Sandwell District – Fabric 69 (Fabric/ Balance)


“It’s a highly controlled mix, eschewing crescendos and revelling in the driving darkness, using grit and noise to find a beauty in the bleak.”

Full review at:


Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School of Medicine – White People & The Damage Done (Alternative Tentacles/ Fuse)


“It doesn’t feel like it, but since the demise of the Dead Kennedys, US punk icon Jello Biafra has made a lot of music. Mostly by stealing other peoples’ bands, like DOA, Mojo Nixon, Melvins and of course, Ministry with Lard. And throughout it all he’s maintained an ongoing, at times amusing, at times paranoid, at others disquieting diatribe against corporate and state control.”

Full review at:



Jello Biafra – Thornbury Theatre




It’s paranoia uber alles tonight in a Melbourne town still in the grip of Jello Fever. A couple of weeks ago he turned back time with a blistering set at the Corner with his Guantanamo School of Medicine, and later tonight he will be dropping some wax at Cherry Bar.

But right now it’s all about his razor sharp wit. He comes in post apocalyptic in dark sunglasses telling us to Shut Up And Be Happy. He’s reading from notes, and he will continue to refer to these throughout the next three and a half hours, occasionally tangenting as the mood strikes him.

The number one problem gripping the world is not climate collapse, according to Jello; rather it’s wealth addiction. He believes that politicians should have corporate logos sewn into their suites like sports stars. The barbs fly “Christian supremacists love the unborn more than they hate kids,” the tea party? “Someone has to stand up for the stupid,” and when it all gets too heavy he invents band names for us, “Stone Pimple Toilets,” Brown Sabbath,” “Dyke Van Dick.” It’s a lot to digest; his cynical humour though is laced with a call to arms that is not just inspiring but particularly relevant to us. “ September,” he offers, “has not necessarily gone to the Abbotoir just yet.”

Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School Of Medicine – Corner Hotel Melbourne




Well Jello has returned to Australia with a live band for the first time since playing a gaggle of legendary shows with the Dead Kennedy’s back in 1983. And whilst we’ve all grown up, bought Corolla’s and now work for multinational oil companies, over the decades Jello has continued to pour petrol on the flame as a gun for hire, working with everyone from the Melvins to Al Jorgenson (Lard). There’s something reassuring about the fact that Jello is still saying the same things, except where back in the day we thought he was a paranoid left wing lunatic with an uncanny turn of phrase, these days we know he was speaking the truth.

Whilst the supports of the Kremlings and Useless Children offer plenty of guitar centric bluster and noise, tonight is all about Jello. He bounds onto stage with bloody hands, theatrically gesturing around madly as he sings. He speaks of Abbot, of Gina Rinehart, private prisons, grand theft austerity, the rock star Obama, the Occupy movement and political corruption. Few have has his innate genius at sloganeering, his ability to rock out with a meaningful message. A Jello gig is a rally, a call to arms, and it works, his Guantanamo School Of Medicine tunes, whilst a little more complex, and not as frenetic as DK’s still pack one hell of a caustic punch.

It’s also an opportunity to experience those classic DK’s songs, with California Uber Alles sending legs, feet, fists everywhere, the slamming expanding from the hardcore Jello fiends in the pit outwards, and you can tell this is why many of us are here. Kill The Poor could’ve been written last week, Police Truck is remarkable, but it’s Holiday In Cambodia that really connects, a visceral kick to the head, that sends many of us into the mosh pit for the first time in a decade and a half. Jello struts and snarls, launching stage divers into the pit, and everyone goes crazy. In fact the whole thing is crazy. Here is a balding pudgy 50 plus punk rock survivor who spends most of his show preaching about how terrible the world is. Why is it so damn inspiring?

Snog – Babes In Consumerland (Omni Recording Corporation)


“Pop music is designed to reinforce the status quo, to be risky and salacious in safe predictable and ultimately meaningless ways that reinforce the message that your job as the consumer is to consume. It’s an insidious tool that works. Though what if it went the other way? Use the tool but flip the script.”

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Fragmented Frequencies May 2013


Russ Tyson was an icon of Queensland radio. He joined the ABC at 19, where he became the star of the much loved breakfast show the Hospital Half Hour. He went on to commercial radio, and when national TV hit Brisbane Russ was the first person to appear live on the telecast, becoming a regular on QTV9. But that’s not what makes him so special. Russ, you see was a philosopher, and the author of many books of his homespun old school salt of the earth philosophy. But it’s his spoken word albums where the gold lies. Perhaps the years in front of the microphone convinced Russ that his perspective had a lot to offer the world.

And he was right, just not in the way that he thought. Russ Tyson’s Philosophy Album, which features a huge advertisement for Queensland Permanent Building Society on the back cover and doesn’t appear to be released on any specific record label, gathers together some excerpts from his philosophy books. Russ reads his homespun edicts over some gentle, vaguely psychedelic music that despite the presence of the Moog, sounds much more like shopping centre muzak  than Switched On Russ.  It was composed by his son, whose rock band would later tour the UK with Status Quo.

Russ answers all the tough questions. What is a boy? What is a girl? What is cricket? He even offers a Recipe For Preserving Children. At times he is patronising, “A girl is a unique and fortunate occurrence in nature like diamonds,” he suggests on What Is A Girl, whilst his simple, reassuringly cliched 70’s sexism, in which people are reduced to caricatures, occasionally offer some peculiarly enjoyable and utterly offensive gold.

“A man is a creature of superlative intelligence,” he begins on How To Tell A Man From A Woman. “A woman is a rattlebrain who can’t use a slide rule or manage a map,” he offers later, before suggesting that despite man being brave strong and fearless, its his utter helplessness in changing nappies, understanding domestic chores and remembering romantic things about his wife that gives a woman her reason for being.

It’s probably not fair to retrospectively poke fun at Russ. After all he was a product of his times and these times have been a changing considerably in the intervening four decades. He’s also 93 now and living the good life on the Gold Coast with his rattlebrain.

During Russ’ time however, the market was broader, and there was room for a greater diversity of albums to be released. And spoken word, or white middle aged radio announcers celebrating their creativity with sexist and cliché ridden homespun hokum became a popular genre. One Day At A Time (EMS Records) makes Russ Tyson’s Philosophy Album seem like a Martin Luther King speech.  The highlights are the seven tracks written by Tyson. The remainder are dire, penned by David Gibb, who offers in the liner notes, “each day has a special moment. These are some of them.” If these are his special moments you’d hate to experience his tedious bone constricting inane moments. With lame poetry and discussion on mother’s day and how to respond to the words “Daddy I’m bored,” this is some of the most insipid banality ever put to vinyl.  Not bad enough to be good, and just bland enough to be terrifying. That’s despite the upbeat game show presenter style narration from Bob Francis.

The godfather of this questionable movement is a man with the golden microphone and loose morals. Mr John ‘cash for comment’ Laws.  Laws has a marvelous turn of phrase. Aside from dropping pearlers like ‘rape bait’ and asking a sexual abuse victim if it was in any way their fault, on his popular Sydney radio show, he has also released a gaggle of trucking albums and published earnest knockabout poetry. It’s the poet in Laws that caught the attention of soundtrack composer Henry Mancini (The Pink Panther), and the two of them collaborated on 1977’s Just You and Me Together Love (RCA).  Law’s poetry is dark and hard-bitten, nostalgic and raw; it’s the life of a swinging truck driving stud who isn’t afraid to feel. It’s turgid, faintly misogynist stuff, Mancini’s orchestration is uncharacteristically limp and Laws’ word plays of a bold adventurer with a sensitive side are almost intolerable as he discusses his memories “of nameless women in cheap rooms.”