Shayne Carter and Dimmer

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Gareths thread got me thinking about what you esteemed rolling stone wanna bes think about Shayne Carter and his record "I believe you are a star". Probably been disscused as its nearly a year since it was released but Ive just picked up a copy and well I like it, it grooves along nicely- subtle and restrained but still not lifeless- its cooool I think. Anyone get excited by it?

kiwi, Sunday, 12 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

i remember being excited after hearing 'crystallator' and then seeing them live with robbie yeats rocking out like no other, but then i heard more recnt stuff and it sounded like prince. perhaps it was too radical a shift for me to digest? is bike still making records? 'hail' and 'melt' are two of the greatest intense and passionate rock albums ever but dimmer seems to be mostly a miss.

keith, Sunday, 12 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Wait a minute! I must object! I don't want to be a Rolling Stone! Why, I don't anybody here who wants to be a Rolling Stone!

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 12 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

being an ex fan of shayne, i trotted down to the record store the day it was released for a listen. i thought it was boring bollocks. the stuff sounds better live, i thought, the album is over-produced and over hyped. best track on album though of course "evolution" which i lurve.

sorry my opinion prob doesn't count since i'm not a rolling stone wannabe. and for something randomly off topic, can you believe that Datsuns-or-the-D4 (can't tell them apart) are going to save rnr according to the NME and they had a Peel Session. Brits are you deranged?

di, Sunday, 12 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Ha not for the first time I must say "I dont believe any of you"!, as you waffle endlessly on obscure blogs secretly desperately waiting for that call from RS...

kiwi, Monday, 13 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Di I havent heard much from the Datsuns apart from the a quicl listen to a video clip from their current single that sounded pretty unoriginal, flat and boring to me. The Poms are falling over their cheque books, is it just the Strokes/ Hives buzz or are they any good?

kiwi, Monday, 13 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

oh its the buzz all right. they truly are dead boring. and the sad thing is that there are a zillion bands in nz doing the exact same thing. i guess some people have no imagination. i guess some people never get over that whole teenage ethos of "if i pick up a guitar i might finally get laid, i'll show the first XV whos cool then".

di, Monday, 13 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Initially didn't think much of "I Believe You Are A Star", but saw the video of "Drop You Off" on M2 on the weekend & am all piqued & intrigued. He's gotten all craggy, though, ick; and would probably grool when drunk.

Really weird how D4/Datsuns fell into the lap of luckshury & randomly meteored to fame.
(& strange that simply playing rock'n'roll is now equivalent to saving rock'n'roll)

Ess Kay, Monday, 13 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

one year passes...
I'd really like to check out the new album (You've Got To Hear The Music) just coz of all the doublehappy-fans & noisekids & so on up here going "ewww! funk!" & so on (+ working w/Fat Freddy's Drop AND Anika Moa/Bic Runga AND Nick Roughan, etc = interesting), but then the whole copy-protection thing + appearing in every single NZ magazine two months ago was a bit creepy. I'm not too sure how guilty to feel over my "this is listened to by Metro readers (who probably listen to Goldenhorse) = it suxx" kneejerking.

(living w/out a TV has really cut me off from contemporary NZ music, haha.)

etc, Tuesday, 4 May 2004 03:02 (eighteen years ago) link

dimmer with the undercurrents, at the jetset lounge, may 1st 2004 [review i slung together yesterday..]


"at the tail end of the seventies the enemy played at our school dance. chris knox was the evilest person i'd seen. from the start i was dreading the moment he might come off the stage, and, like, tap me on the shoulder or something. i thought i was punk but inside i was cowering. thank god they only lasted two songs before school principal dave rathbone ran onto the stage and kicked them off."

shayne carter - taken from a history of bored games taken from 'mysterex: kiwi punk and beyond'



i've been a fan of shayne carter and his scene-defining bands since high school, when i first saw a soon-to-disintegrate straitjacket fits take the stage around the time cat inna can was a student radio hit round our way. back in those days, carter was almost as intimidating (at least in stature and prowess, if not in glower and more physical elements / tendencies) as his idol chris knox was back in the heydays of the enemy. thankfully, i was prepared this time round, accidentally catching carter directly in the stomach with my elbow as he made his was through a bustling and genuinely excited christchurch crowd. we'd later joke after the show that the jab got him going - the kind of incident he needed to play a stellar show. but i somehow doubt it.



in a matter of 3 years, carter has refined his showcase into a harmonious ode to stage-performance and james brown stylized presentation. an extremely talented cast of seasoned professionals as a backing band, matching uniforms and a backup singer with a higher profile than his own - though anika moa still presents herself as a local girl. jokingly, carter issued an ultimatum to stage left, bass player mike hall (of pluto fame) that moa was in charge of between song banter, and he should remain tight-lipped, but carter is hardly the hard-nosed ringleader the godfather of soul presents himself as. joking, playing to the cameras and a democratic approach to instrumentation ruled the roost on this saturday night.



starting the show after a lengthy wait (those of us not quick enough to scoop pre-sales were left queuing some 2 hours before the shows determined start time), the undercurrents played a rousing, if not show-stealing opening set to an ever-growing, and eventually converted crowd. evolving out of low-key local popsters the centre will hold, the undercurrents hit the nail on the head with their name, they sound like a wash of guitar, with bass flowing freely beneath. a triple-headed 4-piece, who employ guitarist marcus winstanley's talents with production and electronic elements in their recorded output - forming a connection with winstanley's former troop barnard star, sure contenders for new zealand's most unfortunately overlooked great bands. on stage however, its all-grooving rhythm of the twin guitar, bass and drums variety. though mixed low, their 3-vocalist approach to singing add texture and harmony to an already highly melodic guitar-based sound. look out for their debut ep, recently self-released.



believe me when i say you've never seen the open-a-beer-bottle-with-a-lighter-trick pulled off as fast as the dimmer stage management does it, the crew paving the way for the band to hit the stage. the crowd was quite excited, bubbling even. despite the fits playing a large portion of their shows in the garden city during the 90s, christchurch has only seen mr carter once since going solo, a wonderful show in this very spot at the launch of 2001's i believe you are a star. looking like a real showman, dressed to the gills in a sparkly, nah spangly velvet and rhinestone suit-jacket, carter and his troupe of black-suited backing players clambered aboard the small jetset stage, and immediately the funk hit the fan.



carter's guitar spends most of the show low in the mix, with ned ngata commanding attention with his wah-wah heavy funk guitar at the forefront. its all chick-a-chick and slippery bass from mike hall, propelled by the powerhouse of the group, willy scott (of sola rosa and king kapisi's live crew) on the drums at the back. key fluttering from top session-man andy 'submarine' morton flows in and out whilst carter and stage-right anika moa face the group with restrained, soulful vocals.



the crowd get-up to get-down. crowd favorites like evolution flow with such propulsive urgency and effortless funk that you'd think the band were born to groove.



without the layers of feedback frenzy i was accustomed to taking in shayne carter extravaganza's, you suddenly have the chance to observer carter as a pure entertainer and his most visual faculty, strangely enough his upper-lip. during funky riffing so tight you could mistake it for the album recording, carters lip quavers and flexes, mesmerizing the front row with dexterity - almost a show in itself. he bounces round the stage; playing to the audience and finding just the right pose throughout every quite-phase in the gig. the backup-crew start taking on their own persona's - hall is the young chap, the fresh-faced steady-man of the group. andy morton hovers over his keys pulling faces and occasionally conversing with willy scott, pounding away like soul brother number 2 as the funky drummer, and raising a sweat doing it. ned seems to be engulfed in the sounds eminating from his amplifier, his eyes rolling around like a man possessed. anika's performance is light on theatrics, quietly strumming away on acoustic guitar during a couple of songs, and adding an understated glee to the pouty (funky too-cool) facial expressions of the rest of the group.



drop a couple guitars and suddenly carter takes over, drift sounding thoroughly bombastic with just carter, scott and morton in action. an electronically laced, but purely guitar-formed instrumental from the first album, and the first notion that perhaps dimmer haven't quite dropped the huge guitar sound that first surfaced on the original crystalator single just yet. the crowd is ecstatic - not you're usual reaction for a vocal-less piece, but then dimmer instrumentals are hardly filler, more so an exercise in pushing the boundaries on the motorik (aka can, neu! etc) or maybe post-rock (mogwai, hdu etc) approach to song composition. a purely ethereal wall of sound, carters guitar envelops the room and maintains everybody shaking with a pulsing heartbeat of a groove.



from then on the crowd was entranced, drunken squalors from the bar-side patrons requesting said debut single are laughed off by a vibeing band, refraining back to the funk at their core of their set. the jams get heavier and dirtier; scott showing off behind the kit with some truly massive breaks and ups the ante for the front of the stage to attempt to counter. at the close of the main set, carter plays the trump cards, rousing renditions of drop you off and the apocalyptic climax, an over 20-minute show-case in the form of first album single seed. astonishing; its the kind of track were the audience gets as tired as the band, and by the end of this mammoth number willy scott was literally dripping with sweat - so that's saying something. carter's guitar sounded like a thunderstorm. i felt shock waves running through my body as the band wore on, taunting the crowd with a never-ending 1-chord groove. absolutely pummeling bass, pile-driving me right from the outset, the sound just grew and grew with carter flying off into short-burst of snake-tongued guitar and angular solos, disguised by a wall of feedback and the ethereal pulse, they just couldn't stop.



leaving the stage to a frenzied audience, the band re-emerged to complete the night and yes, crystalator was played; the particularly vocal reveler rushed the stage as its distinct tom-heavy drum and delay-punctuated guitar emerged. carter has such unlimited control of the guitar, and his backup so tight - i could hardly imagine this touring version of dimmer putting on a bad show. from outset to the end of the onslaught, there wasn't a disappointed face in the crowd; i just hope we won't be waiting too long before our next visit from that intimidating character, shayne carter.

chris andrews (fraew), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 03:47 (eighteen years ago) link

haha I'd just read that on yr site not two hours ago!

etc, Tuesday, 4 May 2004 04:19 (eighteen years ago) link

nice. i submitted to ripitup, but they already had matt davey covering it..damn.. 'a low hum' might put it out yet though

chris andrews (fraew), Tuesday, 4 May 2004 04:21 (eighteen years ago) link

two years pass...
hey keyth, you heard the new one, there my dear? supposed to be a return to rock, or something. haven't heard it myself . . . bit of a shame, was hoping he'd continue w/his trajectory of more & end up making his atmosphere strut or something . . .

etc (esskay), Sunday, 30 July 2006 22:57 (sixteen years ago) link

three years pass...

Anyone seen these guys lately? Sounds like they were great five years ago. I like Straightjacket Fits alright, and Dimmer seem to still be rather big here in NZ. Never heard more than a song or two. They're playing here real soon, though.

challop of ghouls (CharlieS), Thursday, 1 October 2009 03:20 (thirteen years ago) link

yeah they're back in melb soon too. i saw them play with sonic boom a year or two ago, they were pretty good then..

i'm the unban spaceman (electricsound), Thursday, 1 October 2009 03:23 (thirteen years ago) link

three months pass...

Just heard "You're Only Leaving Hurt" and "Seed" and liked them both much more than I expected. I followed Shayne from SFits to Dimmer and was unimpressed uninitially but perhaps I should revisit. Anyone want to suggest a best of Dimmer?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 8 January 2010 22:11 (twelve years ago) link

one month passes...

So it turns out his last two albums, "There My Dear" and "Degrees Of Existance" are a return to a band approach and have produced great results. The latter is steaming on his site and is particularly strong and stands well next to the Straitjacket Fits material. I sampled the first two Dimmer albums and while there are some gems there I wasn't enthralled by the electro-funk direction of much of it.

Man, when I first saw him on videos in the early 90s I thought he was gonna be an international star - he just had that certain something.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 10 February 2010 04:12 (twelve years ago) link

nine years pass...

His autobiography Dead People I Have Known is pretty fantastic reading. Been revisiting Dimmer and getting a lot more out of it than when I was younger/brattier, heh.

Released a piano-based album a few years back, The Offsider; always wondered what underrated aero would make of it.

etc, Monday, 24 June 2019 10:39 (three years ago) link

I recall being underwhelmed by "The Offsider".

Shayne also played guitar on some tracks by The Adults.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 24 June 2019 18:32 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

The I Believe You Are A Star anniversary tour was great - caught them at the Hollywood Avondale, great band adding some younger musicians (Louisa Nicklin, Durham Fenwick, Neive Strang) to stalwarts Gary Sullivan & James Duncan. Lovely to hear an extended kraut-rock jam on "Seed" & the encore of "Crystallator".

A little bit of 'Seed' last night. pic.twitter.com/xKvvsngwVf

— Russell Brown (@publicaddress) September 18, 2022

Dimmer was stupid good last night pic.twitter.com/kljJ5mUwVM

— Steve Newall (@STIVVY) September 17, 2022

etc, Sunday, 18 September 2022 23:54 (two weeks ago) link

Perhaps the tour will get his creative juices flowing again.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 19 September 2022 00:35 (two weeks ago) link

I had tickets to the original anniversary show, but gave up after it was postponed twice by Covid restrictions. Glad you enjoyed the show!

I still treasure my memories of the original album release show at Galatos with HDU in support. Both bands were fantastic that night. Back when you could smoke in clubs, and the air was awash with cannabis smoke. Those were the days!

The Ghost Club, Monday, 19 September 2022 00:48 (two weeks ago) link

Very intriguing, informative thread, hadn't seen it before. I'll add he also did right by Die! Die! Die! (ah, another opp for gratuitous geezer glory---from my ancient voice review of Promises, Promises):

...he Steve Albini–recorded, self-titled 2006 debut's flying shards of impulsive/compulsive encounters were caught by walls thrown up, tracks tightened till they imploded: 10 songs, in just over 20 minutes. But now, all through this Shayne (of Straitjacket Fits) Carter–produced set, walls are pushed out as inner space-junk expands; shards reappear as pieces of Andrew Wilson's personal blue skies, of old hopes and dreams. Breathing room is found, yes, though his shattered, scattered voice and guitar can't help planting some bizarre memory garden of l-o-v-e and more, despite it all. The eloquent guts of Lachlan Anderson's bass will never digest such seeds very easily, and drummer Michael Prain's Keith Moon-schooled soloing-as-accompaniment dents craters in today's glazed maze, where Wilson and "You!" grapple in reflective gear.

Die! Die! Die! play the Music Hall of Williamsburg March 29 and Highline Ballroom March 30.

(in 2008, that was)

dow, Monday, 19 September 2022 04:01 (two weeks ago) link

Die! Die! Die! shows were always chaotically amazing. One of the most explosive live acts in NZ in the oughts, aside from Mint Chicks of course. Their shows were next level.

The Ghost Club, Monday, 19 September 2022 05:46 (two weeks ago) link

I was way into Die*3 for years but fell off after "Harmony".

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 19 September 2022 17:13 (two weeks ago) link

I saw the Star show at SanFran last week, although I missed the encore (presumably Crystalator) because the friend I went with had an important meeting early.

I've been devouring his book too. He's endearingly blunt - I liked the part when his mum tells him to ditch the "dolly birds" and marry someone with child-bearing hips.

aphoristical, Monday, 19 September 2022 19:13 (two weeks ago) link


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