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Essential Records: "Kaleidoscope World" by The Chills

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 31, 2016 07:28pm | Post a Comment

Essential Records The Chills

In 1985, The Chills played a few nights at the very non-glamorous central Christchurch booze barn, The Carlton Hotel, and like I did for most bands on New Zealand's illustrious Flying Nun label at the time, I trudged down to check 'em out. I'd seen quite a few of their shows since their formation in the early '80s, but this one was different. They were always good, but this time I felt like something really special was happening, maybe even a kind of genius (much as I hate using that word).

This was the 9th or 10th lineup of the band, but this one - with original bass player Terry Moore back in the band, human metronome Alan Haig (later of Snapper) on drums, and colorful keyboardist Peter Allison - was the one where it all fell into place for me and the other over-capacity 500-odd people there (Fire code? What fire code?). They moved from their most quiet moments (delicate pieces of Beatles-y/Left Banke/Summer of Love-style whimsical psych) to an increasingly roaring cacophonous sound that filled the bar (and my poor ears) with awe. Where was it coming from? With only one guitarist? (There's still largely unrecorded songs from this period, like "Frozen Fountain" and "Silhouette," that would wipe away once and for all the notion that the band was the "poppy" Flying Nun band.)

Martin Phillipps was the songwriter, guitarist, and autocrat of the band, and, although he would never beFlying Nun Records accused of being the most alpha of males, was directing the traffic that night just as single-mindedly as he directed the evolution of his band (check out In Love With These Times, Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd's excellent memoir, for a good take on Phillipps' rationale for the many lineup changes through the '80s and beyond). I knew Martin a little (mostly from a recent lengthy Steinlager-fueled interview at his Dunedin home, a consequence of my part-time gig as music writer for The Christchurch Press) and he was happy to admit he was fascinated by fantasy and comic books, but at the same time was fiercely adamant that The Chills were not just pure escapism...a claim backed up by the "Doledrums" 45 that addressed the dole (Government unemployment benefits) culture in NZ at the time.

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10 Classic New Zealand Albums

Posted by Billy Gil, May 29, 2014 10:26am | Post a Comment

One of New Zeland’s best bands, The Bats, have just had three of their albums reissued on vinyl by their native Flying Nun label, The Law of Things, Compiletely Bats and Daddy’s Highway, plus a three-CD set with all three albums (also available to download). To celebrate, we’re counting off 10 of our favorite albums from the island country, in no particular order.

Split Enz - Mental Notes (1975)

split enz mental notes lpBest known in the States for crossover power-pop hits like “I Got You” (off the True Colours album), Split Enz’s first album is full of epic, prog-pop weirdness, featuring the songwriting talents of brothers Neil and Tim Finn.

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Connan Mockasin Brings 'Caramel' to Amoeba Hollywood This Friday

Posted by Billy Gil, January 15, 2014 03:50pm | Post a Comment

connan mockasin amoebaConnan Mockasin’s Caramel was one of the more intriguing records of 2013. As syrupy and sumptuous as its name would suggest, the native New Zealander’s second album is a trip, yawning awake with spacey love songs, delving into psychedelic soul singles (the irresistible “I’m the Man, Who Will Find You”) and moving into a five-part, mind-bending suite called “It’s Your Body.” Even among underground releases, it’s a strange bird, and an album that stays with you. I sat down with Mockasin to ask about the record as he prepared to play in San Francisco. He’ll be at Amoeba Hollywood this Friday Jan. 17, performing at 6 p.m.

 

There’s a really interesting quality to the album that the whole thing feels kind of warped and disorienting, but you get used to it as the album goes on. Was that part of the idea, to create a sort of all-encompassing sound world?

Mockasin: I didn’t really think about it too much. I just wanted to make what a record that was called Caramel would sound like. That’s just what I had in my head.

connan mockasin caramel amoebaWhat made you choose the word “caramel” as inspiration?

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Toy Love Song

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 15, 2013 07:25pm | Post a Comment

A 1980 interview with a bunch of new bands based in Auckland by the old New Zealand rock mag Rip It toy loveUp posed the question, "How would you most like the audience to react to your music?"

All the bands interviewed answered that they liked it best when the punters hit the dancefloor...except Chris Knox, the peripatetic vocalist for Toy Love. His response? "We'd rather stun them..."

Done and done. Over their all too brief two-year life, the South Island band were the best in the country by a long shot, packing pubs and slaying the hundreds of people who packed in to see them.

The band put out three singles and one LP before splitting up in late 1980. Their impact was monstrous in NZ, directly influencing the formative years of the country's premier indie label in the '80s, Flying Nun.

Brooklyn label Captured Tracks has just released a vinyl document of Toy Love's recorded output, toy lovean eponymously titled double LP comprising the best of the LPs and singles, along with other recorded material and demos. Your writer was an unabashed fanatic; I saw all but one Toy Love show in Christchurch, and a bunch at other places around the country.

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CHRIS KNOX (TALL DWARFS, TOY LOVE, THE ENEMY) SUFFERS STROKE

Posted by Billyjam, June 13, 2009 09:27am | Post a Comment
Chris Knox "Not Given Lightly" (1990)

Chris Knox, the pioneering New Zealand musician of influential Kiwi bands The Enemy, Toy Love, and the Tall Dwarfs, is reportedly in an Auckland hospital today after suffering a stroke two days ago. The talented New Zealander, who also co-founded the country's legendary indie Flying Nun record label in the early 80's, is a major figure in the development of the kiwipop story.
Chris Knox
A living legend in his native New Zealand, the 56 year-old Knox's rich & respected career dates back to late 70s NZ punk era bands The Enemy and Toy Love, followed by being one-half (along with The Enemy guitarist Alec Bathgate) of the quirky oddball 4-track pioneering duo the Tall Dwarfs, whose music I highly recommend you seek out at Amoeba if you don't already have it in your collection. (For a prime example of their sound, check the video down below of the brilliant Tall Dwarfs song "The Brain That Wouldn't Die.")

Knox, who has an uncanny knack for creating the perfect infectious pop song, has also released a number of solo, self-produced albums. His 1990 song "Not Given Lightly" (a love song to his wife -- see video above) was named "New Zealand's ninth best song of all time" at the 2001 New Zealand Music Awards.

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