Bad/Dreems give a gutful of pub rock

SERvin’ Up – w/c April 24, 2017


Bad/Dreems – Gutful
Juana Molina – Halo
Loose Tooth – Big Day
El Michels Affair – Return to The 37th Chamber
Greta Now – Greta Now
The Cactus Channel with Sam Cromack – Do It For Nothing
The Meltdown – The Meltdown
Harriet Brown – Contact
Various Artists – The Dark Side: 30 Sixties Garage Punk and Psyche Monsters
Various Artists – King Jammy’s Dancehall 2: Digital Roots and Hard Dancehall





If you ever thought the Wu-Tang Clan and the RZA’s right on arrangements were ripe for reinvention then you have to look to El Michels Affair. The sneaky side project for members of The Dap-Kings and the Menehan Street Band first emerged in 2009 with Enter The 37th Chamber, putting the razor-rough soul-streaked hip hop the Wu-Tang Clan perfected into brassier vintage funk territory. A fitting tribute to the bones of the Wu-Tang sound without any hint of pastiche, El Michels Affair have returned eight years down the line with Return To The 37th Chamber, and round two is just as good. Smoky, slinky and super-cool, El Michels Affair is masterminded by Leon Michel, a man who’s been a hired gun for Dr John, Aloe Blacc and Chicano Batman, and his pedigree shines through with class and fun.



Sydney may be somewhat down and out on the live venue front but the pub rock dream is alive and well for many – anyone bearing witness to men and women decades apart in age climbing the fence to catch the secret warm-up show for Midnight Oil in Marrickville a fortnight back will testify to this. The straight-up, no frills, meaty rock riffin’ and direct, confrontational, sly and sarcastic lyricism of yesteryear is back with the likes of The Peep Tempel and The Pretty Littles of late, but Adelaide’s Bad/Dreems really have their own corner of sticky beer-soaked carpet with their newie, Gutful. These fellas aren’t mucking about, going back to the source in once again enlisting rock pig producer veteran Mark Opitz to produce hardly veering from the template he forged with The Angels, Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel in the 70s and 80s. I suspect the band have dialed down on the irony by becoming more comfortable in the guise they inhabit on Gutful, and it makes for a more substantial album, wholly and solely built on good, honest songwriting. A lot of bloody cheek helps, too.



A little while back I mentioned my soft spot for onetime Stereolab singer Laetitia Sadier and her ever-inquisitive questing self on both the musical and philosophical sides to her work. Argentina’s Juana Molina is similarly aligned and so much joy has ensued with the release of her first album in four years, Halo. Her idiosyncratic electronic-pop is warm and bubbling but turns and twists on an underlying, slightly spooked atmosphere and ensures you are likely to listen below the sweet surface and pay closer attention. In thrall to rhythms she has discovered the world over, Halo is typically both charming and off-kilter from Molina – maybe her sense of questioning just couldn’t be satisfied in her previous career as one of Argentina’s most popular comedians, and we’re all the better for that.



Los Angeles native Harriet Brown‘s debut album Contact is all about how we engage and exchange with the world and for Brown one does that with the power of funk. 80s style mechanized funk rules Brown’s world, and in that world, Prince is king. The man’s manic bass and guitar lines zip all over Contact and his tunes are full of clanging, banging rhythms that bounce around like a pinball. There’s a lot of love vibes running through Brown’s sound and it’s one hell of a positive pursuit you can dance to.



Also, new tunes from Akufen, Witch Prophet, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, one time Gomez frontfellow Ben Ottewell, a solo effort from The Only Ones’ Peter Perrett, Alex G and locals Fountaineer and HEX.

Enjoy it all on 2SER,


Thursday 27th of April, 2017

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