my spot for SLASH who didn’t fail to please me with a mixture of songs from his latest solo album and Guns N Roses classics, Nightrain and Mr. Brownstone before I had to suddenly leave for SLAYER. Down 1 guitarist with Jeff Hanneman replaced for this tour by Exodus’ Gary Holt, the thrash legends showed no signs of wear, even with Tom Araya just out of hospital and still on the mend. Blasting through newies World Painted Blood and Hate Worldwide, Slayer delivered on all accounts. Cult favourites War Ensemble, Mandatory Suicide and South of Heaven went down a storm while finale Angel Of Death was met with cheers as the crowd went fucking batshit in the moshpit.

KYLESA took to the stage immediately after and had a measly half an hour to prove to the crowd that they have every right of headlining this festival as anyone else did with an atmospheric sludge noise attack complete with not 1, but 2 drummers. Guitarist, Laura Pleasants, is captivating to watch as she attacks her guitar with such fierceness while vocalist Philip Cope roars over the mammoth sound emanating from the stage. An incredibly much-too-short set by a hugely underrated band.

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, I thought, were going to be doing the first album from start to finish but that was restricted to the sideshows only. Here they played a mix of tunes from their albums finishing up with radio hit, No-One Knows, where we saw a wheelchair-bound fan lifted above the crowd and brought onto the stage to watch the band from the side. A memory he will no doubt live with for the rest of his life. Crowd chants of “Maiden” started once the last chord was played but not before Josh Homme and his team came back for one last song for the dead.

Seeing IRON MAIDEN live is always a treat. There’s just something incredible about a band whose show involves manic guitar riffs, epic length songs, an overly energetic front man with a vocal gift from the gods and a giant robot playing a guitar during the band’s finale. All of this wrapped up in a 757 jet named Ed Force One, emblazoned with the bands name and artwork, which flies the band across the world as they tear up a stage for 2 hours a night. From the moment the band’s video intro played on the screens, the hairs on my arms rose. The band dived headfirst into the title track of their latest opus, The Final Frontier, and the rush forward from the crowd had me getting the fuck out of there. I am too old to be trampled on by a bunch of stampeding fans. Watching the show from further back, the energy was no less felt. Newer songs were well received but the gold still lies within the band’s past as songs like The Trooper, The Number Of The Beast, Fear Of The Dark and Running Free are met with adulation. Upon the sets end, I was now happily exhausted.

While still in its infancy, one could say that Soundwave has quickly become the best outdoor festival this country has to offer. With such a strong line-up of some of the biggest names in punk, hardcore and heavy music, it’ll be hard to top this year’s line-up but I eagerly await to see just what they have in store for us next.

Let’s take a walk down History Lane. I discovered the guitar slayin’ talents of Leadfinger back in around 1990. I was amazed by a Wollongong band I had bought a 7” of called the Proton Energy Pills. These 5 guys had a sound and songs that were highly infectious and just reeked of greatness. Then sometime in 1991 when I went to my mate, Jay’s house, he played me this demo by a band called Brother Brick and I was hooked immediately. He advised me that Brother Brick’s guitarist and singer was the same guy from the Protons. I saw the connection and immediately wanted to hear more.

A month or 3 later, my brother and I went to Sydney for some short holiday and I was in Waterfront Records and the Brother Brick CD was there on the shelves awaiting to be purchased by me. I handed over my cash and the CD “Getting Beyond A Shit” was now mine and I couldn’t wait to get back to Adelaide to listen to it.

When I returned home to my bedroom, I immediately cranked up the CD and was amazed at the songs. So good! Great guitar riffage and melodies. This was something else entirely different to the Protons. Then somewhere along the lines, Stewart “Leadfinger” Cunningham joined Sydney rock n roll outfit, Asteroid B-612. The newly released LP, “Not Meant For This World” was as good an excuse as any to outlay the sum of $25 for the vinyl LP with bonus t-shirt. Not a chore by any means and when I got that LP home, I played that thing repeatedly. The Asteroid B-612 band came through Adelaide playing a 2 night stand at a venue known as The Abaddon. I had only planned on seeing them on the Friday but I was so blown away that I went back the Saturday night to be rocked again. The 5 piece knew how to deliver on all cylinders. There was no rock band that could come close to their explosive live shows.

Brother Brick was then releasing more records and touring again, including in their schedule, a visit to Adelaide. I caught up with Leadfinger at the time, did an interview for issue #5 of Long Gone Loser and got myself some new releases including the latest single at the time, the anthemic “See You Tonight”. A song that would find itself on every mixed tape that I would make someone in the years to come.

Somewhere along the line, Leadfinger would go solo and release a couple rock n roll albums of Thin Lizzy meets The Replacements inspired greatness. One of these albums would fall into my hands today and this is where we are at now
 “We Make The Music” is Leadfingers 3rd solo album and it’s a corker! From the get-go the album kicks in with big harmonies, a barrage of melodic riffs and a foot stompin’ beat on the album’s title track.

Tracks like “Dragon On My Chain” and “No Reflection” proudly wear Westerberg’s badge of inspiration and influence. Works for me. While a track like “Fourteen” reminds me of Alex Chilton and Big Star. Yeah, that’s a thumbs up too. This is what I’m talking about. A feel good record.

Probably one of my instant faves on the album came in the song “Eucalyptus Blues”. A ballsy rocker that starts mellow, picks up and drives the bluesy twang home for beers at 6. I just love the way it starts and gets rockin’ and is brought back down again before charging home. Nice work!

The album packs a hell of a punch and I love the use of the slide guitar, especially on the album’s single about Australia’s fallen heroes of rock n roll, “The Price You Pay”. A song that could possibly have this whole review dedicated to it. Sometimes tribute songs could sound tacky or lame but this one is heroic and a real ass kickin’ tribute in such a way that the Powder Monkeys and Freeloaders would appreciate. You really gotta hear this thing. It’s aawesome!

I highly recommend this album if you are a fan of the Replacements, Roky Erickson, Thin Lizzy, Grand Funk Railroad, or even Foghat. Actually, probably not Foghat, I just wrote that cos I think it’s a funny band name and doesn’t get used enough in comparisons in reviews. Still, this album, buy it.

Do yourself a favour… you can get this album right now by clicking this link.

www.leadfinger.com.au
www.impedancerecords.com