Archives for posts with tag: Arch Hill Records

Doprah2016Doprah’s album is finally here. “Wasting” is as good as we all hoped it would be. Here’s “Omni” from it:

The Christchurch band seemed poised to release a debut album two years ago just as they were riding a wave of international recognition which included being selected to open for Lorde at her post-Grammy’s Auckland Laneway add-on show in 2014 and some overseas trips.

A brush with a more commercially-focused overseas label and resulting delays could have ended the band, but instead they’ve spent the intervening years simply refining and updating the content of what would become “Wasting”.

It’s a great listen, a satisfying psychedelic world to escape into, and even more hallucinatory and experimental when listened to as a whole than the earlier singles indicated.

People are usually quick to add Portishead/ Massive Attack references when describing the spaced out ‘trip-hop’ sound of their songs. But they also seem to me to have as much in common with a Dunedin band active 20 years ago they’ve probably never heard of – Mink.

Mink were also a sonic creation of an auteur-musician-producer and a cast of creative personalities including songwriter/ vocalist/ keyboard player Demarnia Lloyd. LLoyd and Indira Force share a similar effortlessly weightless vocal style: ghostly, soulful and perfect companions for a journey into the psychedelic margins of the electro-pop universe.

When Indira Force’s voice is paired with Steven John Marr’s almost sotto voce lower register vocals (as on “Omni” here) the light & dark interplay adds another element to the atmosphere of the beautiful doomed wasteland of Doprah’s stellar debut.

LPs should be available in record stores now, or from the Flying Out online store.



Street Chant

Yay! Street Chant are back. A long 5 years on from their excellent debut album “Means” there’s a new album “Hauora” announced for November release. Here’s “Pedestrian Support League” from it.

“Pedestrian Support League” packs a brilliant and surprising jangle pop lightness in the verses. It makes the chorus drop into their trademark melodic power-pop-punk snarl – soothed as always by those golden backing vocals – all the more thrilling.

The lyrics are a strong feature of anything Street Chant do as well – and Emily in her solo capacity too. This tale of existential ennui is no exception, indicating that perhaps band life is not quite the chummy cartoon rush of the Music Manager game they were featured in a few years ago.

First time I saw Street Chant was at Auckland’s first Laneway Festival where amp stacks were climbed and stage crew upset, not for the last time at that festival. It’s exactly that kind of attitude that Street Chant have always brought to their live shows and it shines through on their recordings too.

First time I saw them play in Dunedin was at Sammy’s supporting the 3Ds when they reformed for a brief tour about 5 years ago. At the time they sounded like they had absorbed the best bits of the 3Ds and Doublehappys into their own unique post-millenium DNA. People I talked to during & after that show seemed genuinely disappointed to learn they were from Auckland and not Dunedin.

Street Chant play at Chick’s Hotel this Saturday.

The Verlaines 1985

The Verlaines 1985

Late in 1985 The Verlaines released their debut album ‘Hallelujah, All the Way Home’. Already serial over-achievers, the album was an extraordinary offering by anyone’s standards. Right from the gatefold sleeve, ornate Middle Ages themed cover art through to the music within (classical horns, strings, choirs… but also still that aloof coolness rubbing up against raging fury & scorn) this album demanded to be taken seriously.
I was writing about music for The Southland Times in Invercargill at the time, having badgered my way onto their weekly ‘Music Scene’ feature because no-one was covering the remarkable music happening two and a half hours drive up the road. The only thing that prevented their ‘dark, brooding masterpiece’ from being my album of 1985 in my year-end list in the Times was the small matter of The Go-Betweens ‘Springhill Fair’ also released that year and a fixture on my turntable.

Review from The Southland Times 18 January 1986

Review from The Southland Times 18 January 1986

Twenty-eight years later the same line up of Graeme Downes, Jane Dodd & Robbie Yeats performed the album at a Christmas party at the Kings Arms in Auckland on 20th December 2013 billed as ‘Jangle All the Way Home’. The show was hosted by Flying Out Records (mail-order operation of the now revitalised Flying Nun Records) and also marked the re-issue of ‘Hallelujah, All the Way Home’.

It was a majestic performance. Graeme Downes – who these days looks a combination of Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, kept whippet-thin on cigarettes, whiskey & nerves – was as brilliant and biting as ever as guitarist, singer and band-leader. Bassist Jane Dodd played with the kind of calm steady propulsion that belied the fact her only two performances on bass in the past decade have been for one-off Able Tasmans and The Chills original line-up re-unions a few years ago now. Robbie Yeats likewise played with a fluid ease and loose perfection that was the opposite of his usual deconstructionist drum antagonism with the Dead C (and anyone else he sits in with).

The party (and it WAS a real festive party spirit) also included Surf City (Auckland/ Arch Hill Records sonic descendants of some of The Verlaines Dunedin peers) and a set from the current line-up of The Verlaines (including ‘Death & the Maiden’).

Flying Out had the presence of mind to include some of the newest progeny from Dunedin’s alternative music gene pool, representing two of the labels they also sell via their website – Muzai Records represented by the thrilling ‘space-glaze’/ ‘punk-gaze’ Astro Children and (my own label) Fishrider Records – represented by ‘flower cult pop’ band Trick Mammoth.

The photos here from Arch Hill/ Flying Nun boss Ben Howe tell the story of the evening in pictures.

Trick Mammoth at the Kings Arms Auckland 20 December 2013

Trick Mammoth at the Kings Arms Auckland 20 December 2013

Ghost Wave

Day 29 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month via Bandcamp challenge comes from Auckland again and another Arch Hill Records band – Ghost Wave.

Ghost Wave have always turned the jangle up to 11 on their recordings and ‘Here She Comes’ is no exception. What is different from their previous releases is that this song is less frenetic buzz-saw jangle pop.

Instead, this one has a languid, slurred approach, part Bob Dylan, part David Kilgour, and wrapped up in a warm early Creation Records 1980s guitar-pop blanket. Which is all fine by me.

The video for ‘Here She Comes’ was made by Axemen drummer Stu Page, also known for his many fine videos for David Kilgour, Shaft etc. over the years

Surf City 2013

Day 22 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month via Bandcamp challenge comes from Auckland and the so-quiet-lately-I-thought-they’d-split Surf City. Turns out they’ve just had a break and they have a new album on the way, due in August. This is the pre-release single from it, out today.

‘It’s a Common Life’ sounds like it’s been recorded in an underground carpark and all the better for that. It continues to enhance their reputation – under threat from Ghost Wave recently – for being a fine latter-day re-incarnation of the early sound of The Clean. The guitar sound employed in places here certainly bears the mark of Kilgour interpreting the Velvet Underground’s Sterling Morrison. And nothing wrong with that either. This song also has the added earworm factor of a sing-a-long chorus that is all 60s pop, as filtered through a Jesus & Mary Chain reverb haze. A welcome return.