Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 2/25/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #518:

Radio Birdman – We’ve Come So Far to Be Here Today

From the band’s triumphant comeback cd Zeno Beach, our choice for best album of 2006. Everyone in this legendary Australian band except the drummer were over fifty by the time they’d recorded this searing, pounding, macabre punk/surf/garage masterpiece. And they rocked harder – and still do – than most people half their age. The link above is to their myspace where you can hear it.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/23/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Monday’s song is #520:

Radio Birdman – Remorseless

A brooding, midtempo haunter from these legendary Australian garage punks’ volcanic 2006 comeback cd Zeno Beach (our pick for best album of the year). The tension of this burning, funereal midtempo song never lets up, punctuated by a characteristically bone-severing solo from lead guitarist Deniz Tek.

February 22, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/3/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s is #540:

Radio Birdman – Found Dead

Thirty-plus years after they started, the legendary Australian punk/garage monsters are still as vital as ever on this macabre, midtempo guitar-and-organ-driven gem. “Said we gotta go far away from here…can you make it alone, now can you? Can you?” singer Rob Younger intones. From their comeback cd Zeno Beach, our pick for best album of 2006.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Radio Birdman – Zeno Beach

Volcanic comeback album by these legendary Australian garage punks that mixes a violent apocalypticism with a handful of black humor-driven, traditional garage rock numbers that sometimes veer to the goofy side. For three years in the late 70s, there was no better band on the planet. Driven by lead guitarist Deniz Tek’s maniacal Middle Eastern-inflected playing over a pummeling surf beat, Radio Birdman’s first two studio albums set the standard for uncompromising, raw, fast rock. Influenced by the Stooges, MC5, Blue Oyster Cult, Doors (you should hear the bootleg of their cover of LA Woman) and Ventures, they burned from 1976 to 1980 when Tek left the band for the Air Force and two of the remaining members spun off into the New Christs. Radio Birdman’s releases after the initial breakup are a mixed bag: the mix of alternate versions of songs from their classic 1979 album Radios Appear, including a couple of deliriously good outtakes, is a masterpiece; their 1997 live album, recorded at one of their annual reunion concerts in Australia, found the band lost in a maze of Marshall stacks and high-tech gear, their signature raw power blunted by a booming sound system. This, then is their real comeback, and it’s pretty amazing. With the exception of the new drummer, these guys are in their fifties now and can still outplay and out-write just about any band out there.  

As with their best work, it’s an eerie, death-defying ride. Just a glance at the song titles proves they haven’t lost their dark vision. You Just Make It Worse. Remorseless. Found Dead. Die Like April. Hungry Cannibals. Locked Up. This is desperate stuff; the rage that drove them in 1979 hasn’t dissipated one iota. The album kicks off with We’ve Come So Far (To Be Here Today), sounding nothing like the Grateful Deadly title might imply: it’s a blast of chromatic, minor-key fury, fueled by the twin guitars of Tek and Chris Masuak (who’s become a brilliant lead player in his own right), and organist Pip Hoyle. The album’s next track is a surprisingly trad garage riff-rocker, something that would sound perfectly at home on a good Lyres record. Next we get the haunting, aptly titled Remorseless: the tension of this burning, funereal midtempo song never lets up. After that’s over, Found Dead continues in the same vein. Connected explores reincarnation, a topic Tek has addressed in his solo work. The impressively ornate, artsy Die Like April builds off a hook that sounds suspiciously similar to something by their Aussie compatriots the Church. Heyday takes a Beatles lick and does pretty much the same thing.

 

Eventually it’s back to the nuevo-60s garage feel with the tracks If You Say Please and Hungry Cannibals, the latter of which brings some welcome comic relief. But it’s black humor, it doesn’t last long and you get the feeling that just maybe, the band might not be joking after all. After that, Locked Up is a scorching, Stooges-inflected riff-rocker; then the album winds up with two uncharacteristically sunny tunes, both by keyboardist Hoyle. The Brotherhood of Al Wazah riffs on Middle East terrorism, and the title cut works both as a tribute to a good surf beach and a warning that we could all be On the Beach.

 

Frontman Rob Younger no longer comes across as the Australian Iggy Pop; the oldest member of the band, he’s come to sound eerily like another Australian rock legend, guitarist/songwriter Marty Willson-Piper from the Church. You wouldn’t think a voice like that would necessarily work with such a ferocious band behind it, but it does. Descend into the maelstrom with these guys if you dare. One of the best albums of the decade so far, end of story.

April 26, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment