THE STONES were a New Zealand band active in the early 80s before quickly disbanding after the release of two short EPs on the famed Flying Nun Records. Their seemingly well-overdue compilation is now here.
Three Blind Mice is the biggest and best record you can now find featuring the trio, released in unison by Flying Nun Records in New Zealand and Captured Tracks in the United States. Three Blind Mice shows off a band that can get sloppy at times, but that’s the beauty of it all. There’s always a driving rhythm supplied by rock-steady percussion and slinky bass lines to support, followed by broken but bright guitars that come with their very own grainy twang – hear the opening scratch in “See Red.” Vocals are mumbled or occasionally hummed, creating memorable harmonies and the simple urge to want to sing along (“Something New,” “Down and Around”). The Stones probably don’t have some enormous fan base, but those already on-board have most likely been waiting for something like this compilation for far too long. The fact that the newly pressed LP was defected and is missing a track is a different story, however the CD version (and LP download) includes that missing track along with an entire set of live recordings dating back to 1982 and 1983.
“At the Cafe” rides out on a wonky bass line guided by immediately distinct vocals – singing was shared by bassist Jeff Batts and guitarist Wayne Elsey (your guess is as good as ours who is singing in which track). The one constant is that they maintain their laid-back and uninterested tone seemingly by “singing” (and slurring) just to get it over with. Guitars are stringy and fibrous as they fill in the open spaces with an extra bit of color. They’re bright but certainly not competing for the spotlight. “Something New” unfolds with a tinny strand of guitar and a bubbly bass line, creating a glinting wave of light through a noticeably pop-ier track. Good luck trying not to sing along or at the very least hum the melody. “Down and Around” is another worth noting, combining a bit of nightmarish jangle with an open-ended post-punk approach. They end up closing out the track with a wincing guitar solo. LP closer “Fad World” is a justification of the band’s raw power in the live setting. It’s a near 9-minute track that flows smoothly over clanky cymbals, bass throbs and beeping electronics. The vocals nearly sound like a background conversation as they drift off into the distance before turning into chants and laughter.
Together the trio forms this wobbly sound and it truly is their very own. Just imagine Grass Widow but if they were all men. If you’re listening to these tracks for the first time it’s a treat to hear how they open up. See what you think and give these couple a listen now.
My Rating: SS
Genre/ Tags: Garage Rock, Post-Punk, Pop, Ethereal
Three Blind Mice LP: Tracklist:
1.) Gunner Ho
2.) See Red
3.) Mother Father
4.) At the Cafe
5.) Something New
6.) Final Days
7.) Down and Around
8.) Funky Conversations
9.) Surfs Up
10.) Fad World