The Clean, Compilation (1986)

While I'm largely steering clear of greatest hits packages here, which are just too easy, New Zealand's hugely influential yet hugely ignored The Clean limited themselves largely to singles and EPs for their early years, so this is what we've got to show for their initial era.

The Clean merged late 60s garage rock with more drony Velvet Underground jams to create a raw, cathartic sound that not only inspired a ton of great New Zealand bands that rose in their wake (including the Bats, whose frontman Robert Scott doubles as the Clean's bassist, and the rest of the crew on the legendary Flying Nun record label), but US indie acts like Yo La Tengo.  Everything here is rough and ragged, shards of the Velvets and Television and the Feelies, with vocals that are far from smooth and polished, but it's kept aloft by catchy hooks and understated charm.  So you get the garage-y organ-driven "Tally Ho!" and "Beatnik," which sound like boisterous updatings of "96 Tears"; off-kilter downbeat yet poppy nuggets like "Anything Could Happen" and "Flowers"; the guitar-squall compelling drones of the explosive "Point That Thing Somewhere Else" and the instrumental "At The Bottom"; and the joyous indie crunch of "Whatever I Do" and "Oddity."  It's a delightful mess from start to finish, free of pretense, pure post-punk glee.

Later albums, beginning with 1990's excellent Vehicle, found the band leaving some of the rawer elements behind, at times a more straightforward indie rock band in the Yo La Tengo vein, at times leaning a little more pastoral and experimental.  Note that the band subsequently released a double-CD collection [The Clean Anthology] which includes both a broader overview of the earlier years as well as selections from later albums, and that's the one to hunt down if you're looking for the more complete package.

Here's the "Tally Ho!" video:
...and a video for "Anything Could Happen":
How about a live ramped-up "Point That Thing Somewhere Else"?