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Radio Birdman 

Zeno Beach

Wednesday, Aug 30 2006
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Unfairly consigned to a footnote in punk history, Radio Birdman spent the '70s toiling away in Australian proto-punk obscurity, whipping out authoritative little slabs of venom like the classic "Burn My Eye." The Detroit-born singer Deniz Tek never quite got Motown's diesel grime out of his spinal fluid, thus Radio Birdman always had more truck with the inchoate muscle-menace of the MC5 than with the fey nihilism of London/New York punk. Now that the members are all pushing 60, the Birdmen finally get a chance to tour America in support of an album with proper publicity and distribution. But you just want to throw a few A&R dudes and PR flaks in a time machine back to 1976 because what's the point now? Zeno Beach is a good effort and certainly serviceable as a rock album. The band doesn't try to match its youthful quick-burn snarl, slowing down and opting instead for the hazy, chugging melancholy of early REM ("Remorseless," "Die Like April"), flirting with petulant Strokes vocals ("Subterfuge"), and laying on whiskey-burn guitar licks that sound appropriately like echoes of remorse and depravity bouncing around an outback roadhouse. It's solid rockist stuff, some of it dispatched with real urgency, but best to save your $20 for the live show instead.

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Frances Reade

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