BAD MONEY - Capital City (In-Fidelity)
These days punk might be nothing more than a fashion style and a line item in the music industry’s annual balance sheets. But once upon a time punk meant something. In the 1950s, when rock’n’roll was in its nascent state as a psychotic outpost of rhythm and blues, punk was a term of abuse, used to deride and marginalise everyone from Marlon Brando to Lou Reed, Allen Ginsberg to Iggy Pop. This was a time before the slick talking marketing gurus got their cynical hands on punk and turned it into a dull amalgam of wacky haircuts, crude fashion statements and profane rhetoric carefully marketed for maximum tabloid attention.
While that introduction might sound like the whinging and whining of someone washed in the urinal troughs of New York or London (not me, personally, though I’ve encountered others who can neither confirm nor deny such experiences), yet there’s an element of hard bitten truth there. If you need a reminder that punk still has currency that’s capable of usage the world over, look no further than Perth’s Capital City.
Fronted by Israeli born, Washington DC bred Sam Scherr, Capital City is heir to the Perth punk rock tradtion of the 1970s, when Australia’s most isolated capital city spawned a cadre of bands that refined the antipodean punk sound, taking the brazen sounds of New York punk and blending it with a pop sensibility that celebrated the juvenile hedonism that lay at the heart of 60s punk progenitors. Think Mannikins, Victims, original era Scientists and a stack of bands who’re known primarily to rabid collectors, and the typically loyal Perth (and surrounds) punk rock audience.
I haven’t heard Capital City’s debut EP, "The God Botherin’ Years:, but understand it found immediate parochial acceptance on Australia’s western coastal region, and Capital City won the WAMi award for Most Popular Punk Act in 2002. A second EP, "Capital City vs the Bangkok Lady Boys", was as invigorating as the title was intriguing, demonstrating that Capital City had more depth than a can of hairspray and a book of witty punk phrases.
On its debut album, "Bad Money", Capital City mine the original punk attitude found in the irreverent edges of 50s rhythm and blues, and flavour it with the freewheeling spirit that made the humble garage the best music house in town in the 1960s. Take a listen to Let’s Throw Our Love Away and you’re compelled to get on the floor and dance for a better world; jump to Come On and Work for the Lord and you’re on the road to the Damascus of rock’n’roll, confronted by genuine enlightenment. The cascading intensity of Beggar Please conjures up images of Lou Reed’s intravenous psychosis in Heroin, Sure Thing swaggers and gyrates like a cocksure Thin Lizzy on the prowl for love and the freewheeling A Less Accessible Jet is laden with good ol’ fashioned punk irreverence.
Capital City is an infrequent traveller across the Nullaboor, but occasional sightings tend to provide meta-proportionate satisfaction. There’s a lot to be said for "Bad Money", and hopefully those of us on the east coast have an opportunity soon to witness the band live again soon. - Patrick Emery
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