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31 August, 2013

Prophet Hens Spanish review

There's a review of the Prophet Hens album, which is available from the Occultation Shop, which you can see in the original Spanish here.

Alternately, you can read a rough translation of it below:

"The Prophet Hens are a group from Dunedin, New Zealand and they sound just as good as every other group from Dunedin, New Zealand. Their songs are full of the same hedonistic, melodic spirit as The Bats, those same nimble, lovable Flying Nun guitars that were such a key part of the indie-pop concept. If we follow the invisible threads that run through the history of pop, we’re whisked off on a trip from the wonderful 1980s in New Zealand then all the way back to the Antipodes, this time with The Prophet Hens, who could re-conquer the universe in a perfect, inexhaustible combo with Boomgates, Dick Diver or Pop Singles. Popular People Do Popular People, their first record, released on Fishrider Records, is made up of little songs for a world that feels enormous to them, and these are exactly the kind of songs the world needs.

On the other side of the world

Over on the other side of the world, there’s a whole load of exciting bands who've been carrying on polishing pop music to a sheen for the last couple years or so. These are the heirs not just to the Dunedin Sound, but also the Sound of Young Scotland, The Triffids and The Go-Betweens and all the myriad C86 groups. As luck would have it, the current jangle pop revival comes at a time when the classics of the canon are merely being repeated over and over again, and its best and most brilliant groups seem to come from Australia and now from New Zealand. This is no coincidence because, back in the day a handful of key bands came from over there, explaining the sound of a generation which totally rejected synthesisers or stadium rock and instead went in for introspection, the sublimation of adolescent feeling and the melodies of The Byrds. This is where The Prophet Hens come from and it’s a background we’ve discussed many times before on these pages.

There’s a scene, and there’s a good reason for this conscious, constant acclaim for anything that comes from the other side of the world. These are nimble, magical hedonistic songs best heard behind the bedroom door. As Alex told you when he was talking about the first record by the equally wonderful Boomgates, The Prophet Hens are the kind of group everyone should discover in some forgotten corner of the Internet, on a cassette lost in a trunk full of souvenirs belonging to some friend or via an odd recommendation made during a conversation rooted in memory. This is a group who’ve turned the usual verse and chorus played with guitar, bass and drums into a raison d’ĂȘtre, and this is why all of the songs on Popular People Do Popular People drag me out away from telling the story of my own quiet yet deliciously dramatic everyday life; not in the same way as the everyday stories of Hospitality, whose second record we are awaiting with open arms, but more pop, younger and more carefree.

From everyday people to the same old faces

Even so, all this comes with an intense laconicism which distances them from other less common influences on the genre such as The Ocean Party, and reminds me a lot of the youthful emotion – both sad and happy at the same time - put across by the songs of Twerps or Pop Singles. However, when it comes to mentioning influences, we need to look at the very groups which put Dunedin on the international map: the harmonious, jangling melodies of The Bats along with the hint of artiness of The Verlaines live on in the songs of The Prophet Hens. They also mention The Chills, although we’d also refer you to the Submarine Bells, and The Clean, whose pop essence is splashed over many of the tracks on Popular People Do Popular People. The Prophet Hens have the virtues (and the faults, we mustn’t forget that this is still pop) of all of these, mixed together and shaken up into brilliant passages full of happiness and melancholy, as addictive and unusual as ‘Pretty’ or the fabulous ‘All Over The World’.

The opening four songs are unbeatable although the final stretch is a little on the repetitive side. The record isn’t round – bit of a surprise, that  - but since when did records matter in pop music? The important thing has always been the songs, and those of The Prophet Hens are surrounded by a halo of youthful mysticism which I’ve not found in any other group this year. I’ve fallen for them because they’re from Dunedin and they make the kind of music I’ve always fallen in love with, but I think everyone should try at least a mouthful of their cake. The Prophet Hens are all about going back to an age when nothing mattered too much, a time when every group seemed the most special in the universe and you could hear palpitations of pure childish ingenuity in the chords of their songs pealing in your ears."

06 August, 2013

Wild Swans news: In-Store appearance at Rough Trade East to promote reissues

We can announce that, on Friday 4th October 2013, there'll be a special in-store appearance at Rough Trade East in London to mark the reissues of two Wild Swans albums on vinyl. These are The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years and Incandescent, both making their first appearance in 2xLP format. Further details will follow nearer the time.