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The Clean



Since 1979, New Zealand's The Clean have been the royalty of the influential kiwi music scene, which has produced a diverse range of notables, including the similarly minded Chills and Bats, Split Enz, The Dead C, and Straitjacket Fits. The Clean's release schedule over the years has been inconsistent, but almost uniformly excellent, and extent of their influence on contemporary melodic indie rock can not be overstated.

The band was formed in the town of Dunedin by the brothers Kilgour, David (guitar) and Hamish (drums), who soon enlisted guitarist Peter Gutteridge and bassist Robert Scott (also of The Bats), both of whom have remained regular (though not constant) contributors to The Clean ever since. Then, the group sported a more dissonant abrasive sound than the jangly noise pop for which they would eventually become known, indebted to the arty guitar-rock of The Velvets and Television as well as to the new punk sound which was rearing its wild head in metropolises across the globe. Over the course of the next decade, which saw numerous relocations, lineup changes (a number of which involved Gutteridge and Scott leaving and then rejoining), and EPs on Flying Nun Records, the Christchurch New Zealand label created by a devoted fan expressly for them, The Clean became one of the biggest bands in New Zealand and Australia, gaining a bit of international notoriety as well.

At the end of the '80s, The Clean embarked on a world tour, before finally recording their first ever full studio record. Vehicle, which came out in 1990, displayed the band's trademark blend of folky pop, punk, and garage rock, albeit with a glossier, more toned-down ethic than the band had sported on previous releases. The quartet then broke up until the mid-'90s, before reconvening to record two new albums, Modern Rock (1995) and Unknown Country (1996). Another long, quiet period followed, partly the result of Hamish Kilgour's move to New York. But in 2000, the Dunedin Arts Council persuaded The Clean (the Kilgours and Scott, that is) to perform at a festival celebrating the history of New Zealand music. Rehearsals and jam sessions ensued, and the next thing they knew, The Clean had a new album's worth of eclectic, intriguing pop songs, sometimes chiming and sweet, sometimes scraped up by some experimental squealy guitar teeth, and sometimes pleasantly exotic and warmly psychedelic. The vocals on Getaway are, as always, split equitably among the members (David Kilgour sings on "Stars," Hamish Kilgour sings on "Crazy," and Scott sings on "E Motel"). Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley also play guitar on a couple of the album's tracks.