17 Jul 2019
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Mermaidens - Gig Review: Mermaidens @ Neck of the Woods - 13/04/2019

17 Apr 2019 // A review by Lou Clement

It was Record Store Day, and vinyl fans across the country were treated to special events and special releases from musicians who year on year support the event. Across Auckland, independent record stores opened their doors following advertising campaigns on the run up to day. The ethos of Record Store Day is to celebrate the existence of the independent record stores. I salute this and as Empire Records would have it, ‘Damn the Man’. Saturday, 13 April, then was also an ideal time to celebrate a new vinyl release – and this is just what Wellingtonian band Mermaidens planned.

The Mermaidens 7" Release tour took place at Neck of the Woods on Karangahape Road; it was the last of four dates which saw the band perform across New Zealand. It was also my first visit to the venue; it was a good space with the stage easy to see from the back of the room and no queue at the bar.

The most recognisable sound, when I first listened to this band, was their psychedelic influences. It was dream-like owing to the vocals, but it was a little darker at the edges: the drums and guitar rise up throughout the tracks and intermittently overwhelm the breathy singing.

The vocals I’d initially considered folk-like were different live. Opening with Lizard from their 2017 album Perfect Body, there was a feeling of expert synergy between band members. There was also an ethereal and soulful vocal delivery. This was a band whose live performance felt purposefully polished and well-practiced, a joy to watch.

Live, I liked the way the lyrics and instruments interlinked in the performance, as if in conversation with one another. There’s the influence of grunge and metal at times, in the energetic drums. It sounds a little strange, but it made me think of an emotional fearlessness.

Another highlight of the performance was the new single You Maintain The Stain. To me, there’s obvious poetry to their lyric writing. I love it. It’s sludge-infused at times. Reading about the band’s interpretation of lyrics: there was a political bent. I enjoyed the sound, jarring, off centre, slipping from a slow paced punk feel to riffy and drum heavy moments all overlaid with feminine vocals which, in totality, I can only call original.

There were intriguing percussion and bass arrangements and I could see the influence of electronic motifs in late twentieth century music. The closing track for the gig was Cold Skin it was an atmospheric track which ultimately delivered the same slightly unsettling, echo-laden sound which make the complex and interesting sound of this band a must see live for fans.

Mermaidens continue to tour internationally in May 2019, their next listed gigs include London, Brighton and Berlin.

 

About Mermaidens

The earliest sketches of Wellington trio Mermaidens, follows the story arch of how most bands start; through long-term friendship and bonding over music that shaped their salad days. For Mermaidens, it was an eclectic melting pot of PJ Harvey, Warpaint and Fugazi to name a few.

Together, childhood friends Gussie Larkin (guitar/vocals), Lily West (bass/vocals) and Abe Hollingsworth (drums) form a powerful trinity of unwavering creativity and relentless work ethic. Their time together as Mermaidens has been a fruitful one; a timeline consisting of two critically acclaimed albums, being signed to iconic indie label Flying Nun Records, and a wide range of live supports that include Sleater Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, Lorde, Mac DeMarco and The Veils.

The internationally acclaimed Perfect Body (which drew a 2018 Taite Music Prize nomination) saw their circle of influence expand to a new, global audience. With its progressive and cinematic stylings on angular post-punk and grunge, Gold Flake Paint said the record “should prove to be one of the summer’s most brilliant long-players," while long-time music critic Graham Reid of Elsewhere confirmed it as “a real listening experience.” Clash Magazine praised the record for its “Noisy, scratchy, enigmatic songwriting.” But perhaps it was God Is In The TV that explained the commanding presence of the record best by saying “I can quite believe that some of their tracks have mystical properties.”

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mermaidens

Releases

Look Me In The Eye
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Perfect Body
Year: 2017
Type: Album
O
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Bones
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Demo
Year: 2012
Type: EP

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