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March 17, 2014 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Clap Clap Riot: Nobody / Everybody Gig and Album Review

New Zealand indie rock hasn’t changed much since the days of Split Enz. It is still comprised of guitar-centric songs featuring dudes singing about girls they met in high school. This lack of ‘progress’ within such a popular genre has led a lot of listeners to ask one specific question when a new New Zealand indie-rock album comes out: so what?

That response is entirely applicable to Clap Clap Riot’s latest disc Nobody / Everybody. The songs may be magnificently melodic, but so is everything else streaming live through your preferred music device. The lyrics are angsty and relatable – “ you better ask my girl if we can be together” – but so is the average teenager’s first attempt at writing a blog. Even the band’s lead vocalist, Stephen, admits the band has “always been into music of that era (1960s rock’n’roll) so it was nothing new.”

But…

The album – along with their latest live performance at Puppies – doesn’t present anything ‘new’, so therefore anyone capable of musical criticism should be full of disdain, embarrassed to call these kids members of the New Zealand music community. Yet their music is just so freaking FUN.

Nobody / Everybody belongs in the film Risky Business. It belongs on your Workout playlist. It belongs in the background of a pre-town drinks gathering. It is a ‘solid’, loyal album, reliable in its ability to quicken heartbeats and linger in your eardrums long after the speakers have been turned off.

Part of the reason for the album’s success is probably the excellent production; their first LP, Counting Spins (2012), might as well have been recorded on Garage Band. Guitarist Dave Rowland says the band was “definitely a lot more organised with what we wanted production-wise. The main plan of attack was to get a very live honest feel for the record.” They achieve this goal in absolute Sir-Ed-climbs-Everest style.

What the production of this album offers is ease of listening. An often underrated asset in recorded music, over-ambitious production which tries to achieve symphonic complexity within the space of each three-minute song is distracting. It detracts from great lyrics, catchy riffs, and danceable beats. Conversely, Nobody / Everybody features simple songs which are memorable and inoffensive, thus suiting any mood you could possibly be in while listening to music.

It has been playing on repeat in my bedroom.

Then there is Clap Clap Riot’s live performance. As suggested above, their gig last Saturday at Puppies was pretty standard. The music was loud. The lead guitarist had long hair which was aesthetically entertaining. The crowd got drunk (two girls in particular) and occasionally waved their hands in the air like they just didn’t care.

While their gig was pretty average, what saved it from being below average was the venue. The small stage which the musicians could hardly all fit on made the audience want to snuggle up to them, allowing us to get close enough to see the sweat slipping through the guitarist’s spiderweb of hair. While a bigger stage might have allowed the band to jump around a bit more, a larger floor space would have made the audience feel awkward and exposed. In other words, bravo Puppies, and bravo the band’s managers.

This review has been confusing, but hopefully the following numerical data clarifies things:

Album: 4/5

Gig: 2.5/5

——

Blink’s five favourite Blink-182 songs:

1. ‘Waggy’

2. ‘Anthem’

3. ‘Man Overboard’

4. ‘Pathetic’

5. ‘Carousel’

Three albums we’ll review next week, promise:

1. Metronomy – Love Letters

2. Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better

3. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love

We’re now on Twitter! Follow for songs when they actually come out, rather than a week and a half later @salient_music

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