Restored Downloads

Good news for those of you who missed the boat before some of our albums were taken down! All of the albums that are filed under "Best of The Best" on the right hand side have now been restored. Hopefully our new provider Divshare will last a lot longer than Media Fire did.

If you are looking to have other past posts restored, let me know in the comments page. I will restore the first 5 requests that I get. After that, this blog will be all about moving forward with new posts.

Sometime before the end of next week a best of Kiwi Tapes collection will be posted, I promise that it will make the Flying Nun collection obsolete.

The Clean - Anthology

While Split Enz came first and hit bigger worldwide, one could argue that there would be no New Zealand rock scene as it is known today if it weren't for the Clean; the sainted Flying Nun label was formed to put out their debut single, their willingness to go the D.I.Y. route in recording their early material set the standard for any number of bands (Kiwi and otherwise), and their playful yet aggressive mixture of pop hooks, jagged guitar lines, neo-Velvets minimalism, and edgy wit paved the way for the Bats, the Chills, the Verlaines, the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, and a handful of other bands who helped New Zealand develop its own musical identity for the first time. Despite their importance and longevity, the Clean have never been especially well-served on record in the United States; their important early singles and EPs received little circulation in America, and their post-reunion albums have been only sporadically available, thanks to the collapse of several indie labels. Anthology isn't the perfect remedy to this situation, but it comes close; it's a superb overview of the Clean's career, with the classic Boodle Boodle Boodle and Great Sounds EPs included in their entirety on disc one (along with several crucial singles and outtakes), while disc two skims off the cream of the later albums Vehicle, Modern Rock, and Unknown Country (four outtakes from the Modern Rock sessions are thrown in for good measure). A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to an important and influential band, Anthology will also fill in plenty of gaps in the collections of American fans; anyone with more than a passing interest in the Clean will find plenty to revel in here.

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Birchville Cat Motel - s/t

From a bedroom in a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand, Birchville Cat Motel issues forth a steady stream of albums of alternately ghostly and aggressive drone-heavy noise rock. The alter ego of guitarist, songwriter, and producer Campbell Kneale, Birchville Cat Motel is akin to fellow D.I.Y. space rock luminaries like Alastair Galbraith, Roy Montgomery, and the Flying Saucer Attack.

Kneale played in a succession of minor and largely unrecorded indie bands in his native New Zealand from the mid-'80s through the mid-'90s, until a growing interest in the musical properties of feedback and drones -- partially inspired by the appearance of other New Zealand drone rockers like the Dead C, Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos, Gate, Surface of the Earth, and Handful of Dust -- led him to ditch both the bands and pop music entirely. Taking his nonsensical group name from a sign he saw while driving through the small rural town of Birchville, New Zealand, Kneale settled in with his guitars and effects pedals and began recording. Originally, Birchville Cat Motel recordings came out exclusively on hand-dubbed cassettes (later CD-Rs) on Kneale's own Celebrate Psi Phenomenon label. A handful of vinyl singles and EPs began appearing in 1996, including oddities like the 8" square single "Tin Foil Teeth" and a similarly outsized split single with the California improv combo the rhBand. Birchville Cat Hotel's self-titled debut CD was finally released in 1997,

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The Chills - Heavenly Pop Hits: The Best of

Supplanting the earlier Kaleidoscope World as a singles overview of the band, from early days to cuts from Soft Bomb, Heavenly is a great starting point for any Chills newcomer. The opening three songs alone make this a winner -- the title track, a shimmering pop gem, "I Love My Leather Jacket," a poppy Velvet Underground/Krautrockin' salute to deceased drummer Martyn Bull, and "Doledrums," a perverse celebration of collecting unemployment and killing time with a neat clock-chime opening. From there on in its one great highlight after another, sprightliness and beauty tinged with melancholy and gloom in equal amounts, not to mention the quick, brisk surge that colored so many of their tracks ("Oncoming Day," "Never Never Go" and the charging "Look For the Good in Others," presented in a remixed form). "Pink Frost," probably the band's most famous number, is unsurprisingly featured, but that's merely the tip of the iceberg, especially when it comes to the earlier songs like "Kaleidoscope World" itself and "Rolling Moon." Concluding with later winners like "Part Past Part Fiction" and "Male Monster From the Id," Heavenly Pop Hits is, indeed, just that.

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Chris Knox - Beat

Chris Knox's ever-productive career shows no signs of slowing down with Beat, just over 70 minutes (counting some silence and a wiggy bonus track) of his own merrily tweaked take on psych-pop and rock, glowing with all the warm and rough energy that's made him a deserved legend. That the album starts with "It's Love" -- perhaps not as scintillating as "Not Taken Lightly," but no less affecting in its sentiments and armed with a killer piano party -- sets the tone for the rest of the album. It's not that he's not avoiding other sentiments, to be sure -- one of the album's subtitles is "the hopeful heart of rage," and while Beat hardly drips with anger, it does have feistiness in spades. "Ghost," the brilliant, energetic rocker that nearly closes the album, details a lingering spirit that's sharp, evil, and in the end all too human. Love itself gets a raking over the coals -- at least in terms of the commercialized and fetishized sense -- with "What Do We Do With Love?" a sprightly and ever more fleshed out arrangement, and Knox's wry singing combining just so. Knox's gift for doing what he wants just how he wants it is everywhere, whether it's with the giddy waltz swing of "The Man in the Crowd," the witty and distinctly unfunereal-sounding "When I Have Left This Mortal Coil," and the slow-building crawl from pulsing bass to wistful country-rock meditation "Becoming Something Other." Some tracks really show his roots with affection -- "My Only Friend" in particular has a harmonized mid-song break that's pure Beatles (and could easily rival it). The Salvation Army Horns (aka Neill Duncan and Kingsley Melhuish) add some peppy arrangements at points, but otherwise it's just Knox and his abilities on display, and once again he does the business.

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The Dead C - World Peace Hope et al

Having had a varied and peripatetic enough recording career to well warrant it, Dead C put out this collection of odds and sods from throughout its career via a British label in 1994. Ranging from everything from early cassette-only numbers to a couple of wholly new cuts, World Peace Hope, named after three of the album's cuts, is a useful and often striking enough example of Dead C's curious, compelling art. Short, fragmentary numbers and extended jams are the basic rule of the day, with a few otherwise finding a middle ground here and there. Those who find Harsh 70s Reality the band's high point will jump for the two outtakes featured here, each easily strong enough to have been on that album. Opening number "Stars" features simple but effective drumming from Yeats mixed with a queasy organ sound and, naturally, the trio's trademark guitar squall, resulting in a surprisingly emotional, melancholy effort. As is often the case, the most striking results combine relative user friendliness with the intentionally muddy, non-crisp recording and delivery, as songs like the strong "Fire" demonstrate. Then there's the trio's considerable live power, as the steady thrash and sprawl through "Helen," taken from the Xpressway Vision video, shows. A variety of guest performers and assistants crop up throughout -- New Zealand music legend Peter Jefferies is on two tracks, admittedly only as engineer. An interesting meeting of the minds occurs on the brief "Abscheid," a track recorded for Bananafish magazine -- Alistair Galbraith contributes his recognizable violin work, while a sample from an unknown Nico/John Cale piece, heavily distorted and treated, loops through the song. Another track similarly features Patti Smith used to similarly unexpected ends.

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The Dead C - White House

And indeed, there it is on the cover. There's not much in the way of commentary or anything about that, though, so either call it a wry Kiwi joke at the Yanks' expense or just something that looked nice enough to use. Consisting of six tracks of unsurprisingly varying length -- fairly short or totally long -- in ways The White House is Dead C as per usual and in others a bit of a diversion from the usual form. Notably, there's evidence of relatively more production -- while it's hardly hard-disk billion-track digital sound or the like, there's effect pedals galore and senses of very careful arrangement as opposed to simply upping the shadowy, crumbling sound factor. Further keyboards and other strange noises from who knows where also slip into things. The off-kilter tones and noises on "The New Snow" sound a bit like Perry and Kingsley going nuts, at least here and there, while the usual noise, fuzz and detuned strangeness skips around the mix. Then there's the minute long "Aime to Prochain Comme toi meme," which could be anything from minimal guitars to kalimba. At the same time, there's songs like the majestic "Bitcher," with a just-epic enough swoop to it, sticking to a big and bold sound along with some heavy-duty flanging throughout on the lead guitar. Morley's vocals, when they appear, are much more cryptic and hard to understand than ever, almost providing a hook here and there. Absolutely no credits are provided beyond song listings, so if anyone helped, that's a mystery -- otherwise it's clearly the three doing once again what needs doing in Dead C land. Ending with one of the band's best ever songs -- the steady, addictive pace and surge of "Outside" -- The White House is another fine effort from New Zealand's best kept secret.

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Blam Blam Blam - The Complete Discography

Here is an outstanding NZ post-punk group who seems to take a lot of cues from bands like The Talking Heads & The Clash. They are most well known for their single "There Is No Depression In New Zealand". This is one my favorite posts in a while, highly recomended.

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The Gordons - Volume Two

After receiving many requests, I finally tracked this little bugger down. Here is the much talked about second album from The Gordons, I have very little info in this album, if any of you guys could track anything down, please send it over.

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