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


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.

Ready to Roll? 100 Classic Kiwi Clips

Did you know you can watch 100 classic New Zealand music video clips on the Film Archive’s website? The project is called Ready to Roll and clips are organised by title, author, year, label or director. The oldest clips available are from 1967; the most recent are from 2008.

During New Zealand Music Month in May people on the site have also been voting for their favourite clips. Voting unfortunately closed at the weekend so you can no longer register your vote – but you can see NZ’s top 10 music video clips as voted on at the Film Archive. Have a look!

The Film Archive collects, protects and projects New Zealand’s film and television history, and their website is worth a look – they have some quite incredible content. Just as one example, you can view New Zealand’s earliest surviving piece of film, of soldiers departing for the Boer War in 1900. Wow.

8 quick questions with Alistair Fraser

Woolshed sessionsHow did a collaborative project such as the ‘Woolshed Sessions’ come about?

Many of the Woolshed musicians had been having a very social winter, having potluck dinners and cosy get togethers that also involved having a wine or two and a sing song. We thought it was worth a crack recording some of the songs, and so Justin and Age sorted out a good venue, being a friend’s bach in East Takaka that they used to go to for holidays as teenagers. Continue reading “8 quick questions with Alistair Fraser”

Don’t miss out!

Reminder… Reminder… Reminder…

Music producer Lee Prebble from The Surgery and his musician buddy Age Pryor from the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra and The Woolshed Sessions, will be at the Wellington Central Library TOMORROW 26th May at 4.30pm

They will be talking about how you can make it as a musician. All the inside tips and tricks.

It’s FREE! Brave the weather and we’ll see you there!

5 quick questions with Samuel Flynn Scott

How much of your income is derived from record sales & how much comes from touring/live gigs?

I would say record sales probably account for about %5 or less of my total income. Live gigs maybe more like %20. Most of my income as a musician comes through licenses for film and TV.

What advice would you give young musicians just starting out?

Work on your songwriting and take that side of things very seriously. Songs are what all music is based on and without good songs a great singer or guitarist will never make any impact.

How does being on a major label differ from being on an independent? In today’s musical climate is one better than the other?

I don’t think it makes much difference anymore. But I could be wrong. Certainly majors have a lot more sway with radio and they have more money to spend on advertising but there are advantages to small labels too. You usually get better deals from small labels and you get a team of people working on your product who are very passionate about what you do. Ultimately the choice between the two comes down to who is making offers and who has the best vibe. Working relationships are paramount.

Who would you cite as your biggest musical influence/influences?

That is almost impossible to answer. For me it might be the Velvet Underground who are a great 60’s underground rock band. The Beatles are pretty hard to beat when it comes to stealing great ideas off a great band!

Do you have any future projects/new recordings in the works?

Yes we are working on a new Phoenix Foundation album at the moment.

Check out Samuel Flynn Scott and Luke Buda from the Phoenix Foundation at the Wellington Central Library on Thursday 28th May 4.30-5.30pm

Split Enz: from the archives

“… can I say that Split Enz are chiefly themselves and so unusual that after the first listen I really didn’t know what to say; like a stargazer suddenly confronted with a UFO I knew it was good but I just couldn’t find words to describe it. I trust I’m starting to get them sussed now. And they’re going to be BIG…. ” –

so said Phil Sutcliffe about Mental Notes, Split Enz’s debut album – in the August 1976 issue of the UK magazine Sounds.  Read the full review – plus other Split Enz interviews and reviews in the excellent Rocks Backpages database, part of our suite of online resources.