Schnell Fenster

Phil Judd and Noel Crombie’s (along with Nigel Griggs and Michael Den Elzen) post Split Enz outfit.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The Sound Of Trees [1988 EMI Emc790929]

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The Stereo Bus

The pop outgrowth of Ex-Christchurch song-writer Dave Yetton (Ex Jean-Paul Sartre Experience), who’s backing band has included Francis Hunt, Nick Buckton, Matthias Jordan, Mike Hall, Mike Franklin Browne, Jason Fa’afoi, Bobby Kennedy and Mark Beaton.

Made a splash in the mid/late 90s with a pretty swell, but ultimately pretty twee debut and a less rock, more sopp follow-up. They didn’t quite have the hooks and general wacky attraction of JPS at their peak, but they’re ok. The group disappeared in 2000, but ultimately resurfaced in late 2011, with more material on the horizon.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The Stereobus [1997 Festival]
  • Brand New [1999 EMI]

Awards
Tui Awards 2000

  • Best Music Video: Alex Sutherland and Michael Lonsdale

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Tigers

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Tigers [1981 EMI EMX109]

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The Topp Twins

The highly popular and vaguely political country comedy cabaret duo of lesbian twins Lynda and Jools Topp.

Years of playing camping grounds, festivals and all sorts of alternative venues have turned the topps into a household name in New Zealand, eventually becoming television stars with their scattered performances. Their performances include country yodel sing-a-longs, any number of sketch-character setups (usually with crowd involvement), and of course spoon solos.

The Topp Twins came of age as performers in the early ’80s during the heady days of political protesting. They were very much at the forefront of the struggle for anti-apartheid, nuclear-free nz, maori land rights and the homosexual law reform. As out lesbians since 1977 (when the main press refused to print the word) the Topp Twins have always been visible and proud about their sexual identity. The twins’ ability to relate to all kinds of people, and their gift for humour, has ensured that this is not an issue. One of the unique qualities of the Topp Twins is that they have successfully crossed from the fringes to the mainstream.
John Prentice

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Topp Twins Go Vinyl [1982 EMI]
  • Twinset And Pearls [1984 EMI]
  • No War In My Heart [1988 EMI]
  • Wear Something Sexy [1991 EMI]
  • Hightime [1992 EMI]
  • Two Timing [1994 EMI]

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The Brunettes – Mars Loves Venus

2004, Lil’ Chief, LCR007

Over the course of the last two years, The Brunettes must surely go down as one of New Zealand’s most productive bands, with a series of long-stay live tours flowing across New Zealand and stories of their international travels. along the way they’ve had trials and success, line-up changes (including a little controversy) and the odd bit of exposure and critical response, spiked by the release of their debut-following EP ‘Boy Racer’ last year.

Boy Racer was a little sloppier than their tightly constructed Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks, and maybe showed a bit of initiative towards diversifying their 50’s/60’s pop-schlock referencing sound – not that their debut wasn’t a marvel in genuine catchy pop.

Despite accusations of regurgitating long-dead music styles, the Brunettes (full-length) debut posses a level of panache and intricate song-play that even their influences (Phil Spector, Jonathan Richman and Shadow Morton springing to mind) would be proud of.

Compared to Holding Hands.., Boy Racer was the darker side of the tracks. Suddenly the ‘Leader of the Pack’ / ‘Out in the Street’ side of the band was shining through, a pop group with dark themes – much akin to Mortons’ Shangri-Las, the production on Boy Racer’s ‘I Miss My Coochie Coo’ / ‘Don’t Neglect Your Pet’ cut back the gloss to show a beating heart at the center of the band.

My immediate impressions on the new album have been that it sounds almost claustrophobic compared to what has come before. Musical influences are less obvious (with the exception of ‘record store’ – a catchy mix of the modern lovers and what sounds like a Tex Pistol guitar lick), the band now concentrating on a more lyrically focused, vocal-heavy mix with guitar, hand claps and percussion making up the majority of the sound. Secondly, its probably the most addictive, catchy album I’ve heard in a long time, particularly Polyester Meets Acetate, which i’m continually finding myself singing along to after just a few listens. Jonathan (Bree) takes a more active role as vocalist on the album, leading a fair portion of the tracks or fueling duets with Heather (Mansfield) with the kind of quirk and honest edge you’d normally only hear from such song-writers as Lee Hazelwood (and his greatest chanteuse, Nancy Sinatra), or early Richman minus the naivety.

After the shiny burst of the opening trio of songs comes ‘Too Big For Gidget’, the first track to really emphasis the presence of erstwhile ex-member Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson, now having a particularly rough time with his own band, The Shocking Pinks. Harte’s drumming is to the front over what is one of the albums musically somber tracks, constructed from a reverberate organ, emphasizing piano and guitar flourishes and Harte’s double-timed drumming. A downbeat but fairly throwaway lyric pretty much spoils what could have been one of the albums finer notes.

In fact the entire second side of the album is far darker than the first, tracks like ‘Don’t Hit Your Head Honey’ and the two-part ‘Your Heart Dies’ new-wave pastiche add an intimate and conversational element to the album, often full of hipster pathos – which oddly seems to be the defining element in Bree’s song-writing here. Very modern, post-ironic cool lyrics distinguish Bree (along with some fine touches from Mansfield with ‘These Things Take Time’ and even guitarist James Milne’s rather off-beat ‘You Beautiful Militant’) as fairly removed from their name-checked influences, creating quite a distinctive style throughout the album.

A pretty fine follow-up to one of the most intriguing debuts in recent memory, Mars Loves Venus is the maturing of Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks’ carnival candy-floss and ferris-wheel naivety, showing the cracks of regular life, and presented in a charming blend of a plethora of musical influences, distilled into the Brunettes own, and surely by now unique sound. Even their throw-away and catchy numbers (‘Loopy Loopy Love’, ‘Whale In The Sand’) stick in your head like the intro to ‘Da Do Run Run’ – though maybe not in the same capacity as their slick all pop first album. Though Boy Racer showed a band in transition, they haven’t quite settled yet, and thankfully that makes for an eclectic musical mix and a dynamic sophomoric album.

Goodshirt

Very very popular and creative Auckland band that shot immediately into the public eye with their brilliant self-produced, home-made music videos and infectious pop songs; flush with heavy doses of synth in the style of The Cars. Its members are Gareth Thomas, brothers Murray and Rodney Fisher and drummer Mike Beehre.

After an ep with a self-titled single, the band hit even greater fortune with follow-up singles and their debut album, touring the country to packed out orientation crowds through-out 2001 and 2002.

Goodshirt continued to draw crowds with the release of the sophmoric release Fiji Baby, but sales declined – probably due to the lead-off singles not really containing the same infectious spark of their previous releases (though the single Fiji Baby is a lovely low-key pop number). Needless to say the band continues to tour relentlessly, and even managed a high-profile appearance at the south-by-southwest festival in Austin, Texas before going on hiatus on the last day of 2005.

The group then re-appeared in late 2011 before releasing a new EP in May 2012.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Goodshirt Ep [2000 EMI]
  • ‘Green’ Cd Single [EMI]
  • Good [2001 EMI 5350602]
  • ‘Sophie’ Cd Single [EMI]
  • ‘Place To Be’ Cd Single [EMI]
  • ‘Buck It Up’ Cd Single [2003 EMI 5539022]
  • Fiji Baby [2004 EMI 5770902]
  • ‘Fiji Baby’ Cd Single [2004 EMI]
  • ‘Lucy’ Cd Single [2004 EMI]
  • Skinny Mirror Ep [May 2012]

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