Popstrangers: Antipodes (Unspk)

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Popstrangers: Jane
Popstrangers: Antipodes (Unspk)

Because international writers can often take a more dispassionate view of New Zealand culture -- witness the difference between local and overseas reviews of The Hobbit; ours mostly loved it, theirs went hmmm, yawn -- it is often salutory to look at what the rest of the world is saying about our stuff.

If our default position is to be a little more generous then the yawn of indifference from overseas can remind us that our art -- of whatever persuasion -- has to compete with the best there is.

This debut album by Popstrangers -- a band picked up by Flying Nun locally but now on New York's Carpark -- has had a few mildly favourable reviews overseas (three stars in Mojo) but their caution is misplaced

This is a terrific album which bristles with visceral pop-rock songs, takes distortion and echo into the realm of art , rides along on enormous basslines from Adam Page and some stengun drumming by David Larson (when required).

Up front Joel Flyger's vocals cut straight through - just a little in the young David Kilgour territory and on the damaged alt.metal-psychedelics of the opener Jane like Darcy Clay. This album boasts a strong set of songs which explode with post-grunge noise (Cat's Eyes will draw inevitable comparisons with Nirvana/Butch Vig's quiet-loud attack) or throb with pure pop menace (Witches Hand).

Certainly there's a lurch towards Radiohead on the seven minute landscape of Occasion (they would have been at an impressionable age when OK Computer came out, remember) but the semi-classic single Heaven is still a standout for its economy (it's just 2.40) and its artfully deployed echo, and just about everywhere they sound equally sure-footed.

And curiously enough they also come off as transatlantic in that they stand somewhere between US and UK indie.rock . . . which makes sense when you think in New Zealand-- the antipodes of the title --  we get both in equal doses. 

Add a star to whatever you read in overseas reviews (although I note one guy gave this nine out of 10 and that might be the upper limit) and you are in the zone.

For a debut album this is thrilling ride, and promises even better to come. 

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Jeremy - Apr 30, 2013

Formerly respected music know it all has been placed in public stocks outside the Kings Arms for awarding a Kiwi album just 2 stars in a recent review.
As per the “Be nice to The Feelers” Law, all NZ albums arrive on critics’ desks with an automatic 3 star rating and critics then decide whether or not to add 1 or 2 more stars in their review.
Reid ignored this to award the album “Aotearoa To The Max” only 2 stars.
The album is a fine collection of BBQ dub styled covers of Dunedin songs by the band Starz; a group of Takapuna Grammar students. The band’s female Asian singer Aysha said, “It’s just one old guy’s opinion. All my Twitter followers love the album”.
Barnaby Weir, enforcer of The Feelers Law, said he and his dad would include a burning effigy of Reid in their next 5 hour Fly My Pretties multi-media extravaganza.
While he is in stocks, the public are invited to pelt Reid with Chris Knox’s sweaty t shirts and socks to remind him of what quality tastes like. GRAHAM EXPLAINS: For those confused by this comment. This week's giveaway at Elsewhere goes to a subscriber who posts the most amusing, satirical, insightful or interesting comment.

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