Graham Reid | | 4 min read
Small independent labels – from Zodiac through Ripper, Propellor, Flying Nun and Pagan to Rattle and Lil' Chief – have been not just the backbone of New Zealand music but have given platforms for great songs, albums and artists.
And sometimes they just allow people to get something off their chests.
Somewhere between those points is Auckland's 1:12 label which has allowed Thee Golden Geese – self-described as "Gareth Shute (bass, honking), James Dansey (drums, honking, producer), Dave Taylor (guitar), and Matthew Crawley (honking)" – to indulge in a silly Ramones fixation.
And, on their new Bird of the Year album, throw out original songs with enticing titles like Georgie Pie, Solve a Murder (“do you wanna?”), Punk Nuns, the bid for attention of 95bFM Top 10 (the Knack-meets-Ramones) and Spend All My Money on Crap.
It's a whole lotta dumb fun, but fun is the key word because Backfoot tosses off a little of Th'Dudes (“every time, every time”), Punk Nuns is perilously close to the Ramones-meets-Beastie Boys, Spend All My Money On Crap is punked-up power pop and Stick It To The Man (“any way I can”) gets in and out in 80 seconds.
Given the brevity of their songs, the closer Can't Stop Us Rockin' Forever is positively a street opera epic at almost four and half minutes which threatens the territory of Sweet and Kiss.
And sounds remarkably close to another of their songs, Amazing James (about their drummer).
Some of these musicians have played in reputable bands (Ruby Suns, Brunettes, Sneaks) but their off-piste rock'n'roll is more than just an outlet but an enjoyable, sometimes laugh aloud collection of rocked out silliness.
More power to their bills.
The 1:12 label is also home to Magic Factory – members from Vietnam War, Drab Doo-Riffs, Raw Nerves and others –whose Deliver the Goods album we gave a favourable notice to earlier this year.
We said they “unashamedly deliver play-loud, riff-driven originals which also peel off from the country-rock of Gram Parsons and the later Saints (Lords of Mercy, Warm and Fine), the Faces (Catfish), Steve Miller Band (Too Much of Me, The Man Won't Shake Your Hand) and AC/DC (the title track)”.
We concluded Deliver the Goods was “like a classic rock radio show of obscurities and album tracks which delivers the goods”.
More recently the fine and seriously fast Dick Move album Wet came through 1:12 Records.
We said of these 13 songs in just 22 minutes it was “like a ram-raid through the window of a guitar shop . . . a bratty, stroppy and furious celebration of reductive rock'n'roll which at times makes the Ramones seem long-winded.”
The Memory Foam album Steel Magnolias drew us to say, "Coming out of the gate like a dragster in flames intent on setting a land-speed record, this album by an Auckland five-piece is a collision of flat-tack and driving drumming, metal-edge guitar and Yuko Miyoshi's declamatory, yelping post-punk vocals . . .
"Don't let the band name fool you. This is not a comfortable mattress but rather a bed of white-hot nails.”
Also on the label have been Vincent H.L (which left us less impressed), Labretta Suede and the Motel 6 and Hallelujah Picassos.
And Sin City of whom we said, “Sin City casually weld classic American stadium rock, finger-snap Mink DeVille (Hold On Little Girl), Jersey Shore rock'n'soul (Turn Out the Light) and more on this debut with telling song titles: Hanging From the Branches Above (a dust-blown hanged-man narrative); Belly of the Beast (rockabilly); Pissin' in the Wind and Bandit of Love (the latter with a false start and hollers).
“Things I Left Behind could be a Gram Parsons-Keith Richards' throwaway rehearsal from the Stones' Exile period”.
The label was founded almost a decade ago by Kim Martinengo (the Blunts, Gaytime and King Kaiju, the latter on the label) and David Perry (that is Dr David to you, “radiologist by day, punk record label owner by night”.
They have released 7 and 10 inch singles but albums – just the economies of production and distribution – is the focus and already the catalogue is substantial.
Other than those mentioned there are releases by Drab Doo Riffs, the Cavemen, Na Noise, Bloodbags, Tooms, Echo Ohs . . .
It's all hands on, 40 percent of the albums pressed go back to the artists to sell and it is an on-going project of capturing punk energy by local bands who have built a following live.
And to that we would say, "And why not?"
More power to 1:12 who -- with courageous and enjoyable self-indulgence -- are getting out music which would otherwise go unnoticed and unheralded.
Good on 'em.
It's telling that the label's logo is Rangitoto exploding.
You can hear and buy albums and releases on 1:12 Records here