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Jun 08, 2006

Criminally Underrated Bands Part the First

OK so its probably not criminally under-rated, theres an element of 'obscurity' in some of the following artists. Um, possibly 'unlistenability' too depending on how you like your music.

Still hopefully there something that will appeal to the occassional reader and stimulate a purchase (especially for the Kiwi stuff).

This isn't in any particular order - maybe just easy-listening through to not-easy-listening.

I've put a downsampled (using razorlame) 48kbs mp3 linked to a song title for each artist (in the hope that the RIAA lawyers don't pounce) - the quality may be crap but if you like the tune you should buy the album :-)

* Nick Drake - so Nick may fall into the over-rated category due to the occassional misuse of his songs in angsty american teen drama but that shouldn't detract from his beautiful songs. If you're a fan of world-weary country or folk you'll fall for songs like 'Black Eyed Dog'.

* The Clean - Three Kiwis + 4 track recorder + the eary 80's = Genius. Their early stuff is better than their newer stuff - 'Compilitely' is probably their definitive compilation of early singles and EP's. I dare anyone to listen to 'Beatnik' or 'Tally Ho' and not come away smiling.

* Bailter Space - Spawned from the ashes of The Clean and The Gordons this Kiwi trio perfect the art of the monolithic droning groove. The NME reviewed them live once and said they were louder and better than My Bloody Valentine which is a pretty stellar endorsement. Again their earlier stuff is better than their later stuff - after 'Vortura' they started going downhill (might have had something to do with moving to the US). That still leaves four albums of Bailter Space stuff of which 'X' is a fairly typical sonic-pop gem.

* The Skeptics - Unlike almost all the other guitar based Flying Nun (seminal Kiwi label) bands of the 80's and 90's The Skeptics were more sample / electronic based with Joy Division atmospherics. Their god-like genius was sadly cut short when their singer (David D'ath) died of cancer. Still we can revel in the beauty of songs such as 'And We Bake'.

* Palace - Will Oldham is pretty much Palace, Palace Brothers, Palace Songs and Bonnie Prince Billy among others. As well as being a rather brilliant singer/songwriter he has also acted and took the cover photo for Slints 'Spiderland' album. Don't you have talented people ? His earlier albums are the best IMHO as they capture a certain twisted apalachian country atmosphere as featured on 'New Partner'.

* Don Cabellero - another American guitar trio - primarily instrumental alternative rock. They slowly evolved into a bit of a jazz beast which I can't say I enjoyed as much as their straight-out rock as is ably demonstrated on 'Stupid Puma'. I think the thing I appreciate the most about this type of music is it foregoes the usual lyrical cliches for a dynamic song structure - after all - if you have nothing new to say whats the point in spouting something people have heard a million times over already.

* Dirty Three - Aussie instrumental trio. Featuring a slightly odd line-up of guitar, drums and violin these guys rip through everything from pulsing rock to mournful ballads like - 'Everythings Fucked'. Warren Ellis, the violinist, also plays and tours with Nick Caves Bad Seeds.

* Slint - Often imitated but never better'd. Hard to describe but from a novices perspective they could sound a little like an American take on late period Roadiohead (but Slint came first) - subdued softly spoken lyrics and crystaline atmospherics. Their Spiderland album is considered one of the finest of the 90's (see # 12) and this is one of their best songs from it - Good Morning Captain - I love the way the intensity builds slowly like a compressing spring through a variety of volume and tempo changes.

* Dead C/Gate - Kiwi avante-garde lo-fi noise-makers - the Dead C are a trio and Gate is the Dead C's guitarist (Mike Morley) solo. If you're partial to a bit of fuzzy droning noise then wrap your ears around the zen like mantra of 'Have Not' - if you have the patience wait for the cats meow about half-way through :-)

* Skullflower - On the extreme end of my musical spectrum (topped only by the occassional masochistic bout of Merzbow or Total) - this English trio take noise to entirely different places. Their early recordings were super fuzzed out retardo rock excursions relying on massive volume and repitition to pummel the listener into submission. Their later stuff eschews noise rock for straight out improvised feedback, distortion and psychedlic skree as per 'Metallurgical King' from their 'Carved Into Roses' album. Oh and a word of warning, avoid the 'Argon' LP - its crap.

Permalink | 2006.06.08-21:42.00

Brain Dead Bottle Stores

The Kiwi palette has moved on slightly since the bad old days when you were either a Lion drinker or a DB drinker and if you had enough money and were a little bit fancy you'd drink Steinlager.

Now most liquor outlets have a decent variety of beers - imported and domestic. In fact theres even a good Belgian bar in Wellington now. A number of the micro-breweries have really really really tasty stuff. Even my favourite general consumption brand (Monteiths) is from one of the big two companies (DB). Monteiths have just released a rather fantastic seasonal Tripel beer which at 8% really packs a punch and makes a pleasant change to my usual Winter ale fix.

The one catch to all this newly discovered beery goodness is that idiot bottle-store owners and outlets insist on putting almost all beer into a walk-in fridge thereby chilling the hell out of it.

Why the f%@k would you chill anything other than a drought, pilsner, wheat beer or lager ?

If they can keep red wine on the shelf and chill white then why is it so hard to treat beer properly ?

Nothing worse than returning from the super-market with a stash of stout or ale and having to wait for it to warm up . . . .

I know I know I'm just a beer snob.

Permalink | 2006.06.08-04:10.00