There is an argument, popular among some, that a career in music is just too easy these days. Whether that’s true or not is impossible to quantify – too easy compared to what, exactly? – but it’s safe to say that if you choose to make records like Big Cheap Motel then you’re always going to be on the very far our fringes of popular culture whatever time you happen to exist in.
Formed in South Church and Dunedin in 1981, The Axemen’s initial inspiration was to protest against the aparthied-era South African rugby team playing in New Zealand. Their chosen medium was, by the sounds of it, terrifyingly primitive sax noodling lain atop cardboard box drums and one-chord detuned stumble-thrash. All of which makes Axemen sound awful when in fact they’re all kinds of amazing. Listen to Stoopid Symbol Of Woman Hate or Can’t Stand Up For 40-Inch Busts (both songs were inspired by a hatred of sexist advertising) and you can hear Amon Duul and Hawkwind scaring the living shit out of Devo and Clock DVA. I suppose if you starved kraut gods Faust at gunpoint for a month then made them jump down a well tied to an appalling, ham-fisted Sham 69 tribute group you might – might! – come up with something like this hellishly raw and poorly recorded album, but only if you were very, very lucky.
This is a brilliant artefact as it’s so amazingly free, like a gloriously inebriated idea come to shocking life, Big Cheap Motel is a series of truly bloody terrible noises slung together to make something altogether wonderful. It is insane and angry and funny and informed by a thirst for cheap beer, sonic outrage and dangerous thrills and you really need to hear it now. Which, in this day and age, is a gloriously easy task.