Archives for posts with tag: The Shifting Sands
Bad Sav_Hope Lucinda NoMike_photo by Chris Schmelz_smaller for web

Hope Robertson (guitar, vocals) and Lucinda King (bass, vocals) of Bad Sav. (Absent is drummer Mike McLeod) – photo by Chris Schmelz.

“Hen’s Teeth” by Birdation will be familiar to regular followers of PopLib. Birdation is the solo experimental noise workshop of Port Chalmers musician Hope Robertson. Robertson is guitarist in electronic+post-punk dark dream-pop trio Death And The Maiden and the long-running, slow-moving noise rock trio Bad Sav. Next week, Bad Sav finally release that long-awaited first album. The first track shared ahead of the release is “Hen’s Teeth”

The slow trance-like lo-fi churn of Birdation’s “Hen’s Teeth” has been turbo-charged by Bad Sav into an uptempo slice of chiming guitar rock. The first second is arresting in unexpected ways with the intake of breath before the song starts.

I love the way Robertson’s stabbing sparkling guitar chords dance from side to side in the mix, like a delay echo in a huge cathedral. Then there’s that euphoric chorus and the crunch of additional guitar horsepower to seal the effective assault on the senses. There’s still a thrill and a power to be found in a trio playing guitar, bass and drums, loud and with distortion and Bad Sav’s album delivers that tonic in 10 measured doses.

With Bad Sav less is more. Whereas My Bloody Valentine would have spent years burying the song in sonic molasses, Bad Sav achieve the same dizzying chord-bending melodic blaze with a recording as immediate and monstrous as their live performances.  Their churning guitar-heavy sonic distillation of melodic post-rock, noise-rock and shoegaze is a thing of sonic beauty to experience live, the guitar sound building patterns of glorious saturated noise that fill every corner of the venue and your head.

Bad Sav have been around for 10 years – long enough to have started out with a MySpace page, the internet equivalent of carbon-dating a band’s vintage. They had an early song on a Radio One sampler CD, then a long wait until 2014 when they self released 4 songs on their Bandcamp. These 4 songs make for an essential pre-quel EP-length introduction to the band.

Here’s the original Birdation formation of “Hen’s Teeth”. The Bad Sav and Birdation versions on a split 7″ single would be a lovely thing indeed. That won’t be happening, so best you download the Birdation version below and keep it safe.



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!”



Bad Sav_all_TEMPORARY release

Bad Sav at Chick’s Hotel

“Dressed like a kinetic housewife” is a line which makes not much sense. But this is Bad Sav so we are talking about one of the incorrigible and obstinately non-conformist bands to come out of Dunedin’s “Pop Underground” in recent years.

“Making Love” was recorded back in 2012 and it’s been out in the world for a while, so posting this song is really just an excuse to alert Dunedin residents to Bad Sav’s next live performance next weekend on Saturday 12 March. Even if it this particular song is unlikely to be on their set list.

Anyway, it will be one of your last chances to experience live music at Chick’s Hotel, plus you will get to hear a rare performance from legendary band The Terminals and hear Wellington’s MarineVille.

“Making Love” is unusual in the Bad Sav cannon in that drummer Mike McLeod takes the lead vocals – rapping (yup). You may be more familiar with him as the honeyed voice fronting psych-gaze rock trio The Shifting Sands.

Bad Sav’s Bandcamp is a collection of excellent and noisy miscellany released over several years. Despite existing for 10 years now Bad Sav has only two official releases to its name. Both are tracks on compilation albums. There was “Ruiners” on the Radio One double CD “A Century of Seasons” (2009) and “Buy Something New” on the TEMPORARY compilation (2014).

The lack of career goals for Bad Sav thus far is completely understandable. All three members have been busy in various alternative guises over the years. Above-mentioned drummer Mike has been running Chick’s Hotel live music venue and leading The Shifting Sands while also completing a Master of Philosophy degree. Guitarist Hope – who provides the thrilling wall-of-guitar melodic churn that defines Bad Sav – also currently plays in Death and the Maiden with bassist Lucinda and is busy with her own solo sonic explorations as Birdation.

But in recent years there seems to have been a hardening of resolve. The accumulation of quality songs and live performances of crushing sonic grandeur has increased exponentially. Whether this will culminate in something as unlikely as an album release is still anyone’s guess, but it’s a happy thought to cherish during dark and troubled times. In the meantime there’s always the breadcrumb trail offered by the songs collected on their Bandcamp.




It’s the middle of the year and everyone seems to be making mid-year “best of…” lists; Top 10/ 20/ 50/ 100 songs/ albums/ shows etc.

You can either ignore a bandwagon and get run over by it, or jump on board. So, in the spirit of contributing more completely subjective and totally unnecessary mid-year lists PopLib will compile a few over the next few days.

To start off, here’s PopLib’s “Top 5 Videos” so far in 2015. Of course “Top” is meaningless. These are just 5 videos I’ve watched a lot and have enjoyed. They are all made on a budget, some are quite simple ideas, but all are compelling and interesting.

“Hickford Whizz” by Day Ravies

Can’t get enough of the latest Day Ravies releases at the moment. This Sydney, Australia 4-piece band have a new album out in July. But already this year they’ve released some of my favourite music. There’s a brilliant 7″ single – which “Hickford Whizz” here is from – and a 4 track cassette EP called “Under The Lamp” which is dazzling and a fresh blend of styles and sounds and ideas. This video is a mix of stop motion live action and animations. A reminder in here of the stop-motion creativity of Chris Knox on Tall Dwarf’s “Nothings Going To Happen”.

“Dear ___ ” by Death And The Maiden

Dunedin doom-wave/ post-punk/ electro-trance trio Death And The Maiden released their debut album a few months ago. It is a special record and one that takes a while to reveal it’s secrets and take a grip on your heart. I’ve had a head start over everyone else, but the compelling, soothing but slightly disturbing video for “Dear ___ ” is your chance to catch up. There’s a sense of existential reflection about most Death and The Maiden songs and the video by Erica Sklenars raises its own ambiguous questions in a very subtle way about reality, image, decay.

“Actually” by Rozi Plain

English musician Rozi Plain has an album out on a small Scottish label Lost Map and “Actually” was the song I discovered Rozi Plain through (having been found the Lost Map website looking for a Tough Love release). The hint of Robert Wyatt in the song, words, phrasing and non-conformist pop spirit of the song was enough to hook me. This simple video is perfect for the song.

“All The Stars” by The Shifting Sands

Port Chalmers trio The Shifting Sands are lucky to have a creative partner in visual artist and video-maker Veronica Brett. Her three videos for songs from The Shifting Sands first album “Feel” were animations. But this latest video combines a bit of everything – live action puppetry, stop motion animation and computer generated animated backdrops. A perfectly intriguing video for this song, which is on their 2nd album “Cosmic Radio Station” scheduled for release in September. It was also featured on last year’s compilation album “TEMPORARY – Selections From Dunedin’s Pop Underground 2011 – 2014”

“Our Names” by Shunkan

Shunkan combine the considerable talents of relocated Los Angeles musician Marina Sakimoto, her Invercargill flat-mates, and Christchurch based drummer to produce some of the best hook-laden noisy pop the south has experienced in recent years. “Our Names” is from a debut album out sometime this year on UK label Art Is Hard.

[Disclosure: The Death And The Maiden video and The Shifting Sands video are from releases on the label I run, Fishrider Records, but I’m sure you’ll excuse a bit of self-promotion when it involves recognising the creativity of some very talented video makers].


Day 19 of the May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month comes from Dunedin’s retro-futurist space-pop group The Blueness.

Their only album “Ravendah Dream” is an excellent cartoon-colourful space fantasy, merging a bit of glam rock with a bit of spacey synth-pop.

The Blueness were John White (Mestar and original bassist for The Prophet Hens, appearing on their debut “Popular People Do Popular People”), Lucinda King (Bad Sav, Death And The Maiden), Mike McLeod (Bad Sav, The Shifting Sands) and Kristen Wineera.

The Blueness have become a forgotten footnote in Dunedin’s Pop Underground. They reigned briefly, wonderfully for a year or less in Dunedin before making it to Los Angeles in the second half of 2012 for the start of a low-key US tour, so low-key it never happened…

Anyway, that all set off a chain of events around the world, and eventually back in Dunedin. Lucinda carried on from LA to Berlin, meeting up with Danny Brady (Thought Creature) and finding the Munch sketch which provided the name for the band they formed on their return to New Zealand in – Death And The Maiden.

So… don’t forget The Blueness. This is an album worth downloading.

Bad Sav at OneFest at Sammys, Dunedin

Bad Sav at OneFest at Sammys, Dunedin

Day 16 of May Month of Madness for NZ Music Month is the fuzzy wonder of pickled-gherkin-loving Dunedin trio Bad Sav‘s “Labradoodle”

Bad Sav are guitarist/ vocalist Hope Robertson ( Birdation & Death And The Maiden), bassist/ vocalist Lucinda King (Death And The Maiden) and drummer Mike McLeod ( The Shifting Sands).

They’ve been around in Dunedin for ages and first came to notoreity with their track “Ruiners” on the 2009 Radio One compilation double CD “A Century of Seasons” celebrating 25 years of student radio in Dunedin.

In the past few years they’ve slowly assembled a selection of songs on their Bandcamp page which starts to hint at what their live sets are like. Hope’s great walls of guitar-generated noise make this trio sound huge when they play. There’s also something magical about their songs and their strange and beguiling melodies which burrow into your head and stay there for ages.

Here’s hoping for a Bad Sav album sometime this decade.