Like so many New Zealand bands, Snapper has ties to a lot of acts. There’s not really sibling rivalry in the kiwi-pop of the late ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘‘90s, but these bands all seem related. Snapper was fronted by Peter Gutteridge, previous of the Clean, the Chills, and the Great Unwashed. Drummer Dominic Stones went on to play in the excellent 3Ds. Their work as Snapper, along with Christine Voice and Alan Haig, is both of a piece with these other bands and utterly singular. Captured Tracks re-issued their debut 1989 EP for Record Store Day, and the four-song set is a perfect introduction to the band’s tight, powerful sound. Opener “Buddy” is an indie-rock classic, all grinding guitars and wild-eyed fury—“no more buddy-buddy, no more messing around”—and sets up three more unrelenting but melodic rock songs. “Cause of You” has a more introspective shadow hanging over it, while “Death and Weirdness in the Surfing Zone” and “Fading” brighten up the mix on the b-side, embracing the otherness of their sound and status. Snapper was a bunch of outsiders here that rage against the status quo and then bed down in their own place in the sun, somewhere on the outskirts where it’s still plenty warm. Gutteridge’s guitar weaves with Voice’s organ perfectly, and Stones’ drumming is stubbornly, fiercely insistent. Snapper wasn’t jangly like the Clean, or lean like Toy Love, or as dreamy as the 3Ds became. They were a powerful, grinding rock band, with the kind of sound that would got sanded down and called shoegaze. Snapper doesn’t need classification, but they do need re-visiting. So start here.
// Notes from the Road
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