Archives for posts with tag: The Clean

Hobart, Tasmania DIY music stalwart Julian Teakle (Native Cats, The Bad Luck Charms) has released a solo album called “New Hobart” packed full of jangling, irascible guitar pop. The second track “Gentle People” stands out with it’s bold psychedelic garage rock guitar tones and pointed take-down of the the “bourgie beige” suburbanites who live “in the bush, but in the city, too straight to go full hippy”.

That lament at soulless development and the toll it takes on those not invited to be part of the “Golden Age” is a re-occurring theme throughout “New Hobart”.

The sparse title track is an arch biting commentary on the gentrification of Hobart. It’s a familiar tale of a once DIY artist-friendly city undergoing change that makes it unaffordable to those who’s contribution is cultural capital rather than the kind of property-based financial capital that drives up the cost of housing: “Can’t afford the rent, don’t worry, we’ve got a famers’ market”.

Throughout the album these tales of the everyday life and the forces at work in society are set in freewheeling jangling guitar pop songs, which carry some trans-Tasman echoes of the spindly charm of early Chills or Bats or Clean songs and recordings, mingling with trans-Bass Strait echoes of the equally spindly charm of early Go-Betweens music (“Bellevue Parade”).

The set of songs on “New Hobart” will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed the surge in new DIY guitar pop in Australia in the last decade. Or to anyone who just loves a wry and well-crafted lyric, a strummed jangling guitar, propulsive bass lines, and clean lead guitar lines lacing their simple melodies through the pattern of a song.

Teakle has also been the driving force behind Rough Skies Records, established to encourage an idea of a scene or music culture in Hobart – “positive parochialism” – for the past decade. The 4 Rough Skies Records “Community” compilations are a great entry point to explore the Hobart scene.

Terrible Signal are from Perth, Western Australia and “Retire” is a runaway truck of a song, all jangling thrashing guitars, weedy keyboards, thumping bass and drums and totally-wired rapid-fire Antipodean vocal delivery. No idea what it’s about but New Zealand gets a mention.

The song is from a brand new album “The Window” out on Ballarat label Heart of the Rat. There is an LP version… pre-orders open now.

Terrible Signal mine a similar vein to The Chills, sometimes with a side serving of The Clean (check the next track “Half The Person”), or Able Tasmans (“Day”). It’s a great mix, a bit ramshackle, fizzing, and sometimes with unexpected complexity pulled off with give-it-a-go-mate cheek.

They describe their sound – presumably tongue-in-cheek – as “Saccharine Aus-Nostalgia Pop”. Despite the NZ stylistic connections perceived or perhaps imagined, it’s definitely Australian, in a let-it-all-hang-out DIY-with-ambition kind of attitude. And in the story-telling manner of the lyrics and occassional use of the talking vocal delivery. And in the way it is mastered by the ubiquitous Australian DIY guitar pop sound engineer Mikey Young.

Some of my favourite albums of the past year have been from unsung Australian bands like Terrible Signal that I had never heard of before a chance discovery on Bandcamp. You’ve read about The S-Bends and also Dumb Things here, albums I still regularly play. This is another cracker that will probably fly under the radar. Don’t let that happen. Open “The Window” and let the wind blow.

Tough Age on tour 2018Tough Age are from Toronto, Ontario in Canada, this song title is a reference to Melbourne, Australia band Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and bassist/vocalist Penny Clark sings “I want to be signed to Flying Nun” and “I’ve never been to New Zealand, but if you sign me I’ll go every week.” Are you confused yet?

Sure enough there’s a stereotype Flying Nun guitar jangling guitar strum energy going on here. However, on the evidence of the three tracks shared ahead of the release of the latest Tough Age album, there seems to be as much influence from US outfits The Feelies and Jonathon Richman & the Modern Lovers in that ramalama strumming, as well as the Australian band referenced in the title of this song.

Presumably the desire expressed in this song is to be signed to the mythical 1980s free-form version of the label. There’s no scruffy jangling guitar rock released on Flying Nun Records these days apart from the 80s album re-issues.

Still, this weird, confusing international link up does show how far the idea and influence of the label, or to be more accurate the idea and influence of The Clean, traveled and is still travelling. The best evidence of the influence of The Clean on Tough Age comes in this glorious standalone song “Waiting Here” released in January:

In 2014, not long before the New Musical Express (NME) withered from its physical form altogether, the UK music magazine ran a feature on Flying Nun Records called “Songs in the Kiwi of Life”  with the introduction: “Founded in the early 80’s, New Zealand’s greatest ever indie label Flying Nun Records created a magical roster of bands whose Dunedin Sound continues to exert an influence today…” 

The magazine wasn’t available in Dunedin so no-one could read what it was about. However, some local Dunedin musicians took their default opposition position on what they assumed would be an oldies yawnfest about decades old music regardless.

Sure, there was a bit of that of course in telling the story of the label, but the main angle of the feature observed the label and some of the music it released through the eyes and ears of young people creating music today, and featured UK and US musicians (from Parquet Courts, Veronica Falls etc.) explaining how the music had influenced them.

The young NME writer April Welsh already had some serious Flying Nun nerd credentials too, having previously published a fanzine tribute to the label (still available to read as an Issuu online edition here), further demonstrating the influence of that “magical roster” of Antipodean oddities on a new generation of music lovers.

So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that reverberations about the label as we hear from Toronto band Tough Age are still rippling around the musical world, and even getting conflated with Australian bands (perhaps) at the same time.

[Thanks to Bandcampsnoop for the Tough Age tip-off.]

Robert ScottOur day 22 song for New Zealand Music Month 2020 is “Lights are Low” from Dunedin, New Zealand music legend (and artist) Robert Scott.

“Lights are Low” is the opening track from Scott’s brilliant 2014 album “The Green House” and features Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins) on co-lead vocals. Fullbrook sings on 5 of the songs on the album, which stands as the high point of Scott’s solo catalogue.

Robert Scott should require no introduction. But just in case… (deep breath) … he has been bassist and one of the songwriters and vocalists in The Clean for almost 40 years, plus he’s also been guitarist, songwriter & vocalist in his own band The Bats, first formed just after the early 80’s reign of The Clean, and still going strong with the same line-up today. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget his other bands, like the glorious Magick Heads (1991-1997), or his covers band The Moreporks (playing Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Stooges etc. Bats-style for weddings, birthdays etc.). So calling him ‘prolific’ seems like an understatement.

Scott is also an artist and, together with partner Dallas Henley, runs and art shop/ exhibition space in Port Chalmers near Dunedin called Pea Sea Art. As well as art supplies, there’s also a collection of local vinyl and CD releases available for sale there, including some of Scott’s own releases.

NZMM 2020


Seafog_2017Lost at sea in an oceanic fog somewhere north of Dunedin city centre is Port Chalmers’ trio Seafog. After an enthralling, spindly debut album of spiderweb guitar-pop called “Raise Your Skinny Fist” (2015), Seafog delivered a more solid treat on their “Dig it On Up” EP (2017). Now they are back with an audacious double album of blistering reverb-washed jangling guitar noise. Here’s the relatively calm and restrained “Voice” to ease your way into Seafog’s universe.

Seafog’s twin guitar din is massive on “Animal Lovers”. The bass-less trio – Robin Sharma (vocals & guitar), Nigel Waters (guitar) and Marty Sadler (drums) – gets a sonic turbo-charge from another sparkling, resonating echo-chamber production from recording alchemist Forbes Williams (who also recorded recent Dunedin albums by Francisca Griffith and Negative Nancies). The band sound like they are emitting sonic sparks here – a Roman Candle of noise.

There’s a lot to digest on “Animal Lovers” – 16 dense and meaty songs, including a booming revisiting of “Purakaunui” from guitarist/ vocalist Robin Sharma’s previous late 1990s/ early 2000’s band Jetty.

Sharma’s idiosyncratic vocal delivery – including his distinctive stream-of-semi-concious-delerium-fuelled excursions – give the songs personality, even if it sometimes sounds like he’s possessed by forces beyond his control.

“Animal Lovers” is a perfect combination of raw and distressed Sonic Youth-styled wall-of-guitar noise frenzy (showcased on the relentless thundering 12-minute drone-jam “Feelings”) often set to pulsing motorik drumming, and the loose jangling lo-fi charm of bands like The Verlaines and The Clean in their earliest forms (as the more restrained and crisp “Voice” here demonstrates).

“Animal Lovers” is available on vinyl. It’s available now in Relics record store in Dunedin, or from the band. It may be in other NZ shops sometimes. The LP release is on Vienna-based NZ-focused label Zelle Records so if you are in the Northern Hemisphere head there to buy a copy of the LP. It is an essential acquisition.


Salad BoysChristchurch guitar trio Salad Boys released their second album “This Is Glue” in January. Here’s “Under The Bed” from it:

Salad Boys is led by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Joe Sampson, once of noisey Christchurch trio T54. Salad Boys is the more reflective side of Sampson’s considerable guitar-playing and songwriting talent, though the album still packs plenty of over-driven riff-rock (check the opening “Blown” Up” and then “Psych Slasher” for high-octane thrills).

Anyone raised on a steady diet of chips, beer and guitar bands over recent decades will recognise the compass points locating their sound. Much has been made of their local influences from that cold damp city 5 hours drive south of their quake-munted Christchurch home. But as much as you can maybe hear a bit of The Clean/ Great Unwashed in the strum and jangle I’d be inclined to pick another Dunedin band Bored Games as a better local touchstone when the amps are cranked here.

But even that is still a red herring I reckon. The varied guitar styles and noisy pop hooks comprising much of “This Is Glue” is actually much more in the style of North American bad boys like The Replacements and their ilk. As a result they sound more like they belong among the current crop of fine Australian guitar bands (The Stevens, Twerps, Woollen Kits et al.) who also seem to have assimilated that same perfect odd-combo of ’80s kiwi drone jangle and more polished North American guitar pop.

Either way, this is a cracking album with a fine balance between visceral riff rock and delicate reflective folk pop (refer “Going Down Slow” towards the end of the album). Recommended to track down in its vinyl LP format too.



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:



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.