Archives for posts with tag: Look Blue Go Purple

Francisca (2) Our song for Day 15 of New Zealand Music Month 2020 comes from locked-down-in-isolation-in-Port-Chalmers duo of Francisca and Alexander Griffin, sharing “Ghost Lights”:

Recorded during isolation lockdown, “Ghost Lights” reprises some of the themes on former Look Blue Go Purple musician Francisca Griffin’s recent album “the spaces between” observing both the natural and spiritual worlds around us and also the human experience within it: “free-falling moments in time.”

The song was released recently on “Ps-Isolation: a global compilation of music made in lockdown” a 119 track (!!!) compilation on the Celebrate Psi Phenomenon label.

“Ghost Lights” has an optimistic widescreen freewheeling soundscape, built on acoustic guitar with Kilgour-esque electric guitar and keyboard flourishes, with Griffin’s spoken word voice-overs providing poetic context for the song. It’s easy to imagine walking around Port Chalmers’ wonky street patterns during lockdown, the ghosts and memories intensified in autumn’s eery evening light, with this as the soundtrack.

Francisca Griffin provides guitars and vocals and keyboards and synth by her son Alexander, who also recorded and mixed the song at Griffin’s home in Port Chalmers.

NZMM 2020

francisca griffin 2019Dunedin musician Francisca Griffin releases a new album “The Spaces Between” on 25 January. “Stardust” has been shared ahead of the release. It’s an intriguing forewarning of an album that promises to be just a little bit different to what you may have expected from the former Look Blue Go Purple bassist.

Sure enough “Stardust” starts with a distinctive made-in-Dunedin jangling strum. But the busy tumbling drums of Griffin’s son Gabriel (better known in Dunedin for his extraordinary drumming with improvisational free-noise ensemble Sewage) warns this may not conform to preconceived expectations.

Then, at about the 1 minute 30 seconds mark “Stardust” explodes like a supernova, solar flares of plasma manifesting in Forbes Williams’ structural guitar noise. That unexpected combination of prototypical Dunedin jangling folk-rock and equally prototypical Dunedin noise-rock forms propels the song into the “Stardust” of the title.  It all makes for something quite unusual and glorious.

In addition to Francisca Griffin, Gabriel Griffin, and Forbes Williams here, the album  includes contributions from Alastair Galbraith, Ro Rushton-Green (Sewage), Deirdre Newall (Tiny Pieces of Eight), Alan Haig (The Chills, Snapper), Mick Elborado (The Terminals, Negative Nancies), Alexander Griffin, Peter Stapleton (The Terminals, Dark Matter, Eye), and Kath Webster (Look Blue Go Purple).

“The Spaces Between” can be pre-ordered on all the usual formats on Cocomuse Releases now.

MelenasMelenas are a guitar/ bass/ keyboards/drums band from Pamplona, Spain and “Mentiras” (which translates as “Lies”) is from their fabulous self-titled debut album of jangling psychedelic garage rock which is well worth exploring in detail… and then buying.

While some will hear the spirit of Look Blue Go Purple in that robustly rhythmic guitar strum, it reminds me more of the perpetual nervousness of The Feelies’ guitar sound. In recent years the only other band I can recall to evoke those same touchstones so well was Veronica Falls, who also shared a fondness for driving songs along with a heavy floor tom beat as Melenas do.

However, the songs here are also just as likely to evoke the spirit of the classic late 1960’s era of proto-psych-pop garage-rock fuzz, jangle and melody (as compiled on the “Pebbles” and “Nuggets” LP series) as they are any possible ’80’s influence. There’s a lot going on; from simple propulsive drums to a solid mesh of rapidly strummed 12 string guitar, soaring vocal melodies with layered backing vocals and a winning way with keyboard flourishes providing the sonic icing on Melenas’ psychedelic pop-tart.


Surfdog_seafog12Day 30 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Port Chalmers (above), formerly home to Xpressway Records and still home to many Dunedin musicians. Here’s local musician Francisca Griffin with “Falling Light” –

If you are thinking “that sounds a bit like Look Blue Go Purple” then that may be because two of the three musicians playing on this track are former members of Look Blue Go Purple. Francisca Griffin was Kathy Bull back then, and she’s joined here by LBGP guitarist Kath Webster.

The third musician is drummer Gabriel Griffin – Francisca’s son. You’d normally hear him providing the scattershot rhythms behind the inimitable free-form experimental improv drum & woodwind ensemble Sewage.

“Falling Light” has the kind of freshness and instantly recognisable light and airy guitar tones of its place of origins. Psychedelic folk perhaps, Southern NZ style, and in some respects as reminiscent of David Kilgour’s solo music as it is of LBGP.

It’s a track from a forthcoming album set for release on CocoMuse Releases this year.

LBGP_2017Day 5 of 31 Days of May for New Zealand Music Month and we are still in Dunedin to revisit the quietly influential Look Blue Go Purple with “Circumspect Penelope”, a track from a new (released today) double album called “Still Bewitched” compiling their three EPs along with a side of previously unreleased live tracks.

Look Blue Go Purple filtered the spirit of 1967 psychedelic folk rock through the more contemporary influences of the post-punk make-your-own-sound freedom of The Slits and The Raincoats and the 1980s Dunedin scene they were part of. There’s some more background on the band and this album in a recent Otago Daily Times article.

There’s a tendency from some to view Look Blue Go Purple as a group somehow distinct within the Dunedin scene. Yet this overlooks the involvement of most of the musicians in a variety of other bands before, during and after Look Blue Go Purple’s reign from 1983 to the end of 1987.

Drummer Lesley Paris had been in a band called the Craven A’s with Terry Moore (The Chills), David Kilgour (The Clean, Great Unwashed) and Peter Gutteridge (The Clean, Great Unwashed, The Puddle, Snapper) prior to Look Blue Go Purple. She was the powerful rhythmic glue that held the early line-up of The Puddle together for 5 years from 1985, while Norma O’Malley wove farfisa organ and flute through The Puddle’s spidery psychedelia, all at the same time Look Blue Go Purple were in existence.


The Puddle in 1985 – L-R George D. Henderson, Lesley Z. Paris, Norma O’Malley, Peter Gutteridge, Ross Jackson & Lindsay Maitland

After Look Blue Go Purple Lesley continued with The Puddle then played in Buster and Olla. Norma O’Malley formed Chug with Alf Danielson, Kathy Bull played bass in Cyclops with Peter Jefferies and Denise Roughan was in the 3Ds. And that’s just the immediate post-LBGP highlights.

As an added bonus, “Circumspect Penelope” also has one of the very best Dunedin music videos ever, by regular Flying Nun Records video-maker Pat O’Neill:


MarineVille from the cover of their “Face” 7″ from 2012 on Epic Sweep Records

MarineVille hail from Wellington and play a raw and distinctively New Zealand version of “driving rock” music. “75 Watts Frosted” is the opening track from their 4th album “Penguins Ate My Chips” which is out in a few weeks on LP on Zelle Records.

The line-up of the band which recorded “Penguins Ate My Chips” is led by guitarist/ vocalist Mark Williams and includes a few names folks may remember from some other NZ bands. Denise Roughan (Look Blue, Go Purple, 3Ds) plays bass, Greg Cairns (The Renderers, The Verlaines, Constant Pain) plays the drums, and Jeremy Coubrough (Tlaotlon) plays  keyboards.

“75 Watts Frosted” is a rip-snorting opening track. Part motorik beat, part wild fairground ride. Imagine Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” mixed with The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” played by the Able Tasmans and you are on your way to understanding the loopy genius of this classic slice of urban New Zealand storytelling rock and roll.

“Penguins Ate My Chips” was originally self-released by Williams in 2015 on cassette. The LP version (out 15 March 2017) on Austrian label Zelle Records, which specialises in Southern NZ sounds, is a suitable acknowledgement of an album that fits comfortably into the beer and sweat-stained fabric of the NZ alternative rock underground.  The download also contains the live album 15 Wax Tears, recorded in 2011 and originally released on cassette in 2012.

Look Blue Go Purple

Look Blue Go Purple

I know what you are thinking. ” Look Blue Go Purple‘s “Cactus Cat” isn’t obscure new music from Dunedin, it’s really old stuff. It was on LBGPEP2, released on Flying Nun Records in 1987.”

And it sure is – I appreciate your sense of history and knowledge of obscure NZ releases. But this post and song is really just an excuse to introduce you to the wonder of Pets Talk Records which is the best thing on the internet right now, assuming you like (a) records and (b) talking pets and (c) cartoon strips. “Talk” #6 in the series so far is about LBGPEP2 and refers to “Cactus Cat”.

Pets Talk Records LBGP

Here’s a video of the song, made by Pat O’Neill. Pat, who was a cameraman for TVNZ at the time, gave his time & talent to the cause to make videos for the likes of LBGP (he also made one for “Circumspect Penelope”), The Bats (Miss These Things) and Jean Paul Sartre Experience (Crap Rap).

The interview at the end of the clip is its own interesting time capsule of NZ music and society, as viewed through mainstream media at the time.

“Are there any difficulties in being a female band?”

The look passing briefly across Leslie’s face when that question is asked is the only answer anyone needs. But in case that doesn’t register, Kath’s reply of “only the presumption that it means something” is perfect.