Skank Attack

Skank Attack were stalwarts of the new zealand music scene in the late 1980’s, becoming known for high energy live performances, and their tireless support of local musicians.

The group formed in the winter of 1985, when Phil ‘Scrub’ Simpson and Jeff Eden were bored and freezing in a drafty wellington flat. There was nothing good on telly, so they began messing about with guitars, as much to be distracted from the wind chill factor in their bedrooms, as from any defined musical aspirations. To their own surprise, they had soon written a handful of songs and become so excited about the idea of forming a band, that they immediately recruited drummer steve cochrane and skank attack was formed.

Within weeks they played their first gig, a private party, where they appeared alongside the Primates. Dave Nendick made his debut on vocals, but upon his departure soon after, Simpson took over and the band continued as a three piece, quickly gaining a reputation for the energy and enthusiasm of their live shows.

Simpson and Eden remained the creative engine of the band, constantly writing new material (they steadfastly refused to play anything but originals). Meanwhile Cochrane exhibited a flair for promotion and set the group a punishing schedule of gigs, which meant that they evolved quickly into a tight unit. Inspired greatly by certain UK bands of the day, they set out to create a sound that relied on a driving, propulsive beat, overlaid with a rhythmic dynamic between the instruments and their intelligent, socially aware vocals. A review of a show they played with the Bats said, ‘the songs were built up layer by layer, until it was almost difficult to believe that only three people were responsible for such an overpowering aural assault’.

Skank Attack were always interested in creating an element of visual interest to their performances and public image and they became known for projecting abstract visuals over the stage, while eden’s developing involvement in graphic design led to some striking poster designs.

Although they quickly developed a loyal following, their music was ultimately too intense to appeal to mainstream audiences and too ‘arty’ to be accepted by many in the post-punk, concrete bunker era wellington music scene. Their time came however, when they began embarking upon the first of several national tours, trolling around the country in a huge ford impala, affectionately known as ‘the skankmobile’. Bfm were supportive in airing their demos whenever they arrived in auckland and camaraderie developed with fellow musicians in the city, like Fish For Life, the Warners and Cicada.

In the spirit of self reliance that was so much a part of the time, the group released an ep under the banner of ‘Skank Records’, which received positive reviews from influential figures like Colin Hogg, but ultimately failed to capture the fullness of their sound. Skank Attack were always about supporting other musicians and while Phil Simpson championed local music on his weekly NZ music show on radioactive, Steve Cochrane released a compilation of wellington bands entitled ‘Where The Wind Blows’, on the Skank label. The two date release party organised by the group (this time operating under the tongue in cheek moniker ‘Skank Undertakings’) broke attendance records at the cricketers and was a huge success.

Skeptics Nick Roughan became important in shaping the group’s sound and a love-hate relationship developed, based on his incessant demands for ‘Skank Beer’ and the groups irritating perfectionism. The acrimonious banter that resulted, livened up many a tour journey in the skankmobile.

Incidents that the band recall most vividly, include playing to a bunch of immobile, monged-out mushroom heads at a New Plymouth pub, run by hairy local motorcycle gang ‘The Magogs’. The total silence between songs was the most unnerving thing they had ever experienced-even the unflappable Roughan got fidgety. The lads were traumatized further, after a Dunedin gig with David Kilgour. He kindly offered to let them crash on the floor at the venue, but failed to remove the local mad person before he shut them in for the night. She proceeded to ride her bicycle in circles around the dance floor for the remainder of the evening, muttering darkly about murder. Then there was the time the back of Phil Simpson’s trousers and underwear began to dissolve on stage in front of a full house. Realising (as his naked butt became totally exposed) that he had sat in battery acid at a car repair yard on the way to the gig, he had to brazen it out as if it was all part of the show. The crowd loved it.

Always game for a laugh, the band once infamously set up at 9am in the morning (with power from a generator) outside the NZ music convention and played a raucous set in support of a New Zealand music quota on radio. By a typically Wellington coincidence, the office of the councils’ noise control officer was directly opposite and said official wasted no time in summoning the police and swiftly writing out a noise control order. The resulting photographs finally got the band some press attention and while the event itself was witnessed by only a few bemused passers by, influential figures like Karen Hay and Mike Moore were among them.

By 1988 the group had evolved into a tight professional outfit and the highlight of their live performances came when doug hood booked them to play support for Hunters And Collectors at the Union Hall, Wellington in 1988. The group relished the opportunity to play through a kick-arse sound system to an audience of thousands rather than hundreds and despite initial heckling they won the crowd over with a totally committed performance. It was one of the last times the band played together.

Before going their separate ways, the group determined to record an album. A number of sessions took place at ‘Writhe Recordings Studios’, with Bailter Space‘S Brent Mclachlan and Roughan doing the business on the controls. The bands sound was finally captured in a way that did it justice. Local filmmaker Grant Lahood shot a promotional video for the track ‘Limbs Akimbo’, but sadly the group’s momentum and cash had run out (Roughan now had it all) and while the video was screened on radio with pictures, the record it was intended to promote was never released.

For the past ten years Jeff Eden and Phil Simpson have lived in london. Eden is a graphic designer and has recently been making short films and soundtracks. Simpson works as a photographer and has shot many musicians including John Cale, Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals. They remain unclear about what became of their former drummer. Steve Cochrane-where are you now?

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Glass And Skank Attack Live! [Live Recording W/ The Glass 1986 Skank Skank001]
  • Skank Attack Ep [1987 Skank Skank002]

See-Also

SJD

Sean James Donnelly – production whizz, class bass-player, and thoroughly uneven song-writer. In 2003 Sjd was thrust into the spotlight after years of touring support and assisting production for the likes of Shayne Carters’ Dimmer with the debut of his hugely popular Lost Soul Music full-length, and increasingly prolific appearances on television and in advertising, which then followed through to the release of follow-up Southern Lights in 2004.

SJD’s music is a combination of electronic and live instrumentation, with songs featuring a bevy of fine New Zealand musicians making contributions (David Kilgour making a particularly stunning appearance on guitar on the excellent single ‘From A To Be Or Not To Be’). His live appearances however, have have gone down as either electrifying (witness the stellar performance on charity tv event National Anthem) or simply tepid (several banal performances in 2004), perhaps due to the laid-back melodic and simply background approach to the music he’s making.

Circa 2007 SJD is hard at work in the studio preparing the fourth album, with a superstar support band featuring the talented Chris O’Conner (Drums), James Duncan (Guitar), Dominic Blazaar (Keys/BV’s) and Paul McLaney (Guitar/BV’s).

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Lost Soul Music [2003 Round Trip Mars]
  • Southern Lights [2004 Round Trip Mars]
  • Southern Lights Pick’N’Mix Edition [2004 Round Trip Mars]
  • 3 [Round Trip Mars]

See-Also

The Snares

Dunedin based avant-indie trio featuring Mike Dooley (Toy Love and Snapper – Drums) his daughter Maxine Funke (Guitar) and Brett Moodie (Guitar), that formed out of the Dooley / Funke duo the Beaters. The first album was a meditative production guided by Arc Life engineer (and member of David Kilgour‘s Heavy Eights), whilst their follow-up Dance The Dervish is closer to a live recording, though still capturing their eclectic strengths – both released on the bands own Horrible (the name, not the quality) label.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Something Happened On The Way To Heaven [Horrible Hr007]
  • Dance The Dervish [2004 Horrible]

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.

The Clean – Getaway

2001, Flying Nun, FNCD459

The Clean are something of an enigma to me – i’ve just caught them live on the Getaway tour and they still show the qualities that hold them in my heart as perhaps the finest live rock act i have ever seen. I’ve grown up with their music and they were an integral part of my continuing obsession and devotion to the New Zealand music scene. Getaway is only their fourth full-length album proper (along with their seminal early release album compilation) in 23 years of existence and sees the band attempting to further refine their sound.

If your familiar with The Clean’s past, you’ll know that their 80’s material was quite lo-fi and raw in its delivery. Since then they’ve managed to develop a strong jangle-rock presence through their first two albums and then exploited a more pop-centric and quirky side on the somewhat chaotic last album unknown country. The 5-year gap leading into Getaway has seen David Kilgour deliver a spate of fine singer-songwriter albums of quirky intent, brother Hamish has been keeping himself busy in New York with expatriate kiwi band Mad Scene, whilst Rob Scott has continued performing with his outstanding band The Bats.

Though maybe not as immediately grabbing as their earlier singles, the best tracks off of Getaway posses excellent melody and the natural flow that The Clean has made all their own. Album highlights like the opener ‘Stars’ and the Rob Scott-led ‘e-Motel’ show what can be done with a minimal amount of chords and perfect execution of guitar feedback. The album differs from their earlier punchy efforts, concentrating on developing strong grooves laced in reverb and echoes at a leisurely-relaxed tempo.

I think this album is more of a consolidation of the changes each of the bands three members have gone through over the past 5 years than a well-defined album. It does hold up very well as a collective piece though, as the songs (often just short vignettes of creative instrumentation, as they tried and failed somewhat on Unknown Country) posses a common laid-back and quirky vibe. Instrumental tracks like ‘Twilight Agency’ find the band experimenting with less traditional instrumentation, as each of the band members have partaken in on their other musical outlets, particularly Robert Scott’s 2000 album The Creeping Unknown, which was complemented by a great deal of lush electronic soundscapes.

Guests Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley (both of Yo La Tengo) lend a hand on two tracks, adding guitar and drumming contributions, without really having much of an effect on the general scope on the sound. I’d like to see The Clean produce an album that captures the somewhat ethereal magic that they produce as a live unit, as they’re still missing an album that pushes the sonorous noise-rock limits as their live show does.

The album does, however stand as an enjoyable, relaxed addition to their catalogue, but is by no means a leap forward in the style they had previously developed. As a point of note, it’s probably their most cohesive and effective of their actual full-lengths (as their albums always tend to be somewhat reunion efforts) and is a fine purchase if you’re looking for melodic rock without pretense. To get a firm reflection on what The Clean are about, i’d suggest tracking down the (compilation’ album first (or catching their amazing live show), but Getaway is still a fine purchase.

The Clean – Compilation

1986 Compilation, Flying Nun, NORMAL51

In 1978 the New Zealand underground scene was on the verge of explosion. The Enemy, Bored Games, and The Spelling Mistakes were showing that New Zealand could produce great punk music, and all with a great ‘do-it-yourself’ gusto. The Enemy later developed into seminal early 80’s punk outfit Toy Love, and with their eventual collapse, guitarist/vocalist Chris Knox formed the infamous lo-fi pioneer duo the Tall Dwarfs with fellow Toy Love member Alec Bathgate. David Kilgour was a great fan of the Enemy, and had developed a relationship with the musicians that made up the Dunedin scene at the time. In 1978 he set about learning guitar, then forming a band that would eventually capture the essence of the 2nd wave of New Zealand underground music, the so called ‘Dunedin Sound’.

After a period of almost 2 years and a plethora of line-up changes, Kilgour settled on his brother Hamish on drums and original bass-player Peter Gutteridge (who after leaving the band before the majority of their output was an original member of the Chills, The Puddle, and then eventually his own band Snapper). This formation would go onto write a handful of The Clean‘s early songs, and eventually resurface in 1983 as The Great Unwashed (for a short tour and subsequent album), but it was Robert Scott (also of The Bats) who secured The Clean’s line-up in late 1979.

After touring haphazardly for there first three years of existence (often supporting The Enemy), Kilgour was propositioned by young upstart Roger Shephard, who had come up with the idea of forming a record label to release The Clean’s noticeably inspirational music to the masses. Shephard put together Flying Nun records in 1981, and The Clean’s breakthrough single Tally Ho! Was the label’s 2nd release (following The Pin Group‘s ‘Columbia’). Featuring a young Martin Phillips on organ accompaniment and recorded for no budget whatsoever, the single rocketed into the New Zealand charts – which was considered impossible for a self-distributed minor label recording at the time. Phillips’ catchy, driving organ and the gentle sing-song nature of Kilgour’s vocals had immediately struck a chord with the New Zealand public, but the band failed to fully capitalize on this early success.

Over the course of the next two years, the clean only put out two EP’s, Boodle Boodle Boodle was recorded by Doug Hood and features a stunning array of pop-classics (“Anything Could Happen”, “At The Bottom” and the Gutteridge penned classic “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”) and the equally superb ‘Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good, So-So Sounds So-So, Bad Sounds Bad, Rotten Sounds Rotten’ EP (track highlights included the instrumental “Fish” and jangly masterpiece “Beatnik”).

This complacency with relative seclusion eventually led to a number of self-imposed band break-ups, and delayed their eventual debut album release till 1990, which brought Vehicle – by which time the Clean had become a part time band for all three members, due to the demands of their various other musical exploits.

Compilation documents the high-times of the early Clean. Released by Flying Nun as an LP (then re-released during the 90’s CD reissuing phase), the album gathers together Tally Ho! And the original 2 EP’s, several tracks from the ‘Oddities’ self-recorded album, as well as live material recorded crudely on a fan’s cassette recorder.

The quality of the recording is of no concern though, as it becomes immediately apparent on listening to these lo-fi masterpieces that the Clean were on to something special. From the twin-guitar and bass onslaught of pounding pop opener “Billy Two”, the chugga chugga bass and steaming lead-guitar of “At The Bottom”, through to the quirky pop highlights of “Beatnik”, “Oddity” and “Hold On To The Rail” – there isn’t a single dud in this wonderful archive of one of pop-rock’s truly great bands.

Ear-marked by a stunning live rendition of signature tune “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”, the live tracks are murky, but show the band in full flight. Waves upon waves of guitar distortion, pounding bass and drums and kilgour’s enigmatic, hushed vocals characterize a band that did more for the New Zealand live scene than any other band has done before or since.

Rough and ready, this is a compilation of the most well-honed, dynamic guitar music your ever likely to hear. Simmering solo’s, bass that gets your foot tapping, and primal, aggressive drumming lead to a winning combination. Though the Clean may have since failed to live up to the expectations that this album documents, they have become a crowning monument for New Zealand in the history of pop-rock, and i’d recommend anyone with more than a passing interest in music to give this classic a try.

Arch Hill Recordings

Biography

Small Auckland-based independent label that sprung up out of Flying Nun Record’s corporate changes in the late 90’s and run by (former Superette bassist) Ben Howe to release material for his own band Fang, along with associated other musicians (fellow ex-Superette members Dave Mulcahy and Greta Anderson, and Jim Laing’s Lanky).

Characterized by having quirky pop moments (Pine released their debut in 2002 on the label) and a simple / flexible approach to recording, they’re a promising label to look out for.

In June 2004, Arch Hill Recordings announced that Kiwi music legend David Kilgour would be releasing his latest album (tentatively titled Frozen Orange) in September of the year, adding to a band roster that now also includes Ghostplane and Australian outfit Dappled Cities Fly.

Arch Hill Recordings also offer their recording facilities for non-label artists, with reasonable charge out fees. Arch Hill Studios record digitally onto Pro-Tools24, but has a well used selection of off-board analogue pre-amps, EQ, compressors, effects and other equipment.

– Arch Hill Studios

Using a pretty standard Pro-Tools/Focusrite/Genelec monitors setup along with what looks like a pretty good selection of microphones, along with solid-state and valve compressors and effects, they currently (July 2004) offer an NZ$50 per hour engineer-included rate, or NZ$350/$400 per weekday/weekend day, which isn’t bad for an Auckland-based studio.

Compilation Discography

  • Introducing Arch Hill (2001, AHR006)
  • The Hill Is Alive – Compilation 2 (2003, AHR009)

Contact Details

  • Arch Hill (Official Website)
  • Ben Howe (Label-Head / Email Contact)
  • +64 9 360-0772 (Phone Number)
  • Arch Hill Recordings
  • 331 Great North Rd
  • Po Box 68-194
  • Newton
  • Auckland
  • New Zealand (Postal Address)

Links

 

The Clean

Biography

Formed in 1978 by David Kilgour (gat/vox) and Peter Gutteridge (bass / vox), and eventually settled on Hamish Kilgour (drums / vox) as the permanent 3rd member after an assortment on configurations came and went (Doug Hood enjoyed a short tenure as vocalist, before leaving town as Toy Love‘s sound man, and Lindsay Hooke featured in several configurations).

Gutteridge was a major force in the band until artistic differences saw him leave (later forming Snapper), to eventually be permanently replaced by Rob Scott in 1980. They were at their prime when touring in the early 80’s, and the compendium of these years (entitled Compilation) documents this period beautifully.

The Clean developed what was dubbed the Dunedin Sound. A somewhat dark take on noise rock that incorporated elements of classic pop, driving rock’n’roll. Sardonic and almost creepy take on lyrics, with vocals to match. David Kilgour employed open guitar tunings and Rob Scott produced rhythmic, repetitive bass lines, that Hamish Kilgour would compliment with pummeling, primal drum rhythms (though role changes were common, all 3 members sung and played guitar) – all tinted by the Kilgour brothers penchant for psychedelic and scratchy lo-fi.

Over the course of the next 20 years, the band would go on long breaks and split a number of times for the members to form their own bands (most notably Rob Scotts’ the Bats and David Kilgour‘s solo outfits). After original single Tally Ho shot up the New Zealand chart in 1981 – simultaneously establishing The Clean and the Flying Nun label that had formed around them, The Clean released the pinnacle of their recorded out – the hugely influential Boodle Boodle Boodle ep. The EP managed to actually better the singles success, eventually reaching number 5 in the New Zealand singles chart (astounding for an independent release in the early 80s) and remaining in the charts for a full 6 months, easily reaching gold status.

The follow up EP ‘Great sounds great, Good sounds good..’ was another success, but by now the band were tiring of their new found fame, and worried about the effect success would have on their music. Needless to say The Clean disbanded at the top of their game in 1982 with the release of the momentous Getting Older single (a genuine perfect pop song). It wasn’t long though before the original clean line-up (with a returning peter gutteridge) reformed as the Great Unwashed – a poppier and more acoustically based approach than their early recordings. The Great Unwashed never quite reached the peaks of The Clean and again they disbanded (after a mere 2 EP’s yet again), with each member going back to their subsequent side-projects.

Thankfully, throughout the later 80s and into the 90s, The Clean never really stayed apart for too long, and after a while the (now cemented) trio of Kilgour, Kilgour and Scott were back to a more permanent existence (or at least productive between variable lengthed hiatus). Their first album proper Vehicle was a well rounded example for the band, if lacking a bit of the spark from their early eps. After establishing a reputation on the us college scene in the early 90s – yet another reunion album was planned. Modern Rock came out in 1994, and was a fairly wild departure from The Clean’s signature sound, being somewhat fragmented and often unfocused. It did however show that The Clean were capable of a wider scope, with strong pop elements and less heavy-handed lyrics than its predecessor’s.

Unknown Country – which could probably be considered their first comeback album seems to divide their fans more than any of the other albums. Its poppy where their previous albums were rocky, and quirky where they had been driving and somewhat chilling. I like the change in direction, but i know a lot of other people see the album as a band caught in two minds (usually attributed to their on again / off again history).

In 1996 Flying Nun started work on a tribute album to The Clean as part of their own 15th anniversary celebrations, gathering together a number of the musicians that define the New Zealand music scene, as well as those that have been influenced by The Clean with their own work. Overseas artists Pavement, Guided by Voices and Barbara Manning added their own tributes along side those from not only Flying Nun acts, but also the likes of a number of current electronic acts and other significant kiwi artists and bands. The album (titled God Save The Clean) was a success, and the release culminated in a gigantic gig in Auckland where The Clean were joined by a great deal of the artists who paid tribute – making a great night all round, and putting The Clean back into the limelight on the New Zealand scene.

This rekindled interest may have been a wake-up call to the boys, as they quickly became a semi-regularly touring band, and eventually began focused recording again. The result – Getaway is something of a triumph, a successful reformation by all counts and an excellent taster of The Clean’s current sound, check out the full review for more detail. The trio followed up their positive press in the United States (The Clean’s releases are now tied to David Kilgour’s US home – Merge Records) with Anthology, another document highlighting The Clean’s seminal earlier material on the first disc, but now accompanied by a well-constructed summary of their subsequent release on a 2nd disc.

Currently the band still remain mostly in hiatus. Hamish firmly resident in New York (with the Mad Scene and his own solo career), David seems to be forever gaining in stature as a solo musician in Dunedin – the Nashville recorded Frozen Orange album being a particular success. Rob Scott has always been a bedroom musician back in Dunedin (outside of the mostly-Christchurch based The Bats), though its taken Powertool Records till just recently to finally put one of his home releases out in to the market, with Tudor Gates arriving in 2004.

Members

  • David Kilgour (Guitar/Vocals, 1978 -)
  • Hamish Kilgour (Drums/Vocals, 1978 – )
  • Peter Gutteridge (Bass/Vocals, 1978 – 1979)
  • Doug Hood (Vocals, 1978)
  • Lindsay Hooke (Drums, 1979)
  • Debbie Shadbolt (Bass, 1979)
  • Jessica Walker (Bass, 1979)
  • Rob Scott (Bass/Vocals, 1980 -)

Discography

  • ‘Tally Ho!’/That Platypus’ 7″ Single [1981 Flying Nun Fn002 / Ying One]
  • Boodle Boodle Boodle 12″ EP [1981 Flying Nun Fn003]
  • Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good.. 12″ EP [1982 Flying Nun Fn Good001]
  • ‘Getting Older’/’Scrap Music/Whatever I Do It’S Right/Wrong’ 7″ Single [1982 Flying Nun Last1]
  • Odditties [1985 / 1995 Flying Nun / Cleano Productions Fn Odd One / Fn223]
  • Live Dead Clean 12″ EP [1985 Flying Nun Fn Ldc 001]
  • Odditties 2 [1987 W/ The Great Unwashed Flying Nun / Cleano Productions Fn Odd 2]
  • Compilation [1988/1990 Flying Nun Fn Comp001 / Fn154 / Fne03 / Fnuk03]
  • In A Live 12″ EP [1990 Flying Nun Fne29]
  • Vehicle [1990 Flying Nun Fn147]
  • Modern Rock [1994 Flying Nun Fn292]
  • Late Last Night 7″ Single [1994, Dark Beloved Cloud, DBC020]
  • ‘Trapped In Amber’/’Ludwig’ 7″ Flex-Disc [1994 Bonus With Fn292 Flying Nun Fn311]
  • Unknown Country [1996 Flying Nun Fn349]
  • Getaway [2001 Flying Nun Fn459]
  • Slush Fund Mini-Album [2001, Arc Life]
  • Anthology Double-Cd [2002 Flying Nun Fn468]
  • Cracks In The Sidewalk Ep [2002 Arc Life Arclife015]
  • Syd’s Pink Wiring System [2003 Cleano Cleano0001]
  • Mashed Compilation [2008, Arc Life, AHR033]
  • Mister Pop [2009, Arch Hill/MORR Music/Merge, AHR042/MM095/MRG325]

Links

 

David Kilgour

This week I got to interview one of my idols – New Zealand Music legend David Kilgour; who’s song-writing, singing and guitar-work has been a cornerstone of the New Zealand sound since the Clean first surfaced in 1979.
Tell me about your new album ‘The Far Now’. Rather than producing the album in the States (like 2004’s ‘Frozen Orange’ Nashville), this latest album is a purely back-home release?
In a lot of ways the recording of Frozen Orange in nashville came about by serendipity and coincidence. The Far Now approach was to record when we had a song or two or three, keep them fresh and then wait till the next batch turned up and so on and so forth.The Far Now was released in the USA on Merge and in Australia on Remote Control.

The Album was produced with the Heavy Eights, Solo, and with the help of Alan Starrett what did Alan bring to the project?
Once we had the basic tracks recorded Alan came up to my house and recorded for a day. I think all his contributions were pretty much recorded in one hit. I tend to let Alan do whatever he wants on whatever instruments he feels suits the track. Alan is very good at first takes being his best takes.

Are you a collaborative song-writer?
Well I co wrote a lot of songs with the Clean etc. And more and more the Heavy 8s are contributing to the songs. Especially Alan and Tony

David Kilgour – A Feather in the Engine

2001, Arc Life, ARCLIFE016

The Clean seems to be drifting more towards lead guitarist David Kilgour’s now-prominent laid back sound. 2001’s reunion album ‘getaway’ was a refreshing slice of acoustic pop washed in feedback, all three members lazy vocals, mixed together with bass player Robert Scott’s jangle tendencies, and drummer Hamish Kilgour’s noise-rock leanings.

David’s first solo album since that promising reunion is as refreshing as ‘Getaway’, and seems to come together more as an album. Kilgour shows the same sense of melody he’s renowned for and even though the album doesn’t ‘rock’ as such from start to finish, he shows he can create a little heat with the more upbeat ‘today is going to be mine’.

Kilgour’s appears to be pushing his song-writing abilities, as the album is quite introspective, with David’s vocals quite up front in the mix. They are often backed only by his familiar echo-enhanced acoustic guitar. It works to a certain extent, as the album is definitely a very pleasant listen, but as with the cleans last full-length, it feels like something is missing.

We’ve seen Robert Scott flirt with more electronic and soundscape grooves on 1999’s ‘The creeping unknown’, and now Kilgour seems to be following the same path, mixing in an array of more classical instrumentation (check the ‘Instra 2’ tracks – particularly the reprise). The album comes out as more of a complete album than the clean’s previous reunion album (the pop-centered ‘unknown country’) which divided a lot their fan base – but the question still stands on whether Kilgour has succeeded in his intentions.

It’s great to see a man with such a fine ear for melody and groove as Kilgour mixing in elements of piano, cello, keyboards and violin to his guitar pieces though, and i for one appreciate his attempt to diversify his music. I’d like to see Kilgour follow through on the sound he’s slowly making his own, his solo material is sadly oft ignored – and yet contains some of the most gentle yet dramatic instrumentation and infectious lyrics of the current lo-fi scene.