Some new old Reviews – Aquarius Records 2014

Reprinted from: https://www.aquariusrecords.org/cat/newzealand.html

album cover

ABOVE GROUND Gone Aiwa (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
Another awesome legendary archival release out of the NZ underground from Siltbreeze, this one the super obscure Above Ground, who existed for all of a single year back in 1983, and made this one record, originally released as a super limited cassette, only sold at gigs and local shops. And while the band name might not seem familiar, the band members probably will, legendary NZ musician Bill Direen (Vacuum, Builders) along with Carol Direen (his wife? sister?), Maryrose Crook from the Renderers, and Stuart Page from the Axemen (whose reissued lp we reviewed here a list or two back). That Axemen connection is definitely a hint as to what this stuff sounds like: murky, low fidelity pop, lots of organ, spidery guitars, the drums simple yet propulsive and really loud in the mix, the vocals a booming sung spoken croon, the vibe is dreamily druggy, droned out and hypnotic, definitely a Velvets vibe going on, but also some old school psych rock, the sound is loose and ramshackle, sounds very much like it was recorded live, but it’s undeniably darkly groovy, mesmerizingly trancelike, with the organ slipping into freaked out squalls that threaten to overtake the whole song, but when the band lock in, it’s super tight and hypnotic, a little bit jangly, occasionally borderline funky, the best tracks the murkier druggier jams, which do take up most of the record. Fans of all things Flying Nun, Xpressway and classic NZ underground, this is some essential archival radness.
MPEG Stream: “Black Doors”
MPEG Stream: “Green Afternoon”
MPEG Stream: “Flat Feet”

album cover AXEMEN Derry Legend (Luxury) cd 14.98
ALSO ON CD!!!
A while back we reviewed Three Virgins, the 1986 debut from NZ pop weirdos the Axemen, and as a frame of reference for what sort of deviant pop to expect, we mentioned Strapping Fieldhands, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and older outfits like Captain Beefheart, the Velvet Underground, we also posited that these guys would have sounded right at home on legendary label Shimmy Disc. Well by 1989, very little had changed when the Axemen unleashed their second long player, Derry Legend. If anything, the songwriting was better, with some crazy catchy poppiness tucked amidst the sonic chaos, but otherwise, the sound was as ramshackle and al over the map as ever. The sound has definitely got some Flying Nun DNA running through it for sure. But those genes were mutating big time, and whatever similarities these guys shared with their fellow ‘Nuns, the Clean, the Chills, the Bats, in the Axemen, those sounds were all twisted and tangled up into warped and warbly shapes, the sounds melty and druggy, loose and wild, and on the edge of total collapse. No surprise that Derry Legend was one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite records, cuz it definitely has much in common with lots of his other faves: The Vaselines, Half Japanese, the Shaggs, etc. From snarly, snotty, swaggery jangle glam pop, to noisy, stumbly, fuzz drenched post punk, to hazy, drugged out fug-pop balladry (replete with Velvets style ‘do-do-do-do’ background vox), to damaged twee pop warble, to organ driven garage rock crunch, to almost fifties sounding rock and roll, to ominous, brooding drug folk, these guys tied all these disparate sounds into one ever-shifting, outsider mutant pop that will have weirdo pop obsessives freaking the fuck out!
MPEG Stream: “Disc To Disk”
MPEG Stream: “You Gave Me The Power Of the Gangbusters”
MPEG Stream: “Hey Alice!”
MPEG Stream: “Mounring Of Youth”

album cover AXEMEN Derry Legend (Luxury) lp 25.00
A while back we reviewed Three Virgins, the 1986 debut from NZ pop weirdos the Axemen, and as a frame of reference for what sort of deviant pop to expect, we mentioned Strapping Fieldhands, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments and older outfits like Captain Beefheart, the Velvet Underground, we also posited that these guys would have sounded right at home on legendary label Shimmy Disc. Well by 1989, very little had changed when the Axemen unleashed their second long player, Derry Legend. If anything, the songwriting was better, with some crazy catchy poppiness tucked amidst the sonic chaos, but otherwise, the sound was as ramshackle and al over the map as ever. The sound has definitely got some Flying Nun DNA running through it for sure. But those genes were mutating big time, and whatever similarities these guys shared with their fellow ‘Nuns, the Clean, the Chills, the Bats, in the Axemen, those sounds were all twisted and tangled up into warped and warbly shapes, the sounds melty and druggy, loose and wild, and on the edge of total collapse. No surprise that Derry Legend was one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite records, cuz it definitely has much in common with lots of his other faves: The Vaselines, Half Japanese, the Shaggs, etc. From snarly, snotty, swaggery jangle glam pop, to noisy, stumbly, fuzz drenched post punk, to hazy, drugged out fug-pop balladry (replete with Velvets style ‘do-do-do-do’ background vox), to damaged twee pop warble, to organ driven garage rock crunch, to almost fifties sounding rock and roll, to ominous, brooding drug folk, these guys tied all these disparate sounds into one ever-shifting, outsider mutant pop that will have weirdo pop obsessives freaking the fuck out!
Includes two massive newsprint inserts, one a poster, the other a sort of collage of old clippings and photos, and there’s a download code too!
MPEG Stream: “Disc To Disk”
MPEG Stream: “You Gave Me The Power Of The Gangbusters”
MPEG Stream: “Hey Alice!”
MPEG Stream: “Mounring Of Youth”

album cover AXEMEN Three Virgins (Siltbreeze) lp 17.98
Originally released in the eighties on legendary New Zealand label Flying Nun, the Axemen’s Three Virgins remained mostly unheard by all but the most extreme of NZ underground obsessives, sort of makes sense that it would end up on Siltbreeze, whose pop roster should give you an idea of what to expect from these Axemen: Strapping Fieldhands, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, to those references you could also add the Velvets, Beefheart, and even more appropriately, to these ears at least, would be seminal East Coast outsider label Shimmy Disc. The Axemen traffic in a fractured, stumbling, keening, detuned lo-fi pop, the guitars atonal, occasionally buzzy and crunchy, otherwise spidery and jangly, the songs laced with plink plonk piano, whistling, the drums strangely produced, usually buried in the mix, spidery guitar leads wrapped around warped and warbly melodies, and the vocals, seriously out there, this is a pop record after all, so it’s the vocals that really drive things, the various voices seem less concerned with being in tune, and more with energy and exuberance, they’re high, whiny, plaintive, sorta sad boy, but delivered with gusto, howled in places, crooned in others, the harmonies slightly off, defiantly tuneless in places, adding another bit of whatthefuck to the already cracked vibe, which is augmented further by some awesomely tripped out weirdness, that sounds in places like a more tuneful (just barely) Dead C, or some primitive tape experiment, or some warped boom box DJ collage or even like some sort of lysergic sixties psych folk, all of the various elements constantly shifting, and mutating, and getting all tangled up with each other, the sound poppy one second, droney and dirgey the next, fuzzy and psychedelic one second, detuned and demented the next, but always confusional and off kilter, a pretty brilliantly baffling slice of primo eighties NZ underground sound for sure.
Pressed on nice thick vinyl, housed in an eye popping gatefold jacker, and LIMITED TO 600 COPIES!! Includes a download coupon.
MPEG Stream: “The Dream”
MPEG Stream: “Something (The Wives of the President’s Men)”
MPEG Stream: “Grudge Hill”
MPEG Stream: “Artie Shepp’s Place”
MPEG Stream: “The Yeasty Mayor”

album cover BATS, THE Daddy’s Highway (Flying Nun) lp 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
One of the greatest indie pop records ever, gets a long overdue vinyl reissue! This classic slab of eighties bittersweet jangle pop from legendary New Zealand pop combo the Bats, still sounds as good as it ever did, originally released on Flying Nun in 1987, Daddy’s Highway was the group’s debut after handful of eps, and found the band effortlessly creating a template for pretty much all of the Kiwi pop music to follow. Robert Scott, one of the best (and perhaps most unsung) pop songsmiths of the last 3+ decades, delivers these heartfelt tunes in a gorgeous clear croon, his guitar playing understated and so sublime, the traditional rock band arrangement augmented by long time aQ fave Alastair Galbraith on violin, giving the songs a dark gravitas, and an even more melancholic vibe, some of the songs bouncy and bubbly, but many of them moody and brooding, laced with subtle drones, sounding at times like a janglier Velvet Underground, while at other times hinting at the more new wave sounding pop going on around the same time, but more often occupying some pure pop space, every song here, rife with warm jangle, sweet melody and dreamy hooks, all wreathed in lush instrumentation, and presented heart on sleeve. So great!
MPEG Stream: “Treason”
MPEG Stream: “North By North”
MPEG Stream: “Tragedy”

album cover BATS, THE Daddy’s Highway (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun) lp 16.98
One of the greatest indie pop records ever, gets yet another vinyl reissue! This classic slab of eighties bittersweet jangle pop from legendary New Zealand pop combo the Bats, still sounds as good as it ever did, originally released on Flying Nun in 1987, Daddy’s Highway was the group’s debut after handful of eps, and found the band effortlessly creating a template for pretty much all of the Kiwi pop music to follow. Robert Scott, one of the best (and perhaps most unsung) pop songsmiths of the last 3+ decades, delivers these heartfelt tunes in a gorgeous clear croon, his guitar playing understated and so sublime, the traditional rock band arrangement augmented by long time aQ fave Alastair Galbraith on violin, giving the songs a dark gravitas, and an even more melancholic vibe, some of the songs bouncy and bubbly, but many of them moody and brooding, laced with subtle drones, sounding at times like a janglier Velvet Underground, while at other times hinting at the more new wave sounding pop going on around the same time, but more often occupying some pure pop space, every song here, rife with warm jangle, sweet melody and dreamy hooks, all wreathed in lush instrumentation, and presented heart on sleeve. So great!
MPEG Stream: “Treason”
MPEG Stream: “North By North”
MPEG Stream: “Tragedy”

album cover BERAN, GRANT The Another Ones (Postmoderncore) cd-r 10.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE**
Any record bearing the legend: “All the music on this cd has been created using a very old record player, second hand microphones, discarded tape recorders and various bits of wire” pretty much has to be good. Well okay, maybe HAS TO is exaggerating, but at the very least that sort of description is enough to get us very intrigued.
And in this case, it is good, but at the same time nothing at all like we were expecting.
We had imagined some sort of washed out Philip Jeck style drones, or pixelated Tim Hecker-ish soundscapes, or even the sort of crackling slow decay of William Basinski’s tape pieces, but instead, Grant Beran has taken old records and some junky beat up equipment and used them to create surprisingly rhythmic tracks, utilizing various cracks and pops, and skips to fashion almost-grooves, like a lo-fi DJ Shadow sort of. The opener is all fuzzy and buzzy, but with a super driving beat, a skipping record looped into a hypnotic groove, a little bit techno, a little bit hip hop, a little creepy Goblin soundtrack, and a lot fuzzed out turntable buzz. It’s not hard to imagine some clever DJ adding huge beats to this and you’d have the most fucked up lo-fi dancefloor jam ever. But we don’t want to exaggerate the ‘dance’ aspect, it’s more like the soundtrack to some lost John Carpenter movie, dubbed from VHS to VHS to home stereo to microcassette recorder until it ended up sounding like this, groove and fuzzy and murky and awesome!
The second track is much more moody and atmospheric, the rhythms an afterthought, that seem to surface randomly, while the meat of the track is deep sonorous tones, throbbing and distorted, woven into some low end melody. The rest of the record is split pretty evenly between hushed whispery ambient drone, and weirdly distorted lo-fi grooves, standout’s include the buzzy electro jam of “The Man In The High Castle”, the cinematic krautrocky murk of “Double Star”, the almost Chain Reaction dub of “Star Collector” and the droney buzz and grind of “Gleanings”.
Falling somewhere between experimental turntable soundscapery and a moody cinematic DJ record, Beran has skillfully woven sonic straw into fuzzy, stuttery, groovy gold, taking turntables and dreamdrone ambience into rhythmic places until now, as far as we know completely unexplored! WAY recommended.
MPEG Stream: “My Own Private Tokyo”
MPEG Stream: “Sci-Fi Lullaby”
MPEG Stream: “Here At The Western World”

BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL Siberian Earth Curve (Drunken Fish) cd 13.98
An enigmatic stateside debut from this New Zealand (I think… they are pretty enigmatic after all…) ensemble which drones on through guitar, appliances, cymbals, and some dizzying device which generates a warbling tonality which hits some pretty nauseating (in a good way, like rollercoasters are entertainment through nausea) frequencies.

album cover CLEAN, THE Anthology (Merge) 4lp 44.00
This past Record Of The Week finally available on VINYL, and a fancy quadruple lp boxset at that!!!
The history of the legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun quite literally begins with The Clean. Impressed by a slew of The Clean’s live performances in their home town of Dunedin, New Zealand back in 1980, Roger Shepherd began Flying Nun, simply in order to release the band’s first single “Tally Ho.” That song, an upbeat but simple post-punk number that crashed together jangling guitars and persistent organ melodies, surprised everybody with a considerable amount of commercial success in New Zealand, and became one of many songs by The Clean that found enthusiastic audiences in the US during the college rock days of the ’80s, offering a quirky, exotic alternative to staples like REM, the Replacements, Robyn Hitchcock, and Elvis Costello.
Formed in 1978 by the Kilgour brothers David and Hamish, The Clean never stooped to the depths of the Gallagher brother’s public fisticuffs; but the band – which flushed out its membership with Robert Scott and (in the early days) Peter Gutteridge – spent more time broken up than together. Yet, their eternally catchy pop songs became the blueprint for almost all of the other Flying Nun bands (in part due to the numerous Clean related projects on Flying Nun, including The Bats, The Great Unwashed, Bailter Space, Snapper, Stephen, and others). The Clean’s self-explanatory “Anthology” runs through their numerous albums, offering a good chunk of their fantastic early work (the aforementioned “Tally Ho,” the “Boodle Boodle Boodle” ep, the “Great Sounds…” ep, and a couple of oddities) all in one epic collection. Edgy yet unswervingly optimistic, these songs were sloppy four-track recordings of monomaniacally simple rhythms, cacophonously jangly guitar melodies, and happy-go-lucky vocals. Also included are excerpts from the ’90s albums “Vehicle,” “Modern Rock,” and “Unknown Country,” which marked a considerable polishing of The Clean’s sound, in part because they recorded that material in well established studios like Blackwing studios in London, but also the songs, while still simple in their own right, became slightly more restrained.
Highly recommended!
RealAudio clip: “At The Bottom”
RealAudio clip: “Tally Ho”
RealAudio clip: “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”

album cover CLEAN, THE Odditties (Five Four O) 2lp 30.00
The Flying Nun reissue onslaught continues, this time a vinyl reissue of this collection of odds and sods from legendary NZ pop combo The Clean, who are one of THEE original Flying Nun bands, and whose iconic single “Tally Ho” was even borrowed as the title for a recent double cd collection of Flying Nun’s greatest hits. As good as pretty much everything The Clean released, if you haven’t already bought their Anthology collection on Merge, that might be the place to start, but if you like your pop a bit more raw and rough around the edges, then this might actually be more up your alley, the same pop smarts, hooks galore, jangle everywhere, vocal harmonies, catchy melodies, killer songs, off kilter and slightly warped, some songs super rocking, others stripped down and acoustic, some cool experimental jams too (just check out the tripped out “Point That Thing Dub”), all recorded in varying levels of fidelity, the performances sometimes more energetic and heartfelt than tight or in key, but this is the sort of pop, that as far as we’re concerned, often sounds better warts and all, and the funny thing is, this collection of oddities, B sides, demos, unreleased track and random screwing around studio weirdness, somehow seems WAY better than most of the proper pop records out there. All hail The Clean, whose nearly thirty year old records sound better than ever!
MPEG Stream: “Odditty”
MPEG Stream: “Success Story”
MPEG Stream: “Thumbs Off”
MPEG Stream: “Getting Older”
MPEG Stream: “Point That Thing Dub”

album cover DARK MATTER s/t (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
To most folks, the name Stephen Cogle might not mean much, but to avid New Zealand music nerds like us (and maybe you), that name conjures up some of our favorite groups from that era/region, think Vacuum, The Victor Dimisich Band, the Terminals… Exactly. So Dark Matter is Cogle circa now, and while much of that old sound remains, here it’s recast as something much more dignified and dramatic, a sort of gothic psych, via Christchurch style Flying Nun post punk. The label compares Dark Matter to the Chills, Television Personalities, the Scientists, Roxy Music, the last one especially, but we’re also hearing plenty of Scott Walker, and other oddball crooners, the music is simple, yet lush, jangly guitars are wreathed in layers of string shimmer, slowly unfurling landscapes of brooding dark pop mesmer, with Cogle’s dramatic vox over the top, and dramatic they are, we’re almost reminded of those song-poem records, but instead of songs about aliens or cowboys, the subject matter here matches the musical gravitas, and even when the vocals fade out, the music left on its own is seriously stunning, check out the second half of “The Long Count”, which is tense, and minor key, darkly lovely, mysterious, beholden to the classic NZ sound, but still plenty modern, and then when the vocals swoop back in, it’s transformed into something bombastic and intense, harrowing and yet still lush and lovely.
Strange dark post punk torch songs that should also appeal to fans of Nick Cave, Woven Hand, Crystal Stilts, King Dude, Swans and other purveyors of moody, dark songcraft, and these guys get compared to Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos (arguably our favorite NZ band EVER), even though the sonic connection seems to be more about mood and atmosphere than sound, which should be all the recommendation you need!
MPEG Stream: “Broken”
MPEG Stream: “The Long Count”
MPEG Stream: “Dark Matter”

DEAD C The Twelfth Spectacle (Grapefruit) 4lp 89.00
album cover DEAD C, THE Armed Courage (Ba Da Bing!) lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Has it really been more than 25 years? And close to 40 releases? These NZ noise rock legends have been making their particular brand of abstract, avant free-noise beauty for what seems like forEVER. And somehow, over all those years, and all those releases, they’ve both managed to keep making music that is distinctly and defiantly their own, while constantly re-inventing that sound in a way that has kept that sound impossibly interesting, extremely relevant and ridiculously influential on legions of other noisemakers, whether they realize it or not.
Listening to Armed Courage, we were initially forced to wonder, what exactly it is that makes a Dead C jam a proper record? Cuz barring their flirtations with pop songs (and there have been many), the sound of the Dead C, and of Armed Courage, does in fact sound like a band letting loose, jamming endlessly… Both the tracks here sound like the could have been plucked from even more epic jams, as if someone just pushed ‘record’ in the middle of a 24 hour jam, affording us a glorious glimpse into what could only be a never ending noise rock jam, our glimpse’s brevity dictated by the limitations of recorded media. It tickles us to imagine Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats locked in a perpetual jam, the Hawkwind style heart-of-the-sun freakouts recontextualized into something WAY more loose and abstract and while not perhaps lo-fi in sound, certainly in spirit.
The two tracks here offer up the two sonic sides of the Dead C, alternately crafting an alien lo-fi avant indie rock minimalism, and at their most fierce and free, with Yeats delivering some of the wildest drumming we’ve heard from him on the opening track, a tangle of multiple free jazz freakouts, locked into weirdly unhinged krautrock style motorik grooves, that constantly splinter, fall apart and somehow come right back together again. All the while, Russell and Morley transforming their guitars into noisemakers, the drums wreathed in billowing clouds of rumble and whir, of crumblingly distorted drones, and fragmented riffs, tones pulsing and undulating, all blurred into constantly shifting sheets of smeared sound, the occasional bit of loose clattery percussion, the cool second half of the first track, where the band lock into a crazy Necks-like minimal groove, all skittery rhythm, pulsating distorto-buzz, and a cool, almost electronic sounding field of percussive guitar scrape that sounds a bit like a damaged synth, the whole thing barreling forward with a strange buried propulsion. It seems impossible that something this formless, and free, this shapeless and abstract could somehow be so sonically mesmerizing, but for all its shapelessness, the sound is teeming with strange sonic shapes, and for all its looseness, the group sound impossibly tight, flying into wild musical tangents, but always finding their way back, or not, sometimes just following each other on those tangents and changing the direction of the song and sound entirely. Nearly 30 years of playing together will do that to a group.
The second track shifts gears completely, the band slipping into their warbly low fidelity songcraft, the sound unfurling sedately, with a field of rhythmic static, some woozy guitars, some strange percussion, lots of tape hiss ambience, and weary, whispery, crooned vocals, the band seemingly locked into a somnambulant drift, before Yeats lets loose again, his octopoidal skitter mirrored by caustic guitar scrabble, and gristly electronic buzz, all still anchored by some detuned strum, the drums building, driving the song into a dense driving noise rock jam, laced with streaks of high end guitar freakout, before shedding all the noise and bash and howl, leaving just a shadowy sprawl of murky mesmer, which again, slowly builds from hushed creep, to a weirdly math bit of motorik churn, simple, but loud drumming, over FX wreathed wah wah, and streaks of droned out warble, a stumbling bunkurfunk dirge that gradually loses momentum, eventually disappearing into a soft fading cloud of Jandekian guitar-warble.
Fucking fantastic.
MPEG Stream: “Armed”
MPEG Stream: “Courage”

album cover DEAD C, THE DR503 / The Sun Stabbed EP (Jagjaguwar / Ba Da Bing!) 2lp 22.00
It’s a bit hard to believe that it’s been just over 20 years since New Zealand’s Dead C first unleashed their unique brand of ‘noise rock’ on our unsuspecting ears, but ’tis true, and while the band have gone through many sonic permutations over their two decades, their sound somehow has always remained distinctly their own. There have been long stretches of inactivity too, with the various members pursuing their own projects, Gate, A Handful Of Dust, etc. but they always seemed to find their way back. A new record, and a recent US tour, has upped the band’s profile of late, but what better time to look back, at their first two proper full lengths, available on vinyl in the US for the first time, with all sorts of extras.
While the Dead C are generally considered to be a ‘noise rock band’, to many THEE ‘noise rock’ band, it’s easy to forget that at their heart, they are a pop band. With songs, and verses and choruses and crooned vocals, and strummed acoustic guitars, and all of that stuff. Never was that more apparent than on their first two records, Eusa Kills and Dr 503, which found the band sort of straddling two worlds of sound, the prevailing ‘New Zealand’ sound, a sort of lo-fi bedroom pop, and their own peculiar trajectory, a loose ramshackle assemblage of guitarnoise, fractured FX, noisy ambience, and a general clang and clatter. A pretty heady mix for sure, which probably had more conservative listeners reeling, but had the rest of us clamoring for more.
Dr 503, was their first proper full length (or 3rd, depending on who’s keeping track), and opens up with what many consider the ultimate Dead C track, “Max Harris”, and if a single song could indeed be a microcosm for the Dead C sound, it’s probably “Max Harris”. Woozy rhythms, stumbling off kilter rhythms, the middle part sounds like a lo-fi This Heat crossed with Geronimo, all abstract distorted crunch, and muted squalls of tribal drumming, streaks of clipped effects, murky processed vocals, slivers of feedback, even a mere seconds-long acoustic guitar outro. The record veers and careens all over the place, spoken word over splattery percussion and clipped minimal strum, thick doomy dirges of heavily reverbed guitar, gloomy Joy Division basslines, and hushed muttered vocals, skipping phonographs draped over stripped down slowcore, Sebadoh style lo-fi bedroom folk, primitive tape experiments, pounding almost garage-y jams that transform into spare Jandekian sprawls, but all held together by some nearly impossible to define Dead C aesthetic.
The record finishes off with a devastating one-two punch, the 9 minute Dead C classic sort-of-ballad “Polio”, which begins all folky and strummy, gradually the guitars warp and warble, the drums stumble in, and the song just sort of drifts and skitters, the guitars weirdly effected, the vocals heartfelt and buried way down in the mix, the drums almost Can-like in their motorik simplicity, there are some moments of chaos, but for the most part “Polio” is dark and dreamy and murky and softly buzzy, a little jangly, and sort of pretty. And then it’s on to the 13+ minute “Max Harris 2″ which does seem to contain some sonic elements of the original, but the sound here is repetitive and clangorous, the guitars buzz and whir, the riffs angular and jagged, the sound washed out and lo-fi, the vocals another buried mumble, until the song shifts gear part way through, and it’s just a single guitar, plucking out that same main riff, accompanied by super spare percussion, and wreathed in tape hiss, after a sudden burst of crash and crunch, the track jams on and on and on, becoming slowly unhinged, the sounds slowly detuning, everything getting more and more warped and warbly before stuttering to a halt.
This reissue tacks on the Sun Stabbed ep (originally released as a 7″), from right around the same time, which is pretty impossible to find at all, on vinyl or otherwise. Offering up more of the same, a handful of gorgeous and confusional tracks offering up still more of the Dead C’s unique clash of classic New Zealand songsmithery and noise drenched, abstract, sonic deconstruction.
Absolutely and utterly essential listening. Gorgeously repackaged in a super heavy gatefold sleeve, reproducing much of the original art, and pressed on super thick vinyl.
MPEG Stream: “Polio”
MPEG Stream: “I Love This”
MPEG Stream: “Angel”

album cover DEAD C, THE Eusa Kills / Helen Said This (Jagjaguwar / Ba Da Bing!) 2lp 22.00
It’s a bit hard to believe that it’s been just over 20 years since New Zealand’s Dead C first unleashed their unique brand of ‘noise rock’ on our unsuspecting ears, but ’tis true, and while the band have gone through many sonic permutations over their two decades, their sound somehow has always remained distinctly their own. There have been long stretches of inactivity too, with the various members pursuing their own projects, Gate, A Handful Of Dust, etc. but they always seemed to find their way back. A new record, and a recent US tour, has upped the band’s profile of late, but what better time to look back, at their first two proper full lengths, available on vinyl in the US for the first time, with all sorts of extras.
While the Dead C are generally considered to be a ‘noise rock band’, to many THEE ‘noise rock’ band, it’s easy to forget that at their heart, they are a pop band. With songs, and verses and choruses and crooned vocals, and strummed acoustic guitars, and all of that stuff. Never was that more apparent than on their first two records, Eusa Kills and Dr 503, which found the band sort of straddling two worlds of sound, the prevailing ‘New Zealand’ sound, a sort of lo-fi bedroom pop, and their own peculiar trajectory, a loose ramshackle assemblage of guitarnoise, fractured FX, noisy ambience, and a general clang and clatter. A pretty heady mix for sure, which probably had more conservative listeners reeling, but had the rest of us clamoring for more.
Eusa Kills originally came out in 1989, and makes it the Dead C’s fourth proper full length (maybe 6th, hard to tell with the band’s convoluted discography) and finds the band in full on song mode, with a somewhat improved production, which definitely suits them. Years later, the band would release a single called The Dead C. Vs. Sebadoh, the title a joke obviously, but even 5 years early, when Eusa Kills came out, the band did in fact sound quite a bit like Sebadoh at moments, dark and brooding, sort of rocking, melodic but a bit off kilter, especially on record opener “Scarey Nest”, which is a dead ringer for some lost Sebadoh B-side, with a killer main hook, simple solid drumming, wistful sort of sad boy vocals, the guitars alternatingly jangly and corrosive. After a 43 second Butthole Surfers style abstract drum / guitar crunch jam with distorted vocals and a lumbering tempo, the band slip right back into more dark jangle, a minor key guitar unfurling, a shuffling military snare, more weary crooned vocals, it is easy to see why lots of folks refer to Eusa Kills as the Dead C’s ‘songs’ record. Most of the tracks are 2 or 3 minutes, poppy and jangly, the whole record clocking in at a lean 36 minutes, the exceptions being the 6 minute “Phantom Power” which begins as an extended abstract jam, all simple solid drumming and jagged guitar, but then the vocals drift in all ghostlike and the sound is transformed into something much poppier, and the 7 minute “Maggot”, which is probably the heaviest of the bunch, with its grinding guitars, it’s lurching drum part, and the super distorted Buttholes style processed vox, but even then, there’s a definite pop sensibility at work, although a bit obscured. The rest of the shorter tracks tend toward the pop-ish, whether it be pounding noise drenched indie rock, moaning slow motion Jandek style sprawl or the gorgeously languid hushed folky jangle that finishes off the disc.
Also included is the Helen Said This 12″ originally released around the same time. Not quite as songy as Eusa Kills, but enough that the two fit together perfectly, an extension of Eusa’s twisted jangle, muddled pop smithery, warm wooziness, and occasional cracked heaviness.
Totally recommended, and essential for all fans of fucked up music. And heck, even fans of not-so-fucked up music. This just might be the Dead C record you can handle. Gorgeously repackaged in a super heavy gatefold sleeve, reproducing much of the original art, and pressed on super thick vinyl.
MPEG Stream: “Scarey Nest”
MPEG Stream: “Alien To Be”
MPEG Stream: “Phantom Power”

album cover DEAD C, THE The Dead Sea Perform M. Harris (Jagjaguwar / Ba Da Bing!) lp 14.98
Another new installment in Ba Da Bing and Jagjaguwar’s ongoing vinyl reissue campaign of perhaps one of THE greatest noise rock bands ever, New Zealand’s Dead C, who unlike many (most?) of their contemporaries, were perfectly capable of mixing stumbling downer pop with full on room clearing cacophony, muted minimal sonic abstractions and crunchy riff heavy drone rock, without sounding like anyone but themselves.
And as far as oft referenced bands around aQ, it’s no surprise that Dead C gets name dropped in so many reviews, in many ways, they are the archetype for modern noise rock, for subversive outsider post rock, whatever you want to call it, Dead C were and are the masters, and these reissues should make that abundantly and utterly clear. And just might put into perspective how ‘original’ and ‘groundbreaking’ a lot of the current flavors of the noise rock month really are.
The Dead C Perform Max Harris are the first ever recordings from the Dead C, recorded during their very first month as a band, originally released as a cassette limited to a mere 21 copies, later, multiple versions and edits were tacked on to the group’s Dr 503 record, but this is the first time these two tracks, these two different version of the ‘same’ track, have been available together, unedited, since that tape. First time on vinyl too.
The sticker references Swell Maps and Crazy Horse, and you can definitely here some of that in these tracks, as well as 13th Floor Elevators, and the Velvet Underground but whatever influences inspired this psychedelic noise rock blow out, well, they were summarily obliterated and reinterpreted and spit out in this damaged and cracked and gloriously fractured incarnation, resulting in a sound that is hard to reference beyond simply the Dead C themselves, already helping create a sound that would go on to define the sound of the NZ underground, several weeks into what would be a 20+ year career.
“With Help From Max Harris” is a sprawling drone rock epic, beginning with a chaotic outpouring of wild rhythmic tribalism, tangled billowy guitar buzz, reverbed vocals buried in the mix, a fucked up production, lo-fi, but still somehow powerful and intense, but after a few minutes, the songs slows it down, dials it back, and becomes this strange spaced out strange of minimal hypnorock, repetitive and mesmeric, very krautrock / space rock, but way more abstract and loose and free, a glorious wash of sound, that could have gone on for another 15 minutes, and hell it probably did, we’ll never know cuz it just cuts off abruptly, and for all we know the band played on and on and on.
“Beyond Help From Max Harris” is definitely the same song, but it’s different enough to keep it interesting, but similar enough to satisfy that urge we had for the first track to continue on forever. “Beyond…” is a bit more hi-fi, just a bit, but the guitars are sharper, more jagged, the bass more of a presence, the quite parts even more quiet but the guitar adding all sorts of strange percussive harmonics, lots of crumbly amp buzz, furious in-the-red bursts of crunch and glitch, the vocals way less present, it ends up sounding like a less song-y version of the first track, more abstracted and free, still totally hypnotic and mesmerizing, just way more raw and feral and fucked up. GENIUS!
As mentioned above, this is the first time on vinyl for these tracks, and it’s the first time they’ve been available together and unedited since that original cassette. Pressed on nice thick vinyl, in a swank black and white sleeve, includes a download card so you can cram this noisy bliss onto your hard drive.

album cover GALBRAITH, ALASTAIR Cry (MIE) lp 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Originally released on cd by the now we believe defunct Emperor Jones label in the year 2000, this, the fourth solo album from New Zealander Alastair Galbraith (A Handful Of Dust, The Rip, Plagal Grind), is a stunner. Rarely has music this experimental been so ACCESSIBLE. But that’s genius at work, folks, right here. “Recorded onto TEAC-4 track in a shed at Taieri Mouth between 1998 and 2000″, Cry mixes pastoral folk drones with muted electric guitar outbursts, ominous organ rumblings, and Alastair’s sung poetry. It’s super pretty and quiet and haunting and we highly recommend it. Even if you’ve never heard this veteran of the Kiwi music scene’s records before, this is a fine, fine place to start. A favorite ever since we first reviewed the compact disc version way back on list #99! So glad UK import label MIE has granted this new life, and for the first time on vinyl – which is limited to 500 copies, and comes with a download code.
MPEG Stream: “Bellbird”
MPEG Stream: “Meatwork”
MPEG Stream: “Wish”
MPEG Stream: “Full Soup Head”

album cover GARBAGE & THE FLOWERS, THE Eyes Rind As If Beggars (Fire Records / Bo’ Weavil) 2lp 29.00
This is a long overdue reissue of the classic 1997 debut (and really, only proper full length) from this legendary NZ noise pop outfit, who remain a functioning unit to this day, but who over the last 15+ years have recorded precious little material and who most folks have probably heard of, but not actually heard.
Their sound is tough to pin down, sometimes lo-fi and dreamy, almost lullaby like, but at others, noisy and abrasive, the band deftly combining lilting loveliness with walls of crumbling sound, or atonal folk with minimal drones. Eyes Rind As If Beggars starts off with “Love Comes Slowly Now” which is a sweet little slab of bedroom folk, all simple percussion, hushed acoustic guitars, softly crooned vox, but as if to balance the sonic scales, “Nothing Going Down” begins sort of melodically, before splintering into a cloud of wild tangled guitar drones, the original recording is damaged too, so the speed fluctuates giving it a seriously twisted psychedelic vibe, the guitars spitting out drones and raga like buzz, sounding almost like bagpipes at one point, a chaotic sprawl of NZ noise that could be some lost Dead C jam really, but then they slip right back into “Carousel” a slow burn Velvets style ballad, druggy and woozy, laced with moaning fiddle, and detuned guitar warble.
That detuned warble is present throughout, it’s what drives “Sweet Pea”, which starts out quite druggy and dreamy, before getting noisier and noisier, before finally settling into a warped unfunky groove. “Rosicrucinn Lovers” returns to the band to noise drenched shoegaze territory, a heady, heavy stretch of blissed out guitarnoise, draped over simple caveman drumming, and warbly vox, the whole thing wreathed in wild distorted psych-shred guitar. Which bleeds right over into “Marshall Sign”, sounding like some modern psych rock band going apeshit, but with some weird sort of gravitas that keeps it from sounding wanky, and instead makes it droney and trancey and mesmerizing. The rest of the record proper offers up variation of the previous songs, strummed psych folk drones, chaotic, stumbling free-form noise rock, minimal garage pop, angular Sonic Youth like dirge-rock, classic lo-fi NZ noise, fuzzy psychedelic jangle, and dense, swirling shoegaze dreampop, all of those sounds blurred and smeared into constantly shifting variations, the overall vibe, one of fantastically inventive, yet somehow still sort of naive, home brewed free form psychedelic noise pop, that really sounds like it could be some contemporary combo, which certainly speaks to both The Garbage & The Flowers sonic prescience, as well as the heavy influence they had (perhaps unknowingly) on the current crop of noiseniks.
The reissue tacks on a bonus disc/lp, featuring a ton of singles, compilation tracks, demos, rehearsals, alternate versions and previously unreleased rarities, all of which sound as good as the record proper. Includes a big booklet of liner notes and rare photos.
MPEG Stream: “Love Comes Slowly Now”
MPEG Stream: “Nothing Going Down”
MPEG Stream: “Carousel”
MPEG Stream: “Rosicrucinn Lovers”
MPEG Stream: “Marshall Signs”

album cover GARBAGE AND THE FLOWERS, THE Stoned Rehearsal (Quemada) lp 19.98
A little while back we reviewed a reissued of the debut from NZ noise pop combo The Garbage & The Flowers, which for many was the first time hearing this amazing outfit, but for those already well versed in the woozy ways of TG&TF there’s this vinyl only collection of a rare rehearsal session, which is like an even rougher and rawer version of the group’s already rough and raw sound, the detuned warble is even more woozy and druggy, the vocals echo drenched and buried in the mix, the drums a drunken stumble, the melodies angular and atonal, but strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic, slipping easily from lush warp-pop jangle to damage deconstructed art rock, and right back again. Minimal, and moody, and with lots of random studio chatter left in. It’s pretty cool to hear the band talking to each other mid song, offering suggestions or directions, before effortlessly slipping right back into the song, or even more remarkable changing direction completely, as if the group just happened to be recording the actual genesis of the song(s).
Boy / girl vocals over sparkling fields of guitar glimmer, plenty of amp buzz and tape hum, extremely lo-fi, but that fidelity is the perfect fit for this band’s damaged, slo-mo, Velvet Underground meets The Clean outsider jangle pop. Fans of classic NZ outfits, and all those amazing Flying Nun records, will dig this immensely. Includes a ‘sing-along’ lyric sheet as well.

album cover GREAT UNWASHED, THE Clean Out Of Our Minds (Exiled) lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
More from the Flying Nun archives and we couldn’t be happier. This particular artifact comes courtesy of David and Hamish Kilgour, who formed the Great Unwashed right after the break up of legendary pop group the Clean, this record recorded in 1983, and fans of the Clean will of course hear much of that group in the Great Unwashed. In fact, folks who have flipped out over the recent Flying Nun collections Tally Ho and Time To Go, most likely dug the killer GU tracks included on both (both included here). The vibe of the Great Unwashed is a sort of woozy home brewed effects laced psychedelic jangle pop, heavy on the Syd Barrett vibe, the music loose and ramshackle, lush and layered and jangly one second, more woozy and minor key the next, the vox a sort of mumbled croon, occasionally slipping into a haunting falsetto, the music drifting easily into some haunting Pink Floyd like psych pop just as easily as something more distinctly classic NZ indie pop sounding. And like much of the NZ pop of the time, while on the surface everything may seem jangly and super poppy, there’s a dark undercurrent of droniness and subtle minor key malevolence, whether it’s simply a sort of Velvets style droned out hypno-strum or some dark almost Birthday Party-ish twang draped over the otherwise dreamy jangle, or even the occasional bit of tripped out psychedelic effects, or in places a bit of gloomy dirgery (moments definitely remind us of fellow Kiwis the Pin Group).
Another essential Flying Nun / NZ indie rock classic, finally available again. Pressed on thick vinyl, and housed in an old school Stoughton tip on style sleeve. Sadly, no download coupon though.
MPEG Stream: “Hello Is Ray There”
MPEG Stream: “Meanwhile”
MPEG Stream: “Obscurity Blues”
MPEG Stream: “Quickstep”
MPEG Stream: “Neck Of The Woods”

album cover GUTTERIDGE, PETER Pure (540 Records / Xpressway) 2lp 28.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
You might not recognize the name Peter Gutteridge, unless you’re big NZ music nerd, cuz while Pure is the only solo record Gutteridge ever released, he played in a bunch of bands you most definitely DO know, the Chills, Snapper, the Great Unwashed, the Clean, the Puddle… holy cow! Pure was only ever released as a super limited tape WAY back in 1989 on the Xpressway label, and has essentially been unavailable ever since, but for fans of NZ underground music and Flying Nun, this is some primo home-brewed Kiwi pop, fans of Tall Dwarfs and Peter Jefferies will fall in love (if they weren’t already). Totally of its time, but somehow utterly timeless, all it takes really is a couple tracks, the opener “Lonely” is all primitive drum programming, thick, droned out distorted guitar buzz, and some weirdly affected echo drenched multi tracked vocals, total 4 track pop genius, somehow heavy and noisy, but lilting and melancholic and sweetly dreamy. The next track is somehow even cooler, the drum machines seemingly gone haywire, spitting out a barrage of sped up spastic skitter, while guitars buzz and moan melodically, all wrapped in swirling, buzzing organs, again, somehow managing to be hypnotic and psychedelic, but also perfectly poppy. Which is pretty much how all of Pure plays out, Gutteridge laying down thick, distorted guitars, sometimes wrapped in weird FX, usually anchored by some Casio rhythms, his vocals often settled way down in the mix, but just as often crooning dramatically right up front, the whole thing fuzzy and washed out and definitely a bit psychedelic, with plenty of lo-fi home studio trickery, the sounds occasionally panned and swooping from speaker to speaker, not to mention weird hiss and buzz and drop outs (from the original tape we presume), some tracks sound like an underground NZ version of the Velvets, others super experimental and abstract, with fields of slow shifting static, pulsing bassnotes, blurred distorted drones, some sound all carnivalesque and tripped out, of course a bunch sound like classic NZ pop, and some border on almost Dead C-ish noise rock, the best moments of course when Gutteridge somehow fuses them all together, which happens more than should be possible. So great! For folks who have been flipping out over the recent Flying Nun reissue campaign, Pure is an absolutely essential NZ underground pop classic!!! Hopefully this means more reissued NZ rarities could be forthcoming, here’s hoping for a comprehensive reissue campaign for the OTHER legendary NZ label, Xpressway!
Sadly, no download code (or cd version)…

album cover JEFFERIES, PETER Electricity (Superior Viaduct) 2lp 26.00
In 2002, the eccentric New Zealand songwriter Peter Jefferies quit making music, giving his amp and synths to friends. But the drum-kit that he pounded through the ’80s and ’90s ended up in the trash heap. He took a job teaching music to high-school students; and reluctantly entertained the thought of returning to his own songwriting after Amanda Palmer pleaded with him to share a bill with her when she was on tour in New Zealand. His homeland never paid much attention to Jefferies, but he long had an avid following in the States. Yes, all of us at aQuarius have long championed his work; and the original pressing of his second album Electricity was long a staple here at the shop in the mid-’90s, until the album inevitably went out of print.
Jefferies enjoyed a prolific career in New Zealand despite the relative lack of attention from his fellow Kiwis. He and his brother Graeme were the ring-leaders through the ’80s of Nocturnal Projections and This Kind Of Punishment, both of which sutured the punk gloom of Joy Division to the earnest noise-making that was being broadcast from the nascent Xpressway gang (Dead C, Trash, Alastair Galbraith, etc.). The tension found in both of those earlier punk propositions carries on into Jefferies solo work especially on his 1994 album Electricity. Here, his mono-maniacal songs sit amidst linear expressions of tense piano pounding, Mo Tucker drum-kit minimalism, and crushed guitar chords as the emotionally raw arrangements for his adventurous, idiosyncratic vocals. At times his songs plead with a desperate exhaustion as he croons like a lo-fi, tape-crazed Scott Walker; and others, he barks with an insistency that hangs anger, fright, and love in his suspended vocal notes. With all of the (well deserved) attention to the Flying Nun catalogue getting reissued, here’s a welcome revisiting of one of the under-appreciated masters of NZ avant-pop. Might a Plagal Grind reissue be around the corner?
MPEG Stream: “Wined Up”
MPEG Stream: “Don’t Look Down”
MPEG Stream: “Electricity”
MPEG Stream: “Scissors”

album cover KILGOUR, HAMISH All Of It And Nothing (Ba Da Bing) cd 10.98
Hamish Kilgour was a founding member of legendary NZ jangle poppers the Clean, along with his brother David, and later played in the Mad Scene after moving to the US, but even after decades of playing music, All Of It And Nothing is his first solo record EVER!
The way it begins, it’s fantastically moody and minimal and seriously stripped down, in fact the first few tracks are mostly acoustic guitar and percussion, and Kilgour’s tentative warbled vocals. Over the course of the record, that sonic palette expands, though, adding spare, skeletal drumming, chimes, marimbas, dulcimer and vibraphone, yet instead of making it lush and layered, ends up more about adding texture, and melody. Then at some point, the sound does shift, the second half of the record getting more energetic and rocking, a little like the old Flying Nun sound, heavily beholden to the droned out strum and pulse of the Velvets, ramshackle and loose, woozy and psychedelic, those tracks placed between songs that remain dreamily lo-fi, a hushed almost bedroom-folk. That more intimate side a perfect balance to the more energetic numbers, and somehow those tracks, even with that added energy, still retain a sort of languorous, soporific energy, darkly laid back, sort of druggy and hypnotic, especially on tracks like the sprawling “Hullabaloo” which takes a dark pop gem, and stretches it WAY out, into something much more experimental and minimally mesmeric.
MPEG Stream: “Here It Comes”
MPEG Stream: “Going Out”
MPEG Stream: “Hullabaloo”
MPEG Stream: “Last Song”

album cover KILGOUR, HAMISH All Of It And Nothing (Ba Da Bing) lp 16.98
Hamish Kilgour was a founding member of legendary NZ jangle poppers the Clean, along with his brother David, and later played in the Mad Scene after moving to the US, but even after decades of playing music, All Of It And Nothing is his first solo record EVER!
The way it begins, it’s fantastically moody and minimal and seriously stripped down, in fact the first few tracks are mostly acoustic guitar and percussion, and Kilgour’s tentative warbled vocals. Over the course of the record, that sonic palette expands, though, adding spare, skeletal drumming, chimes, marimbas, dulcimer and vibraphone, yet instead of making it lush and layered, ends up more about adding texture, and melody. Then at some point, the sound does shift, the second half of the record getting more energetic and rocking, a little like the old Flying Nun sound, heavily beholden to the droned out strum and pulse of the Velvets, ramshackle and loose, woozy and psychedelic, those tracks placed between songs that remain dreamily lo-fi, a hushed almost bedroom-folk. That more intimate side a perfect balance to the more energetic numbers, and somehow those tracks, even with that added energy, still retain a sort of languorous, soporific energy, darkly laid back, sort of druggy and hypnotic, especially on tracks like the sprawling “Hullabaloo” which takes a dark pop gem, and stretches it WAY out, into something much more experimental and minimally mesmeric.
MPEG Stream: “Here It Comes”
MPEG Stream: “Going Out”
MPEG Stream: “Hullabaloo”
MPEG Stream: “Last Song”

album cover KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Float Along Fill Your Lungs / Oddments (Flightless) 2cd 17.98
Um, ok, either you’re reading this review BECAUSE the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, or you were just about to stop reading it ’cause the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. If the latter is the case, please stick with it, they’re actually a better band than their name might suggest (we’re making this a Record Of The Week after all!!). Or, if you do think the name is cool, then they ARE as good of a band as you’re hoping for. But maybe not the sort of band you’d think they’d be. It’s actually kind of hard to pin down exactly what kind of band Australia’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are, anyway. Kind of cosmic garage psych pop?
The first disc here, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (originally released on its own last year in their home country) starts off stonery enough with a fifteen minute spaced out extravaganza called “Head On/Pill”, truly a trippy psychedelic swirl, a mind-altering mix of lilting melodies, gentle vocals, and driving motorik rhythms, with loads and loads of FX, all sorts of fuzz and distortion. It’s spacey and sunshiney and somehow like a much more garage-poppy Hawkwind or Acid Mothers Temple track. Had us sold right there. But this 7-piece ensemble aren’t just about the extended space rock (pop). Most of rest of the songs on Float Along are much shorter, taking elements of that first track, or not, and going to other delightful garage-pop places, variously strummy and twangy and foot-tapping and head-nodding, fuzzy and shambolic, before winding the disc up with another long, tripped out (but mellower) jam in the form of the Eastern-tinged, drone-laced title track.
THEN, there’s the 2nd disc, also released separately this year Down Under, the aptly titled Oddments, which is even more varied than the 1st disc. This one starts with a Bollywood-sampling instrumental that makes us think of ol’ Money Mark and the Beastie Boys, super groovy and kinda chaotic, fuzzy “hairy funk”, with lots of organ and synth sizzle. The psych-groove continues on the next, vocal track, bringing in visions of early Funkadelic and Shuggie Otis. But then, as the disc spins, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (love typing that name out!) get back into the ramshackle ’60s teen garage pop inspired songwriting that also made up the bulk of the first disc, with a dash of distorted Ariel Pink-ish dementia. The wispy vocals of “Work This Time” make us think of Vincent Gallo’s solo album When, “Hot Wax” is a weird, catchy jam incorporating some “Surfing Safari” quotes, “Homeless Man In Adidas” (!) is a hushed acoustic folk number… you see, all over the place. Oddments indeed.
Overall, soundwise, King Gizzard align themselves with the Ty Segall / Thee Oh Sees type of crowd, and so it’s no surprise then that they’re gonna be over here in the States in October touring with White Fence. Hope we get to see that. Seems like they’d be a blast live. But King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard’s style of “garage rock” is waaaay more cosmic and psychedelic and randomly bizarre than a lot of their US contemporaries, that’s for sure. We’ll be indulging ourselves heavily in both these records for a while yet, trying to fully get our heads around ‘em. Nice, nice, nice.
MPEG Stream: “Head On/Pill”
MPEG Stream: “Mystery Jack”
MPEG Stream: “Pop In My Step”
MPEG Stream: “Alluda Majaka”
MPEG Stream: “Vegemite”

album cover KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Float Along Fill Your Lungs / Oddments (Flightless) 2lp 24.00
Um, ok, either you’re reading this review BECAUSE the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, or you were just about to stop reading it ’cause the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. If the latter is the case, please stick with it, they’re actually a better band than their name might suggest (we’re making this a Record Of The Week after all!!). Or, if you do think the name is cool, then they ARE as good of a band as you’re hoping for. But maybe not the sort of band you’d think they’d be. It’s actually kind of hard to pin down exactly what kind of band Australia’s King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are, anyway. Kind of cosmic garage psych pop?
The first disc here, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (originally released on its own last year in their home country) starts off stonery enough with a fifteen minute spaced out extravaganza called “Head On/Pill”, truly a trippy psychedelic swirl, a mind-altering mix of lilting melodies, gentle vocals, and driving motorik rhythms, with loads and loads of FX, all sorts of fuzz and distortion. It’s spacey and sunshiney and somehow like a much more garage-poppy Hawkwind or Acid Mothers Temple track. Had us sold right there. But this 7-piece ensemble aren’t just about the extended space rock (pop). Most of rest of the songs on Float Along are much shorter, taking elements of that first track, or not, and going to other delightful garage-pop places, variously strummy and twangy and foot-tapping and head-nodding, fuzzy and shambolic, before winding the disc up with another long, tripped out (but mellower) jam in the form of the Eastern-tinged, drone-laced title track.
THEN, there’s the 2nd disc, also released separately this year Down Under, the aptly titled Oddments, which is even more varied than the 1st disc. This one starts with a Bollywood-sampling instrumental that makes us think of ol’ Money Mark and the Beastie Boys, super groovy and kinda chaotic, fuzzy “hairy funk”, with lots of organ and synth sizzle. The psych-groove continues on the next, vocal track, bringing in visions of early Funkadelic and Shuggie Otis. But then, as the disc spins, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (love typing that name out!) get back into the ramshackle ’60s teen garage pop inspired songwriting that also made up the bulk of the first disc, with a dash of distorted Ariel Pink-ish dementia. The wispy vocals of “Work This Time” make us think of Vincent Gallo’s solo album When, “Hot Wax” is a weird, catchy jam incorporating some “Surfing Safari” quotes, “Homeless Man In Adidas” (!) is a hushed acoustic folk number… you see, all over the place. Oddments indeed.
Overall, soundwise, King Gizzard align themselves with the Ty Segall / Thee Oh Sees type of crowd, and so it’s no surprise then that they’re gonna be over here in the States in October touring with White Fence. Hope we get to see that. Seems like they’d be a blast live. But King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard’s style of “garage rock” is waaaay more cosmic and psychedelic and randomly bizarre than a lot of their US contemporaries, that’s for sure. We’ll be indulging ourselves heavily in both these records for a while yet, trying to fully get our heads around ‘em. Nice, nice, nice.
MPEG Stream: “Head On/Pill”
MPEG Stream: “Mystery Jack”
MPEG Stream: “Pop In My Step”
MPEG Stream: “Alluda Majaka”
MPEG Stream: “Vegemite”

album cover KNEALE, JAMES CAMPBELL I (Don’t Fuck With Magic) cd-r 13.98
It’s been a while since we heard from our noisy pal Campbell Kneale. When we last checked in, he had retired the Birchville Cat moniker, and had rechristened himself Our Love Will Destroy The World, but then after a Birchville-worthy torrent of releases with OLWDTW, sort of just disappeared for a bit.
So we were super excited to get a missive from the man, informing us of a new release, the first on his Don’t Fuck With Magic imprint in ages, and so ordered a bunch, and are one of the only (if not the only) places in the US carrying it. We were of course curious what this latest name change meant, going back to his given name, we made a guess, but we were wrong. We had sort of expected something pretty and tranquil, but instead, Kneale as Kneale explodes right out of the gate with a face melting, ear shredding barrage of caustic Japanoise style crunch, cascades of grinding high end, and swirling shards of jagged skree. As always, Kneale is a master noisemaker, so while a glancing listen reveals and army of blends and vacuum cleaners set to stun, dig deeper, and beneath the surface, lurk all manner of moaning low need melodies, deftly stylized textures, but that said if your tolerance for noise is low, this might be a bit much for you. The first track does go through multiple permutations, drifting through a field of shrieking feedback, before emerging on the other side as a murky, albeit still crunchy, noisy jumble, before eventually blossoming into a strange psychedelic skree, that sounds like multiple Sunroof! records spinning at once.
The second track flirts with nuance in the first few seconds, but quickly splinters into another furious flurry of white/grey/black/pink noise, more buried voices and sounds, swirls of glitched out grind, and malfunctioning electronics, whipped up into a fervor, and sent spinning in some sort of soul shearing sonic whirlwind, pocked with weird moaning metallic howls, before sputtering out into something a bit more restrained, a lush textured bit of gristly, muted soft noise, a comparatively dreamy comedown to a record that is definitely one of Kneale’s fiercest.
Crazy limited as always, and in the usual swank Don’t Fuck With Magic packaging, an oversized full color sleeve, adorned with original Kneale artwork.
MPEG Stream: “I”

album cover MARINEVILLE Ready For The Dance (Oak Park Records) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Not new (it actually was released in 2001), but new to AQ thanks to a visit by band member Mark Williams all the way from New Zealand. If you were to only hear the opening two songs on this Marineville album, you might peg these New Zealanders as a slightly eccentric, subdued country quartet… but venture past those first couple and the ride gets considerably darker and rockier. Many of the later songs are definitely dominated by some stoner/space rock leanings — very loose strung and low slung with Sonic Youth-esque brooding dissonance – but even so, they’re still grounded with some twangy, earthy warmth. The eighth song brings it all together and is quite reminiscent of Yo La Tengo particularly around the time of their Painful album… which is a good thing. Released on their own label Oak Park Records.
MPEG Stream: “Ghost Of Bobby Forster”
MPEG Stream: “Hey Predator”

album cover MAX BLOCK, THE Air Ache In The Belly Of The Leech (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
Long overdue reissue of this legendary and mostly unheard early eighties Flying Nun artifact. Even Flying Nun obsessives would be forgiven for missing out on Max Block’s sole 12″ release, but odds are you’re familiar with the members of Max Block, specifically Maryrose and Brian Cook, who first found themselves in a band together here, having previously done time in Above Ground (recently reissued and reviewed right here) and Scorched Earth Policy respectively, and eventually going on to form long time aQ faves the Renderers.
This lp comp collects both that long lost 12″, as well as another, until now unreleased ep, The Max Block’s sound a woozy art damaged punk, lots of angular jagged guitars, wild octopoidal drumming, dueling male / female vox, super active melodic basslines, tribal rhythms, swirls of spacey effects, the vibe droned out and propulsive, with whirring organs adding a strange almost circusy vibe at times, but usually reminding us of groups like The Ex and Pere Ubu, even Wire here and there, some tracks frantic and frenetic, others brooding and downcast, sounding like with some extra noise and heft they could’ve been Dead C jams, in fact the live tracks are downright noisy, but MB’s sound is firmly on the pop side of the spectrum, although unlike many of the NZ bands of the time, their’s was less concerned with jangle, and more with crunch, less twee and more tangle, slipping from noisy and dirgey to trance-y and minimal to crunchy, angular and chaotic. Awesome stuff, and if you dug the track on the recent Time To Go Flying Nun compilation we reviewed recently, you’ve probably been wanting more!!
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES, includes a download coupon as well!
MPEG Stream: “Burn David Burn”
MPEG Stream: “It Came In A Can”
MPEG Stream: “Black Fish”
MPEG Stream: “Sonic Blur”

MOLES Untune The Sky (Flydaddy) cd 14.98
The Moles are definitely not a household name, at least in most normal households, which is definitely a shame. Not sure how many folks remember the band Cardinal, they only released one proper full length, back in the nineties, but to this day, it remains quite possibly one of the most perfect orchestral pop records ever released. But before Cardinal, there was the Moles.
Untune The Sky is the debut from Aussie poppers The Moles, the band that Richard Davies called home, long before Cardinal, and while not nearly as lush or orchestral, it’s a classic slice of primo late 80′s/early 90′s New Zealand / Flying Nun style style experimental pop. Droning and hypnotic, with lots of jagged unfinished edges, weird almost industrial noise, Brit pop jangle and an almost Morrissey vocal drawl. But for as experimental as the Moles were, all of that experimentalism was wrapped around some incredibly catchy pop, hooks galore, not always proudly on display, sometimes nearly totally obfuscated, but just as often, set up right in front, and allowed to shine, an approach to pop that to this day still seems distinctly from that era / region.
Fans of NZ outfits like Tall Dwarfs, the Bats, the Clean, the 3Ds, the Chills, Straightjacket Fits, the Verlaines, could have easily missed out on the Moles, they were actually from Australia after all, and were sort of underground even among the already underground, plus they were definitely a bit weirder, but now’s the time to right that wrong, this stuff is timeless, sounding as good as ever, some incredible pop songs can be found within Untune The Sky, and half the fun is digging for them.

album cover MOLES Untune The Sky (Kill Shaman) 2lp 19.98
The Moles are definitely not a household name, at least in most normal households, which is definitely a shame. Not sure how many folks remember the band Cardinal, they only released one proper full length, back in the nineties, but to this day, it remains quite possibly one of the most perfect orchestral pop records ever released. But before Cardinal, there was the Moles.
Untune The Sky is the debut from Aussie poppers The Moles, the band that Richard Davies called home, long before Cardinal, and while not nearly as lush or orchestral, it’s a classic slice of primo late 80′s/early 90′s New Zealand / Flying Nun style style experimental pop. Droning and hypnotic, with lots of jagged unfinished edges, weird almost industrial noise, Brit pop jangle and an almost Morrissey vocal drawl. But for as experimental as the Moles were, all of that experimentalism was wrapped around some incredibly catchy pop, hooks galore, not always proudly on display, sometimes nearly totally obfuscated, but just as often, set up right in front, and allowed to shine, an approach to pop that to this day still seems distinctly from that era / region.
Fans of NZ outfits like Tall Dwarfs, the Bats, the Clean, the 3Ds, the Chills, Straightjacket Fits, the Verlaines, could have easily missed out on the Moles, they were actually from Australia after all, and were sort of underground even among the already underground, plus they were definitely a bit weirder, but now’s the time to right that wrong, this stuff is timeless, sounding as good as ever, some incredible pop songs can be found within Untune The Sky, and half the fun is digging for them.
MPEG Stream: “Breathe Me In”
MPEG Stream: “Bury Me Happy”
MPEG Stream: “Tendrils And Paracetamol”
MPEG Stream: “This Is A Happy Garden”

album cover MONTGOMERY, ROY 324 E.13th St. #7 (Yellow Electric) 2lp 23.00
This excellent collection of early Roy Montgomery material gets the limited vinyl treatment courtesy of Yellow Electric, the imprint run by Liz Harris, aka Grouper. Originally released on cd in 1999 on Drunken Fish, this album documents the more vocal-centric output of Roy Montgomery’s early solo work after leaving New Zealand and setting up temporary residence in New York (the address of the title is where most of these tracks were recorded.)
“Then those little Yankee microlabels put them out and they floated to the top of the seven-inch glut, and we drank ‘em down, and bought ‘em up, and traded ‘em for foolish amounts of money after they sold out.” This quote, from the liner notes, perfectly describes the near constant stream of Roy Montgomery singles which seemed to be coming out every week in 1995 – 1996. This very prolific period of Roy Montgomery’s career follows the shift in his aesthetic from the post-Velvets/Joy Division/Wire strum of his early days with Dadamah, The Pin Group and The Shallows (whose only single begins this collection) to his current soaring, guitar reverb space-rock mantras. Aside from the convenient consolidation of all of these out-of-print singles, this really is some of his best material. Also contains four previously-unreleased tracks (Also on the cd btw), along with guests including Bill Direen and Barbara Manning, as well as some awesome covers of Wire (“Used To”) and The Victor Dimisich Band (“It’s Cold Outside”).
MPEG Stream: “She Said (The Shallows)”
MPEG Stream: “Used To”
MPEG Stream: “E.N.D.”
MPEG Stream: “Intertidal”

album cover OMIT Tracer (The Helen Scarsdale Agency) 2cd 14.98
Given the recent wealth of post-noise, analogue synth excursions from the likes of Emeralds and Oneohtrix Point Never, we’re revisiting one of the best records from one of our all-time favorite electronic artists – Omit.
Over the years, we have made quite a fuss over the free-noise / dronescraping scene out of New Zealand, as perennially great artists such as the Dead C, Birchville Cat Motel, Flies Inside The Sun, Surface Of The Earth, RST, Eso Steel, Seht, Peter Wright, and many others form a population that is proportionally way larger than countries many many times the size of New Zealand. Amongst all of those NZ artists we mentioned, there is another artist who gets name-checked from time to time: Omit. At one time back in the mid-’90s, Clinton Williams – the sole knob twiddler and tape-splicer behind Omit – put all of today’s hyper-prolific cd-r artists to shame with his own stream of releases through his own cassette and lathe-cut imprint Deep Skin. An artist whose paranoiac aesthetic was completely wrapped up in the bunker mentality of ’70s analog electronics, Omit never really made the logical transition by updating from cassette to cd-r, having only re-released a fraction of his old tapes on disc, the Rejector reissued on Anomalous, the Quad boxset released on Corpus Hermeticum and now the monumental double disc set Tracer, rescued from obsolescence by The Helen Scarsdale Agency.
While Williams calls the tiny farming community of Blenheim, New Zealand his home, there is very little in his work that latches upon the gristled noise and feral folk tunes heard in many of his fellow New Zealanders. Instead, his work sprawls from the sci-fi bleakness that ran through the post-psychedelic explorations of German electronics, most notably Klaus Schulze, Conrad Schnitzler, and Cluster. At the same time, Omit’s kosmische homage stands as an eerie parallel to the Raster-Noton sound that ripples with Omit’s millennial horror, albeit through the sterility of digital production. Comparisons have also been made to early ’80s Cabaret Voltaire, but Omit is infinitely better in executing his ideas than CV ever were. It could be said that Mr. Williams is a man in the wrong time, in the wrong part of the world; and all things considered, Mr. Williams would probably like it that way. Perhaps the best way to make the world’s most isolating music is to be thoroughly isolated oneself.
Following his previous work on Anomalous and Corpus Hermeticum, Tracer demonstrates a finely crafted execution in these bleak, isolationist recordings. The slow moving synth sweeps, creeping electric atmospheres, unnerving loops of mechanized clamor, and low-slung rhythmic austerity have all of the trappings of industrial culture strategies in using technology to critique technology’s alienation over mankind; yet, Omit has never really stated what this is about, instead leaving hints that Omit is merely a reflection of Clinton Williams’ soul expressed through blighted electronic hypnosis. Emotive expressionism isn’t something you think of when it comes to Cabaret Voltaire or Throbbing Gristle, but that’s the ground where Williams has consistently tread. You would be hard pressed to find an electronic album as majestic, melancholy, and profoundly human as Tracer. Totally amazing!!!
MPEG Stream: “Sequester”
MPEG Stream: “Syn Flex Dump”
MPEG Stream: “Clicker”

album cover OUR LOVE WILL DESTROY THE WORLD Frigid Antichrist (Don’t Fuck With Magic) cd-r 14.98
Another blast of kandy kolored Kiwi krush from Mr. Campbell Kneale, who previously operated under the moniker Birchville Cat Motel, but who has been operating as OLWDTW for a while now. After a long stretch of near silence, Kneale is back with a bang, and not one, not two, but three consecutive psych-noise bangers. The first a punishing noise freakout under his own name, then the surprisingly lovely Hive Hum Golden Remorse, and now the awesomely titled Frigid Antichrist, which seems to split the difference, Kneale deftly balancing pulchritude with punishment, laying out what sounds like a delicate sprawl of hushed vocalizations, and swoonsome layered melodies, but burying them beneath a barrage of caustic buzz and grinding blacknoise howl. Like lots of Kneale’s work, sans headphones this could very well sound like some obscure, damaged Japanoise squall, but dig deeper, and there’s much beauty to be discovered, and strangely, much of that beauty lies in how it seeps through the seemingly impenetrable noise, like tufts of cotton candy drifting through tangles of barbed wire, pretty little wildflowers wending their way through thorny thickets, and once you let yourself get lost, it’s almost as if the noisiness abates, the two disparate sides of Kneale’s sonic palette, somehow bleeding into one, heaving, roiling, churning, throbbing wall of blissed out dream-noise sound. The first track here is downright shoegazey, sounding a bit like My Bloody Valentine crossed with Incapacitants, while the second longer track, gets seriously metallic, Like Birchville covering Gorgoroth, and sounding like it could burst into proper black metal riffage at any point, but instead, strands of glitchy electronic thrum, overdriven and doused in FX, unfurl into undulating sheets of blurry noise, disembodied riffs that buzz malevolently before splintering into shards of grinding noise, and that again, manage to transform into something weirdly pretty, albeit still PLENTY buzzy and blackened. A crushing sprawl of noise-gaze blacknoise bliss for sure. And as with all the new OLWDTW stuff, we’re the only place in North America that has it, and it is indeed, VERY limited!
MPEG Stream: “I”
MPEG Stream: “II”

album cover OUR LOVE WILL DESTROY THE WORLD Hive Hum Golden Remorse (Don’t Fuck With Magic) cd-r 14.98
After a brief spell of relative musical inactivity, or so it seemed, Mr. Campbell Kneale is back. Most recently with a solo cd-r we reviewed right here a few lists back (we still have a few copies just ask) and now with another new jam, this one from his alter ego Our Love Will Destroy The World, who dials back some of the sonic onslaught of his recent solo outing, and sculpts something much more hauntingly majestic and noisily raga-like, a deliriously Sunroof-like ur-drone, wavery and woozy, wreathed in dense sheets of undulating noise, and underpinned by an ominous, almost doom-like creep, loping and lumbering, the sound in constant flux, strangely melancholy, but dreamily sun-dappled, even when smothered by grinding static and heaving chordal thrum. Some of the buried melodies sound almost like wordless vox, giving it a strange, almost Amps For Christ like vibe, at times like some noise drenched alien sea shanty, and at others like a twisted remix of some lost Hermann Nitsch aktion. Headphones are most definitely required, and allow you to sink deep into Kneale’s wildly psychedelic noise-world, which just might be the prettiest/best thing we’ve heard from him in a while. WAY recommended, for noise nerds, dronelords, and raga revellers alike!
Super duper limited as always, we’re maybe the only place in the US that’s got ‘em, and in the usual fancy Don’t Fuck With Magic packaging, an oversized full color sleeve, adorned with original Kneale artwork.
MPEG Stream: “Hive Hum Golden Remorse”

album cover PIN GROUP, THE Ambivalence (Flying Nun) cd 13.98
The recently re-issued / re-released discography from this NZ dour eighties dronerock gloompop combo now also available on cd (sadly missing the live bonus tracks that were included with the lp version, though)!
The entire musical aesthetic of the storied Flying Nun label can be traced back to the first two singles. On the exuberant and triumphantly cheerful side, you’ve got The Clean’s “Tally Ho!” with its uptempo jangle and sloppily melodic power pop chords; but on the other side, there was the gloomy drone-rock of The Pin Group who actually released the very first Flying Nun single “Ambivalence” back in 1981. According to the liner notes by The Dead C’s Bruce Russell, the late ’70s and early ’80s spawned quite a lot of bands in New Zealand trying to cop the Velvet Underground’s gritty rock minimalism, including The Pin Group, a trio featuring Roy Montgomery (yes, THAT Roy Montgomery!), Ross Humphries (who later played in Bailter Space and The Terminals), and Peter Stapleton (who seemed to be the only guy in New Zealand with a drum kit, as he played with everybody). “Ambivalence” certainly had a black-leather minimalism filtered through the Velvets, but with strangled basslines and dour vocals from Montgomery, The Pin Group also shared more than a few passing glances at Joy Division. By the time The Pin Group got to their second single “Coat” (released later in 1981) the Velvets jangle had been engulfed in a black-hole of nervous gloom that hints at Montgomery’s drone-rock impressionism from the early ’90s onward. That single sported a clever Andy Warhol ripoff by replacing the Velvet Underground banana with a pop-art sequence of Kiwis, but the B side to that single, “Jim”, situates the band at their bleakest, with a puritanically dark punk sermon that foreshadowed the emotionally draining dynamics of Slint by about a decade.
Ambivalence marks the second anthology of The Pin Group’s short but hugely influential career which lasted less than 12 months. Everything from the first anthology (an eponymous cd released on Siltbreeze back in 1997) is reprised here, including the two covers – the smartly chosen “Hurricane Fighter Plane” and the unwise “Low Rider.” Don’t let the latter spoil the majesty of the rest of the album. Recommended? You bet your ass!
MPEG Stream: “Power”
MPEG Stream: “Jim”
MPEG Stream: “Ambivalence II”
MPEG Stream: “When I Tell You”

album cover PIN GROUP, THE Ambivalence (Flying Nun) lp + cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The entire musical aesthetic of the storied Flying Nun label can be traced back to the first two singles. On the exuberant and triumphantly cheerful side, you’ve got The Clean’s “Tally Ho!” with its uptempo jangle and sloppily melodic power pop chords; but on the other side, there was the gloomy drone-rock of The Pin Group who actually released the very first Flying Nun single “Ambivalence” back in 1981. According to the liner notes by The Dead C’s Bruce Russell, the late ’70s and early ’80s spawned quite a lot of bands in New Zealand trying to cop the Velvet Underground’s gritty rock minimalism, including The Pin Group, a trio featuring Roy Montgomery (yes, THAT Roy Montgomery!), Ross Humphries (who later played in Bailter Space and The Terminals), and Peter Stapleton (who seemed to be the only guy in New Zealand with a drum kit, as he played with everybody). “Ambivalence” certainly had a black-leather minimalism filtered through the Velvets, but with strangled basslines and dour vocals from Montgomery, The Pin Group also shared more than a few passing glances at Joy Division. By the time The Pin Group got to their second single “Coat,” (released later in 1981) the Velvets jangle had been engulfed in a black-hole of nervous gloom that hints at Montgomery’s drone-rock impressionism from the early ’90s onward. That single sported a clever Andy Warhol ripoff by replacing the Velvet Underground banana with a pop-art sequence of Kiwis, but the B side to that single, “Jim”, situates the band at their bleakest, with a puritanically dark punk sermon that foreshadowed the emotionally draining dynamics of Slint by about a decade.
Ambivalence marks the second anthology of The Pin Group’s short but hugely influential career which lasted less than 12 months. Everything from the first anthology (an eponymous cd released on Siltbreeze back in 1997) is reprised on the vinyl of Ambivalence, including the two covers – the smartly chosen “Hurricane Fighter Plane” and the unwise “Low Rider.” Don’t let the latter spoil the majesty of the rest of the album, which also features a bonus cd of a live show from July 1981 with a couple of tracks that had been unreleased elsewhere. Recommended? You bet your ass!
MPEG Stream: “Power”
MPEG Stream: “Jim”
MPEG Stream: “Ambivalence II”
MPEG Stream: “When I Tell You”

RENDERERS, THE Measured Strychnine Invitations (Exiled Records) lp 21.00
album cover SCORCHED EARTH POLICY Going Thru’ A Hole In The Back Of Your Head (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
Siltbreeze continues to reissue some of our favorite classic underground New Zealand rarities, a while back there was the amazing Pin Group reissue, and now we have this, the complete recorded works of Scorched Earth Policy, who existed for 2 or 3 years in the mid eighties, and only ever recorded two 12″s for the legendary Flying Nun label, both of which are collected here. And while you might not know Scorched Earth Policy, you no doubt know some of the bands the various members also did time in: Vacuum, Pin Group, Terminals, Max Block, Renderers and a bunch more. The sound of Scorched Earth Policy was a sort of post punk flecked psychedelic garage rock, lots of low slung basslines, simple stripped down drumming, whirring organs, jagged angular riffage and fuzzed out jangle, boy/girl vocals, even some violin. The core ‘sound’ of SEP will definitely be familiar to fans of Flying Nun and NZ rock of the time, and everybody who digs the Bats and the Chills and the 3D’s, the Verlaines, Snapper, etc, will probably dig these guys too (if they don’t already) but even within that recognizable sound, the band definitely did their own thing, whether it was wild, loose punky jangle, or woozy, creepy almost country (foreshadowing the Renderers for sure), fuzzy playful poppiness, or brooding post punk, haunting organ driven balladry (which reminds us of Peter Jefferies as well!), or swaggery noise rock crunch. So good!
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!!! Includes a download coupon as well!!
MPEG Stream: “Green Cigar”
MPEG Stream: “Too Far Gone”
MPEG Stream: “Salivating”
MPEG Stream: “Tsetse Fly”
MPEG Stream: “Calcutta Rail”

album cover SKEPTICS Amalgam (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun) cd 14.98
Even some New Zealand music fanatics haven’t heard (or heard of) the Skeptics, a band that featured one of the Gordons, and a member of Bailter Space (the same guy actually), but that’s the sort of NZ pedigree that should have most Flying Nun / NZ underground rock nerds flipping their lids. But don’t be expecting the murky thud of the Gordons, or the blown out shoegaze heaviness of Bailter Space, the Skeptics occupied a whole different sonic realm, fusing the NZ sound we all know and love to something much more avant grade and experimental, with programmed rhythms and samples, the vibe almost industrial at times, the resulting sound twisted, damaged, demented and totally genius.
Both III (1987) and Amalgam (1990) have been insanely hard to track down for years now, reissued briefly in 1992 in a 4cd box set, which quickly went out of print, and immediately surfaced on the collector’s market, and was not surprisingly, outrageously expensive, so we were so psyched to discover that Captured Tracks was including these records in their ongoing Flying Nun reissue campaign (and here’s hoping they reissue all the other Skeptics stuff too!). So for now, we can revel in the group’s 3rd and 4th records, that 4th record released after the death of David D’Ath, and the group’s subsequent dissolution, but what a sonic legacy, one that long deserved the sort of love heaped upon so much other NZ music of the time.
III begins with a twisted smear of looped samples and stuttering sonics, which soon blossom into a lurching creep, snarly crooned vocals over big booming drums, wound up in streaks of distorted guitar buzz, the vibe, gloomy and dark, a sort of post industrial downer rock, that lumbers ominously, and is peppered with weird fragmented samples, melodic shards, super heavy, ominous, and intense, but also weirdly catchy. And it doesn’t get any less weird, the sound veering dramatically, from the piano driven post punk of “Agitator”, again peppered with strange sound FX and distorted electronics, sounding almost cabaret, like some mutated balladic torch song. “Turnover” slips back into the woozy, murky creep of the opener, the guitars thick and viscous, the vox slithery and blackly sexy, all anchored by a looped rhythm, and again, laced with strange electronic squiggles and twisted blurry samples. And so it goes, “La Motta” almost sounds like Scott Walker via the Butthole Surfers, but with a damaged industrial makeover, “Notice” too is a sort of drugged out industrial noise rock dirge, with some jagged shards of guitar, over a muddy moody downer rock murk, with the rest of the record splitting the difference between home brewed industrial goth and grinding avant post punk crush.
While Amalgam has a similar sonic template, it’s a bit more polished, the vocals more prominent, the drums more driving, the pop element more up front, there’s even a bit of a new wave vibe, just check out opener “And We bake”, which sounds like some lost new wave classic, fused to some girding metal buzz, and twisted mechanical rhythm. But the sound remains sonically sick, the second track, slipping right back into a woozy, warmly dirge, lurching detuned weirdness, clouds of FX and squiggly alien electronics wreath rubbery bass billows, melting riffs, and mush mouthed vocals, seriously trippy and gloriously fucked up.
Amalgam is a lot more varied than its predecessor, some tracks super electronics, others smeary buzzscapes of layered guitars, and super creeped out vocal samples, new wave electro pop and grim, noise drenched sprawls of grim, harrowing, psychedelic noise. It’s that balance that makes the record so cool, twisted poppiness, colliding with speaker shredding weirdness, often the two bleeding into each other, creating some unholy hybrid of avant industrial post punk psych-noise, the sort of thing the should appeal equally to weird music obsessives, adventurous goths and fans of experimental twisted noise pop. Which really is pretty much most everybody we know!
MPEG Stream: “And We Bake”
MPEG Stream: “Pack Ice”
MPEG Stream: “Never Tire Of Looking At The Stars”

album cover SKEPTICS III (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun) cd 14.98
Even some New Zealand music fanatics haven’t heard (or heard of) the Skeptics, a band that featured one of the Gordons, and a member of Bailter Space (the same guy actually), but that’s the sort of NZ pedigree that should have most Flying Nun / NZ underground rock nerds flipping their lids. But don’t be expecting the murky thud of the Gordons, or the blown out shoegaze heaviness of Bailter Space, the Skeptics occupied a whole different sonic realm, fusing the NZ sound we all know and love to something much more avant grade and experimental, with programmed rhythms and samples, the vibe almost industrial at times, the resulting sound twisted, damaged, demented and totally genius.
Both III (1987) and Amalgam (1990) have been insanely hard to track down for years now, reissued briefly in 1992 in a 4cd box set, which quickly went out of print, and immediately surfaced on the collector’s market, and was not surprisingly, outrageously expensive, so we were so psyched to discover that Captured Tracks was including these records in their ongoing Flying Nun reissue campaign (and here’s hoping they reissue all the other Skeptics stuff too!). So for now, we can revel in the group’s 3rd and 4th records, that 4th record released after the death of David D’Ath, and the group’s subsequent dissolution, but what a sonic legacy, one that long deserved the sort of love heaped upon so much other NZ music of the time.
III begins with a twisted smear of looped samples and stuttering sonics, which soon blossom into a lurching creep, snarly crooned vocals over big booming drums, wound up in streaks of distorted guitar buzz, the vibe, gloomy and dark, a sort of post industrial downer rock, that lumbers ominously, and is peppered with weird fragmented samples, melodic shards, super heavy, ominous, and intense, but also weirdly catchy. And it doesn’t get any less weird, the sound veering dramatically, from the piano driven post punk of “Agitator”, again peppered with strange sound FX and distorted electronics, sounding almost cabaret, like some mutated balladic torch song. “Turnover” slips back into the woozy, murky creep of the opener, the guitars thick and viscous, the vox slithery and blackly sexy, all anchored by a looped rhythm, and again, laced with strange electronic squiggles and twisted blurry samples. And so it goes, “La Motta” almost sounds like Scott Walker via the Butthole Surfers, but with a damaged industrial makeover, “Notice” too is a sort of drugged out industrial noise rock dirge, with some jagged shards of guitar, over a muddy moody downer rock murk, with the rest of the record splitting the difference between home brewed industrial goth and grinding avant post punk crush.
While Amalgam has a similar sonic template, it’s a bit more polished, the vocals more prominent, the drums more driving, the pop element more up front, there’s even a bit of a new wave vibe, just check out opener “And We bake”, which sounds like some lost new wave classic, fused to some girding metal buzz, and twisted mechanical rhythm. But the sound remains sonically sick, the second track, slipping right back into a woozy, warmly dirge, lurching detuned weirdness, clouds of FX and squiggly alien electronics wreath rubbery bass billows, melting riffs, and mush mouthed vocals, seriously trippy and gloriously fucked up.
Amalgam is a lot more varied than its predecessor, some tracks super electronics, others smeary buzzscapes of layered guitars, and super creeped out vocal samples, new wave electro pop and grim, noise drenched sprawls of grim, harrowing, psychedelic noise. It’s that balance that makes the record so cool, twisted poppiness, colliding with speaker shredding weirdness, often the two bleeding into each other, creating some unholy hybrid of avant industrial post punk psych-noise, the sort of thing the should appeal equally to weird music obsessives, adventurous goths and fans of experimental twisted noise pop. Which really is pretty much most everybody we know!
MPEG Stream: “Feeling Bad”
MPEG Stream: “Agitator”
MPEG Stream: “Turnover”
MPEG Stream: “La Motta”

album cover SPIES, THE The Battle Of Bosworth Terrace (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
Siltbreeze continue to dig deep into the New Zealand underground, and it doesn’t get more underground than this, a band who never released ANYthing, as in if you weren’t in Wellington, in the late seventies, or knew someone who was, you literally never heard or heard of The Spies. Which is a shame, as The Battle Of Bosworth Terrace is a NZ pop gem, one that is seeing the light of day now for the first time ever! Featuring a few NZ luminaries, members of the Puddle, and the recently reviewed here Shoes This High, The Spies deliver a sort of noisy, jangly, lo-fi pop that wrapped jagged shards of guitar, around loose drumming, buzzing primitive synths, and alternating sweetly crooned high vox, and more swaggery, yowled gruff vocals, the guitars occasionally erupting into psychedelic tangles, but just as often unfurling spidery melodies, or groovy post punk jangle. The brief opener is a gorgeous little lo-fi pop gem, all busy blooping bass, carnivalesque keyboards, and judiciously employed almost Marc Ribot like guitar melodies, all beneath some angelic ethereal vocals. The second track though is more gritty, mush mouthed sung/spoken vocals over a bed of crunchy, brittle guitar, and swirling psychedelic keyboards, the rest of the record balancing a mix of the two, some like laid back Velvets inspired druggy drifts, others like warped reinterpretations of some alien classic rock sound, and still others, seriously tripped out and experimental, reverb drenched stretches of bedroom dub via NZ noise rock, sprawls of bleating horns over gristly buzz and woozy, minor key jangle, or twisted loner, folk pop, all 4-track warble and druggy Jandekian croon. For every bit of brilliant classic pop inspired tunesmithery, there’s some seriously drug addled, WTF avant pop deconstruction or druggy home brewed psychedelia. The most minimal tracks here reminds us a bit of the legendary Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos, while much of the rest of this sonically aligns the Spies with the rest of the Flying Nun / Xpressway regulars. NZ nerds are in for a treat!
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!! Includes a download card.
MPEG Stream: “Egyptian Bird Song”
MPEG Stream: “Collided And Collected”
MPEG Stream: “Wait Don’t Wait”
MPEG Stream: “Teenage Lightning”

album cover TOY LOVE Live At The Gluepot 1980 (Goner) 2lp 23.00
For many folks, Kiwi (post) punk outfit Toy Love was their introduction to Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate, but for us, we were already in love with the twisted home brewed bedroom pop of the Tall Dwarfs, aka Knox and Bathgate, before we learned that there was something that came before. And for some reason, we were expecting some sort of proto-Tall Dwarfs, and in a way, that is what Toy Love were, albeit sonically a whole different kettle of snotty punk rock fish. The clever lyrics, and strange turns of phrase, the inventive arrangements, and rollicking rocking looseness, not to mention the hilarious between song banter, all had their genesis in Toy Love, but for all that would follow, Toy Love were indeed a punk band, described by the label as New Zealand’s answer to Wire, which is really not that far off the mark. And while there is a double cd collection which captures virtually everything the band ever recorded (we can order it for you, just ask, you should! It’s awesome!), live, the band were something else altogether. Hearing this now, it’s hard to imagine a band this good, with songs this great, would hang it up, especially after only a couple years (they only existed for two years, 1979-1980). This live set was one of their final shows, and displays the band in fine form, the sound loud and pristine, the songs KILL, the band tight as fuck, wiry and angular, but at the same time loose and wild, the onstage back and forth between the bandmates the sort of thing that makes the whole audience feel like they’re just hanging at the rehearsal space drinking beers watching their buddies’ band practice. This is one of those live records that most definitely captured a special moment in time, and a special band at their prime.
And the songs, holy shit, how has the Toy Love catalog not been plundered by a million punk bands looking for covers infinitely better than their originals, in fact the opening salvo here is pretty much untouchable, “Fifteen”, is all buzzing bassline, wild octopoidal drumming, jagged shards of guitar, swaggery, snarly vox, and a hook to kill for. “Unscrewed Up” is more of the same, slowing it down a bit and adding some slither, the guitars spidery and droney, the drums still the driving force, the vocals a raspy yowl, and another killer chorus, the vibe dark and a little Wipers-y, which leads right into “Amputee Song” which is pure pop dressed up in punk clothing, crazy catchy, super melodic, very reminscent of -that- NZ pop sound, but way more punk. And so it goes, for the whole of this epic set, relentless, and relentlessly great! The set rife with slow, dark brooders, and crazy catchy punky pop songs, but leaning mostly toward wild, gleefully chaotic pop flecked post punky crunch. An essential NZ underground music artifact for sure!
Includes a mini-foldout poster, with extensive liner notes and rare photos.
MPEG Stream: “Fifteen”
MPEG Stream: “Amputee Song”
MPEG Stream: “Toy Love Song”
MPEG Stream: “Don’t Catch On Fire”
MPEG Stream: “Photographs Of Naked Ladies”

album cover V/A Temporary: Selections From Dunedin’s Pop Underground 2011-2014 (Fishrider / Ba Da Bing) cd 10.98
When we first read about this new comp of underground music from Dunedin, we were pretty excited, wondering what sort of vintage Flying Nun and Xpressway rarities Ba-Da-Bing might have dug up, only to discovery that the rarities contained here, are all from the last 3 years. That is, it’s all contemporary NZ bands mining similar sonic territory as this that came before. We were wary for sure, as we are with most comps where we don’t recognize a single artist. Mavis Gary, Death And The Maiden, The Prophet Hens, The Males, Mr. Biscuit, Opposite Sex, Strange Harvest, Astro Children, Trick Mammoth, you get the picture. But all it took was a few seconds of the first track to make us feel right at home, murky lo-fi jangle, simple skeletal drumming, hushed sad boy vox, swirling synth shimmer, melancholic minor key melodies, all softly psychedelic, and sounding like it COULD actually be from back in the day.
Which is true with much of this comp, which while sonically is all over the map, is obviously heavily beholden to the sound of eighties and nineties NZ pop, from Death And The Maiden’s low slung electro post punk, with chiming guitars, swirling FX and some moody witchy female vox, to The Prophet Hen’s DIY jangle pop, hazy and liltingly dreamy, with endearing boy/girl harmonies, and from the Males’ urgent fuzz pop, that sounds like it would be right at home on Slumberland, and featuring some super distinctive falsetto vox, to Mr. Biscuit’s noise drenched, distorto noise-pop grrrl punk, all angular crunch and sonic snarl, with some almost metal moments. From there on out, the comp veers wildly from strummy bedroom folk, to new wave-y post punk, to horn flecked baroque psychedelia, to Wipers-esque post punk grunginess, to fey, downer, jangle pop, to hazy, murky, home brewed girl group garaginess, to Cleaners From Venus style anglo dream pop, and on and on and on. We found ourselves wanting to hear more from pretty much every band here, which is a rarity with comps and makes this one, very very recommended!
MPEG Stream: MAVIS GARY “Dim The Droog”
MPEG Stream: DEATH & THE MAIDEN “Flowers For The Blind”
MPEG Stream: SCATTERED BRAINS OF THE LOVELY UNION “Party To Your Om”

album cover V/A Temporary: Selections From Dunedin’s Pop Underground 2011-2014 (Fishrider / Ba Da Bing) lp 15.98
When we first read about this new comp of underground music from Dunedin, we were pretty excited, wondering what sort of vintage Flying Nun and Xpressway rarities Ba-Da-Bing might have dug up, only to discovery that the rarities contained here, are all from the last 3 years. That is, it’s all contemporary NZ bands mining similar sonic territory as this that came before. We were wary for sure, as we are with most comps where we don’t recognize a single artist. Mavis Gary, Death And The Maiden, The Prophet Hens, The Males, Mr. Biscuit, Opposite Sex, Strange Harvest, Astro Children, Trick Mammoth, you get the picture. But all it took was a few seconds of the first track to make us feel right at home, murky lo-fi jangle, simple skeletal drumming, hushed sad boy vox, swirling synth shimmer, melancholic minor key melodies, all softly psychedelic, and sounding like it COULD actually be from back in the day.
Which is true with much of this comp, which while sonically is all over the map, is obviously heavily beholden to the sound of eighties and nineties NZ pop, from Death And The Maiden’s low slung electro post punk, with chiming guitars, swirling FX and some moody witchy female vox, to The Prophet Hen’s DIY jangle pop, hazy and liltingly dreamy, with endearing boy/girl harmonies, and from the Males’ urgent fuzz pop, that sounds like it would be right at home on Slumberland, and featuring some super distinctive falsetto vox, to Mr. Biscuit’s noise drenched, distorto noise-pop grrrl punk, all angular crunch and sonic snarl, with some almost metal moments. From there on out, the comp veers wildly from strummy bedroom folk, to new wave-y post punk, to horn flecked baroque psychedelia, to Wipers-esque post punk grunginess, to fey, downer, jangle pop, to hazy, murky, home brewed girl group garaginess, to Cleaners From Venus style anglo dream pop, and on and on and on. We found ourselves wanting to hear more from pretty much every band here, which is a rarity with comps and makes this one, very very recommended!
MPEG Stream: MAVIS GARY “Dim The Droog”
MPEG Stream: DEATH & THE MAIDEN “Flowers For The Blind”
MPEG Stream: SCATTERED BRAINS OF THE LOVELY UNION “Party To Your Om”

album cover V/A Time To Go – The Southern Psychedelic Moment: 1981-86 (Flying Nun) 2lp 23.00
Yet another awesome archival compilation from the recently reactivated Flying Nun label, this one curated by The Dead C’s Bruce Russell, who takes great pains in the liner notes to explain that this is in no way a greatest hits, or a collection of obscurities, but instead paint a picture of the New Zealand scene at a time when much was changing, socially and politically, and of course musically, with the NZ pop sound being twisted and tweaked with groups looking to bring back the psychedelia of the sixties, if not specifically in sound, most definitely in spirit. The results sonically point more to the post punk groups of the time, Joy Division, Wire, the Velvet Underground, etc, with many of the tracks here darker and gloomier and noisier, which of course we dig big time. Lots of familiar names here, the Pin Group, The Clean, The Gordons, Tall Dwarfs, The Chills, Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos (one of our favorite NZ groups EVER!), but again some lesser know, but equally kick ass outfits: The Puddle, The Rip, 25 Cents, The Shallows, and loads more.
For all its darkness and psychedelia though, fans of the NZ sound won’t be disappointed, but unlike the predominantly jangle pop sound of the other recent Flying Nun comp, the also ruling Tally-Ho double cd, Time To Go definitely focuses on a darker energy, just check out The Clean’s “In The Back”, the band ditching their penchant for perfect pop for a gloriously abstract psych guitar swirl, there’s still jangle in there for sure, but it’s wreathed in buzz and spidery tendrils of melody, obscured by clouds of fuzzed out shimmer and smeared soft noise. Then there’s the Pin Group’s darky dolorous “Jim”, a brooding chunk of gloom pop dirgery, that the current crop of Brooklyn punks would kill to have recorded. Deep moody vox, minimal minor guitar thrum, murky rhythms, all hauntingly sinister and dreamily depressive. Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos offer up “Rain”, which is also dark and murky, a sort of low fidelity slab of bedroom strum and croon, intimate and hushed, melancholic and moody, which then splinters into some bizarre psychedelia with the addition of haunting female vox and some squiggly synths. The Gordons get all Sonic Youth-y with some downcast atonal guitar heavy noise rock, that’s still weirdly melodic and propulsive, and sounds fresh enough that it could be some Captured Tracks / Sacred Bones band from today. We could go on and on, track by track, but all you need to know is this stuff kills. Even fans who have many of these records will find this a kick ass NZ/Flying Nun mixtape, and for those who may have missed this stuff first time around, odds are you’re gonna find it shockingly revelatory. And anyone who bought that Tally-Ho compilation, you’re definitely gonna want this one too!
Includes a big booklet, with cool pix and extensive liner notes from Bruce Russell, detailing the scene, the bands, the label, and what was going on in NZ at the time, and how all that stuff (social, economic, political) affected the music.
MPEG Stream: THE PIN GROUP “Jim”
MPEG Stream: THE GORDONS “I Just Can’t Stop”
MPEG Stream: TALL DWARFS “Clover (album version)”
MPEG Stream: THE SHALLOWS “Trial By Separation”
MPEG Stream: WRECK SMALL SPEAKERS ON EXPENSIVE STEREOS “Rain”

album cover VICTOR DIMISICH BAND s/t (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
One of two reissues of NZ obscurities on this week’s list. Elsewhere is the complete recorded works of Scorched Earth Policy (featuring members of Pin Group, Terminals, Renderers, Vacuum), and then there’s this, originally released in 1983 on Flying Nun, the lone self titled lp from the Victor Dimisich Band, and while you might expect there to be a Victor Dimisich in the band, like Scorched Earth Policy, VDB is in fact fronted by Stephen Cogle and NZ scene staple Peter Stapleton who played in Pin Group, Vacuum and Terminals, and the sound of those groups definitely informs the brooding minimalism of the Victor Dimisich Band, Cogle’s deep dramatic croon somewhere between Roky Erickson and Scott Walker, the music a sort of gloomy psychedelia, a little garage rock, a little classic balladry, a little drugged out Morricone style twang, and yeah, a little distorted NZ noise rock, but overall, it’s a darkly dramatic affair, Cogle’s vocals the driving force, while the band wove lush gothic sonic backdrops, lots of organ warble, Velvets-y jangle, the whole thing moody and minimal, with many of the tracks super stripped down, while others blossom into near orchestral arrangements, while still others splinter into atonal post punk, and a few others get downright noisy. Flying Nun obsessives who don’t already have this will flip for sure. And any/everyone who dug that Pin Group reissue, this will likely be right up your alley!
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!!! Includes a download code!!
MPEG Stream: “Native Waiter”
MPEG Stream: “Thirteenth Floor”
MPEG Stream: “Claude”
MPEG Stream: “Jonah”

 

 

Axemen – Derry Legend (Agitreader review)

Reprinted from: http://agitreader.com/wp2/axemen-derry-legend/

AXEMEN Three Virgins 2XLP

If New Zealand was the world’s WTF scene in the early ’80s and beyond—producing slightly deranged, slightly pop jangle and discordance from a place as isolated as they come—then it was Christchurch’s Axemen who were the island’s leftfield misfits. With Lil’ Stevie McCabe and company, nothing was off limits, not even their Flying Nun labelmates at the time. Years before bands like the Boredoms, Butthole Surfers, or in a larger perspective, Ween, the Axemen mocked and ridiculed the norms, both aesthetically and sonically. And like a magic trick, the Axemen managed to tweak The Clean’s template with a slanted glee unheard before—and not heard since, though the band is still active. All of their collage-based, bric-a-brac punk barbs and general weirdness can be gleaned by the essential trilogy of recordings reissued by Siltbreeze earlier this decade, with 1986’s Three Virgins/Three Versions/Three Visions being their Sgt. Pepper’s meets Trout Mask Replica meets Raw Power masterpiece. If ever there was a peak, it was it.

AXEMEN Derry Legend LP

By the time Derry Legend arrived at the Flying Nun offices in 1989, the Axemen seemed actually impressed with their own idiotic glee. Not only is the album, now back in circulation courtesy of Luxury Products, the most cohesive Axemen record the band ever released, it also contains the most mainstream pop moments they were to conjure. That said, it is grotesque and blatantly jokey enough to reject itself from any classic cannon (that I know of), despite its inherent greatness. (Youtube the group during this era and witness their built-in repulsion.) As sung in the psych-acoustic dirge of “Mourning of Youth,” they were lovers of “finery both new and foreign,” but occupied themselves as strangers in a strange land. It was a revolution of sorts, mucked up in political statements, nihilism towards commercialism, physical turmoil, and chugs of  “coffee wine.”  It was independent to independence.

P1060925_AXEMEN_SICK P1060926_TNVIf ever the Axemen had a greatest hit, though, it was “Rocks in My Heart,” a slab of etiolated cretin pop filled with sardonic wiggles and a sharp sense of melody, history, deconstruction. It is the Axemen in a nutshell, a summation of their ability to wed their idiosyncratic nature with the expected Kiwi status quo. Its formula of multi-hued, quivering vocals and sketchy rhythms indeed turned out to be ahead of the curve. Witnessed in this somewhat dull wave of NZ revival, many of the bands that are continually celebrated (i.e. The Chills, The Verlaines, The Bats) were of their own very particular realm of sound. And though there are no hard feelings against plying the same stroke, the Axemen were all over that small map, while their tentacles stretched back to Memphis and Detroit decades prior. The same kind of polyglot fuck-off is found in “Disc to Disk” and Bob Brannigan’s joyous “Human Hot Dogs.” Again, both borrow freely from The Clean, but the Axemen are lifers and these songs’ seemingly perpetual motion has done nothing but enhance the subversive tactics of the Axemen sound.

Still, “cohesive” isn’t the right word for this record. Were it not for the purely rockist intent of the album, Derry Legend would be yet another grab-bag of demented pleasures. “The Tragic Tale of a Rock and Roll Legend” could very well be the first rap single produced in the country. “He’s Leaving Home” could be drunk(er) Sinatra on a lo-fi bender; “That’s Finland Dear” encapsulates the powder-keg quality of recording on a miser’s budget, and the finale, the aforementioned “Mourning of Youth,” now ranks high on the list of New Zealand’s best death-march psychedelia moments. All this culminates in what, for a band that thrived on the next moment, is the Axemen going for broke.

AXEMEN Sac Tap Nut Jam LP (2013)

AXEMEN – Derry Legend (LP) – Luxury Products [2014 Remake/Remodel]

Reprinted from: http://www.othermusic.com/products/axemen-derry-legend

Derry Legend
Derry Legend

As with their fantastic 39 Clocks reissue, Luxury Product once again live up to their name with a beautiful package on this LP, originally released on Flying Nun in 1989. Derry Legend was the second proper Axemen album and it is also the band’s most immediate and coherent statement. Coherent is a pretty funny term to apply to this group, who always seemed to teeter on the brink of it and more often fell into chaos, but compared to their earlier work, the sprawling double album Three Virgins and earlier cassettes Scary Pt. III and Big Cheap Motel (all of which have been reissued by Siltbreeze over the past few years), Derry Legend is a perfectly distilled statement of all that the band was capable of. This is a record that shifts from off-kilter rock ‘n’ roll to Tin Pan Alley ballads to what is most likely New Zealand’s first (and only?) anti-drug, conscious, rap/rock hybrid — and all of this is even before you get to the track called “Human Hot Dogs!”

I’ve wracked my brain trying to think of any New Zealand bands that might have been the forbearers of such insanity and can’t really come up with any. Surely there must have been some Captain Beefheart and Bonzo Dog Band records involved and there are a few moments, like on the album opener “Disc to Disk” and closer “Mourning of Youth,” where they don’t seem too far off from the sound that made Flying Nun famous. You get the sense that if they wanted to they could have made a classic LP in that mold, but thank god they didn’t, as what they did make is far more unique and wonderful. If anything this record reminds me of a Kiwi version of Alex Chilton’s Like Flies on Sherbert, as it embodies that same sort of free-spirited, devil-may-care attitude, and like that album the more you listen to it the better it sounds. (March 19, 2014)

Reviewed by Dave Martin

SHOES THIS HIGH: Straight To Hell

reprinted from:
http://www.othermusic.com/products/shoes-this-high-straight-to-hell

SHOES THIS HIGH: Straight To Hell
SHOES THIS HIGH: Straight To Hell

Some of you have been slow to re-board the New Zealand Reissue Train for reasons perfectly understandable: can’t get into the psychedelic pop sounds, sounds like rain, same people play in all the bands, this all happened years ago/half a world away/what’s it got to do with me?, etc. For that last one, you’re on your own, but if you’ve been holding out for something truly dangerous from the back pages of Kiwi musicology, Shoes This High is the group for you.

Existing for a pinch between 1980-81, the only truly comparable band in the country, in terms of sheer intensity, would have been the Gordons (who I’m sure Shoes This High broke multiple stages with), but while that group was focused on a more long-term, weightier burn, Shoes This High — vocalist S. Brent Hayward, guitarist Kevin Hawkins, bassist Christopher Plummer and drummer Jessica Walker — were more content to stick and move, steal your wallet, stab you in between the ribs and slap you about.

All they ever committed to vinyl is a single four-song EP, but Straight to Hell issues for the first time a long-lost live set delivered by the band in its prime (and tacks on the 7″ tracks for comparison as a digital download). All but one of the songs in the set were ever heard by audiences outside of New Zealand in some truly reckless venues.

Punk is still in the air, but there are two other big components of their sound: the Fall, who by way of a brief snippet at the beginning of “Shouting Eat Sh*t” they must’ve been familiar with, and the Contortions, who unless any copies of No New York made their way across their borders, they couldn’t have possibly known about.

The guitar work and vocals here are absolutely vicious, frothing-mouthed and violent, introducing far-flung tenets of no-wave brutality to the punters, and the rhythm section anchors everything down in the maelstrom of slashing noise and invective hurled off by the rest of the band.

Despite what you might pre-conceive a nearly 35-year-old live tape might sound like, Straight to Hell captures this group with brightness and clarity, at peak psychosis.

If you were looking for a band that could rip your hair out from 7000 miles away, this here would be the one.

-Doug Mosurock (February 5, 2014)

Straight To Hell – Shoes This High LP out Jan 2014

Reprinted from: http://www.midheaven.com/item/straight-to-hell-by-shoes-this-high-lp

Ghost Ranch X - Fats White
Ghost Ranch X – Fats White; cover art for ‘Straight to Hell’

While Shoes This High’s existence was a mere glint in the eye of Father Time (a year or more, tops), they made every second count, stalking the New Zealand post-punk landscape—both North and South islands—with ravenous abandon.

For most fans, their legend and reputation rest solely on the strength of one highly formidable (and collectable) self-released 7-inch EP from 1981. And as anyone with ears who’s had the good fortune to come in contact with its jagged, scabrous genius can attest, the cry invariably rings out afterward: “Mein Gott, is this all there is?” In the 30-plus years since its initial release, the answer has been a most unflinching “yes.”

That is, until Siltbreeze tapped into the massive tape library of famed New Zealand underground music archivist Bob Sutton, who had in his possession a white-hot live scorcher of the group, culled from a set that went down at the infamous Billy the Club way back when. Straight to Hell showcases a band at the peak of their menacing powers.

Guitarist Kevin Hawkins slashes and rips strings from his ax like a mad butcher; the rhythm section of Jessica Walker and Christopher Plummer is par excellence, while the sneering, contemptuous vocals of singer S. Brent Hayward spit like poison darts above the swagger. Expertly sequenced by Jared Phillips (Times New Viking), Straight to Hell is a most welcome and astonishingly great artifact that delivers in buckets a shivering, toxic rain you always knew had fallen. Vinyl comes with a digital download of the complete album plus the four studio tracks from the original 1981 EP. One-time edition of 500—buy now or cry later.

Shoes This High posters – from the awesome collection of Bob Sutton

Steve McCabe of The Axemen, Part Two – by Ryan Leach – SpaceCase, Boredout

Steve McCabe of The Axemen, Part Two

Reprinted from: http://boredout305.tumblr.com/post/56105133631/steve-mccabe-of-the-axemen-part-two
Part two of Ryan Leach’s Steve McCabe interview.
Photos courtesy of Stu Kawowski.

AXEMEN: Steve, Stu, Bob recording at Peterborough 1984-85 ©STU

Ryan: The Axemen’s membership was always fluctuating.

Steve: We had a good range of Christchurch and Dunedin musicians in the band. If you’ve seen our Wikipedia page, you can see all the people who’ve been in or performed with the band.

Ryan: On Three Virgins there’s a recording of you talking with an American about Beverly Hills and Mardi Gras. Do you recall who you were talking with?

Steve: No. I don’t remember.

(Stu: That’s actually me talking to a Taxi driver in LA and recording it on my Sony walkman, 1982.)

Ryan: There’s also another conversation on Derry Legend (1987) where you’re being interviewed but replying with unrelated answers—about how the New Zealand dollar is weak. It’s pretty funny.

Steve: We had a lot of abstract ideas. It had to do with stream-of-consciousness. Three Virgins is a good example of that mindset. Everything just sort of flowed out without any hesitation.

Ryan: What kind of reaction did The Axemen get from people in the middle ’80s? I imagine your sound was a hard sell to some people.

Steve: The variety of genres was probably a good thing. We had a lot of jokes in our songs. If people could understand the lyrics and pickup on the jokes, I reckon that was a good thing as well; people like jokes. We didn’t take ourselves too seriously.

Ryan: The Axemen recorded just about everything they did.

Steve: Yeah. I still have all of the cassettes. There are about three hundred of them.

Ryan: Unbelievable! Are these tapes mostly of live shows or home recordings?

Steve: A bit of both. I always preferred recording to playing live. I got a four-track recorder in 1986. We did a lot of recordings on that. We used to record our practices and do overdubs on them later. We released a lot of cassette tapes that didn’t show up on Flying Nun. They’re not available at the moment. We used to screen print covers for them.

Ryan: What was The Axemen’s relationship with Flying Nun like? I imagine the financial loss of Three Virgins might have caused a bit of strain.

Steve: Flying Nun did eventually sell all of the pressings of Three Virgins and Derry Legend. It did take them a while to sell them though. Tom Lax just rereleased Three Virgins on Siltbreeze. He was pleased with it and did two more of our records. I don’t know if Flying Nun lost interest or what but there was a demand for those albums.

Ryan: They haven’t done a great job rereleasing their back catalog. If you want a vinyl pressing of (The Clean’s) Boodle, Boodle, Boodle you’d better have ninety bucks on hand.

Steve: They haven’t. I’ve seen original copies of Three Virgins go for good money too.

Ryan: Derry Legend hasn’t been rereleased yet. That record goes for fifty bucks.

Steve: Yeah. Derry Legend is being rereleased soon. Dustin Travis White, who did live sound for us on The Axemen and Times New Viking tour, is going to rerelease it on his new label, Luxury Products. Stu remastered it all on analog for the reissue. It’ll come out after Sac Tap Nut Jam. Sac Tap Nut Jam is completely digital. Hearing those two records back to back will be interesting.

Ryan: You released your solo LP Sweat It Out (1986) around the time of Derry Legend.

Steve: I released a whole lot of solo cassette stuff too. The EMI record pressing plant in New Zealand closed down around that time. It was the only plant in New Zealand. I did release one single after Sweat It Out. Then I did about four or five cassettes on Sleek Bott.

Ryan: Did it become cost prohibitive to release records after the New Zealand EMI plant closed down?

Steve: It did. New Zealand record companies would go through Mushroom (large Australian independent label). It became more difficult for them to press up records. For individuals it really became too difficult.

Image

Ryan: One of my favorite Axemen records is Scary Part III which Tom (Lax) at Siltbreeze reissued recently. Did Flying Nun not want to take you up on that record when you originally recorded it?

Steve: I think it had to do with Flying Nun being sold to Mushroom. It messed up our relationship with the label. Mushroom was more interested in getting Flying Nun’s back catalog than releasing new stuff.

Ryan: That’s right. With some exceptions—like King Loser—quality control at Flying Nun started going downhill after they partnered with Mushroom.

Steve: Yeah. Things started getting a bit poppy.

Ryan: Scary is the record where The Axemen got really into sampling.

Steve: That’s true. Although there’s a tiny bit on Derry Legend. Stu and I had these SK-1 samplers. They’re a Casio sampler. It had a little microphone on it and you could create one-and-a-half second loops of samples.

Ryan: What motivated The Axemen to do an Elton John tribute record (1992’s Three Rooms)?

Steve: It seemed like a good idea at the time. There’s a good range of songs in Elton John’s catalog. Good chords and things.

Ryan: The Axemen sort of wound down after the Elton John record, correct?

Steve: No. Stu and Bob moved to Auckland in about ‘87. I was playing in Christchurch from 1987 to 1990. Bob had formed the band Shaft. My wife and I got married in Las Vegas in 1990. We toured around America for our honeymoon. When we came back to New Zealand we moved to Auckland in 1992. Bob, Stu and I were all in the same town again so we did those two records on Sleek Bott—Recliner Rocker and Dirty Den Sessions. After that we didn’t do anything together for a while. Bob was busy with Shaft and I started a screen printing business with my wife. I started a band called CFCs in 1995. We played with Shaft for a little while. I released a solo CD called Generations (1998).

Ryan: Generations is great.

Steve: I like it too. I can’t get any copies of it. The guy who released it has heaps of them—about four hundred of the five hundred pressed. They’re sitting in his garage somewhere. I try to get them off of him. He keeps saying he’ll get them for me but it never happens. It’s really annoying. People are interested in it.

Ryan: A number of your songs have a lounge feel to them—going back to “Effectively My Baby” on Three Virgins. That aspect of your songwriting comes to the forefront on Generations.

Steve: Yeah. It was great being able to do those arrangements on the computer—get the big orchestration. I always wanted to do what Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle did with big orchestras. I was really pleased with it.

Ryan: Over the last four years there has been a resurgence with The Axemen. Obviously that has a lot to do with Tom Lax reissuing a number of your records on Siltbreeze. How did you guys come in contact with Tom?

Steve: When I moved up to Auckland, Tom sought me out. He bought everything I had—all the old Sleek Bott cassettes. That was in about 1992. I didn’t hear from Tom for quite a while after that. E-mail wasn’t around. Tom did a couple of reviews of our albums. Later on he bought the remaining copies I had of Sweat It Out. He sold all of those. That was more recently. The Axemen had been on hiatus for a while. When Tom decided to rerelease Cheap Motel, Three Virgins and Scary, we talked with him about doing a US tour. He lined us up with Times New Viking; we did the US tour with them in 2009. Tom came to quite a few of the gigs. Tom apparently was always playing Three Virgins to people, long before he reissued it. They’d ask him if it was available; eventually he decided to put it out.

Ryan: You did a tour of Australia a couple of years later. You hooked up with Brendon Annesley and did a great single with Negative Guest List.

Steve: That was cool. Brendon died shortly after that. He was a talented guy. A good writer.

Ryan: Bob Brannigan is no longer in the band.

Steve: On the last tour he was partying too much. It sort of got on my nerves. We had a bit of fight and he decided he didn’t want to play with us anymore.

Ryan: You’ve got the young gun in the band now.

Steve: Who?

Ryan: William Daymond. He’s younger than me.

Steve: Oh, yeah. He’s not a replacement for Bob or anything. William is a songwriter—although we haven’t written any songs with him yet—but it’s good having someone else in the band who can contribute songs. He seems to be fitting in well.

Ryan: We (Spacecase Records) wrote you about doing a single. But you had so many good tracks we asked you for a record instead (Sac Tap Nut Jam).

Steve: Yeah. We were keen on the single but doing a full length was so much nicer. I just bought a sixteen-track digital recorder. It’s about the size of a laptop. Dragan has a whole lot of mics. When you came up with your offer we all decided to go down to Wellington; Dragan has a practice space there with a lot of nice mics and William lives there too. We decided to record a number of songs and pick the best two for a single. We ended up with so many extra tracks doing an album came naturally. I was really pleased with the results. I really like the sixteen track recorder.

Ryan: I was surprised by how high the fidelity is.

Steve: Dragan is a really good audio guy.

Ryan: Is this the first vinyl record you’ve released of new material since Derry Legend?

Steve: Yeah. Not counting the reissues.

Ryan: Is there any chance Sweat It Out is going to be reissued?

Steve: There’s a possibility but not on LP. It might be reissued through Dusty who’s doing the Derry Legend reissue.

Image

THE AXEMEN | Sac Tap Nut Jam LP | SPACECASE

Reprinted from: http://www.spacecaserecords.com/axemen-sac-tap-nut-jam

THE AXEMEN | Sac Tap Nut Jam LP

Spacecase Records
US$14.00*

Sac Tap Nut Jam
The Axemen – SAC TAP NUT JAM, Spacecase SCR006, 2013

Spacecase Records is pleased to release Sac Tap Nut Jam—the first new Axemen full length in twenty-one years.
GO BUY SAC TAP NUT JAM NOW (direct from Spacecase)!
Originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, The Axemen formed in 1983. Shortly afterwards the band solidified around the core of Steve McCabe, Stu Kawowski and Bob Brannigan. (More than two dozen musicians have played in the Axemen, notably Johnny Segovia, George D. Henderson, Mick Elborado and Peter Gutteridge). Initial Axemen releases came out on Steve McCabe’s cassette label, Sleek Bott. The Axemen signed to Flying Nun in the mid ’80s, releasing the label’s first double album, Three Virgins (1986). Like The Swell Maps, The Axemen sound is hard to define—Three Virgins runs the gamut, from country to punk to avant-garde. The Axemen released their second Flying Nun record Derry Legend in 1987. The band put out further cassettes on Sleek Bott, notably Scary (Part III) and Three Rooms (An Elton John Tribute Album), before going on hiatus in the early ’90s.

           In 2009, The Axemen caught their second wind thanks to Tom Lax at Siltbreeze who reissued the band’s cassette-only releases Big Cheap Motel and Scary (Part III). The Axemen toured the United States with Times New Viking the same year. In 2011 The Axemen visited Australia and put out a tour 7″— a label split between McCabe’s Sleek Bott and the late Brendon Annesley’s Negative Guest List Records. Siltbreeze came through again that year, reissuing Three Virgins on vinyl (original pressings were going for well over fifty dollars).

Sac Tap Nut Jam finds Steve McCabe and Stu Kawowski reuniting with Dragan Stojanovic (who played on 1987′s Derry Legend)rounding out the lineup is William Daymond. Recorded in early 2013 in Wellington and Taita, Lower Hutt, Sac Tap Nut Jam—like all Axemen releases—defies easy categorization. There’s The Beatles/Dylan pop of Stojanovic’s “These Days”; McCabe’s post punk-influenced “Doctor’s on Speed Dial”; Steve McCabe’s inimitable voice and stream-of-consciousness lyric writing comes to the forefront on “Google That Girl”.

500 vinyl copies of Sac Tap Nut Jam were pressed up—400 on black, 100 on gold. The Axemen are currently planning a tour of New Zealand in support of Sac Tap Nut Jam.

Sac Tap Nut Jam is the sixth release from Camarillo, California-based Spacecase Records.


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