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Listed: Comet Gain + Slug Guts

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Dusted heroes Comet Gain and Australian act Slug Guts, which might have the best taste of any band in the southern hemisphere.

Listed: Comet Gain + Slug Guts

Comet Gain

David Feck and the cavalcade of folks that have comprised Comet Gain have left an indelible mark on those lucky enough to hear them. Their “quintessentially British” sound harkens back to the early 1990s, and Feck’s ingenious, genuine lyrics continue to astound. In his review of the band’s latest album, Howl of the Lonely Crowd, Dusted scribe Evan Hanlon wrote “This is an album in a platonic sense, crafted around a clutch of real hits that were made for group enjoyment on the radio, not just for headphones in coffeehouses. And, like every Comet Gain album that’s come before, it succeeds.”

1. The Psychedelic Snarl - Rubble: Volume 1
This is on ‘80s English re-issue label Bam Caruso—a label of high artistic genius. It gives the amphetamine-addled dreaming teens their first taste of crazed, freakbeat, psyched-up ‘60s English beat 45s by the likes of Wimple Winch and Dakotas. It’s a mind-blowing collection of fuzz and guts. "Magic Potion" by The Open Mind is like the Beatles being fucked by the Stooges in a back alley. The garagey side of the group is always in debt to these and other Rubbles comps.

2. Up All Night [Charly]
Various northern soul—’60s, ‘45s, also from mid-’80s. The flipside to the other comp was this gentler, but no less intense, set of beautiful soul shufflers like the mighty Gene Chandler’s "Nothing Can Stop Me Now" or Ann Sexton’s "You’ve Been Doing Me Wrong For So Long." When the group started, we tried to mix these two things—the fucked-up freakbeat and melancholic soul dancer with predictably hilarious results. Still, it’s the attempt that’s important.

3. The Jam - Setting Sons and
The Setting Sons record is a distillation of English working class fervor, defiance and factory poetry which I devoured daily—especially the sad-eyed rush of "Wasteland." The electric guitar spit of sound was what I wanted us to be. The Gift, is a wonderful mix of trying for soul, funk, etc. while throwing these perfect pop adrenaline manifestos like "Running on the Spot." It’s a pity he went all gruff, macho-rock buffoon because he was a true voice of people beacon.

4. The Jasmine Minks - 1234567 All Good Preachers Go To Heaven
At the time ,a mysterious artifact of six tracks, rain puddle cover, strange name and raw, intensely jagged songs that were a bit mod, a bit psych, a whole lot of POP! And these incredible, defiant lyrics that lifted my lonely heart as the musical version of the kitchen sink films of the early ‘60s and the angry young men books of late ‘50s. None did more than the frazzled soul ballad "Ghost of a Young Man" with Joe Foster’s production. It, like all those great early creation records, is all spike and feedback, barely controlled silver roar. It has all that wonderful treble—lo-fi in a way but high tension and perfect scratch. Songs that should have been hits.

5. West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Transparent Day
A comp of their finest jewels on Edsel Records with a nice, far-out cover. Around this time, all these handsomely packaged re-issues or comps of until-then-lost ‘60s bands like Seeds,13th Floor Elevators, The Left Banke, etc., came out to fry our wee teenage minds. All these hushed tombs opened us to new sounds and hip moves. I really, really dug the mix here of jangly, harmonized perfect pop like the title track and weirded-out, trippy things. It’s still one of my favorite holy texts. All of this formative stuff that influences us still retains its magic. I’m thankful for that.

6. Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth and Fried
His first two solo records are still my favorite albums. They’re a glorious rush of pure pop, ba-ba-ba’s, Scott Walker hair, a melange of all the best sounds but still in the everlasting NOW! There are beautiful and deranged lyrics that are like a ghost childhood recollection with total unashamed English tones—dark growls and pastoral hymns. There’s a lot of love and a bit of joyous anger and hooks galore. It’s a mythic story of his turtle-shelled, acid-headed, deliberate hiding in his home (in Britain, at this time, Cope was a pretty big pop star because of his hit psych-pop-punk band The Teardrop Explodes). So to freak out in such a way was inspiring. All those Cor Anglais riffs and reedy organ sounds still sounds to me the epitome of English psychedelic pop and I am very, very jealous of the man and his head.

7., 8., 9. Kelley Stoltz, Crystal Stilts and Thee Oh Sees - To Dreamers, In Love with Oblivion and Castlemania
I know it’s cheating, but it’s good to be constantly reinvigorated by three hot new sounds of today’s filthy kids and these three records lit a few new fires in my heart in the style of old gods. The Stoltz records are all good—he has a bit of a West Coast Julian Cope vibe and sounding very ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s but in a pure Stoltzian way. I would love to get him to produce a record with us. Thee Oh Sees is good, cheap, demented garage band to dance goofy gimpy. And the Stilts, friends though they be (it’s always heartening to hear the voices and such of your friends) is a great sounding record with a psychedelic groove and spider cool—see also Black Angels, German Measles, Girls, etc. All American. Wow.

10. Thee Midniters - Norton Compilation
A recent reissue. I was gonna choose something odd and spindly English, like Patrick Fitzgerald. But lately I realize the importance of the goofy gimp dance party record and cheesy Farfisas and songs about peanuts and doin’ the peanut duck—or whatever doofus dance move rhymes. This comp of LA chicano ‘60s frat garage band is the perfect fit. "Jump, Jive and Harmonize" on a Friday night, gets a beer and the cat grooving, too. I have been trying to make the Comet Gain songs slightly less miserable/angry and playing this and that great Teenage Shutdown dance garage record, Thee Milkshakes and so on—letting the dumb riffs sink in until I can fire them out at will. Make the kids dance a little for 2012, I say. Let them grow their hair long and Frug to the evil beat before it all collapses around their ears.

Slug Guts

Slug Guts is another in an increasingly long line of bands from Down Under making waves in the American punk/indie/ underground. The Brisbane-based quartet distinguishes itself from the pack with a bluesy, grinding buzz-and-howl that owes a debt to, appropriately enough, fellow Aussies such as the Birthday Party, Scientists, and Lubricated Goat. The band’s sophomore LP, Howlin’ Gang, was released by Sacred Bones in 2011. The guys offer further insight into where their dark clang came from with this week’s Listed.

1. Venom P. Stinger - Meet My Friend Venom
Venom P. Stinger were one of Australia’s most guttural and menacing bands in ‘80s. Their single “Walking About" is one song we have all blasted since we were teenagers. It is a fucked up mess of growled vocals, free jazz drumming, scratched out guitar and messy, demented Australian punk. Music at its most self-destructive and mean-spirited.

2. Coloured Balls - Ball Power
A classic Australian record of no nonsense, hard boogie rock. For fans of 1970s Melbourne Sharpie gangs beating up long-haired burnouts. We haven’t taken as much from the music as we have from the menacing and pissed off suburban, Australian criminal gang vibe/humor, which permeates this record. The grunt of “Something New” and 10-minute boogie stomp of “That’s What Mama Said” are the highlights. Another band from the same era that is as good if not better are Buffalo, with wilder riffs but definitely not as wired. Coloured Balls would serve as the soundtrack to Neddy Smith doing a workout in the Long Bay prison yard.

3. Rowland S. Howard + Nikki Sudden - Kiss You Kidnapped
There was a period of about a year where me and our guitarist Falco lived together. It was during this time we were at our worst in terms of being absolute scumbags. This record by Rowland and Nikki seemed to be always on when life got depressing, i.e., we had no money. We have long since moved out from that house but this record holds some fond and not so fond memories. Incidentally the house got raided by the cops a week after we both moved out while we were away on tour and the Asian exchange student who took my room got his door kicked in (sorry). Those days were as great as they were horrible and this record reminds me of that weird period.

4. DAF - Ales IST Gut LP + Coil - Love’s Secret Domain + Primitive Calculators - Live
Now I am living in Berlin, this DAF record holds a greater romanticism than it did when we would sit around and listen to it in Brisbane. It is a whirlpool of ugly, primitive electronic cum, industrial crank. Sonically it is as accurate reflection of how brutish, authoritarian, earnest and mean-spirited German culture is. DAF serve as an interesting albeit more electronic companion to early Einsturzende Nuebaten records.
The Coil record was one that snuck up on a few members of Slug Guts—sonically it is as torturous as it is beautiful and bleak. It sits next to Alu as a weird, fucked up musical companion yet somehow seems less purposelessly antagonistic and more sincerely nihilistic. Whilst I find Coil a bit hit and miss, Love’s Secret Domain is one record Slug Guts borrow from texturally—their ability to conjure bleakness and hedonism into a subtle sonic framework is an aspect of music Slug Guts subliminally draw from.
Last year we did a split 7-inch with 1980s Australian little band icons Primitive Calculators covering their hit, "Ugly Pumping Muscle." This song and the band mean a lot to me and a couple of other members of Slug Guts—it is truly ugly and spiteful music that is as raw as it sardonic in its humor.

5. Pussy Galore - Sugarshit Sharp + Exile on Main Street
Pussy Galore are perhaps the band which I love and loathe more than any other band. They are as violent and vitriolic as they are pretentious and self-conscious. They have upper middle class instincts, which we relate to. This EP and LP sees Pussy Galore covering Einsturzende Nuebaten (Yu Gung) and Rolling Stones most drug-addled, yet pronounced, musical statement (Exile on Main Street). Pussy Galore are a band most members of Slug Guts can relate to: violent music made by people who can’t fight for shit. Their band name says it all.

6. Feedtime - Feedtime + X - X- Aspirations
Two of the most venomous Australian records ever made—the ugly cantankerous end of Australian rock. Both Feedtime and X were from Sydney and both bands unintentionally attracted ruthless hordes of thugs and skinheads to their shows in Sydney in the 1980s. Both of these records are harsh and pissed off, yet steeped in a subtle humor only Australians really understand.

7. Les Rallizes Dénudés - Le 12 Mars 1977 À Tachikawa + Chris and Cosey - Songs of Lust and Love + Throbbing Gristle - 20 Jazz Funk Greats + Thug - Mechanical Ape/Proud Idiots Parade
Considering most Les Rallizes Dénudés records are based on the same five progressions—it ain’t that heavy to pick a favorite but 77 was the first LP of Dénudés I stumbled across so it gets the pick. Japanese psych at it most freewheeling… White Light White Heat for those who thought that LP wasn’t crude enough or Fun House taken to most illogical extreme.
Nick Kuceli (saxophone/keys/vocals) and I both love Chris and Cosey’s Songs of Lust and Love and Throbbing Gristle’s 20. They are both albums are beautiful electronic records and to my ears only employ human emotion as a vague theoretic construct, which they manipulate and exploit.
Thug’s album is a different beast, a wild, spewing album of thrusting noise and sound manipulation. Thug were a band from Sydney Australia featuring the usual criminals from Lubricated Goat, Salamander Jim and Beasts of Bourbon (Black Eye Records finest exports). If you wanna hear Australian noise made by men who think with their fists and dicks and are as lyrically retarded and musically hateful as Whitehouse and sonically confused as The Residents, then Thug is for you.

8. Stooges - Fun House + Roky Erickson and The Aliens - Evil One
These two LPs are animalistic and malevolent masterpieces. Both records were made in the space of a decade. Only an asshole would say Fun House is an obvious inclusion. These two records by Roky and Iggy and Co. are drug-damaged, instinctual and forthright in the song craft captured on tape. Both LPs are as potent and relevant today as they were the day they were released. I remember Slug Guts played our first ever show in a movie theatre that we broke into as had it had been abandoned for years. We lugged a PA and all our equipment into the underground cinema. By the time we played, the cinema was packed and there was a nervous hostility to the crowd as it was cold inside the cinema. We had forced around 100 people to break into a falling apart, condemned building. I remember we finished lugging all the equipment in and I did one final check of the van and headed in and saw a group of friends out front, five of them. I told them to come in and they explained how in one or another they we’re all studying to become lawyers or government people or something and how they couldn’t come in because it would be breaking the law. I looked at them and just couldn’t relate at all. Through the wall, someone had gotten the old PA working and over it, the Stooges’ "Down on the Street” began to blast out. At this point all I could muster to say to them was something stupid like "what a drag," and headed in a little confused. Stooges is a great "line the sand" music for juvenile delinquents and degenerates alike. Not music for lawyers.

9. The Gun Club - Miami
L.A. cowboy rock, Jeffery Lee Pierce and Co.’s best LP. I think the riff to “Mother of Earth” is the only song that every member of Slug Guts knows how to play on guitar. Miami really got blasted a lot by our inner-circle when me and Nick lived in the basement of this house in Spring Hill, Brisbane before we got kicked out. And then Nick, me and Falco moved to another house in Spring Hill (the once neighborhood of The Go Betweens, Xero and The Saints) and Miami always found its way onto the turntable. I think this is one record people from Brisbane, Australia love because it is as sunny and beautiful as it is messed up and depressing.

10. Johnny Thunders - So Alone + Scientists - Blood Red River
I never liked New York Dolls so I never thought much of Johnny Thunders until I heard this record. There is something obviously beautiful about “You Can’t Put Your Arm Round a Memory,” “Subway Train” and “Leave Me Alone.” And the title track “So Alone.” I don’t really buy into Thunders’ legacy much and deplore Thunders clones but did he really get killed in New Orleans for a burrito and some methadone? Either way Phil Lynot from Thin Lizzy plays on this record, which is weird and cool. Scientists’ Blood Red River is a record by a band from Perth, Australia released in 1983. It is one of the sleaziest records ever made. It’s really grimy Australian swamp rock that stinks of gooey sweat, domestic violence, obsessed romance, staying awake for a week, $400 a fortnight on the dole. It’s a record we used to listen to a lot at parties at our house but haven’t listened to in a few years but are listening to it right now. It’s ugly Australian underground.

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