The purpose of this blog is to expose you to the unique and unrepeatable New Zealand scene known as "Dunedin Sound" that emerged in New Zealand in the early eighties. This space takes over from wonderful blogs that in their time served to make known to the world some of the most significant bands and records of that period. The present collection is dedicated to all those kiwi bands -many of them already forgotten- who, without knowing it, wrote a very important page in the history of music.
After coming back with 2015's Silver Bullets, an album that reasserted the genius of Martin Phillipps but sounded a little tentative at times, the Chills' second album of the 2010s is a brilliant pop hit that's bold, bright, and confident. Snow Bound is a big pop statement, overflowing with singalong choruses, ringing guitars, rich arrangements, and Phillipps' typically trenchant observations. It's reminiscent of the Go-Betweens' 16 Lovers Lane, Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen, or the Chills' own Submarine Bells; albums that have ambition and reach but don't sacrifice an ounce of humanity in the process. Unlike those records, which were often tied to some questionable production techniques, Phillipps, his band (the same sympathetic lineup from Silver Bullets), and producer Greg Haver work together to make the album sound modern and spotlessly clean on the surface. They also give it a warmth that keeps it from sounding clinical. Phillipps' songs are witty and super hooky as usual; each one sounds like it could be extracted and called a single. Some of them are as good as any the band have released. Maybe not as timeless as "Heavenly Pop Hit," but the title track, the incessantly catchy "Bad Sugar," and the swinging indie rocker "Scarred" come close. There are political statements ("In Harmony"), introspective moments ("Complex"), and bittersweet love songs (Time to Atone"), all wrapped in sonic finery like sweeping Hammond organ, bubbling synths, piping oboe, and stately piano. The arrangements are full to bursting with sound, but it's never too much. The big hooks and weighty statements Phillipps put to paper needed impressive backing and that's exactly what they got. It may be a long way from the wooly, home-cooked sound of the early Chills, but times have changed, as has Phillipps, and this record is just about the best possible scenario for a Chills record in the late 2010s. The songs are definitely there, Phillipps' wonderfully light vocals are as strong as ever, and the sound is a perfect example of how to make a record that sounds as big as a stadium while still being driven by real emotion.
This Sporting Life was a souped up extension of Alms For Children, Auckland city boys with a cut down amped up sound who left their mark with a landmark indie single and minor chart hit on the truly independent REM Records in August 1981. Paul Fogarty (guitar), Ben Hayman (bass), Daron Johns (drums) and Gary “Rodent” Charlton (vocals) had been at the innovative edge of the early 1980s New Zealand indie boom for nearly two years by then. A great piece of NZ history right here.. Raw punk at it's finest! One of the lost treasures of Flying Nun!!
New Zealand Stooges obsessed punks from Auckland formed in the early 80's and released their first and only album in August 1981; an unreleased second album, "Death Or Glory" was recorded, but with no shows and recognition sparse, the band changed their name becoming The Henchmen in late 1982. A lot of songs from "Death Or Glory" ended up (with different lyrics) on the Henchmen first Album "We've Come To Play". Founded 1980 by Anthony (guitar), Tony (vocals) and completed with Chris (bass) and Dean (drums). This album was released via Bondage Records and it was the first complete punk rock album by a New Zealand group and offers eleven catchy superbs, the right sound to forget your troubles and now exactly right for me. An unreleased second album Death or Glory was recorded, but with no shows and recognition sparse, the determined duo changed their name, but not their sound, becoming The Henchmen in late 1982.
Led by the highly respected singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn, DD Smash was among the most popular New Zealand bands of their era. Formed in mid-1981, the group was originally named Dave Dobbyn's Divers, and also consisted of ex-Lip Service guitarist Rob "Revox" Guy, drummer Peter "Rooda" Warren and bassist Lisle Kinney. After a handful of gigs they rechristened themselves DD Smash, and soon issued their first single, "Repetition"; it quickly reached the Top 25 and led to the 1982 release of the LP Cool Bananas, which entered the charts at number one. After an auto accident, Kinney left the band, and with new bassist Ian Morris, DD Smash resurfaced in 1983 with the hit "Outlook for Tuesday." After a concert LP, Live: Deep in the Heart of Taxes, Dobbyn fired everyone but Warren, recording 1984's The Optimist with session players. On December 7 of that year, the new DD Smash played a free concert which ended in rioting; Dobbyn was made the scapegoat of the incident, and was tried for inciting the crowd to violence. The charges were eventually dismissed, but in the wake of the trial, DD Smash quietly disintegrated, as Dobbyn began focusing more and more of his energies on solo work.
Fatal Jelly Space was a New Zealand band based in Auckland with an all female line up. The band existed from 1989 - 1994 and decided to cease when Jacinda (vocals) stated that she wasn't angry anymore and wanted to do something else.
Auckland’s The Suburban Reptiles, along with The Scavengers who started around the same time, were the first 1970s styled punk band in New Zealand. Formed at the beginning of 1977, inspired by a New Musical Express story seen by Simon Grigg, the original performing line-up was Zero (Clare Elliot, vocals), Billy Planet (Will Pendergrast, bass), Jimmy Joy (also Jimmy Vinyl, saxophone), Shaun Anfrayd (Brian Nicholls, guitar), Des Edwards (drums) and Sissy Spunk (Trish Scott, guitar).
This I think was the last release on Xpressway and may even be the reason the label was halted. There is a sound to twisted music-it's a sound that is bent, wild, and wrecked and it's usually the work of a deranged and comically brilliant amalgam of musicians. Flipper had it early on, but the band who epitomized that "sensibility" was New Zealand's Axemen. Ironically, bands who practice such unrestrained mania fused with such a sparkling sense of humor are often seemingly fit with an aggressive desire to be taken deadly seriously. I've seen exchanges in the NZ monthly Rip It Up whose The Axemen fought tooth and nail with those who challenged their "seriousness," all the while releasing gloriously biting and deranged bits of mind shatter. I have to assume that was all part of the fun. Heazlewood seems almost too angry and selfconsciously hip at times to carry this muse, but early solo projects like Hellmouth 666 are very much in Axernen's territory. Robert Cardy (one of the mighty Axemnen) even wrote the one cover song here. Unlike The Axemen, though, Heazlewood's style is much denser, with guitars drenched in a thick and fuzzy overdrive. Heazlewood's songs don't always have the shambolic humor of the Axemen, but songs like "Who's Dead-essentially a dialogue of "you're dead" "No you're dead"-is a scream. I'd call Hellmouth 666 winning, I'd call it. what's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah.. . supergood!
RipItUp described Showered In Gold as, “a feast of furies, where heavenly melodies inhabit massive power-chord driven songs which alternately drift like enormous abandoned spaceships or rock like fission-powered missiles.” As for the album title? “Showered in Gold can mean showered in praise, pissed on from a great height or it could be a reference to a sexual act”.
On January 20, the day after supporting Ministry at The Powerstation in Auckland, the group played the 1995 Big Day Out (they returned in 1996). Then it was back to Christchurch and Dunedin. They went to Dunedin in April 1995 to record debut album Cakehole in Fish Street Studios with Tex Houston. “It’s a punk rock record,” Maclaren would later say. “I’m getting my attitudes from reality, from having a normal life. Having some punk rock element to our music is keeping our feet on the ground, staying down to earth.” “Cakehole was all personal politics, which was the kind of music I was listening to at the time, records that were naked, but honest. It was quite a difficult album to tour because it would put me into black moods doing the gigs.”