Brought to you by The Corner and NZ On Air, Awesome Feeling 8 is an online event running through NZ Music Month 2014, culminating in the release of a free downloadable compilation of 12 New Zealand songs and the words written about them. Every couple of days, we’ll be posting streaming+downloadable tracks from emerging local artists, accompanied by artist and track profiles authored by Corner contributors.
This inclusion will encapsulate everything that’s wrong with music ‘journalism’ in New Zealand: when we do notice a band from Dunedin, it’s too late. Old Psychiatrists Club, for instance, should’ve gone on 2010’s Awesome Feeling compilation, back when they were new and a lot more closely connected with a friend group of Logan Park High School under-18s that might’ve comprised what every mythmaker would want to consider a ‘scene’. Maybe it was just that TFF already got on that year’s compilation: friends of OPC’s who were at the time in their teens and probably better signified a new wave of young bands that seemed so much a national coincidence as a convenient excuse to write home about. OPC, instead, just trucked right along without anyone really noticing.
It’s actually been a massive disservice of me, in my four or so years of rambling about music, to have not communicated my feelings about Dunedin. It’s collectivist. It’s embracing. It’s warm (in one sense, anyway). It’s inter-generational. It’s spirited. It’s not Flying Nun. It’s not Auckland. It’s fucking weird. I’d call OPC, along with friends like the couple-de-force that is QTPI & their cat-like noise-shrieks; Sewage, a cacaphonic jazz-noise band that won the SmokeFree RockQest Dunedin finals in 2009 (!!); Scattered Brains of the Lovely Union & the Communist Rainbow Relationship, too many-membered ensembles who share ridiculous titles as well as a Brian Jonestown Massacre affinity: …kinda the best stuff in this country that nobody knows about. Ian Henderson from Fishrider Records recognises this and does a great job at pushing outward what bands he can (hint: he actually does it better, and with less pretensions, than any label or industry person in this country), and therein is an attribute in common with all of his chilly contemporaries in the South: None of this reeks of the careerism like that you might find in, say, anywhere else.
In a way, I’m sort of glad Dunedin rarely receives the attention it should. That’s why the place has always produced music so self-assured – the hope of recognition, local and abroad, is recognisably futile. And so there’s no hope of watering down anyone’s own sonic consciousness or artistic purity for the sake of a cheap buck, or popularity, or even a knowing wink from some ‘influential’ figure (who, I might jab, really doesn’t know the first thing about music, or creativity in the first place). The fact is that nobody gives a shit about New Zealand rock music, and when they do, it’s to do with some old dudes from a record label decades ago. Dunedin, however, has always known this.
(Before I proceed: A disclaimer that I can already count several bands I regret not having mentioned. Head to the respective pages of Proxy Music, Charisma Collective, and Fishrider for a decent 101.)
And so, Old Psychiatrists Club: in name I couldn’t think of a better combination of skin-smacker Nick Graham’s surly soundbite style o’ sarcasm & the neuroticism of neck-scratcher John Glasgow; endearing traits of their friendship that are no better synthesised than through their music. Titles like ‘Save The Babes’ on an album with a name like Sports Horn reveal not just a startling commitment to in-jokes, but a rare one that doesn’t at all detract from the integrity of the music. In actuality it enhances the spectacle of such crazed shit, like a steamboat powered by uranium-laced faeces, or a baboon’s red-hot asscheeks repeatedly slapping a puddle with indiscriminate timing. Half Japanese might be a good reference point – another isolation-born two-piece with a guitarist who more than physically resembles the one we’re talking about here. Virtuosic John Glasgow might be, but not too many virtues are required in this case more than just plain old curiosity. If you get the chance, or means, explore Raccoon:Bucfoon:Buffoon and its wiry, scattershot vocal yelps that offset pedal fuckery in a way that somehow couldn’t be more nonchalant in combo. OPC are a band with members that are on totally different planets in the sonic sense, but somehow their consciousnesses have a convenient overlap. I might not know where it overlaps, or how… which is great.
Download previous Awesome Feeling compilations: