Not the opposite of success

The debut album by Opposite Sex has been a huge success for the band and label Fishrider Records. Photos supplied.
The debut album by Opposite Sex has been a huge success for the band and label Fishrider Records. Photos supplied.
For Dunedin micro-independent record label Fishrider Records there might never be another year quite like this one.

Tonight at Chick's Hotel, the label, which promotes itself as a home to "occasional albums of literate, melodic underground psych-pop, no wave, and whatever else takes our fancy", not only celebrates its sixth year of existence, but also the first anniversary of its most successful release to date: the debut album from Gisborne-Dunedin trio Opposite Sex.

Launched by musician, writer and, most importantly, passionate music fan Ian Henderson in 2006, Fishrider Records was initially founded as a vehicle for Henderson to release Spill Your Heart, an album from Dunedin guitar-pop band the Dark Beaks.

Describing each successive release as somewhat of an accident, in the intervening period since, Henderson has released albums from his brother George Henderson's band, The Puddle (for whom he has played drums since 2007), and the Shifting Sands, as well as developing a reciprocal distribution deal with United Kingdom-based independent label Occultation Recordings.

It's the debut album from off-kilter ramshackle trio Opposite Sex, however, that is proving the jewel in Fishrider's already loaded pop crown.

The self-titled album, recorded by Henderson himself in Fishrider Records HQ - his home basement - has gained significant traction in both local and international music scenes since its release almost exactly a year ago.

As Henderson told me via email, "what started out as a curiosity of an album from modest origins, and something we believed strongly in but wondered if we could persuade others to give it a listen, has had a remarkable year".

"It sometimes seems frowned upon to celebrate achievement in New Zealand and in Dunedin, in particular, but I think it is important that people know that the world is sometimes interested in some of the strange and interesting things we do down here."

Included in the praise and accolades the album has picked up are two enthusiastic reviews from respected UK music publications Q and Uncut, heavy play from BBC radio DJ Marc Riley and playlisting on 145 college and non-commercial radio stations in the United States and Canada.

On a local level, the trio also completed a national tour with ex-Dunedinites Die! Die! Die! earlier this year, and had their track Master/Slave included on the New Zealand Music Commission's sampler CD distributed at the CMJ music event in New York City.

It's deserved attention too, the album being a challenging and engaging pop record packed with hooks and surprises to keep the listener off guard.

Happily, neither the band nor the label have altered course, Fishrider continuing to focus on the idiosyncratic, the creative and the craft, as opposed to the commercial.

And that's the beauty of the whole operation, really.


See it

• Fishrider Records presents The Puddle with Opposite Sex and Scattered Brains of the Lovely Union.

Tonight, Saturday, November 10, at Chick's Hotel, Port Chalmers, 9pm.

$10 on the door, or $5 with your 2012 91Club Card.

There will be a return bus available on the night - details on Chick's Hotel Facebook page.

Follow Fishrider Records online at www.fishriderrecords.com/