Album Review - The Dense

Album Review – The Dense

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The Dense
Independent release
Reviewed by Chris Chilton

Southland music fans who’ve had an eye on the relentless rise of The Dense won’t be disappointed with their eponymous, first full album-length release.
The Invercargill-raised alt-rock/powerpop trio may find themselves scattered throughout the country as 2021 dawns but their debut album reveals a musical force that’s singularly assured in its direction and execution.
First and foremost, the album sounds great. Recorded at Studio 236 in Dunedin by Peter Molteno, the album is clean and punchy, giving The Dense’s engaging, hook-laden songs and tight musicianship a sparkling platform.
The band – bassist/vocalist Nepia Ruwhiu, guitarist Liam Fairbairn, and drummer Jack Shaw – have their act down tight, and Molteno has given them a beautifully balanced mix that allows the individual moving parts freedom and space to shine.
The Dense’s decent tunes and catchy riffs are backed up by Ruwhiu (mostly) and Fairbairn’s compelling vocals, Fairbairn’s energetic guitar heroics slash and shimmer across the soundstage and the whole tight package is driven by the irresistible rhythm section of Ruwhiu and Shaw.
I love the guitars right through this album. Fairbairn has great sounds going and his intuitive, edgy rhythm and picking style was custom-built for the three-piece format.
There are many sonic gems to be found amongst the 11 tracks, but the album stands up as a truly consistent collection of music.
Any one of Leave It To Me, Glimourance (good luck finding the meaning of that on Google), Butcher the Butcher, Last Night and Trust Issues stacks up as a strong radio-ready single, and Shanty Town would too if the station could handle the joyous f-word vocal refrain in the chorus.
There’s a degree of elegance and sophistication in the understated ode to refined kai Jameson and Chowder.
The band members’ punkish proclivities can be heard in Nixie Knoxx and Kid Evil, which still manage to sound ridiculously catchy, and the album draws to a satisfying conclusion with the harmonies stacked high on the epic chorus of Budweiser Jones.
I reckon this album’s going down as an Invercargill classic. It has some of the punky fundamentals of that other Invercargill three-piece Pretty Wicked Head and the Desperate Men’s early 90s album New Age Savage and is similarly eclectic, but it’s infused with more sunshine and less of a subversive dark edge. It stands repeated listening, and the songs invite themselves inside your head without ever overstaying their welcome. It’s a fun ride.
Search out The Dense on Spotify.

Q&A with The Dense
Q: When did you start writing the songs?
A: We’ve been playing some of the songs for as long as four years.

Q: What’s your usual process for songwriting as a band – collaborative or individual?
A: Typically Liam brings an idea to the band and we develop it as a threesome.

Q: How long has The Dense been a thing?
A: The Dense started in 2016

Q: Liam is based in Invercargill, Nepia’s in Dunedin, and Jack’s in Wellington. How’s the distance thing working for you as a band?
A: To be honest the distance is shithouse but we love playing music so we make it work. It does open up opportunities to play in some different places though.

Q: Invercargill is a shit town – discuss …
A: Invercargill can be a bit of a shit town but it’s home and we love it. We’ve got some incredible day one, fans that support us through everything and there are some great places to play music. You just have to look a bit harder for them than you do in the bigger cities. (Take a listen to the song Shanty Town for further commentary on this subject).

Q: What influences are behind The Dense sound?
A: Our sound is something of a melting pot to be fair, largely influenced by New Zealand music from the 80s but pretty much anything with guitars really. Pretty heavy on the Stone Roses and the follow-on Britpop scene too.

Q: Who’s the rock star in the band?
A: Nepia’s the rock star.

Q: Who’s the ladies man?
A: Jacks the ladies man … just the one though

Q: Who’s the comedian?
A: Liam’s the comedian, most of it shit!

An Epic Night @ Southland Musicians Club

An Epic Night

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An epic night of rock at the club with Polarised, Sam Cullen, Filth Wizard, The Dense, and Pipsy. Great energy, great sounds …

Pipsy - The Hopeful Sounds Tour

Pipsy – The Hopeful Sounds Tour

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PIPSY ‘The Hopeful Sounds Tour’ w/ The Dense, Sam Cullen, & Polarised INVERCARGILL
@ Southland Musicians Club

Annual General Meeting 9 feb 2021

Annual General Meeting 9 Feb 2021

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Annual General Meeting
@ Southland Musicians Club

Left or Right Fota & Darcy Kerr

Left or Right (Inverz)

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LEFT OR RIGHT (Inverz) w/ very special guests – FOTA & DARCY KERR
@ Southland Musicians Club

Limited tickets online $20 @ Door open 8.30 pm. Show starts 9 pm.

Butterflies Welcoming Spring

Butterflies Welcoming Spring

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2020 AT 9 PM UTC+13 – 12 AM UTC+13
Butterflies Welcoming Spring & Cold Shower: Invercargill – NZ
@ Southland Musicians Club

Murgatroyd LIVE at the Muso's Club - Southland Musicians Club

Murgatroyd LIVE at the Muso’s Club

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SATURDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 2020 AT 19:00 UTC+13
Murgatroyd LIVE at the Muso’s Club
@ Southland Musicians Club

Murgatroyd are bringing the electroscum pain to the Southland Musician’s Club on their South Island tour.
Support from Filth Wizard, Termagant, Night Lunch, Dark House, Zookreepers, Danielle Hookway and Tessa Valarie.
Doors 7:00 PM
Entry $10 (GA), $5 students

Final Night 2020 Southland Musicians Club

Final Night of The Theatre Restaurant Season 2020

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The final night of the theatre restaurant season of You Know You’ve Made It When … and we’re so bloody proud to have presented it to you. Tell your friends. See you next year.

Night Two - Southland Musicians Club

You Know You’ve Made It When

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Night two of the musos club theatre restaurant “You Know You’ve Made It When …” done and dusted. Here are some scenes from behind the scenes.

Jordan Luck Band @ Southland Musicians Club

Jordan Luck Band and Ekko Park

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Wow! Wow! Wow! What an awesome night at a packed Southland Musicians Club for the amazing Jordan Luck Band and Ekko Park. Two terrific New Zealand bands turning it up to 11.