Steve Wilson. On music.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Robert Scott - Ends Run Together (Flying Nun/New Zealand)

Ends Run Together by Robert Scott is a really terrific record. You probably haven’t heard it. You probably won’t, unless I encourage you sufficiently to pursue it. I hope I do.

The third release from New Zealand’s rejuvenated Flying Nun (Bats, Clean, Chills, Verlaines, etc.) imprint, it should be a release that puts the label back in the forefront of indie-rock perception, whether the mechanics of media and distribution allow for that is another thing. The music Robert Scott makes isn’t the issue. It’s there.

Scott has an extensive alternative pedigree. As the on again, off again bassist for the Clean, a Kiwi band with a fractured career trajectory who played the recent Scion Garage Fest in Lawrence (Oct. 2010), but primarily as the main singer-songwriter-guitarist in the Bats. The Bats, given Scott’s restless ways, have recorded intermittently since 1982, taking the decade between 1995 and 2005, for instance, off. Perhaps this contributes to their lack of career momentum, but the deeper truth is that they make music that’s too subtle, whose melancholy and grace is a bit too elusive for a mass audience in any event. It’s great stuff, though. Check out Daddy’s Highway from 1987 or At the National Grid (2005) to hear fine examples of their sound, and to hear how slightly, gradually they’ve morphed from their aesthetic. In a sense they share a jangly, folk-rock sensibility with contemporaries like Robyn Hitchcock, even R.E.M. Their melodic drone was an inspiration to bands like Yo La Tengo and Pavement; there’s something at once listless and forceful about the band’s energy, narcotic and seductive.