Water Sunrise PanelChristchurch musician Blair Parkes (All fall Down, The Letter 5, etc.) released “Always Running” back in July. Here ‘s “What’s Love” from it.

“What’s Love” is only two minutes long and in that time mixes in the essence of motorik synth-heavy psychedelic space rock. If your attention span is too short for Hawkwind’s extended astral excursions take this short trip around the sun instead.

If you like this there’s plenty more such sounds on “Always Running” which continues on from the heavier pulsing space-rock/ shoegaze development throughout Parkes’ previous album “Saturations” which PopLib featured a song from last year.


Shannon WrightOne of the (many) things I love about Bandcamp is the unknowable depth and breadth of it’s network of obscure and sometimes essential (to me) recordings which are often discovered by chance. Sometimes it’s artists you’ve never heard of and other times its someone whose music you know but has stepped outside the mainstream music business circus. Representing the latter, here’s the title track from Shannon Wright‘s 2009 EP “Honeybee Girls”:

I first heard Shannon Wright in her band Crowsdell who released a double 7″ EP on the Durham, NC Jettison label back in the 1993 before releasing the album “Dreamette” on the Big Cat label in 1995. “Trunk” from that EP was subsquently re-recorded for the b-side of the “Sugar Coated” single in 1995. The song was, and still is, mesmerising and unfussy perfection. As indeed is “Honeybee Girls” which is different kind of mesmerising and unfussy perfection.

Wright’s most recent release is the 2017 album “Division” release on French label Vicious Circle Records. It continues the more experimental direction the closing tracks on the this 2009 EP hint at. Unorthodox, intense song worlds you have to engage with on their terms. Sometimes ‘difficult’ but always rewarding; art which sometimes tests and challenges but has substance.

Synth Sisters mirror“w/o/n/d/e/r/f/u/l” is the opening track of Synth Sisters’ second album “Euphoria”, released earlier this year on Osaka label EM Records.

“w/o/n/d/e/r/f/u/l” is the only track on “Euphoria” with vocals but it sets the scene for the voiceless wonderlands of sound that follow it. The synth soundscapes throughout the album are rich and layered, falling somewhere between retro synth soundtracks and darker, weirder and more intimidating sonic atmospheres.

Synth Sisters are Osaka-based artists Rie Lambdoll and MAYUKo who have also collaborated as the more confrontational noise-focused Crossbred, which probably explains the unyielding uneasy listening, ambient-with-attitude edge to the music on “Euphoria”.

There are reminders of those pulsing early Tangerine Dream masterpieces, woven into the more ambient disorienting soundtracks of the likes of Future Sound of London. It’s all presented with the audio equivalent of a TV cartoon show with over-saturated colours and the brightness tuned up.  “Euphoria” is quite gloriously euphoric.

Tidal Rave FOMOWellington band Tidal Rave are back with a great new single “FOMO”:

Their EP last year had a churning claustrophobic feel, reminiscent of the dark garage rock of 1980s Christchurch band The Terminals.

“FOMO” is lighter – there’s more space around the three guitars to let the song breath – and the combination of keyboard with those three guitarists brings to mind the wry chamber pop of another 1980s/ 90s Flying Nun band The Able Tasmans, or perhaps even the Sarah Records pop of bands like Even As We Speak.

It has a distinctive Australasian feel to it. Maybe it’s the way we strum guitars down here, but it’s also in that distinctively Antipodean conversational vocal delivery and storytelling from Emmie Ellis, who takes the lead vocal here, and says of the the song “An ode for the excitable drunk who never wants to go home. Maybe based on real-life events.”   

The Wake

Bristol, UK independent label Sarah Records has put all their catalogue on line. Some Sarah Records singles and albums made it down-under to Dunedin and a few more picked up on overseas trips. But most of the extensive Sarah Records catalogue has been intriguing record collector territory until now. There’s plenty in that catalogue to discover today. The Wake were a band I missed at the time, so here’s their wonderfully savage “Britain”.

The Wake was founded in Glasgow in 1981 by Gerard McInulty (formerly of Altered Images), Steven Allen (drums) and Joe Donnelly (bass), the latter soon replaced by Bobby Gillespie, who was later asked to leave, joining the Jesus and Mary Chain briefly, before forming Primal Scream. Carolyn Allen (sister of drummer Steve Allen) also joined on keyboards, and along with McInulty still performs as part of a reformed The Wake.

I’m going to copy the info from the bandcamp page here to tell their story: “The Wake formed in Glasgow in 1981 and released their debut 7”, On Our Honeymoon, on their own Scan 45 label. The single attracted the attention of Factory Records, for whom they released four singles and two albums. Encouraged by fellow Glasgow-band The Orchids, they then signed to Sarah Records for two more singles and albums. After Sarah ended, a further album was released on LTM.” 

Ben Woods

Fuzzy guitar pop aficionados look out! Here’s the excitable and great-tasting “Lozenge” with a very sticky melody and a very economic 1 minute 53 second running time.

Woods is a guitarist – and multi-instrumentalist – from Christchurch and you’ve probably seen him play in half the bands you’ve seen from that city (if you live in NZ, which you probably don’t, and go and see bands, which you hopefully still do – it’s good for you!).

He was in (at last count) River Jones, Fran, Wurld Series, Salad Boys and probably a bunch of others that never made it to Dunedin. Top guitarist, and “Lozenge” is his first outing on his own  and under his own name and it’s a winner. What’s not to like about a fuzzy lo-fi melodic pop gem under 2 minutes?

Woods is touring NZ at the moment, along with another PopLib favourite Motte. They play the Captain Cook in Dunedin tonight. Read all about the tour here.

Bad Sav_Hope Lucinda NoMike_photo by Chris Schmelz_smaller for web

Hope Robertson (guitar, vocals) and Lucinda King (bass, vocals) of Bad Sav. (Absent is drummer Mike McLeod) – photo by Chris Schmelz.

“Hen’s Teeth” by Birdation will be familiar to regular followers of PopLib. Birdation is the solo experimental noise workshop of Port Chalmers musician Hope Robertson. Robertson is guitarist in electronic+post-punk dark dream-pop trio Death And The Maiden and the long-running, slow-moving noise rock trio Bad Sav. Next week, Bad Sav finally release that long-awaited first album. The first track shared ahead of the release is “Hen’s Teeth”

The slow trance-like lo-fi churn of Birdation’s “Hen’s Teeth” has been turbo-charged by Bad Sav into an uptempo slice of chiming guitar rock. The first second is arresting in unexpected ways with the intake of breath before the song starts.

I love the way Robertson’s stabbing sparkling guitar chords dance from side to side in the mix, like a delay echo in a huge cathedral. Then there’s that euphoric chorus and the crunch of additional guitar horsepower to seal the effective assault on the senses. There’s still a thrill and a power to be found in a trio playing guitar, bass and drums, loud and with distortion and Bad Sav’s album delivers that tonic in 10 measured doses.

With Bad Sav less is more. Whereas My Bloody Valentine would have spent years burying the song in sonic molasses, Bad Sav achieve the same dizzying chord-bending melodic blaze with a recording as immediate and monstrous as their live performances.  Their churning guitar-heavy sonic distillation of melodic post-rock, noise-rock and shoegaze is a thing of sonic beauty to experience live, the guitar sound building patterns of glorious saturated noise that fill every corner of the venue and your head.

Bad Sav have been around for 10 years – long enough to have started out with a MySpace page, the internet equivalent of carbon-dating a band’s vintage. They had an early song on a Radio One sampler CD, then a long wait until 2014 when they self released 4 songs on their Bandcamp. These 4 songs make for an essential pre-quel EP-length introduction to the band.

Here’s the original Birdation formation of “Hen’s Teeth”. The Bad Sav and Birdation versions on a split 7″ single would be a lovely thing indeed. That won’t be happening, so best you download the Birdation version below and keep it safe.