Thursday, May 21, 2009

Alpaca Brothers - Legless EP (1986)

A fine, underrated band from the peak of Flying Nun's influence, the Alpaca Brothers stirred up a nice racket on their 1986 Legless EP. The band featured Steve Courname, who went on to drum for the Verlaines, and Norma O'Malley of Look Blue Go Purple. - Ariel


Monday, May 18, 2009

"Friends of the Enemy" Documentary

This is great stuff!

Part 1:

Part 2:

State of the Blog

As you may or may not have noticed, a number of links have mysteriously disappeared. My attempts to create an archival collection of New Zealand music were tempered in March when a representative from Mushroom Records--the label that bought Flying Nun in 1990--requested that a number of artists be removed, including:

The Clean
David Kilgour
Martin Phillipps/The Chills
Chris Knox
Toy Love
Tall Dwarfs
The Bats
Goblin Mix

So, that explains that. For educational purposes, the pages will remain. I'm going to start writing about music from outside of New Zealand again--in addition to the usual, of course--but please continue to request your kiwi favorites!

- Ariel

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Beat Happening - You Turn Me On (1992)

It's not kiwi, but it's one of my favorites. Hearing someone slight this record recently was like hearing an attack on an old friend.

Bathed in ambient warmth, You Turn Me On is classic Beat Happening—pure, minimalist fury, driving percussion, and laconic drone—but in panoramic Technicolor. Draping their distinctly adult tales of lust, love, and rejection in the gauzy language of adolescence, the innocence of Beat Happening’s approach is belied by the bittersweet knowledge that such blissful idyll is fleeting. The childlike retreat to the comforting and the familiar is a futile pursuit, but it is often the only language that is available to us. Nakedly emotional and rooted in the present, You Turn Me On is Beat Happening’s most honest record. From the opening strains of “Tiger Trap” to the closing chimes of “Bury the Hammer,” the album is an extraordinary coda to a career of conceptual and lyrical delights. Though its predecessors’ rinky-dink, schoolyard charms were a key aspect of Beat Happening’s sound, the more polished affair of You Turn Me On does not lessen the impact of its songs but rather confirms what had always been clear: in terms of lyrical and melodic prowess, Beat Happening was a cut above the like-minded crop of awkward, cardigan-clad bands that appeared in their wake. The limitations of their sound were never reflected in the strength of their material. On You Turn Me On, the digital effects suit the songs. It is difficult to imagine the lullaby drone of “Godsend” without the sweetly lilting guitar harmonies that blend and swoon together in a transcendent evocation of idealized love. Heather represented the pulsing, human heart at the center of Beat Happening, offering a sweet contrast to Calvin’s guttural food-sex-death metaphors and B-movie diversions, and ”Godsend” is the album’s centerpiece. You Turn Me On is full of such moments, a beautiful and resigned farewell from one of the era’s greatest bands. Heather, Calvin, and Bret: thank you. - Ariel