Posts Tagged ‘Dunedin’

I’M FIXING MY EYES. Yep, the Shifting Sands’ new album, Cosmic Radio Station (Fishrider records) is a psych-Pollock mess’n’mesmerising montage of … well uv a peek urselves. Shifting Sands

The Sands are from Otago, but Porky won’t be banding that humdrum Dun***n S***d crap on ya today … it’s the Port Chalmers sound!

In this wee toun north of the biggest city in the province there’s a hotel, described in the press release as “tiny and haunted” but it has shoved a microphone and a cheap pint in the direction of Sebadoh, J.Mascis and Sharon van Etten et al over the years. This is the Sands’ spiritual home.

The trio are steeped in shoegazing, ethereal scuzzy, laidback psych. The cover seems more appropriate after a couple of listens. You get all of those adjectives and more on the droney Make It Through, and it’s erstwhile cousin Should Be Better, which is as good as a pitch as any for what independent South Island music has screamed over the decades.

You want it mellow? Like Pink Floyd? Try the two-minute hypnotic instrumental Whareakeake while Coming Back finds Mike McLeod with guitar in hands chopping out riffs like he was in Ha! The Unclear.

All over this record are violins, chiming drums and deadpan vocals. It’s like Robert Scott on acid.

Tune in, turn on, slop out.

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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. Ha The Unclear’s album apparently came out in September but my postie only dropped this off last week with a hand-written note. Just in time for Christmas, of course. Ha The Unclear

Bacterium, Look At Your Motor Go is the debut (under this name after two as Brown) from a band which I could ascertain before doing a Google-y that they were from Dunedin. Yes, the old Dunedin Sound syndrome, a curse and a blessing at the same time, a badge of respect and a pigeon hole. But New Zealand’s southernmost student city is often its most creative and there’s a sense of history and an independent strain that burns within the modern musical scene.

Michael Cathro’s strained vocals drop-kick over the whole werk, and he’s joined by brother Paul on bass, Theo Francis on guitar, and sticksman Ben Sargeant. The name is an anagram for A Lunch Hater. Or maybe it’s Hale Crath Neu. Maybe you can come up with another one.

Though now imprisoned in Auckland, they know where they come from: opening track Corstorphine provides images of state housing and “rugby league played on the field by the chip shop”, and occasionally someone will get stabbed. Once We Were School Kids (Drunk on Youth and Friendship) continues the stresses and enjoyment of growing up in a small city: “bum-puffing cigarettes out the back, near the skip behind the school.”

85, meanwhile, lopes over to the opposite age scale, Cathro taking on the role of a pensioner finding her age overbearing. “I’ve hated my husband now for forty years”, she has outlived one of her three children, and her faith is waning.

If all this sounds like an album that permits people to reminisce about their lives, Mortality (A Million Years Ago) throws a mini spanner in the works by taking a Tardis back to last year, to an age when humans were culturally diverse, and had individual character traits.

The word diverse can apply to Bacterium. There’s an antipodeon feel to it, but equally there’s elements of Albion, and I can detect hints of the Kooks throughout. You can take that as a compliment if you wish; or a slur depending on what mood you may be in.

Buy this album from here .. http://hatheunclear.bandcamp.com/album/bacterium-look-at-your-motor-go





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Porky’s good friends at Fishrider Records have been especially good to the fat pig this month, by supplying the debut album by The Prophet Hens: Popular People Do Popular People.

PopularAs with much of the material by new bands, Porky gave a dismissive look at the cover of dozens of drawings of our feathered friend, but these parcels often bring forth some unfeasible pleasures and this is one of those.

The Hens are a four-piece who wear their Dunedin badges firmly on their lapels and shout out their love of all things Flying Nun and the requisite label/ city bands, namely The Chills, the Magick Heads et al. You may remember my review of the Salad Boys, a band with a similar love of the supposed sound of Otago. In reality the ‘Dunedin Sound’ of the 80s was fairly generic and the label never did properly attribute the role of Christchurch and other South Island settlements in its developments.

The Hens – named after a cunning stunt in early 19th century England that shows the age of opportunistic deviousness began some time before tabloids were invented – are made up primarily of the handsome Karl Bray and the even handsomer Penelope Esplin with other Monopoly players such as John White, Sefton Holmes, Robin Cederman and Darren Stedman joining in.

There are Über-jangly guitars, playful drums and earnest basslines aplenty, with the delectable vocals of Esplin and Bray ensuring there’s no instrumentals about. At nine tracks and 29 minutes long it isn’t one of those over-long efforts that the compact disk has encouraged. While there’s a distinct and discernible Mainland sound, Left It Out To Shine drips with English eccentricity and the 60s harmonies endlessly repeated that is the bootprint of Stereolab.

That this was the fifth track was a slight surprise as, to then, all the pointers were ringing true – the Godlike popiness of The Chills, and touches of the lo-fi rock’n’roll of The Clean.

High Times is an outstanding opening track, Bray and Esplin’s boy-girl Hensunanimity mingling with effervescent guitars, and a chorus that demands endless repetition. Romp is it’s elder brother and Green Blades of Grass a track that would have been released as a single in the days when such things existed. This is an album for those bred on Sarah Records, the Primitives, and joyous singalongs from bands formed by kids whose fathers were white collar workers who watched Stoke City on Sunday mornings on delayed free-to-air TV and mums who read the back pages of The Listener.

Of course, it isn’t all jaunty humathons; A Filled Page falters, and the last track Red Blonde screams ‘filler’ but I’m in no mood to ruminate and act like a purist, this is a fine, if slightly nostalgic album that Grandmother could listen to.

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