Best of the year

Simon Wooldridge | Bendigo Weekly | 20-Dec-2017

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Amyl and the Sniffers.
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IT was another exciting year for music in Bendigo; some great gigs, and the release of some much-anticipated debut albums. 

In no particular order, here’s a brief selection of 2017 highlights.

Midweek Blues’ first album, Last Days of May was released in September. 

It features eight superbly-crafted blues tracks, and one out-and-out rock anthem. All original songs; a great debut.

Clowns at MusicMan in January showcased tracks from what would become my album of the year, Lucid Again, the Melbourne punks’ third long player. 

I say ‘punks’, but the album contains a couple of very non-traditional punk tracks. 

The album highlight is the nine-minute Not Coping – which is largely instrumental. A brave move, and it works.

The seventh Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival was a huge success. 

Something like 20,000 people attended over that warm November weekend. 

I discovered a few favourite new acts. 

WA’s Matty T Wall’s heavy blues rock was perfect for a late-night set at the Brian Boru. 

Shaun Kirk I’d heard a lot about. 

His high-energy one-man show didn’t disappoint. 

The Leroys’ haunting old school blues was perfect for the Basement Bar.  The Leroys were followed by Chris Jagger and Charlie Hart. Jagger’s raconteurial skills punctuated a set that mined several decades of material. 

His compilation album, All The Best, is a delight. 

Essie Thomas is an immense talent that I hope we see again in Bendigo before long.

Kerr’s Cur and Filthy Hacks both released what felt like long-awaited debut albums. 

I saw both play several times in 2017. Four Lions and Stone Djoser were two other bands I saw eight or nine times.

Ali Barter at the Star Bar in April got me listening to what I initially regarded as “just a pop album”. 

But very catchy pop, and more interestingly, she’s insightful lyricist who looks at modern life, relationships and the male-female dynamic. 

Cosmic Psychos didn’t play a Bendigo gig in 2017, but many Bendigonians travelled the short distance to their Castlemaine Theatre Royal show in May.

One of the supports were Amyl and the Sniffers – a Sharpie-influenced, Slade meets yob rock outfit. One hundred per cent attitude, they look and sound fantastic. 

Risky move inviting them to support - they will upstage many a headliner next year. Expect big things.

A Bendigo visit by Melbourne psychedelic rock outfit Khan is always worth coming out for. 

Their three MusicMan gigs were excellent.

The Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster spoke at this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival. 

He played a few acoustic numbers during his talk with Doug Falconer at the Capital. 

His memoir, Grant and I, examines life as a Go-Between, and particularly his friendship with fellow band member Grant McLennan. 

It’s not only a great music book, but an insightful look at male friendships. Highly recommended.

Last weekend’s Black Aces album launch at a packed Golden Vine was absolutely rocking. 

Three different, but complementary acts (they were joined by Tyson Hodges Trio, and Fluff) put on one of the gigs of the year.

Next year is looking pretty bright as well.

– Simon Wooldridge

Twitter: @spwooldridge

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