Chris Wilson is a Generation X office monkey who works on the eleventh floor of a central business district high rise in central Wellington. When he is not exchanging his time and labour for monetary reward Chris enjoys thinking about ideas, ranting, reading books made of paper and is the front man for Wellington “eclectotronica” three piece Gold Medal Famous.
Gold Medal Famous has been making avant-garde pop since their first gig at Arc Café in Dunedin in mid 2008 and has had the same line up since 2010. They have guitars, analogue and digital synths, a laptop, cornet, hand percussion, vocals and a theremin. Gold Medal Famous is signed to New Zealand’s busiest indie label Powertool Records who are based in Auckland. Gold Medal Famous is based in Wellington, which is no longer the home of BBQ reggae in New Zealand.
Chris’s pet hates include the incorrect use of the term surreal, Six60, the feelers, the production palate of Joel Little, the Wellington music mafia, rich people that dress like poor people and play “old time” music, slavish technically proficient 70s style retro rockers, the phrase “don’t be a hater” and people that don’t put an apostrophe in the word “don’t”.
Gold Medal Famous is playing with Tietz Syndrome, Cliché Guevara & Glass Eye and The Carnies at Puppies (corner Tory and Vivian Street) on Thursday October 24. First act on 9.15pm sharp so turn up before that or miss some good times. Buy some delicious drinks off Blink, of A Low Hum fame, who runs the place. The bands are encouraging people to take annual leave or throw a sickie the day after the show (Friday October 25). This will give the audience a four-day Labour Weekend. Koha entry, that also gets you a ticket to a raffle with some great prizes.
Here are the five albums Chris is loving right now. Get them from your favourite independent record store…
1 – God Speed! You Black Emperor, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven: An incredible behemoth of an album. This album has the most intense build and release, crescendos, field recordings, orchestrations, soaring melodies and ambient drones but is never bloated. It is menacing and ecstatic, subdued and explosive. There is nothing like it. Some people call them post-rock but they are making modern compositions and advancing art. I was so happy to finally see God Speed! You Black Emperor this year in Wellington and in Melbourne. It was great.
2 – The Sproutts, Man, Woman & Machine: The Sproutts took indie rock in different directions, imagining pop music from alternate futures. If you like literate, well arranged indie pop you’re in luck with this album. Front man Chris Howard is one of the finest lyricists in the country in a lineage of great songwriters like Don McGlashan and Chris Knox. He’s now the singer-guitarist for Model Train Wreck (based in Auckland) who are also cool and worth seeing live. I’m told a debut album is on the way.
Check out the vicious violin playing of Thomas Liggett adding grit to the mix, all the players are great. The Sproutts are sadly defunct. For all the historical information about The Sproutts prior to Man, Woman & Machine, refer here. But we can still enjoy this video for the title track of this album.
3 – Low, The Great Destroyer: Low are one of the best bands in the world. Their music is melodious and noisy, comforting and challenging and endlessly listenable. When my mate Dave played the first single from this album (Canada) I was hooked. The slow core pioneers from Duluth, Minnesota had sped up and started to rock out in a noisy way. Producer Dave Fridman (from Flaming Lips and well know from his excellent production work with bands like Mogwai and The Delgados) adds an essential element to this album, creating a lovely textured ambience. Favourite track? When I Go Deaf. A live highlight when I saw then a couple of years ago at San Francisco Bath House in Wellington. Low even played my favourite track Criminal Past from another album, Drums and Guns.
4 – Vorn, Down For It: Vorn is the funniest lyricist in New Zealand right now. His band is excellent and covers the complete pop spectrum. If you don’t have any Vorn in your life right now, do yourself a favour, buy some and go see the Vorn band live. If there were any justice in the world they’d be world famous in NZ and beyond (instead of horrible bands like The Naked and Famous). One day The Vorn band will be able to cash in on fake nostalgia of people who never heard them the first time round.
5 – Mountaineater, Mountaineater: Mountaineater have finally released their debut album after a long gestation. Inevitable comparisons will be drawn with Tristan Dingeman’s other band HDU but as he himself said they are very different beasts. HDU was a band from outer space hurtling through the cosmos harnessing the power of exploding stars, whereas Mountaineater is the sound of the earth, the power of tectonic plates and South Island scenery made flesh in drums, bass, guitar and voice.
As an added bonus here’s the music video for a fantastic Pet Shop Boys song, You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk.