Album ReviewReviews

Warning Order – With Me … With You

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Interview with Richie Lewis (Tumbleweed)

We all have some skeletons in the closet, but Nikki Sixx has a whole graveyard hiding in his. The First 21 takes you through one bag of bones at a time in a very candid journey through his life. His honesty is to be commended, and I felt his pain on many occasions, as he unfurled his childhood demons and his life living as Frankie Ferrana Jnr.
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Interview with Dave Gleeson (The Screaming Jets)

We all have some skeletons in the closet, but Nikki Sixx has a whole graveyard hiding in his. The First 21 takes you through one bag of bones at a time in a very candid journey through his life. His honesty is to be commended, and I felt his pain on many occasions, as he unfurled his childhood demons and his life living as Frankie Ferrana Jnr.
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Album ReviewReviews

[Book Review] The First 21: How I became Nikki Sixx

We all have some skeletons in the closet, but Nikki Sixx has a whole graveyard hiding in his. The First 21 takes you through one bag of bones at a time in a very candid journey through his life. His honesty is to be commended, and I felt his pain on many occasions, as he unfurled his childhood demons and his life living as Frankie Ferrana Jnr.
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Album ReviewReviews

Wicked Smile – Wait For The Night

A wealth of musical experience, a writhing powerhouse of talented individuals, a collective passion for metal and heavy rock, all culminate into this brutally brilliant debut release that is certain to bring a wicked smile to your dial.

Wait for the Night has been a long time in the making and one can only imagine the volume of songs that were left in the wake of this debut album that did not make it to the final cut, because it is immediately evident that Wicked Smile has been thoroughly ruthless in getting this collection just right. 

With the opener sporting a mighty metal title like Date with the Devil, my malevolent mosh monster within expects big things from the first track.This band realises that we purists are sure to play the collection in sequence and there is only one chance for first impressions, but then the album cover makes clear that there is an OG aspect to this mighty debut album.The whole package harks back to the days of exploring a record in the sequenced order presented, just as the band intended whilst the listener stares at the cover, enjoying every aspect of the experience.As the muffled bass intro rises from the depths and surfaces through to our mortal dimension, a devil indeed rises to the fore. The accompanied by a blistering guitar salute, a malign and maniacal dance ensues, doubtless marking that our date with the demon has begun.With Stevie, Glen, Dave, and Jason in full flight within seconds, the vocal might of Danny Cecati puts vocal perfection to this track and a thoroughly sensational journey begins in earnest.Slashed and ripped by the skilfully delivery of riffage from Stevie and neck sore already from the mosh, my inner metal monster is exhilarated with pain-ridden glee, begging for the band to deliver more.

The now well-known and widely enjoyed Wait For The Night flows forth from the speakers to perfection as the delights of a well-celebrated hard rock heritage ooze from this album, but again the sequencing is a joy to experience as the list of suspected influences swirl through your mind.But there is a welcome realisation that despite there being a familiarity with sound, note, style, and delivery, Wicked Smile has achieved a rock elegance in their music that is all their own. But entwined within that sound is a regular homage to styles that have helped craft the band's own brand.I challenge you to enjoy the beginning of We Fall and not be ripped straight back to 1982 in hearing Goanna usher in Solid Rock with the didgeridoo.But just as Shane Howard explains that out here nothing changes, not in a hurry anyway, the I am reminded of the lads from Like A Storm who have melded metal and didgeridoo in more recent years, and whilst pondering this thought the opening seconds, Wicked Smile have snuck in a soaring, stadium shaking behemoth of a rock anthem into the line-up.Chills accompany the chorus as you realise that one day we will be screaming this song back at them in the likes of Rod Laver Arena, thinking I knew this song when the debut album was first released. Wow.

While you are still in the throes of the former, the pace eases with Sign Of Times but the sheer magnificence of the music journey does not let up one solitary ounce. This ballad of somber reflection is especially fitting after the last two years here on earth, but before long this emotive masterwork takes you in its rock embrace and serenades you into a state of momentary and blissful amnesia. Then, snap…just like that…we are back. This brilliant song is a timely reminder of how musicians the world over, help sooth our journey and mark the moments with their creations. With Wicked Smile as no exception, a song like this can whisk you away and guide you to momentary distraction or provide the timely reminded that we are all in this together. Music is indeed the great unifier.

Just like every track before, Daze Of Delirium is perfectly sequenced to provide the bridge back to riff ridden excitement. The rhythmic powerhouse behind this mammoth sound in Glen Cave and Jason Tyro is utterly relentless and keeps the sound alive, pumping and pulsating the energy through each track. Ostensibly, Killer At Large levels the sound and creates some mid album consistency, but this track is lulling you into a sense of stability before Last Goodbye takes you by surprise. Spoiler alert, and with all due respect, this isn’t Jeff Buckley. As the rhythm and lead attest while pounded to pace by Jason at the kit in intro, this song is straight out of the emotive high energy playbook, and before long Danny has your heart soaring in sensational style. I tried my best at 1 minute 20 but going to have to squeeze a lot harder to get anywhere near those lofty vocal heights. Musically and spiritually.   So red faced and hoarse of throat, I feel calmed as a serenading siren beckons me forth into Loves Got A Hold On You. I have no idea if the band intended me to picture the likes of a beautiful mermaid as bait to loves malicious intent, luring me forward but the lyrics and power of this tracks soon confirm that we are indeed on the same track. Well…sort of, but regardless, it’s all bound to end in tears. What a track.

Don’t Wait For Me. I have no words and neither I should. This I leave to the listener to experience for themselves. With one caveat. I beg of you to listen to the song in album sequence and enjoy the experience. 

Stronger. Could the finale title be more apt? Could the collection be completed any better? Again, I leave this to you the listener, but it is rare indeed that vocally, lyrically, and musically and song compels you to start the entire album all over again.

The Wicked Smile protagonists have all the experience necessary to know that a debut has encapsulated the spirit of the band and their belief while knocking the socks right off the first-time listener, but they have taken this a little further with Wait For The Night by taking the listener by the throat, shaking them from their shoes and demanding the attention this mighty first album so richly deserves. Bravura Wicked Smile. A thoroughly brilliant work that deserves a place of prominence in every music collection.

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[Review] Yours and Owls Festival 2021

There were two live music festivals given the go-ahead for April in NSW. One was Yours and Owls, slated for April 17th and 18th and the other was Bluesfest, which was due to take place from the 1st to the 5th of April. Unfortunately due to a COVID-19 infection being recorded in Byron Bay right before Bluesfest was set to open, the whole event was canceled, breaking the hearts of artists and music lovers all over Australia’s east coast.

Enter Yours and Owls Festival, which would now be the first live music festival to take place since COVID-19. Under such immense pressure to deliver a fun, yet COVID safe event, organisers seemed to have taken the task in stride, and did not disappoint.

Image: Ruby Bowland

This was to be the first major event in NSW whereby attendees would not be restricted to a tiny section of the event or told off by COVID marshals for taking a sip of their drink on their way back to their friends from the bar.

Right from the moment you have your 2-day wristband secured to your arm as you enter, you can feel the daring anticipation in Wollongong’s crisp April air. The aura of excitement was palpable.

Amid a major worldwide pandemic, the majority of Australians wanted to do right by each other and stay home. Even though it meant missing out on those things like live music – things that we all once took for granted. Yet finally, over a year after the world went into lockdown, Yours and Owls were here to deliver what seemed near impossible.

Haiku Hands
Image: Jess Gleeson

From spotting huge breakout Instagram comedians The Inspired Unemployed enjoying the revelries, to basking in the feeling of bass thumping through your body again, those who were in attendance of NSW’s first big live music event of 2021 finally got to see the first glimpse of a new reality and the live entertainment industry post-COVID.   

In order for the festival to go ahead, the organisers had to get creative.

The festival was split into 4 zones– blue, peach, yellow and purple, each of which was fully self-contained. There were entry and exit points, bars, food trucks, merch stores, toilets and VIP areas. Each zone also had its own ‘Rad Stage’, a separate enclosed stage for those wanting to hang out with more of a more intimate gig vibe.

While it is a new concept, separating festival-goers into sections, it did make for much shorter lines, most noticeably at the bar. Even at the festivals busiest times, there was never more than a few people in line at a time.

The notably delicious variety of food trucks sat lined up along the outside perimeter of each section, ranging from Indonesian cuisine, loaded hot dogs, nachos and the much-loved chip on a stick.

As impressive as the set up and organisation of the festival had been so far, it was nothing compared to the remarkable caliber of Australian talent we were about to witness over the next two days.

The importance of showcasing Australian talent cannot be understated, and Yours And Owls did an impressive job of exhibiting the expansive and diverse musical talent this country has produced.

One of the highlights from earlier on in the first day was Indigenous Australian rapper and musician, JK-47. Having only emerged in 2020, his stage presence is that of a seasoned professional. At two separate times of his 40-minute set, he shared the stage with Nerve, a Brisbane rapper and the soulful Adrian Eagle, a singer-songwriter from Adelaide.

JK 47 Image: Ian Laidlaw

Clean, crisp vocals, allowing the substance of his lyrics to pour out through the delivery of his performance, making for a truly noteworthy performance.

Another Saturday highlight was the high-energy performance from punk rock band hailing from the bayside suburbs of Melbourne, CLOWNS. As the day grew later and the colour of the sky started to change, the crowds grew bigger and the grungy, underground sound of the band brought the vitality of the crowd way up. And in true punk rock fashion, lead singer Stevie Williams stopped through the performance to highlight his t-shirt, available for purchase, showing an illustration of Gladys Berejiklian with ‘a Pinger on her tongue’. Williams insisting that by denying pill testing at music festivals, our government is needlessly putting thousands of young people in danger.

As the second day turned into night, Melbourne’s Running Touch created a fantastic sonic environment with smoke machines and his unique electronic sounds, commanding the huge space he was given on stage by moving around effortlessly from keyboard to guitar and back again.

Haiku Hands, another stellar stand out from the 2-day event, are an all-girl 3 piece alt dance indie-pop band from Sydney and Melbourne who were more than happy to remind the audience what crowd surfing was. It would be a disservice to not mention the powerful energy that flooded from these artists.

Tones & I Image: Jess Gleeson

While Smith Street Band and The Vanns came through with such amazing performances, they were an unfortunate example of the downside to a COVID safe festival. Hosts Lucy Smith and Declan Byrne were given the unfortunate duty of stopping the show on more than one occasion throughout multiple acts and talking to the crowds in each four sections about moving back from the front where people were naturally gravitating towards. It was a huge disruption to the otherwise smooth flow of the lineup. Most notably, Winston Surfshirt was stopped so often that he lost 20 minutes of his 40 minute set to the cause.

 However, as NSW’s first major live music event of 2021 drew to a close with PNAU taking the stage, as the crowd danced along with them in the cold, pre-winter air, you couldn’t help but feel that despite the issues posed by putting on a festival post-COVID, Yours and Owls was just the beginning.

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[Review] Among The Restless @ Bendigo Hotel – 1/04/2021

It was a case of déjà vu as I made my way to the iconic Bendigo Hotel on April Fool’s Day, the last gig I reviewed pre Covid was Among The Restless and here I was the first gig back checking out these local Melbourne lads again. Launching their new single Wastecase.  I was certainly looking forward to some live music and seeing how the boys have grown in the past 12 months. Releasing music during the lockdown was no easy feat but Among The Restless have done this twice with two killer singles that have been extremely well received. Someone Else and Without You will have you instantly singing along, just good honest rock music with a twist of young musical blood pulsing though them. You can find them on all good streaming services, I recommend you give them a listen.

Cosa Nostra got the night started off right, another Melbourne outfit that is no bullshit rock and roll that will have your head banging from the first note. Headed up with Tony on vocals, he set the tone as he laid back and found his groove, his gravelly voice ripping out the tunes as Juz on lead and Ads on bass fill all the gaps. Rounding out this foursome is Rick on the drums, a hard hitter that complements the heaviness of their music. Josh from Among The Restless even made an appearance during Locked Forever belting it out on guitar while Tony sang through a megaphone which added a great depth to the song.  They pumped out a 45-minute set as the crowd started filing in, drawn by the rawness of their sound. Pub rock at its finest, Cosa Nostra always put on a great show and are a worthy addition to any lineup.

Red Peril filled the next slot as they opened their set with Do You Feel Like A Man, Shinae Demaj on vocals was next level from the last time I saw them play, her voice was strong and bold, holding the long notes with ease. I Don’t Mind, Weak and my favourite Dead Woman Walking were next up, Poul Ramage was blistering on lead guitar as they smashed through their set. Ethan Williams was behind the kit as they played Somebody and I Hold On To Hope, with Shinae belting it out, making the crowd pay attention with her controlled screams, she has an amazing voice and knows just how use it to her full advantage. Diamond In The Dirt saw the crowd started expanding, with rousing applause they jumped into Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine, which got the dancefloor jumping and had Shinae blasting out the f-bombs on auto-pilot. It even saw bass player Jesse Cole take a trip into the crowd getting amongst the action. A great song to finish out their set, another great Melbourne band to hit up and give a listen, you will not be disappointed.

The Among The Restless merch desk was a hive of activity as many jumped in to grab the new long sleeve Wastecase tee, featuring the song artwork on the back and song name down the sleeves they are a great addition to their range. It was great to see people repping them, merch is a terrific way to show your support to our local bands after what has been a really tough year.

The heat was really starting to rise as the punters started filling the bandroom, the floor was packed, everyone waiting in anticipation, ready to let loose and start the Easter long weekend off with a bang. Right on time the ATR boys took to the stage opening with their first single Someone Else, they have had plenty of time to perfect this one and singer Rhett James was flawless in his delivery, happily flipping the bird to the crowd as he belted it out. Josh Marra was slapping the bass to within an inch of its life keeping the notes down low pulsing out. Define showcases Lachie Dunn on guitar his shredding skills are exemplary, such a talented musician making the most complicated of riffs look easy. Up next a ripping cover of Dragon’s Rain kept the floor bouncing, and then single number two Without You which saw the smoke machines blowing and the girls crowding the front of the stage. Lachie jumped on to the acoustic for Growing Pains, this ballad gave the fans a minute to catch their breath before the boys leapt into a cover of the quintessential party song Monkey Wrench. This stirred up the pit and had the joint really jumping, everyone extremely grateful for the many fans dotted around the venue. 

Rhett announced that the next song Underground was being filmed for an upcoming music video and you could feel the excitement as the song started, everyone throwing themselves into it with gusto. Guitarist Seamus Glenn showcasing his musical style, playing with so much feeling it was almost dripping off him. Such a professional tight outfit, I cannot wait for you to hear this song it has hit written all over and I think it will be ‘the big one’ for ATR! Another new song followed, Slave Within The Change and let me tell you right now it will blow your hair back, the floor went crazy the mosh piping up, everyone revelling in the new tune.

Next up Needle from Aussie legends The Screaming Jets, a great cover to keep the fans jumping and it sure was getting hot onstage as Rhett ripped off his top and finished the set shirtless. Not that it seemed to worry the flurry of girls up front, they were mighty happy with this new development. The pit went up a notch and the crowd surfers started flowing over the top, great to see everyone really letting loose and enjoying themselves. The vibe on stage was awesome you could see these guys were having so much fun playing live, it really resonated to the crowd and made for such a great feel to the show. Rhett oozes charisma and worked the stage with a dynamic energy, encompassing his bandmates and including them in every bit of the show.

Wastecase, the song of the night was up next, their heaviest to date and one that brings Jaidyn Hale on the drums to the forefront.  His drumsticks an attachment of his body he is at one with his kit, his passion for his instrument is instantly obvious, he really is a pleasure to watch as he pounds the skins. Josh kept the baseline covered, this song is dark and heavy and the mix between the drums and the bass marry perfectly to create that feeling. Taking in the lyrics it is such a well-written song dealing with the tough subject matter and how we are being screwed over by the government. These boys are really thinking about what they are writing, no-nonsense lyrics, they are tackling the real issues and it is great to see. Wastecase deserves every success, it is a blistering song that will have you nodding in approval from the first listen. If you are yet to hear it, what are you waiting for!!

I thought that would see the night out but the rowdy punters had other ideas as chants of ‘Jai – dyn, Jai – dyn’ rang out, and he was more than happy to start a riot on his drumkit and burst into an ear-splitting solo that had the pit up and about incited by Seamus on guitar, giving the whirlpool motion with his hands to the crowd as they took collective deep breath and let fly just as the band burst into a cover of Bulls On Parade. The insanity level went to fever pitch as everyone lapped up the last minutes to go crazy. People were on shoulders and the mosh pit was a whole new kind of madness, but the smiles went for miles as the show came to a close, live music is back and we are damned happy about it.

While Covid may have killed our international musicians from touring it certainly hasn’t stopped our local talent from writing and performing brilliant music. If you do one thing, make it going to see a live show and supporting our Melbourne bands. They are working so bloody hard to keep the scene alive so cough up some of your hard-earned and buy the t-shirt or that ticket and go and have some fun!

If you suffer from FOMO then don’t delay, Among The Restless have lots of gigs on the radar, hit up their social pages to see where you can find them next. Big things are coming from these guys and if the Wastecase Single Launch was any indication It’s going to one wild ride!

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Suzi Quatro – The Devil In Me

If anything good could come from the circumstances the world continues to face in 2021, the new album from Suzi Quatro, The Devil In Me must surely feature at the top of the list.

COVID-19 continues to bring destruction and despair, and without wishing to make light of any of the horrible circumstances people face the world over, how dare this virus conceive of the notion that it could get the better of the queen of rock n roll herself. It was good news indeed, but little surprise to loyal fans, that Suzi Quatro had indeed overcome the horrible effects of COVID and kicked its arse in true rock style.

Due for release on March 26th through SPV/Sledgehammer and available as a CD DigiPak or 2 LP in Gatefold with bonus tracks, (Can I Be Your Girl & Desperado), the cover art of this brilliant collection says it all.  A scorching, smoking, sizzling Suzi Quatro in sensational form, stamping her brilliant brand on page 2021 in the annals of music history.

The Devil In Me…OH MY GOD.  I had unreasonably high expectations after No Control, but Suzi has still managed to blow those lofty anticipations out of the stratosphere.  With the world of live music put on hold for 2020, Suzi and her son Richard Tuckey decided that the year would not go to waste.  After stumblin’ in to their magnificent musical partnership in the creation of No Control, which really started with an idea and a few demo recordings, the team is back, and in magnificent form.  No Control had many stand-out features that made it an overwhelmingly enjoyable album, but the creative partnership and the organic results, made manifest in the music were the true champions of the collection.  With The Devil In Me we bear witness to a maturing of the sound and creativity, all wrapped in a rollercoaster of an album, oozing honesty, diversity, and absolute musical brilliance.  With tracks like Get Outta Jail and Isolation Blues, I feel that Suzi will forgive me for referring to this album as a child of lockdown, but what we discover are the results of time and dedicated efforts. No tour schedules or other outside interference, interrupting the creative process.  One of the most remarkable elements of this album is how Suzi and Richard have drawn from the well of two lifetimes of musical influence and provided us with a veritable kaleidoscope of styles.  From decades of blues-infused stimulation to Motown magnificence, to the magic of classic rock n roll with all the thrill of your first trip down to Devilgate Drive, our dynamic duo have rolled them into such a monumentally brilliant work that has, quite literally, something for everyone. From the first moment, the opening title track envelopes you in the exciting notion that Suzi is far from finished in thrilling the world with her unique and timeless style.  The Devil In Me surreptitiously eases the listener into the new collection.  It’s only later that you realise how seductive this number is with all its nestled elements of hooky guitar, claps, and harmonica. But subsequently Hey Queenie and then Betty Who? continue the journey so brilliantly and together, after only 3 tracks, they're enough to turn any Mama’s Boy into a Daytona Demon. Little wonder with the contribution of the wonderful Cherie Currie providing guest vocals on Betty Who?

The blending of styles in the haunting You Can’t Dream It, followed by the incredibly emotive My Heart and Soul are your evidence that the skillful writing team can provide the Midas touch to any stylisation, they select as best suited to conveying their musical message.  I’m certain that dry eyes would not have been the case when Rainer first heard My Heart and Soul (Need you home for Christmas). Wow!

The diversity and musical mastery continue as the aural journey unfolds before you, and you will certainly have sufficient songs to accompany each passing mood, along with the categorical realisation that this is the culmination of 57 years of The Wild One leading the pack.  With live performances Paralysed by the spread of COVID 19, it's little wonder that our Starlight Lady, with son Richard, would harness the angst of no live shows, and turn all that is lacking into a limitless well of creative genius.  Now particular mention must be made of the penultimate song, In The Dark.  The lyrics, the mood, and the magical musical journey we are taken on are utterly amazing but coupled with the collection finale, we find that unique genius yet again. If some elements of this album were not for you and you keep a knockin’ for the hard rockin’ American Lady, fear not.  As the stroke of pure genius that is Motor City Riders revs up and struts forth from your speakers, you will need to hang onto your hat because this is Suzi Quatro.  Her entire 57 years rolled into one mighty and monstrous, contemporary rock track that drips heritage with every note.  Harking all the way back to her Detroit roots and with all the elements that have maintained her status as the queen of rock n roll over almost six decades, this is the sort of track that brings chart contenders, crumbling to dust with one clear victor standing tall.  A song that sees seasoned songsmiths take a knee and pay homage to the queen, victorious and continuing her reign. Oh my god…I’m not worthy.  Turn the dial to eleven and hang the hell on, because here comes Suzi Quatro as awesome and magnificent as ever before.

From the very first album in 1973 (Can the Can here in Australia), and through her entire catalog, how beautifully Motor City Riders would nestle into any previous album tracklist.  As the final track on this most recent collection, Motor City Riders completes the album more perfectly than anything I can recall.  I spoke to Suzi in order to ensure the quote was correct. “The Devil In Me is the best album in my career to date!”  It was true. You can see for yourself and hear more to accompany such a profound statement. For a range of reasons, I am inclined to humbly agree with Suzi, but mostly because this is the assessment of the person who has been teaching us what rock n roll is all about for almost sixty years. 

The Devil In Me is a masterwork. The work of a musician who had to down tools from live performances, but still sees our adoring faces in the crowd as inspiration. With Richard, Suzi wrote an album from the confines of our COVID plagued existence and produced something that six decades of experience told her would put a smile on the faces of all she has played to before. This is Suzi Quatro at her very finest, and a benchmark album for so many reasons.  As an essential addition to your music collection or the beginning of one, this album is a must-have for 2021.

Bravura Suzi, Richard, and the entire creative team. Thank you for making 2021 more bearable as we bask in the glory of the musical mastery that Is The Devil In Me.

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