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The Prophet Hens touring NZ

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The Prophet Hens embark upon a NZ tour in January in celebration of their second album “The Wonderful Shape of Back Door Keys” which was recently released on Fishrider Records (NZ) and Occultation Recordings (UK).

Thursday 12 January – ChristchurchDarkroom, with Grawlixes . Tickets here.

Friday 13 January – DunedinDog With Two Tails, with Ultramafic & Grawlixes. Tickets here

Friday 20 January – Wellington Meow, with Moses & Grawlixes. Tickets here.

Saturday 21 January – AucklandFreida Margolis, with Paul Cathro & Grawlixes

This Dunedin based jangle pop outfit of “Chills meets Belle & Sebastian pop alchemy” (according to The Finest Kiss in the US) made its mark all over the world with its debut album “Popular People Do Popular People”; praised as “psychédélisme plaintif” by French music weekly Les Inrocks, given 10/10 in reviews by UK mailorder specialists Norman Records’ staff and customers. Both albums have featured on BBC 6Music radio shows from Marc Riley, Gideon Coe, and Steve Lamacq in the UK.

The Prophet Hens are touring with Grawlixes, a Wellington (by way of Dunedin) based acoustic pop outfit, featuring sweeping male-female vocal melodies & harmonies (Penelope and Robin from The Prophet Hens), with accordion and guitar. Grawlixes toured extensively throughout Europe with French for Rabbits in 2015 and are preparing the release of their first album “Set Free” in July 2017 on Home Alone Music.

 

 

 

“The Dunedin Sound – Some Disenchanted Evening”

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“The Dunedin Sound – Some Disenchanted Evening”, by University of Otago Music Department Senior Lecturer Ian Chapman,  was published in New Zealand earlier this month. As you may have already gleaned from its title, it is a book about Dunedin music. Well, about Dunedin music from 1977 to 1992 to be precise. Seventeen of the dozens of bands existing, performing and sometimes recording during this period to be even more precise. One of those bands is The Puddle.

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The book is a combination of images (photographs, posters, set lists and associated ‘ephemera’ of the era) and words. The images make up about 70% of the book, and the words are mostly personal observations of ‘involved bystanders’ rather than musicians for the most part (although there are a few of them contributing), including a closing chapter/ essay bridging the past to some of the present via Fishrider Records.

It’s not the last word on the subject but it is the first book to attempt cover the scope of the City’s music scene during that era. It is a great – spectacular at times – visual accompaniment to the music.

The book also provides a guide to discographies (some of which continue past the era covered in the book). It doesn’t ignore the present, for which we are most grateful, as the past has a habit of overshadowing the present in Dunedin.

Here’s a great review of it from the knowledgeable London fan of the “sound” at Did Not Chart.

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The Shifting Sands tour the US in October

Shifting Sands Trees3Dunedin psych-rock band The Shifting Sands released their 2nd album “Cosmic Radio Station” in late 2015, praised as “…Multi-faceted guitar pop channeling New Zealand’s ‘80s Flying Nun sound…”  by Uncut magazine and finding an appreciative audience around the world.

Now the band is set to bring its fuzzed out dreamy South Pacific psychedelic guitar rock to the US West and East in October.  Read about US musician Sharon Van Etten’s love of the band on Brooklyn Vegan.

7 October – 321 Lounge at Taix French Restaurant, 1911 W. Sunset Boulevard, LA with Rough Church

8 October – Mountain Rambler Brewery, 186 S Main St, Bishop, California 93514

12 October – Bar, 254 Crown street, New Haven CT w/ Dinowalrus

13 October – Rough Trade Records, 64 N 9th St, Brooklyn, NY – w/ Omni

14 October – Elvis’ Guesthouse, 85 Avenue A, New York, NY

17 October – Arts Riot, 400 Pine Street, Burlington, VT w/ 1881

19 October – The Crown, 1910 N Charles St. 2nd Fl, Baltimore, MD

20 October – Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA w/ The Writhing Squares

22 October – The Pinhook, 117 W Main St, Durham, NC

24 October – Grimeys instore (at 5pm), 1604 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN

24 October – Exit/In, 2208 Elliston Place, Nashville, TN from 8pm w/ Neon Indian

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The Prophet Hens release their 2nd album

The Prophet Hens‘ second album “The Wonderful Shapes of back Door Keys” is built upon melodic jangling guitars, swirling Casio keyboards & the voices of Penelope Esplin and Karl Bray singing upliftingly melancholic songs about hope & despair, joy & regret, ambition & reality, coming together & drifting apart.

Their 1st album “Popular People Do Popular People” is also being (re-)issued on LP at the same time as this new album comes out. It made its mark all over the world, praised as “psychédélisme plaintif” by French music weekly Les Inrockuptibles, given 9/10 in reviews by UK mailorder specialists Norman Records’ staff and customers and featured on BBC 6Music shows by Marc Riley and Gideon Coe.

Both albums are available in NZ/ Australia now and, in the UK/ Europe from Occultation Recordings. They are available in stores from 19 August 2016.

“The magic, merry-go-round keyboard washes remind the listener of fun times and maybe just a hint of The Chills, alternating between the somewhat downcast lyrics and bright, swirling melodies. It’s this dichotomy that makes this band and its forebears so fascinating.” The Big Takeover (USA)

“a very enjoyable record, especially those of us who belong to the “cult of the flying nun”…” Indienauta (Spain)

“…this pure hit of solid – if astutely restrained – joy.” Stereo Embers (USA)

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The Prophet Hens – L-R Penelope Esplin (keyboards, vocals), Robin Cederman (Bass), Karl Bray (guitar, Vocals), Chris Butchard (Drums) – Photo by Phoebe Mackenzie http://www.phoebelysbethk.com/

DIY Touring NZ – featuring Death And The Maiden

DATM_DIY touring NZNZ website The Wireless has been hosting a series of short video documentaries on DIY touring the world produced, filmed and narrated by Ian Jorgensen of A Low Hum.

The episode on NZ features Death And The Maiden, with a short interview and some live footage filmed at Chick’s Hotel.

The video makes NZ look pretty wonderful – just wide upon spaces with the occasional tin shed or wooden hall in the countryside hosting bands and audiences abandoning themselves to the music. It’s a nice DIY alternative to the reality of city pubs.

The Puddle did their own DIY NZ tour in 2009 and their tour video does look pretty similar, so maybe this is actually the reality?

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The Prophet Hens foresee new releases

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The Prophet Hens. Photo by Phoebe Mackenzie http://www.phoebelysbethk.com/

“Popular People” is the 1st single from The Prophet Hens‘ 2nd album “The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys” which is due out in June/July (depending on when LPs get pressed!) on Fishrider Records and, in the UK/ Europe  on Occultation Recordings.

The Prophet Hens are Karl Bray (guitar, vocals), Penelope Esplin (keyboards, vocals), Robin Cederman (bass, backing vocals) and Chris Butchard (drums). Penelope takes the lead vocals on this song – as she does on half the songs on the album

Bassist Robin Cederman wrote “Popular People” sitting in the sun at his old flat on York Place in Dunedin and seeing a copy of The Prophet Hens’ first record on the coffee table. If it’s about anything, then it’s about the things people are willing to do – and the situations they end up in – to achieve their goals.

Just to confuse everyone, “Popular People Do Popular People” – their 1st album, from which this new single gets its title, is also being (re-)issued on LP at the same time as their new album comes out.

The 1st album made its mark all over the world, praised as “psychédélisme plaintif” by French music weekly Les Inrockuptibles, given 10/10 in reviews by UK mailorder specialists Norman Records’ staff and customers and featured on BBC 6Music shows by Marc Riley and Gideon Coe.

US music blog The Finest Kiss described their popular debut as “Chills meets Belle And Sebastian pop alchemy” before saying “The Prophet Hens may be better than both” and making it their #2 album of the year for 2013. It was a bold call from a respected indie-pop authority, but we think the bands’ 2nd album gives that claim a bit of a nudge.

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The Prophet Hens. Photo by Phoebe Mackenzie http://www.phoebelysbethk.com/

“Civilisation” by Death And The Maiden (video)

Following on from the impressionistic video for “Victory” by guitarist/ drummer/ vocalist Hope Robertson from the dark and dreamy debut by Death And The Maiden, here’s another video, this time for “Civilisation”, once again featuring the sleepy village of Port Chalmers.

This odd little 150+ year old port town mixes century old provincial New Zealand architecture with the industrial sprawl of a major shipping port and container terminal. The video is filmed in black and white on a fine sunny day, yet still manages to maintain the stealthy distance of surveillance footage, as if dispassionately observing life on a different planet.

There are also a couple of scenes of Chris Booth’s sculpture “Aramoana” from the Hotere Garden Oputae  on the lookout overlooking the port and harbour. It’s a reminder that although this town is physically dominated by the maritime transport industry, it also has a strongly beating heart of art.

Two of the three members of Death And The Maiden live in Port Chalmers and the third is a regular visitor. In winter – or on cooler summer nights – the cold damp and fog or rain mixes with the clammy aerosol grey of diesel fume infused salty air. At night the sounds of the Port machinery hangs over the town, a repetitive hum of boat engines punctuated with the clang and thump of metal on metal as containers are loaded and unloaded.

It’s hard to avoid this all working its way into the subconscious of the residents, and into their music and art, whether it is through some kind of psychological osmosis or escapist rejection. This is Death And The Maiden’s “Civilisation” then: