Archives for posts with tag: Singles Club

birdieA new song from UK duo Birdie is a cause for celebration. So here’s “Bowling Green” from their 7″ single on the 7th and final year of WIAIWYA* 7777777 singles club release.

Birdie are not exactly the most prolific of outfits. When PopLib first (and last) featured a song from them it was 4 years ago and it was a song recorded 20 years prior to that.

They said of that Birdie song “Spiral Staircase”: “Birdie are Paul Kelly and Debsey Wykes, guitarist and backing vocalist with Saint Etienne. In 1996 Alan McGee paid for them to record a demo. McGee was too busy claiming 18 Wheeler and Heavy Stereo were the next big thing to listen properly to Spiral Staircase. What an addition Birdie would have been to Creation then! Spiral Staircase is a miniature masterpiece of Left Banke psychedelia and Laura Nyro pop.”

“Bowling Green” is another slice of low-key beautiful psychedelic pop. Simple and utterly perfect, and that’s clear even before the trumpet and baritone guitar instrumental break kicks in.

*Where It’s At Is Where You Are is WIAIWYA, a legendary London indie pop label with an exquisite design taste matched only by it’s taste for exquisite pop music. It has only featured one NZ band – Dunedin’s short-lived Trick Mammoth. Their “Candy Darling”/ “Doll” single was included in WIAIWYA’s 2014 7777777 singles club.


Drahla_Jan2017“Is it real? Is it real?” asks Luciel Brown throughout this potent follow up to the thrilling debut “Fictional Decision” by Leeds-based trio Drahla – PopLib’s essential song of 2016.

The song is due for release in April on the Too Pure label’s singles club. Coruscating bass sets a platform for a typically cool and mysterious sing-speak stream-of-consciousness artful wordiness.

The song builds through dense layers of sonic energy as guitars buzz and menace before pulling back, introducing saxophone – some of the best wild skronking saxophone since The Stooges “1970” from their “Funhouse” album in fact – and then re-calibrating the volume for climactic ending.

It all adds up to a powerful statement and the fulfilling experience of a song merging elements of post-punk with art pop and noise rock and leaving some mystery and intrigue in its trail of beautifully dissonant noise.

The only band I can think of who may have been within striking distance of what Drahla are doing right now was Sonic Youth at the absolute apex of their dark abrasive melodic cool, around the time of their 1987 album “Sister”.


These singles club releases from The Attic keep delivering the goods. The latest release “Desperado” is from The Canals and it is a blisteringly great slab of sardonic social commentary set to snarling guitars and urgent thundering drums, and all wrapped in a fog of reverb. Perfect.

The Canals is led by Robbie Motion – previously better known for his album and poster artwork (Astro Children, Males, TEMPORARY compilation) – and also includes drummer Josh Nichols (A Distant City, The Violet-Ohs, Space Bats! Attack) and Brad McDonald & Joshua Hunter (Beach Wolf, Dinosaur Sanctuary).

The B-side cover is an equally wonderful version of a Youth Lagoon song “Cannons”. Both songs are recorded/ produced by Adrian Ng (Mavis Gary, Trick Mammoth), who achieves industrial-strength wall-of-reverb productions on each song.

If you are looking for a genuine DIY (or, to be more accurate, DIT – Do-It-Together) scene in Dunedin, The Attic is a living, breathing, noisy example. It’s an informal by-invitation community, and a sub-set of the wider music scene in Dunedin.

The Attic space is an office, workshop, hang-out space, exhibition area, photo/ video studio, practice space, recording area and unofficial word-of-mouth performance space. The people comprising the scene established around The Attic support each other, sharing equipment, time and expertise.

There are similar informal community scenes at other locations, like None Gallery, which is more an experimental electronic music and art space.

To get a better sense of what The Attic represents, head back to these two essential 2012 compilation releases –

'Doll' / 'Candy Darling' by Trick Mammoth - 7" WIAIWYA picture disc

‘Doll’ / ‘Candy Darling’ by Trick Mammoth – 7″ WIAIWYA picture disc

Congratulations, you have made it to the end of NZ Music Month for 2014. So has PopLib! A song-a-day-May against the odds. Actually pretty easy to find a great song a day to post. As with last year, I made some new discoveries in the process.

For Day 31 I’m going to finish with the other side of the 7″ single I started the month with. Here’s ‘Doll’ by Trick Mammoth from their WIAIWYA (‘Where It’s At Is Where You Are’) 7777777 2014 singles club picture disc:

The single is a thing of beauty – not just the upbeat-downbeat nature of the Adrian Ng’s song-writing and Millie Lovelock’s perfect melancholy vocal sigh. Each of the 7 picture discs in the series is a stage of the process of making music, illustrated by a different artist from the UK or Europe. There may still be a few copies of this collectible single available here – collectible because it was made in limited quantities and was reviewed in Record Collector magazine as ‘Single Cream’ pick for the month.

From 'Record Collector' magazine

From ‘Record Collector’ magazine

Not From Space (photo by Chris James-Motion)

Not From Space (photo by Chris James-Motion)

Day 26 of song-a-day-May madness for NZ Music Month is a fidgety adrenaline rush of ‘Lenses’ from Dunedin’s Not From Space.

Not From Space have been attracting interest for the past year in Dunedin for their angular post-punk guitar noise pop. Their brand-new out-today single as part of The Attic singles club delivers on that potential – and some. Wonderful glassy guitar work here on ‘Lenses’ and also on the ‘B-Side’ Kills covers.

This is thrillingly chaotic in places, a ball of not-quite-completely-under-control energy, particularly the drumming which makes some miraculous recoveries from the brink towards the end of ‘Lenses’ – the kind of thing which you just can’t rehearse for. Or repeat. Electrifyingly great stuff.

Get it while it’s release-day-hot.

Last year I did a ‘song-a-day’ New Zealand music feature in protest/ celebration of ‘New Zealand Music Month’.

The protest part is that I (and many others involved in ‘New Zealand Music’) live, breath, sleep & dream New Zealand music every day and night of every month of every year.

I just don’t like the idea of a focus on New Zealand music for one month any more than I like the idea of one ‘Record Store Day’ (especially as now captured to benefit the larger labels). NZ Music Month is usually done through one-off events and promotional campaigns funded by NZ Music Commission and sponsors that are not part of the normal day-to-day struggle of bands and musicians playing and touring here.

These events – showcases – have a production budget most bands (and venues) would love to have. That’s great, it’s a help (some of my labels bands have played at these, so I’m not ungrateful), but it does little to sustain New Zealand music for the rest of the year. I understand why it is done this way and the intentions are good. It’s just I’d much rather see the energy and money that goes into NZ Music Month directed in a way that better supports the survival of those things essential to sustaining independent music making in NZ year-round – infrastructure supporting making music, playing live, touring and promoting music 12 months of the year.

However, regardless of my feelings about NZ Music Month, I try to celebrate New Zealand (and other) music here all year round, so I will see if I can introduce a new NZ band/ musician or song every day this month…
flower drum

First up is Trick Mammoth ‘Candy Darling’. I said I wouldn’t use PopLib to plug my own label’s releases. Trick Mammoth are on Fishrider Records but this 7″ single is on a UK label so it is not a Fishrider release and I can happily include it here as my first song for the month – and promote a very fine UK label which clearly appreciates ‘New Zealand Music’ from afar.

WIAIWYA (‘Where It’s At Is Where You Are’) is a long-running UK ‘indie-pop’ label from London. They have released a singles club series for the past few years called 7777777. It is obsessively a celebration of all things 7. The 7″ singles (all individual picture discs – seven releases a year) are each released on the 7th day of a month. There are 777 copies, with most going to subscribers and only 77 available for general sale.

Somehow WIAIWYA discovered Trick Mammoth through their early self-recorded, self-released demos and followed their progress last year as they recorded and released a few pre-release singles for their debut album ‘Floristry’. They invited them to contribute two songs for their 7777777 2014 singles club series. These were recorded in Dunedin a few days before Christmas last year. The single itself is officially released on 7 May and features ‘Doll’ (lead vocals by Millie) and this song ‘Candy Darling’ (lead vocals by Adrian).

Trivial fact for train-spotter music types here – the recording was made by Tex Houston in the same venue he has recorded The Clean, 3Ds, Magik Heads, Verlaines and David Kilgour. The amp Millie uses here for those overloaded lead guitar lines is an old Sunn 0)))) tube amp used by the 3Ds.

Strange Harvest (via their Facebook page)

Strange Harvest (via their Facebook page)

The Attic is a collective-run arts/ culture/ music/ pigeons/ dust space in downtown Dunedin. It is the ‘incubator’ responsible for a big part of the happening sounds of young Dunedin right now. Trick Mammoth recorded their early demos there, Astro Children recorded their ‘Lick my Spaceship’ EP and album ‘Proteus’ there. Trick Mammoth’s Adrian Ng is one of The Attic partners and has recorded and mixed all the singles club releases.

Adrian Ng recording Strange Harvest recording in The Attic

Adrian Ng recording Strange Harvest recording in The Attic – photo Alex Lovell-Smith

The Attic is also a label – some cassettes, some CDR releases and a lot of digital releases via The Attic Bandcamp page..

The Attic has recently been running a digital Singles Club. One new song by the selected local artist, and one cover version selected by The Attic. The Attic choices often seem perverse, maybe even cruel. When I saw they’d selected a song by rapper Earl Sweatshirt for Dunedin darkwave electronic + guitar duo Strange Harvest to cover as their ‘B-side’ I was thinking this was the cruellest trick they’d pulled.

Turns out I needn’t have worried at all. This is my favourite of the singles club releases so far (and there’s been some very cool ones preceding it). The cover version is a highlight. But the main song ‘Astronaut’ is wonderful too.