Rock out with these new books about music!

Check out some of these newly catalogued books on popular music, including the long-awaited biographies of Roger Waters and Jimmy Webb. Also featured is The origins of cool in postwar America, a unique study of the history of ‘cool’, which provides a fascinating read.

Syndetics book coverThe decibel diaries : a journey through rock in 50 concerts / Carter Alan.
“Sometimes a rock concert is more than just an event. Every so often a band’s performance becomes a musical milestone, a cultural watershed, a political statement, and a personal apotheosis. On any given night a rock concert can tell the truth about who we are, where we are, and what’s going on in music and life right now. In The Decibel Diaries, Carter Alan, longtime DJ and music director at WZLX in Boston, chronicles a lifetime in rock with a tour through fifty concerts. Taken together, The Decibel Diaries is a visceral and visionary portrait of nearly fifty years of rock ‘n’ roll.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRoger Waters : the man behind The Wall / Dave Thompson.
Roger Waters: The Man Behind the Wall is the first full biography of the author of The Dark Side of the Moon , Wish You Were Here , and, of course, The Wall . It traces his life from war-torn suburbia to the multitude of wars he has fought since then with his bandmates, with his audience, and most of all with himself. Packed with insight and exclusive interviews with friends and associates, Roger Waters: The Man Behind the Wall dismantles the wall brick by brick, revealing the man who built it in all his glory.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe most beautiful : my life with Prince / Mayte Garcia.
“At the one-year anniversary of his death, legendary musician Prince’s first wife shares a uniquely intimate, candid, and revelatory look inside the personal and professional life of one of the world’s most beloved icons. No one else can tell this story or can provide a deeper, more nuanced portrait of Prince–both the famously private man and the pioneering, beloved artist–than Mayte, his partner during some of the most pivotal personal and professional years of his career. The Most Beautiful is a book that will be returned to for decades, as Prince’s music lives on with generations to come.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe cake and the rain / Jimmy Webb.
“Jimmy Webb’s words have been sung to his music by a rich and deep roster of pop artists, including Glen Campbell, Art Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer and Linda Ronstadt. He’s the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration, and his chart-topping career has, so far, lasted fifty years, most recently with a Kanye West rap hit and a new classical nocturne. Now, in his first memoir, Webb delivers a snapshot of his life from 1955 to 1970, from simple and sere Oklahoma to fast and fantastical Los Angeles, from the crucible of his family to the top of his longed-for profession.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOtis Redding : an unfinished life / Jonathan Gould.
“The long-awaited, definitive biography of The King of Soul, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Redding’s iconic performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. In Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life, Jonathan Gould finally does justice to Redding’s incomparable musical artistry, drawing on exhaustive research, the cooperation of the Redding family, and previously unavailable sources of information to present the first comprehensive portrait of the singer’s background, his upbringing, and his professional career.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTalking guitar : conversations with musicians who shaped twentieth-century American music / Jas Obrecht.
“In this lively collection of interviews, storied music writer Jas Obrecht presents a celebration of the world’s most popular instrument as seen through the words, lives, and artistry of some of its most beloved players. Readers will read–and hear–accounts of the first guitarists on record, pioneering bluesmen, gospel greats, jazz innovators, country pickers, rocking rebels, psychedelic shape-shifters, singer-songwriters, and other movers and shakers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGrown-up anger : the connected mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet massacre of 1913 / Daniel Wolff.
“A tour de force of storytelling years in the making: a dual biography of two of the greatest songwriters, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, that is also a murder mystery and a history of labor relations and socialism, big business and greed in twentieth-century America–woven together in one epic saga that holds meaning for all working Americans today. In this magnificent cultural study, Wolff braids three disparate strands–Calumet, Guthrie, and Dylan–together to create a devastating revisionist history of twentieth-century America.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe poetry of pop / Adam Bradley.
“Encompassing a century of recorded music, this pathbreaking book reveals the poetic artistry of popular songs. Pop songs are music first. They also comprise the most widely disseminated poetic expression of our time. Adam Bradley traces the song lyric across musical genres from early twentieth-century Delta blues to mid-century rock ‘n’ roll to today’s hits. Bradley shows that pop music is a poetry that must be heard more than read, uncovering the rhythms, rhymes, and metaphors expressed in the singing voice and this book illustrates how words and music come together to produce compelling poetry, often where we least expect it.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeet me in the bathroom : rebirth and rock and roll in New York City, 2001-2011 / Lizzy Goodman.
Meet Me in the Bathroom charts the transformation of the New York music scene in the first decade of the 2000s, the bands behind it–including The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, and Vampire Weekend–and the cultural forces that shaped it, from the Internet to a booming real estate market that forced artists out of the Lower East Side to Williamsburg. Journalist Lizzy Goodman offers a fascinating portrait of a time and a place that gave birth to a new era in modern rock-and-roll.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe origins of cool in postwar America / Joel Dinerstein.
“Cool. It was a new word and a new way to be , and in a single generation, it became the supreme compliment of American culture. The Origins of Cool in Postwar America uncovers the hidden history of this concept and its new set of codes that came to define a global attitude and style. As Joel Dinerstein reveals in this dynamic book, cool began as a stylish defiance of racism, a challenge to suppressed sexuality, a philosophy of individual rebellion, and a youthful search for social change. Dinerstein reveals that they came together to create something completely new–and that something is cool .” (Syndetics summary)

New books on Movies & TV

A variety of new books on movies and TV programmes have been added to our collection recently. They include the intriguing study about movies adapted from comics (and vice versa) and the history of Wellington summer Shakespeare. See also the fascinating biographies of Charlotte Rampling and Ava Gardner.

Syndetics book coverWho I am / Charlotte Rampling ; with Christophe Bataille ; translated from the French by William Hobson with Charlotte Rampling.
“Oscar-nominated Charlotte Rampling most recently appeared in hit ITV drama Broadchurch, the BBC’s London Spy and HBO’s Dexter, and the feature film 45 Years. Having shied away from biographies and autobiographies (“too personal”) Rampling has now written Who I Am (first published in French) a lyrical, and intimate self-portrait via reminiscences. Written in a style that gives a unique insight into her screen persona, it is an idiosyncratic and beguiling insight of one of the most consistently adventurous and interesting actors.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKirk and Anne : letters of love, laughter, and a lifetime in Hollywood / Kirk and Anne Douglas ; with Marcia Newberger.
“Film legend Kirk Douglas and Anne Buydens, his wife of nearly sixty-three years, look back on a lifetime filled with drama both on and off the screen. Sharing priceless correspondence with each other as well as the celebrities and world leaders they called friends, Kirk and Anne is a candid portrayal of the pleasures and pitfalls of a Hollywood life lived in the public eye.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAva : a life in movies / Kendra Bean and Anthony Uzarowski.
“Renowned for her screen performances, down-to-earth personality, and love affair with Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner left an indelible mark on Hollywood history. Her adventurous life story is told through authoritative text and hundreds of photos in Ava: A Life in Movies.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJean Renoir : a biography / Pascal Mérigeau ; translated by Bruce Benderson ; foreword by Martin Scorsese.
“Originally published in France in 2012, Pascal Merigeau’s definitive biography of legendary film director Jean Renoir is a landmark work–the winner of a Prix Goncourt, France’s top literary achievement. Now available in the English language for the first time, Jean Renoir: A Biography is the definitive study of one of the most fascinating and creative artistic figures of the twentieth century.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFences / a play by August Wilson ; introduction by Lloyd Richards.
“From legendary playwright August Wilson, the powerful, stunning dramatic work that won him critical acclaim, including the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. Denzel Washington’s film adaptation received nominations for awards from the Academy Awards, African-American Film Critics Association, American Film Institute, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and NAACP Image Awards, among others.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWellington Summer Shakespeare, 1983-2017 / David Lawrence.
“Since its first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1983, the Wellington Summer Shakespeare has become an unmissable annual event, staging some of the liveliest Shakespeare productions performed in New Zealand. Over 33 years, the Summer Shakespeare has enthralled audiences, introduced new generations of theatregoers to Shakespeare in performance, and played a formative role in the early careers of many of New Zealand’s leading creatives. Wellington Summer Shakespeare 1983-2017 collects photos, ephemera and memories from some of the plays’ directors to document the evolution of Wellington’s only large-scale, large-cast, outdoor theatre event.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverT2 trainspotting / screenplay by John Hodge ; based on the books Porno and Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh.
“First there is an opportunity, then there is a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him, of course: Spud, Sick Boy, and Frank Begbie. But they are not alone. Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance. Mark Renton returns, to the chaos of life and death.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMovie comics : page to screen/screen to page / Blair Davis.
“Adaptations of comics have been an integral part of American cinema from its very inception, with comics characters regularly leaping from the page to the screen and cinematic icons spawning comics of their own. Movie Comics is the first book to study the long history of both comics-to-film and film-to-comics adaptations, covering everything from silent films starring Happy Hooligan to sound films and serials featuring Dick Tracy and Superman to comic books starring John Wayne, Gene Autry, Bob Hope, Abbott & Costello, Alan Ladd, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.” (Syndetics summary)

New albums on vinyl

Check out some of these newly catalogued albums in our growing vinyl collection. They include the debut album by the Dunedin band Élan Vital and the Sufjan Stevens’ new project Planetarium.

Élan Vital / Shadow self
“Élan Vital comprising Renee Barrance (keyboards, vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, live mixing, vocals) and Nikolai Sim (bass) – formed in 2015 in Dunedin’s None Gallery, an undefined artist-run creative community in a former pharmaceutical factory which is also the home of Death And The Maiden. The expression Élan Vital describes the vital force or impulse of life. The music on Shadow Self seems to symbolise that life impulse in an ambiguous zone between machine and human worlds.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

U2 / The Joshua tree.
“30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION : (2LP) 2017 remastered reissue of landmark 1987 album featuring ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ & ‘With Or Without You’.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Sufjan Stevens / Planetarium.
“2LP set. New 2017 collaborative album with his drummer James McAlister, plus Bryce Dessner (The National) and composer Nico Muhly! Songs inspired by the solar system, originally performed in 2013 for the Brooklyn Academy Of Music.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard / Murder of the universe
“‘Murder Of The Universe’ is the second of five albums from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard set for release in 2017. Broken down into 3 distinct ‘chapters’, the 21-track album is concerned with the downfall of man and the death of the planet.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Arcade Fire / Everything now
“‘Everything Now’ is the 5th studio album from Arcade Fire. The thirteen track album features the lead single ‘Everything Now’ and was produced by Arcade Fire, Thomas Bangalter and Steve Mackey, with co-production by Markus Dravs.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Check out these new CD arrivals!

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. They include the new albums by Arcade Fire and Lana Del Rey. Also, fantastic box-sets keep coming to our extensive collection and U2’s The Joshua Tree is back as a super deluxe box-set!

New Albums

Public Service Broadcasting / Every valley.
“The third album from Public Service Broadcasting, the brainchild of London-based J. Willgoose, Esq. who, along with his drumming companion, Wrigglesworth, and their bass player, keys and horns man extraordinaire, JFAbraham, is on a quest to inform, educate and entertain audiences around the globe On Every Valley Willgoose takes us on a journey down the mineshafts of South Wales valleys.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Lana Del Rey / Lust for life.
“For the first time on a Lana Del Rey album, we’ll hear voices besides Lana herself: Lust for Life includes guest appearances from Stevie Nicks, the Weekend, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, and Sean Lennon.” (adapted from mightyape.co.nz)

Arcade Fire / Everything now.
“‘Everything Now’ is the 5th studio album from Arcade Fire. The thirteen track album features the lead single ‘Everything Now’ and was produced by Arcade Fire, Thomas Bangalter and Steve Mackey, with co-production by Markus Dravs.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Steve Earle / So you wannabe an outlaw.
So You Wannabe an Outlaw, Earle’s first album for Warner Bros. Records since 1997’s El Corazón, explores his country songwriting roots and features collaborations with Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, and Miranda Lambert.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

David Bowie / Cracked actor (live Los Angeles ’74).
“2CD set. Finally officially released on CD! Pivotal 20-track live performance from Los Angeles in September 1974, including two songs tracks not on the “David Live” album. Recorded in-between the “Diamond Dogs” and “Philly Dogs” tours.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Box sets/Reissues

U2 / The Joshua tree [super deluxe].
“Alongside the 11-track album, the super deluxe collector’s edition includes a live recording of The Joshua Tree Tour 1987 Madison Square Garden concert; rarities and B-sides from the album’s original recording sessions; as well as 2017 remixes from Daniel Lanois, St Francis Hotel, Jacknife Lee, Steve Lillywhite and Flood; plus an 84-page hardback book of unseen personal photography shot by The Edge during the original Mojave Desert photo session in 1986.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

The Brain box : cerebral sounds of Brain Records 1972-1979.
“Music & Progressive Rock Fans rejoice as the first deluxe box set of the legendary Krautrock label BRAIN RECORDS is available. Over one year in the making this stunning and well documented 8CD box covering the glorious years of the famous BRAIN Records label will allow an unique insight into the progressive and stunning releases that occurred during that era.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Evan Dando / Baby I’m bored.
“Emerging after The Lemonheads disbanded Evan Dando returned to music first with a solo tour and Live At The Brattle Theatre then came his debut solo album Baby I m Bored . Mature and autobiographical, Baby I’m Bored is a stellar record that stripped Dando of his grunge label.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Manchester north of England : a story of independent music, Greater Manchester 1977-1993.
“From Buzzcocks to Britpop, Manchester North Of England is the ultimate tribute to the independent output of that most important and iconic of musical cities, with 146 tracks across seven CDs in a deluxe box set.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Allman Brothers Band / Brothers and sisters.
“This 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition features BROTHERS AND SISTERS (Original Recording Remastered), a second disc of previously unreleased Jams, Rehearsals, and Outtakes, in addition to two extra discs that feature the entire live show from Winterland in San Francisco on September 26, 1973.” (adapted from amazon.com)

10 new books on Popular Music

A wide range of books from the history of the iconic magazine Rolling Stone to the study of film music to the biography of Tony Bennett have been added to our catalogue. From Cradle to Stage highlights the mothers of rock stars and makes for an intriguing read. Check them out!

Syndetics book cover50 years of Rolling stone / introduction by Jann S. Wenner ; edited by Jodi Peckman and Joe Levy ; design director, Joseph Hutchinson.
“For the past fifty years, Rolling Stone has been a leading voice in journalism, cultural criticism, and–above all–music. This landmark book documents the magazine’s rise to prominence as the voice of rock and roll and a leading showcase for era-defining photography. From the 1960s to the present day, the book offers a decade-by-decade exploration of American music and history. This book is an irresistible and essential keepsake of the magazine that has defined American music for generations of readers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe new analog : listening and reconnecting in a digital world / Damon Krukowski.
“Having made his name in the late 1980s as a founding member of the indie band Galaxie 500, Damon Krukowski has watched cultural life lurch from analog to digital. And as an artist who has weathered the transition, he has challenging, urgent questions for both creators and consumers about what we have thrown away in the shift to a digital society: Are our new streaming services undermining our ability to incubate new talent? Krukowski gives us a brilliant meditation and guide to keeping our heads amid the digital flux, and for plugging in without tuning out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExperiencing film music : a listener’s companion / Kenneth LaFave.
“Of all the elements that combine to make movies, music sometimes seems the forgotten stepchild. Yet it is an integral part of the cinematic experience. Minimized as mere “background music,” film scores enrich visuals with emotional mood and intensity, underscoring directors’ intentions, enhancing audiences’ reactions, driving the narrative forward, and sometimes even subverting all three. In Experiencing Film Music: A Listener’s Companion, Kenneth LaFave guides the reader through the history, ideas, personalities, and visions that have shaped the music we hear on the big screen.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrom cradle to stage : stories from the mothers who rocked and raised rock stars / Virginia Hanlon Grohl.
“While the Grohl family had always been musical, Virginia never expected her son to become a musician, let alone a rock star. But when she saw him perform in front of thousands of screaming fans for the first time, she knew that rock stardom was meant to be for her son. Virginia decided to seek out other rock star mothers to ask these questions, and so began a two-year odyssey in which she interviewed such women as Verna Griffin, Dr. Dre’s mother; Marianne Stipe, Michael Stipe of REM’s mother etc. With exclusive family photographs and a foreword by Dave Grohl, From Cradle to Stage will appeal to mothers and rock fans everywhere.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rise, the fall, and the rise / Brix Smith Start.
The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise is the extraordinary story, in her own words, of Brix Smith Start. Best known for her work in The Fall at the time when they were perhaps the most powerful and influential anti-authoritarian postpunk band in the world, Brix spent ten years in the band before a violent disintegration led to her exit and the end of her marriage with Mark E Smith. But Brix’s story is much more than rock ‘n’ roll highs and lows in one of the most radically dysfunctional bands around. Too bizarre, extreme and unlikely to exist in the pages of fiction, The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise could only exist in the pages of a memoir.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJust getting started / Tony Bennett with Scott Simon.
“At ninety, musician and singer Tony Bennett is as vibrant and productive as ever. In addition to his prodigious musical output, including albums, concerts, and personal appearances, this beloved and enduring artist has written his next book. In 2012’s Life Is a Gift, Tony reflected on the lessons he has learned over the years. Now, in Just Getting Started, he pays homage to the remarkable people who inspired those lessons.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShirley Bassey : diamonds are forever : a celebration of my 50 years as her greatest fan / Mary Long.
“Dame Shirley Bassey has become one of the most prestigious singers of her time. Her work has inspired and influenced many, and will no doubt continue to do so for generations to come. Diamonds Are Forever is the fascinating story of Shirley Bassey told from the perspective of one her greatest fans. Mary Long first met Bassey in 1963 and since then has encountered her hundreds of times, thus developing a unique insight into the life of one of our most iconic singers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDon’t you leave me here : my life / Wilko Johnson.
They told me the cancer was incurable and terminal. I felt absolutely calm… I felt free. Free from the future and the past.
In 2013, Dr Feelgood founder, Blockheads member and musical legend Wilko Johnson was diagnosed with terminal cancer. With ten months to live, he decided to accept his imminent death and went on the road. His calm, philosophical response made him even more beloved and admired. And then the strangest thing happened: he didn’t die. Don’t You Leave Me Here is the story of his life in music, his life with cancer, and his life now – in the future he never thought he would see.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSubstance : inside New Order / Peter Hook.
“In this final installment of his internationally bestselling three-part memoir, British rocker Peter Hook focuses on the 1980s New Wave and Dance Punk scene and the rise of one of the most influential bands of the Second British Invasion: New Order. 1980. Resurrected from the ashes of Joy Division after the suicide of its lead singer, Ian Curtis, New Order would become one most critically acclaimed and important bands of the decade and beyond.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInfinite Tuesday : an autobiographical riff / Michael Nesmith.
“Michael Nesmith’s eclectic, electric life spans his star-making role on The Monkees, his invention of the music video, and his critical contributions to movies, comedy, and the world of virtual reality. Above all, his is a seeker’s story, a pilgrimage in search of a set of principles to live by. This funny, thoughtful, self-aware book is a window onto an unexpected life, inflected at every turn by the surprising candor and absurdist humor of an American original.” (Syndetics summary)

Our favourite CDs this month

Our music enthusiasts John and Neil J. select their favourite music over the last few months. Check them out!

John’s picks

Real Estate – In Mind
In a world of constant change predictability can sometimes be a comforting thing and once again, indie hipster heroes, Real Estate, deliver another portion of their gorgeous laid back jangle pop. It is exactly what fans will expect –tremolo heavy guitars, lovely harmonies and bitter sweet songs, all delivered at a relaxed pace by musicians so tight as to appear telepathic – and the fact that there are no surprises is in this case a definite plus. They may be heading down exactly the same road – but it’s hard not to hope they keep doing so for a while yet.

The Handsome Family – Unseen
Another act that successfully tread a well-honed path are husband and wife alt country duo, The Handsome Family. It would be easy to assume that ten albums in they had exhausted ideas for their dark and entrancing gothic folk country sound, but this would be a mistake as, if anything, the contrary is true, with ‘Unseen’ the best record they have made for a while. The melodies are lovely, their darkly surreal stories as absorbing as ever and the playing as understated and gently off- kilter as to be expected. There was a time when The Handsome Family were a closely guarded secret amongst devout fans, until their title theme for ‘True Detective’ cast them into the spotlight, and the exposure appears to have given them a new confidence.

Grandaddy – Last Place
Well-crafted songs, unpretentious 2000’s indie-rock sensibilities, great hooks – guess what, California’s Grandaddy have made a new record after an 11 year silence! Granddaddy were always singer/songwriter Jason Lyttle’s band and it’s great to hear his esoteric, slightly melancholic slacker take on existentialist angst once again. The production is excellent – not trendy lo-fi and not over produced bombast –and gives the guitar, keyboards, occasional strings and electronics room to breathe under Lyttle’s hushed vocals to create a lovely listening experience. Grandaddy were always slightly out of place and now, probably even more so, but their workmanlike song craft and studied carelessness offer a welcome return.

The United States of America – The United States of America
Released in 1968, this was one of the most progressive records released at the time and among the first to feature electronics within a band setup. Grounded in psychedelia but influenced by the New York avant-garde experimental scene, band leader Joe Byrd recruited a group of UCLA students, well versed in John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, to record the group’s lone self-titled LP. The record flopped, but went on to attain cult status and, apart from some of the hippie inspired lyrics such as “Lemonous petals, dissident play/ Tasting of ergot/ Dancing by night, dying by day”, it sounds remarkably contemporary with musique concrete-style tape collages, white noise, tape delay, ring-modulated fade-outs and distorted synthesizers. This re-issue includes 10 extra alternate takes.

Illum Sphere – Glass
The second album on Ninja Tune from UK electronic producer Ryan Hunn finds him ditching the vocals of his debut to present an excellent album of studied electronica. Maintaining a nice balance between abstract and melodic, the tracks wend their way through a variety of styles including minimal four to the floor, sequencer driven grooves, atmospheric ambient and dubbed out chillscapes throughout a confident and beautifully produced immersive listening experience.

Slowdive – Slowdive
It’s always a risk when a band that has attained cult status makes a new album, and the 22 years since Slowdive’s last record is a good case in point. Key figures in the early ‘90’s Shoegaze movement, Neil Halstead’s vast glistening guitar textures and Rachel Goswell’s hushed vocals, last heard on 1995’s ‘Pygmalion’, have been a huge influence on many bands over the past two decades and it is a great pleasure to discover that their 2017 album is a grandiose and spectacular comeback. Everything a fan could hope for is here – deep layers of beautifully textured guitars and lovely plaintive vocals delivering songs, wistful and reflective, within a shimmering production……. and not a guitar solo in earshot.

Gas – Narkopop
In 2000 German electronic maestro Wolfgang Voigt released ‘Pop’, a deeply immersive record, featuring layered loops of orchestral samples to create engrossing electronic ambient music that exhibited all the majesty of classical. Since then he has pretty much created a genre of beatless electronica via his annual Pop Ambient compilations that feature a wide array of electronic artists applying techno production techniques to ambient textures. ‘Narkopop’, his first full release in 17 years, is a follow up to ‘Pop’ and dives deeper into the original template, focusing on texture and reverberation and introducing sub bass pulses to create stunning symphonic electronic chamber music that is as meditative as it is unsettling.

Fazerdaze – Morningside
The latest release from Flying Nun is ‘Morningside’ the debut album by Fazerdaze, an AK band fronted by Wellington born, bedroom pop artist Amelia Murray. Receiving rave reviews worldwide, the album has even been described as ‘generation defining’ on Canadian website ‘The Review’. Since their recent Laneway performance interest in the band has skyrocketed, with their infectious jangly guitar pop finding an audience in a young generation that has been described as the ‘anxious generation’, and if that is true then it is easy to understand how comfort could be found in these simple and stylish songs. Amelia Murray has a sweet voice and her songs hold emotional resonance, revealing a wide range of feelings – anxiety, trepidation, hope, and relief – delivered via confident song structures and diverse arrangements that reveal glimpses of darkness under the apparent innocence.

Fujiya & Miyagi – Fujiya & Miyagi
Six albums in and the Brighton, UK, based band are gradually becoming underground favorites worldwide. Their latest release compiles three eps released over the past year and finds the band fine tuning their sound. They appeared pretty much fully formed back in 2002 and their idiosyncratic sound hasn’t changed a lot since then, but they have grown into a tight band that successfully blends dance floor electro with band sensibilities and their krautrock inspired electro grooves and whispered vocals are presented here with a lot of confidence.

Tycho – Epoch
Another band that bridge electronica and indie rock are Tycho from San Francisco who have developed from the solo IDM project of electronic producer Scott Hansen into one of the best known instrumental electronic bands of this era. ‘Epoch’, their fourth release, received a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album, which is surprising considering the amount of guitar playing and drums that feature on a record that is, essentially, an instrumental post rock album. Generally it’s a four to the floor excursion with a few tracks rhythms verging on math rock and even drum’n’bass, yet overall the swirling guitars and cascading synths maintain a steady flow of highly enjoyable grooves.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble – Finding Me Finding You
The demise of UK post rockers Stereolab left a gap in contemporary music, but some solace can be found in the fact that there are now two bands in Stereolabs place, with Tim Gane’s Cavern of Anti-Matter exploring further into kraut rock while Laetitia Sadier continues to create her surreal sensual pop informed by the harmonies and lush instrumentation of exotica, easy listening and tropicalia. This is her fourth record since Stereolab split in 2010, and she has proven to be an artist with a clear singular vision which she explores consistently, with the addition of subtle twist here and there. Here she presents her warmest record yet, however the beauty is lodged within shifting abstract song structures that demand a listener’s perseverance – but the effort is well rewarded.

Karriem Riggins – Headnod Suite
Not quite a jazz album and not quite a beat tape, Detroit drummer and producer Karriem Riggins’ second album contains 29 tracks, most of them less than two minutes in duration, that run together to create an engrossing listen featuring vocal snippets and instrumental samples all pushed along by very cool beats. Anyone who has enjoyed the contemporary re-invention of Afro-American fusion explored on Robert Glasper’s remix projects, which re-imagine hip-hop, jazz, electronics and soul, should find this an interesting release. Like classic instrumental hip hop releases such as ‘Donuts’ (Karriem Riggins worked with J Dilla) the multitude of sounds dissipate as quickly as they appear entrancing the attentive listener

Jah Wobble & the Invaders of the Heart – Everything Is Nothing
35 years ago it would have been impossible to foresee the bass player from Johnny Rotten’s post punk band Public Image Ltd making an album of spiritual jazz-funk, but times change and Jah Wobbles latest PledgeMusic funded record is an excellent contemporary fusion of afro-beat, jazz and polyrhythmic funk. Producer Youth has described the record as Wobble’s “Miles Davis opus”, which may be an overstatement; however, this predominantly instrumental album features ten tracks delivered by a talented group of virtuosos who never grandstand but play to the funky polyrhythmic grooves, anchored by Wobble’s dub-infused bass and former Fela Kuti drummer, Tony Allen. Featuring muted trumpet, piano, guitar, Rhodes, vibes, synth, blistering sax (courtesy of Hawkwind’s Nik Turner), flute and strings, this is a big and very funky sound that both references and pays homage to the influential afro jazz that has gone before.

Neil J’s picks

Jesca Hoop – Memories are now
The supremely talented Jesca’s latest release is another subtle, melodic, sophisticated outing. Building on her previous releases it as the cliché says “ rewards repeated listening’s”. Bound to be in many peoples best of 2017 lists when that time comes. A rather beautiful wee album.

Perfume genius – No Shape
Perfume genius’s fourth album No shape is a lush, elaborate, decadent shape shifting album of contrasts. Moving effortlessly from haunting delicate fragile melodies that still somehow sound slightly damaged or decayed to uplifting euphoric rapturous elements often in the same piece of music

Bonobo – Migration
Bonobo aka Simon Green’s latest work is a sonically rich , dreamy and downbeat piece of electronica with the odd vocal sprinkled through. Its easily his most listenable work to date.

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
I love the Fleet foxes first two albums and was intrigued to hear that Crack up their third outing starts exactly where the last track of their second album Helplessness blues ends. No band is attempting to do what they do with their sound. It’s really hard to describe their work but here goes experimental, orchestral, modern folk music with a close affection for music from late 1960s American West coast Scene. People like Crosby, Stills and Nash or Joni Mitchell. Its lush, its gorgeous, its seductive and it has serious intent too one of my favourites of the year.

Sound & Vision: New CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Beach House B-sides and rarities
Anathema The optimist
Imagine Dragons Evolve
Juana Molina Halo
Jethro Tull Songs from the wood : the country set
Frank Zappa Greasy love songs
Tom Waits Transmission impossible : legendary radio broadcasts from the 1970s
Beach Boys 1967 : sunshine tomorrow


Movies galore: the NZ International Film Festival is back #nziff

Our beloved winter event the New Zealand International Film Festival 2017 opens 28 July in Wellington offering a wide variety of movies from all over the world. To get into the mood, some of our movie buff staff listed their favourite titles from recent festivals and the results are below.

We have a lot of movies previously showcased at the festival. You can find the titles here – check them out to have your own festival at home.

Our Staff picks from the recent film festivals

Beth
Aquarius
A sensitive portrayal of a beautiful woman, now aging, who stubbornly wants to keep her apartment despite all odds.

Bridget
Free to Run / A War / Paterson / Midnight Special / Chasing Asylum

Jessica
The Rehearsal
A really great kiwi film based on the book by Eleanor Catton. I haven’t read the book but I from my understanding the film only covers part of the story, but you couldn’t tell it was missing anything.

When Marnie Was There
I really loved it. As with any Studio Ghibli film, it was visually stunning.

Mark
Goodnight Mommy
German horror/thriller, part of the new ‘wave’ of non-slasher horror films as represented by films like It Follows, Babadook & Under The Skin. 9 year old twins Lukas & Elias living in an idyllic isolated summer cottage waiting for their Mother to return from having plastic surgery. When she returns her face is covered in bandages, and slowly little things emerge about her seem that seem off. Gradually their suspicions increase… Is that really their mother under the bandages? The nasty twist may be easy for some to spot, but it’s still super creepy.

The Lobster
One you immediately love or loathe, a savage indictment of modern interpersonal relationships, taken to its natural dystopian extreme. In the near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods. The newly single Colin Farrell navigates the surreal Hotel, and survives by escaping into The Woods to live with ‘The Loners’ who have their own sets of rules. Perhaps mislabelled as a ‘Comedy’ or a ‘Romance’. Very very deadpan, but plenty of great lines and moments if you can get into its mindset.

Green Room
Tight indie thriller sees a punk band fall afoul of a bunch of skinheads after accidentally witnessing a murder in an Oregon roadhouse. The claustrophobic setting is put to maximum effect as the skinheads (led by a nasty turn from Patrick Stewart) are determined to eliminate all witnesses. Sadly one of the last roles of the very talented Anton Yelchin.

Neil J
Midnight special
An indie feeling road movie/chase/Science fiction film with family relationship at its core rather than blockbuster special effects. Though it does have one or two nice visual effects to boot.

Swiss army man
Daniel Radcliffe distances himself even further from this Harry Potter days in this truly bizarre yet rather wonderful film about a magical corpse.

Captain Fantastic
A film that works on so many levels . It is touching, funny, serious, intense and a whole gambit more of emotions a really rounded film that asks us to question 21st century life and its true value. My pick of this selection of films.

Rams
This is an off kilter quirky gem of a film . Two Icelandic brothers who haven’t spoken in years conduct their affairs through their prize herds of sheep. Very black and wry humour throughout.

Turbo Kid
A film that revels in mega low budget science fiction of the 80’s ( in a really fun way) . All the tropes are there and one or two of the actors too!.

Inherent Vice
Set in a drug drenched 1970s an L.A. private eye investigates the disappearance of one of his former girlfriends a hypnotic, rambling, impressionistic film, immersive film perhaps not to everyone’s taste , But so vividly realised you can almost taste and touch 1970s Los Angeles .

High Rise
This is 1970s dystopian science fiction at its best, all exaggerated and exuberant bleakness concrete and chrome, hessian and wood, except for one thing this film was made in 2015. Its retro futuristic Science Fiction at its best and a total blast. The kind of film Ken Russell or Nicholas Roeg might have made back in the day.

Shinji
Paterson – Jim Jarmusch masterfully crafts a quiet but lovely warm-hearted movie about a working class poet Paterson who lives in Paterson, New Jersey.
I, Daniel Blake – Anger within but with as little drama as possible, Ken Roach depicts the struggles of a widowed carpenter. One of his finest works.
Our Little Sister – A ‘sweet and lovely’ movie which offers beautiful tenderness and emotion though successive small moments of everyday life.
The Assassin – a sublime, breathtakingly beautiful film in which every scene is a work of art.
My Mother – about facing mortality but Italian auteur Nanni Moretti makes it a charming family drama which has a perfect balance of melodrama and comedy.
Embrace of the Serpent –The powerful tale of Western civilization vs. indigenous value takes us into the mysterious Amazon jangle with a stunning image.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – often described as ‘the Iranian feminist vampire western’. A little Indie gem.
Tehran taxi – Iranian master director Jafar Panahi ingeniously turns the taxi into a mirror of Iranian society. Serious yet playful.

William
From 2016: A War and Green Room – both are recommended for those with strong stomachs.
From 2015: Dope and The Mafia Kills Only in Summer – both are fine for anyone

Fiona
Girlhood / Helvetica / Cabin In The Woods / Only Lovers Left Alive / Drowning By Numbers

Marilyn
Life Animated / Boyhood / The music of strangers : Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble / Amour / The Daughter

Sound & Vision: New CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Radiohead OK computer : OKNOTOK 1997 2017
Alt-J Relaxer
Teenage Fanclub Here
Jeff Tweedy Together at last
Jason Isbell The Nashville sound
Laurel Halo Dust
Arve Henriksen Towards language
Yasmine Hamdan Al jamílat
Prince Purple rain : [music from the motion picture] Deluxe



Sound & Vision: New CDs

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Early Years II
Sylvan Esso What now
Forest Swords Compassion
John Williams The ultimate collection
Orchestra Baobab Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
Bruce Springsteen Unplugged 1992