Opossom

The Auckland-based psych-pop group Opossom were originally the creation of ex-Mint Chicks front-man Kody Neilson (vocals, keyboards, drums), though some Opossom recordings we’re also performed by Kody and Bic – Neilson alonside girlfriend girlfriend Bic Runga (drums, vocals, guitar, keyboards). This duo were eventually joined by Neilson’s former Mint Chicks band-mate Mike Logie (bass) to create a touring 3-piece group.

The group experienced significant positive press on the release of their debut album ‘Electric Hawaii’, and the single ‘Blue Meanies’, in late 2011 / early 2012.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Electric Hawaii [2012 Dark Summer Records]

See-Also

Opossom and T54 at Darkroom

Joe Sampson of T54
Joe Sampson of T54

There was a great buzz around this show, well before either group had taken to the stage. Rumours of an early sell-out end up filling Darkroom’s limited capacity several hours before the show had the begun. With a bustling trade the venue was humming, the room warm with eager music fans packed wall to wall, downing craft beers and sheltering for a chilly night in Christchurch.

It was left to T54 to get things started, and the slick local 3-piece we’re just the ticket, drowning the audience in volume with thick, rolling bass, rollicking, snappy drumming and the soaring guitar-work of frontman Joe Sampson. I caught bassist Sam Hood next store at Galaxy records before the show and he was picking up a copy of the new box-set of rarities from German group Can – the flowing, organic vibe of the 1970’s Krautrock mainstays gives a pretty good indication of where some of T54’s many influences lay.

Bic Runga of Opossom
Bic Runga of Opossom

Speaking of Influences, it’s pretty tangible the impact the likes of the Zombies and other 60s/70s Psych-rock groups have had on Opossom’s Kody Neilson. The former Mint Chicks frontman now envelops his songs in a sunny West Coast of the USA haze that sounds particularly wonderful when you have the likes of Bic Runga and Mike Logie as your support band. Runga surprised me with her immense talent as a drummer, pulling of slinky rolls and driving the groups opening 3 songs. F in Math / Die! Die! Die! and former Mint Chicks bassist Mike Logie has altered his own sound to fit the retro sound of Opossom, gorgeous plucked bass rhythms that had the room jumping. With Kody and and Bic sharing vocal and instrument duties the group flew through an infectious array of songs which I wish didn’t end – thankfully their debut album is a ripper!

Check out more photos here

[Published in the Christchurch Press 06/07/2012]

Bic Runga

Formerly Christchurch and now Paris based vocalist with a delicate folky pop-rock sound. Possibly New Zealand’s most popular vocalist (outside of opera-teen Hayley Westernra), Runga started out playing acoustic ballads as Love Soup with now Heavy Jones Trio vocalist/guitarist Kelly Hogan, and quickly garnished attention thanks to the Smoke-Free Rock-Quest, and a string of popular and minimal videos on the fledgling Cry TV regional music channel (now defunct).

Runga has since gone from strength to strength, signing with Columbia Records, touring the world and scoring some high-profile soundtrack slots in the United States, and breaking the 100,000 record sales barrier for second album Beautiful Collision. Though I prefer Runga’s initial, low-key and under-produced singles, she has retained an aura and understated grace through-out her career.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Drive Ep [1995 Epic 483666.2]

  • Drive [1997 Columbia 488580.2]

  • Drive [1997 Columbia 488580.2]

  • Together In Concert: Live Album [2000 W/ Dave Dobbyn, Tim Finn Epic 5011402000]

  • Beautiful Collision [2002 Columbia 5084032000]

  • Live In Concert With The Christchurch Symphony [2003 Columbia 5148132000]

Awards Etc
Rianz Awards 1995


  • Most Promising Female Vocalist Of The Year: Bic Runga


Apra Silver Scroll 1996

  • Song Writing Award: ‘Drive’


Rianz Awards 1996

  • Top Female Vocalist Of The Year: Bic Runga


Rianz Awards 1997

  • Single Of The Year: Sway

  • Album Of The Year: Drive

  • Top Female Vocalist Of The Year: Bic Runga

  • Songwriter Of The Year: Bic Rungarn

  • Sound Engineer Of The Year: Simon Sheridan


Rianz Awards 1998

  • International Achievement: Bic Runga


Rianz Awards 1999

  • International Achievement: Bic Runga

See-Also

Stellar*

Fucking horrible pop/formula-rock outfit based around Boh Runga (sister of the gracious and supremely talented Bic). Flanked By Kurt Shanks, Chris Van De Geer and Andrew Mclaren.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Mix [1999 Epic 4948842]
  • Magic Line [2001 Sony Music Nz 5049742000]

Awards Etc
Rianz Awards 1998


  • Most Promising Group Of The Year: Stellar*
  • Most Promising Female Vocalist Of The Year: Boh Runga

Tui Awards 1999

Strawpeople

Mark Tierney and Paul Casserley’s production outfit, the Strawpeople have been a vehicle for many talented kiwi female focalist – with Fiona McDonald, Bic Runga and Stephanie Tauevihi gracing a number of their hit singles. Unfortunately at times their late 90s albums sound a little too close to their contemporaries in massive attack (an obvious comparison), which is not helped by their almost session musician approach to recording songs.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Hemisphere [1990 Pagan Pal1067]
  • Have A Little Faith Ep [1992 Pagan Pal1089]
  • Worldservice [1993 Pagan Pac1086]
  • Under The Milky Way Ep [1994 Epic]
  • Crying Ep [1994 Epic 660954.2]
  • Broadcast [1994 Epic 477675.2]
  • Vicarious [1996 Epic 485270.2]
  • 100 Street Transistors [1997 Columbia]
  • No New Messages [2000 Epic 495498.2]
  • The Best Of 1990 > 2000 [Compilation 2000 Epic 5011412000]
  • Count Backwards From 10 [2004 Crs 5173692000]

Awards Etc
Rianz Awards 1990


  • Most Promising Group Of The Year :The Strawpeople
  • Sound Engineer Of The Year: The Strawpeople

Rianz Awards 1993


  • Producer Of The Year: The Strawpeople

Apra Silver Scroll 1995


  • Song Writing Award: Straw People – ‘Sweet Disorder’

Rianz Awards 1995


  • Songwriter Of The Year: Mark Tieey / Paul Casserly / Anthony Iosa [Straw People]

Rianz Awards 1996


  • Album Of The Year: Straw People – Vicarious

See-Also

Stuck On Hold…

Just been stuck on hold with Telecom; with the ole’ New Zealand Music Industry cranking over choons from Davey D to Lady Bic and noticed that miss runga’s new single has a certain little piano motif that sounds an awful lot like one Carol King’s uber-hit It’S Too Late Baby…. Surely that can’t be an accident?

Maybe Bic’s treading the same fine line of tribute that’s seen a bunch of television adverts imitate popular tracks recently; the Violent Femmes are a common target, NZ’s own D4 were mimicked in an Export Gold ad (remember Export Gold has apparently built an identity of being ‘The Beer To Enjoy When Seeing Live Music’, Tui is all about ‘Having A Good Laugh With Your Mates’ etc…), though it actually WAS Sir David on the Labour party ads a couple years back.

dimmer

Biography

Dynamic, flowing rock with electronic influences and dark musical overtones. basically the one-man project of former Doublehappys / Straightjacket Fits frontman Shayne Carter, Dimmer spent the best part of 5 years living off the expectations that their solitary debut EP Crystalator produced (as well as Carters’ impeccable previous track record).

In 2001, the catalyst of this seclusion was finally released – I Believe You Are A Star – and its a stunner.

Carter followed up in 2004 with You’ve Got To Hear The Music, expanding his sound with an all-star list of contributors (some even in the pop field) and toured the album with Ned Ngatae on guitar, Mike Hall (Pluto/Sola Rosa) on bass, Andy Morton on keys, Willy Scott (King Kapisi / Sola Rosa) on drums, and Anika Moa on backing vocals.

Other guests on the album include, SJD who added production wizardry on ‘case’, Graeme Downes of the Verlaines, who arranged and conducted strings on ‘Only One That Matters’, Nick Roughan and Andy ‘Submariner’ Morton kept things appropriately phat in the beat and production department, while Dimmer tickman and animated video genius, Gary Sullivan, added his own trademark sly touch. Anika Moa appears on a number of tracks bringing a new dimension to Carter’s voice, and teams up on ‘Happening’ with Bic Runga with a spine-tingling effect.

From Festival Mushroom’s promotional blurb

Members

  • Shayne Carter (Vocals/Guitar/Bass, 1995 -)
  • Peter Jefferies (Drums, 1995)
  • Lou Allison (Bass, 1995)
  • Gary Sullivan (Drums, 1999 – 2009)
  • Nick Roughan (Guitar/Bass/Drum Programming, 2001 – 2006?)
  • Andy Morton (Keyboards/Drum Programming, 2001 – 2006?)
  • Ned Ngatae (Guitar, 2003?)
  • Anika Moa (Vocals, 2004)
  • Bic Runga (Vocals, 2004)
  • James Duncan (Guitar/Bass/Keyboards, 2009)
  • Kelly Steven (Bass/Flute/Vocals, 2009)
  • Dino Karlis (Drums/Percussion, 2009)
  • Michael Prain (Drums, 2009)

Discography

  • Crystalator ‎(7″) (1995, Sub Pop/Flying Nun Records, SP326/FN310)
  • Don’t Make Me Buy Out Your Silence Single (1996, Flying Nun Records)
  • Evolution Single (1999, Columbia, 668560)
  • I Believe You Are A Star ‎(2001, Columbia, 5024222000)
  • Getting What You Give Mini-Album (2003, Columbia)
  • You’ve Got To Hear The Music (2004, Festival Mushroom Records)
  • There My Dear (2006, Warner Music)
  • Degrees Of Existence ‎(2009, Warner Music, 5186551402)

Links