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Tonight: Country-Rock from Australia- The Re-Mains plus $4.50 imports.


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Tonight at 10pm Pepper Jack's, $5 Sorry for the huge amount of text. www.pepperjackcafe.com






By Rob Slack

The Re-Mains hate the fucking Eagles. Fingernails on a chalkboard, a fork being dragged across a plate, hate. There’s a moment in The Big Lebowski when The Dude gets thrown out of a cab for saying he hates the fucking eagles, and it’s my favourite scene in all of filmdom.

With their vapid, dead fish-eye Southern Californian stares and their ability to make James Taylor sound like The Minutemen by comparison, the fucking Eagles represent that makes me crazy and crazy and angst-ridden about modern mainstream country. The crap that country radio has been pumping out for the last thirty years plus has been nothing more than one long extended version of “Hotel Californiaâ€. As Mojo Nixon once said, “Don Henley is the anti-Elvis.â€

Now, picture a world where the fucking eagles never found each other, never made music for elevators and grocery stores, never defamed country rock by taking both the country and the rock out of music. Nice isn’t it.

The Re-Mains are from that alternate world. It’s a world where Dead Flowers by The Rolling Stones was a mainstream hit, where Townes Van Zandt is a household name, where Uncle Tupelo never split but Son Volt and Wilco still play and record. An alternate universe where every time you turn on the radio you can hear Kris Kristofferson and Corb Lund and John Prine and The Poor Choices and Elliott Brood and Cuff The Duke and Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. Willie P. Bennett is given a state funeral and The Perpetrator are given The Order of Canada. I will call that world Austin World and I will live their very happily, thank you very much.

The Re-Mains are the bastard children of Keith Richards and Wanda Jackson, of Jeff Tweedy and Bob Dylan. The are the war orphans left behind by Nick Cave’s murder ballads, by Johnny Cash’s evil seed. They are Willie Nelson’s outlaw country taken home and given a cold bath and a warm beer. They are the promise fulfilled by the union of Jack White and Loretta Lynn.

And they are Australian. Of course they’re from Australia. A country populated by folk who left Africa 50,000 years ago and hiked halfway around the world in only a couple of generations. A country colonized by criminals and outlaws. A country whose extremes make our extremes look like suburban fantasies provided by Sears. If kick-you-in-the-ass country rock is going to be perfected anywhere, it should be in the land of Vegemite and the southern cross.

Rolling Stone Magazine, which gave The Re-Mains’ Love Last Stand four stars, describes them as “Northern NSW country rock & roll hellraisers… combining a rootsy twang with inner-city smarts and genuine affection for rollicking, tumbling hillbilly sounds.†Someone else said “Think the Eels after a ten day binge.†I say the Re-Mains will kick you in the ass and leave you wanting more.

Six reasons to line up to see The Re-Mains:

1. Ballad of a Wrong ‘un – an amazing murder song, violent and mean. With the great line “He always wanted to be a star football player / But the poor guy had a build like Leo Sayer…â€

2. The Dirt Farmer’s Gavotte. It’s just brilliant. Fred Eaglesmith should write a song this good

3. Othello’s P76. “If everybody sang like Pavarotti then we’d all sound just the same / But everybody does their best, beats their chest, and tries and tries again…†Yeah.

4. Day in The Sun. ‘Cause it is a piece of heaven.

5. They once killed a man. Really. They played for some shearers in the Australian bush who had been on a three day speed and booze powered bender. When The Re-Mains finished their set, the crowd wanted more. And so they kicked into †A whole lot Of Rosie†and one of the shearers dropped dead of a heart attack. He was in his mid-twenties.

6. “Imagine a 70’s Holden which has been fanged, hooned, thrashed and cruised from one end of the country to the other, mainly on bad roads, never breaking down but continually having parts replaced as the long distances take their toll.†ABC Radio had that to say about The Re-Mains and I don’t really know what some of the words means (it’s like the Australians speak in code to keep the rest of the world guessing) but I think a Holden is a car.

And so it goes. I hate the fucking Eagles. I love The Re-Mains



By Kerry Doole

We should be grateful that Rae Billing got the seven-year itch. It has been that long between albums for the now Hamilton, ON-based songstress, a major talent long seriously undervalued. She first made a mark leading ’90s Toronto country rockers Crybaby, and Blue Black Night shows no decline in her formidable skills. Billing’s voice is both strong and oft shiver-inducing, while her penchant for writing emotionally eloquent and haunting material is nicely showcased here. In fact, the only non-original, a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,†is the weakest cut. You can also judge this artist by the company she keeps: producer Peter Moore (Cowboy Junkies), legendary Band keyboardist Garth Hudson and a core band featuring Steve Koch (Handsome Ned, the Demics), bassist Derrick Brady (Hawksley Workman), former Blue Rodeo drummer Cleave Anderson and keyboardist Matt Horner. The interaction of Koch’s silvery guitar lines and Horner’s B3 playing frames the vocals very effectively on tunes like “No Closer†and “Waiting To Fall,†while male backing vocals also add depth. Superb stuff. (Hug/OPM)

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