Archives for category: Dunedin Pop Underground

Ha the UnclearHa The Unclear – “Alt-Pop/New Wave/Indie from South Dunedin based in Auckland, New Zealand” – are back with another brilliantly catchy single “Wallace Line”:

There’s a bit of an Orange Juice vibe about “Wallace Line”. Bouncy Afro-Beat guitar lines zing around over trebly rapid-fire strums, with glorious sugary vocal harmonies in the chorus.  Michael Cathro’s existential musings sung in that laconic but precise deadpan South Dunedin delivery tie it all together with a bow.

Ha The Unclear play at The Cook in Dunedin tonight.

Ha Tour 2018

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Salad BoysChristchurch guitar trio Salad Boys released their second album “This Is Glue” in January. Here’s “Under The Bed” from it:

Salad Boys is led by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Joe Sampson, once of noisey Christchurch trio T54. Salad Boys is the more reflective side of Sampson’s considerable guitar-playing and songwriting talent, though the album still packs plenty of over-driven riff-rock (check the opening “Blown” Up” and then “Psych Slasher” for high-octane thrills).

Anyone raised on a steady diet of chips, beer and guitar bands over recent decades will recognise the compass points locating their sound. Much has been made of their local influences from that cold damp city 5 hours drive south of their quake-munted Christchurch home. But as much as you can maybe hear a bit of The Clean/ Great Unwashed in the strum and jangle I’d be inclined to pick another Dunedin band Bored Games as a better local touchstone when the amps are cranked here.

But even that is still a red herring I reckon. The varied guitar styles and noisy pop hooks comprising much of “This Is Glue” is actually much more in the style of North American bad boys like The Replacements and their ilk. As a result they sound more like they belong among the current crop of fine Australian guitar bands (The Stevens, Twerps, Woollen Kits et al.) who also seem to have assimilated that same perfect odd-combo of ’80s kiwi drone jangle and more polished North American guitar pop.

Either way, this is a cracking album with a fine balance between visceral riff rock and delicate reflective folk pop (refer “Going Down Slow” towards the end of the album). Recommended to track down in its vinyl LP format too.

 

 

residue nzContinuing the instrumental guitar music theme from a few days ago, here’s something new from the darkest corners of Dunedin’s noise underground. This 5 track album – “Rotting In The Stomach of Melancholy” – by Residue is a dark, wordless masterpiece and our introduction is the symphonic melodic minimalism of the first track “You Are Missed”

“You Are Missed” is sombre and majestic with a heavy and dark grace. Guitar notes washed in cathedral reverb swell and fade and gentle waves of white noise ebb and flow. “Commit Your Body to Dust” is an even sparser but equally beautiful atmospheric drone before “You Are Mist” completes the mood by enveloping those swelling guitars in a sonic mist of white noise.

After this relative calm all hell breaks loose on the final two tracks and sonic metallurgists will rejoice. Dense layers of distorted guitars and feedback create two saturated epics. The final track – the album’s title track – is a churning, fiery monster, several atmospheres heavier than Fripp and Eno’s “An Index of Metals”, and fine material for readjusting the atomic structure of your brain via headphones.

It’s a self-contained sonic world that may not be for everyone, but is likely to appeal to fans of atmospheric sound explorers like Labradford and Stars of the Lid, and worth a visit by the adventurous, the curious and the brave.

DSC07972Continuing PopLib’s  send as a gift tips for the month with the aching, mysterious dark beauty of stratchcona pl and “sadder endings” from the “holds and releases” EP:

While the sense of desolation, betrayal, loss and grief is palpable throughout this compelling EP it conveys a sense of “getting-through-this” rather than despair so essentially reflecting optimism with a collection of songs of sparse crafted beauty.

From the EP notes on Bandcamp:

“strathcona pl is crafting their silhouette in this balance of precision and distance. Just the name “Strathcona” seems so inhabitable and mappable: a suburb, a neighbourhood, a house. But as “strathcona” improper, where are we? We are drawn back into that same unsureness which permeates the artist’s characteristic sound. If “strathcona” isn’t a location or a proper noun, it must be an adjective; a feeling; a name to behold and release, then hold again.”

Recommended for – yourself…. Or to send as a gift to anyone else who needs it.

Shayne OffsiderHere’s PopLib’s 6th send as a gift tip for the month, featuring “Waiting Game” from Shayne P. Carter’s “Offsider” album.

Never one to rest in a comfortable spot musically speaking, proficient guitarist Carter (Bored Games, Doublehappys, Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer) set himself the challenge of mastering the piano. His approach is similar to his instinctive approach to the guitar – as much about sound, propulsion, atmosphere, and tension as it is about melody.

This song, and the whole “Offsider” album is recommended for anyone into seriously good, original, adventurous pop or rock music, for the person who annoys you by playing Scott Walker records too often and who you wish had something else to fixate on, and for that friend or relative who always goes on about the heyday of Flying Nun Records but stopped buying new music many years ago.

CoyoteHere’s some messed up underground psych-rock from Dunedin Coyote from their just-released album “Hotel for Dogs”. The song is “I Met Satan” and it draws together the spirit of Led Zeppelin and Guitar Wolf in the same song.

Dunedin is well known for some ‘sounds’, but the sound of unhinged, feral, primal energy rock’n’roll with lupine howl vocals is not really one of them. That’s usually the kind of thing you’d associate with, well, Christchurch, or Hamilton or even Auckland.  So Coyote are like a breath of chili & garlic-flavoured air down here.

“I Met Satan” stands out for some particularly glorious guitar riffing, but the whole album is a festival of wild-eyed home-baked psychedelic lo-fi guitar skronk and underground rock weirdness. Those familiar with classic 60s/70s guitar rock themes may recognise occasional glimpses of those past sounds even after they’ve gone through Coyote’s cosmic blender.

If you like what’s on offer here, then after you download Coyote’s album, also fill your ears with this 17-minute live-to-air freak-out video:

The Golden Awesome

The Golden Awesome is a ‘shoegaze’ guitar & keyboards band predominantly from Wellington, NZ. They released an album called “Autumn” in 2011 on the US M’Lady’s Records label which is a bit hard to find round these parts now. Here’s the title track which opens the album:

Although ‘shoegaze’ tends to be the genre most often used in relation to The Golden Awesome there is a healthy a dose of The Jesus and Mary Chain about the crushing bass guitar and swarming feedback guitar drones here as well as the kind of swooping sonic overload and sweet melody associated with heavy shoegaze favourites My Bloody Valentine.

That mix of crushing saturated walls of glorious noise and breath-taking dream-pop melody is a feature of the album. The keyboards and the distinctive harmoniser processed vocals are from Dunedin musician Stef Animal and you can find out more about who else is in this low-key band in this rare UTR interview.

Here’s the wonderful trippy video for “Autumn” too: