Archives for posts with tag: Andrew Brough

Roulettes

Auckland band Roulettes have released a new EP of gloriously melodic guitar rock called “Rocket to You”, dedicated to Andrew Brough (The Orange, Straitjacket Fits, Bike) who died in February, at the start of this very strange and darkly dislocated year. Tempting as it is to play the title track, which somehow manages to combine hints of Bolan’s T Rex and The Beatles, it’s “Ordinary Glories” that perhaps channels the greatest Brough-factor.

Roulettes are Justin McLean and Ben Grant with help on this EP from Davey Porter on Drums and Damon Grant on various instruments.

“Ordinary Glories” is born out of a period of reflection and loss. “When you lose someone you love you look back and realise that all relationships are finite. What seemed mundane and ordinary was in fact all too brief. Ordinary glories are the moments you spent together, never to be reclaimed, that are now memories to return to“ McLean explains.

Members of Roulettes, and contributors to the EP recordings, are geographically spread around Oceania and South-East Asia meaning the EP was recorded in three locations just before pandemic lockdown took hold.

Each of the 5 songs (plus a remix of the title track) is a cracker of melodic, reflective guitar pop. It’s a fitting tribute to the kind of songwriting Andrew Brough was renowned for. Andrew was Justin Mclean’s stepbrother, and a musical mentor for bassist Ben Grant and Justin in their first band Funhouse in Dunedin in the 1990s, producing recordings and giving them invaluable advice.

The Roulettes duo of Justin McLean and Ben Grant is augmented for a Dunedin show at the Crown on 11 July by drummer Darren Stedman (The Verlaines, The Prophet Hens) and bassist Tenzin Mullen (Heka, The David Lynch Mob)

Bike

Apologies for the relative lack of PopLib postings. I had imagined the coronavirus lockdown in NZ would mean I would have plenty of time for regular postings of mood-enhancing new music discoveries. However working from home from my day-job – and grateful to still have a job that I can do that way – has proved to be full-on.

Following on from the sad news back at the start of February of the death of Dunedin musician Andrew Brough (The Orange, Straitjacket Fits and Bike), Bike’s solitary album “Take In The Sun” is now available in digital form via Bandcamp along with the preceding “bike” EP (1995) and “Circus Kids” EP (1997).

Here’s one of the quieter songs on the album. “Sunrise” is full of coded optimism, perfect for these dark and uncertain times:

I only met and talked to Andrew once. It was at a gig at Sammys in the 1980s. His first band – The Orange – were not playing but I saw him and maybe the others in his band at a table and said how much I loved the “Fruit Salad Lives” EP. An awkward momentary congress of introverts.

Next time I saw him was again at Sammy’s, Dunedin’s large ornate Edwardian era music hall. This time he was on stage with Straitjacket Fits. It was around the time of their “Life in One Chord” EP and they were opening for the Jesus & Mary Chain. It remains one of the most memorable performances I’ve seen. I can still vividly recall the feeling on non-drug-assisted euphoria hearing their songs blasted out with passion to their local crowd like they were playing for their lives… followed by a feeling of dull ennui when Jesus & Mary Chain plodded sullenly through their “Darklands” era set afterwards.

Bike’s “Take In The Sun” is a glorious collection of melodic guitar pop. It was probably out of time in 1997, but it just sounds timeless now. Brough’s vision was “to make beautiful music, which had a lot of feeling: beautiful music, with soaring vocals and guitars” and he certainly achieved that on his Straitjacket Fits songs and in Bike’s “Take in the Sun”.

I bought a copy of the album when it was released on CD in 1997, and saw the band play at Arc Cafe in Dunedin that year. Listening to the album again this year, Brough’s lyrics stood out. So many coded messages that his death may now begin to unlock.

“Sunrise” may for some be a minor track on the album but they melodic flights the vocal melody takes are extraordinary and the dynamics are majestic. The lyrics are a wry kind of reflective Brough positivity too, perfect for these times:

“In the sunrise, there’s nothing left to say/ Raise your glass to save your life/ we wish you well/ may good health prevail

In the sunrise, there’s nothing left to say/ Take a partner by the hand/ and spin round ’til good health prevails

In the sunrise, there’s nothing left to say/ while you’re gone we’ll play a song/ of love and tears/ and maybe you might hear 

Raise yourself/ it’s going to be your sunrise soon/ so let yourself shine.”

Bike album CD