Episode 64 – Airbourne Interview

Posted: September 23, 2016 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

The new album from Airbourne ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’ is released today ! It’s loud, defiant and in-your-face – and an album which you definitely need to hear. On episode 64 of The Australian Rock Show, we chat with drummer Ryan O’Keeffe about the new album, crank some cool tunage and lots more. Play loud !

Music by:

Airbourne, The Poor

Check out this episode!

a0566583140_10.jpgMany albums by Australian hard rock/heavy metal bands of the early to mid-1980s are long out of print, and often fetch high prices on eBay and the collectors market. When these records were originally released, they were more often than not released on independent labels and in limited numbers, hence the reason why many titles have become scarce as hens teeth and fetch those high prices. There were albums by bands such as Surrender, Tough Luxury, Bengal Tigers, Blackjack, Axatak, Snake – and others I forget, that now go for good money. Scott Ginn’s ‘One Man Army’ was one kick ass album from 1986 that has been long out of print – until now. 30 years later, this underrated album of melodic Australian hard rock has been dusted off and digitally remastered and is now available again, and for the first time, in both CD and digital formats. I still have my original LP, but I gotta tell you, it sounds great to hear these songs given the digital treatment and a new lease of life. This album was every bit as good as material being released back then by prominent hard rock bands in the USA and Europe, yet due to geographic isolation and the fact that it was an independent  release, meant that it wasn’t heard by the masses that it should have. Songs such as ‘Torment In Tehran’, ‘One Hand Held High’, ‘Heartbeat City Blues’  and ‘Watching The Lines Go Down’ are all top shelf hard-rock oozing melody and hooks aplenty. The multi-talented Scott Ginn really was a one man army – as he played all the instruments, sang all the tunes, and produced and engineered the whole she-bang. He also has one of the best rock voices ever to come out of the antipodes. Fresh from his time with BOSS, this was his first solo release, and was recorded at his own Montreux Studios in Sydney, Australia. a3158733681_10.jpgFor this 30th Anniversary re-release he has remastered all the original album tracks and added two additional bonus tracks that were recorded around the same time as the album. A couple of years later, in the late 80s, Ginn put together a band called Rags N Riches, guys who had all been his touring band for the ‘One Man Army’ LP.  Rags N Riches were prominent on the Sydney scene during the late 80s / early 90s and had a solid following. They played a unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll they termed, ‘Rag ‘n’ Roll’ – a blend of commercial hard rock and hair metal with an emphasis on good songs, partying and having a good time. One single was released on coloured white vinyl “Dance Baby Dance w/ Money Can’t Change Your Mind”, which is long out of print. The band’s debut album ‘Shipwrecked Out In The Street” was recorded between 1990 and 1993 at  Montreux Studios but was never released. The band stopped performing after 1993, and the recorded archive of Rags N Riches material sat idle for many years. During 2015-2016 Ginn digitally remastered the original recordings and now, after more than 20 years this killer hard rock album has finally seen the light of day.  I saw Rags N Riches live on many occasions, and at that time was disappointed that an album of original songs never saw the light of day. I have memories of many of the bands tunes including ’Dance Baby Dance’, ‘Hotline’ and the title tune – and it’s great to finally hear these songs again after all these years. Scott Ginn is a guy we have a lot of time for here at Rockbrat HQ, and it goes without saying that both these albums are essential purchases. If you dig melodic hard rock – this stuff is right up your alley and highly recommended! Forget your next cup of coffee and buy a great album of original Australian hard rock. You can buy either CD for only $10 each, or the digital albums for only $5. Head over to https://mazz-xt.bandcamp.com/ for more information and you can also listen to sound samples as well. Australian rock n roll is and always has been, the best in the world – these albums will remind you why.

a2184348725_2The new single from The Fiascos arrived at Rockbrat HQ and it’s a corker.  If you dig old school ‘77 style punk with a modern edge and infectious pop overtones – look no further than this lot.  Melodic pop punk with hooks galore and catchy as, ‘Olivia’ is instantly likeable. If you dig The Wildhearts / Hey Hello  – this is right up your alley. It’s a rifforama, yet also super melodic, with layered harmony vocals and sing along chorus too. Why ain’t I hearing this on the radio ?  ‘Built For Speed’ is on the flipside and it’s also a killer tune. Faster tempo yet still super melodic, complete with a spoken word breakdown. I was a big fan of both the New Bomb Turks and Turbo AC’s, and if you need a reference point, this tune sits somewhere in between – yet I can also hear a lot of Honest John Plain in this tune as well. That’s a good thing in my book!  The guitars on both tracks are way up front, with Richie and Keef both rippin’ guitar players. These cats hail from Croydon, South London (only a short double decker bus ride from where Mr Rockbrat and I used to live in Bromley) and they have a web site where you can pick up these killer tunes for the generous price of only a quid per song. They also have a facebook page so you can also keep track of any gigs. Can’t wait for an album. Recommended!

Episode 63 – Owen Campbell Interview

Posted: September 16, 2016 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

Owen Campbell is currently back home in Australia – doing shows in support of his amazing new album Breathing Bullets (from which we recently named the title track as our ‘song of the year’). A talented guitar player, Owen Campbell is also a wonderful storyteller and songwriter. On episode 63 of The Australian Rock Show, we chat with Owen about his new album, his fascinating musical journey and much more. Essential listening !

Music by:

Owen Campbell, Jeff Lang

Check out this episode!

BW_From-NY-With-Love.gifBrijitte West is a major talent. She is a not a household name – but she damn well should be. She is rock n roll personified – like Chrissie Hynde. Yet without trying to sound provocative, Hynde hasn’t penned anything this good in a number of years. West writes amazingly catchy, heavy pop tunes (with a noticeable Americana edge) and profound lyrics that reflect her life’s experiences. She should have broken through into the mainstream 20 years ago. This album should rightly see her go through to the major league – it is simply, that good. As someone who has reviewed hundreds of albums over the years, I struggle to find superlatives that do these songs justice – and to highlight standout tunes, when the entire album is a standout.  Put simply, this is a phenomenal rock record, and is many ways the follow up to New York Loose’s (Brijittes’ former band) outstanding album from 1995 ‘Year Of The Rat’. Yes I know she has released music since that time (Desperate Hopefuls, San Dusky etc), but what I am saying is that this is without question, the best thing she has done in 20 years and is as good as ’Year Of The Rat’. I cannot overstate how good this album is. Top to bottom – every song is gold, with no filler in sight.  In a number ways, I could compare this album to Michael Monroe’s incredible comeback album from a few years back ‘Sensory Overdrive’. Like West, Monroe had released several albums since the early 90s, but it was ‘Sensory Overdrive’ that finally pushed him back into the spotlight, as the songs were all memorable, catchy and of high quality – and so it is with ‘From New York With Love’. From the opening riff of ‘Typical Drunken Loser’, you know you are hearing something special. ‘Typical Drunken Loser’ is a great opener, lots of hooks, riff heavy, sing along chorus – and a slashing Thunders style guitar solo. I adore the slow groove of ‘Permanent Ink’. What a ballsy tune, lyrically cutting and resplendent with harmony vocals. ‘Lie To Me’ is another peerless tune of the highest quality. Beyond catchy, this is just about pop perfection. For a song that deals with broken hearts as the subject matter, it’s one hell of a pop song. Super melodic, sing a long chorus, killer vocal delivery. In fact vocally, Brijitte West never sounded better than she does on this album. And the killer tunes keep coming, ‘Close To Defeat’, ‘We Didn’t’ Make It’ , ‘Done It Proud’. ‘Lock and Chain’ gets a special mention as it is super catchy, complete with sing along and melody aplenty. The brooding ‘Don’t Wait For Tomorrow is another gem and to my ears, would sit comfortably on ‘Year of the Rat’. That’s high praise, as I cannot rate ‘Year Of The Rat’ highly enough. The inclusion of a cover of Nick Gilder’s ‘Hot Child In The City’ works really well, before the album closes with the acoustic ‘Fire Brigade’, a pared back observation of a failed relationship – this song is simply stunning with the emotions running deep.  From New York With Love is beyond essential. 10 out of 10. Superb.Available now from Amazon.

kevin13I only recently heard about the sad passing in January this year of Ohio’s Kevin Junior (real name Kevin Bain Gerber). According to Billboard magazine, singer-songwriter Kevin Junior—who spent his most prolific and fruitful years in Chicago—died at age 46. The story says “the cause of death is not clear,” but as Gossip Wolf reported in 2011, he’d suffered from the life threatening heart disease endocarditis, which required open-heart surgery. He moved back to his native Akron, Ohio, a couple years ago, putting together a new version of his band Chamber Strings. Junior’s troubles over the years with heroin were well-documented, and this addiction impeded his music from ever reaching the audience it deserved. As Ray Borchers wrote in the Chicago reader, “ Junior’s sartorial sensibility and roosterlike hairdo telegraphed the kinship he felt with Johnny Thunders, and he eventually worked closely with Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks. He first led a trashy glam band called Mystery Girls, which morphed into the Rosehips; then he blossomed as a pop auteur with Chamber Strings in the mid-90s. The group made two terrific albums of delicate, soul-streaked orchestral pop, but not long after the 2002 release of the second, Month of Sundays, Junior’s life disintegrated. He spent much of the rest of his years fighting drug addiction and health problems, trying to get back on his feet. “ I first became aware of Kevin Junior’s band The Rosehips via a newsletter from either Jeff Dahl or Nikki Sudden. He played a style of rock n roll I always dug. Stones swagger, Thunders styled, the Jacobites, blue eyed soul, Nikki Sudden, blues, early 70s outlaw country- here was a guy who could also write memorable rock with a truck load of melody, hook, harmony and chorus’.  Hell, he even looked like Ron Wood or Thunders. The Chambers Strings album, ‘Gospel Morning’, was just about pop perfection. Not dissimilar in many ways to the musical hooks that the Jayhawks were scoring big with around the mid to late 90s.  Nikki Sudden released an album in 1999 called ‘Red Brocade’, an album I licenced and subsequently released into Australia on my old label Vicious Kitten Records. The album was recorded in Chicago and was very much the result of a musical collaboration between Kevin Junior and Sudden. I exchanged some emails with Kevin around this time and told him how much I dug Month Of Sundays. I still love a tune like ‘Dead Man’s Poise’.  Kevin was complimentary of both Vicious Kitten fanzine and also what Vicious Kitten records was trying to achieve. In 2001, the second Chamber Strings album, ‘Month of Sundays’ was released, and was critically well received. Blue eyed soul, pure pop, strikingly original. 15 years later this album shows what a high calibre song writer Kevin Junior was. I had lost track of Kevin Junior until around 2007, when I read he was back making music. I didn’t know about his 5 years of heroin hell, which explained why he dropped off the radar. In January, 2007, Journalist Bob Mehr wrote an eye opening article about Junior’s descent into heroin and homelessness in an extremely articulate article in The Chicago Reader that I implore you to read. There is also an insightful interview with Kevin from 2010 on  Sugar Buzz magazine that is also worth reading.   I would rather not think about his drug issues. Rather, he should be remembered and celebrated for his music – superbly crafted rock ‘n’ roll that will endure. If you are not aware of any of Kevin Junior’s music, start with either of the Chamber Strings’ albums, ‘Gospel Mornings’ or ‘Month Of Sundays.  Kevin Junior was born on December 26, 1969 – and passed away January 16, 2016. He is survived by his mother, Gloria Gerber; father, Roger Gerber; and sister Kimberly Edgemon. Rest In Peace.

leadfingerfhncon-011lpouterhrDespite what the naysayers may have you believe, there are still bands out there making truly great, original rock ‘n’ roll. Leadfinger is one of those bands, and with Friday Night Heroes, they have released an album of timeless, durable rock ‘n’ roll that’s a much needed tonic for a current day rock ‘n’ roll landscape that is bloated with revivalism, copyists, tributes and is largely devoid of anything new and interesting.  Friday Night Heroes would have sounded great 30 years ago, and will sound great in another 30 years. Yet it’s 2016, and with the aforementioned shortage of first rate rock ‘n’ roll bands – Leadfinger stand out like a beacon in the night, and if this album is anything to go by, they are not only Friday Night Heroes, but the best rock n roll band in Australia.

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The twin guitars of Leadfinger & Michael Doyle. The Phoenix, Canberra 20/8/16. photo (c) Cowboy Col

 

I genuinely hope that Friday Night Heroes falls upon the ears of the masses, for an album this good deserves to be heard.  From top to bottom, every tune on Friday Night Heroes is top shelf. Yet before I put the magnifying glass over the album, let me set the scene a little. Stewart ‘Leadfinger’ Cunningham , is a guy who I have seen in various bands since the early 90s. Bands that were revered overseas. He is without a doubt one of the unsung campaigners of Australian rock ‘n’ roll and has, for over 25 years now, created some of the most exciting, original,  fire and brimstone rock ‘n’ roll to ever come out of this country. (I will leave it to you to go  study up on his musical history). The irony that Sweden’s Hellacopters had an album entitled ‘Payin’ The Dues’ is not lost on me, for Cunningham has more than paid his dues, and when I say he was in a band who in 1995 (Asteroid B-612) who could have been world beaters, and would have smoked the Hellacopters, (and anyone else for that matter), it’s not a statement I make lightly. Rock action, Detroit, Chuck Taylor Hi Tops –desperate blues drenched rock that should have been huge. In Issue 4 of Vicious Kitten Fanzine (published 8/96), I boldly stated that the song ‘Edge A Bit Closer’ (written by Cunningham) was the best rock song to come out of Australia in ten years. Make that 20 years.  As history has shown, the Hellacopters took the ball and ran with it a couple of years later – yet I digress.

 

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Stewart ‘Leadfinger’ Cunningham – The Phoenix, Canberra 20/8/16 – photo (c) Cowboy Col

Over the past few years, Leadfinger (the band) have released a bunch of great records, including The Floating Life, Rich Kids, and No Room At The Inn. All terrific records  worthy of your attention, yet Friday Night Heroes, for mine, is by far the most complete, consummate album so far. What makes Friday Night Heroes  so good is the rich diversity of the songs. Rock action is in Cunningham’s DNA, it’s in his blood, and aptly, the album opens in a big way with the rock swagger of  ‘Champagne And Diamonds’. Oodles of melody, killer guitar, catchy chorus, and resplendent female vocal harmonies . This is how Jagger and Ritchards used to write ‘em. The punchy ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ is another highlight,  pop sensibilities galore, forthright vocal, tasty sax and piano to boot. ‘Mean Streak’ is sheer guitar pop joy. Cross Westerberg, Ryan Adams and The Jayhawks and you are half the way there.  Nifty guitar riff and again, melody galore. This is a superb pop song. The melancholic ‘Bite My Tongue’ is further evidence of Cunningham’s quality song writing. As a lyricist – he draws upon insight, observation, personal experience and reflection to help paint a picture in the listener’s head. Paul Kelly is the obvious example of a songwriter who uses these traits. Cunningham has that capacity too – in spades. ‘Appreciate’ in fact, is a very Paul Kelly-esque tune. A sentimental yet positive ode reminding us to be thankful for every day we have. Stripped back, acoustic, mandolin infused. Ronnie Lane approved. ‘Raining In The Dark’ reminds me a lot of the Jacobites at their peak, with a sparse, jangly, 12 string guitar and repeating, lamenting vocal at the core of the song. Superb. ‘Older and Wiser’ is the albums plumb for mine. What a song. It opens with a nod to ‘Sweet Jane’ and musically walks a line that is very much classic Ian Hunter. Always scores maximum points with me. Short, sharp, melodic and sing-along chorus. What more do you need?  The guitar interplay between Michael Boyle and Leadfinger on this, and in fact every tune is tight and effective.

Friday Night Heroes is the must have album of 2016. If you only buy one album this year – make it this one. 10 out of 10. Friday Night Heroes is out now on Brisbane label Conquest Of Noise Records, or through Leadfinger.com.au