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The Prophet Hens

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The Prophet Hens released their debut album – “Popular People Do Popular People” – on Fishrider Records from Dunedin, New Zealand. Their name apparently comes from The Prophet Hen of Leeds – a very odd-sounding early 19th century doomsday hoax involving a hen which layed eggs with second-coming prophecies written on them. The band, and the songs on the album, started when songwriter and guitarist Karl Bray was laid up at home recovering from major surgery to repair an ankle he’d smashed up while escaping a night-time mugging in downtown Dunedin. He jumped over a wall to get away, and, in the darkness, fell 12 foot…

Local musician John White (Mestar, The Blueness) was staying at Karl’s place, so they started writing songs. The Prophet Hens began when Sefton Holmes joined on drums and Penelope Esplin on keyboards and vocals. This line-up played a bit and recorded most of the album before John headed overseas to live in Germany and Sefton also moved on. Robin Cederman replaced John on bass and Darren Stedman (The Verlaines) took over on drums.

The Prophet Hens music is marinated in the melodic jangle of that mostly fictional ‘Dunedin Sound’ – think The Chills, The Bats, Magick Heads, a little bit of The Clean and The Orange). But, unlike most Dunedin music of that golden era, there are strong vocal harmonies and the combination of Karl’s and Penelope’s voices is magical. As a result there’s also an echo at times of classic ‘indie-pop’ from the UK in the days when that was actually a good and wonderful thing.

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