Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
HEROES OF KIWI ROCK THAT EVEN THE KIWIS DON’T KNOW ABOUT, PART ONE : SHOES THIS HIGH....This is the first in a couplet of two very short “pieces” on well-buried New Zealand 1980s rock artists I’ve discovered over the past 12-18 months. Think it was all whimsical happy-go-lucky goofball pop music down there twenty-some-odd years ago? Songs about sheep and fish and heartbreak? You gotta hear SHOES THIS HIGH, a quick-lived 1980 Auckland-by-way-of-Wellington quartet who are by far one of the best lost post-punk bands I’ve had the pleasure of finding out about. Think a more jagged Minutemen, The Gordons, Seems Twice, Pere Ubu, some Beefheart-like deconstructed stabs at atonality – or, as Gary Steel’s liner notes for the reissued 7”EP exclaim, “killer-riffing-angry-in-your-guts-avant-garde-pin-pricking punk funk". The lead track on their sole four-song single, “The Nose One”, has a real spastic stop/start structure which successfully masks some great weary, disengaged vocals. Guitars chime in and chop out of all four tracks, some of which are pretty biting and aggressive (hence the GORDONS comparison). The greatness of this thing again reminds me of the strong influence of The Fall in NZ, where “Totally Wired” went actually into the Top 5. Not that Shoes This High sound much like The Fall, but there’s gotta be a hook there somewhere. Recorded December 1980, released in 1981, reissued on Raw Power records in 2002. Please do yourself a favor and begin a tireless, unyielding quest for the Shoes This High EP forthwith.

Coming in Part Two of our micro-series: THE KIWI ANIMAL!