marble stature The Offense we trust! Rural bullshit from the heart of Fox Point, Providence, RI 02906

Friday, September 01, 2006



I used to work in a computer lab at Ohio State’s School of Greed (pretty punk, huh?) for a couple of years. This one summer I worked there and it was one of the most boring experiences of my life. I ended up spending every paycheck online buying cd’s and records, because I was so bored. I was even buying so much stuff that I would get bored with buying new shit, so then I took to reading about music via the internet, and I think that’s when I finally got beyond the initial surface of New Zealand’s big three: The Clean, The Chills and the Verlaines. It’s kind of weird thinking of those three great bands as the three entry points into the epicenter of the cool that was New Zealand throughout the 1980’s, because their stuff was actually a lot harder to come by than the still-great but far more obscure or “out-there” stuff from the time. I still challenge you to find The Clean’s Compilation or Oddities, or The Chills Brave Worlds or their singles collection Kaleidoscope World or anything from the Verlaines with the exception of their last three albums. Luckily each of those groups has an anthology-type release that still is in print (although The Clean Anthology is the only one that is really worth your time), but Heavenly Pop Hits and You’re Just Too Obscure For Me are just the tip of the iceberg… put in a little extra effort and you’ll end up tracking this stuff down from all over world. And hey, although this is what I consider the “big bopper”; one of those albums you listen to for months on end, it still is able to surprise. Are we past the age when a compilation could be more than the sum of its parts... sucka?

Verlaines Juvenilia (Flying Nun, 1993)

You probably already know the kick off track, “Death & The Maiden.” It’s the one that has the “Verlaine, Verlaine… etc” chorus (oh yeah… that one!) so I’m not going to waste hours going into how it’s the most amazing song, and how Malkmus (true fact) tried to rip it off for “Box Elder.” Graeme Downes was a genius. He’s still alive, so when I say was, it’s because he hasn’t put anything out since that odd solo album that Matador put out a long, long time ago. I haven’t checked any facts in a few years, but the last I heard he is a music professor at a College down in New Zealand. Yeah, I think he has a degree or two in music, but don’t hold that against him… it’s not his fault that music majors tend to be in only the absolute worst bands of all time. I think that has to do mostly with those shitheads studying Rush albums with a metronome and diet Dr. Pepper in their chubby hands. Anyway, Downes was one of those clever cats: able to understand the entire evolution of music, and translate his vast knowledge into complex compositions that never feel complicated or overindulgent. In that way he is not unlike Richard Thompson, John Cale or maybe Brian Eno. His voice is yearning (like Robert Smith but minus the clownish bits) and he just shreds through his guitar strings strumming like an epileptic in a strobe light on the hits: “Pyromanic,” “New Kind of Hero,” and my personal favorite “Crisis After Crisis.” Hell, they’re all hits! Try not to jerk a tear for “Joed Out,” it’s one of those tortured lover pieces, but devoid of the crap that makes chicks want to ax their serious singer/songwriter (soon to be) ex-boyfriend types.

It’s a bit hard to believe that these collected singles, which were released in such close proximity to each other, were followed up by two albums (Hallelujah All the Way Home and Bird Dog) that are almost of the same high caliber; that’s probably because Downes spent something like three years writing these singles before the group even went public. "Haste makes Waste," right? The Verlaines, who were a three-piece mind you, were rounded out by bassist Jane Dodd, who would go on to join the great twee-pop group the Able Tasmans (who have recently, well… within the last ten years, released an impressive compilation Songs for the Departure Lounge, and it’s on Flying Nun of course), and drummer Robbie Yeats, who left the band to form The Dead C. The fucking Dead C. Graeme Downes wasn't the only genius working the wheel here; it makes you wonder the size of impact that these early works left on the whole of New Zealand. Remarkable. Hell, I’ve got to get back to work… I can’t pull another “long lunch” this week, track down Juvenilia, it’s just one of those things you got to hear. Still, the defining moment from perhaps the best band of the 1980’s that most people claim to have heard, but most likely never have.

I too worked at The OSU Business School. All there was to do was surf the net and spend money online. Elaine Van Fossen is evil and so are most of the business students. By the time I started working there we were forbidden from wearing headphones for fear of some asshole business student being unable to open a word document. word to the wise people- one of the reasons business people,ceo's and corporations get more evil and do shadier shit all the time is because these nasty business students are self-centered greedy morons with an unchecked sense of entitlement and no sense of culture in the first place.
i was one of the reasons that headphones were banned... a fellow co-worker actually ratted me out at the rotc lab of all places

yeah, he was a buisness student too
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of similar interest:
marble stature archives
art for spastics
crud crud
detailed twang
electric pure land
population: doug
static party
terminal boredom
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the z gun

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