Six60: Killing music since 2006

21:47, Jan 05 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.

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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