Archives for posts with tag: underground

Mermaidens 2016Wellington trio Mermaidens have just self-released their debut album of sinuous interwoven guitars and drums – fittingly titled “Undergrowth” – and here’s the glorious “Seed” from it:

Over the past few years Mermaidens have crafted their own distinctive sound from the interplay of Gussie (guitar/ vocals) and Lily (bass/vocals) weaving together interlocking melodic strands over drummer Abe’s rumbling polyrythmic patterns.

Mermaidens’ music here across the 8 songs on “Undergrowth” combines hypnotic patterned complexity with controlled dynamics. They use the space between notes and the tension between quiet reflective passages and full-on fury as a colourful frame for Gussie & Lily’s dark soulful voices and equally dark and uneasy lyrics.

Ultimately, while the album brushes with ‘post-rock’ forms at times, its heart and soul evokes a bittersweet blend of sometimes sinister autumnal psychedelia and nature-worshiping witchcraft. Let yourself fall under the spell completely by purchasing the album.

Emily Edrosa Live

It’s the final day of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month 2015 and Sunday is the perfect day for Emily Edrosa’s “Underground” as the song mentions Sunday mornings in the lyrics.

Listen carefully to the lyrics. ALL OF THEM.

Emily – who is perhaps better know as Emily Littler; guitarist, vocalist, songwriter for Auckland grunge-punk trio Street Chant – can write a savagely intelligent snarly lyric injected with bile like the best of them. It’s poetry to these ears. And the music is, well, music to these ears, obviously. Hopefully to yours too.

PopLib mentioned “Underground” last October as being a live favourite. If you are in Dunedin and want to experience it live, Emily is back playing in Dunedin this coming week at a Radio One 91 Club Presents event on Thursday June 4th along with some other PopLib favourites; Birdation and Embedded Figures.

As with every year I do these crazy daily posts for NZ Music Month I almost immediately regret undertaking the challenge. Not because there is no shortage of great local music I think people should hear. It’s the need to write something intelligent about each one to help convince anyone reading these posts to play the song and check out the links etc. which is the chore. Some posts write themselves though…

The idea around the May posts is that May has been decreed “New Zealand Music Month” by various music agencies in NZ. No-one involved in ground-level (or underground-level) New Zealand Music Month really knows why the month exists or cares much any more. But, rather than be a default-curmudgeon, shaking my fist at clouds like Grandpa Simpson, it’s an opportunity to go discover stuff. This year it has helped ne to find many new releases and bands/ musicians I didn’t know about previously. And I’ve discovered a fantastic Wellington label – Sonorous Circle.

It’s always interesting to see what posts are popular and in what parts of the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly the most popular of the posts (so far) was for the Sam Hunt with David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights post for their excellent album of poetry & psychedelic rock called “The 9th” which was featured here on the 9th of May. But there are also strong showing for new discoveries like Jim Nothing’s “Raleigh Arena” which was picked up and shared by some overseas music websites. That’s the kind of thing that helps make doing this month worthwhile each year.

Purple Pilgrims - source

Purple Pilgrims – source

Time to get weird. Not too weird. Just out-of-body-experience type weird. Day 22 of song-a-day-May NZ Music Month madness steps outside this realm with a heavenly offering from Purple Pilgrims.

I first discovered Purple Pilgrims back in 2012 when I heard their single on the exploratory Pseudo Arcana label. Purple Pilgrims were described by Pseudo Arcana at the time as “Super-fuzzy psychedelic outsider dream pop from the ex-Christchurch now Hong Kong based sister duo of Clementine and Valentine Nixon.”

That Pseudo Arcana single was distressed lo-fi music, sounding to me, from unfortunate personal experience, similar to the way auditory sensations change when you are just about to lapse into unconsciousness and vomit from food poisoning. I commented as much on it at the time when it was posted online. I meant that as a compliment (really, I did), but Purple Pilgrims read the comment and took exception to my description.

If you’ve ever fainted, you may understand how your vision goes a bit weird and kind of tunnel-like while your hearing – or maybe just perception of sounds by the brain resulting from changes to blood pressure – gets all reverb-like with a kind of infinite feedback delay loop. I just wished I hadn’t experienced severe food poisoning to discover this. It was right at the start of a 14 hour flight from Auckland to Los Angeles too, which sucked, believe me. Although, if you’ve ever wondered how to get a whole row of seats to yourself on an international flight, try passing out and vomiting on yourself.

Anyway, in 2014 Purple Pilgrims sound a lot different. The elements are all still in-tact – woozy psychedelic dream-pop looping reverb & delay into infinity – but the melodic song structure here is more developed and the sound fidelity much improved. I’m no longer reminded of my last moments of consciousness at the start of that flight. Instead I am transported to another somewhat liquid and languid world – an ‘Earthly Heaven’ indeed. This has a real dreamlike quality with words indecipherable in the reverb and spectral yelps in abundance.

‘Earthly Heaven/Joon’ is from a split LP you can order from Upset The Rhythm here. Purple Pilgrims also play as part of 95bFM’s Fancy New Band showcase at the Kings Arms, Auckland on Saturday 31 May along with another PopLib favourite Shunkan.

Peace, Purple Pilgrims. Peace.

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…