Lydia Lunch’s Big Sexy Noise
The Cesarians
Tin Tone Army
The Lexington, London
28th Dec. 2012

Keith Goldhanger walks into a bar. Turns out that bar is playing host to a showcase of artists put together by Lydia Lunch, who headlines with her new project Big Sexy Noise. What are the odds of this happening?

Once upstairs and a tenner passed to gain entrance I realise that whilst I’ve been listening to Coldplay, learning how to speak to people on a mobile phone and how to use a computer during the past 15 years, some people like Amusiacs guitarist Jon Free has been making a lot of these guitars out of a lot of biscuit tins …oh, and chair legs….did I mention the chair legs? No? OK..biscuit tins and chair legs. He makes guitars from biscuit tins and chair legs – got that?

He’s been doing this whilst simultaneously improving his axe skills to a standard that is now high enough not to be ignored. These guitars sound ace so we are slightly disappointed when after just one song in the upstairs department of the building The Amusiacs replace their unique home made instruments with the kind of guitars we are used to hearing and seeing in every other band on the planet. The free (as in Jon, and as in do not have to pay for this bit) gig downstairs was to showcase the home made instruments, so I guess we should be happy now (we are).

It’s all a lovely racket that The Amusiacs make. Lead singer Meaghan Free (nee Wilkie, ex-Gin Palace, who were almost the same thing) sings the blues, shouts the blues, waves kicks and smiles the blues throughout whilst appearing to hold everything together in a cool calm manner during the bit’s that may feel a bit of a struggle to the band at times but are the perfect soundtrack for us who are trying to shake off our days of Christmas excess. The duet during the final number with Lydia Lunch was a sublime way to end the brief set. Jon was in loads of bands many years ago called things like Moist and Gin Palace and Penthouse.

Lydia Lunch & Cypress Grove
We Are Birds Of Paradise
The Amusiacs
Verbalesque @ The Lexington, London
Monday August 27 2012

Verbalesque, they're calling it. That means there'll be a lot of words flying around at this gig. Not that this comes as a surprise where Lydia Lunch - who's compering, collaborating, and performing tonight - is concerned. Words are Lydia's weapons; the tools of her trade. So let's get into the firing range...or the workshop. Please select whichever metaphor suits you best.

To kick off the revels in the Lexington's upstairs room, Lydia introduces us to The Amusiacs - who are a kind of cabaret blues combination, all Canvey Island bump and grind, with a Liza Minelli-ish singer vamping and stamping up front. They're a lot of fun, striking just the right balance between stylised showbiz artifice and down 'n' dirty rock 'n' roll. They bring out guitars made from tin boxes, the drummer thwacks a metal washing-up bowl, and they get a right old clang and twang on. Good stuff, and exactly as sophisticated as it needs to be - which is to say, not very.

Nemesis To Go

The Amusiacs – Volume One

Those of you with keen memories might recall Amusiacs singer Meaghan Free and guitarist/bassist Jon Free from fondly remembered London based trio Gin Palace. Back in 2004, the band released one of the great lost scuzz rock albums of all time, entitled Kicking On. After a long hiatus, the husband and wife duo have returned with a new band called The Amusiacs. Joined by vocalist/guitarist Tim Ray Rogers and drummer Scarlett Rickard, their self-titled debut is a masterpiece of artfully broken blues rock in the mould of Pussy Galore and Boss Hog. Using a stack of makeshift instruments, including duelling tine-tone resonator guitars custom built by Jon Free, the band plough through fourteen instant classics in just over forty minutes. Meaghan and Rogers’ sultry call and response vocals are the perfect foil for the trash-can percussion, honking sax skronk and bluesy garage rock guitar licks which characterise Volume One. The lo-fi recording perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of sleazy decay and the pervading attitude is aptly summarised on the scrappy ‘These Shoes’ as vocalist Meaghan signs off by spitting “fuck with me and you’re gonna lose”. It’s hard to pick favourites but the laconic, almost Cramps-like ‘I’m A Spy’ is an early highlight. Likewise the drunken, woozy ‘Your Kiss Is My Harbour’ is similarly inspired, coming across as a missing link between Pussy Galore and Boss Hog. If you like dirty sex and even dirtier riffs, this is the best purchase you’ll make all year.

Band of the Day -
May 2012

With a début gig at London's Lexington with Gallon Drunk last month and another under their belt at the same with Dan Sartain, proving genius is collaboration, The Amusiacs herald an overdue and welcome return for Jon and Meaghan Free (Gin Palace) teamed up with garden of England rockers, Jooks of Kent guitarist Tim Ray Rogers and drummer Scarlett Rickard.

Harking back to the mid '90′s Gallon Drunk/Jon Spencer era sound of blues-punk legends Penthouse – a name not to be taken lightly – and a long distance fold-the-page, you-draw-the-next-body-part project by account; the awkward, amusing, irreverence of this approach has reaped natural and serious results on this eponymous 14 track CD.

The sum equals more than the parts on a hard-to-define but tightly honed sonic stab at the NY scene's art sarcast, Krautrock's relentless punktummer, drone-rock's self importrance. But – crucially – defaulting to hooky riffs, tuned electro-feedback and strung out treble reminiscent of processed brass, when lazy comparisons tempt. Fat chords, wire thin lines, spjazzed out spins, spool over Scarlett's cemented drone-disco drums, with Free (Mr) providing stripped down low end fizz – stuttering back sonic wise-cracks at his foil's fuzz-aplenty chafing.

Lyrically, Meaghan's petulant snarl coloured by Tim's bluesy drawl, a co-crooned harsh-worded and newly found partnership in focused, sardonic, hatred. When denser sonic comfort beckons towards the end, out come the home-made tin resonator guitars to skim the surface and open up space between the two voices, in a delta style, but with a mudslide on the levee. Anyone who relishes the tradition of throw-the-Frankenstein-switch, inject-new-life-into-the-stone-washed-corpse-of-12-bar, blues, will fucking love this.

Pete Bennett, May 2012

note to editor:
sarcast, punktummer, importrance and spjazzed are all supposed to be spelled like that




"Fantastic!" - Gallon Drunk

"Noisy noise" - Sterling Free

"F**king awesome - putting the cock in cacophany" - Delaney Davidson