Awesome Feeling 7: Dick Whyte & the Bent Folk ‘What If’

Dick Whyte and Epic Friends at Garrett Street 5

Brought to you by The Corner and NZ On Air, Awesome Feeling 7 is an online event running through NZ Music Month 2013, culminating in the release of a free downloadable compilation of 20 New Zealand songs and the words written about them. Each weekday for 20 days we’ll post streaming+downloadable tracks from emerging local artists, accompanied by artist and track profiles authored by Corner contributors.


While the most commonly-encountered contemporary music using folk’s tropes tends towards the delicate and twee – all the better lend an aura of the homespun to people trying to flog iPods – there’s a more guttural, noisier tradition that can be traced locally through artists from Alastair Galbraith and Pumice to Swagger Jack’s Fahey-meets-Baxter/Jandek-meets-Crump ballads  Wellington trio Dick Whyte & the Bent Folk pit the ends against the middle with folk and noise – in ‘What If’, songwriter Dick Whyte (Nova Scotia)’s lyrics balance folk’s utilisation of well-worn phrases (the “trad arr.” of language) with an uncanny/repressed that seeps through, roughed-up by his actually singing in an all-too-rare Kiwi accent. Rupert Hunter (who also plays in post-Kneale/Brides of Cthulhu group Yawn; they have an excellent drone cover of the Clean’s ‘Point That Thing Somewhere Else’, which is a better use of your NZ Music Month aural patriotism than anything else around) scuffs up the track with both feedback scree and psych bravado – more in evidence with this live version at the San Francisco Bath House than in the bedroom studio version’s more intimate treatment – while Helen O’Rourke (Big Rick)’s brisk, sympathetic drumming stops affairs degenerating into sogginess.

Formed in 2013, the Bent Folk are part of a rising tide in Wellington of experimental musicians playing in non-traditional venues after the closing/dormancy of Freds, Happy & Russian Frost Farmers – from Noel Meek’s Crypt Sessions underneath St Mary of the Angels to the peripatetic Home Economics series to one-off house parties or warehouse shows (e.g. Samin Son & the Garrett Collective’s 4:44 – 4:44, where the Bent Folk’s delivered this rendition of Funkadelic’s ‘Maggot Brain’), there’s a fertile underground in evidence. ‘What If’ is being released as the b-side of a limited edition acetate 7″ by Epic Sweep Records in the next couple of months; catch their scorching live show if you get the chance.

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Download previous Awesome Feeling compilations:

Download: Awesome Feeling 5
Download: Awesome Feeling 6


  1. Rupert says:

    Yawn is a collab by Benedict Quilter and Rupert Hunter, BQ does the art too.

  2. Rupert says:

    Cheers for the write-up though

  3. For anyone interested here is a video of The Bent Folk playing What If at Evil Genius Records in Wellington:

    Cheers for the great write up Stevie!

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