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First Move - Single Review: One Hundred Percent

28 Jul 2019 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Palmy is a small town. The six degrees of Kevin Bacon is closer to two steps to your local heroes. It’s possible to know the movers and influencers of your chosen field, without ever meeting them formally. Maybe that’s more reflective of the circles I sit on the perimeter of and my reclusive demeanour.

As a fledgling Palmy survivor, I would semi-frequent the artistic institutions of Mango Music, Radio Control 99.4FM, The Stomach, Governors, and the Rock Shop. Essentially, by happenstance, places loosely associated with the loosely associated $lave Collective. The members of these bogan bands became my local heroes. The end goal of my aspirations and growth.

But then I graduated and got a “real” job, retreating inward from the real world in existential horror, self-incarcerating myself in the walls of my home.

When I emerged from my mind-forged manacles I found that the world had changed. There was a new noise in the city. Band names and venues on posters that I didn’t recognise. Fresh faces of disdain and disillusionment. A new generation of indie rock. New major players, local heroes, the nodes of connecting social circles. Fellow prisoners of Te Papaioea.

Among this new guard are First Move. The band is made of hard hits from that beer guy from the newspaper, voice and strummage of the guy from the Stomach, and bass slapping of that one tutor from Massey.

Facebook tells me the three have 7 mutual friends. There’s your two degrees of separation there. And like my previous heroes, I knew of two of the three before I knew their sound.

Jono was a voice of reason in the local propaganda rag. A stark contrast to the political ramblings of a National supporting lawyer I knew from high school. Someone that seemed relatable enough to listen to.

Lilley I’d met outside an ill-fated Brown (now Ha The Unclear) gig on Broadway. He was the embodiment of a previously unobserved new type of cool on that night. Something that seemed out of place in what I understood Palmy to be. An entity from a clique I couldn’t classify with my 90's understanding of social groups. Neither Goth, Punk, nor Stoner, but immediately identified as sitting above the boy racers and meth heads I usually encountered.

It feels strange to say One Hundred Percent, the lead single from their sophomoric Provincial Blight EP feels like the Palmy I see. Some kind of onomatopoeia, but instead a sound for a feeling, not a word for a sound. The soundtrack of a town largely ignored for not being Auckland or Wellington. An isolated urban sprawl surrounded by farmland. A pit stop not a destination, be it for university before the real world, or for Wendy’s and a piss before Napier. The hopelessness you feel walking down the homeless encrusted streets. It has the ironic sarcasm you develop growing up in a place like this. That description of a decaying world, punctuated by our nation’s slogan; 100% clean.

If you’ve never been to Palmy, that all sounds a bit like Alice in Chains. Grungy, with distorted bass and ringy open chords, progressively building to a peak. Heavier than Soda Boyz, lighter than Churlington, more pessimistic and nihilistic than Crackpot Theory.

This period will be looked back upon by those left to care as the city’s Flying Nun moment, at least it will be to me. First Move is the epitome of Palmy’s Dunedin sound. A yard stick to measure this flood of new talent. A group individually talented in their chosen fields, who come together to be masters of the world and art form I covet. The new local heroes. Needless to say, 5 of 5 stars.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

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When released, Ghosts I – IV was one of the more obscure Nine Inch Nails releases in an expansive discography. Instrumental and cinematic, lacking the abrasive angst and grit of all that came before, it felt out of step compared to their previous releases.
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