Wednesday, October 30, 2013

REVIEW: The Chills - Somewhere Beautiful

Is Somewhere Beautiful a compilation of alternative takes, a greatest hits collection or a concert album?  The answer is "yes".  The album is a recording of a private concert performed at a joint birthday/New Years Eve party in Queenstown, New Zealand in 2011.  But who cares about labels?  This is a new record from The Chills, one of the most iconic and mercurial of the New Zealand bands known for the "Dunedin sound".  For the uninitiated souls asking "who are The Chills", the long answer would be to name the many musicians who have been members over the years, list the starts and stops, the tours and the crashes.  The short answer is that The Chills are Martin Phillipps and whomever he has gathered under The Chills banner.

We've been without a new album from The Chills since 1996, but Martin's Far South label now has partnered with Fire Records.  Eventually, there will be new material from the band (and Fire Records already has released the single Molten Gold), but the first fruit of the partnership is Somewhere Beautiful.  And while it may seem like a strange choice to some, I think it is perfect.  Potential new fans are exposed to 20 comprehensive reasons why they should look forward to future material from The Chills. We existing fans are able to collect beloved songs in a slightly different version than our treasured studio recordings.  In particular, this collection presents the songs of one of guitar pop's most talented songwriters in the rawer, harder edged format typical of a live concert.

Here is the opening track -

The Chills played earlier this year at a celebration for the Dunedin Botanic Garden.  Here are some clips over one of their best known songs, "Pink Frost" -

One of my favorite songs on the album is "Rolling Moon".  Here is a live version from '85 -

Pop music at its best is an experience of the moment, a spontaneous eruption of talent and inspiration interacting with the listener.  This is what a live album can deliver better than a professionally massaged studio album, and Somewhere Beautiful is a soaring testament to live albums.  It is available now from Fire Records on CD or vinyl.

In addition to Martin Phillipps, the current version of The Chills is Erica Stichbury, Oli Wilson, James Dickson and Todd Knudson.

Fire Records page for album

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