Day 26 of PopLib’s 31 Days of May marathon for New Zealand Music Month is “The Chateau” by Bathsalts, from their “Drive” EP released last month.

Bathsalts are a three piece band originally from Queenstown, but now based in Dunedin, and consisting of Reuben Scott (guitar / vocals) Yuta Honda (bass / vocals) Theodore Baumfield (drums / vocals).  They say “grunge”, “indie rock” and “psychedelic” and that’s a start, but only the half of it really.

There’s also a hint of post-punk/ New Wave at times with those chorus effect guitar interludes evident on this track and also some post-rock progressiveness in those time changes and snappy interplay between guitar, bass and drums.

Keep an ear on Bathsalts – there’s an encouraging blend of influences percolating on this three song EP recorded at Chicks Hotel in Port Chalmers and the skill to develop it all even further in future.


Roy Irwin 2018Day 25 of PopLib’s 31 days of May marathon for New Zealand Music Month is “Infinity Mirror” from the Auckland DIY pop auteur Roy Irwin‘s most recent album “King of Pop”.

“Infinity Mirror” starts out as a kind of simple chiming guitar pop thing with the great opening lines “My eyes are closed but time keeps moving, wake me up on Tuesday and I’ll figure it out.” It’s a bit like early Real Estate, mixed with a bit of David Kilgour. So far, so normal.

However, as the song progresses there’s a kind of weird noise in the background that you only sense at first but it slowly builds as an infinite delay loop until, at the 2 minute mark, the song picks up some kind of weird musical transmission from outer space in lieu of a guitar solo and everything floats off into the clouds in a very lovely and relaxing blissed out way. Perfect far-out Friday music.

“King of Pop” is out on LP on 1:12 Records and available either from Roy Irwin directly or from 1:12 Records.


Day 24 of PopLib’s 41 Days of May marathon for New Zealand Music Month is “Sprains” by Dunedin soundcrafter Birdation.

When not playing guitar in Death and The Maiden and Bad Sav Hope Robertson creates and performs under the name Birdation – a lof-fi experimental noise ensemble of one. There’s no set style but a lot of layers and looping and and distortion and chaotic interesting fun. Birdation songs always come with an adventurous sense of downbeat euphoria and agreeable melodicism.

On “Sprains” Birdation uses a 4 track ‘Portastudio’ type cassette recorder to distort, muddy and saturate the sound into disorienting textures which force you right IN to the song as you try to work it all out. There’s some very nice post-rock delay guitar work buried within the tape-sludge and a magnificently apocalyptic ending rounds it all off perfectly too.

Snapper at Sammys1 1990

Snapper at Sammys, Dunedin 1990/91 – Christine Voice, Peter Gutteridge.

Day 23 of PopLib’s 31 Days of May marathon for New Zealand Music Month is a blast from the 1980s Dunedin past from Snapper.

“Cause of You” is one of the 4 still fresh tracks released 30 years ago by Snapper on their first 12″ EP.

While PopLib is generally focused on contemporary music, this is posted to follow up yesterday’s essay and will help prove how meaningless that term “The Dunedin Sound” was in the 1980s and still is today.

Coyote 2018Day 22 of PopLib’s 31 Days of May marathon for New Zealand Music Month is “Jokes” from (very) bad boys of outsider Dunedin psychedelic garage pop, Coyote.

Coyote’s music tends to extend a middle digit of non-conformity in the direction of the mainstream, the result of a ‘psychic connection’ between brothers Jeremy Potts (who was in notorious Auckland raw-pop outfit Rackets for several years) and the teenage Louis, from whose imagination the songs come.

“Jokes” – psychedelic folk of some non-traditional kind – is from “Wine Man: Back to the Shop”, one of three 5 song EPs released by the band during April this year.  The 3 April EPs all sound as if they were recorded in a tin shed. Often thin and trebly, tinny echo and occasionally overloaded with distortion, and all in a good way. Some of the musical ideas are wildly original and the songs full of moments of inspired, wayward genius.  There’s a fine line between genius and madness they say.

These 3 EPs sound a bit different to the earlier unhinged, feral, primal energy rock’n’roll  and lupine howl vocals that marked their “Hotel for Dogs” release last year. “I Met Satan” from that stood out for its particularly glorious guitar riffing, but the whole album was a festival of wild-eyed home-baked psychedelic lo-fi guitar skronk and underground rock weirdness.

Coyote’s middle-finger of non-conformity has also manifested itself in some notorious anti-social behaviour in the form of angry-bored performance-art. Their defacing of public art dedicated to 1980s’ “Dunedin Sound” band The Chills painted on a phone exchange box near the Captain Cook Hotel had the hallmarks of a piece of guerilla anti-establishment theatre. When the artist who painted The Chills themed art was revealed as young art student Emma Craig, who took up the chance to paint a tribute to her favourite band, it took the gloss off Coyote’s art-sabotage just a little.

Still, it created a bit of excitement and notoriety in the septic tank of Dunedin’s music scenes; a new controversy for people to take sides on, and some new enfant terrible music types to polarise the community. “The Dunedin Sound” is shit say a lot of young musicians and music fans here and they are not wrong.

Many of the bands of that 1980s era were and still are OK, and some of the songs they created are classics of course. But there was never a “Dunedin Sound” and anyone from this country who claims there is is usually trying to sell you something – either a book, some music, or a myth. The idea of this imagined “sound” and the continued nostalgic celebration of a moment in time 3 decades ago casts a long and dark shadow on new music in Dunedin. So, it’s oddly appropriate the following extract is from an interview on the excellent contemporary music discovery website called “dunedin sound”:

“I find this obsession with the past kind of alienating.” agrees Jeremy “It’s like, I wasn’t there, I’m here now, I feel like the music we’re making is better than… Well I dunno, I feel like it’s really fucking good and the Dunedin sound or whatever is just all these old people obsessed with the past and it’s like, yeah, cool for you guys but shut up and let us make our own contemporary scene.” 

Dunedin City Council, 30 years late to the game, and responsible for the demise of several of the “counterculture” music venues in the past decade through noise control or alcohol licensing enforcement, have decided the city has a “thriving and internationally respected music sector…counterculture in the footsteps of the Dunedin Sound” in its arts and culture strategy.  However, the thing about counterculture is that it is “a way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing social norm.”

The Coyote saga had the effect of polarising public opinion and incurring the wrath of people of an age who would’ve celebrated had their 1980s Dunedin music heroes defaced public art dedicated to The Tumbleweeds, a Dunedin Country act who had some #1 hits in the 1950s. Thankfully The Tumbleweeds were long forgotten by the 1980s and Dunedin was not adorned with public art celebrating them and inviting defacement by resentful 1980s musicians.


Ria Hall

Day 21 of PopLib’s 31 Days of May marathon for New Zealand Music Month comes from Ria Hall‘s recent album “Rules of Engagement”. Here’s “Black Light” featuring Mara TK:

“Black Light” has a feeling of other-wordly celestial soul, with Ria Hall joined by Mara TK (TeKahika) of Electric Wire Hustle. Mara TeKahika also contributed to the sound of Troy Kingi’s excellent album, featured back on Day 2 of our NZ Music Month quest.

“Rules of Enagement” is a concept album, drawing on themes of love and war, revolution and change. It’s inspired and informed by family histories from the Tauranga area during the New Zealand Land Wars in the 1860s, and a personal reflection on the need for meaningful communication between people to come to a place of understanding and compassion in order to resolve conflicts, on a personal, community, national and international level.

Wax ChattelsDay 20 of PopLib’s 31 Days of May marathon for New Zealand Music Month comes from pile-driving Auckland trio Wax Chattels. No soft Sunday wake up today – this song is called “Concrete” and it’s the opening track of their eponymous first album, just released a few days ago.

Concrete is hard. “Concrete” is also hard. Organ, bass, drums, some voices. When you think “organ trio” you don’t think of the sonic fury of The Gordons, or of hardcore rock, or even the post-punk of This Heat. But Wax Chattels manage to combine the spirit of such diverse sounds successfully on this song and across the varied and out-of-step-with-everything album.