Tag Archives: jangle pop

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 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)


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/

The Prophet Hens foresee new releases


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.


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


The Prophet Hens – All Over The World

‘All Over The World’ is our favourite song from The Prophet Hens album ‘Popular People Do Popular People’. It’s the favourite of quite a lot of people All Over The World too.

Keyboard player Penelope Esplin takes the lead vocals on this song. Here’s some trivia stuff related to Penelope & her instrument:
Penelope plays a very old Casiotone 3/4 size keyboard her Dad gave to her when she was a child.
The album title – “Popular People Do Popular People” – was a phrase Penelope used when setting levels and checking for popping when setting up for vocal recording.
The Casiotone keyboard has it’s own special ‘gig-bag’ protector made by Penelope out of an old wetsuit and covered with fake zebra ‘fur’.
Penelope also plays accordion, but not usually with The Prophet Hens.

The video was edited together from footage from two of Dunedin’s live music venues – a live show at the legendary Chick’s Hotel at Port Chalmers near Dunedin, and some video from when we did their press photos at Taste Merchants, in central Dunedin. During the day Taste Merchants is a small cafe run by Prophet Hens’ (and The Verlaines’) drummer Darren Stedman, who also runs a specialist beer & wine shop next door.

The Prophet Hens

Prophet Hens Monopoly smallDunedin jangle-pop 4-piece The Prophet Hens will be releasing their debut album – “Popular People Do Popular People” – on Fishrider Records in the next few months. Their name apparently comes from The Prophet Hen of Leeds – a very odd-sounding early 19th century doomsday hoax involving a hen which layed eggs with second-coming prophecies written on them. The band, and the songs on the album, started when songwriter and guitarist Karl Bray was laid up at home recovering from major surgery to repair an ankle he’d smashed up while escaping a night-time mugging in downtown Dunedin. He jumped over a wall to get away, and, in the darkness, fell 12 foot…

Local musician John White (Mestar, The Blueness) was staying at Karl’s place, so they started writing songs. The Prophet Hens began when Sefton Holmes joined on drums and Penelope Esplin on keyboards and vocals. This line-up played a bit and recorded most of the album before John headed overseas to live in Germany and Sefton also moved on. Robin Cederman replaced John on bass and Darren Stedman (The Verlaines) took over on drums.

The Prophet Hens music is marinated in the melodic jangle of that mostly fictional ‘Dunedin Sound’ – think The Chills, The Bats, Magick Heads, a little bit of The Clean and The Orange). But, unlike most Dunedin music of that golden era, there are strong vocal harmonies and the combination of Karl’s and Penelope’s voices is magical. As a result there’s also an echo at times of classic ‘indie-pop’ from the UK in the days when that was actually a good and wonderful thing.

We look forward to bringing their album to the world in the next few months. In the meantime here’s a preview of a fairly atypical song from the album (in that Penelope takes lead vocal), but one that caught our ear straight away as a kind of ‘listen up!’ anthem from the bottom of the world.