Photo from band’s Facebook
When I mention New Zealand, what do you think of? Some of you will think, “sheep.” A lot of you will think, “hobbits.” But some of you, you lucky people, will think rock ‘n’ roll. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, New Zealand, and its legendary indie label Flying Nun, was the world leader in punky, jangly, New Wave-inspired guitar-pop. The sound of Kiwi groups like The Clean was a big influence on the American college-radio-rockin’ groups that came of age later on in the decade. Now another group from New Zealand called Ghost Wave are following in their footsteps.
Ghost Wave began in the Auckland bedroom of (soon-to-be singer and guitarist) Matthew L. Paul. He started collaborating with drummer Eammon Logan, no stranger himself to bedroom recording projects. Together they crafted what would be their excellent self-titled, debut EP. Paul and Logan enlisted guitarist Jamie Kennedy (no, not that one) and bassist Mike Ellis. They left the bedroom and hit the stages, building a steady following at home. They’ve played on both coasts in the States, and even here in the Lone Star State during SXSW and North Texas’s 35 Denton Music Festival. The band’s showcases at SXSW and CMJ in New York grabbed the attention of hip indie Captured Tracks. The Brooklyn label is teaming with Flying Nun to release Ghost Wave’s debut full-length Ages (out August 27).
They released their first single “Here She Comes” back in May, but another track off the record really knocked us out. It’s called “Bootlegs,” and it’s flower-power-pop at its chime-y best. The song opens with big, ringing chords that’d make a Mod swoon with delight before hitting us with short, stabby guitar lines and a beat that just drives and drives for days. There’s a mellow, hippy-hippy-shakin’ swagger to the tune that owes just as much to 60s pop-psych as their New Wave, Kiwi forebears. But as carrying the torch goes, Ghost Wave is doing a bang-up job.