Archives for posts with tag: The Clean

Possible HumansThis fine twisting, moody creature of a song called “Toroid” comes from a recent 7″ single on Sydney label Strange Pursuits, by Melbourne band Possible Humans:

“Toroid” sometimes hints at an eclectic array of electric psych-pop favourites. Those first snaking guitar lines hint at The Clean, the melodic rise and fall of the vocal melody may trigger a warm rush of Guided by Voices memories and it inhabits the kind of imaginary 1960’s psychedelic power pop world Television Personalities constructed during their first few albums. However, it turns out to be not much like any of these things in the end, instead carving out its own odd space in the world by not conforming to any particular influence and sounding both timeless and mysterious at the same time.

Possible humans have 5 members. Three are brothers. Two wrote a song each on this single. Neither of the two songs on this single appear on their forthcoming (sometime) album, which features songs written by all 5 members. So, when they say of the album – “it’s a big fun mess of Free Rock, in the jailhouse sense, and the wheelhouse sense, as in silly as wheels, when your mind is gone” it’s an invitation to keep an eye out for that album.

In the meantime we should all snap up this 7″ in preparation. And watch this video they made for the single “A” side “Cuz” too:

 

 

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Nap Eyes

Nap Eyes (Photo by Carolyn Hirtle)

Not sure if PopLib has featured a band from Halifax, Nova Scotia before but here’s Nap Eyes with “Roll It” from their recent album “Though Rock Fish Scale”.

There are only two tracks on the Paradise of Bachelors label Bandcamp for Nap Eyes‘ album. But these two songs – together with the eclectic tags on the page  – are enough to mark out the kind of territory this band occupy and give you a clear idea of what the album will deliver.

Vocalist and songwriter Nigel Chapman has a distinctive, characterful voice. It’s a voice whose owner has lived a life and the lyrics also carry the weight of a thinker. Together with the loose rustic jangling strum and honest band-in-a-big-wooden-room recording it all adds up to something intriguing.

Anything with tags including Lou Reed, Modern Lovers, Nikki Sudden, The Clean, Go-Betweens, The Only Ones, and The Verlaines is inevitably going to make me curious.  Join the dots between all those sounds and you’d find Nap Eyes within the lines. It’s a good place to be.

 

William DaymondDay 2 of NZ Music Month comes from The Winebox Inquiry, which is the name for the solo music of William Daymond, also of Wellington band Terror of the Deep and formerly Christchurch trio The Pickups. Here’s the gloriously jangling “What A Day” to brighten up your Monday.

Following on from the ‘tax haven’ theme we started with in yesterday’s post, The Winebox Inquiry name comes from a tax evasion/avoidance chapter in NZ’s history twenty years ago.

“The Winebox InquirySets Sail!” is a fine album demonstrating perfectly William’s deep abiding love of psychedelic guitar pop, specifically the music of The Monkees and The Clean and everything in between.

The songs are strong and beautifully recorded, with requisite musical contributions from jangling 12-string guitars and chiming keyboards. It’s an eclectic mix of weird and wonderful and creates a delightful, eclectic musical jumble-shop tribute to his musical inspirations while sounding fresh, odd and original rather than a pastiche of anything.

 

 

 

Loose ToothMore bloody Australian guitar-pop brilliance I’m afraid. As if my record collection isn’t already bursting with enough recent albums from across the ditch, here’s another trio – Loose Tooth – with an upcoming 8 track mini-album working it’s way onto my can’t-live-without-this list.

This is probably the least Australian-sounding Australian thing I’ve heard recently. That ‘slacker’ style people assume is the 2010s “Australian Sound” is a terrible cliche anyway, but Loose Tooth just don’t fit it or anything else you’d think of as quintessentially Australian right now.

The shouty-in-a-good-way vocals displayed in the two pre-release songs streaming here and stratospheric backing vocals just ooze too much in-your-face garage-rock punk attitude and ensure these songs don’t form a background noise but take on more of a rallying call.

If I’d heard this without knowing it’s origins I’d assume it originated somewhere in the UK, probably Scotland. But Loose Tooth are from Melbourne and this is being released on the fab independent Milk! Records. Loose Tooth are childhood friends Etta Curry on drums/vocals and Nellie Jackson on guitar/vocals along with Luc Dawson on bass/ vocals.

Sure there’s a familiar kind of Velvet Underground via The Clean fuzzy chug going on here with an echo of The Shop Assistants and also the reverb-slicked ramalama of Thee Oh Sees. But the bass and vocals also give it a strong post-punk flavour. Or even the kind of art-school pre-post-punk Eno pioneered circa “Here Come the Warm Jets” maybe.

“Everything Changes” is brilliant, quite perfect, and although the component parts contain familiar elements, they are assembled in fresh, exciting and sometimes spectacular ways – like the over-the-top chorus backing vocals which are just crazy wonderful.

Give “Everything Changes” and the equally glorious “Will You” a listen and pre-order a download. Or, if you can bear the cost of the international postage, pre-order yourself one of the 200 copies of the 8-track mini-album “Saturn Returns.” Very tempting indeed.

Chicks JicksFeaturing the well-known New Zealand chart hit “Tally Ho!” by The Clean here is just a way to say a fond farewell to Dunedin’s iconic – and a bit odd – live music venue, Chick’s Hotel which closes its doors as a bar and live music on Sunday after a final (sold out) show featuring The Clean and current lessees/ venue operators The Shifting Sands.

First, the song and some background on that. Then there’s some observations on Chick’s and on the future of small live music venues in Dunedin. Read on…

“The song was the band’s debut single and was the second release on the Flying Nun Records label.

The song was born on a Christchurch afternoon, when the band was returning to Dunedin after touring.

Scott played a three-chord riff on a keyboard and Kilgour and Dunedin musician Martin Phillipps wrote lyrics on a napkin.

Kilgour said he wrote the lyrics after nearly having a mental breakdown from taking a hallucinogenic drug.

The lyrics were about the yearning for a connection.

”It’s a very confused lyric, which is the state I was in when I wrote it,” he said.

Scott said the song cost about $50 to record.”

[Read the whole Otago Daily Times article and watch a short video interview with The Clean on the song here]

The Wireless has just published an article and a great short video documentary on the end of Chick’s Hotel which is recommended viewing.

This odd venue with it’s Twin Peaks vibe has been a huge part of PopLib’s musical universe over recent years and many of the artists featured here have played at the venue too.

Because it only started as a live music venue about 8 years ago it was never associated with the previous era of Dunedin music. Being run initially by an ‘ousider’ (the colourful if disorganised ‘Hector Hazzard’) before being taken over by Mike, Tom and friends in 2012, and building its reputation on supporting a community of new musicians in Dunedin (and around NZ) it was something fresh. It had a sense of being a new start, belonging to the present and future, rather than clinging to any past glories. It also began to fill that ‘community hub’ role Arc Cafe had once been in Dunedin. It brought a lot more of the underground music from the rest of the world to Dunedin than we could ever have hoped as well.

Dunedin has always gone through boom or bust cycles of live music venues. New venues inevitably rise, as long as there is a demand to meet and a way to make them pay their way. As Tom Bell says “some things need to end for new things to start.”

Something of the nature of Chick’s Hotel in the city would be ideal. But it is difficult times for live music venues here, as in other cities worldwide. Small central city venue Taste Merchants is also closing the same weekend.

That will leave Dunedin with a handful of small venues. The Crown Hotel will be the only real option available to most for the bands who regularly played at Chick’s but it is not ideal. It is a small public bar with double figure capacity, mostly taken up by crusty regulars nursing jugs of Speights draught ale. It has no stage and a rudimentary PA but a long-time supportive host in the legendary Jones Chin. It also has a “Dunedin Sound” jukebox and poster display so cranky youth seeking to dismantle the oppressive shadow of the past will have to grit their teeth to play in the actual “last bastion of the Dunedin Sound”.

At the Northern end of the city centre ReFuel (capacity 250) is a University owned and run bar on the campus with the character and vibe of a school hall disco supervised by teachers. The Robbie Burns pub downtown sometimes does live shows, fitting sound-checks and start times around rugby coverage on the TV for the regulars. Neither places are particularly welcoming spaces for “counterculture” music, musicians or their audiences.

Dog With Two Tails Cafe may pick up some of the small acoustic or low volume shows Taste Merchants ran. You could include the Musician’s Club if you were desperate and there are a few halls of course. There are also a few informal (ie: unlicensed/ unauthorised) spaces occasionally hosting live music however these have a troubled history in Dunedin.

In Dunedin access to venues is one of the important contributors to the development of a vibrant music scene, just as it was in the 1980s. While we like to joke that Dunedin is such a creative place because the weather is crap and there’s nothing else to do, the reality is that there are lower entry barriers to creating and playing music here compared to most other cities.

The City Council, 30 years late to the game, have decided the city has a “thriving and internationally respected music sector…counterculture in the footsteps of the Dunedin Sound” in its new arts and culture strategy.  That’s no thanks to the Council itself, which has been either directly or indirectly responsible through noise control or alcohol licensing inflexibility for the demise of several of the “counterculture” music venues in the past decade.

Take the small cultural music hub Queens for example.  Central city bars in the Octagon, fuelled by all-night binge-drinking crowds, have seen vicious assaults on patrons, passers-by and Police and even a murder, yet continue to operate. Queens had its license renewal declined in 2014 because it supposedly presented an unacceptable ‘alcohol harm’ risk to the community. This despite the Police stating they had never been called to an incident at the place. At Queens the “counterculture” music, door charges and a modest selection of pricey craft beer were all guaranteed to repel the casual drunk, who could head 200 metres up the road and find a public bar with cheap jugs of Speights.

Arc Café – which closed around 2009 – was also on the receiving end of lack of understanding and concern on the part of the Council for pre-existing established live music venues when allowing inner city apartment gentrification to proceed nearby without soundproofing.  The costs of soundproofing Arc Café in order to meet noise control limits contributed to its level of debt and eventual demise. Progressive local governments overseas have brought in “Agent of Change” principles to counteract this and retain their important live music scenes, placing the onus for soundproofing on developers or residents that move near an established venue.

Glue Gallery in Stafford Street was an arts collective utilising the adjacent former Chippendale House building (an important live music space in the 1980s) for informal music events by the city’s “counterculture” musicians. It was also closed down because of noise complaints.  One door down None Gallery, another artist-run collective space utilised by Dunedin’s experimental electronic/ noise music scene, also stopped running events in its basement as a result of noise complaints. Both these spaces operated as occasional live music spaces well before inner city gentrification and enforcement of noise control regulations by the Council’s Environmental Health team.

There has always been an unhealthy co-dependency between live music and alcohol in New Zealand. Venues depend on alcohol sales to cover rent and operating costs.  Today, the combination of people with less money ‘pre-loading’ on cheap supermarket alcohol and those with more money drinking less (drink drive limits, healthier lifestyles) along with the seasonal variability of crowds at music events means there is a gap between the income from bar spend at gigs and costs of running a venue. There needs to be another way found to provide music venues without tying their viability to alcohol sales.

So, interesting times ahead for Dunedin and plenty to think about for musicians, music fans, potential venue operators and promoters, and in particular the City Council, who now seem to finally accept the importance of “counterculture” music in this small city.

“Now you said it was yesterday, yesterday’s another day
had a lot of make believe, I don’t know if it’s you or
if it’s me oh, I don’t know, I don’t know
Tally Ho! Tally Ho!”

chicks_tree_cropped

 

The Clean Oddities

“So David Bowie, where did you go?/ David Bowie, I want to know…”

Despite the video above featuring the cover art the the “Oddities 2” cassette, this song was in fact on the first “Oddities” cassette from 1983 which had a 2nd life in recent years as a fine “Oddities” double LP on US label Chaos in Tejas.

The Clean David Bowie.jpg

So why would The Clean be asking “David Bowie, where did you go?” in 1983?

After his ubiquitous influence over the 1970s he had a string of 5 albums which were hugely influential on New Wave (and in New Zealand in particular) – “Station to Station” (1976), the “Berlin-triptych” of “Low” and “Heroes” (1977), then “Lodger” (1979), and finally “Scary Monsters” in 1980. After such a spectacular run of albums each year until 1980, this quiet period for new music (a few singles, but he was busy with various acting roles mainly) prior to the commercial pop of “Let’s Dance” in 1983 possibly did look like he had disappeared from music at least.

Sam Hunt at Chicks

For the 9th day of May – NZ Music Month – I can’t let the opportunity to recommend “The 9th” by Sam Hunt with David Kilgour And The Heavy Eights go by. Sadly there is no Bandcamp* our Soundcloud music to embed so you will have to track it down old school style (in a record shop) as it is released on David’s own Bandit King Records (though you can find it on iTunes here).

[UPDATE 22 May: *It’s up on David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights bandcamp now! Here’s the opening track “Rainbows (and a Promise of Snow)”]

Anyone who witnessed the show they played at Chick’s Hotel last year, immediately following the recording of the album in that Port Chalmers pub, will not be surprised to hear there is magic captured within this album.

The combination of Sam Hunt’s words and voice and the musical alchemy of David Kilgour and The Heavy Eights is something special indeed. Even more so than their first collaboration – “Falling Debris” – released in 2009 which was Sam’s words (without his voice) set to music.

Sam was the first poet I ever heard perform. I was still at school. It was in a museum art gallery and Sam was a mess of hair, untucked farm clothes and floppy woollen socks. He was – and still is – unique. That braying sing-song voice, impertinent banter, and his ability to communicate through poetry in the primordial, pre-cultural gloom of New Zealand at that time, was inspirational. He was like a musician, but all he played was words and ideas. But he played them like a rock and roll musician plays an instrument. He was the Iggy Pop of poetry to me. He broke poetry out of a class room struggle and gave it relevance in the real world.

Not long after that I came across another local rock and roll poet, Dunedin’s Peter Olds. At that time he was writing wild tales of drugs, cars, gangs, rock music and existential angst. In photos he looked like Gene Clark from The Byrds. I never saw Peter Olds read his poetry, so I read his words silently in my head in Sam’s voice. I still do today. Sam’s voice can turn any words into the music of poetry.

“The 9th” gives David Kilgour (The Clean) and band freedom to explore free of song structure, although some songs do have a chorus of sorts. The atmosphere of the music is a perfect combination for the words and voice. It’s more than just background. In so many places it merges with the words, like reading off a patterned page.

I’m only just beginning to get involved in the album. I have the feeling it will be a favourite for a long time. The music and words here often evokes NZ and memory in a similar way to great Australian songwriter Grant McLennan in The Go-Betweens. It will be great on repeat on long road trips, the words setting of images, thoughts, memories to keep the mind alert.

So here’s to “The 9th”. You should try and find it. In the meantime I recommend you familiarise yourself with Sam and the album through this great interview with Sam on Mysterion Art Factory.

You can also hear some of the album in this Radio NZ review:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/remote-player?id=201753608