Album Review: The Stickmen-The Stickmen/Man Made Stars

There’s this band right. They’re called The Stickmen. They’re from Hobart, Tasmania, the cesspit where culture goes to die, or so say all the Sydney yuppies I hang out with. But how can that be true, when a band such as The Stickmen, such a visceral, and violent, and genuine act, one that displaces conventions and turns heads like a NASCAR race, comes from such a territory? Surely, there’s been a mistake?

Indeed, there has, but it’s got fuck all to do with locale. Instead, it’s all about the sad, sad day in music history that accompanies the fact that The Stickmen aren’t really around anymore. Like The Primitive Calculators, it took an ATP curation to resurrect these former heroes. Also like The Prim Calcs, these guys absolutely shredded all that the squares hold dear, bringing punk rock spirit and intensity to songs that could be properly appreciated. Underground heroes? Fuck that, these guys need to be revered the world over. At the very least, they’re a million times better than Nirvana.

Which is why, with a stifled cry of enlightenment, comes the re-issue of The Stickmen’s classic albums on Homeless Records. I fucking love this label: Bits of Shit, The Stabs and Cuntz are just a couple of the bands to be spewed forth from these guys, and the world is actually a better place for it, tipping the scales of pop mediocrity back to punk rock genius spasms.

Listen up, you putz, you scum, you wretched bile-I’m about to devote a couple hard-earned paragraphs to why you should go out and buy both these fantastic albums. It’s not because they’re limited edition, or because some of the covers are ‘special’, none of that Sub Pop shit. No, you need these albums because there is no other band out there like The Stickmen.

They’ve got the morose drone of Melvins, but without the demonic sludge. They’ve got the mathy jitter of bands like Q And Not U and At-The Drive In, but without the faux rage and pretentiousness. They’ve got the drilling intensity of Black Flag, and the murk of The Scientists and their most gloop-ridden. But then, there’s the fact that The Stickmen defy pigeon holing. Every track on these albums shifts to a completely different landscape, not just between each other, but within the song itself. The band search and scorn with equal measurement, like a Christopher Columbus that’s been molested with the soul of Ian MacKaye.

Songs like ‘Who Said It Should Be Good?’ and ‘Floating Pawn’, they’re the main reason why one would initially become obsessed with The Stickmen. They’re complex, original and riveting, with all the right dynamics to make pants tight and thighs wet. But then there’s weird tracks like ‘Creep Inside’ and ‘Shoot to Kill’ which are almost jazz-infused, like Primus x Fugazi, doused in the groin flames of Dizzy Gillespie. And then, there are bouts of fury, punches of Mike Tyson-enraged glory, like ‘No’. These songs just want to go as hard and fast as humanly possible. If 2 Fast 2 Furious were set in a post-punk 90’s Hobart, there’d be a scene where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker would face off to this song.

Look, I just described the shit out of a few Stickmen songs. My favourites to be precise. But really, both albums don’t have a bad song between them. The songs just pulsate with an icky life of their own, drooling hell-slobber on all those lucky enough to listen in. The Stickmen might even be too good. Maybe that’s why they were forgotten in the annals of Australian Music History and Nick Cave got picked up for his billionth album.   All I can say is thank fuck Homeless got on this shit and were able to spread the love and fury of The Stickmen to us mere mortals.



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