A weekly series in which people are asked to write about bands that have affected them, but haven’t quite made the same impact on the wider world. This week’s guest author: Nestor Watach of Don’t Make Lists:
Forget physics and astronomy, think Einstein pioneered the theory of relativity most in relation to hipsterism. There will be, genuinely, be people out there who would describe mumford & sons fans as somehow indie or hipster, just like at the other end of the spectrum there’ll be those who see listening to muslimgauze and jandek as the mark of someone with unadventurous, MOR taste – I’m not sure which is more ridiculous. It’s this principle that makes me struggle with words like overexposed and underappreciated because it’s such a subjective thing. (Well, duh). Originally I was planning to write about Surf City, who whilst I think are genuinely the most exciting guitary indie band on the planet, I couldn’t go ten words without mentioning who they owe everything to, New Zealand’s legendary The Clean.
In recent years due to trends and scenes and whathaveyou, there’s been a retrospective wave of appreciation for them, with notables such as MGMT, Broken Social Scene and Times New Viking covering Clean tracks, the latter’s endearingly scuzzy pop vibes owing a lot to New Zealand’s finest. And that influence stretches so much further Columbus, Ohio; look at more or less any support band on a London Upset The Rhythm bill, or Beijing’s Carsick Cars, or – while it would be false to suggest that The Clean were the inventors of that style as we know it, they were the first band to really perfect it.
And yet, they don’t have ten percent of the widespread love for say, Guided By Voices or Pavement, neither of whom possess less bona fide classics in their back catalogue and yet owe so much, both paying respect by covering tracks on 1997 compilation God Save The Clean, alongside the likes of Calexico, Scooter (no not that one) and fellow kiwi alumni Chris Knox and Alastair Galbraith. My favourite thing about Pavement curating ATP was the feeling of inevitability that they’d ask The Clean to play, and yet more inevitable, that their live set would go down as my favourite moment of 2010 alongside a certain Jermaine Beckford goal (ahem). Drunk, excitedly hearing hit after hit, with a good 20 or so people (out of a few hundred) down the front with the same adoration and excitement was more or less perfect. But honestly, they deserved the thousands who were there just 24 hours earlier for the festival’s headliners.
The thing that makes the band my finest discovery is just the gateway potential they’ve got, with New Zealand having a ridiculous musical history. Not only is there Flying Nun records, home to bands such as The Verlaines, The Chills and 3Ds but also the label’s darker twin brother, home to noisier experimental stuff like The Dead C, This Kind Of Punishment and The Terminals, though the two had a lot of overlap. God save The Clean.
Don’t Make Lists is the kind of blog that you wish you’d have started yourself, even if you’d have never been able to carry it off with the same swagger. Last year, Nestor counted down the best 365 songs of the last decade, posting one each day. this year, he’s doing it on the 90’s, and it just gets better. There’s also the occasional guest mix from the likes of Solar Bears, Parenthetical Girls and Freddy Ruppert. It makes you wonder what on earth you’re doing with your own writing, but then again, all the best blogs do. Daily viewings are highly recommended, if only to remember some forgotten classics/pick up some gems that you missed the first time round.