Today New Zealand’s Wax Chattels share their third single “Cede” off their cathartic sophomore album, Clot, out September 25 via Captured Tracks and Flying Nun. The vitriolic choruses of “Cede” are in Amanda Cheng’s (bass/vocals) native language — Taiwanese Hokkien — and are an indignant confrontation about Cross-Strait relations and self-determination. This track follows their singles “No Ties,” a melodic single about the experience of being a first generation immigrant that BrooklynVegan called “ferocious” and “Efficiency” that We All Want Someone To Shout For called “hard-hitting slice of industrial hard rock.”
Amanda Cheng on “Cede” – “I am angry. Saying ‘you don’t know who I am’ in Taiwanese Hokkien is to say ‘you don’t get to tell me who I am.’ You don’t just scream like this to put on an album — you scream like this because it’s the only thing you can do. This song is an affront to the near-silent cultural genocide that’s taking place — the censorship, the militant threats — and the international community’s insistence on practicing diplomacy with economics at the front of mind. If it takes a loud song that’s half in an unfamiliar language for people to ask, “what’s that about?”, then so be it.
Amanda Cheng, who directed the video, says, “I set out to make a video that was unenjoyable to watch; unhinging a domestic, ‘safe’ setting. To contrast the blunt lyrics, the thematic statements in the video are more subtle — there’s a geopolitical narrative there, but you’ll miss it.”
After a knock-out entrée with 2018’s self-titled LP, the anticipation that surrounds Clot is immense. Much like Wax Chattels, the writing process for Clot took the best part of a year. While some songs were written on the road, the bulk of the album was workshopped throughout 2019 across bedrooms and storage containers. Wax Chattels maintained the use of only the barest of ingredients — bass guitar, keyboard, and a two-piece drum kit — but the group spent more time experimenting with and finding new sounds. They wanted to maintain the same live element as in their debut, but, this time, heavier — for which they enlisted the help of mixing engineer, and fellow noise-maker, Ben Greenberg (Uniform, Destruction Unit, The Men). A marked step-up, this new record keeps the visceral energy of the debut, only this time they dig deeper into cathartic noise. Clot’s inspiration — or, rather, frustration — came from the doomy, gloomy corners of Auckland’s underbelly, and the theme of confrontation is central.
It is universally agreed that Wax Chattels are a must-see live act; their hypnotically sinister debut captured this perfectly. Released in 2018 and supported by relentless touring, the eponymous album reached #7 on the Official New Zealand Album Charts, and release week saw the title feature as #1 in Rough Trade’s Top 20 New Releases. Tastemakers like NPR and A.V. Club came on as early champions. The album’s success at home and abroad led to the well-deserved nomination of Best Alternative Artist at the 2018 New Zealand Music Awards, as well as the band’s inclusion in the coveted shortlist of finalists for the Taite Music Prize and Auckland Live Best Independent Debut Award.