Dunedin Sound recalled

Music magazine NME has published a four-page spread on the influential Dunedin Sound.

Nestled behind the Morrissey cover feature is an article on ''Songs in the Kiwi of Life'', which name-checks those bands inspiring new music.

Those include the Clean, the Chills, the Verlaines, the Bats, Look Blue Go Purple, Sneaky Feelings, and Snapper.

The release of the Dunedin Double EP on Flying Nun records ''spawned the Dunedin Sound tag - a term to describe the trebly guitars and vocal layering of its so-called proponents'', the article noted.

It also noted the city remains a fertile breeding ground for a new generation of bands, with local label Fishrider Records set to release a compilation of new bands entitled Temporary - Selections from Dunedin's Pop Underground.

Label owner Ian Henderson told the Otago Daily Times, ''I don't think Dunedin has ever stopped making great music.

''I think, and a whole lot of other people think, that this is a pretty amazing time to be in Dunedin.''

Vinyl reissues of classic Flying Nun releases helped shine the spotlight on the city, which in turn helped focus attention on new bands not always eager to be labelled with the ''Dunedin Sound''.

''They find it limiting ... it is cool that bands get recognised but it perennially links them to the past.''

He was pleased two Fishrider bands - Males and Opposite Sex - were also name-checked in the online NME article ''17 Must-Hear Dunedin Sound Classic Tracks'', alongside the Dead C, Straitjacket Fits and Toy Love.

Males frontman Richard Ley-Hamilton said the term ''Dunedin Sound still had cultural capital''.

''People are still interested in what is coming out of this town based on the reputation of what happened 30 years ago.''

He said it was less a sound and more a DIY approach to music and ''not a lot of international acts come to Dunedin so the scene has to sustain itself''.

He initially rebelled against the Dunedin Sound, ''but even though I wasn't directly influenced, it naturally comes back through the music and I was drawn to listen to those bands for a comparison''.

University of Otago music head of department and singer for the Verlaines, Dr Graeme Downes, said ''the DIY attitude is still here ...the whole desire to create your own music rather than play other people's''.

He said New Zealand - and especially Dunedin - used to be a long way from popular culture sources so ''we wrote music for ourselves and each other''.

''We are known around the world and it is a pretty unique story. Talking to colleagues from other parts of the world, they can't think of a town with a population of 120,000 people that has this much coming out of it ...and still coming out of it,'' Dr Downes said.

Yesterday, the Chills played several live tracks on BBC Radio 6, with Martin Phillipps asked about Flying Nun as well as new kids on the block, Fishrider Records.

The Chills are touring the United Kingdom, beginning today in Leeds.

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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