Adrian
Out of nowhere (or downtown Dunedin – same difference) comes latest Dunedin pop underground luminary Mavis Gary.

What? I have my ear to the ground in this town and I’d never heard of Mavis. Suddenly there’s a single and an album ready for release on cassette via The Attic (Dunedin’s top floor ‘underground’ arts/ music, general loafing cooperative space).

Turns out Mavis Gary is the name given to a side-project of shy Dunedin DIY pop auteur Adrian Ng. As I’ve seen Adrian almost every week this year, and he’s spent days at my place recording the debut album by his main band, the adorable Trick Mammoth, I’m surprised I knew nothing about this. Although he did ask if he could borrow a bass guitar a couple of weeks ago and he has hung onto my SM57 microphone for months – an upgrade from his old SingStar microphone, famously used for those Trick Mammoth demos

The combination of a creative flood of songs and being bored now that the Trick Mammoth album recording has finished meant he used his mid-term break week to self-record an album as Mavis Gary. I’ve heard the whole thing now – it’s extraordinary. There’s a whole new dark side of what I can only describe as post-punk glam rock plus more of the glorious woozy melodic pop I know and love from Trick Mammoth. In fact Mavis Gary even covers three Trick Mammoth songs – two old ones and one new one (‘Candy Darling’ the ‘B-side’ to the ‘Dim the Droog’ single).

I presume Mavis Gary is named after the Charlize Theron character in the 2011 film ‘Young Adult’ – a cynical feel-bad movie about the delusions of early adulthood. Some of the songs seem metaphors for the sickly-sweet jumbled up confusion and dark undercurrents of life lived halfway between a cheerful and positive surface image and a darker clandestine reality.

‘Dim the Droog’ is one of the songs that stuck out most on first listen, possibly because it strays far from Adrian’s usual palette of songwriting. It is dark, angular, mysterious and brooding, but in a kind of saturated colour cartoon kind of way. I love it. As always he uses the contrast between rhythm guitar chords and chiming lead parts and there’s the expected killer pop hook chorus.

The ‘B-side’ ‘Candy Darling’ is a song that Trick Mammoth have been playing live for the past month or two. Another cracker, and Mavis Gary does tend to blur the lines between a kind of testing ground for emerging Trick mammoth songs as well as an outlet for Adrian’s darker, skewed pop.

I’m looking forward to the cassette. Not often I say that these days…

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