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“NOISE IN MY HEAD” VOICES FROM THE UGLY AUSTRALIAN UNDERGROUND” by Jimi Kritzler

Made my way through this recent book by Jimi Kritzler recently, and it was like reading a stack of fanzines on a hungover Sunday afternoon. I barely know the bands covered – well, that’s not entirely true – but that’s also true of most of the ephemeral and short-lived combos covered in the fanzines of yore. Kritzler’s aim here is to take a snapshot in time, the time being roughly now (or at least 1-2 years ago), of the more brutish and punk/skronk/thug and/or experimental bands down under, with a few pop practitioners included simply because Kritzler either likes or knows them.

The formula is repetitive but comfortable. Intro, interview, finished. “Noises In My Head” does this upwards of twentysomething times, to bands both known (Eddy Current Supression Ring, Total Control), unknown to me (most of ‘em) and loved (again, by me: The Garbage and The Flowers, Fabulous Diamonds). Here’s what I learned: drugs are freely available and consumed in rocknroll circles in Australia, and just as when I was in my 20s, talked about in far greater proportion to how interesting they actually are to the reader. Drugs drugs drugs, overdoses, mental illness, fallen comrades (to drugs), etc. Seems as though drug celebrations didn’t cease in underground Aussie rocknroll the moment Nick Cave left the island.

All funnin’ aside, I learned that Kritzler’s got a good ear to the ground in his homeland, and is definitely one of those man-about-town gadflys who seemingly knows everyone & is excellent at connecting the dots between bands, scenes and sub-genres. He writes well and with passion. There are a few grunters in this book whom I’ll need to follow up on. Hey, he missed just about every favorite rock band I personally have down there, from Constant Mongrel to King Tears Mortuary to The Clits, but that’s why it’s his fanzine-cum-book, not mine. It’s a hefty tome, skimmable when it needs to be but also full of good musical ore to be mined. The folks who live and breath in these Melbourne-, Sydney-, Brisbane-, etc.-based scenes will have something very well-done to show their progeny somewhere down the line.

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