[flickr-photo:id=234861504,size=t] christchurch all-girl pop-rock outfit from the mid 2000s. very chirpy and upbeat, they’re a welcome change to the male-dominated brevado of christchurch live acts, and seem to have a good grasp of melody and dynamics.

atomic blossom

the brainchild of christchurch musician dean karena. karena first came to local prominence with his previous band naked lunch in 1990. naked lunch were a three piece outfit which featured dean karena on vocals / guitar, randolf (tuck) tucker – drums, peter blackman – bass. karena formed atomic blossom in late 1993. the original line up included: dean karena – guitar / vocals, prudence stone – guitar / vocals, greg hirtzel – bass (debris), trevor hall – drums.
the band did their first performance at an outdoor concert at the dux de lux in christchurch, first up on a rainy outdoor show featuring cinematic, the headless chickens and dave dobbyn. trevor hall had previously worked as an orientation and activities co-ordinator for university events, but he was a relative newcomer to drumming, and the band felt they had to replace him almost immediately, shifting hirtzel from bass to drums and bringing in layton pace (trawler, swirl). this line-up quickly cemented itself and recorded 5 songs almost immediately, one track appearing on the good things compilation, the other 4 eventually being re-recorded toward the band’s album. pace left the band after 6 months choosing to commit himself to trawler, where he got to sing and write his own music.
pace was replaced by matt monopoly and this line-up stayed solid till the band eventually disbanded in disastrous circumstances in new york in 1995. the story goes that the band continued to grow in popularity, working toward their self-released album, and building a strong following for their heavily british sonic guitar sound. the band secured support slots for smashing pumpkins on the 1995 new zealand tour, impressing the pumpkins and management. meanwhile atomic blossom’s manager was in the us working at securing the band industry support and arranging concert dates for them stateside. ab put the finishing touches on the cd and pressed 500 copies. this was used as a demo of the bands material and hardly any of them saw public release.
at the end of 1995 stone left for the us, the rest of the band were to follow early in 1996. unknown to the rest of the band stone had tired of playing in the band and felt her leaving for the us was indication enough to the others that she wanted to leave. the other members followed in 1996 and the band united to play american concerts which secured them heavy interest from us labels, notably maverick records. a record deal was as good as signed apparently before stone chose this opportune moment to abandon the band, effectively scuttling the project. stone stayed in new york, and karena, hirtzel, and monopoly returned to nz and disbanded. karena left nz for australia, probably disheartened by the turn of events. hirtzel concentrated his efforts on his other band debris. monopoly has since moved to the uk and is presently rehearsing with jeremy taylor toward possible work as cinematic.

ashvins, the

a palmerston north rock band from the mid 90s. had a couple eps, then ran out of momentum, their collected material released on the posthumous self-titled album on spotty dog.

atonal death

an alias of apoplexy‘s peter wright, utilized during the late 90s (often for treated guitar pieces).

avant garage

bizarre and theatrical jazz / art-rock performance group lead by ivan zagni (who has collaborated with steve garden and don mcglashan, and also formed big sideways) and featuring mike laen (gat / vox), pamela gray (cello / vox), wayne laird (percussion, tuba), mark mcewan (bassoon), prasala (flute, sax), peter scholes (clarinet, bass, sax and tablas & backing vocals) and ben staples (percussion / vox). released an album and a self-titled ep in 1983 after receiving a council creative grant.

a jazzy-cum-classical nine-person ensemble with clarinets, cello, tuba and bassoon (in addition to guitar, bass and drums), new zealand’s determinedly oddball avant garage sounds like something zappa might have done in his dada orchestral phase. the music is generally pleasant (despite occasional skewed digressions, as on the instrumental “funky cockroach”); it’s the lyrics and vocals on songs like “garage sale” and “mr granite” that give this its modern, boundary-breaking character. intelligent, esoteric and fascinating.rn- ira robbins: taken from trouserpress.com

picks in bold

axemen, the

the bizarre recording antics of (lil’) steve mccabe, bob brannigan and stu kowalski, a well-known, yet thoroughly underground troop that often swelled in numbers (sometimes up to as many as 10 members in the mid 1980s). three albums on flying nun in the late 80s / early 90s, along with several releases on the small sleek bott label. very make-shift, punk approach to recording, their albums were often of-the-moment pieces…

the story of [big cheap motel] is:rnbob and myself went down to check out the christchurch botanic gardens, the scene of the local council/”big m” milk drink-sponsored “summertime” concert-in-the-park series of free outdoor events, only to find the park plastered with billboard-sized posters of skimpily-clad young ladies advertising the sponsors wares. we immediately proceeded home and wrote the enclosed set of ‘protest’ songs about the travesty, which were performed at the event, to the mild annoyance of the council & the sponsors.rn- taken from mayday: the little stevie mccabe / axemen / sleek bott webpage

picks in bold

  • big cheap motel [1983 sleek bott]
  • three virgins three versions three visions [1986 flying nun FN049]
  • derry legends [1987 flying nun FN120]
  • ak87 [w/ the shit pop boyz 1987 sleek bott]
  • scary! [w/ the sleek bott gang 1989 sleek bott]
  • peter wang pud [1991 flying nun FN204]
  • dirty den sessions [1991 sleek bott]
  • recliner rocker [1992 sleek bott #921]
  • three rooms (an elton john tribute album) [1992 sleek bott]
  • across the universe in 27879 days ep [1992 sleek bott]
  • the axemen singles collection [compilation 1998 sleek bott]

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