the bats: C/D

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and is 'block of wood' one of the greatest songs ever or what?

electric sound of jim (electricsound), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 02:14 (twenty years ago) link

I don't know much about the stuff before or after it but Daddy's Highway is fucking amazing. Bouncy yet pastoral. Folk dance melodic whatever. I love that album so damn much. Easily in my top 25 of all time. Classic just for that alone. All else I heard was the Courage EP, which did nothing for me.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 02:21 (twenty years ago) link

Classic all the way--hooray for Robert Scott. I love their newish greatest-hits, too ("Thousands of Tiny Luminous Spheres," I think it's called). One of those bands that takes a very basic arrangement and gets a totally distinctive sound out of it.

Douglas (Douglas), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 03:09 (twenty years ago) link

there's a greatest hits? another job well done for the publicity department of Flying Nun.

electric sound of jim (electricsound), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 03:10 (twenty years ago) link

Great band -- *maybe* a bit one note in the end but all is forgiven for songs like "North By North," "Courage" and "Afternoon in Bed." Some more thoughts here.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 03:25 (twenty years ago) link

I do think that most of what they put out from Silverbeet onwards tends towards the patchy..

electric sound of jim (electricsound), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 03:28 (twenty years ago) link

All I've ever heard is Barbara Manning's cover of "Smoking Her Wings," which is really great and spooky. Is the original as good? Are there more songs like that?

Jesse Fox, Wednesday, 15 January 2003 06:39 (twenty years ago) link

The Bats take on "Smoking Her Wings" is MILES better, but sadly, no, there isn't much more of that where that came from. Daddy's Highway is essential and The Law of Things (from whence came "SHW") is worthy, but everything else I've heard seems to evaporate from my memory before its even over. Still, classic.

Lee G (Lee G), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 15:23 (twenty years ago) link

Complitely Bays is a great compilation of early singles.

Jim M (jmcgaw), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 17:04 (twenty years ago) link

Er, that's Compiletely Bats. Sorry.

Jim M (jmcgaw), Wednesday, 15 January 2003 20:14 (twenty years ago) link

i'd say all of the albums are worthwhile, even the earlier maligned 'silverbeet'. funny thing is you might have a hard time placing the records in chronological order as there hasn't been a lot of diversity added to their sound. robert scott's solo record has some lovely moments, even some almost roy mongomeryish songs and the magick heads are essentially similar to early bats with a female singer sounding a lot like sandy denny. their debut single 'back of her hand' is an all time classic.

keith (keithmcl), Thursday, 16 January 2003 01:37 (twenty years ago) link

they seemed good live in like 1983 or 84 but the 1st time i ever heard a studio recording of them it sounded awful, i've never really listened to them since but when i do hear them they sound pretty boring.

duane (24 hour troubleshooter), Thursday, 16 January 2003 01:42 (twenty years ago) link

he's a real nice guy tho! (robt scott)

duane (24 hour troubleshooter), Thursday, 16 January 2003 01:42 (twenty years ago) link

four months pass...
the bats are recording a new album for fall(northern hemisphere) release. minisnap ep soon too. has anyone heard minisnap? i wan't much for kaye's vocal on couchmaster though she sounds heavenly when backing up in the bats.

keith (keithmcl), Monday, 26 May 2003 16:31 (nineteen years ago) link

i recently got the "Boogey Man" single for 50c or something and it's got a really ace b-side called "Jetsam". Search.

electric sound of jim (electricsound), Monday, 26 May 2003 22:12 (nineteen years ago) link

'jetsam' is on fear of god. best b-sides are 'get fat' and 'passed by'. cloudboy may have an album out this year too, recording of their soundtrack to 'shape of things'.

keith (keithmcl), Tuesday, 27 May 2003 00:56 (nineteen years ago) link

passed by is cool too

electric sound of jim (electricsound), Tuesday, 27 May 2003 00:59 (nineteen years ago) link

alastair galbraith should come back for the new record. there is some bats'ishness on the new lucksmiths record.

keith (keithmcl), Tuesday, 27 May 2003 01:41 (nineteen years ago) link

CLassic. Daddy's Highway is among the best "powerpop" recordings of all time. And yes, "Block of Wood" is stunning.

John Bullabaugh (John Bullabaugh), Tuesday, 27 May 2003 14:48 (nineteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
is robert scott bald? i think i saw him today!

gygax! (gygax!), Friday, 20 June 2003 04:25 (nineteen years ago) link

Yeah he is. Where in the world is he?

Andrew Thames (Andrew Thames), Friday, 20 June 2003 04:39 (nineteen years ago) link

he was on haight street in san francisco

gygax! (gygax!), Friday, 20 June 2003 05:29 (nineteen years ago) link

(with hamish and david kilgour)

gygax! (gygax!), Friday, 20 June 2003 05:30 (nineteen years ago) link

why aren't those three back in nz touring to promote their new, uh, live album?

(have any of youz indiekidz heard the rotor+ remix of "north by north"? it's great!)

Ess Kay (esskay), Friday, 20 June 2003 05:40 (nineteen years ago) link

That makes sense since The Clean's playing SF right about now.

scott m (mcd), Friday, 20 June 2003 15:54 (nineteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Bats interview @ the NZ Herald where they talk about their new album & bitch about Straitjacket Fits.

etc, Tuesday, 5 August 2003 05:09 (nineteen years ago) link

one year passes...
I'm going to New Zealand to join The Bats.

Ian Moraine (Eastern Mantra), Tuesday, 28 December 2004 03:57 (eighteen years ago) link

i think mr galbraith is on the new album, very exciting.

keith m (keithmcl), Tuesday, 28 December 2004 04:18 (eighteen years ago) link

I think "Treason" is one of my 20 favorite songs.

polyphonic (polyphonic), Tuesday, 28 December 2004 20:19 (eighteen years ago) link

ten months pass...
hmmmn, the new album (At The National Grid) has been getting universally great (& somewhat surprised!) reviews (mixed in w/comments like "their heyday as the least dangerous band on Flying Nun in the mid-to-late 80s", haha), but I've still no need to listen to anything but "North By North".

etc, Saturday, 5 November 2005 00:39 (seventeen years ago) link

the new one is great. same as always. if you set up their albums randomly and played them to someone unfamiliar with the bats it might be hard to decide how to order them chronologically.

keyth (keyth), Saturday, 5 November 2005 02:34 (seventeen years ago) link

They're horrible. So timid and humble that you wonder why they bother. And their stage presence makes someone like Gedge look like Madonna. At least Belle & Sebastian are clever. And 5% more sexy.

paulhw (paulhw), Saturday, 5 November 2005 04:14 (seventeen years ago) link


Schwip Schwap (schwip schwap), Saturday, 5 November 2005 06:42 (seventeen years ago) link

It's just nice folky stuff, people.

duke of marlboro (mickeygraft), Saturday, 5 November 2005 17:22 (seventeen years ago) link

At least Belle & Sebastian are clever.

I rather disagree.

And 5% more sexy.

.5%, I'll grant.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 5 November 2005 17:24 (seventeen years ago) link

Jesus, what's with all the Flying Nun hate lately? I realize every label roster is not immune to fair criticism.. but recent comments here against Tall Dwarfs and Bats have ranged from downright insulting to batshit insane, yet really not shedding any light on why the criticism was granted in the first place.

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Saturday, 5 November 2005 17:45 (seventeen years ago) link

To be fair, iDonut, Paul is from NZ himself, so I presume his annoyance is well grounded in experience.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 5 November 2005 17:52 (seventeen years ago) link

I don't care if he lives next door to the Kilgours, the Knoxes, or the Jeffries. Using the words "clever" and "sexy" as a way to slight the Bats is just.. bizarre.

iDonut B4 x86 (donut), Saturday, 5 November 2005 17:58 (seventeen years ago) link

It's the using it with reference to B&S that I find even more bizarre! But we've been down this road.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 5 November 2005 18:01 (seventeen years ago) link

> To be fair, iDonut, Paul is from NZ himself, so I presume his annoyance is well grounded in experience.

Matters not. More people outside NZ have heard The Bats than in it. To be honest, most people I met in a year of living in NZ wouldn't know a decent band if it bit them on the arse.

Anyone heard Robert Scott's album of NZ folk tunes BTW?

Niall, Saturday, 5 November 2005 18:46 (seventeen years ago) link

you wonder why they bother

even Messr Cave's intervention couldn't free them from unfair contract!

Paul (scifisoul), Saturday, 5 November 2005 18:50 (seventeen years ago) link

intercession? (right, I'll go)

Paul (scifisoul), Saturday, 5 November 2005 18:53 (seventeen years ago) link

haha brian living in the same neighbourhood as CK & walking round the corner & being confronted w/his shorts+singlets outfit = THE GOGGLES THEY DO NOTHING

(um, I have a lot to say re: FN & overseasers, but it's more of an essay thing)

etc, Sunday, 6 November 2005 02:49 (seventeen years ago) link

Bizarrely, I actually enjoy the new album. One of these days maybe I'll figure out why. I've never really paid attention to them; do remember liking a very early EP on Flying Nun that for some reason brought to mind Brian Eno (back when my favorite Flying Nun bands where the Puddle and the Headless Chickens!); also remember buying a used copy of one of their '90s albums at Princeton Record Exchange once then being bored by it. Hmmm....

xhuxk, Sunday, 6 November 2005 04:09 (seventeen years ago) link

Maybe you'll just listen to it a second time and get over the interest? I too live in NZ, lucky me, oddly I meet plenty of people who're into "decent bands", they make life v sad. Donut would you give a fuck for the Bats if they came from somewhere else?

Schwip Schwap (schwip schwap), Sunday, 6 November 2005 04:16 (seventeen years ago) link

They probably wouldn't sound quite the same. However, I don't know how donut feels but I would listen to them if they came from, say, Scotland.

duke of marlboro (mickeygraft), Sunday, 6 November 2005 04:30 (seventeen years ago) link

oddly I meet plenty of people who're into "decent bands", they make life v sad.

the fuck does this mean?

john p. irrelevant (electricsound), Sunday, 6 November 2005 11:18 (seventeen years ago) link

Reading this thread made me dig out "Daddy's Highway" again, still sounds great. I like the way a lot of those Flying Nun bands would have this vague prog / Genesis influence creeping in very subtly without worrying about how uncool it was. Maybe something to do with geographical isolation, or am I being patronising? Anyway, The Bats / Chills / Able Tasmans etc = Velvet Underground ripoff without all the goth posturing you'd get from JAMC et al, hence CLASSIC in almost every way.

Matt #2 (Matt #2), Sunday, 6 November 2005 11:35 (seventeen years ago) link

It's a bit hard to fetishise Christchurch though.

Good Dog (Good Dog), Sunday, 6 November 2005 11:43 (seventeen years ago) link

the bats are like a warm blanket. it's easy to slip into the same happy mode as when you first heard them. it's timid and humble, sure, oh what insults, but so was most flying nun music. that was part of the appeal for me. no bluster just some fantastic music. now flying nun has the exact opposite brash, stupid bands without any ability. which is better?

keyth (keyth), Sunday, 6 November 2005 14:10 (seventeen years ago) link


Evan, Monday, 10 June 2013 14:07 (nine years ago) link

Do you think they all work dayjobs when not touring?

curmudgeon, Monday, 10 June 2013 14:40 (nine years ago) link

I wonder this about almost every single artist I listen to.

Evan, Monday, 10 June 2013 14:54 (nine years ago) link

Although this doesn't stop me from listening to musicians on Spotify from whom they receive only tiny payments

curmudgeon, Monday, 10 June 2013 14:58 (nine years ago) link

Pretty sure Paul and Kaye are a) married and b) academics.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 10 June 2013 15:12 (nine years ago) link

They were great last night. Place was totally oversold, though.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 10 June 2013 15:13 (nine years ago) link

Nice piece linked on Wiki:

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 10 June 2013 15:14 (nine years ago) link

Wonder how much cash the bast get for this?

herr doktor (askance johnson), Monday, 10 June 2013 16:19 (nine years ago) link

yeah - totally oversold - which doesn't happen too often for Schubas (small blessings) ... I was back near the door and when they opened it up and the bar noise came in, a bit, I was a little bummed. Then I saw that it was a pretty old couple sitting on stools - they probably couldn't fight the masses inside and the doorguy was just doing them a solid ...

BlackIronPrison, Monday, 10 June 2013 17:44 (nine years ago) link

Wow, I just walking home and much to my surprise I heard them sound checking "Smoking Her Wings" from a club I normally don't pass by... I freaked out and poked my head in and got yelled at for trying to take a picture. I have plans tonight but maybe I should try to check this out...

They said they last played DC in 1992; but I don't remember them ever playing DC nor did someone else I spoke to.

― curmudgeon, Thursday, June 6, 2013 6:19 AM (1 week ago)

Possibly? I know they played SF around then with Barbara Manning/SF Seals/TFUL282 opening. In fact, they stayed at Barbara's apartment that night and Robert wrote this (totally awesome) song for her:

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Saturday, 15 June 2013 02:37 (nine years ago) link

Huh, I think I'd only heard the Magick Heads version.

Supposedly the last time they'd played Chicago was 20 years ago.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 15 June 2013 03:19 (nine years ago) link

I discovered that a critic I know reviewed a Bats album for the Washington Post in 1993, so he thinks they appeared in DC then.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 15 June 2013 15:39 (nine years ago) link

I think they did "Smoking Her Wings" in DC this time.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 15 June 2013 15:40 (nine years ago) link

they were stellar saturday night in los angeles. crystalline. one thing that struck me seeing them live is that there's an unusually clear division of labor among the four of them, especially the two guitarists. those guitars are wielded as two very different instruments, and they lock so beautifully together.

fact checking cuz, Monday, 17 June 2013 19:38 (nine years ago) link

eleven months pass...

there's a new 3-disc comp called Volume 1 - early material, eps, b-sides, etc. available on spotify.

JoeStork, Saturday, 7 June 2014 05:55 (eight years ago) link

tho i had 95% of it already it's been nice having these tracks back on rotation

doctrine the house (electricsound), Saturday, 7 June 2014 12:52 (eight years ago) link

14 bonus tracks, a nice package for $25!

Fastnbulbous, Saturday, 7 June 2014 16:12 (eight years ago) link

Just saw "The Law Of Things" reissue at the store the other day. Definitely will get that one soon.

Evan, Saturday, 7 June 2014 21:00 (eight years ago) link

the other day = yesterday, actually

Evan, Saturday, 7 June 2014 21:00 (eight years ago) link

The only album I heard from them was Free All the Monsters. It was a top ten album of the year for me. For some reason I haven't yet explored their back catalog yet, though. I need to rectify that, especially if all their albums "sound the same" as described way up thread. I'll take more of the same from them.

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Saturday, 7 June 2014 22:02 (eight years ago) link

Compiletely Bats is a good place to start. I think the new reissue has a version of Block of Wood on it as well.

Hinklepicker, Monday, 9 June 2014 10:22 (eight years ago) link

2 versions

doctrine the house (electricsound), Monday, 9 June 2014 11:29 (eight years ago) link

(2 demo versions i mean)

doctrine the house (electricsound), Monday, 9 June 2014 11:29 (eight years ago) link

four months pass...

New Robert Scott album, "The Green House" is very good... but... I feel like I've heard this all before. It's my problem, but I can't help thinking David Kilgour's solo albums are just off-kilter enough to keep me coming back.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Sunday, 26 October 2014 21:46 (eight years ago) link

I like it a lot. The duets with Hollie Fullbrook add a wonderful distinction. But true, I dunno if I'd be so taken if it were just Robert on vox for the entire lp.

doug watson, Sunday, 26 October 2014 22:25 (eight years ago) link

Agreed, the duets are the standouts, especially the opening track. An entire album like that would be killer.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Sunday, 26 October 2014 22:37 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

Somehow didn't even know that Minisnap existed, or when they released an album, but it's predictably lovely.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 6 June 2016 14:07 (six years ago) link

It is! Kaye needs to do more singing.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 6 June 2016 17:49 (six years ago) link

ten months pass...

New album! It's great!

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 10 April 2017 13:58 (five years ago) link

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 11 April 2017 18:37 (five years ago) link

I'm as psyched these guys keep killing it as I am with theoretical peers the Feelies.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 11 April 2017 18:38 (five years ago) link

two years pass...
eight months pass...

"Red Car," from the new one :')

swing out sister: live in new donk city (geoffreyess), Saturday, 14 November 2020 05:11 (two years ago) link

Wow, a new one! I had no idea. Happy Saturday!

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 14 November 2020 13:50 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

When I got onto the Clean a month ago, a couple of people recommended the Bats. Burned and listened to Daddy's Highway twice in the car today, and yes, quite liked it.

clemenza, Friday, 10 March 2023 05:13 (three weeks ago) link

would recommend checking out Couchmaster, and you might also like the Magick Heads records.

also "Smoking Her Wings" is worth hearing if you haven't already -

JoeStork, Friday, 10 March 2023 08:23 (three weeks ago) link

All of their albums (and pretty much offshoots, too) are pretty good. Though they're also one of those bands where for some the first album (Daddy's Highway) is enough. But if you like one you'll probably like them all. Albums like "Couchmaster" are maybe a tiny bit more diverse? "Silverbeet," too. This is one of many gems:

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 10 March 2023 12:25 (three weeks ago) link

Glad you like it clemenza!

Yeah The Bats are super consistent however some albums grab me and some don't. The Law of Things never really clicked for instance, but by no means do I dislike it. Definitely just a preference for some tunes over others among a perfectly solid discography.

I will say At The National Grid, on the other hand, TOTALLY clicked. Love that one a lot as well (favorite along with Daddy's Highway).

Here's my favorite Magick Heads song, since that came up:

Evan, Friday, 10 March 2023 14:21 (three weeks ago) link

This is lovely, but no surprise there:

I also love that album cover.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 10 March 2023 14:50 (three weeks ago) link

Thanks for the recommendations; I'll do some more investigation for sure. Someone labelled them power-pop earlier in this thread. Even with a more liberal net when it comes to that term than most people, I wouldn't classify them as such. Not a criticism--I just don't hear them as sounding like what that implies. I was thinking more of, I don't know, maybe the Vaselines, or the Mekons of Fear and Whiskey?

clemenza, Friday, 10 March 2023 15:04 (three weeks ago) link

They're definitely folky and poppy, that's for sure. Maybe even a little twee at times. I wouldn't call them power-pop. Something like the Vaselines may not be a terrible comparison (though of course the Bats came much earlier!). I've always thought the Bats (not least because of Bob Scott's vocals) reminded me of some of Eno's early material. Stuff like:

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 10 March 2023 15:10 (three weeks ago) link

I've been listening to Daddy's Highway too, and while the whole thing's pleasant I wish there were a few more intense moments like "Had to Be You" and "North by North". Also there's a thinness of "personality" in this music (and lyrics, in as much as I can hear them) - after five or six listens I don't feel I know anything about these people, other than that they like (making) pleasant music.

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 11 March 2023 16:21 (two weeks ago) link

Flying Nun acts always seemed to keep the emotions a little distant. Not too much angst-ridden heart-on-the-sleevery, for which I'm quite thankful. Must be in the Kiwi character!

No Hackett Required (Matt #2), Saturday, 11 March 2023 16:54 (two weeks ago) link

I can see what you mean about that thinness of personality - I find them quite shyly charismatic on stage and in interviews, but it doesn't come out in the music really. Having said that I think the smallness of the vox and simplicity of the lyrics gets across a sort of communal melancholy / homespun despair about something ineffable. So I actually don't really love things like North By North where they get kind of drowned in unearned bombast, I prefer the warmer, more ramshackle stuff, everyday drama and longing.

Here's "Neighbours", a lovely example of what I'm talking about, always moves me:

Or "By Night", which is a bit peppier but still has that sore heart:

The bass is really alive in that one.

Matt #2 makes a good observation about Flying Nun bands not doing too much existential angst. Without projecting too much, there's a lot of empathy in the music that may come from the spirit of community and camaraderie, with people's parents and families quite closely involved and supportive, and most bands not having one central (tragic) figure. That kind of community doesn't lend itself to mythologising the pain of the solitary artist (even if may have been no shortage of it).

There are a lot of songs that are quite good at sketching someone else's despair rather than claiming it for oneself. More of observing "you" than experiencing "I". Am thinking of "Born in the Wrong Time" by the Great Unwashed, some of the Verlaines' less smart-arsed character studies, some Chills stuff.

verhexen, Saturday, 11 March 2023 17:43 (two weeks ago) link

there's a lot of empathy in the music

I think this is very OTM, and may stem from the bands' environments, both literal and metaphoric. Especially on the south island, that remoteness, the proximity to nature (and especially winter/snow/cold) leads a lot of Flying Nun bands to express both pleasantly bucolic vibes but also a quiet sort of sadness for the state of things in nature. And then on the former count, yeah, the community in which they share a lot of the same experiences, positive and negative, I think does come across in the music as generally empathetic, even at its most melancholy. That is to say, warm or twee or gentle or celebratory, rarely outright aggressive or confrontational (as confrontational as acts like Chris Knox or even the Clean could be, in their own respective ways), lonely but not necessarily alone, kind of in the Charlie Brown Christmas sense.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 11 March 2023 18:10 (two weeks ago) link

I like many songs, but these are my favourites from the first three albums: "Treason," "Tragedy," "Had to Be You," "Mastery," "Nine Days," "Watch the Walls," "You Know We Shouldn't." Very in sync with my mood as of late.

clemenza, Tuesday, 14 March 2023 02:11 (two weeks ago) link

Just holding up my hand for <i>Free All The Monsters</i>, a latter-day album that is the best overall record in their canon IMO. The Bats-curious will also find <i>Thousands of Tiny Luminous Spheres</i>. a sort-of-best of, to be a strong intro to the best of their 20th century work.

dillamonster, Tuesday, 14 March 2023 02:40 (two weeks ago) link

Oh god, it's been so long since I posted here I forgot how italics tags work, sorry.

dillamonster, Tuesday, 14 March 2023 02:40 (two weeks ago) link

Plan to keep working my through their albums for as long as they're still good, which so far they are.

clemenza, Tuesday, 14 March 2023 02:44 (two weeks ago) link

Let me add "Jetsam" to the above list. When the singer (don't know names yet) gets to the lines "It's such a waste now" and "And now you're face down," he sounds just like Ian Curtis!

clemenza, Monday, 20 March 2023 03:31 (one week ago) link

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