Songs about girls have been a mainstay of rock and pop music since the forms began. And some of New Zealand's best loved songs are about girls - songs like The Dance Exponent's 'Victoria'.
There's something particularly striking about songs that have an individual girl or woman as the subject. It seems so bold, and tender, to focus on an individual in that way. As John Rowles sang about Tania - "our song will go on forever, my song is for you".
Even in the less mainstream backwaters of New Zealand music there are plenty of songs about girls.
When The Shocking Pinks, a band revolving around Christchurch's Nick Harte, signed to New York dance / punk label DFA, they quickly re-released a bunch of songs from their NZ Flying Nun releases, amongst them 'Emily'. The picture above is a still from the video you can see on the video page.
Steve Abel has released two astounding highly recommended indie-folk albums showcasing his brilliant songwriting and fractured vocal delivery, Little Death and Flax Happy. He has also attracted international attention, on his second album he duets with Texas singer / songwriter Jolie Holland. On that album Abel is backed by The Chrysalids adding a rock element to songs like the opener, a song of unrequited love, 'Sally'. The video for the song is on the video page.
A band that sometimes share the stage with Steve Abel are The Broken Heartbreakers, a country / folk outfit featuring a great combination of John Guy Howell's songwriting and Rachel Bailey's fantastic voice. On their critically acclaimed second album one of the standout tracks is 'Angela', but the band's first album Everyone's Waiting For Their Darlin' (wrongly dismissed by the band as an amateur attempt) also features great songs including 'Caroline'.
In the past while I've featured a couple of songs on Counting The Beat from Cyclops, a 90's Dunedin supergroup of sorts featuring former members of the Alpaca Brothers (Bruce Blucher), Look Blue Go Purple (Kathy Bull) and this Kind of Punishment (Peter Jefferies). Their material, originally released on a range of small American labels, is long out of print but if you're lucky you might still track down a copy of compilation Goat Volume, which is where you'll find the song 'Alice'.
Another 90's Dunedin band featuring a former member of Look Blue Go Purple were Chug. Norma O'Malley, Alf Danielson, Sean O'Reilly and Shaun Broadley were a band with an onomatopoeic name. They were signed to a seven album deal by American label Alias but only released two. The first, Sassafras, was released originally on Flying Nun and featured 'Sylvia'.
Lyttleton husband and wife alt.country duo The Eastern have been attracting my attention of late. I was really impressed by their self titled debut album which delivered a great bunch country, folk and blue-grass fueled rockers and since then they've released the Oh Mystery EP and second album Arrows which do more of the same. 'Maria' features on both.
I opened with a quote from John Rowles who has penned two huge NZ hits about girls (his sisters) 'Tania' and 'Cheryl Moana Marie'. While Rowles isn't exactly Counting The Beat fare there is an interesting cover of the latter song by N.U.T.E that appeared on an on-line darkwave compilation She's Lost. The compilation is no longer available but a handful of the songs can be heard on the She's Lost Myspace page.
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