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YEAR IN REVIEW: FLYING NUN RECORDS + ARCH HILL RECORDINGS

Matthew Davis Arch Hill Flying Nun Flying Out

It's the end of the year, which means we get to write a big list to show off all the cool stuff we made this year...

It has been a busy year here for Flying Nun and Arch Hill. Indeed, it turns out between us we have had 15 releases this year. If my maths serves me right, that is more than one a month. Whew. In between we set up our Flying Nun New York officeBailterspace reformed, played some shows in New Zealand and released a new album! Snapper also re-assembled again for a few live shows!! While The Bats headed off on a 12-date US tour.

Plus, we built and released our new store - Flying Out. Not only did it provide employment for Kenneth, it also offered an online home for our releases - as well as our friends and other albums we like. It's been alive and writhing for nearly six months now and we are pretty happy with how it is going - plus we have some interesting plans and improvements next year.... Oh, yes we do.
 

Snapper EPSNAPPER - SNAPPER EP
(12" EP + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - MARCH

This year's first re-issues as part of the Flying Nun - Captured Tracks partnership were two EPs for Record Store Day. One of them being this gem, Snapper's 1988 self-titled debut EP. This 12” vinyl re-issue is an exact replica of the release, and comes with a copy of the original A3 Snapper EP poster.

"The most remarkable part of this release is how assured Snapper sound, how complete their vision was right out of the gate. "Buddy" and "Hang On" are expertly constructed kraut-pop songs from long before that term was coined, both laden with vocal hooks and compelling organ lines." - Pitchfork, 7.5

BUY HERE

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THE BATS - BY NIGHT
(12" EP + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - MARCH

The other Flying Nun EP re-issued for Record Store Day, The Bats – By Night, was made available again for the first time in nearly 30-years. Released on limited edition 12” vinyl, this re-issue is an exact replica of the band’s debut six-track EP. One, that established The Bats driving, jangly sound that would go on to form a major part of the Flying Nun catalogue and find an audience around the world. Can we call it a classic? Yes, we can.

"By Night‘s title track is a highlight of the release and the Bats’ early career overall. Furious strumming of an acoustic guitar add the percussive propulsion needed to elevate the lofty refrain “don’t tell anyone what you’ve seen here.”  - PopMatters

BUY HERE

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Badd Energy - Underwater Pyramids

BADD ENERGY - UNDERWATER PYRAMIDS
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - MARCH

Flying Nun's first new release of the year, Badd Energy's second album is filled with psychedelia-tinged fantasy. Kicking out motley jams, blending stoner-swamp riffs with laid back 808 raps, Underwater Pyramids hurtles listeners through a kaleidoscopic world of noize and rage.

Featuring Coco Solid, anti-apathy riot songs and complete with some of the trippiest videos this side of the astral plane. Who said Flying Nun was just all jangly guitars? BA-ZING! 

BUY HERE

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The Clean - VehilceTHE CLEAN - VEHICLE
(2xLP, CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - JULY 

The Clean's - Vehicle was their first full length record, and the first LP we re-issued this year with Captured Tracks.Released in 1990, it is one of the catchiest, most insistent pop records from the Flying Nun discography. Melody Maker at the time described it as; “so joyous, so completely unaffected and unpretentious it’s absurd.” While, the recent Pitchfork review (8.4) highlights the re-issue; "...remains just as engaging and immediate as it was 20 years back".

Re-issued on Double LP and CD, it also includes the bonus live EP In-A-Live, all presented in a gatefold set with liner notes from the band, photos, posters and a pull out In-A-Live 12" replica sleeve. 

BUY HERE
  

 

Bird Nest Roys Me Want ME GETBIRD NEST ROYS - ME WANT ME GET ME NEED ME HAVE ME LOVE (2xLP, CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - JULY

Born in the hills west of Auckland, New Zealand, the Bird Nest Roys spent a long time evolving into an intelligent life-form before being discovered by the public at large in 1985. A big band by NZ standards - with six members - their full discography has been packaged up for your listening convenience on a 2xLP + CD re-issue that includes the Bird Nest Roys’ 1987 self-titled LP, the ‘Whack It All Down’ 12” EP plus bonus recordings.

Me Want Me Get Me Need Me Have Me Love also wins the award for our longest titled release of the year. Congratulations to the Roys.

BUY HERE

  
 

Ghost Wave - Ages
GHOST WAVE - AGES 
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
ARCH HILL RECORDINGS - JULY

It certainly been a busy year for the Auckland band, having Ages recorded and released on a beer bottle, touring the US twice, making the New York Times picks and Top 30 on the CMJ Radio Charts. The brainchild of Matthew L. Paul, the Ghost Wave sound finds itself somewhere between the Flying Nun bands of the ‘80s, the British explosion of the ‘60s and the wayfaring dubs of Lee "Scratch" Perry.

"Ages doesn’t leave a single hair out of place. The poppier songs, sandwiched between the (slightly) extended guitar passages, are pure, uncut sugar...These days it’s no easy feat for a band to differentiate itself from the slough of other guitar-pop bands. You need songs, and Ghost Wave has plenty." - Paste Magazine, 8.1.

BUY HERE

  

 

Transistors - Is This Anything?TRANSISTORS - IS THIS ANYTHING?
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
ARCH HILL RECORDINGS - AUGUST

Rangiora’s finest, the Transistors, released their second album Is This Anything? and first on Arch Hill Recordings this year. And what a little ripper it is. Recorded in the Canterbury music hotbed of Sefton, where the band camped out for a week in a cottage on a farm to track the album. The mighty Bob Frisbee manned the controls, and overdubs were added later at his studio in Auckland. 
For those new to the band, the Transistors are a three piece power pop outfit who met on the first day of high school and picked up instruments soon after.

"What the North Canterbury band have created here is a raw, yet tight and focused "punk de force". NZ Herald 4/5 Stars

BUY HERE

  

 

Sharpie Crows - 12 Omeros

SHARPIE CROWS - 12 OMEROS
(CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - AUGUST

The finest in industrial tropicana from Auckland's, Sharpie Crows, 12 Omeros is the four-piece's debut full-length album. It is the diary of a fevered dream. It contains a love song, a manifesto, memories of past lives, all tinted with the ecstatic nihilism of the seriously ill. Sharpie Crows are the house band of your troubled conscience, and this is their masterpiece. Released on a limited edition CD, which quickly sold out, the album is still available digitally with bonus B-Sides.

"Sharpie Crows are a band who sound completely of themselves, out of time with most other music in 2013 and yet, some how, still completely modern.....12 Omeros demands time, wide ears, an open mind and a willingness to be immersed in both gentle and intense artful indulgence. It embraces discomfort, it nurtures unease and it pours disdain on musical complacency."  - UnderTheRadar.Co.Nz, 8.5.

BUY HERE

   

 

Surf City - We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like ThisSURF CITY - WE KNEW IT WAS NOT GOING TO BE LIKE THIS (LP, CD + DIGITAL)
ARCH HILL RECORDINGS - AUGUST

Surf City's much anticipated second album is exactly what we knew it was going to be - bloody excellent. It continues their love affair with psychedelic, reverb-swathed guitar pop, while the songwriting is stronger, the tunes are hookier and the sound is even more lush. Released on LP, CD and digitally on Arch Hill in August this year, the album features ten glorious tracks of relaxed rhythms, shimmering/droning guitars and disillusioned drawl. 

"Surf City plays with a more confident and reassured sound as the group comes into its own on 'We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This'...With this second effort, Surf City rides waves of fuzz-filled, garage rock and offer up a sunny, warm record to help us squeeze out every last drop of summer." - CMJ Magazine

BUY HERE

  

 

Bailterspace - TrinineBAILTERSPACE - TRININE
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
ARCH HILL RECORDINGS - SEPTEMBER

Bailterspace's second album in as many years, it was recorded in New York prior to their last album, Strobosphere and features all three original members - Alister ParkerJohn Halvorsen and Bent McLachlan. Further cementing their deserved reputation as one of the loudest bands of all time, Trinine unleashes another set of thundering psychgaze songs. One customer review put it like this;

"Trinine" is one of the best things that happenned in 2013... This one is probably one of the best album from the best band in the world! "Trinine" makes me think to "Robot World" or sometimes "Wammo". A masterpiece!"  - 5 Stars. Couldn't have said it better myself!

BUY HERE

  

  

Skeptics - Skeptics IIISKEPTICS - SKEPTICS III
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - NOVEMBER

Skeptics III is one of two Flying Nun re-issues coinciding with the release of the documentary, ‘Sheen of Gold’, which tells the story of Palmerston North post-punk pioneers the SKEPTICS. 

Released in 1987, Skeptics III was their third album and first album recorded in Wellington with guitarist John Halvorson and producer/drummer Brent McLaughlin (both of Gordons, Bailterspace). Now re-mastered and available again in it's original LP format.

"Even at this distance there is a terrible sense of menace and oppressive claustrophobia to 'Affco' and 'Feeling Bad' which open Skeptics III...It is an extraordinary album best enjoyed loud and in near darkness."  - Elsewhere.

BUY HERE

  
 

SKEPTICS - AMALGAM
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - NOVEMBER

The other SKEPTICS re-issue for the year, was also their final album recorded shortly before front man and songwriter David D’Ath’s tragic death from leukemia. Released in 1990, it shows the SKEPTICS at their best. Dark, brooding and surrounded by a wall of sound, Amalgam combines traditional instrumentation with electronic sounds and highlights a band that was at the forefront of alternative music in NZ. 

Powerfully spellbinding, I remember first listening to it on a grey, gale-force day in Wellington, it was nothing of this world. It changed my taste in music forever. And for the better. 

BUY HERE

  

 

T54 - In Brush ParkT54 - IN BRUSH PARK
(CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - NOVEMBER

Another Christchurch three-piece with a great new release this year. T54's debut album In Brush Park bombards in a haze of guitars, textured vocals and a vicious rhythm section. 
The album sees the trio teamed up with Tom Bell (David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights), recording ten songs in the iconic Dunedin venue, Sammys. In Brush Park, simultaneously scathes, soothes and shatters and is completed by the other-worldly artwork by Leo Beckett.



"Christchurch’s T54 ramp up the scuzzy sheen on their debut long-player 'In Brush Park' to storming effect. The seemingly incongruous juxtaposition is effectively showcased on opener 'Nails Painted' – taking shoegaze mannerisms into the gutter."TheMusic.Com.Au (4 Stars)

BUY HERE

  

 

Surf Friends - Endorphins

SURF FRIENDS - ENDORPHINS
(CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - NOVEMBER

Flying Nun's last new release of the year comes in the form of Auckland froth dogs, Surf Friends. Showering listeners with washed out guitars, motorik rhythms, and sun-drenched synths, Endorphins has enough positive energy to make Tony Robbins seem despondent. Produced by Nick Roughan (Skeptics) with some cameos from David Kilgour (The Clean), it's an album filled with dreamy pop hooks, sonic haze, blissful guitars and looped grooves.

"'Mexico', almost entirely instrumental, surges, pulses and throbs in all it’s hypnotic glory and is a stand out track, in the sea (excuse the pun) of really great tunes that make up this record. These guys can write songs." - CheeseOnToast, 8.5

BUY HERE

  

 

Verlaines - Hallelujah All The Way HomeVERLAINES - HALLELUJAH - ALL THE WAY HOME
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - DECEMBER

The final releases of the year come in the form of two Verlaines re-issues. Starting with their 1985 debut album, Hallelujah - All The Way Home, an album that defined both the Dunedin band's style and much of the 'Flying Nun sound'. Grounded in songwriter Graeme Downes’ innate and inventive sense of melody, at the heart of these 8 songs are magnificent tales of drunkards and romantics all punctuated by guitar blasts and instrumental flourishes. Released as a gatefold vinyl with the original release poster. 

BUY HERE

  

 

Verlaines - Juvenilia

THE VERLAINES - JUVENILIA
(LP, CD + DIGITAL)
FLYING NUN RECORDS - DECEMBER

The second Verlaines reissue is the 1987 compilation of their early singles and EPs, Juvenilia. Opening with the irrepressible ‘Death and the Maiden’, a song archetypal of the group’s deft ability to wield a pop hook, it is the perfect introduction to one of NZ's great bands. It's a constant display of the unstoppable songwriting skills of vocalist/guitarist Graeme Downes. From single Pyromaniac through to their perfect love song ‘Joed Out’Juvenilia is filled with all the elegant and often magnificently moody elements of the Verlaines.

BUY HERE

  

(UN)RELATED RELEASES:

While they didn't come out under the Flying Nun or Arch Hill banner as such, there were some other releases by musicians closely associated that we thought deserved a quick and honourable mention;

    • Street Chant released a free digital EP - Isthmus of One Thousand Lovers - which included a classic kiwiana cover and this video here.
    • Led by Joe Sampson from T54 - Christchurch label Melted Ice Cream released a sick digital compilation of the city's finest music.
    • Peter Jefferies (This Kind of Punishment) brilliant solo record - The Last Great Challenge in A Dull World - was re-issued by American label De-Stijl, we have some copies available here.
    • Speaking of Peters and solo albums, another in the form of Peter Gutteridge's (Snapper) 1989 release 'Pure' is about to be re-issued - we are expecting this one any day now.
And coming up in 2014.....now that would just be telling now wouldn't it...XX


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