David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights (modern OOP classic)
Mar 12, 2006 at 10:23 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3

Davey

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Why does this happen? You can buy literally tens of thousands of in print CDs that probably have no more value than the plastic in their cases, yet such a nice collection of songs by one of the pioneers in that branch of psychedelic, jangly guitar rock that sprang forth in the 70s from a mix of the Byrds and Buffalo Sprigfield and the Beatles, and toughened up with a little Velvet Underground drone aesthetic, is allowed to fade away from obscurity to near unobtainium.

Quite a few bands ran with that sound, but none really any better than the early Clean from New Zealand, David Kilgour and his brother Hamish and an assortment of others. Their first single "Tally Ho" is one of the true lost gems of rock n roll. Not sure they ever really quite matched that level of fun and charm again as they moved more into the jangle-rock sound, and less into the early Who rave-up sound, but Merge put out a 2-disc anthology that collects all those early songs and it's a great listen. And the second disc has most of Vehicle, and quite a bit from the mid 90s reunion albums too. All the early stuff is pretty lo-fi, but essential nonetheless for any jangle & drone rock fan. Lots of the sound that Yo La Tengo later became (listen to "Point That Thing Somewhere Else"). And blueprints for many other bands, including more recent faves of mine like the short-lived Life Without Buildings (just listen to the song "Side On") as well as indie stalwarts like Pavement. Highly influential.

But on to the modern classic. A few years ago a buddy from New Zealand sent me a copy of the 1997 solo album from David Kilgour titled David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights, released on Flying Nun in NZ but I don't think it ever got a US release. And I totally loved it, so grabbed up his latest at the time called A Feather In The Engine, which had just come out in the US on Merge Records. And now I also have his latest called Frozen Orange, and all the others before 1997, and I do love them all, but the one I come back to over and over is that self-titled one from 1997 that is now sadly out of print, and has been for awhile. It's one of those albums that I've listened to many, many times over the last few years and never tire of. One I can listen to all day. That everpresent VU influence is always there, but not to the point of sounding like them. More like the Feelies and Chills (whose Martin Phillipps is a sometime member of the Heavy Eights) type sound, along with some of that Dream Syndicate and Steve Wynn sound I like so much. Great guitar work and kind of psychedelic sounding, mixed with that jangle sound of the other bands mentioned above. Wonderful album. Not one that slaps you in the face and declares its greatness right away, but one that you keep playing long after many others have been forgotten. Similar in some ways to Yo La Tengo (whom they coincidentally thank in the liner notes of A Feather In The Engine), which means that much of the influence comes from the quieter side of the Velvet Underground. Very nice recording too. So if you happen across a copy, don't hesitate
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And some words from the Flying Nun archive ...

After those two albums, David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights comes as close to perfecting the Kilgour sound as you'd want. From the surreal lope of opener, "Round the Bend", into some impressive Neil Young-ish guitarathons including "Diggin' For Gold" and "Cut Me In Half", and a couple of concise little gems thrown in for good measure, David heads further out from the easy melodic flow of those first two albums into a rockier and often enjoyably loose musical terrain.

The album's production by David Kilgour and regular cohort Nick Roughan (Bailterspace, Superette producer) wraps a massive wash of warm alrightness around this set of blissed-out songs. David's guitar plays bandleader throughout, leading Robert Key (drums) and Noel Ward (bass) in each song while his singing mixes soft yearning and a Dylan-like nasal disdain with its calm hold on an opaque lyrical web. Regular bursts of keyboards, guest vocals on the sublime "Locked In Blue" from American singer Barbara Manning, and Greg Johnson's trumpet on "Maybe", add some melodic embellishment and yet more warm layers to the Heavy Eights' solid riffing until the album closes with David at the piano on the instrumental "Tumbalin".
 
Mar 13, 2006 at 12:48 AM Post #2 of 3

Masonjar

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NZ sure had a pretty fertile music scene back in the 80's and into the 90's..

Bailter Space is one of the fine bands from New Zealand that sort of grew out of the same scene.. David Kilgour's brother Hamish was a founding member, the he left after a few albums. They're probably best known for being NZ's answer to My Bloody Valentine, esp. with their 1992 album ROBOT WORLD. However, they went on to explore other areas of sound (more straight up rock) and continued to be one of the great psychedelic/noise rock bands of the 90's.

A couple bands that I really enjoy that have disappeared from the radar are the Straightjacket Fits and the 3-D's. The Fits' 1990 Rough Trade album HAIL is a masterpiece of shimmering guitar and dreamy pop/rock. They did a couple albums after that but to me, never quite matched the combination of atmospheric pop and revved up garage rock.. think maybe Teenage Fanclub meets the Telescopes.. at least as a touchstone.

The 3-D's 1991 album HELLZAPOPPIN is a fun romp through the same territory covered over here by the Pixies and the Flaming Lips. Fuzzed out guitar and sunny sing-along tunes make this another great lost NZ classic from the early 90's.

I just need to get my hands on that Clean anthology now to hear how all this fun started..

-jar
 
Mar 13, 2006 at 2:04 AM Post #3 of 3

Davey

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Masonjar
NZ sure had a pretty fertile music scene back in the 80's and into the 90's..

Bailter Space is one of the fine bands from New Zealand that sort of grew out of the same scene.. David Kilgour's brother Hamish was a founding member, the he left after a few albums. They're probably best known for being NZ's answer to My Bloody Valentine, esp. with their 1992 album ROBOT WORLD. However, they went on to explore other areas of sound (more straight up rock) and continued to be one of the great psychedelic/noise rock bands of the 90's.



Yeah, I didn't really know much about Bailter Space until our old buddy Cornelius of Sunday Puncher brought them to my attention, since they were a big influence on his band, and even produced the one album for them.
 

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