GAGGED - Punxie and The Poison Pens (self released)
It's crass, craven and more than a little shallow to wax lyrical about promotional packages, so as I sit here in my Punxie T-shirt (the black one with the F-word on the back), pore through my promotional Punxie postcards, crack a beer with one of my two (count 'em!) Punxie keyring/bottle openers and work out which Punxie badge to wear today, I promise to concentrate on the music and not mention the freebies. If only I could just find the band's CD on a desk that looks like it belongs in a doctor's surgery after a day of back-to-back appointments with a battalion of drug company reps.

Punxie & The Poison Pens are a Transvision Vamp blonde singer with a backing band of grizzled Brisbane veterans whose c.v. includes service with Scruff the Cat, The Upsets, The Bystanders and The Skeletones, amongst others. What the bio doesn't say is that Punxie is a former Brisbane City Council candidate whose claim to fame was being pilloried for suggesting an opponent was going to pack rape her. That was a joke I guess, but you never can tell with Queenslanders as they're so mad north of Tweed Heads that they drink Fourex.

Punxie is also a "Top 10 Comedian on Australian MySpace" - which is a surprise. Where do these Myspace Comedians perform? Who writes their gags? Does Tom run a laughter track behind them? Is it this hidden humour the thing that brings MySpace's local servers to their knees more often than cheap hookers at a Motley Crue road crew party? MySpace has never struck me as a particularly hilarious virtual place, but then I find humour in more mundane things like lip-synching at the Chinese Olympic opener. So social marketing websites may just be the 21st Century's great comedy stage and not just a place for social cripples to spend inordinate amounts of work time.

So to "Gagged", a four-track CD-R that might be found on some corner of a groaning merch desk at the next Punxie & The Poison Pens gig. One thing it should come with is a Cochlear implant because it's recorded at levels so low as to be virtually undetectable by the human ear. I tried it out on Milo The Labradoodle (Dee Dee Ramone having long since left the I-94 Bar) and all he did was cock his head and look quizzical. It must have been the neighbours who called the RSPCA.

What can you say about a cut called "Pogo A Go-Go" whose verbiage ("Go go go/You mixed up desperadoes/Don't stand there being lazy") is so banal you go looking for a lyric sheet to make sure you heard it right the first time? Punxie sings in a broad Aussie accent (just like your Aunt Sue) to an accompaniment of sludgy pedestrian rock. "Animal Farm" has a megaphoned vocal that goes so far against the meter that it sounds like it's being superimposed over another song.

"Apology To The Press" is nearly indecipherable but is probably a riposte to the Repitles of the Fourth Estate for their treatment of the would-be Mayoress. More promising is "The Stalker Song" which has a touch of the Pistols' "Submission" to it but the vocal's flatter than a pot of warm piss in the Caboolture sun.

A shame to apply the poison pen to The Poison Pens because they obviously try hard, but their version of punk is short enough on danger that it wouldn't be wasted on a roomful of accountants at their next corporate Xmas party. But what the fuck do I know? They'll probably make a million dollars. - The Barman