Archives for posts with tag: LPs

Motte 2017Here’s our 3rd tip for giving the gift of music this month – “Bathhouse” from the album “Strange Dreams” by experimental neo-classical violin+synth sound artist Motte.

As noted here on PopLib back in February: “There’s also adventurous modern classical music (eg: “Bathhouse”) that at times fleetingly evokes the spirit of  Ralph Vaughan William’s “The Lark Ascending” although addition of unusual impressionistic synth tones and percussion textures keeps it well towards the experimental end of the classical spectrum without sacrificing any of its luminous musical qualities.”

“Strange Dreams” is recommended to ‘send as a gift’ via Bandcamp to anyone with discerning taste, adventurous ears, and an interest in contemporary experimental classical and electronic music. Also a perfect gift to send to friends overseas to remind them that NZ is still a diverse and original music-making laboratory.

Motte’s “Strange Dreams” is also available on LP  from Christchurch label CocoMuse Releases.

too-tone-tony-awaits-you-2I’ve spent a lot of my life in record stores. I’ve even planned overseas trips around record stores to be visited. Although still in the prime of life I’ve seen the heyday of record stores and now the twilight of record stores (as well as the rise and decline of progressive civilisation it seems).

Yes, despite the much-discussed ‘vinyl revival’ and best year for new record sales since 1991, the small independent stores that kept the format alive throughout the dark years as well as the good years continue to drop away.

Sadly Dunedin’s iconic record store Too Tone Records, out in North East Valley, closes on Sunday 15 January 2017.

Too Tone Records started out in the back of Chick’s Hotel about 2008 or 09. It was a much better idea in theory than it was in practice. I enjoyed the regular pilgrimage out to Chick’s in Port Chalmers, and browsing the record bins while waiting for a show to start. But it wasn’t really a happening place for a record store, despite everything else going for the location.

By the end of 2010 Too Tone Records had moved to North Road in Dunedin’s North East Valley; the city’s artist quarter, if Dunedin had such a thing. More musicians past, present and future than any other Dunedin neighbourhood at least.

Dunedin’s record stores have played an important part in the music scene here. From the mid 1970s to the 1990s it was Roy Colbert’s Records Records in Upper Stuart Street. The main indpendent record store during the 1980s and 1990s was Echo Records on George Street. It was bought out by Auckland-based chain Real Groovy Records, moved into a huge warehouse next to The Police Station and then closed, several years ago now.

In recent years Portil had a short but useful run in the centre city before Relics started nearby. Relics continues to trade – new and used vinyl as well as CDs – and long may it run.

Too Tone Records is/ was a special place. It’s rare in the world of used record stores to have such a meticulously ordered and aesthetically pleasing space. The wall displays – including seasonal themes – were ordered and displayed with an art curator’s eye for colour and order. That care extended to the carefully washing of all used records and their re-bagging in new anti-static sleeves.


The New Zealand music selection is/ was legendary. Sure some locals grizzled about the prices, but not the visitors who knew a good deal when they saw it. The reason for such a strong local music selection in Too Tone Records is that Tony refused to do what every other record store in the country did which was putting all their rare local stuff on E-Bay and Discogs for overseas collectors to obtain. Tony had no problem with overseas buyers, he just preferred to see them visit Dunedin and his store in person.

Apart from the records, a visit to Too Tone was a chance to view great original art. Tony is a renowned comic artist/ illustrator, and a recent focus of his artistic skill was the ‘re-purposing’ of paint-by-numbers paintings, acquired mostly at the rubbish tip recycling shop, into giant green octopus-themed works of art.


A Tony octopus-themed paint-by-numbers modified artwork.

Despite Too Tone Records’ proprietor Tony Renouf’s carefully crafted image as an idiosyncratic curmudgeon, he has always been a very welcoming and genial curmudgeon, as long as you didn’t come into his shop drunk or indulge in other anti-social or record-store-inappropriate behaviour.

A visit to Too Tone was also a chance to discuss the weighty topics of the day, or just to grizzle generally about the things that annoyed us most at the time. Tony was a good listener. He’d say that’s because he’s partially deaf from years as a dub reggae DJ, and is therefore used to just looking at people and nodding thoughtfully when they speak to him.

Visiting Too Tone Records you’d find all the local LP releases available and also have a good chance of bumping into a famous Dunedin musician or two, or even a former England cricket international, or a touring US rock band.


Tony shows members of Real Estate the Clean EP pop-up art while they purchase Sneaky Feelings’ “Send You” LP and The Orange “Fruit Salad Lives” EP in 2012.

Anyway, Tony has decided to get out ‘at the top of his game’. Can’t disagree with that. You can still follow Tony’s art exploits via his blog.

Thanks for the vinyl, the art, the conversations, the patient listening, the salesmanship and the whole Too Tone Experience.


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