LULU'S OCTOBER 2021 NEWSLETTER
Here is the October 2021 Newsletter and Calendar, emailed at the start of the month to our mailing list.
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Featured in this newsletter:
Could this be it?
The last missive from behind the blue curtains? It looks like, fingers-crossed and everything going to plan, that next time we speak you’ll be able to come and kiss us directly on the lips if you (and I) are so inclined.
We’re all so excited at the prospect of being able to see you all in the flesh again, and the longer term prospects of being able to go and get punished by some dude in the smokers area while your band plays.
In the meantime tho, we’ve been up to our same old tricks and have a bunch of new stuff to share with you. Just landed is a brand new box from La Vida Es Un Mus, including our most highly anticipated LP of the year in Algara’s “Absortos en el Tedio Eterno”. Suss more details on that one down there ↓.
Also in that box is restocks of the almost instantly sold out Strawman Army LP, the new 7” from Sial, a new (first in 6 years!) 7” of queer Dublin hardcore from Strong Boys, a reissue of the first Limp Wrist LP, plus a whoooole pile of restocks.
Locally, we’re stoked to have copies of the extremely long awaited new LPs from both Time For Dreams (via It Records), and Scraps (via Moontown, which seems go be going through a much appreciated renaissance at the moment), alongside the new Bonnie Mercer / Tom Lyngcoln split LP via Nice Music.
For the more scholarly amongst us, our book/zine section has received lots of attention over the last month, with a box of books from Hozac appearing alongside new issues from Gimmie Zine, General Speech, and the latest issue of Distort.
We’ve also finally got restocks of the much loved Ebonny Munro designed Lulu’s Hoodie in silver on black, and restocks fast approaching for the Philipp Ohme designed Lulu’s t-shirts/crewnecks. Endless love to both of them.
Smooch u soon,
TERRORIZER - "WORLD DOWNFALL" LP
What an abominable pleasure it is to pen a few words about this slab of aggressive filth. A total classic. Early days extreme metal tends to feature a lot of stylistic overlap yet a singular vision or approach from band to band. The vision here treads a line of lyrically bemoaning and musically basking in the great violent collapse and its tragedies and turmoil.
World Downfall has for decades appealed to fans of punk, grind, crust, thrash, death metal. All the bands that I was planning to mention in regards to their sound and place in history (Napalm Death, Carcass, Bolt thrower, Discharge, Master, Repulsion etc.) are mentioned in the thanks list of the insert - with the addition of N.W.A. and Eazy E (here spelled E.Z.E.)
Terrorizer’s blend of sharp precision and youthful looseness keeps you on edge for every second of the album’s run-time. Things explode and tighten at the drop of a nuke, whether it’s a crushing Morbid Angelic thrashing riff, a relentless Discharged repetition, or a doomed and gloomed mid paced sonic brick wall to bang your head against. Goddamn it’s fast.
It would also be a grave mistake to not mention their sense of groove which somehow never feels out of place and is, in fact, a defining characteristic of what makes the album so memorable. For the insanely well-constructed conglomerate of parts they have hewn together, World Downfall laid out a blueprint never quite rebuilt to the same quality. It makes so much sense, is so perfect in its execution, and could only have happened in 1989.
Whether you’re in the camp who already knows this as the masterpiece that it is, or in the camp of lambs ready for conversion to the almighty church of grinding death - Terrorizer are undoubtedly worth sacrificing your ears to for the downfall.
ALGARA - "ABSORTOS EN EL TEDIO ETERNO"
La Vida Es Un Mus
Algara are a Spanish punk band born out of a scene with a history of guitar discipline, harsh music and radical politics. They have produced a demo, 7" and LP of astounding quality and established themselves as one of the most engaging militant punk bands of our time.
The Algara demo and 7" were performed by a duo using guitar, synths and drums to produce a minimal synth punk sound that married anthemic punk ala Crisis with the squall of industrial pioneers Esplendo Geometrico (the Spanish equivalent of Cabaret Voltaire?). This LP marks a triumphant development in both directions. "Absortos En El Tedio Eterno" retains these minimal synth punk moments, but the LP has introduced a human beating the drums, and they beat them well.
2021 is not short of reasons to despair, particularly in a city like Melbourne, saturated with fear mongering and dystopian visions. For those "absorbed in the eternal tedium" of endless refreshing of virus cases and expoure sites, or tumbling down youtube rabbit-holes of the history of bio-warfare, this LP and accompanying Manual for Sound Guerrilla booklet might offer an alternate inspiration and quell some dread. Algara are a potent example of the power of punk music to connect contemporary struggle with local anarchist history and offer a vision of future struggle that isn't mere tweeting against the techno-surveillance state.
GENE CLARK - “NO OTHER” LP
To say this one has been a long time coming is an understatement. A universal favourite down here at Lulu’s HQ it’s rare that a reissue of a holy grail record goes out of print immediately and after trying our luck for the past year we have finally managed to secure a few copies but hey - such is the luck of Gene Clark an artist who spent most of his career in the right place at the wrong time.
Best known as “The Byrd Who Wouldn’t Fly”, Gene Clark was the Byrd who got off the plane at the apex of his career, signed off with ‘Eight Miles High’, walked away from the money and spent the rest of the 60s pursuing a solo country music and living excessively off his song-writing royalties before the well started to run dry.
Struggling by the early 70s he accepted an invitation from David Crosby to take part in a Byrds reunion, it’s subsequent success landed him a deal with Asylum who agreed to facilitate his big comeback to the tune of $100,000 leading Gene to abandon city life and spend a year of sobriety living by the coast in Mendocino, meditating and writing before entering the studio in ’74 with producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye and a cast of LA’s heavy hitters to record his magnum opus.
Drawing inspiration from Stevie Wonder’s near death spiritual awakening ‘Innervisions’ and the Rolling Stones mega-comedown ‘Goat’s Head Soup’, ‘No Other’ feels indebted to neither but epitomises the Cosmic American music Gram Parsons strove for during his time with the Flying Burrito Brothers - a heady concoction of authentic American music (country, blues, gospel, soul, rock etc.) mixed with a twist of sun dazed West Coast psychedelia.
With the exception of a few Laurel Canyon-esque radio friendly cuts such as ‘Life’s Greatest Fool’ and ‘The True One’, probably included to keep the suits at bay, the album eschews the constraints of traditional structure altogether and opts for the path least travelled at nearly every turn with pedal steel, strings, gospel singers and additional instrumentation following each tracks wild arrangements and working through the melancholic tones like an old Hollywood film score.
The result is a cinematic and at times otherworldly country rock epic far beyond its time - a beautiful shimmering haze of sun-scorched melodicism concealing its sinister undertones and cautionary tales of what lies in wait on the other side of the American Dream with a poetic darkness only rivalled by the late great Townes Van Zandt.
Los Angeles plays itself here and its spectre looms large in the shadows.
This turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts - David Geffen loathed the end product, fans found the 1920’s glam meets T-Rex album art confusing, critics slammed it and ‘No Other’ was quietly deleted from their catalogue within two years and barely in print or obtainable for the next four decades.
What came next isn’t pretty. Gene Clark’s remaining years exist in a hazy nostalgia told by the people around him to shield his legacy from the tragedies and the battles that followed before his untimely passing at the age of 46. Every single one of them attribute his death to the failure of ‘No Other’.
All you cosmic country heads and Townes fanatics take note - this is one that might have passed you by traveling down those heartworn highways. This is mandatory listening for anybody interested in American music.
“Well I know if you sell your soul/ To brighten your role/ you may be disappointed in the lights/ We all need a fix at a time like this / But doesn’t it feel good to stay alive” - Gene Clark
DISTORT "ISSUE #58" ZINE
This issue of Distort is about class warfare and cult hardcore.
I reached out to some bands to ask WHAT IS REAL and WHO IS FAKE. These are the sounds sorting me out through this extended lockdown. The internet does not exist in the hardcore of the future:
Bryony Beynon wrote this piece about Ian Bone and the origins of Class War in the UK.
The Prostate Funeral Politics cassette was one of the highlights of 2020 hardcore: terminal hatred, white hot guitar squall, dim wit agro chanting backed by a hectos drum machine, like Mark N punching on with a punk band, like Jezus and the Gospelfuckers stayed around long enough to get influenced from gabber.
Guffo is the individual responsible for recording and releasing this hate noise on their Miracle Cortex label. I hit them up for some insight into hardcore 2021.
Sydney’s Perspex deliver a harsh belting on their new 7”. Vocalist Toto was kind enough to shine a little light into the mysterious corners of the Perspex mind.
Oily Boys Cro Memory Grin is a masterwork of unholy Sydney hardcore that was perfectly timed to induce the global comedown of last year. Pure aggression, ecstasy fever. Unhinged Broken Minds. Urban Base Mentality. I hit up vocalist, lyricist and torturer of brass winds; Drew Bennett.
Sam Ryser’s illustrations have helped define the style of modern New York punk and bad trip hardcore, gracing countless fliers, zines, books and records. His bands are Crazy Spirit and Murderer, and both are entirely worth your attention.
Sam recently started a project drawing freehand t-shirts for freaks who message him their favourite band and song. I called Sam last week to ask him about the Bathory shirt, the impromptu 2020 Crazy Spirit reunion and the Murderer show in London at the start of the pandemic.
Cover artwork by Renee Jaeger.
DX, Spring 2021.
LAUGHING GEAR - FREAK LEMONS LP
Heavy Machinery Records
After some delay LAUGHING GEAR’s freak lemons have finally fruited and ready to drop onto your turntable. Stylistically this is a hard record to pinpoint, which works in its favour. The compositions are thicc as hell despite their slender frame. It’s fair to say that the rhythm section recalls the sort of sounds you’d find resonating at the end of a needle scraping against the jagged little grooves of a Dark Entries or Minimal Wave reissue, paired with a kind of mesmerising mongrel bark and aggressive whine which makes this duo feel like they may in fact be some sort of Karmic reincarnation of The Screamers. This is jarring music, and it is meant to be, but that isn’t to say that there isn’t clever and almost catchy rhythmic and melodic roots at the base of this freak show. I shudder at the thought of experiencing this live and my body moving against my will in time with the to and fro of these dangerous experiments they call songs … with a discernibly concerned look on my face and a glint in my eye.
Lulu's Sonic Disc Club
THE BAND: Low Life are a rock band from Sydney, Australia.
THE RECORD: Low Life’s 3rd LP is called From Squats to Lots: The Agony and the XTC of Low Life.
NOTES ON HOW TO LISTEN TO AGONY AND XTC OF LOW LIFE:
- Some records hit you with an instant impression of timeless brilliance, and Low Life’s Dogging is one of those records, what the wise call “an instant classic”.
- From Squats to Lots: The Agony and the XTC of Low Life is more like their second album Downer Edn (read Edition), a little more withdrawn, a little more textured. Complex. Rich. Which is to say: you’re going to need some time with it.
- Some show, some grow. Low Life have done both. This one is a grower. Spend some time with this one. It’s got that nuanced flavour. Don’t guzzle. Sip. Savour.
- Sip it, and sense the recurring brilliance of Mitch Tolman’s lyrics, exploring the usual territory of gutter life, lad life, punk life, low life. The dirge. Disgust and shame in white Australia. Council housing, bills piled to the neck, substance abuse and rehabilitation, the fallen lads and lasses who stood too close to the flame, loss and loneliness, from squats to lots. Un-Australian gutter symphony.
- There is a celebration of resilience and that’s a central theme of this record and a time like ours needs a record like Agony & XTC. Low times are coming through, but if you’re low they won’t get to you.
- Iggy Pop’s Bowie produced studio rock masterpieces ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust For Life’ are important reference points to the 3rd album sounds of Low Life. Here comes success!
- ‘The Agony and Ecstasy’ is a 1985 novel by Irving Stone about the life of Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo. Stone wrote another novel about the single eared painter Vincent Van Gogh called ‘Lust For Life’. This synchronicity hit me.
- Iggy and the Stooges are a pretty safe reference for Low Life (and all good rock music). Iggy and the Stooges are a low life’s Michelangelo, but solo Iggy like Lust for Life is a better reference for this particular incarnation of Low Life, which is to say they are studio rock albums.
- Bowie later referred to this period of his life as profoundly nihilistic. But Iggy looked at it as the period of his life that saved him from an early grave. This confrontation is Low life lore.
- Let’s stick to this, because there’s something about this era of Bowie that makes sense with Low Life’s new album, particularly Low. One should never miss the Low in our new album from Low Life. Producer and studio boss Mickey Grossman has the ear for the Low, and he has carved out a little statue of David right here.
- Mickey’s ears are recording, mixing and producing the best of Sydney, most notably the Oily Boys Cro Memory Grin. A great companion record to this one. Use Agony & XTC AFTER Oily Boys. Not on an empty stomach, and don’t try to operate heavy machinery (bobcat, bulldozer etc).
- The relationship between Low Life and Sydney hardcore should not be understated, but it also shouldn’t guide how to listen to Agony & XTC. This is not austere, disciplined music.
- Think, like, if the agony of Poison Idea were given the kind of studio time and budget as the XTC of Happy Mondays. You wouldn’t play it to a teenager. It’s not for children. This is a mature flavour, one for the adults who have had to contend with failure and hardship, medical bills and disappointed family members, betrayed lovers and worrisome growths, police brutality and tooth decay, humiliating bowels and collapsed septums, detoxing and drying out, for those who have seen themselves as corrupted and putrid and unloveable, for those who endure all of this and aren’t willing to lie down and cop it sweet: Low Life are still here and they ain’t going nowhere.
NOTES ON HOW NOT TO LISTEN TO AGONY AND XTC OF LOW LIFE:
- Don’t think of shoe-gaze. It suggests a safe passage to 90’s reminiscences, a vogue style of our time, but nothing to do with Low Life style. Low Life style is always of its time. The content changes. <in the 1800s Low life swept chimneys. Today Low Life works in call centres.> Agony & XTC shares weight of records like My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and Slowdive’s Kebab, records that were laboured on after the songs were recorded, songs that were written as they were recorded.
- We can call these “studio albums” as opposed to albums built in the heat of live performance. Studio albums from the 90’s are called shoe-gaze by some journalist nerds, but we know better than to use words like this.
- Studio albums are excessive and, at the same time, so empty. Agony & XTC, Loveless, Kebab, Rumours: excessive! And empty. This is not to suggest this is Low Lite, some throwback, soft. A band like Low Life can make an overproduced studio rock album without having to use the word shoe-gaze. So, don’t think studio albums mean anything especially 90’s. Don’t look back.
- Let’s lose these distasteful labels, like “shoe-gaze”, “rehab rock”, “stab”, “guitar OD overdrive”, “western Sydney wonder”. They can fade out. A low life was once referred to as a vagabond. Who uses this term today? Nobody. Language can murder. Words can die. Kill ‘em all! - DX