|Cultural origins||Early 1980s,|
Dunedin, New Zealand
The Dunedin sound was a style of indie pop music created in the southern New Zealand university city of Dunedin in the early 1980s.
According to Matthew Bannister, Dunedin sound "was typically marked by the use of droning or jangling guitars, indistinct vocals and often copious quantities of reverberation." Many Dunedin sound bands drew inspiration from punk rock, as well as pop, rock, and psychedelic music of the 1960s.
The Dunedin sound can be traced back to the emergence of punk rock as a musical influence in New Zealand in the late 1970s. Isolated from the country's main punk scene in Auckland (which had been influenced by bands such as England's Buzzcocks), Dunedin's punk groups, such as The Enemy (which became Toy Love) and The Same (which later developed into The Chills), developed a sound more heavily influenced by artists like The Velvet Underground and The Stooges. This was complemented by jangly, psychedelic-influenced guitar work reminiscent of 1960s bands such as The Beatles and The Byrds, and the combination of the two developed into the style which became known as the Dunedin sound.
New Zealand-based Flying Nun Records championed the Dunedin sound, starting with its earliest releases (including The Clean's single "Tally Ho!" and the four-band compilation Dunedin Double EP, from which the term "Dunedin sound" was first coined). Many artists gained a dedicated "college music" following, both at home and overseas. In July 2009, Uncut magazine suggested that "before the mp3 replaced the flexidisc, the three axes of the international indie-pop underground were Olympia [in Washington State] ... Glasgow, and Dunedin..." The growth of the Dunedin sound coincided with the founding of the student radio station Radio One at the University of Otago, helping to increase the popularity and availability of the music around the city. Christchurch student radio station RDU, popular in student flats at the time, was already playing plenty of Dunedin music as early as 1981, while commercial radio stations in New Zealand barely featured any "homegrown" music until a voluntary code was introduced in 2002.
The development of parallel musical trends such as the Paisley Underground in California and the resurgence of jangle pop contributed to growth in the popularity of the Dunedin sound on college radio in the USA and Europe. The heyday of the movement was in the mid-to-late 1980s, although music in the style is still being recorded and released.
Pavement, R.E.M., and Mudhoney cite the Dunedin sound as an influence, and other overseas artists, such as Superchunk, Barbara Manning, and Cat Power, have covered Dunedin sound songs on several occasions. Post-2000 a new batch of Australian bands, often referred to as Dolewave were heavily influenced by the Dunedin Sound.
A 2009 tribute album to Chris Knox (who suffered a major stroke that year) included contributions from Will Oldham, The Mountain Goats, Yo La Tengo, Lou Barlow, A. C. Newman, Stephin Merritt, Jay Reatard, and Lambchop.
In 2000, a "Dunedin sound" showcase was presented as part of the Otago Festival of the Arts, held in Dunedin. This showcase featured performances by The Clean, The Chills, the Dead C, Alastair Galbraith, the Renderers, Snapper, and the Verlaines. KFJC 89.7 FM, an American college radio station based in Los Altos Hills, CA, broadcast all six nights of the Dunedin sound showcase live to the San Francisco Bay Area via its FM signal and worldwide over the internet. The following year, a double CD documenting these broadcasts was produced for the station's annual fund-raiser.