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The Strange Girls


Lo-fi folky group from Dunedin, active from 1999 until 2019. Usually contemplative and emotive, with the extremely prolific Clayton Noone (aka CJA) and Kaaterama Morehu (Motty) as the core duo. Drummer Jon Arcus (Sugar Jon) was a regular 3rd member up until 2002.

In the first few years the group were exceeding prolific, bringing out a series of home-produced recordings on Noone’s own Root Don Lonie for Cash label, before taking a hiatus around 2004.

Outta Dunedin and so with some heritage of peculiar guitar-based transgressions to draw on, it’s perhaps fellow townfolk Dadamah with which they share most commonality, rather than the more typical aberrations of Flying Nun pop associated with the place. The Strange Girls make a pretty racket alright, slo-mo six string distortions buoyed by swaying and sometimes narcotised lullaby vocals, often building to cathartic release. There’s definitely trace elements of Roy Montgomery’s ecstatic playing present here (see Thug or Mood for prime example), and you might even think of them as a slightly more strident version of the Garbage and the Flowers, melodious and sprawling in equal measure.

‘It’s OK to be Happy’ write-up on World of Echo

At their best, The Strange Girls made ruminative, repetitive and atmospheric bummer folk, similar to sounds by Flying Canyon or The Pupils combined with The Dead C squall. All of these elements are present on Threads, which rescues stray, unreleased tracks made around the time of their best album, Beset. Motty’s beautiful, fragile croon guides through a thicket of hiss, solemn strums and stirring feedback.

‘Threads’ write-up on Soft Abuse

The duo of Noone and Morehu reconvened in 2008 and started pumping out more recordings again until 2012 (including 2010’s ‘Ruins‘, recorded while ‘Motty’s body was falling apart’), taking a 2nd long break before re-uniting a 2nd time in 2019:

The last album we recorded, after a break of about 5 years where we both fell apart for awhile in our personal lives, but got together to record 2 new songs and rerecord a couple old ones. Was a great few months, both sober & excited. We were both very proud of this stuff, & had been talking about the next bunch of new songs, a new album (We had the title “Maelstrom“). Unfortunately Motty died today, we were talking just last week about recording in Jan. I’m gonna miss him, & feel a little bad for not recording more when we had the chance, but so it goes. I’m glad we did all that we done, we were our greatest fans, I know he loved our band. I miss him already.

Clayton Noone – Rue EP (The Strange Girls BandCamp)

Kaaterama ‘Motty’ Morehu passed away in late 2020.




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