Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos

Biography

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos were a Dunedin-based duo consisting of Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals – before forming the Dead C, 2 Foot Flame, Angelhead, Tanaka-Nixon Meeting, The Weeds) and Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals) – though in an early video recording Morley states the group had formed ‘Up North’ before heading to Dunedin. The duo released a handful of handmade cassettes and had an affiliation with Bob Scott’s Every Secret Thing label, with both album releases and compilation appearances. Their most well known material is the River Falling Love EP which was released on Flying Nun in 1986 before being expanded and re-released by US label Ajax in 1993. Morley formed the Dead C in 1987, effectively bring an end to Wreck Small Speakers.

Featuring performances from other Dunedin musicians: Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals – Look Blue Go Purple, The 3Ds, Ghost Club), Ivan Purvis (Guitar – Love In A Gas Oven, Alpaca Brothers), Lesley Paris (Drums – Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, Olla), Bruce Blucher (Drums – Cyclops, Trash, Fats Thompson, Brown Velvet Couch, Alpaca Brothers) and Martin Kean (The Chills, Doublehappys, Fats Thompson, Stereolab). The groups recordings are based around strong rhythm tracks – usually plucked bass guitar and drum machine, with shout-sung vocals, fractured guitar riffs and organ squeels, with samples and other sound manipulations added into the mix. Though experimental, Wreck Small Speakers retained a high level of musicality and accessibility.

Both their creative genius and the quality of their songs really shines through on the groups lo-fi cassette recordings. The slinky, funky bass and proto-rap vocals on ‘Over My Skull’, the low-key beauty of River Falling Love highlight ‘All Of This’, and Denise Roughan’s wonderful appearance on their most well-known song ‘Rain’. Small scraps of the bands fairly substantial discography have appeared in the digitally archived era, however if ever there was a Flying Nun associated act that could use an anthology release it would be Wreck Small Speakers – its been almost two decades since Morley’s Dead C band mate Bruce Russell released A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers on his own Xpressway label.

Members

  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals, 198?)
  • Lesley Paris (Drums, 198?)
  • Ivan Purvis (Guitar, 198?)
  • Bruce Blucher (Drums, 198?)
  • Martin Kean (198?)

Discography

  • My Blue Fairy Godmother [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK14]
  • 3.V.M. EP [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK20]
  • Over My Skull Cassette Single [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 06]
  • Cave Cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 21]
  • Worlds Fall Apart cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 24]
  • A Summer In Taradale Cassette [1985 self-released]
  • River Falling Love ep [1986 Flying Nun FN068]
  • A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers Cassette [1988 Xpressway XWAY03]
  • River Falling Love Reissue [1993 Ajax AJAX 029]

Links

Flying Nun 30th Birthday: Shayne P Carter and Ghost Club, with Popstrangers

Wow. These Flying Nun 30th Birthday shows kick ass.

Popstrangers are an Auckland 3 piece I haven’t seen before, but their rather good drummer looks very familiar… Anyways I enjoyed their set, pretty in your face guitar music with some cool bits and pieces.

Popstrangers
Popstrangers

Ghost Club are one of my fav still sorta current Flying Nun acts – both their self-titled debut and the follow-up ‘Suicide Train’ are littered with great, powerful songs – plus that old 7″ with Dave Mitchell and Denise Roughan they called ‘The Ghost Club’ is one of my prized singles. Roughan and Jim Abbott seemed pretty subdued for most of the set, but ably backed Mitchell, who set about attacking his guitar, succumbing only to a bout of the tune-ups.

Ghost Club
Ghost Club

Shayne Carter and his current tour backing band (the old maestro Gary Sullivan on drums and former D4 Vaughen Williams on bass) played a great back catalogue of Shayne’s songs, a real good mix of the more delicate Straitjacket Fits numbers, ace Dimmer drones, bombastic Doublehappys ditties and even the ole Bored Games hit ‘Joe 90’.

Shayne Carter
Shayne Carter

Check out the rest of the photos here.

SF

The short-lived Sean O’Rielly project that spawned a 7″ on Flying Nun, during their mid 90s side-project series (which also spawned Ghost Club, Spacious, and Chris Heazlewood‘s solo career).

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Cat Face’/’Semi’/’Sleepy Hollow’ 7″ Single [1996 Flying Nun Fn357]

See-Also

Spacious

Short-lived Dave Saunders (The 3Ds) and Alan Haig (The Chills, Chug, Snapper etc) group that produced the Vector 27 7″ EP, later included on the 3Ds swan-song Strange News From The Angels. This was all the result of the Flying Nun‘s mid 90s side-project series (which also spawned Ghost Club, SF, and Chris Heazlewood’s solo recordings).

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Vector 27’/’Riding The Whale’/’I Believe In You’ 7″ Single [1996 Flying Nun Fn355]

See-Also

Brian Crook – Bible Black

2002, Arc Life, ARCLIFE019

As half of the writing force behind seminal Christchurch/Dunedin fuzz-country rockers The Renderers (with his wife Mary-Rose), Brian Crook [aka Bible Black] has been making dirty, downtrodden stories since the late 80’s.

In 1997 The Renderers released what is considered their archetypal (and best) album, the soaring ‘Dream of the Sea’, but its been slim-pickings since then with single releases and sporadic performances coming amidst line-up and label changes. This latest release is essentially a Brian Crook solo album, albeit with the occasional guest vocal from Mary-Rose – boiling The Renderers sound down to their most minimalist (and at times exceedingly effective).

The songs are generally dark and brooding. Crook lacks the climactic tendencies in his voice that Mary-Rose exudes so freely. But with songs like ‘Baby Doll’, crook’s voice paints strong character sketches – “You seem so agitated, and there’s liquor down your dress”, creating images of backwoods folk with chemical dependencies and tawdry relationships. He sounds so world-worn and forbidding, that his multi-layered guitar becomes the perfect backdrop to these songs.

Opener ‘Leaves upon the lawn’ sees Crook crooning gently over three guitar-lines and the faint drift of organ, very melancholy stuff. A rattly slide guitar forms the lead – quite a change from The Renderers theatrical sonic attack built upon walls of feedback. Slowly paced and careful, it’s the soundtrack for a dark and smoky room in the most tragic of movies.

Country slide guitar rears its head on ‘What were they thinking’, a campfire song in the Johnny Cash vein. Crook is a brilliant live guitarist, creating unorthodox shards of feedback, whilst still maintaining a southern-fried tone – but here things are brought down a few notches to glorious effect. Like his Dunedin compatriot Dave Mitchell (formerly of the 3D’s and now the man behind the brilliant Ghost Club project) his guitar playing is more about restraint than release. Though it seems calm and melodic, there is something down below ready to erupt at any moment, and it’s that tension that drives the songs.

The only possible problem with the album is that at times it feels like Crook is re-treading familiar territory, though the album is certainly charismatic and gritty in the inimitable crook style. Things make a rapid right turn with ‘hell of a woman’ though- a blast of guitar bursts out unexpectedly. A rising crescendo riff that invigorates the middle section of the album, it’s the kind of anarchistic moment you can generally expect from a Renderers performance.

It’s an inviting return from New Zealand’s own alt-country underground star, now back at home under the ever-popular (and for good reason) Arc Life label, after spending the last couple of albums with Philadelphia-based Siltbreeze records. Lastly, remember to keep an eye out for The Renderers fully-fledged return early next year – it promises to be a stunner.

Ghost Club

david mitchell (formerly of such wonderful bands as the exploding budgies, goblin mix and the 3Ds) originally released an acoustic 7″ single with (fellow 3d member) denise roughan entitled the ghost club back in 1996. soon the pair had relocated to london, effectively dissolving the 3ds (after the brilliant strange news from the angels album in 1997) and they took on the ghost club moniker as their new working title, adding ex-patriot kiwi jim abbot to share bass and drum roles with roughan.

Leather Aprin

one of dave mitchell’s england-based projects.
discography
picks in bold