Wellington Music Month 6: a shameful secret.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSo alone among the Wellingtonista, I have a terrible secret: apart from an early album from the Black Seeds, I have no current Wellington Music in my collection.


Not even Fat Freddy’s Drop.

In my major period of buying music, Wellington music for me was a bit fringe and wacky, and worst of all, not on Flying Nun. There were occasional songs that caught my attention: Bill Direen & the Bilders’ Do the Alligator; that amusing Elephunk song; one or two songs from the Six Volts… and that’s about it. Wellington was full of arty jazzy stuff that frankly I despised.

Time has moved on – about 20 years in fact – and somehow Wellington’s musical renaissance has passed me by. This is not good.

So I need help!

What are the top five albums by Wellington bands in the last five years? Answers please: I must remove the shameful stain of my musical ignorance!

Wellington Music Month 4: Gettin’ Serious

Some favourites:

The Avengers
For a time in the late sixties The Avengers were one of the highest profile rock bands on the New Zealand scene. Their song Waterpipe is one of the greatest songs to ever glorify the joys of using water in your bong. The 1968 debut LP Electric Recording has possibly my favourite album cover art ever — look how cool they are — as well as being a damn good record. They went to try their luck in Australia and broke up in ’69.

Bailter Space
Look — we have to let Christchurch have The Gordons, and The Skeptics were undoubtedly from Palmerston North, but I’m going to have to insist despite them beginning in Christchurch and ending up in New York, that Wellington be allowed to claim shoe-gazey atmospheric noise rockers Bailter Space as its own. They were an incredible live band, known for being one of the loudest of their era. Their gigs were few and far between, and many people still speak in hushed, reverential tones about the week in 1993 when there were TWO Bailter Space gigs. And their albums still stand up as being some of the best music to ever come out of New Zealand.

Birchville Cat Motel
a.k.a. Campbell Kneale. As Wikipedia sez,

although largely unknown in his home country, Kneale has toured many times throughout Asia, America, Europe, and Australia.

Daft name, and yet this one-man trancendental drone/noise act is surely the closest thing Wellington and New Zealand has ever had to a global music superstar.

Eight more, after this…

Wellington music month 3: getting noizy

Skallander – The Camels
Take the welly dub ethic, mix it up with some guitar and ambient noise, and you end up with this brilliant slab of aural inventiveness. One of the many projects to come from the musical mind of the very talented and massively under-rated Bevan Smith.

Shihad – Killjoy
Best NZ rock album. Ever. Nuff said.

The Bilge Festival – Cape Goat
The good side of Wellington wacky rock. Two mad singer/songwriters and a super-tight rhythm section, create an opus of bizarre yet funky songs. Wildebeest a go-go!!

Over the Atlantic – Junica
Another Bevan Smith collaboration – this is like a Wellingtonian take on what the definitive New Order album might sound like. The noise wig-out on the last track ‘Fly to the States’ is the best bit of distortion you’ll ever hear. (Video below is the track ’35 Black & White’)…

Debris – She’s the Bomb
Yeah, I played on it. And technically we’re all from Christchurch. But we were living here at the time, it was recorded at the infamous Church on Frederick St., and it’s f**kin’ awesome.

Wellington music month 2: favourite songs for the forlorn

If you ever talk to me and I can’t hear you, these bands and these songs are probably to blame for the condition of my ears.

  • ‘Deb’s night out’ – Shihad. They might turn the noise up to 11 on other numbers, but this is quieter, more contemplative and all the more powerful and bitter for it.
  • ‘The Lover’ – Fur Patrol. Is there any line more gutting than “This is the lover you left me for and I hope you’re happy now”? I don’t think so. Find it on their first EP Starlifter.
  • ‘The Drinker’ – The Phoenix Foundation. “At the bottom of the bottle you can wipe your conscience clean” – and lord knows the Wellingtonista try that, although for us it should be “At the bottom of the pineapple…”
  • ‘And the truth faded into dust’ – The Dukes of Leisure. Get your sonic noise on. Best heard at the planeterium for maximum impact.
  • ‘I’m on fire’ – Head like a Hole. Normally it’s the Phoenix Foundation who get all The Boss up on us, but this cover is just perfect, from Booga’s sleaze, to the wig-out at the end, and the video that featured them playing on the roof ala U2, with the old Channel Z Carhoona driving around below.

Wellington music month 1: guaranteed Emo-free

We thought that we’d celebrate NZ Music month by highlighting some of our favourite Wellington music. Here’s my top 5, veering between the obscure and the downright mainstream.

Aspen, Are you that retail snob?. This was the album that got me back into making music. It’s somewhere between ambient, glitch and early 90s IDM, but all you need to know is that it’s dripping with gorgeous textures and melodies.

Rhian Sheehan, Tiny Blue Biosphere. I know, I know: it’s over-produced coffee table music for yuppies, but hell, maybe that’s what I am (even though I don’t own a coffee table). And any album that samples Carl Sagan not once but twice has to get bonus geek points.

Disasteradio, Synthtease. Damn, this guy’s ransacked my childhood! Yazoo with a VIC 20, Kraftwerk playing Asteroids, 8-bit beats and viral melodies.

Rhombus, Future Reference. Yep, it’s a Welly list, so there had to be some dub somewhere. But Rhombus’ influences range far wider than most, and touches of funk, hip-hop, electronica and jazz give their sound an infectious enthusiasm. “Scorching Bay” has to be an instant Wellington classic.

Twinset and friends, Christmas Puddin’. The only Christmas album that doesn’t make me want to stick Rudolph’s antlers where the sun don’t shine. They know that you can’t take carols too seriously, but while Benj Berryman injects some swingin’ cheese into ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, there are some surprisingly straight jazz treatments and delicate moments. As you can probably tell, I’m still hanging out for the lounge revival revival.