Category: NZ Music Month

New Zealand Music Month: Svend’s picks

New Zealand Music Month logoTo mark New Zealand Music Month our librarians have been thinking about local music memories, albums and artists. Here’s what Svend had to say:

Loop Select 003 cover link Loop Select 004 coverIf you’re looking for an introduction to a bunch of good New Zealand music at the electronica/dance/dub end of the spectrum, the LOOP compilations are a great place to start. They were released around the turn of the century, but many of the artists featured on these albums are still making cool music, and the library has a fairly good selection of them; it can be interesting to look at how they’ve changed over time, and interacted with each other.

For example, listening to the first, unnumbered LOOP compilation, the catchy breakbeats of Minuit might catch your ear, leading you to their EP Luck; or you might enjoy Species II from LOOP Select 003 (also on their first album, The 88):

But they haven’t stayed still. For example, if you listened to their recent albums, like Find Me Before I Die A Lonely, you’d find the expected tracks that menacingly whir and click along, like “Run Run” (with the awesome opening line, “I’m not so brave; I’m just surrounded by cowards…”); but there are also stripped back, almost folksy tracks like “Vampires”:

Or there’s the unstoppable Rhian Sheehan, whose dreamy electronic soundscapes are all over the various LOOP compilations. He’s ended up doing a lot of film and television work (and, thanks to an agreement between LOOP and the 48HR Film Competition, can be heard over the credits of a surprising number of ramshackle short films). Here’s a live version of the first track from his album Standing In Silence:

Rhian Sheehan – Standing in Silence Pt.1 (Live) by Rhian Sheehan

Or how about the rambling but funky supergroup Fat Freddy’s Drop, who’s first album Live at the Matterhorn (with the iconic Bucket Fountain on the cover) manages to make four tracks jam for an hour. Their album Based On A True Story is slightly less meandering, but no less soulful, as the track “Wandering Eye” demonstrates:

Of course, the other nice thing about Fat Freddy’s Drop is that it’s a springboard into a whole constellation of bands… but it might be better if that was another post.

New Zealand Music Month: Sam’s picks

To mark New Zealand Music Month our librarians have been thinking about their favourite local music memories, albums and artists. Here are Sam’s favourite releases of the current decade:

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Rising unexpectedly (and for a time, mysteriously) from the ashes of the Mint Chicks, Ruban Nielson’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra provided not only my favourite New Zealand (via Portland I know, but still) release of last year, but favourite musical release period. Every song is packed full of the kind of earworm-y hooks that linger long after the album’s play time and count as Nielson’s best work yet. The video for standout track Bicycle is at the bottom of this post for a preview.

Please turn me into the snat – Connan Mockasin
Connan Hosford’s wide-eyed, psychedelic gem signalled a coming of age as a songwriter, even as the music looked back towards childhood for its’ themes and feel. The sprawling ambition of the record has earned Connan a support slot for Radiohead on their upcoming Australasian tour, and I’m told he’s huge in Paris, well-deserved accolades for one of this quality.

Autumn – The Golden Awesome
Wellington based shoegazers The Golden Awesome played a couple of album release shows over the weekend to celebrate the release of this, their debut, were you there? You should’ve been, because the four of them are making some of the best noise currently coming out of New Zealand. Beautifully hypnotic shoegaze that works equally well up loud at a party, or down low on some headphones as you drift off to sleep. Luck Man – Delaney Davidson
I first heard the songs off of this album on an incredibly wet and windy night at a show that I nearly skipped for fear of being blown off my feet on the way. Boy oh boy was I glad I went! A masterful blend of folk/country/blues/whatever, all tied together with a perfectly world-weary voice. Standouts include You’re a loser, which was recently nominated for a New Zealand Country Music Award and I’m so depressed, an excellent Abner Jay cover.

New Zealand Music Month: Monty’s Picks

New Zealand Music Month 2012To mark New Zealand Music Month our librarians have been thinking about their favourite local music memories, albums and artists. Here are some of Monty’s favourite recent releases:

Real Groovy cover linkHappy heartbreak! / the Sami Sisters.
Infectous, singable, hummable, danceable pop fun with Auckland’s Sami sisters. Mixed by NZ music scene recluse and eccentric legend, Ed Cake, so lots of bittersweet lyrics and happy music!

Real Groovy cover linkThe Vietnam War.
Touchstones might be alt-country groups like Son Volt or early Wilco but Vietnam War are a distinctly memorable and authentic NZ country/folk act. Songs like the brilliantly lethargic and chugging ‘Heavy on my mind,’ couldn’t be from anywhere but New Zealand, I reckon. See the video below:

Real Groovy cover linkHits and love songs.
The man, the music, the hits. You’ve got to give respect to a man who can cover Sexual healing and MacArthur Park on the same comp and I haven’t yet mentioned Cheryl Moana Marie, Tania and, for a man meeting middle-age, the increasingly stirring If I only had time. Not a dry eye in my house, anyway.

New Zealand Music Month: Pauline’s picks

To mark New Zealand Music Month our librarians have been thinking about their favourite local music memories, albums and artists. Pauline has whittled down a long list of favourites to compile a top 5 list of New Zealand albums. Fun fact #1: four of them are from Wellington, go Wellington! Fun fact #2: all of them are in our catalogue, available to be issued for just $1!

Anika Moa – Love in motion
The Golden Awesome – Autumn
The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo
The Wellington Ukelele Orchestra – I love you
Jess Chambers – Desire

What are your favourites? Drop us a line in the comments, we’d love to know!

NZ music reviews to end NZ Music Month

Sadly, it’s the end of New Zealand Music Month !  We have been collecting up a few reviews from staff – here are some from John, one of our librarians:

ghostplaneGhostplane – Beneath the Sleepy Lagoon: ‘Southern gothic’ was a genre name coined especially to describe the sound of Wellington’s Ghostplane. They only made this album and one EP in their short career but left a highly distinctive memento. A dark, moody ambience, punctuated by searing guitar lines, pervades these lovely textured songs that carry a NZ flavour not often explored. In their own idiosyncratic way, this band rock.

Mestar – Shut the Squizwot Factories Down: In a more just world John White would be ultra famous. His Mestar project carries the original classic Dunedin indie guitar sound into the future. Huge fuzzy guitars under his distinctively twee sweet vocals create songs that represent the pop music of an imagined parallel Earth.

Sola Rosa – Get It Together / Get It Together Remixes: Starting out as a solo laptop artist, Andrew Spraggon has unrelentingly pursued his musical vision to finally emerge at the helm of a large band of fine musicians, and this record represents the pinnacle expression of his vision so far. It is a record that includes a variety of influences – dub, lounge, jazz and soul – and the inclusion of international vocalists such as Bajka and remixers such as DJ Vadim herald a truly international sound.

The Haints of Dean Hall – The Haints of Dean Hall: A record of haunting post modern lullabies and possibly one of the gentlest records I have ever heard. This trans-Tasman duo create an ambience with electric guitar and vocals so sweet and gentle that it is hardly there at all, yet listen carefully and these are lovingly crafted songs about love, sorrow and experience. “They are trying to recall something but it is like passing shadowy figures in a hallway”.

The Bats – The Guilty Office: When a band can release an album 20 years into their career that matches or even tops anything else in their back catalogue then you know there is something very special going on. In 2008, The Bats very quietly released this record that was like a reminder to indie kids the world over just what ‘indie’ truly means. Great songs, slacker grooves, elegant understated guitar and laconic yet heartfelt vocals – The Bats – a national treasure!

NZ Music Month – young artists play free gigs this week in our libraries

As previously mentioned, up-and-coming young artists are performing free afternoon gigs at Wellington Central Library and at the Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie), Newtown, Johnsonville and Karori branch libraries this week, from 4PM to 5PM.

Here’s the roster of performers for each event:

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) : Monday 16 May 2011
Te Aihe Butler, Harriet Emily Hill, Lukas Jury

Newtown, Tuesday 17 May:
Alexi Cartwright, Lukas Jury & Harriet Emily Hill

Johnsonville: Wednesday 18 May:
Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse, Harriet Emily Hill

Karori: Thursday 19 May (4-5pm):
Ash Graham, Te Aihe Butler, Roman Birch

Central Library: Friday 20 May:
Ash Graham, Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse

Find out more about the performers on Toi Poneke’s Facebook pages:

Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse, Harriet Emily Hill, Lukas Jury, Te Aihe Butler, Roman Birch, Ash Graham

Hope to see you there!


Rachel Dawick – free live performances at Central & Kilbirnie libraries

follow my tears eventOn Wednesday 18 May, Wellington City Libraries is delighted to have New Zealand singer/songwriter Rachel Dawick give two free live performances as part of her “Follow My Tears” tour. Rachel will perform at:
Central Library (65 Victoria Street) – 12-1pm
Ruth Gotlieb Library, Kilbirnie – 3.30-4.30pm

For 60 days Rachel will be touring New Zealand performing and collecting stories of New Zealand women in the 1800s on her journey.

“Researching into the songs written in the 1800s in NZ revealed a large gap in terms of those by women. It was a musical history dominated by men and therefore providing only half a story. If there weren’t the songs then the next best thing would be to discover the stories and write the songs myself.”
Rachel Dawick.

Want to have a listen before the event? Check out Rachel’s previous albums in our catalogue.

nzmmFor more information on Rachel Dawick:

For more information about the “Follow My Tears” tour:

Supported by Creative NZ, Wellington City Libraries, The Interislander Ferry and Radio New Zealand.

follow my tears events

NZ Music Month @ Wellington City Libraries

It’s May! So once again it’s New Zealand Music Month. What’s the Library doing this year to celebrate & profile Wellington musicians?  Well…

This May, Wellington libraries will turn into temporary concert venues – showcasing young local talent. Up-and-coming young artists will perform afternoon gigs at Wellington Central Library and at the Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie), Newtown, Johnsonville and Karori branch libraries. These free events will take place Monday 16 to Friday 20 May.

– Kilbirnie on Monday 16 from 4 to 5pm
– Newtown on Tuesday 17 from 4 to 5pm
– Johnsonville on Wednesday 18 from 4 to 5pm
– Karori on Thursday 19 from 4 to 5pm
– Central on Friday 20 from 4 to 5pm

There will also be evening performances at ZEAL and The Jimmy Bar at the St James Theatre.

Wellington City Council is organising these live performances in partnership with Play It Strange, a trust established in 2003 to encourage young New Zealanders to develop interests and skills in songwriting and musical performance.

Other Music Month events include a series of Music Workshops.

On Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 May Toi Poneke Arts Centre will hold free workshops for independent musicians. The workshop on Monday is for musicians who want to break into the Australian market and will be full of hits and tips for people who have already crossed the Tasman.

This is followed on Tuesday with the launch of the Instrumental’s Musician’s Publicity Toolkit – with a live performance from Mara TK. The toolkit is a musician’s essential guide to self-publicity and online marketing.

A full list of events, times and venues in Wellington for New Zealand Music Month can be found on the Toi Poneke Arts Centre’s Facebook page

wellington city council events poster


Kooky ukes at Newtown Library

Ninety people or so piled in through the door to attend a New Zealand-themed ukulele story-time recently during NZ Music Month.  Marg, Odette, Ellie and Monty performed, read and improvised their way through 30 minutes of great fun!

More NZ music reviews, as the month ends

Reviews from Craig, one of our librarians:

sticky filthStainless, Sticky Filth
Sticky Filth is a Kiwi institution. From the punk rock capital of New Zealand, the mighty New Plymouth no less, they’ve built a fearsome reputation, not for their sound obviously, which isn’t particularly unique, but more for their legacy of utterly furious gigs. They’re a punk/speed metal hybrid, completely old-skool and refreshingly uncomplicated; don’t go looking for a hint of ironic sophistication or hip self-awareness, there is none to be found (and they have a front-man called Craig, which is always nice). If your appreciative of rawness and simplicity then you’ll be in grimy rock heaven because Stainless is a non-stop romp through rock’s greatest clichés; drugs, girls and in one case a girl and World War Two German handgun, of course, why not eh. Its unrefined, unpolished and just plain dumb (and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible). Highly recommended to anyone looking for something to simply blast. They’re awesome, mate.

link to Smoke CDsSolace, Cale:Drew, Subsets of sets, all by Jakob
Jakob are the best New Zealand band you’ve never heard of. In just three releases these unassuming chaps from the Hawkes Bay have built an international reputation that has seen them grace the stage with celebrated post-rock artists such Isis and Pelican, reap critical acclaim from the uber-trendy rock quarters and have their records released on tre’-chic European labels. Their sound is fundamentally instrumental; progressive sweeps of guitar build upon layers of overdubs until it’s all shattered by titanic shifts in tone and crushing breakdowns. I suppose they transcend categorization in many regards, post-rock, instru-metal, experimental? Any one could fit. Its Pink Floyd listening in as King Crimson plays Tool (minus the vocal), maybe, possibly? Anyway, best you listen for yourself. Its gentle intricate picking one minute, dense and heavy riffage the next, you’re sure to find something you’ll love. Every album is as equally fantastic as the others; now that’s something you don’t hear too often. Check them out, please!

link to SmokeCDs Aileron, Rotor+
Rotor+ don’t simply play electronica, they build epic landscapes out of its tweaks and twitches. It’s like this, picture yourself aboard a magic carpet, go on, dare ya. Now envision yourself hanging onto the lip of that carpet as it speeds along hugging the contours of Aotearoa; that’s Rotor+ right there. Listening to Aileron is like participating in a long and constantly unfolding journey, in three tracks we’re whisked along through ambient and ill-bient landscapes, not unlike those traversed by early 70’s electronic experimentalists. It’s certainly surprising every time I listen, there’s something new to be heard and always something fresh and invigorating to be imagined.

Link to SmokeCDsSedition, Dawn of Azazel
Lead by a sworn New Zealand police officer Dawn of Azazel are a death metal band that has mainly drawn media attention because of their lead singers chosen profession. This is a little unfair, I say a little because going by the booklet photos they sort of look like they can handle it. They are also a pretty good old-skool thrash band. Lets be honest, they’ve got little appeal for non-metal heads, actually there’s no way I could recommend this to anyone but a hardened death metal fan, but there’s something truly majestic about the lo-fi hiss and overly trebled cacophony they manage to assemble. It’s true, it’s unvarnished and it’s all frightfully earnest, you can’t ask for more than that in your metal, so on that factor alone I’d say pitch in.

link to SmokeCDsTiny Blue Biosphere, Rhian Sheehan
Alongside Pitch Black, Rhian Sheehan is another artist who has taped into the core of what makes a great Kiwi electronic artist. There’s no doubt that at its spiritual nucleus Rhian is producing music that couldn’t have been made anywhere else but it is still resoundingly international in its expression. We’ve flung our electronic artists across the globe so it’s nice to hear an album recorded here with such a global theme. At its foundation Biosphere is an ecological album, a celebration of Gaia and our treatment of her. It’s not cynical, while it could have easily been so; it is instead a celebration of us and our surroundings, the perfect Sunday morning album to reflect on or the perfect Saturday night album to bond over.

link to RealGroovyPoison of Ages, 8 Foot Sativa
Now this is how to record a great Kiwi metal album. Firstly, leave home and head to Sweden’s Studio Underground, worked for Blindspott and has done similar wonders for 8 Foot. I don’t know what it was about the location change but it meant 8 Foot went from being a ‘meeh’ generic metal band to a truly great blackened death metal band, all in a the space of a couple of albums. Infinitely heavier and darker, and with thicker and denser production values than say Dawn of Azazel, 8 Foot have been treading the boards for a decade now and showing no signs of taming themselves. If anything they are getting heavier and more controversial. Poison of Ages is the best place to start, everything previous to this is tamer so you can happily work your way down the albums if you’re after some lighter relief.

link to RealGroovyThere my dear, Dimmer
Shane Carter, blah, blah, blah. We know all about Shane’s iconic, and of course, well deserved status in the annuals of Kiwi rock, but I wonder if that legacy sometimes obscures just how good he really is. We expect greatness, so when it arrives we’re all a bit ho-hum about it. Well, I’m not ho-hum in the least about this album; it’s one of my all time favourites, occupying a very special place in my heart, tucked up right next to a couple of Marvin Gayes’, a Miles Davis, a Bon Iver and one Coldplay song (forgive me). It’s a heartbreak album, wonderfully morbid and melancholic; it’s a right gloomy tour de force. Shane welcomed back the guitar on this album, after a couple of more keyboard orientated excursions, and it’s as beautiful as any of his previous standout works. If you’ve not heard Dimmer before begin here, it’s immaculately dreary.

Metamathics, HDU
It is utterly ridiculous that HDU never made it to the top of the Billboard charts. Here’s another Kiwi band, heaped with international praise, and still playing tiny gigs in sweaty pubs around NZ. Doesn’t make any sense at all. They’re a sterling, lurching, beast of a guitar band. Huge chunky, ominous riffs wrapped around twirling and nebulous harmonies. I don’t know what it is about our land but HDU pull something dark, mysterious and somehow kind of tranquil from our soil. They’re timeless and epic, there’s a sweeping gothic, very Dunedin, quality to their sound, infused with some of that Southern chill perhaps. In any case they’ve obviously spent a great deal of time sitting in cold rooms creating these tracks, there’s a care and passion to them that makes one imagine they really inhabit those notes when they strike them.

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