Minisnap’s appropriately titled Bounce Around album is another one of those records that has been neglected on these pages this year, but certainly not on my stereo. I meant to write about it in March when I bought it from Rough Trade, but again I profess a lack of time and my slow writing skills as pathetic excuses. Back in March and even now I couldn’t believe that Kaye Woodward had been holding back so many great songs over the years. Especially when you consider that during the 10 year break that the Bats took from 1995 to 2005. I figured, like everyone else, that we would never hear from her or the Bats again. I guess I should back up a bit for those of you wondering what I’m rambling on about. Minisnap is essentially the Bats without Robert Scott, and replacing him with Marcus Winstanley on guitar. The Bats are considered by many, myself included, a seminal New Zealand band that put out many great records on Flying Nun beginning in the late 80’s on into the mid 90’s. Bat’s front man Robert Scott was also in the Clean, the band that really put the New Zealand indie scene on the map so many years ago. So the Bats without Scott may seem like a non-starter, but as you hear the first notes of New Broom you realize that Robert Scott is actually only one fourth of the Bats.
In the Bats, Kaye Woodward sang lots of harmonies and maybe lead on an occasional song, but it was always Scott that seemed to be leading the charge. This is not the case with Minisnap, Woodward has written 12 songs that easily rival anything in the Bats catalog. The band employ that trademark jangle that was so familiar on the classic early Bats albums like Daddy’s Highway, Law of Things and Fear of God and which they seemed to so easily resurrect on 2005’s comeback At the National Grid.
Minisnap, though sounding like a Scott-less Bats, do stretch out in different directions. For starters, Woodward casts a more upbeat sunnier disposition with her bright voice, and the band come across a bit more laid back using brushes on the drums and even employing a ukulele-like charango on opener New Broom. But don’t let me kid you, if you like the Bats, Minisnap will do quite nicely. Not to worry either if you thought this marked the end of the Bats, they are just about to release a new album next month. For those of you not as impatient as me, Portland’s Magic Marker has put out Minisnap’s Bounce Around in the US, so you can order it directly from them for a much more reasonable price than I paid, and they’ll probably even through in a badge for you in the process.
And if one Minisnap album isn’t enough for you, you’re in luck because Cloudberry has just released a new Minisnap 7″ with two brand new songs. Whew! How’s that for a dose of New Zealand jangle!?
mp3: Minisnap – New Broom (buy the album Bounce Around)
mp3: Minisnap – Crooked Mile (also from Bounce Around)
mp3: Minisnap – Whistler (from the Cloudberry 7″)
These are very good tunes, i can’t say i’ve heard much from the bats as they’re a little before my time but i bet the lead singer was really smoking then. Not that she’s not now.
top 30 from ’89: