The Clean with Times New Viking @ Brighton Music Hall in Boston, June 04, 2012
The record label Flying Nun will always be linked to New Zealand music and an essential piece of that country’s musical heritage, and though other bands sold more records and had a higher profile, The Clean is the band that embodies the spirit and resilience of the label as well as anyone else. It’s a bit dizzying to think that they’ve come this far, well into phase two (post-Vehicle, the 1990 release that heralded the end of their several year silence) with five studio LPs and a smattering of live recordings that now dwarf the handful of releases they put out during the 1981-82 years.
The amphetamine slash of David Kilgour’s guitar is wholly intact, and can equally bridge the distances between fuzzed out psych lines and razor sharp surf riffs; maybe it helps that he actually surfs. The physical distance between himself and brother Hamish is vast (David and Robert Scott still live in New Zealand, whereas Hamish has made NYC his home for quite some time), but they still have that psychic connection that brothers in a band possess, and clicked in every single song. Hamish’s drumming style belies a vast familiarity with Moe Tucker’s work, but he can stretch out and tighten as required. “Fish” and “Getting Older” in particular showed a bit of groove that I never took away from those songs before. Scott’s sweet vocals and pop leanings that are apparent via The Bats were a nice leavening effect with “Secret Place,” the calm and soothing bits between the whitecaps.
The last time I saw The Clean, Times New Viking were also the band on stage just previously, at the Matador 21 blow-out. They’ve since jumped ship to the same label as The Clean (Merge), and again make a nice pair for a tour. The sing/shout antics of keyboardist Beth Murphy and drummer Adam Elliott blended perfectly with the serrated edge of Jared Phillips’ guitar attack. Who needs lo-fi when there’s no-fi?