Welcome to Digging Through The Archives, a new recurring Daily Rind feature from the Creative Services department that will explore cool vintage obscurities, under-the-radar sleepers, catalog albums in the news, and more.
Tall Dwarfs: Hello Cruel World (1988/2005, Flying Nun)
My infatuation with the Kiwi lo-fi gods Chis Knox and Alec Bathgate began sometime in the 1990s when I stumbled across a copy of Tall Dwarfs‘ 1985 release That’s The Long And The Short Of It, a hybrid LP-EP (later reissued on The Short and Sick of It) that blew my then teenaged mind, first with its killer cover art, then with the six-minute opener “Nothing’s Going To Happen,” an insanely catchy and gloriously over-the-top nihilistic anthem replete with strings and a chorus of “shoop la la las.” I was instantly hooked and that song and several others from the record would become mixtape staples for me.
An earlier and slightly more subdued version of “Nothing’s Going To Happen” also appears on Hello Cruel World, which compiles twenty-two tracks from their first four long out-of-print early ’80s EPs and is perhaps the perfect introduction to the band. It showcases a wide spectrum of the band’s oddball but charming lo-fi aesthetic, which influenced bands like Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, King Creosote, You Won’t, and a grip of others. Other highlights include the ramshackle “All My Hollowness To You,” which is driven solely by a droning organ and percussive thumping on household objects (they didn’t have a drummer) in a manner that rather effectively amplifies the song’s sense of lustfulness and desperation, and the frantic, chugging “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die,” which manages to be both slightly ridiculous and genuinely scary.