NEW MUSIC: Wax Chattels – Career

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Wax Chattels from Auckland, NZ have released the first single from their self-titled debut LP, set for release on May 18th via Flying Nun Records and Captured Tracks.

‘Career’ is a dark and ominous slow building track that conjures up images of fried circuit boards and ghostly monks in a post-punk landscape where sonic stabs pierce the gloom and deadpan vocals are the calm before the storm of swirling dissonant noise.

Album preorders available HERE. If you head to Bandcamp you can also hear the tracks ‘In My Mouth’ and ‘Disappointed’.

Wax Chattels are:

Peter Ruddell (keyboards/vocals), Amanda Cheng (bass/vocals) and Tom Leggett (drums).

NEWS: Flying Nun announce The Stones compilation

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The Stones (Wayne Elsey – guitar, vocals, Jeff Batts – bass, vocals, Graeme Anderson – drums, vocals)

The band were something of an enigma on the scene that surrounded the iconic Flying Nun Records label in the early 1980s. Wayne Elsey had previously been in Bored Games with Shayne Carter (who went on to forge an illustrious career with Straitjacket Fits and Dimmer) and after The Stones split the pair reunited in Double Happys before Elsey’s life was tragically cut short in a train accident in 1985.

Now Flying Nun and Captured Tracks are releasing the album Three Blind Mice which includes the bands’ contribution to Flying Nun’s Dunedin Double, tracks from their 1983 EP Another Disc Another Dollar as well as never heard before live recordings that capture the attitude and raw and catchy garage rock/Velvet Underground/The Fall sound of the band.

Curated by New Zealand noise legend Bruce Russell (The Dead C, Xpressway Records), with liner notes by Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits, Bored Games), the compilation also features design + illustrations from Alec Bathgate and Chris Knox and was mastered by Tex Houston (The Clean, 3D’s).

Track List:

  1. Gunner Ho
  2. See Red
  3. Mother/Father
  4. At the Café
  5. Something New
  6. Final Days
  7. Down and Around
  8. Funky Conversations
  9. Surf’s Up
  10. Fad World
  11. It’s a Shame (Live at the Rumba – May 1983)*
  12. We Live (Live at the Rhumba – Dec 15, 1982)*
  13. Rumba (Live at Victoria University, Dec 6, 1982)*
  14. Everywhere Man (Live at the Rumba – May 1983)*
  15. Diamond Dirt (Live at the Rumba – May 1983)*
  16. Think About It (Live at Victoria University, Dec 6, 1982)*
  17. Looking at You (Live at Albert Tavern, Jun 28, 1983)*
  18. Ward 9 (Live at the Rumba – May 1983)*
  19. Route 69 (Live at Albert Tavern, Jun 28, 1983)*

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ALBUM REVIEW: Grayson Gilmour | Infinite Life!

Rating7square-600-2This is Grayson Gilmour’s second album and it shows a marked advancement in poise and maturity. The drums are pulled back and instead the focus is on a rich and ornate palette of guitars and synths that provide a cinematic and immersive backdrop for his considered vocals which bring to mind fellow art-pop luminaries such as Wild Beasts, Talk Talk and Scritti Politti. This is intellectual pop music but not without a real heart and soulfulness, increasingly revealed on each listen. Modern contemporaries like Animal Collective and Radiohead may lay claim to these paths yet Gilmour is negotiating his own bold and elaborate route through similar territory.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music

http://rd.io/x/QUN9AiIfwkU/

 

NEWS: Flying Nun & Real Groovy Records release new Toy Love compilation LP

PRESS RELEASE

Before Flying Nun, before any ‘Dunedin Sound’, there was Toy Love.

Now more than 30 years later, the five-piece (Chris Knox, Alec Bathgate, Paul Kean, Jane Walker and Mike Dooley) are set to receive both the New Zealand Herald Legacy Award at this year’s New Zealand Music Awards and an induction into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

To celebrate, Flying Nun and Real Groovy Records have teamed up to for the release of the Toy Love double LP on November 3.

The 28-track compilation collects all the A & B sides of the three Toy Love singles, plus the best demos from 1979, a live track and even a radio jingle. All mastered for vinyl, straight from the original analogue tapes, no nasty CDs nor digital sources were used at all.

All housed in a gatefold sleeve featuring original art work and a 24 page booklet to accompany the release.

Pre-order a copy of the Toy Love double LP through the Flying Nun website here.

TRACKLISTING:

LP 1 – Side 1:
1. Squeeze
2. Rebel
3. Don’t Ask Me
4. Sheep
5. Bride Of Frankenstein
6. Amputee Song
7. Good Old Joe

LP 1 – Side 2:
1. Squeeze
2. Sheep
3. I Don’t Mind
4. Swimming Pool
5. Death Rehearsal
6. Unscrewed Up
7. Toy Love Song

LP 2 – Side 1:
1. Photographs Of Naked Ladies
2. Lust
3. I’m Not Bored
4. 1978
5. 15
6. The Crunch Cold Meat

LP 2 – Side 2:
1. Wanna Die With You
2. Don’t Catch Fire
3. Green Walls
4. Pull Down The Shades
5. Frogs
6. Fast Ostrich
7. Radio Jingle
8. Second to Last Song Toy Love Wrote (with ad lib lyrics)

FEATURE: Life in a Chord | Flying Nun Records

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Flying Nun, here is a reprint of a piece I wrote about the label last year…

written by Chris Familton

A record label at the right place at the right time can be integral to a music scene, often gaining revered status further down the track as history settles into place. Sub Pop, Motown and Factory are obvious examples. At the start of the 80s very few would have predicted the impact (albeit on a lesser scale) that a label started in the lounge room of a record shop clerk, on a culturally isolated island at the bottom of the world, would have.

Born in Christchurch in 1981 to Roger Shepherd and raised in Dunedin, Flying Nun became home to a unique cross-section of bands who were influenced by both the cold dark winters and the independent music that was coming out of the northern hemisphere.

Simon Coffey, who was a radio DJ and gig promoter at the time, sums up the origins of the so called ‘Dunedin Sound’. “I think it was the combination of the UK’s Punk ethic of DIY and rejection of bloated 60s/70s rock (seen clearly with acts like The Clean, Tall Dwarfs and The Puddle), the influence of US ’60′s psychedelia, up to and including acts like the Velvet Underground which combined to embody themselves as lo-fi pop.”

The original mission of Flying Nun was to create an outlet for bands from the South Island to have their music heard and the first wave included The CleanThe ChillsThe Bats, The Verlaines and Chris Knox’s Tall Dwarfs. It is those bands that are now, more than 25 years later, being cited as influences by current acts such as Stephen Malkmus, Jay Reatard, Pete & The Pirates, Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls.

JB Townsend of US band Crystal Stilts recalls when he discovered Martin Phillipps’ The Chills. “The first time I heard Pink Frost I was astonished that there was a band out there with a song that sounded like that. The whole spacious half melancholy pop thing… It was exactly the feel I was going for in our earlier records. They took from all the right resources before them and make it sound thoroughly unique and as good as their classic predecessors.” says Townsend.

One of the key figures on the Flying Nun scene was Chris Knox. The singer of early NZ punk bands The Enemy and Toy Love, he was the driving force behind the label’s lo-fi approach to video, artwork and early recordings. Matthew Bannister of Sneaky Feelings summed up Knox well in his book Positively George St; “The most important contributor to the cult of shambling amateurism was Chris Knox, a punk puritan who mistrusts anything too polished or seductive.”

That perceived lack of aspiration worked in the label’s favour, so much so that contemporary bands like UK’s Pete & The Pirates see it as a defining part of Flying Nun’s appeal. “What makes them unique is that they never seemed to aspire to what most labels would: making money! and they didn’t seem to interfere with the artistic processes of the artists,” says singer Tom Sanders, “It seemed almost like a strong compulsion to capture the music that the label found and loved in it’s rawest and most honest form, seemingly for posterity rather than commercial gain.”

New Zealand writer Graham Reid has been writing about the Flying Nun since the mid 80s and recalls an insular scene which contributed to the lack of wider success for many of the bands. “They were so inward looking, some of them only played ten hours together before they recorded something, they didn’t tour, they didn’t play often enough to become good at their craft – they didn’t want to do that. They’d play 2 gigs in three months and want a cup of tea and a lie down,” he laughs, before adding, “It was like a little boys club that looked in on itself.”

Prior to punk music reaching New Zealand and planting the seeds for these bands, there had been little for people to latch onto and call their own. A cultural cringe outweighed pride and self promotion. Graeme Jefferies of Flying Nun bands This Kind Of Punishment and The Cakekitchen sees the label as a major cultural turning point for the country. “I think from my own generation’s point of view that it was extremely important for our cultural identity. That early Flying Nun stuff has some real milestones and was the first real indication of Kiwi underground culture outside of books and movies. It was really important then and historically it still is.”

As the label grew and the bands began to expand their sound with larger recording budgets the strain began to show. In the mid 80s the label shifted offices to Auckland to be closer to the wider music industry which was viewed by many as a betrayal. By 88, with cash-flow problems mounting, a deal was made with Australian label Mushroom Records which provided both funding and international distribution opportunities.

Though both The Chills and Straitjacket Fits inked deals with American labels Slash and Arista, the big push to promote many of the bands overseas ultimately led to burnout and disillusionment causing many of the label’s profile acts to disband. Shepherd battled on, relocating to run the London office in 95, but, by 97 he had departed the label and Mushroom had amalgamated with Festival Records, further distancing Flying Nun from its independent beginnings.

The label has been relatively dormant in the 21st century with The D4The Phoenix Foundation and The Mint Chicks the exceptions. Recent activity in 09 from prominent ex-Flying Nun bands shows the creativity of the early pioneers is still strong with new albums from Shayne Carter’s Dimmer (Degrees Of Existence), The Bats (The Guilty Office), The Clean (Mister Pop) and The Verlaines (Corporate Moronic).

The most recent and encouraging development in the Flying Nun world is the news that a Roger Shepherd-led consortium has bought back the label’s catalogue from Warners who absorbed Festival Records in 05. Neil Finn is one of the other major backers of the group and you sense that in their hands the legacy of Flying Nun as well as the cultivation of new artists will be well looked after.

Though it never sold a lot of records it seems that there is still an immense amount of pride and respect for the label that started at the bottom of the world, took flight and ended up influencing so many with its pure and enthusiastic dedication to music.

www.flyingnun.co.nz

Interview with Martin Phillipps

Interview with The Clean

Live review of The Bats

Review of Dimmer’s Degrees of Existence

This article first appeared in A Fine Line magazine


ALBUM REVIEW: Not Given Lightly: A Tribute to the Giant Golden Book of New Zealand’s Alternative Music Scene

written by Chris Familton

Berlin’s Morr Music label have put together this tribute to music released on the influential Flying Nun label and it is essentially a collection of indie-tronica that seems to pay cautious homage to a certain type of 80s/90s guitar music that was both primitive and creatively forward thinking. These bands certainly nail the melodies but generally fall short of invoking the spirit of the New Zealand bands.

Tarwater are one of the few exceptions with their take on the seminal Death and the Maiden from The Verlaines. With just a drum machine and some minimal synths they create a cold and clinical take on the song proving that so often electronic music works better when it is dark and melancholic. The Go Find similarly get to the core of The Chills’ Pink Frost – understanding the minimal instrumentation of the original and respecting the deeply sad lyrics of Martin Phillipps.

Where things go wrong they go very wrong. Butcher The Bar twist Tall Dwarfs’ Bee To Honey into something way too quaint and cute while The American Analog Set reduce the slacker chug of The Clean’s Anything Could Happen to a depressing shuffle. The life of the original is sucked out of the song and subsequently it floats untethered – quietly flailing and looking for solid ground.

Disc Two features 16 original tracks by bands who covered songs on Disc One plus a few other acts. The most prominent and best of these is Kudos from fellow Kiwis Surf City. Their album has been one of the highlights of 2010 and Kudos is the closest thing to the Flying Nun sound on this album – even though they reside on Arch Hill Recordings in New Zealand. Other than Surf City the only other track that sticks in the memory banks is the closer Aldebaran Waltz by B. Fleischmann. The cute bleeps and tweaks are largely eschewed for a more emotive delivery with Fleischmann’s deep voice and a hypnotic, droning organ. The song builds slowly with distortion adding grit and colour before it all drifts off into the distance.

Tribute albums are generally to be avoided unless there are interesting artists providing fresh and creative interpretations of the originals. Here those special moments are almost non-existent and once the initial wave of curiosity has passed there is little reason to return.

this review first appeared on The Dwarf