This is my first encounter with the ‘Dunedin Sound’ probably because, like so many music scenes from outside of North America and the UK, it didn’t get much play where I live.
I found myself with a bunch of jangly late ’80s alternative records – or, “indie” according to RYM, though I’m not sure indie existed in 1987 – to choose from for my latest podcast episode and I picked the Bats because of the more roughhewn nature of their sound, and the folky vibe, as opposed to folk-rock, that’s considerably more present on this record (and perhaps in the scene in general) compared to the jangle pop of the UK and the US. (This record feels like it owes a lot more to Fairport Convention than the Byrds, for example.)
The songs are a reasonable set, and some of them stay with me after I finish listening. The recording itself is oddly mixed – or perhaps this comes from not as good technology – with the bass quite prominent for a sound you would think didn’t need so much bass. Scott sounds a little too much like John Cale at times, which is kind of disconcerting.
This is fine and it’s particularly of interest if you listen to ’80s jangle pop and think it sounds too much like the Byrds, or it needs more folk and less polish. But I can’t say I’ve been convinced that I this is a music scene I’ve missed out on.
All tracks written by Robert Scott.
- “Treason” 2:55
- “Sir Queen” 3:25
- “Round And Down” 2:18
- “Take It” 2:30
- “North By North” 4:08
- “Tragedy” 3:00
- “Block Of Wood” 3:12
- “Miss These Things” 3:07
- “Mid City Team” 2:25
- “Some Peace Tonight” 2:53
- “Had To Be You” 3:03
- “Daddy’s Highway”
- Paul Kean (bass, engineer, mixed by)
- Malcolm Grant (drums)
- Robert Scott (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards)
- Kaye Woodward (lead guitar, vocals)
- Alastair Galbraith – violin on “Block of Wood”, “Miss These Things” and “Had To Be You” (though I hear the violin on some different tracks)