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Alice and Blondie save Pandemonium amid online outrage

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The Pandemonium Festival will be going ahead, despite many acts having pulled out (Screenshots via YouTube)

As another music festival almost falls and a gifted singer leaves us, David Kowalski is left wondering if British music fans have heard anything outside of Oasis.

Radio X: The “best” of British?

As reported earlier this year in my article about countdowns not named “Hottest 100”, I mentioned the RadioX UK Best of British countdown that usually goes to air on Easter Monday. Sure as eggs, it did go ahead this year on 31 March and the results were, well, pretty predictable again.

Oasis made it into the countdown with 14 tracks in total, while Arctic Monkeys had 11 and The Stone Roses had eight. Compare this to legends of British music, such as Queen, which had three tracks and David Bowie with six. Meanwhile, The Beatles only had Come Together in the chart at a lowly #87.

Oasis topped the chart for the second year in a row with ‘Live Forever’, a track from their debut, Definitely Maybe, which is one of the best tracks in their entire catalogue. If this chart is any metric of the temperature of music taste in the UK, Britpop of the '90s is in no fear of being vanquished into history as of yet.

However, Britain has actually produced other really cool bands besides Oasis, you know. Is a little variety a bit much to ask, UK music voters?

Hozier’s new vibes

Soulful Irish indie musician Andrew Hozier-Byrne, better known to most music fans as Hozier, has dropped an EP of new music called Unheard. It was recorded during the sessions for his 2023 album Unreal Unearth but left off the album for some reason.

Hozier's major viral hit was in 2013 – the sullen Take Me To Church  – and while that track didn’t really float my boat at the time, the lead track from the EP, the bouncy yet moody jam called ‘Too Sweet’, is the perfect showcase for his whiskey-warm chest voice and his heavenly falsetto. Complete with bonus tubular bells in the chorus.

Pandemonium Festival lives, one way or another

In light of festivals shutting up shows on Australian shores left, right and centre, the Pandemonium Festival is still going ahead.

Headlined by Alice Cooper and Blondie, it too was in danger of being closed down, except that Alice and Blondie ‘worked closely together’ – according to Cooper’s Instagram – to ensure the festival would go ahead.

I don’t know what they did to ensure the festival goes ahead, but the entire thing has not been without controversy.

The Queensland dates have had to be relocated to new venues and punters have been outraged that a number of acts have either been forced off the bill or have voluntarily bowed out. These were British indie rockers Placebo, British metal legends Deep Purple, San Francisco hardcore trailblazers Dead Kennedys, UK post-punks Gang of Four, Perth indie rockers Gyroscope and Thai solo artist Petch.

The social media outrage was fierce and the festival has closed off all comments on Instagram. They have offered partial refunds to punters who bought in early, but it still doesn’t bode well for big festivals in Australia.

Little Quirks

Central Coast NSW folk rockers Little Quirks have dropped a new track in the last couple of weeks that is a bit of a departure from their normal sound — turning up the guitars and toning down the acoustic elements a bit. Jaymii’s mandolin plays only a small part on this, while Darren’s indie rock guitar strumming takes more of the focus and Mia pounds her drum kit with a fury that would make Keith Moon blush.

No doubt this track made an airing on stage at Bluesfest, where, by many accounts, the band put on a hell of a show and converted yet another audience into lifelong fans.

Firehouse singer passes at 64

Friends of mine are always quick to remark that if there’s an obscure band somewhere that no one else has heard of, then chances are yours truly knows of them.

Such is the case with U.S. glam metal (AKA “hair metal”) band Firehouse, who had at least two singles (‘Don’t Treat Me Bad’ and Love of a Lifetime) and a self-titled debut album on Sony Music’s Epic Records imprint, doing the rounds on local radio and TV in 1990.

They weren’t massive sellers, but then that whole style of music would soon be swept away by the emerging grunge movement, led by Nirvana and Pearl Jam in 1991. Firehouse was then soon forgotten.

The band had a front-person in one CJ Snare, whose vocal gymnastics were some of the best in the genre. I was only listening to that debut album again last week and marvelling at his prowess. It was with some sadness that I learned Snare had succumbed to cancer at the age of 64. Another incredible vocalist silenced forever.

Firehouse’s work does sound a bit dated now, but it was typical of the type of rock music popular at the time. The band made two videos for ‘Don’t Treat Me Bad’. The first is a typical heavy metal street scene video with flames, cars ablaze and water cannons, while the other features a jilted lover throwing all of CJ's stuff out of the window of their second-storey apartment.

It’s still worth a listen just to hear the high notes that CJ hits in the outro. Thanks for the music, Mr Snare.

Until next time…

LISTEN TO THIS WEEK'S SPECIALLY CURATED PLAYLIST BELOW:

David Kowalski is a writer, musician, educator, sound engineer and podcaster. His podcasts 'The Sound and the Fury Podcast' and 'Audio Cumulus' can be heard exclusively here. You can follow David on Twitter @sound_fury_pod.

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