New Zealand indie pop group of the Eighties and Nineties formed in Dunedin. Latterly the band is little more than a front for songwriter and main man Martin Phillipps, but the band has also included Peter Holsapple and Justin Harwood. Stand out album by a long chalk is Brave Words (Flying Nun, 1987), followed by Submarine Bells (1990), both of which should appeal to anyone who enjoys well-written, occasionally fey indie guitar pop as exemplified by The Smiths, early REM, House of Love, u.s.w..

The Chills were an excellent pop band from New Zealand in the mid-to-late 1980's. They produced a string of great singles on Flying Nun records, and they made two major label records before breaking up.

The band was primarily Martin Phillips with a constantly changing lineup. After Soft Bomb, their last record, failed to take off commercially in 1993, Phillips broke up the band and made a solo album called Sunburnt in 1996. Bassist Justin Harwood went on to join Luna.

They are one of those bands I remember best from that whole time in my life when record stores were just that, R.E.M. didn't suck, "alternative music" hadn't taken over the world yet, and you heard new music from static-plagued college radio stations or from somebody's socially challenged older brother who had a room full of Smiths handbills.

Their best-known songs were "Doldrums," "Pink Frost," "I Love My Leather Jacket" (written in memory of their drummer Martyn Bull, who died of leukemia early in the band's career) and "House With a Hundred Rooms." They once wrote a tune called "Heavenly Pop Hit" and got away with it.

Between them, the Bats, the Church and Crowded House, I think I've got enough evidence to support the thesis that there's something in the water in New Zealand.

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