Up until now, I felt like I had New Zealand’s Wax Chattels pegged; the band offered a heavy hitting blend of noisy rock, sans guitars. Now, they’ve unleashed this dense new track from their forthcoming LP, and while it surely holds some of the noisier elements, the opening 2 minutes reveals a soft belly that I wasn’t expecting. Amanda Cheng haunts this tune, letting her voice drip all over, even when the band begin punishing your ears with electronic noise and pounding rhythm section. I like a band that can stretch their sound, and I’m always a sucker for a group on Flying Nun/Captured Tracks; their self-titled debut drops May 18th.
What more do you need to know than that simple post title? You’ve got two great labels in Captured Tracks and Flying Nun, but are Wax Chattels any good? My answer? Absolutely. For starters, there’s a frantic force pushing through your speakers, all accomplished sans guitars; the trio is nothing more than 2 piece drum kit, bass and synths. In a way, its reminiscent of early Death From Above, though this feels way more like its willing to take that sound to the limits. Energetic and noisy, yet wholly consumable by the masses. Look for the New Zealand act to be high on everyone’s list of favorites from here on out.
There’s a long history of great New Zealand bands that we don’t need to tell you about, but you should be excited that there’s a new export by the name of Kane Strang that should entice your ears. He’ll be releasing his first complete album via Ba Da Bing and Flying Nun, so alone, that should get you listening. For my two cents, the churning guitar riffs layered on top of one another, much like the vocals in parts of the song, definitely create an intoxicating feeling; it’s all matched by the internal harmonies that permeate the tune. Look for Blue Cheese to make an impression on February 26th.
This is one of those singles that came across by recommendation, as I hadn’t actually heard of Kane Strang until now…but it carried whispers of Flying Nun/Ba Da Bing teamwork to bring it to light, so I had to listen. Of course, there’s that circular guitar ring that seems to have been crafted out of New Zealand, but what really perked my ears is the stabbing keyboard noise coming in from the distant background. Apparently the majority of this recording was done while housesitting alone at his parents, giving off a feeling of isolation that was hinted by an earlier collection of demos. Look for Blue Cheese to make it’s way to the US on February 26th via the aforementioned labels.
I think the world is now a better place now that Captured Tracks has a hold of the back catalog to legendary label Flying Nun over here in the US. I know that somewhere out there are original vinyl copies of some of my favorite acts, but I’m grateful too that I can grab a hold of some of these classics without too much hassle. The label has announced that they’ll be releasing 3 classic albums from The Bats, Compiletely Bats, Daddy’s Highway and The Law of Things; they’re all albums you should own, especially if you’re a fan of great pop music. Not only will there by vinyl releases, but a 3 CD version that’s a compilation of the releases (CDs are the new cassettes). All of these will be available on May 27th, and in honor, here’s a great single off of Daddy’s Highway.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/07-Block-Of-Wood.mp3]
Over the summer I stumbled upon DC outfit Dot Dash, falling in love with their post-punk stylings. They had everything I loved about the genre, but that all stemmed from their old record. Luckily, the band is back with a new album, Winter Garden Light, which has the group forging into new territory. While they still hold onto some semblance of post-punk, there seems to be a bit of Flying Nun nostalgia in the guitars, giving the group a sunnier sound fueled by sincere melodies and hooks. I just got a hold of the record, and I’ll have a full review up next week; for now, you need to hear the opening track just to get a taste.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Dot-Dash-Winter-Garden-Light-01-Faraway.mp3]
Download:Dot Dash – Faraway [MP3]
Anytime you listen to some jangling garage pop track, or off-beat power pop, the odds are, that band was influenced by the Clean, who’ve been releasing songs since 1981; their first single is the track we’re featuring below.
They didn’t actually release a full-length album until almost a decade into their career, instead compiling tons of singles to release as compilations on the legendary Flying Nun label in their home country. But, disbanding and focusing on different groups, often incestuous groups with other NZ acts like the Chills, saw them sort of sputter out, barely making the radar outside of their island home. Hopefully, that all changed when Merge released their album, Mister Pop, a few years back, bringing the band some new fans.
For me, I say start with the Anthology, as that was my first introduction to the band many years ago; it’s got tons of great singles waiting to be your favorite track. Within those songs you’ll see the energy and wit that defined the group’s sound, leading them to be one of the most revered, yet underappreciated acts, of all time. I’ve never seen them though, and I know it won’t be the same as watching them back in the day, but just to hear some of these songs live will further complete my life as a music fan. They’ll definitely be worth your time.
They play at 11 PM at Club Deville on Saturday, June 2nd.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/03-Tally-Ho.mp3]
Download:The Clean – Tally Ho [MP3]