Archives for posts with tag: The Attic

Space Bats Attck by 10 second timer
Space Bats, Attack! is the mutant brainchild of Dunedin guitarist and pedal inventor Lee Nicholson (Thundercub). He’s joined for this sonic trip through the deep space of psych-drone-prog-sci-fi-rock by Josh Nicholls (A Distant City) on drums and Richard Ley-Hamilton (Males, Mr Biscuits, Kilmog) on 2nd guitar and now Sam Hood (T54) on bass.

“Nick Cave’s Moustache” is from an upcoming album, which has been upcoming for quite a while. It’s monstrous, thundering and adds all sorts of interesting layers and sonic twitches to the psych-drone school of guitar-based noise-rock.

While we are with Space Bats, Attack! the first song from this upcoming album was a track called “DTY” back in 2013.

Someone unknown by the band put the song to a video made by a US videographer. Let’s put to one side the dubious legality and/or morality of taking someone’s music and some else’s video and combining them to post on YouTube and simply marvel at how well this works as a music video for a great, short burst of fabulous noise.


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 –

Lucy Hunter_The Attic_2

Strap yourselves in folks, it’s time for piano ballads from the edge of the planet from Opposite Sex multi-instrumentalist Lucy Hunter, with the disturbed, unique oddness of “A Bottled Brain” via The Attic Singles Club series.

Lucy’s solo performances on piano have elements of Gothic show tunes about them. Dramatic, melodic, with vivid images, baroque piano flourishes, and occasional dissonant touches to break the spell. All of those are here on “A Bottled Brain”.

The Attic Singles Club releases have featured on Pop Lib a bit. One original song, one cover selected by The Attic. This time around its a David Lynch song and it’s just perfect. Perfectly weird. Lucy on piano, bass and trumpet and that vocal performance is part malevolence, part helium-toned freakiness, thanks to Adrian Ng’s inventive production.

I’d love to hear a whole album from Lucy like this. She’s a courageous innovator and risk-taker. Her lyrics (assisted by the music) often create fictional worlds rich in nightmarish imagery. I love the sometimes unconventional approach taken to her playing and song-writing – breaking the rules and challenging, while remaining accessible if you invest the time to connect with the spirit of the music.

[Photos: The Attic]

Lucy Hunter_The Attic_1

The Violet-Ohs descended from Dunedin’s great unsung post-rock psych-prog noise landscape sound gardeners A Distant City. In place of the twisting, complicated, ambitious long-form quiet-loud-quiet dynamics of A Distant City, The Violet-Ohs cut to the concise heart of pop songcraft. But, as you can hear from “Vent” here they still retain some of the ambitious technical intricacy.

Zac & Josh Nicholls (guitar & drums respectively) along with Connor Blackie (bass) provide the sometimes minimalist, but always intricately-constructed music. Nick Tipa has abandoned his rhythm guitar/ 2nd guitar role in A Distant City to do that very rarest of things in a band from Dunedin – concentrate just on vocals.  Check out the rest of their ‘Demos’ EP too. It’s good.

Adrian Ng in The Attic

Adrian Ng in The Attic

Day 30 of the song-a-day-May NZ Music Month madness comes from King of Dunedin’s Pop Underground right now – Adrian Ng – in the guise of his dark (‘how dark’) side project Mavis Gary & the grim ‘Death & The Long Drive Home’.

[If the player above defaults to track two please press << on the player to get 'Death & The Long Drive Home' thanks]

Adrian may be better known for his work recording/ mixing bands in The Attic, including the singles club this is released as part of, and also for his ‘flower cult’ pop band Trick Mammoth. He still has time for Mavis Gary – his mad science project laptop lab for not only developing new song ideas but also indulging in the darker side of his psyche. Beneath every pretty & colourful bed of flowers lurks a death-mask skull & a cautionary tale hinting at some darkness or depravity eating at the human soul.

‘Death & The Long Drive Home’ (that has to be a film and/or book reference but I’m not going to look it up) breaks from tradition though by placing melodic pop candy secondary to tone. As a result this is the most sinister sounding song from the Mavis Gary catalogue so far, recalling the kind of abrasive angular guitar-percussion-churn shapes of early Cake Kitchen.

“Death & The Long Drive Home’ starts heavy and weird, before losing control on a gentle curve in the darkness towards the end, leaving the road and rolling over a precipice into the dark of night, landing upside-down, wheels spinning while the radiator hisses steam and the radio crackles and dies. Take care out there on the winter roads this long weekend.

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.

Dinosaur Sanctuary Rocks!

Day 17 of the song-a-day-May NZ Music Month madness comes from Dunedin art-pop noise-punks Dinosaur Sanctuary. Fittingly for a Saturday, it’s “Weakened by the Weekend”

Dinosaur Sanctuary are one of the young bands released on Dunedin’s top floor underground label The Attic; a large, well-ventilated pigeon loft doubling as a dust-filled arts community space in downtown Dunedin.

They are the noisy garage rock vehicle for the substantial talents of Kane Strang, a young Dunedin musician featured previously this month in his baroque-folk-psychedelia solo form. Also part of Dinosaur Sanctuary is drummer Isaac Hickey from Astro Children – another PopLib favourite. Rass and Josh are the other two members.

“Weakened by the Weekend” is from “A Public Toilet Told Me Nothing Gets Better” which was released last September on cassette by The Attic (#AR009).

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.


Out of nowhere (or downtown Dunedin – same difference) comes latest Dunedin pop underground luminary Mavis Gary.

What? I have my ear to the ground in this town and I’d never heard of Mavis. Suddenly there’s a single and an album ready for release on cassette via The Attic (Dunedin’s top floor ‘underground’ arts/ music, general loafing cooperative space).

Turns out Mavis Gary is the name given to a side-project of shy Dunedin DIY pop auteur Adrian Ng. As I’ve seen Adrian almost every week this year, and he’s spent days at my place recording the debut album by his main band, Trick Mammoth, I’m surprised I knew nothing about this. Although he did ask if he could borrow a bass guitar a couple of weeks ago and he has hung onto my SM57 microphone for months – an upgrade from his old SingStar microphone, famously used for those Trick Mammoth demos

The combination of a creative flood of songs and being bored now that the Trick Mammoth album recording has finished meant he used his mid-term break week to self-record an album as Mavis Gary. I’ve heard the whole thing now – it’s extraordinary. There’s a whole new dark side of what I can only describe as post-punk glam rock plus more of the glorious woozy melodic pop I know and love from Trick Mammoth. In fact Mavis Gary even covers three Trick Mammoth songs – two old ones and one new one (‘Candy Darling’ the ‘B-side’ to the ‘Dim the Droog’ single).

I presume Mavis Gary is named after the Charlize Theron character in the 2011 film ‘Young Adult’ – a cynical feel-bad movie about the delusions of early adulthood. Some of the songs seem metaphors for the sickly-sweet jumbled up confusion and dark undercurrents of life lived halfway between a cheerful and positive surface image and a darker clandestine reality.

‘Dim the Droog’ is one of the songs that stuck out most on first listen, possibly because it strays far from Adrian’s usual palette of songwriting. It is dark, angular, mysterious and brooding, but in a kind of saturated colour cartoon kind of way. I love it. As always he uses the contrast between rhythm guitar chords and chiming lead parts and there’s the expected killer pop hook chorus.

The ‘B-side’ ‘Candy Darling’ is a song that Trick Mammoth have been playing live for the past month or two. Another cracker, and Mavis Gary does tend to blur the lines between a kind of testing ground for emerging Trick mammoth songs as well as an outlet for Adrian’s darker, skewed pop.

I’m looking forward to the cassette. Not often I say that these days…

Astro Children photo by Daniel Alexander (The Attic)

Astro Children photo by Daniel Alexander (The Attic)

Day 17 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month bandcamp challenge and I’m keeping it local with Astro Children.

Astro Children have been playing for a couple of years now although both these space cadets are still in their teens (just). Drums and guitar. “Like the White Stripes” you might think. But not like The White Stripes at all. Drummer Isaac Hickey sets down a powerful post-rock-ish backbone of heavy-weight beats. There’s a bit of Constantine Karlis of HDU (from a previous generation of Dunedin noise-makers) about Isaac’s drumming. Guitarist and vocalist Millie Lovelock mostly layers effect-loaded guitar chords over top and either sings or, more usually in Astro Children, screams with a frightening fury for someone usually so quiet, polite and reserved.

This most recent single ‘Jamie Knows’ is not typical of what Astro Children do. There’s not much they do that could be called typical of their sound, but this song is the most pastoral and restrained. In fact it sounds more like it could be a Trick Mammoth song – the other Dunedin band Millie plays with.

Astro Children are not for everyone. Have a listen to their EP here (also released as a CD in a hand-assembled card sleeve). Traditionalists may criticise the ‘over-use’ of guitar effects while those who like their pop a bit more refined may be scared off by the rawness of their sound. I like the over-use of effects and that rawness – these are the things that set them apart for me. The effects at times give the music a cartoon quality which fits that visual element of vintage kids space illustrations.

There’s a courage and wilful determination in making your own music and owning your performances in the way Astro Children do. It’s personal and sharing it is probably uncomfortable. But few others assemble their anxieties and frustrations about the things in their life in quite this way.

The recordings are only a two-dimensional representation. As a live band the extra dimension which completes the experience of Astro Children is the element of performance and Millie’s theatrics. This video of a recent live set from the public bar of the sleazy dark Crown Hotel in Dunedin captures some of that.