Tag Archives: Dunedin Sound

“The Dunedin Sound – Some Disenchanted Evening”


“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.


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.

The Puddle in Dunedin Sound book2 2016.jpg



Fishrider Best of 2015

Fishrider 2015 square logos

Our “best of 2015” has to be the two albums we released during the year. Two isn’t a lot, is it? It’s about our annual average release volume. Busiest year we had was 2012 with four releases, but two is plenty.  As we like to say: “we’re not music industry. We’re music arts and crafts.”

The albums we release are by musicians, bands in the Dunedin music community. Friends and colleagues. It’s a part time operation and the most valuable thing we can offer the bands is time, knowledge and connections.

For the past three years we’ve had an unlikely ally in a small UK label – Occultation Recordings. It is also more “arts & crafts” than “music industry”. Occultation released three albums this year – The Granite Shore  “Once More From The Top” (involving members of other Occultation bands), Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus “beauty will save the world”  and The Everlasting Yeah “Anima Rising” – and collaborated with us for a UK co-release for our two albums.

During 2015 that bond between the hemispheres was strengthened when Fishrider’s Ian Henderson traveled to the UK at short notice to play drums on recording sessions for the third and final album by Manchester’s beloved The Distractions, which will be released on Occultation Recordings in 2016.

The two releases in 2015 could not have been more different. Death And The Maiden’s self-titled debut is a unique combination of electronic dance/ trance music with post-punk guitar and bass elements and overlaid with dream-pop vocals. It’s dark, a little bit Gothic, but the kind of sound-world you can easily lose yourself in.

By way of contrast The Shifting Sands’ “Cosmic Radio Station” was a sun-bleached psychedelic shoegaze masterpiece, all fuzzy guitars and dreamy pop melodicism. Daylight to Death And The Maiden’s night music.

Thanks to the people who have kept Fishrider going in 2015. The bands, the artists/designers, the video makers, and especially the fans around the world who bought albums, shared links to music and videos, talked about the music, wrote about the music, or played the music on radio shows.

We have more planned for 2016…. stick around.



The Shifting Sands on tour

The Shifting Sands have been on tour, promoting the release of their album “Feel” on Fishrider Records at the start of April. They launched the album with a small-scale party at Taste Merchants in Dunedin (scene of the Fishrider Records 5th birthday and Opposite Sex album launch back in November last year) before heading to the North Island to play at Mighty Mighty in Wellington (with The Eversons– who have also just released their debut) and She’s So Rad. Then it was on to Auckland where they played the infamous K Road dungeon The Whammy Bar with Ghost Wave and She’s So Rad.

Now it’s the turn of the South Island. Last Friday they played to a packed and happy crowd at Dunedin’s newest venue The National with support from The Scattered Brains of the Lovely Union(a young 7-piece woozy experimental pop ensemble who have been recording at Fishrider Studio recently and who feature Lucy Hunter from Opposite Sex on trumpet and vocals) and The Prophet Hens. The photos are from this show.

This week The Shifting Sands head off (along with John White from the Prophet Hens) to play in Lyttelton/ Christchurch at Wunderbar with T54, the fabulously-named Dharma Bums Club in Wairau Valley near Blenheim, and the Penguin Club in Oamaru (with The Prophet Hens and Scattered Brains of the Lovely Union again).

[Incidentally Tom Bell, bass player in The Shiftings Sands (as well as in David Kilgour’s Heavy Eights) has recently recorded albums by Ghost Wave and by T54. And, of course, he’s Fishrider’s resident mixing and sound engineering guru. T54 and Ghost Wave are both great new young bands and are well worth checking out if you like that typical Kiwi guitar-pop sound.]

More touring is planned later in the year. We still hope to be able to give “Feel” a vinyl release sometime… it’s not easy down here on the edge of the world with no pressing plant and sky-high international freight costs.

“Feel” has been attracting some great responses from music lovers and the media:

Shane Gilchrist, writing in The Otago Daily Times, gave it 4/5 stars, saying:
“Mike McLeod, former frontman of Dunedin band the Alpha State (which put out a rather nice album, Lines, in 2008) again shows he’s no slouch for loose structure and honed melody, but this time he cloaks his songs in more psychedelic shades. Helped by a who’s who of Dunedin musicians, including David Kilgour, Robert Scott and Jay Clarkson, McLeod delves into the angular, chiming, hypnotic drone-pop of the city’s early-’80s Flying Nun clan but manages to avoid mimicry. He has his own voice and isn’t scared to balance dark country-esque areas (Too Late, Outta Here) with wiggy guitar histrionics (Worth Our While).”

Volume Magazine (#30)
“Dunedin’s Michael McLeod has an ear for a good phrase that pulls you into the thick of his somewhat low-key, post-Clean guitar pop – I can’t tell you how much I’m into a line like “Everyone’s presending that they’re organised/ Everyone’s pretending that they’re onto it… I think they’re out of it.” Elsewhere, it ditches the somnambulance of actual songs to jam awesomely on two-chord organ-drone freakouts (see: “The Kitchen Sink”)”

Vanguard Red magazine

“Dunedin’s Fishrider Records are on a roll at the moment. Following on from the coastal outsider guitar pop of Opposite Sex, they’ve just turned down the road leading to weightless naturalistic psychedelica with the new album from The Shifting Sands.

A collection of songs written by clear, whimsically voiced singer Michael McLeod (formerly of The Alpha State), the ten song deep cycle of sonic waking dreams calls upon a Chicks Hotel style gig guestlist of musicians including David Kilgour (The Clean), Robert Scott (The Clean, The Bats), Robbie Yeats (The Verlaines, The Dead C), Lesley Paris (Look Blue Go Purple), Jay Clarkson (The Expendables, Breathing Cage), Rob Falconer (Operation Rolling Thunder), and Tony de Raad and Tom Bell (David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights).

If you know your Dunedin music, that really says it all doesn’t it. For those unfamiliar, expect a sitar, synth and drone infected take on the classic summer super8 home video jangle oft associated with that most storied of local creative hubs. And while this blip of difference allows aspects of the sound to be remote viewed through a pseudo Eastern eye, the song narrative is straight up landscape informed South East Coast state-of-mind. I.E. There is a lot to like here.”

The Puddle “Secret Holiday/ Victory Blues” double EP/ LP album release

Secret Holiday/ Victory Blues

Secret Holiday/ Victory Blues

“One teacher said he didn’t know if I’d grow up to be a genius or a madman. For a long time I thought I’d have to choose.” George D Henderson

The Puddle’s 7th album, Secret Holiday/Victory Blues, is the sum of two proposed 5-track 10” EPs recorded a year apart and pulled together as a complete unit.

This collection is Henderson’s response to 30 years of under-appreciation for their urgent psychedelia, sweet pop sentiments and garage rock undertones. A deliberately more commercial offering than previous albums, Secret Holiday/Victory Blues burns with a quiet fury.

Pitched somewhere between Julian Cope’s fried krautrock and pop, The Clean’s wayward tunes and Orange Juice’s oblique vision of a new pop future, this album features Graeme Humphreys (Able Tasmans, Humphreys & Keen) on keyboards and multi-instrumentalist Alan Starrett (Pop Art Toasters, The Bats, Mink etc.)

No could ever accuse The Puddle of making the same album twice. With Secret Holiday/Victory Blues, they’ve made two different EPs and then released them as one coherent album. What was that John Peel said about The Fall? “They are always different, they are always the same.” Read The Puddle for that ideal, too.

If there’s a constant in The Puddle’s unique, expansive outlook, it’s Henderson’s idea that “there were a few bands like Microdisney or The Smiths or Orange Juice … I thought, `why aren’t people doing this? It’s great’. So I had to do it. No-one else was going to.”

No one else is doing what The Puddle do: the mixture of T-Rex stomp and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd on Oh Hayley (You’re Right), for instance. Or the sadness of The Go-Betweens’ Before Hollywood and the fire of Television’s Adventure on Secret Holiday.

Whether or not Henderson’s glorious attempt at reaching for the skies and grabbing stars will give them a well-deserved 2012 hit is one thing; these songs will last. People will come round eventually

Video for “La Rat” by Opposite Sex

We’ve assembled a video for La Rat which is technically the second ‘single’ from the debut album by Opposite Sex. The limited edition (only 150) LP is disappearing as fast as we can glue up the covers so if you want a slice of NZ pop/ anti-pop future history don’t delay too much.

New Jersey/ New York radio station WFMU called the album “the next wave of swoony Dunedin New Zealand pop” when they made it their album of the day last week. This song in particular does remind us in it’s own propulsive galloping way of The Clean’s “Tally Ho!” which originated from Dunedin many years ago and helped start a little label called Flying Nun Records.

The video stars Bruce the rat and most of the other footage used here is the band recording in their rehearsal space in Dunedin’s Victorian-era industrial underground in November 2011.

La Rat

Au Revoir, La Rat
I know that it’s hard to be on the outside
There are people who hate you wherever you are
I hope you know how to hide

They’ll scrape you off the ceiling
They’ll drop you to the floor
Spin you round in circles
They’ll throw you at the wall

So Au Revoir, La Rat
I know that it’s hard to be on the outside
There are people who hate you wherever you are
I hope you know how to hide

I’ll fly you up to a tower
With a room and a bed
Lock you up and keep you
Give you water and bread

So Au Revoir, La Rat

[Words (c) & (p) Lucy Hunter, music (c) & (p) Hunter/ Taylor/ Player]


Opposite Sex album reviews

Update… June 2012
Here’s some print media reviews of the album, from Uncut, Q, 247 Magazine and Dunedin’s newspaper the Otago Daily Times.

Marc Riley (BBC6 Music) summarises the charms of the album here:

Here’s a detailed song-by-song long-form essay on the album from California based webzine Caught in the Carousel.It also features an interview with Lucy & Tim from the band afterwards.

Review highlights from around the world…
“The new wave of New Zealand pop begins here….it’s remarkable, leaping from sea-sick waltzes and crunchy post-punk to ADD-pop (see the hyper opener “La Rat”)” 4 stars (out of 5) Uncut

“The kind of half-melted, buckled pop that suggests they’ve just re-entered earth’s atmosphere after a long strange trip away… enough freakily discordant clatter to ensure indie tweeness is kept at bay, too, ensuring that Opposite Sex attract rather than repel.” Q Magazine

“truly pure and slightly feral…You’ll find yourself really touched by their dreamy, wonky lop-sided songs which have the original wild NZ spirit in spades” 5 stars (out of 5) Norman Records

“It’s all highly addictive, the sort of record that gets into your machine and refuses to budge… “La Rat” is two minutes of insidiously catchy indie pop, the sort of thing reputations were forged on in the ‘80s” Leicester Bangs (UK)

“Enthused, witty, arty, risk taking, & with a conspicuous lack of pose, Opposite Sex sound near perfect to me right now. And Peel would’ve adored them, most definitely.” I Love Total Destruction

“a wonderfully spontaneous album… Sitting somewhere between oddball pop and disjointed 1970s No Wave, the album…It’s a debut album that contains all the elements you desire…” 8/10 Kicking Against the Pricks

“…one of those amazing pieces of ragged art that must simply be heard to be believed…Get it.” 9/10 Popmatters.com Popmatters.com

New release of the day: OPPOSITE SEX s/t CD (Fishrider), “the next wave of swoony Dunedin New Zealand pop.” WFMU Radio New Jersey

“They impart a certain freshness that is untouched by current musical trends… this potpourri of musical lo-fi twists and turns is set against a ragged landscape, yet manages to stick to your insides and crawl inside your mind… an unexpected shot across the bow from the next generation of Kiwi popsters.” The Big Takeover

“Exciting and fresh and adventurous and youthful and eager and multi-faceted and very dazzlingly good indeed…one beautiful little miracle of a record. Be excited, be very excited, this one’s worth it.” Caught in the Carousel

“off-kilter pop of the finest order” Dagger ‘zine (USA)

“A very promising band that has everything necessary, originality bursting from their fingertips and their first album has by far exceeded all expectations.” Band of the Day – Festivalrykten

“blending French ye-ye pop with classic ’77 artpunk, sugary sweet vocal delivery and tons of waltz. Truly a unique band with a sound completely their own” Art is the Enemy (Sweden)

“Opposite Sex is the most charming thing you’ve heard….We thank New Zealand for this gem.” Our Favourite (Sweden)

“Thirteen razor sharp power pop pieces, sounding simply great… A brilliant and odd record.” Vital Weekly

“Opposite Sex…have synthesised the whole epic story of post-punk into one rather tousled album… It’s all done with the kind of nonchalance, jubilation and candour you’d expect from people their age.” Les Inrockuptibles

“Opposite Sex are brave and adventurous… they’re incapable of respect for the canon or of paying any attention to structural standards when they write songs. This inclination often creates something unusual and lasting, wonderful aberrations, and this record is one of them.” Rockdelux

“songs with strong influences from post-punk, but always marked by a festival of weirdness that makes them very original… an album full of surprises, brave and full of vitality. It sounds so charming and completely out of the ordinary.” Beatbear

New Zealand
“possesses the vitality of music made outside of any established scene… The band chases the muse along undulating melodic paths, making pop music that is mercurial, naive, ambitious and unaffected… 13 utterly original tracks.” 4 stars (out of 5) Otago Daily Times

“weird and fantastic… Opposite Sex is one of the most infectious local debuts of recent years.” 8/10

“head-nodding, chanting strangeness – the same eerie shimmer that bands like Black Tambourine and The Raincoats achieved.” Volume #15

“Where pop and anti-pop collide… wonderfully curious and weird.” Cheese on Toast

“a manic, ever-progressing experiment of peculiar pop. A perplexing, disarming but ultimately fascinating listen.” The Corner

““File this Dunedin alt-pop trio under “slightly odd but endearing” – they scatter a variety of musical flavours over a base of punkish pop and lo-fi simplicity.” Nelson Mail

Opposite Sex by Opposite Sex

Fishrider Records presents… the self-titled debut album by Opposite Sex.

The subversive pop of Opposite Sex will warm the heart of anyone who viewed the heady years of 1978-1982 (Rough Trade Records including the NME’s C81 Cassette, No Wave and the start of Flying Nun Records in NZ) as a watershed period in alternative music – a time when there were no rules and anything seemed possible.

The sound of the trio is, they say, “an absurdist-logico mix of Euro pop, Beat poetry, and subterranean lo-fi adventuring.” Although their music ranges from oddly poppy carnival waltzes to manic, melodic post-punk and no wave, this is no retro exercise: the album is their own unique genre-defying trip through the experimental subversive pop underground of their imaginations

We are very happy how this album has come out… particularly considering how it was really all an accident. OK so you can’t record an album by accident but what we mean is that the sessions that resulted in the album were not planned to be anything more than some demos to give the band a record of their live set and for us to hear what these unusual songs we had heard played live would sound like recorded. We thought that, if things went really well, there might be a couple of songs Fishrider could release as a single maybe…

We first met and heard the band in Gisborne in February 2011 and recorded the songs that became the album in Dunedin in mid-April. The the band took up our invitation to record some demos at Fishrider one weekend after they relocated from Gisborne to Dunedin and ended up recording 14 songs over two afternoons.

Looking back at the recording session notes for these songs about a third of the songs were single takes, another third required two takes, the rest three takes. Bands are always recorded live in the same room at Fishrider. There’s lots of spill between the microphones and it is all kept as natural and relaxed as possible, just like a practice. Opposite Sex were a joy to work with. They just played their songs and we all knew straight away if the take was a “keeper” or not.

By the end of the weekend it was obvious to me that there was a strong and diverse album in those songs and I wanted to release them as an album. I hadn’t heard music as exciting, primal, odd and utterly enchanting as this since the very early 80s no wave period. Fishrider Records isn’t “music industry”: it’s “music arts & crafts” so we thought there was no point messing around with singles and EPs to establish Opposite Sex and develop their market or whatever the industry terminology is these days… let’s do this old-school, we thought, like the 1970s, when a band announced their arrival with a debut album.

We enlisted the help of Fishrider Record’s regular mixing guru Tom Bell to apply some of his magic to the Fishrider Studio recordings. It was a very cold winter in Dunedin with several snow storms and periods of sub-zero temperatures. Tom reckons his bed was the warmest place in the house where his studio is located so he mixed some of this album in bed.

And so, 7 months later the album first became available from 7 November 2011 as a download, CD digipak and (by mid-November) in a limited edition (of 150) vinyl pressing, and ready to work it’s way into the consciousness of the planet’s discerning music community. We love it at Fishrider – we hope you will too.

UPDATE: April 2012 – Now this extraordinary “truly pure and slightly feral” album is to be released in the UK on LP and CD formats by Fishrider in conjunction with Occultation Recordings