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The Brunettes

Bio

Jonathan and Heather met when their respective bands played a show together. They began creating boy/girl melodrama pop inspired by 70s New York punk and 60s girl groups but created in an Auckland scene of opiate-infused garage rock 'n' roll.

This seclusion soon produced Mars Loves Venus, a lathe-cut EP pressed up by King Records, Geraldine. The short run quickly sold out and Jonathan set to work demo-ing up the band's first six albums. Heather and Jonathan's relationship suffered, understandably. Heather was seen often in New Zealand's society pages with champagne flutes in each hand, while Jonathan's striving for sonic perfection within the constraints of four-track cassette recording drove him to Smile-like levels of madness.

Dressed in his fireman's helmet, Jonathan applied for a job at Marbeck's, a downtown Auckland record store. It was while he worked there that one of those four-track recordings, Talk To Jesus, was noticed by local manager and promoter Melinda Olykan on Auckland's college radio station BFM. Pulling out her cheque-book straight away, she managed to get Jonathan away from the store counter for a two-figure sum, and soon The Brunettes were playing shows again. They developed a reputation for quiet, intimate shows of fragile garage pop, the audience laughing at the wry pop culture references in the lyrics, and shushing each other for talking during the songs.

The Brunettes finally released their debut album Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks in the Spring of 2002, and six months later put out a mini album, The Boyracer EP. The uniqueness of these releases and the engaging charm of their live show, gained them a swooning national fan base in New Zealand, made them darlings of its college radio stations, and placed them as the nation's undisputed number one bubblegum pop band. Tours of Australia and the United Kingdom in 03/04 put the Brunettes in the hearts of indie-pop fans in those corners of the globe too, with rapturously received shows with Architecture in Helsinki, the Postal Service and the Futureheads.

In June 2004 they released their second album, Mars Loves Venus, which reprised the title track of their very first release, and saw the production progress from the bedroom Spector-isms of Holding Hands Feeding Ducks, to a multi-spectral smorgasbord of pop production references from the Grievous Angel to Paisley Park.

Since this release, the Brunettes show has grown in stature to accommodate the so-dubbed Lil' Chief Pop Orchestrette, a changing, waxing and waning crew of amateur instrumentalists associated with Auckland's Lil' Chief Records, a company who have released some of New Zealand's most unassumingly beautiful pop music of the last few years. Sometimes touring as a five piece and sometimes playing as a ten piece Orchestrette ­ the Brunettes incorporate marimba, glockenspiel, banjo, cello, trumpet, alto and tenor saxophone, the clarinet and more.

In keeping with releasing music annually ­ in 2005 to coincide with their first tour of North America ­ the Brunettes released their second EP When Ice Met Cream featuring five tunes, some new and some favourites of live shows dating back to 2001. Having been invited to tour the US with The Shins, the Brunettes left New Zealand and joined them on the road as a 7-piece. The five week tour was then followed by an invitation to tour with Rilo Kiley for which they slimmed down to a five piece.

Band Members:
Heather Mansfield (keyboard, glockinspiel, marimba, clarinet, vocals)
Jonathan Bree (guitar, vocals)

Links

Releases

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Location

  • Outside Of NZ


Comments (Newest First)

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The Brunettes Australian Tour with Whitley
Posted: Sun Nov 1, 2009 12:12 pm
Wednesday 18 November - Sands Tavern @ Maroochydore

Thursday 19 November - Neverland Bar @ Gold Coast

Friday 20 November - The Zoo @ Brisbane

Saturday 21 November - Great Northern Hotel @ Byron Bay

Sunday 22 November - Bonamici Cafe @ Toowoomba

Monday 23 November - Brass Monkey @ Cronulla

Tuesday 24 November - Heritage Hotel @ Wollongong

Wednesday 25 November - ANU Bar @ Canberra

Friday 27 November - Newcastle Leagues Club @ Newcastle

Saturday 28 November - Oxford Arts Factory @ Sydney
 

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40,000 plays of The Brunettes new album per day!
Posted: Thu Aug 9, 2007 4:54 pm
Myspace.com in North America have been promoting the new album from kiwi band The Brunettes for the last few days and have reported over 40’000 hits per day! 3000 of those have signed up to be myspace “friends” in the last day!

It’s not only on myspace that global appreciation is coming for the new album; well respected music watchers All Music Guide and CMJ have issued glowing reviews using “sophisticated”, “polished” and “expansive’ amongst the adjectives.

The Brunettes begin their NZ tour dates on Friday (10th) in Wellington, Saturday in Palmerston North and the following Friday (17th) in Auckland. They then head to Australia for show dates and to America to commence their first headlining tour.

‘Structure & Cosmetics’ is the first album the Brunettes have released in North America via their Sub Pop label… the future is looking bright!
 

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Brunettes sign with Sub Pop Records
Posted: Thu Nov 3, 2005 10:25 am
Well, the rumours have been doing the rounds ever since the Brunettes label - Lil Chief Records - got their sampler EP distributed by the famous American indie label earlier this year, and now it's official: the Brunettes have signed to Sub Pop Records.

Chief Brunettes Heather and Jonathan are in New York at present, working on their latest album, which is scheduled for release in August 2006.

From the press release comes these words from Sub Pop geezer Jonathan Poneman: "Having shimmied, curtsied and barnstormed their way into the hearts of North America, I was left no choice but to sign The Brunettes. That's not to say that I am anything less than overjoyed. I am, in fact, thrilled! But it's their unerring ability to captivate, both on stage and in the studio, that inspired me to purchase their souls. Oh, I mean that inspired me to sign 'em to Sub Pop. Seriously though: I'm so excited to be working with The Brunettes. These youngsters know how to - in the words of a beloved pop band from my youth - shake some action!"
 

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Brunettes wrap up USA tour
Posted: Tue Jul 5, 2005 4:37 pm
Auckland popsters The Brunettes have wrapped up their long American trip, which started way back at the start of April, and which saw them criss-crossing around the USA (and Canada), first with The Shins, and then with Rilo Kiley. All up, the band played around 55 shows, and performed to nearly 100,000 people. Cripes.

Jonathan and Heather are staying on in the States to get work on the band's third album (to be released on the seminal US lablel Sub Pop some time in 2006) under way, while other members of the band head back home to continue work on some of their extracurricular projects (The Reduction Agents & The Ruby Suns).

And expect a new video from the band sometime next month, as Portland-based video-makers Your Mom Films (who have made videos for the Shins, Dandy Warhols and the Decemberists) are producing an NZ On Air funded effort this month.
 

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The Brunettes In London
Posted: Wed Jul 9, 2003 6:47 pm
This information from Noizyland:

The Brunettes are currently avoiding New Zealand's mid-winter chills with a quick jaunt around summertime London. They've already played sold out dates at the Shepherd's Bush (with The Datsuns, of all the odd billings in the world), and The Barfly in Cambden, but if you've missed them, fear not, there's more to come, with the following gigs:

11 July - The Spitz, 109 Commercial Road (early) and The Barfly, Cambden (late)
17 July - The Metro Club, 19-23 Oxford Street

While in olde London town, the band have also managed a live-to-air session and interview with the influential BBC London evening show, and shot a video in Regent Park (the latter of which should be turning up on New Zealand TV screens sometime soon). The band return for New Zealand for a bit of a rest in August, but, like so many of the local bands who have figured out the road to success lies overseas, are headed back to Australia for a series of dates later in the year.
 

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The Brunettes In Australia
Posted: Thu Jun 5, 2003 11:15 am
Auckland popster's The Brunettes are heading off on their first international tour next week, with a few dates in Australia. They'll be doing gigs in Sydney and Melbourne, and after their sojourn across the ditch, are planning a tour of the UK for later in the year. Dates and places for the UK tour are still in the planning, here's the Aussie ones:

- 11 June - Hopetoun Hotel, Surrey Hills, Sydney [w/ Little Birdie]
- 12 June - The Tote, Fitzroy, Melbourne
- 13 June - The Public Office, West Melbourne [w/ Architecture of Helsinki]
- 14 June - The Town Hall, North Melbourne [w/ Hugo Race]
- 15 June - The Rob Roy, Fitzroy, Melbourne [w/ Architecture of Helsinki]
 

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Brunettes Live On National Radio
Posted: Sat May 17, 2003 11:00 am
The Brunettes Live At Helen's:

Dates: Saturday 17 May @ 3:30pm and Wednesday 21 May @ 7:30pm

The Brunettes perform live versions of songs from the album 'Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks,' and their EP 'Boy Racer' and reveal a couple of brand new tunes.
 

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Brunette's Need Your Bikes!
Posted: Wed Feb 5, 2003 5:34 pm
Thanks to bands.co.nz for the following:

The band need old style Exercycles (the ones with spokes) for an upcoming video shoot.

Please call James or leave a message at (09) 376 1180, or e-mail [email protected] with 'exercycle' in the subject line.

Oh, and from a practical point of view, only Aucklanders need to get in touch.

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The Brunettes Ink Deak With EMI NZ
Posted: Sun Nov 3, 2002 3:53 pm
Hot on the heels of the release of the Golden Horse album, fabulous 50s quartet The Brunettes have revealed their already recorded album is to be distributed by major label EMI.

"Someone finally took some notice of us" exclaimed bass-player Mike Hall, "It's just someone's taken a risk for us, EMI made a big effort, they came to the show and realised it wasn't as big a risk as it appeared." The band have been regarded as too arty for a real deal.

Hall continues: "Being signed is certainly better than being booed of the stage by a bunch of blue rinse Gene Pitney fans," referring to the Pitney show that they were booked for support on.

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The Brunettes Nominated For Squeeze People Choice Awards
Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2002 4:38 pm
The Brunettes have received the following nominations in the Squeeze People Choice Awards:

* Best Song/Track (Moon In June Stuff)

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