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)

Done and Dusted – Dusted Magazine review of 3 Virgins re-release

Reprinted from: http://dustedmagazine.com/reviews/6567

Normally, when people use the phrase “a musician’s musician,” it’s meant to describe some Les Claypool nightmare whose dexterity and technical skill can only be properly appreciated by people who have also dedicated themselves to a life of fretless guitars and sweep arpeggios. That being said: When New Zealand’s Axemen want to be, they’re musicians’ musicians. It takes some effort to crack the self-serving exterior of their approach (getting drunk, recording off-the-cuff songs with whoever was hanging around, and releasing as much of it as humanly possible) but, as anyone who’s ever tried this approach themselves can attest, it’s completely intoxicating as long as you don’t muck it up by throwing in any pretensions of sophistication. By making their methods obvious and leaving very little to the imagination, Axemen have created a bunch of music that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of fucking around creatively with your friends.

Three Virgins is the final release in a series of terrific Axemen reissues Siltbreeze has put together, and by now it’s pretty clear that these records, pressed to wax in 1985, were a relic of their time and place. The idea of starting a non-terrible band with the expressed purpose of protesting a sexist milk advertisement has been left by the wayside, to say the least. Their willingness to experiment using the rock and roll song as a launchpad, but with few clear reference points, has gone almost unmatched in the DIY community since these albums were released the first time around. Granted, their apparent creative process has lived on in a less slapdash form, but the fact that Axemen were playing and releasing music with this mentality when recording your garage band could still be considered “hard work” is admirable, and near-singlehandedly makes these reissues worthwhile.

Methods aside, Axemen’s songs tend to do more than scrape by on the band’s charisma, falling somewhere between the droll bounce of Axemen’s countrymen Tall Dwarfs and the more stream-of-consciousness Swell Maps songs. (Emphasis on the “tend to,” though, if only because Three Virgins is 88 minutes long and is therefore destined to include some downtime, but the hilarious single-mindedness required to craft an entire double LP in the league of Three Virgins is to be commended regardless.)

While their Flying Nun contemporaries were crafting songs with relatively clear-cut roots in pop, punk and noise, Axemen were paving new routes into all three. While their results might not reach the transcendent heights of The Clean or The Verlaines, their charming lack of ambition and rickety, fuck-it mentality created something else entirely; misogynist ads and traditional song structures be damned.

By Joe Bernardi

Introducing William ‘a girls best friend’ Daymond

A girls best friendIn the wake of the departure of Bob Brannigan and Mick Elborado’s increasingly angry instability the remaining Axemen  would like to introduce the new beacon of rock’n’roll ardour, the hope of  Axemen Generation Y, the bass-bone connected to the backbone, the rhythm king, a girls best friend… William Daymond.

Born in 1984, Daymond injects the vigour of youth into the unit and his infectious enthusiasm has infused the band with a new surge of energy – and ladies, believe me, the surge is working!

Well known as much for his extensive musical knowledge as for his work with The Pickups, Green Eyed Owl , Cougar Cougar Cougar, The Flying Sorcerers, The Steffan van Soest Hit Machine, Terror of the Deep (amongst others) , Daymond  adds his versatility and another layer of complexity to the steaming porridge that is the Axemen class of 2011.

Welcome Aboard!

by Amebic Sec Vet

Axemen Aussie Tour 2011 – early dates info

reprinted from: http://www.messandnoise.com/discussions/4305304

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yv-iM_1h5uA

Australia December 2011

http://tinyurl.com/axemenaustralia2011

10th: Brisbane Negative Guestlist Festival

14th: Newcastle

with

  • Cock Safari
  • Bare Grillz

15th: Sydney – Red Rattler

with:

  • Alps (Newcastle)
  • XNobbqx (siltbreeze)
  • Mad Nana( Melbourne supergroup)
  • School Girl Report
  • Satanic Rockers( Melbourne/NZ)

17th: Batemans Bay Festival
with:

  • Circle Pit,
  • Paul Kidney Experience,
  • Kitchens Floor,
  • School Girl Report,
  • Mad Nanna,
  • Cured Pink,
  • Alps,
  • XNOBBQX,
  • Satanic Rockers,
  • Meat Thump

plus many more…

19th-21st: Melbourne

22nd: Hobart

23rd: Adelaide