Archives for posts with tag: The Verlaines
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.


Day 21 of the song-a-day-May NZ Music Month madness is “Sunshine” from a self-released 2012 album by Paul Winders & The Goodness that probably flew under the radar at the time.

“”Boy Dust” is the second album by Paul Winders and his close group of musical friends known as The Goodness. The strong connections with the vibrant Dunedin scene remain in this group. Winders wrote the songs, sings and plays guitars on the album. As is well known, Paul was the guitarist in the seminal Dunedin band the Verlaines, (1991 to 2008) and here he is joined by Mike Stoodley, the bass player for the Verlaines (1988-1994) and The Broken Heartbreakers (2007-2010), who plays bass, keyboards and guitars and recorded and produced the album; Matt Tane (ex- Dunedin band Runt on drums; Kiri Winders (ex-Dunedin band Valve on keyboards Shane Woolridge -guitars.”

It’s an album of great melodic Dunedin-flavoured melodic guitar pop – “Sunshine’ in particular comes over like a polished sunshine-pop version of The Clean. But there’s also a nice bit of 80s US guitar pop mixed here too, reminiscent of The Windbreakers and Velvet Crush at times.

“There’s something about Dunedin, some unique peculiarity, that has imparted its distinctive stamp on its popular music. Perhaps that sprawling, timeless decay that the city presents to the visitor has manifested itself in the minds and music of its younger inhabitants. Just a notion.”

The second thing I ever wrote (or had published) in my part-time freelance journalist career was a review of a Dunedin fanzine called ‘Garage’. It has typically lurid writing in places, something I am still prone to doing. What was I thinking? Too much reading of the old 1980s NME is what I was thinking.

Southland Times, 'Music Scene' 1985

Southland Times, ‘Music Scene’ 1985

‘Garage’ was published by my soon-to-be-friend Richard Langston. He’s still as excitable & passionate (and prone to Tourette’s-like outbursts of swearing) about music today as he was in 1985. He doesn’t publish a fanzine these days, just occasional books of poetry. He’s a freelance TV and radio journalist & presenter now. He often sneaks outrageous NZ music onto National Radio shows he occasionally hosts as a ‘stand-in’.

There were only 6 issues of Garage fanzine. But those issues capture a big slice of the golden years of Flying Nun records and of music making in Dunedin and elsewhere in NZ.

Thirty years on I’m in an even better position to form some views on the minds and music of Dunedin’s younger inhabitants. I’m trying to write something about it for a compilation LP Fishrider Records will be releasing hopefully around June. I’ll probably just re-use this quote. It’s just as likely to be true now as it was 30 years ago.

The Verlaines 1985

The Verlaines 1985

Late in 1985 The Verlaines released their debut album ‘Hallelujah, All the Way Home’. Already serial over-achievers, the album was an extraordinary offering by anyone’s standards. Right from the gatefold sleeve, ornate Middle Ages themed cover art through to the music within (classical horns, strings, choirs… but also still that aloof coolness rubbing up against raging fury & scorn) this album demanded to be taken seriously.
I was writing about music for The Southland Times in Invercargill at the time, having badgered my way onto their weekly ‘Music Scene’ feature because no-one was covering the remarkable music happening two and a half hours drive up the road. The only thing that prevented their ‘dark, brooding masterpiece’ from being my album of 1985 in my year-end list in the Times was the small matter of The Go-Betweens ‘Springhill Fair’ also released that year and a fixture on my turntable.

Review from The Southland Times 18 January 1986

Review from The Southland Times 18 January 1986

Twenty-eight years later the same line up of Graeme Downes, Jane Dodd & Robbie Yeats performed the album at a Christmas party at the Kings Arms in Auckland on 20th December 2013 billed as ‘Jangle All the Way Home’. The show was hosted by Flying Out Records (mail-order operation of the now revitalised Flying Nun Records) and also marked the re-issue of ‘Hallelujah, All the Way Home’.

It was a majestic performance. Graeme Downes – who these days looks a combination of Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, kept whippet-thin on cigarettes, whiskey & nerves – was as brilliant and biting as ever as guitarist, singer and band-leader. Bassist Jane Dodd played with the kind of calm steady propulsion that belied the fact her only two performances on bass in the past decade have been for one-off Able Tasmans and The Chills original line-up re-unions a few years ago now. Robbie Yeats likewise played with a fluid ease and loose perfection that was the opposite of his usual deconstructionist drum antagonism with the Dead C (and anyone else he sits in with).

The party (and it WAS a real festive party spirit) also included Surf City (Auckland/ Arch Hill Records sonic descendants of some of The Verlaines Dunedin peers) and a set from the current line-up of The Verlaines (including ‘Death & the Maiden’).

Flying Out had the presence of mind to include some of the newest progeny from Dunedin’s alternative music gene pool, representing two of the labels they also sell via their website – Muzai Records represented by the thrilling ‘space-glaze’/ ‘punk-gaze’ Astro Children and (my own label) Fishrider Records – represented by ‘flower cult pop’ band Trick Mammoth.

The photos here from Arch Hill/ Flying Nun boss Ben Howe tell the story of the evening in pictures.

Trick Mammoth at the Kings Arms Auckland 20 December 2013

Trick Mammoth at the Kings Arms Auckland 20 December 2013