The Verlaines

~ Group


The Verlaines are a rock band from Dunedin, New Zealand. Formed in 1981 by Graeme Downes, Craig Easton, Anita Pillai, Phillip Higham and Greg Kerr, the band went through multiple line-ups before going on an extended hiatus after their 1997 album Over The Moon. In 2003 a career retrospective, You're Just Too Obscure for Me, was released.

The band were named after French poet Paul Verlaine—not, as is occasionally suggested, Tom Verlaine, who also took his stage name from the poet.

The Verlaines were noted for their angular, "difficult" song structures, wordy and downbeat lyrics, unusual subject matter all contained in often frantic up-tempo playing. The Verlaines were led by songwriter and vocalist/guitarist Graeme Downes although many other New Zealand musicians played guitar, bass, drums and brass instruments during the different stages of the band.

In 1993, the band contributed the track "Heavy 33" to the AIDS-Benefit Album No Alternative, and in 1995, the song "Some Fantasy" (a Doublehappys cover) to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Bothered, both produced by the Red Hot Organization.

Their signature songs included "Death and the Maiden", "C.D. Jimmy Jazz & Me", "Bird-dog" and "Ballad of Harry Noryb".

The band's recorded debut was on the seminal Dunedin Double EP, which was released by Flying Nun Records and was the debut of several bands who would go on to be central to the mythology of the Dunedin Sound.

Downes is an academic at the University of Otago, where he is head of the Department of Music. He teaches contemporary music and has research interests in Mahler and Shostakovich. He has released one solo album, Hammers and Anvils, which came out on Matador Records in 2001.

The Verlaines' fansite reported on 11 February 2007 that a new album was being produced. On 10 December 2007, this new album Pot Boiler was released on Flying Nun.

In 2009, the Verlaines released another new album, Corporate Moronic, through Dunedin Music.

The Verlaines contributed the soundtrack to the film Eden, collaborating with actor Adetokunbo Adu, and screenwriter Rebecca Tansley. A song from Eden, What Sound is This? appeared on their album Untimely Meditations in 2012.

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Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1985 Hallelujah All the Way Home The Verlaines 6
1987 Bird-Dog The Verlaines 2
1990 Some Disenchanted Evening The Verlaines 4
1991 Ready to Fly The Verlaines 1
1993 Way Out Where The Verlaines 2
1997 Over the Moon The Verlaines 1
2007 Pot Boiler The Verlaines 1
2009 Corporate Moronic The Verlaines 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1987 Juvenilia Compilation The Verlaines 2
2003 You’re Just Too Obscure for Me… Compilation The Verlaines 1


Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1983 Death and the Maiden The Verlaines 1
1986 Doomsday The Verlaines 1
1990 The Funniest Thing The Verlaines 1


Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1982 Dunedin Double EP The Chills / Sneaky Feelings / The Stones / The Verlaines 2
1984 10 O’Clock in the Afternoon The Verlaines 1

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