Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nu-Zealand Indie Pop, The Modernization of Lil Chief in the Second Decade of The 21st Century

Since it's first release in 2002, Lil' Chief Records has developed a reputation in New Zealand and to a certain extent across the globe for consistently releasing great pop albums.

Much like the Beach Boys best material, a lot of the Lil' Chief releases seem to have some kind of "Pop Mastermind" behind them, acting as a songwriter, arranger and producer all in one.

I think it would be safe to say that perhaps more than any other band, The Beach Boys recordings from the early 60s right through to the early 70s are of great influence to many of the artists on the label, as they are to pop songwriters and producers around the world.

However, somewhat overlooked I believe - are some of their later recordings.

During the 80s and early 90s the Beach Boys underwent a Bowie-esque transformation, ditching their tired old arrangements for a sleek and more modern sound. Their once dry and dare I say pathetic drum sound was replaced by a brighter, more bombastic and danceable sounding kit. Rather female sounding instruments like the celeste, harpsichord, and real strings (which should really only ever be used when making childrens music or homosexual music) were replaced with professional and digital sounding synthesizers, producing a more masculine and mature sound.

One of the first albums to be recorded, edited and mixed entirely on Pro Tools was the much underrated masterpiece 'Summer in Paradise' by The Beach Boys. Although it bankrupted their record label, their 27th studio album - the criminally out-of-print 'Summer in Paradise' established The Beach Boys as pioneers of digital recording, and takes it's place alongside Brian Eno's 'Another Green World', or Kraftwerk's 'Trans Europe Express' as a historical moment in the modernisation of pop music in the 20th century.

Although short-lived, Brian Wilson's foray into Hip Hop Music in the early 90s epitomises for me, the Beach Boys versatility and pioneering spirit. While rap music by nature should only be created / listened to by Black People, Brian Wilson, a middle aged white male, paved the way for future white hip hop artists, (notably Marshall Mathers) when he released 'Smart Girls', arguably one of his greatest lyrical achievements and what has been described by critics as 'the pinnacle of both hip hop and feminism'.




In keeping with the Beach Boys spirit of development and change, many of the later Lil' Chief releases are incorporating more electronic elements, capitalising on the benefits of the digital age (The Ruby Suns - Fight Softly, Little Pictures - Owl & Owl, Pikachunes - S/T). Inspired by the transformation of the Beach Boys from Melodically-Safe Surfer Dudes to Utterly Dangerous Synthesizer Bad-Boys - Lil' Chief Records and the artists on our roster hope to continue releasing forward thinking Nu-Pop and maintain our reputation as one of the best and most original pop labels in the world.

2 comments:

  1. This has pretty much made my year. When I played 'Smart Girls' to my flatmate he stopped it half through as it was destroying all positive feeling he had for The Beach Boys. Just as well - the sample segueways get more clunky after the first half.

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