Six60: Killing music since 2006

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 10:45 05/01/2012

One thing I was very thankful for in 2011 was never having to hear the album by Six60. This band, formed after attending a Kora concert and naming themselves after the letterbox number of their Dunedin flat (that's about as interesting as the band gets) is here to haunt us now. They are a new low in New Zealand music.Six60

Picture everything you dislike about The Black Seeds (monotony, lack of decent songs) and, erm, amplify it through vague nods to Kora and Shapeshifter and the like. Actually it's not a far cry from the feelers and Midnight Youth too - in terms of the lack of imagination in the writing.

Yes, this is the new low - it's bad enough we have a genre called Aotearoa Roots music. But it's worse that this genre is not only accepted, it's growing at a rate where we need Civil Defence on speed-dial.

Well the tasteless folk of this country - think of a number and double it - really are on board with this malarkey. Big time. We have the Fly My Pretties epidemic that trots itself around the country selling branded hoodies once a year and passing off safety-in-numbers tunes that aren't quite folk or soul or anything in between but do have a lot of acoustic guitars. Acoustic guitars are crucial for Aotearoa Roots music. Apparently.

Trinity Roots is probably to blame also - almost by accident; adding that word ('Roots') to their name became a calling-card of sorts, the start of a branding...

I would have thought the roots music of New Zealand was Maori song; even cowboy balladeering (or bird song for that matter) would form some of the "roots music" of this country.

Just how we've come to accept that party-guitar trace-around skanking is Aotearoa Roots is one of the baffling tricks of subtle marketing. This sound never had a name. Then it needed a name. Now it has one that suggests some reverence, some prominence. It is a branding that creates opportunities for summer festivals and winery tours. It is a branding that sees CDs sold to people with no imagination beyond what they just listened to. Simply pop to the shop and ask for more of the same, if it has a new band name at the top, bonus!

And it's getting (so much) worse. We're now at phase two of NZ BBQ Reggae - and phase two stinks. You thought the original BBQ reggae players were nothing special (and trust me, they were not) well Six60 is leading music listeners down to the end of the cultural cul-de-sac. And people are following in droves; happy to all just pile up. There's no indication that anyone will be turning away anytime soon. In fact this traffic jam will happily wave a hand out the window in time with the lurch of lazy trance vamps; heads will bob to the sway of almost adequate guitar playing.

Six60 has a song called Don't Forget Your Roots - it doesn't actually identify what these roots might be. One would assume that Barnaby Weir and Jack Johnson being remixed by a rope-headed pot-smoker with two turntables and a mixing desk is Six60's ideas of Roots; their idea of going way back, maaan!

Six60 has a song called Rise Up 2.0. We're told to "rise up" and inventively this is followed by the very idea that "there's a revolution". It's just a shame it's not a revolution against recycled riffs (it sounds like Billy Joel's song The Stranger re-tooled to score The Fast And The Furious 6: NCEA Is Boss!) and that we're not being asked to rise up and away from borrowed breakbeats (this is dumb'n'bass - no typo there; this is the kind of revolution that takes place when the girl that works at Supre leaves 15 minutes early so that her knucklehead boyfriend can pick her up and they can doof-doof-doof down to the beach to watch a Frisbee outwit their dog).

I managed to avoid Six60 because, well, that's what you (should try to) do with things that immediately contribute to making you dumber.

And then I saw the band perform Rise Up live at the NZ Music Awards. You get what you deserve for watching the Auckland Music Industry Awards (their correct and proper title). But Six60? What a joke. A crueller joke than the tight little circle-jerk that runs this little awards sham/scam.

The youth of today are in love with this. Six60 is hugely popular. But it's impossible to know why or how or what for. These are guys that have no appeal and very limited musical ability. And this attempt at music is insulting to anyone who can craft a song or play an instrument. It's insulting to anyone with an interest in listening to music. It's insulting to anyone with ears.

It's a cruel and punishing second wave of BBQ Reggae. A whitewash of never-quite-brown-enough sounds. And it's a part of our culture I want no part of. It is music for people who don't like music. Music for people who know they have thumbs but don't really know what that means unless it's time to turn the pages of another issue of Rip It Up. It is music made by people without a single original idea; by people with nothing to say.

But maybe I'm being a little harsh. What do you think of Six60? And do you agree that any "BBQ Reggae" style within NZ is redundant and past its prime? It's time to call a moratorium on this rubbish. Do you agree?  

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- Stuff

521 comments
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rob   #1   10:50 am Jan 06 2012

their music has obviously touched you in uncomfortable and private places. You are lucky I hate them too, or I would have to pack a sad like 138 other people are going to do today.

Warwick   #2   10:52 am Jan 06 2012

Interesting that a blog is written about this type of music on the same day Stuff publishes an article saying NZ is amoungst the highest users of drugs in the world. Connection maybe?

A. Sdf   #3   10:54 am Jan 06 2012

I totally agree with everything you just said. I'm 16, and I just can't understand how people can love such rubbish!

Mike   #4   10:54 am Jan 06 2012

Thre was sound bite on the radio a while ago. The six60 lead singer was discussing dont forget your roots, before it played on the radio. He openly said its not based on any past experience we have had or any particular event its just a message to say dont forget your roots guys. WTF? Thats not a direct Quote it was something along those lines and probably worse than that! But bacically descrobed the kind of shite lyrics they are pumping out. while I dont disagree they are popular its a manufactured popularity. Rage proved it when they marketed their album to get the Christmas number 1 spot a few years back

Williams   #5   10:56 am Jan 06 2012

You are being harsh. If you don't like that style in music then don't listen to it, but don't bag the people that do.

James   #6   11:02 am Jan 06 2012

Spot on, havent heard much, but what i have heard sounded pretty bad. its like theyre trying to cater for all the terrible mainstream music types in NZ, bit of reggae, bit of dubstep, bit of feelers style rock, all put together seems to add up to a total clusterf**k.

the performance at the music awards was awful, was the singers guitar totally out of tune or was that how it is supposed to sound? Rise up is pretty crackup, sounds like they might be trying to raise awareness to some issue leading to this revolution theyre talking bout, but i think they created the song just so they could yell catchphrases such as revolution to try and show that they have some depth and thought in their lyrics.

danny sims   #7   11:03 am Jan 06 2012

oh gawd... i see 2012 brings nothing new here. why didn't you go on a long long holiday and chill tf out!?! so sad. last hit from me on this blog. stuff... please mark every 'sweetman' link on your site with a 'sweetman rant' warning.

Matt   #8   11:08 am Jan 06 2012

I'm with you on Six60. They got old pretty quickly to my ears. As a general rule I don't enjoy 'summer bbq music', including Jack Johnson, and Six60 seem to fall squarely into this category. They are getting some serious playtime on the radio too which results in a lot of channel swapping.

Looking forward to the nz music appologists   #9   11:11 am Jan 06 2012

Possibly a bit over the top in that you were basically flogging a dead horse. Agreed they are terrible.

Lord Francis Sausage   #10   11:11 am Jan 06 2012

Right on the money Mr Sweetman.


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