A HIPSTER friend, back in the 80s, turned me on to the new zealand sound — the clean, the chills, the verlaines — bands that made what was coming out of the US a the time sound pedestrian indeed. this stuff was pastoral, punk, lo-fi, hooky, and weirdly random all at once. i hadnt heard guitars tuned that way since the third velvet underground record.
the clean is back with a new record, “mister pop,” on merge: it sounds nothing like their heyday, but takes them to a new and fascinating place. it’s probably my favorite release since their original output from the late 70s/early 80s. (the first song, “loog,” with its dreamlike drone and female vocals, is especially enchanting.) here is a video, “in the dreamlife you need a rubber soul,” from the new LP.
a few years ago i spoke to the clean’s robert scott, who is also in the bats — here is my piece, which tries to give an overview of the whole scene on the flying nun label.
Photo credit: Merge Records