Our staff CD picks for July/August

Another eclectic mix from our librarians during these dark winter months:

Cover imageHouse masters.
As fans of the House dance music genre will tell you…”house music is a spiritual thing”…. and Charles Webster is the one to lead the congregation! He helped develop the genre known as deep house with its characteristic soulful vocals, jazz influenced samples, dubbed out electronics and relatively slow grooves and has lovingly curated, edited and programmed this double CD compilation from his own personal archive of remixes and original productions. Smooth and sultry, this is a beautiful late night ride into the heart of a lush dance music sub-genre. (John)

Cover imageThe Magic Band plays the music of Captain Beefheart.
The legendary Captain Beefheart died in 2010 and it was fair to assume that his live show died with him, however, ex-musicians of his Magic Band got together to perform some of their favourite Captain’s songs live in London to an enthralled audience in 2013 and recorded the concert .The band are in fine form and, surprisingly, original ‘Trout Mask Replica’ drummer, John “Drumbo” French, actually does a pretty good take of the Captain’s infamous vocal and harmonica style across 13 tracks, drawn from the Beefheart back catalogue, including ‘Hot Head’ and ‘Click Clack’. A fitting tribute to a key figure in contemporary musical history that will help his memory live on, and after you listen to this seek out the original albums, all of which are included in the library’s collection…..(John)

Cover imageFour directions / Marc Cary Focus Trio.
This year Downbeat has voted him as a rising star of the keyboard, but Marc Cary has been around more than two decades, enjoying a low-keyed but stellar career. He was a right-hand man of two outstanding black female singers: Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln, whom he made a tribute album for. He also worked with neo-soul and hip-hop artists such as Erykah Badu, and played on Q-Tip’s masterpiece The Renaissance. ‘Focus Trio’ is one of his main projects and probably most loved one. Apparently his ‘focus’ is ‘to bring indigenous rhythms together with American Jazz to create new ‘palettes of sound’, and in fact, he integrates a lot of sounds such as Indian raga, African, Native American as well as electric fusion into his bop-based jazz world. His acoustic piano play shows shadows of Herbie Nichols and McCoy Tyner and he uniquely uses synthesizers and Fender Rhodes on some tracks. This tremendous trio seems to change their style and character on every track like a chameleon, but generate rare spiritual, bluesy grooves throughout which no one else does. Fantastic. (Shinji)

Cover imageCheatahs.
A squall of raucous twin guitars announces the arrival of this London band that has taken five years to produce their first album. The breathy melodic vocal lines buried under swathes of rich textured noise recall the heyday of early ‘90’s shoegaze and college rock and they recreate that sound so well that on first listen this could be mistaken for a lost ‘90’s recording. However, further listening reveals a band transmuting those influences into something, while not original, exciting and compelling, like the missing link between My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Junior. (John)

Cover imageLive in NYC.
Daughter of Frank Zappa band, The Mothers’ bassist Dave Parlato, Gretchen Parlato won the Thelonious Monk Institute International Vocal Completion in 2004, and since then she released three acclaimed albums and appeared on more than 70 recordings. Taking new standards of jazz such as Herbie Hancock’s Butterfly and Wayne Shorter’s Juju in her prime repertoire, her fresh approach to create a hybrid urban jazz makes her one of the most successful jazz singers today. This CD/DVD set contains her well-known repertoire including aforementioned tunes and Lauryn Hill’s All That I Can Say and sums up her career to the date. Led by her whisper voice, it showcases her mellow and lyrical world, which soul, hip-hop and Brazil essences are subtly blended into modal-jazz. She uses her voice as an instrument as a part of the total sound, and the chemical of the band is marvellous. They are all young exciting musicians in NY jazz scene today where abound in new talents, and extremely sensitive on every sound they make (accompanying DVD clearly shows it). Mesmerising. (Shinji)

Cover imageHot dreams.
Canadian band Timber Timbre’s fifth record finds this excellent collection of musicians hitting their stride. Imagine the soundtrack to a Spaghetti Western directed by David Lynch and you get some idea. The pace is alt-country slow, the vocals are reverb laden, the guitars twang and the entire production is just nicely askew enough to create an original surreal take on Southern Gothic via ‘50’s Americana. “This is Bates Motel schmaltz, with the entire record a decrepit, cobweb-clogged anthology of past styles and vintage genres”. (John)

Cover image6 feet beneath the moon.
A young British musician. Kind of post punk, reminiscent to me of Joe Strummer, but with a modern edge and intriguing vocals. Some of the tracks lean towards Jazz and Electronica. Very interesting, particularly love the first track Easy Easy. (Kim)

Cover imageSunbathing animal.
The follow up to 2012’s excellent ‘Light Up Gold’ finds the band tighter, more confident but just as wonderfully wonky and off kilter. Their sound is derived from the spiky, angular post punk of bands like Wire and the Fall, with the chug of VU and the quirkiness of the Modern Lovers all channelled through Pavement, but theirs is a post-modern version, powered by scratchy repetitive guitars and super smart lyrics they are, to quote Pitchfork, “using the past to write their own version of the present”. (John)

Cover image4-bands split. Vol. 1 / Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows, The Flying Eyes.
As the title suggests, four bands share a CD that serves up the some of the best of the current crop of U.S. heavy psychedelic stoner rock. Trippy, hypnotic tracks evoke shimmering desert scapes and/or the cold emptiness of space. Fuzztastic… (Neil)

Cover imageEntropicalia / The Soundcarriers.
It is no surprise that the latest album by UK band, the Soundcarriers, is released on Ghost Box, a label dedicated to the very British sub genre known as ‘hauntology’, which references Jacques Derrida’s idea that ‘the present exists only with respect to the past’. Consequently, influences abound within the Soundcarriers hallucinatory dream-world, including the Hammond organ sound of the swinging ‘60’s, the jazz flute of ‘50’s tropicalia, the sweet vocals of Pentangle and the rhythmic drive of the Velvet Underground. With Stereolab no longer around it’s great to know that the ‘Soundcarriers’ are there to continue the retro future space jazz folk revival! (John)

Cover imageWe Are Catchers.
Freed from the restrictions of hobbits and orcs, Peter Jackson has made a splendid little album of piano and vocals. Ok, this is a different Peter Jackson. The Liverpool singer-songwriter has crafted a simple but heartfelt reverb-drenched record that calls up Brian Wilson through a porthole on the Mersey ferry. (Neil)

Cover imageOnly lovers left : Detroit et Tangier.
Whatever you thought of indie film director Jim Jarmusch’s recent take on the vampire genre it’s hard to deny that the soundtrack was fantastic, a moody and invocative collection of tracks by no other than the director’s own band SQURL and lute player, Josef van Wissem, which won the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Soundtrack Award. The guitars are overdriven, the pace is generally pretty slow and the tunes unfurl like dark flowers. The movie is set in Detroit and Tangiers and the soundtrack is correspondingly divided into two halves – ‘Detroit’ featuring a dense murky sound with lots of feedback, while ‘Tangier’ is lighter, featuring middle-eastern influenced plucked strings. Overall, a soundtrack that stands alone as an accomplished musical work. (John)

Cover imageNightclubbing.
Grace Jones’ 1981 album ‘Nightclubbing’, was recorded at Compass Point employing the legendary Sly and Robbie as rhythm section and became one of those rare records that helped define a generation. This 2014 re-issue features two discs – one a beautifully crisp remastered version of the original recording and the second containing a collection of extended versions and remixes. Has it aged well? Like Grace Jones herself – definitely! And, in what must stand as a high water mark for Sly and Robbie, it still sounds as funky as hell. (John)

Cover imageAldous Harding.
Aldous Harding sings like an angel. A very unique singing style that in some of the tracks I had to listen closely to see if she was singing in English or not (she was). Vocals backed by folky, atmospheric music. A beautiful album. (Kim)

Cover imageT. Rex.
Another good retro re-release is the 1970 record that saw Marc Bolan transmutate from the acoustic elfin hippie of Tyrannosaurus Rex to the electric proto glam-rocker of T. Rex, inspiring a young David Bowie on the way. This is an interesting record that captures an artist in transition – well illustrated by the disparity between the hippie mysticism of the opening track “The Children of Rarn”, which closes in true hippie fashion with an “OM”, and the cover version of Eddie Cochran’s rock ‘n’ roll classic, “Summertime Blues”. The make-up, cross dressing and primitive rock beats of Glam Rock that followed is rock history, with Marc Bolan attaining super-star status, and here is the early genesis. (John)

Cover imageDo it again / Royksopp & Robyn.
A perfect marriage of electro-pop & dance floor beats fuel this short 5 track 36 minute mini-LP from Royksopp & Robyn that prefaces an upcoming tour. From the sunny summer pop of title track ‘Do It Again’, to the atmospheric late night club vibe of ‘Inside The Idle Hour Club’, the 5 tracks demonstrate a range of styles & moods that make you wish for a full album’s worth of tracks. Addictive. (Mark)

Cover imageFabric 74.
The latest in the very popular Fabric DJ Mix series features veteran ambient techno producer David Moufang in his Move D guise, who delivers a compelling set of crowd-pleasing, lush, groove laden House as much selected from the genre’s past as from its present. While technology has spawned an era over-run with dj mixes, this is possibly the most enjoyable, danceable and listenable mix released so far this year. ‘Fabric 74’ is an expertly curated history lesson from a genuine member of ‘da old skool’, a very cool document affirming that, as dance fans, we’re all here to have a good time in the end. (John)

Cover imageAventine.
I don’t know how to describe her music, I just love it. The songs grow on you and you keep discovering more and more depths to them. Amazing voice. (Kim)

Cover imageArtificial sweeteners.
This is the Brighton based UK trio’s fifth album of intelligent beat-driven, post-Krautrock, dance grooves and one reviewer has asked “how does a band this good continue to remain a cult concern?”. They arrived fully formed on their first record and since then have refined their analogue synth, bouncing bass lines, krautrock rhythms and trademark arch, near-whispered vocals to deliver yet another excellent record. If you like up-tempo grooves that appeal both to the hips and the mind then dip into this or anywhere in their back catalogue and you won’t be disappointed. (John)

Cover imageThe best of 1981/1997.
Terry Hall is one of the great but hugely underrated songwriters and singers of the last thirty years. This 2-disc collection collects some of his best songs from his post-Specials work with Fun Boy Three, Colourfield, Vegas, Terry Blair & Anouchka, as well as solo material. (Neil)

More new music for July

More new CDs for July include a collaborative EP from Robyn & Royksopp; new music from Sharon Van Etten, Passenger & Parquet Courts; and new remastered Deluxe editions of 90s classic albums from Slint & Soundgarden….

Cover imageAre we there.
“For this album, Van Etten found a kindred spirit in veteran music producer Stewart Lerman. Originally working together on ‘Boardwalk Empire’, they gently moved into new roles, rallying around the idea of making a record together in Lerman’s studio in New Jersey. Lerman’s studio expertise gave Van Etten the freedom to make ‘Are We There’ the way she imagined. Van Etten also enlisted the individual talents of her band, consisting of Heather Woods Broderick, Doug Keith and Zeke Hutchins and brought in friends Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel from The War On Drugs, Jonathan Meiberg (Shearwater), Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Peter Broderick, Mackenzie Scott (Torres), Stuart Bogie, Jacob C Morris and Mickey Freeze. Always direct, and never shying away even from the most personally painful narratives, Van Ettten’s songwriting continues to evolve. Many of the songs deal with seemingly impossible decisions, anticipation, and then resolution. ..“Her voice is breathtaking throughout the record, altering to inhabit every emotional extreme.” – Uncut (9/10), “She seems to set her voice no boundaries” – Mojo (4 stars), “Van Etten goes several layers deeper, and faster, than most songwriters. ‘Are We There’ is the kind of album that many people have been trying to make for years and only a dozen or so have pulled off; words, voice, and heartbreak.” – The New Yorker…” (Abridged from publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageDo it again / Royksopp & Robyn.
“Royksopp & Robyn are proud to announce the release of ‘Do It Again’, an incredible 36 minute 5 track mini album which will be unleashed on 26th May 2014 and precedes a new Royksopp album to be released later in the year. The ‘Do It Again’ tour with Royksopp and Robyn includes a headline slot on the 6Music stage at Latitude Festival on 19th July. ‘Do It Again’ is the first single from the mini album and is an accidental pop song written after a night out together in Bergen. It is one of the most effervescent, effortlessly uplifting electro-pop tunes of recent years, and started life as a rave-inspired throwback. Elsewhere, the mini album covers big thumping house in the shape of the club-ready ‘Sayit’. On the other end of the spectrum there is the closing ‘Inside The Idle Hour Club’, which utilises Robyn’s vocal discreetly to create a pensive, slowly evolving soundscape that’s worth diving headlong into. “This doesn’t sound like Royksopp featuring Robyn or Robyn produced by Royksopp, it’s just something else entirely, the word ”collaboration” has never before been more justified in the world of music!” – (Royksopp). “In the beginning we just knew we wanted to do something together and then it started to feel more like a band thing than songs for a Royksopp or Robyn album so we’re releasing this music together as a band you could say” – (Robyn)…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageWhispers.
“Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, presents Whispers, the follow up to 2012 s All The Little Lights, which featured the international hit single and 3x Platinum “Let Her Go.” Recorded in Sydney and co-produced by Chris Vallejo, Whispers is comprised of 11 tracks that tell tales some real, some imagined of love, death, growing up and getting old. A master of story telling, Passenger yet again strikes the perfect balance between the heartbreaking and the humorous, all wrapped in beautiful instrumentation, creating a sumptuous, symphonic sound.”This is easily the most “up” album I ve ever made,” explains Passenger. “It s quite cinematic. There are lots of big stories and big ideas. There are also some somber moments about loneliness and death but, hey, it wouldn t be a Passenger album without those. Mostly though, it s a really positive album.” Lead single “Scare Away The Dark,” which is already a fan favorite at live shows, presents listeners with a different side of Passenger than the one they ve come to know from international smash single “Let Her Go.” It s a riotous rant about technology taking over our lives, calling on listeners to seize the moment and embrace life. Though he didn t realize it at the time, title track “Whispers” captures the chaos in Passenger s head as “Let Her Go” began to snowball. “Heart s On Fire” is the album s grandest love song, starting sparse on finger picked guitar and building into a dramatic, passionate, strings-soaked plea to the person you can t get out of your head…” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageSunbathing animal.
“Much as Light Up Gold & the subsequent EP Tally All The Things That You Broke offered a uniquely tattered perspective on everyday life, Sunbathing Animal applies the same layered thoughts and sprawling noise to more cerebral, inward-looking themes. While heightened in its heaviness and mania, the album also represents a huge leap forward in terms of songwriting and vision…” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageSpiderland [bonus DVD].
“Slint’s 1991 album, Spiderland, remastered from the original analog master tapes by Bob Weston and pressed on 180 gram vinyl. Both CD and LP include a download coupon for 14 outtakes & demos personal selected by Slint, mastered by Bob Weston. Includes Breadcrumb Trail, a brand new, never- before-seen, 90 minute DVD documentary about Slint and the making of Spiderland, directed by Lance Bangs. Booklet includes foreword by Will Oldham…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageSuperunknown [deluxe].
“This year, the band celebrates the 20th anniversary of this groundbreaking album with a special deluxe series of reissue formats. Superunknown is the LP that is considered Soundgarden’s “masterpiece”, yielding such iconic tracks as “Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman,” and “Fell on Black Days“, which helped redefine alternative rock and influenced the course of music. DELUXE EDITION : (2CD) 2014 remastered reissue of mega 1994 album featuring ‘Black Hole Sun’ & ‘Fell On Black Days’.Expanded with 17 bonus tracks including demos, rehearsals, b-sides & more + 28-page booklet!…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

More New Music for May

New music for May includes the sequel to Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick; the soundtrack to the award winning Disney Animated film Frozen; the return of indie-rock icons The Pixies; the acclaimed new album from Scottish singer Paolo Nutini; and new albums from The Black Keys & The Horrors.

Cover imageTurn blue / The Black Keys.
“The Black Keys 2014 album, Turn Blue, released on Nonesuch Records, was produced by Danger Mouse, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, and features 11 tracks including the first single, “Fever. ” Turn Blue was recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood during the summer of 2013 with additional recording done at the Key Club in Benton Harbor, MI and Auerbach s Easy Eye Sound in Nashville in early 2014. Of the new album, the band says Turn Blue could refer to:
A: Suffocation
B: Sadness
C: Numbness from extreme cold
D: A Cleveland late night TV host from the 1960s named Ghoulardi
E: All of the above
Moreover, Carney comments, “We are always trying to push ourselves when we make a record not repeat our previous work but not abandon it either. On this record, we let the songs breathe and explored moods, textures and sounds. We re excited for the world to hear Turn Blue.” This is the eighth full-length album from the duo and follows 2011’s critically and commercially acclaimed El Camino, which is now certified RIAA Platinum.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageCaustic love.
“Paolo Nutini returns with a career defining new album that showcases his maverick talent and incredible vocal prowess with a maturity way beyond his 27 years. Almost five years after the release of his classic ‘Sunny Side Up’ album, Paolo Nutini steps back in the ring with Caustic Love an album that aims straight for the heart with a heady mix of stripped down soul and cast-iron funk as exemplified by first single ‘Scream (Funk My Life Up)’.With Paolo Nutini you never know what to expect and this sparkling new album is no exception. He exploded onto the scene in 2006 with his pop flavoured “These Streets’ selling 1.5 million in the UK. Three years later he moved on again, with the acclaimed ‘Sunny Side Up’. Brit nominated, Ivor Novello winner, he was the biggest selling UK male artist of 2009 and 2010. Now he’s back with a groove laden, dark & stormy musical celebration that looks set to finally establish Paolo Nutini as one of the finest songwriters and performers to emerge from the UK in recent years.” (Abridges from publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageTAAB2.
“In 1972, Ian Anderson wrote and recorded the Jethro Tull Progressive Rock classic album Thick As A Brick. The lyrics were credited at the time to the fictitious child character, Gerald Bostock, whose parents supposedly lied about his age. The record instantly became a number one Billboard Chart album and enjoyed considerable success in many countries of the world. So, forty years on, what would Gerald Bostock – aged fifty in 2012 – be doing today? What might have befallen him? The anniversary “part two” album will examine the possible different paths that the precocious young schoolboy, Gerald Bostock, might have taken later in life through alter-ego characters with song-section identities illustrating the hugely varied potential twists and turns of fate and opportunity. Not just for Gerald but to echo how our own lives develop, change direction and ultimately conclude through chance encounters and interventions, however tiny and insignificant they might seem at the time.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageIndie Cindy.
“Despite the Pixies touring regularly throughout the 2000s and 2010s, no more new music appeared until 2013, when the group went into the studio with longtime producer Gil Norton. During those sessions, Deal officially left the group. Bassist Simon Archer, aka Ding, replaced Deal in the studio, and the band hired the Muffs’ Kim Shattuck for touring duties. ‘Bagboy,’ the Pixies’ first new song in nine years, arrived in July 2013. That September, they self-released EP1, the first in a series of short releases, via their website. That November, Shattuck was let go from the band; a few weeks later, Paz Lenchantin who also played with Zwan and A Perfect Circle was drafted as the Pixies’ bassist. EP 2 arrived in January 2014, and EP 3 was issued that March, before it was announced that all three post-re-formation EPs would be compiled as Indie Cindy for that April’s Record Store Day.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageFrozen : soundtrack.
“Walt Disney Animation Studios’ ‘Frozen’ features eight original songs from Kristen Anderson-Lopez (‘In Transit,’ ‘Winnie the Pooh’) and Tony Award-winning songwriter Robert Lopez (‘Avenue Q,’ ‘The Book of Mormon’), plus a phenomenal score by the composer of last year’s Oscar-winning short ‘Paperman,’ Christophe Beck. The original motion picture soundtrack, which features the end-credit recording of ‘Let It Go’ by Demi Lovato as well as performances by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff and more…2014 Academy Award(R) winner for Best Original Song ‘Let it Go’ and Best Animated Feature Film.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageLuminous / The Horrors.
“Recorded over 15 months in the band’s east London studio-laboratory-bunker with co-producer Craig Silvey (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire, The National), Luminous is the follow-up to the band’s 2007 debut Strange House, the Mercury-nominated Primary Colours (2009), and the critically-acclaimed Skying (2011). Tasking themselves with moving onwards, The Horrors determined to make an album that was brighter, more positive, more electronic.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

What’s coming up at the library?

Our events calendar is boiling over at the moment, here’s a list to help you keep on top of what’s coming up over the next fortnight. All events are free and all are welcome. Our usual Pre-School Story Times, Book Clubs and Baby Rock ‘n’ Rhyme sessions are all still happening too.

Thursday May 22nd

Amiria Grenell – Central 12pm
Wellington Musician Amiria Grenell performs free over the lunch hour in celebration of New Zealand Music Month.

Poetic Voices of Africa – Central at 6pm

Come and join us for an evening of African poetry with Poetic Voices of Africa. A line-up of six African poets from Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan, and American poets from Georgia, Hawaii and Washington DC will come together to perform their poetry in the lead up to the Africa Day celebrations on 24 May. The session will be introduced and concluded with a drum performance from Sam Manzanza.

Friday May 23rd

Andy Gibson – Central 5pm
Wellington Musician Andy Gibson performs free in celebration of New Zealand Music Month.
Free Art Workshop – Newtown 6pm
Wellington Artist Marg Elliot shares her drawing knowledge in this one hour workshop.
Harriet And The Matches – Newtown 7pm
A late-night double feature at Newtown, Wellington Musicians Amiria Grenell and Jessie Moss reunite their band a free, one-off performance.

Monday May 26th

John McIntyre presents a session on Reluctant Readers – Cummings Park (Ngaio) 6:30pm
Children’s book commentator and Kilbirnie’s Children’s Book Shop owner John McIntyre returns to our Westrern Libraries to present this session on how to get your reluctant readers onto the books.

Tuesday May 27th

Kōhunga Kōrero – Whāngaia tō Tama Toa ki te pānui pukapuka – Miramar at 9:30
Pre-school Story Time in Te Reo Māori.

Thursday May 29th

Maika – Central 12pm
Wellington Musician Mahinarangi Maika performs as Maika for free over the lunch hour in celebration of New Zealand Music Month.

Friday May 30th

Free Art Workshop – Newtown 6pm
Wellington Artist Marg Elliot shares her knowledge of shading, tone and texture in this free one hour drawing skills workshop.

A ComicFest playlist: Music in comics and comics in music

Comics and pop music have always had a close relationship.  In the late 60’s and early 70’s underground comics by authors like Robert Crumb directly referenced music of all sorts and comic artists have worked on albums by a number of  musicians from that period like Iggy Pop and The Grateful Dead. Sometimes, music is more directly referenced in comics and that’s where this ComicFest playlist  starts – from comics based on one song, to songs based on single comics, to comics recounting a whole period in music history, or even comics revisiting single songs one by one each by a separate creator. The permutations are limitless, and the titles below only a personal selection, but hope you enjoy them and the accompanying Spotify playlist.

Hip hopHip Hop family tree
Fully realised early history of Hip Hop in the U.S, complete as a deluxe out-size edition, with crisp thick paper and retro print 70’s colour finish – a thing of beauty and a genuinely studious slice of rappin’ DJ life from Wizzywig’s Ed Piskor. Grandmaster Flash and the furious five played their part and ‘The Message’ may be their best known song.

Put the bookPut the book back on the shelf: A Belle and Sebastian anthology
A tribute comic by multiple creators that takes as starting point and inspiration, Belle and Sebastian’s well-loved songs, but to be honest, the pieces are variable in quality. A thoughtful attempt with some outstanding successes. ‘Asleep on a sun beam,’ is a sweet girl/guy vocal Belle and Sebastian song that pulls you in without trying, is melodic and oh so sweet.

Ghost worldGhost World
Sometimes, comics influence musicians too, and maybe none more so than ‘Ghost World,’ by Aimee Mann, a direct tribute to Daniel Clowes ground-breaking graphic novel. Paul MacCartney, Pop will eat itself, the Ramones and XTC have all recorded songs about comics.

I see a darknessJohnny Cash: I see a darkness
I See a darkness is a very well imagined and illustrated graphic biography of some of Johnny Cash’s darkest years and the song version of the same name from his late career ‘American’ recordings, features songwriter Bonnie Prince Billy on tender backing vocals.

Punk rockPunk rock and Trailer parks
Punk rock and trailer parks features an absolute original in the optimistic, surprisingly verbose Punk rock fan Otto. Set in Ohio, the fictional Otto happens upon one influential punk band after another, and music lies at the heart of every gently humorous episode. A comic that gains momentum slowly as it progresses, eventually affecting real emotional heft and surprise. The Ramones blast ‘Teenage Labotamy’ on our playlist.

sweetersidercumb_1The sweeter side of Robert Crumb
The famous Robert Crumb has been a fan of classic Blues and early Jazz and an underground comic genius – of sorts – for years.  His extensive contribution to the cover and liner art of Blues and pop music reissues and original releases are often respectfully and sympathetically illustrated. Crumb illustrated the cover for Blind Boy Fuller’s album Truckin’ my blues away in the late 70’s.

GreendaleNeil Young’s Greendale
Neil Young’s live recording of Grandpa’s interview, from the Greendale album, is so strong in narrative and deft story-telling, that it wasn’t too much of a surprise when this reverent, capable comic version of Greendale was released in 2010.

soundtrkcvrSoundtrack: short stories
American cartoonist Jessica Abel’s early short work depicts indie music reverently and personally but also in a journalistic closeness. Is it surprising that counter culture comics authors identify and continue to value underground or indie music? In a very short story called Soundtrack she thanks The Beastie Boys, Pavement, Jesus Lizard and Arrested Development.

There’s a whole lot more adult graphic novels that reference or are influenced by indie rock especially in our collection by phenomenal comic geniuses like Brian Lee O’Malley, Peter Bagge, Jamie Hernandez and Terry Moore.  Comics and music, music and comics – it’s a deep and transcendent relationship.

Te Whare Tapere at Waimango 2014

First a little background information. Te Whare Tapere can be literally translated from Māori to English as ‘community hall’ and it can also be translated as ‘a house of entertainment’. As well as guest accommodation Te Whare Tapere were used for entertainment which could include  kōrero pūrākau (storytelling), waiata (songs), haka (dance), taonga pūoro (musical instruments), karetao (puppetry) and tākaro (games). Te Whare Tapere also denotes the knowledge of these artistic disciplines.

This years Whare Tapere was held on Saturday 22nd February and is the fourth to be organised and held by Charles Royal at his family farm at Waimango, Firth of Thames and is a product of Charles’ extensive research on the topic. This years Whare Tapere had a focus on storytelling.


The day started with a visit from pupils of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Bernard Fergusson, Ngaruawahia. We started off with learning some tākaro (games) including rongomamau, which is a hand dexterity game and pōtaka which are spinning tops. I have been making pōtaka in the lead up to Whare Tapere and in the week leading up to the open day Kelly Kahukiwa, Eamon Nathan and I made two marae pōtaka (spinning top playing surfaces) which had plenty of use during the day.

Manu using the ta (whip) to keep the pōtaka spinning. Go Manu!
Manu using the ta (whip) to keep the pōtaka spinning. Go Manu!

Nga pōtaka

Here are some of the pōtaka I have recently made.

Ki o Rahi was a very popular game too as was Hakariki.

In the afternoon we made a hikoi (walk) up to the Wahi Marumaru (shaded area) where three stories were told, Manu Mea and Ngarara, Hine Raukatauri and Tukumana Taiwiwi Te Taniwha.

After that a karetao performance took place up on the hill with James Webster’s karetao (puppets) taking the spotlight. These were manipulated by James, Aroha Yates-Smith, Horomono Horo and Charles Royal while myself, Kelly and Elise Goodge hid in the forest and accompanied the performance with taonga pūoro.

Karetao performance
Karetao performance

The evenings entertainment was mostly musical with perfomances from Reo, The Makaurau Sessions and Ria Hall taking place on the motu (island).

Te Motu
Te Motu (stage)
Makaurau Sessions
Makaurau Sessions with me sitting in on piano!
Reo performing at Te Whare Tapere 2014

Himiona Grace – He Tangata Whakaihuwaka

Nau mai whakatau mai ki tēnei whārangi kōrerorero. Ko te kaupapa o tēnei whārangi hei whakatairanga i ngā mahi miharo o ngā tāngata whakaihuwaka o te iwi Māori. Ka puta mai ēnei kōrerorero i a rua wiki.
Welcome to this blog spot. The plan is to each fortnight highlight Māori who have excelled in their achievements.

As I was thinking of who to highlight this week it got me thinking about things Māori and Hui-tanguru (February) and the first thing that leapt to mind was of course, Te Rā o Waitangi (Waitangi Day). Then ka toko ake te whakaaro (the idea came to me) to feature one of the two Māori filmmakers who have chosen Waitangi Day over the last two years as the release day for their films. I guess that the reason they have chosen the 6th February is partly because it’s Te Rā o Waitangi but also because it happens to be Bob Marley’s birthday. Bob Marley and reggae music are popular with many Māori and reggae music features in both these movies that have been released on consecutive Rā o Waitangi.

Last year it was the movie Mt. Zion.
This is a movie blending Māori stories and culture with the story of a band competing to be the opening act for a Bob Marley concert and starring Stan Walker.

This year it was the the movie Pā Boys and tells the story of a reggae band on a road trip north and features music by Trinity Roots’ Warren Maxwell.

So all this preamble has finally brought us to this weeks tangata whakaihuwaka who is Himiona Grace the writer and director of Pā Boys. Grace is a filmmaker, photographer, musician and writer from Aotearoa with links to Ngati Toa and Ngati Raukawa. His family marae is the beautiful Hongoeka Marae in Plimmerton. Grace comes from a very talented whānau and could be said to have writing in his blood as his mother is writer Patricia Grace. He has 4 children with his partner Briar Grace-Smith who is an award-winning writer of plays, television scripts and short stories. So much talent in one whānau!

Grace learnt about filmmaking at Wellington’s Pacific Films and has also worked as the poutakawaenga (Māori liaison officer) at the Film Archive. He has worked on a number of films as a stills photographer and as a musician he composed music for a number of shorts and television programmes. Himiona wrote and directed Pā Boy’s and it is his first feature length movie. So for your viewing and listening pleasure here is the song ‘Inspiration’ from the official soundtrack Music from the Pā Boys which made its debut at Number 1 on the iTunes Soundtrack chart and Number 8 in the Top 40 Album chart on the day after the movie was released.

Nāku noa

Naxos & Alexander Music, give your ears a treat


Let’s lift the festive spirit with great quality music from Naxos and Alexander Music Online. You can give your ears a treat with:

‘All that Jazz’:
On Alexander Music Online, you can listen to Jazz style Christmas songs. You can also listen to songs by the Jazz legends: Frank Sinatra, Louis, Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Chet Baker and more.
On Naxos Jazz Library, you can find contemporary Jazz songs include Norah Jones, Pat Metheny and other legendary Jazz songs.

‘Star over Bethlehem’:
Naxos Music Library offers a variety of carols, concerts and string quartets. Listen to Vivaldi, Sarah Brightman, Franz Liszt, JS. Bach this Christmas and new year.

Wedding March’:
On Naxos Music Library, you can find the right music for the most important day of your life. The collections include: Bride’s guide to wedding music; music for a royal wedding; wedding music for organ, and more.
On Alexander Music Online, you can find wedding music from all over the world.

‘Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree’:
Alexander Music Online offers rock hit collections. You can find songs by Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley and more.

‘I could have danced all night’:
On Alexander Music Online, you can find the right music to go with your dance: from traditional waltz to hilarious chicken dance; and from sexy belly dance to rhythmic stomp dance.
On Naxos videos, you can watch ballets, operas, concerts and fine art documentaries.

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Alexander Music Online

Alexander Music Online offers over 900,000 tracks, including over 45,000 unique recordings that are exclusively available, and is growing monthly as new recordings are added. Listen to these high quality classical, jazz, world, popular songs:

Classical: Glenn Gould, Placido Domingo, Maria Callas, Claudio Abbado, Olga Borodina, Ileana Cotrubas, Hilary Hahn, Thomas Hampson, Radu Lupu, Karita Mattila, Margaret Leng Tan, Kiri Te Kanawa, Mitsuko Uchida, Pinchas Zuckerman.
Jazz: Bing Crosby, Buddy Guy, Charlie Parker, Chuck Mangione, Dinah Washington, Diana Krall, Dixie Dregs, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Stan Getz.
World: Ali Jihad Racy, Adama Dramé, Carlos Do Carmo, Parisa, Tran Quang Haï, Katrien Delavier, Hussein El Masry, Rassegna, Oedo Sukeroku Taiko, El Son Entero, Simon Shaneem, I Wayan Sadra, and Fawzy Al-Aiedy.
American: Pete Seeger, Isaac Hayes, Al Jackson, Booker T. Jones, Robert Byrd, Memphis Slim, Otis Redding, BB King, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Popular: Rod Stewart, Tanya Tucker, Gloria Gaynor, The Sex Pistols, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Kool & The Gang, Edith Piaf, A Flock of Seagulls, Naughty by Nature, Wu-Tang Clan, Liberace.

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Naxos Music Library
Naxos Music Library is the most comprehensive collection of classical music available online offering over 1,254,000 tracks of classical music, jazz, world, folk and Chinese music. It includes the complete BIS, Chandos, Hänssler, Hungaroton, Marco Polo, Naxos, Ondine and selected titles of other leading independent labels, with over 1,000 albums added monthly.

Naxos Music Library is an entertaining, educational resource, which offers the best selection of studied music on the web. Through a sophisticated online search, you can select music by composer, artist, period, year of composition, instrument or genre. Playlists are easily created for hours of continuous enjoyment either via your desktop or on your smartphone. You’ll also find that composer biographies, CD liner notes, and work analyses are just a few of the text resources available while streaming music from the NML. Naxos’s new releases (around 200 CDs annually) are continually added, ensuring an impressive selection in both quality and musical breadth.

Enjoy access to over 1.2 million tracks everywhere
Search & stream the complete NML catalogue (That’s over 7+ years of continuous music)
Not sure what to listen to? Enjoy the Naxos-created guided listening playlists!
NML on your Android & iOS devices
Unlimited mobile listening. No limits on the amount of music to enjoy!
For more information on these music databases, and other selected resources, see our mygateway.info Music page.

Staff Picks CDs – December

Cover imageWondrous bughouse.
Due to perform in Auckland this January as part of the 2014 Laneway Festival, Idaho based Trevor Powers is another wonder-kid who, like Australian Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), sings, plays all the instruments and records in a home studio. Wondrous Bughouse is well titled, as this music has a strong element of wonder to it with the crackles, reverb, tremolo and layers of distortion indeed buzzing around like a cloud of bugs. His lo-fi, wonky world at times has an off kilter merry-go-round feel to it but closer listening reveals enchanting melodies and songs buried beneath the swirling sounds. Warm, melodic and densely layered, this music suggests the influence of the gentle Psychedelia of bands like The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev and sits surprisingly well alongside the work of those older well established artists. (John)

Cover imagePushin’ against a stone.
Incredible voice. Alternative Country with a distinctly Soul influence. Check her out. (Kim)

Cover imageThe weighing of the heart.
Cécile Schott was a Parisian schoolteacher in 2003 when she made her first record, Everyone Alive Wants Answers, a beautiful, gently hypnotic electronic album made entirely using samples from her own record collection. Subsequent albums found her using music boxes and looped acoustic instruments to create a very gentle sublime sound world. After a six year break, now living in Spain, she returns with The Weighing of the Heart, for which she wrote the music and lyrics, performed, recorded, mixed and produced everything herself. With not an electronic sound to be heard, this gorgeous record, which features classical guitar, clarinet, piano, toy gamelan, frame drum and vocals, manages to meld influences of ethnic folk music and sacred themes with a delicacy reminiscent of mediaeval court music while still sounding contemporary. (John)

Cover imageBe my monster love / David Murray Infinity Quartet.
This is a surprisingly refreshing album by this free jazz giant. As always, it abounds in a deep black blues feeling but is more melody-oriented, and having outstanding two singers, Macy Gray and Gregory Porter, makes this accessible for all music fans. Marvellous tenor saxophonist Murray, who has both Albert Ayler and Ben Webster elements, plays big, deep tones often with fury, but he seems very relaxed here. It doesn’t mean, however, he has gone soft. For the title tune, he collaborates with the most controversial black literature figure Ismael Reed, and has Macy Gray sing Reed’s radical lyrics; “Be my monster love my neck is yours. Suck me until I’m anaemic.” Gregory Porter joins in on Gospel/ R&B infused numbers (also penned by Reed) and shows a great presence. Recorded in New Orleans and Paris, this album displays an elegant esprit. (Shinji)

Cover imageSleep of reason.
The London based Ninja Tune label continue to unearth new talent, the latest being small town boy and music conservatory graduate, Benjamin Stefanski, who, as Raffertie, has produced Sleep Of Reason, one of the best downbeat electronic/soul releases of the year. Considering the range of influences discernable within this reflective, brooding music, including R’n’B, Post-Rock, Nu-Soul, Garage and Experimental Electronica, it is a nice surprise to find that the finished product does not come across as in any way derivative. This is an original and captivating urban sound, for fans of James Blake, Burial and the XX. (John)

Cover imageSomething new to do : the Phillip Mitchell songbook.
Underrated deep soul singer in the Sam Dees mould, Mitchell made only a handful of solo albums during his career; a couple for Atlantic in the late ’70s that sunk due to lack of promotion & a couple more in the late ’80s/early ’90s on IndieSoul label Ichiban. A prodigious songwriter he is best remembered as the house writer for the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. This lavish compilation from Kent rounds up some of his best sides and features some of the best artists from ’70s soul. (Mark)

Cover imageCupid’s head / The Field.
In 2007 Swedish Electronic producer Axel Willner came up with a disarmingly simple but devastatingly effective production technique. His first album, From Here We Go Sublime, made most end of the year ‘best of’ lists and was, in essence, a homage to the sampled loop, with each track using a different array of loops arranged in hypnotic layers, driven by a minimal 4/4 beat. He incorporated live elements, including drums, guitar and keyboards for his next two records, but now six years later, has returned to those minimal beginnings and once again has made a record quite stunning in its hypnotic but casual intensity. This is music that you allow to wash over you… resistance is futile as The Field messes with your perspective on time and space. (John)

Cover imageI’m new here.
“There is a proper procedure for taking advantage of any investment. Music, for example. Buying a CD is an investment. To get the maximum you must LISTEN TO IT FOR THE FIRST TIME UNDER OPTIMUM CONDITIONS. Not in your car or in a portable player through a headset. Take it home. Get rid of all distractions, (even him or her). Turn off your cell phone. Turn off everything that rings or beeps or rattles or whistles. Make yourself comfortable. Play your CD. LISTEN all the way through. Think about what you got. Think about who would appreciate the investment. Decide if there is someone to share this with. Turn it on again. Enjoy yourself.” – Gill Scott-Heron 

Whoever wrote this NEEDS to be heard. Scott-Heron said it, so here goes a little tribute to his wisdom. Taken from the last page of the booklet contained in this CD release. (Axel)

Cover imageNew.
Too often each new album by artists who are pop music’s elder statesmen are hailed as a return to form, the best album since their classic period etcetera, etcetera. But this one mostly lives up to its attendant hype. McCartney uses contemporary producers to give his sound a newer sheen but doesn’t sacrifice any of his identity or individuality along the way. Full of his trademark textures and melodies. Definitely worth a listen. (Mark)

Cover imageBlack radio 2 / Robert Glasper Experiment.
American jazz pianist Robert Glasper won a Grammy Award for Best R’n’B Album with his 2012 release Black Radio, and quite rightly so as it was a great record. The 2013 follow up Black Radio 2 is, if anything, even better. Glasper had, “…gotten bored with jazz to the point where I wouldn’t mind something bad happening. I feel like jazz needs a big-ass slap.” So he assembled a stellar crew of Neo-Soul and Hip Hop artists to perform a stunning synthesis of Hip Hop and Jazz. Volume two includes Brandy, Bilal, Norah Jones, & Snoop Dogg among the roster performing the songs, all co-written by Glasper. Some tracks have a segue at the end to reprise the prior song or introduce the next track, so the album feels like a real project rather than just a collection of tracks. The first five tracks are standouts, one after another, and from then on the listener is hooked into a sound that pretty much sums up black music to date. (John)

Cover imageLeyendas del rock. 09.
Spinetta was and will ever be one of Argentina’s maximum exponents in the music field. This particular compilation made its way from Argentina, and it covers his most well known songs (apart from coming with an awesome booklet featuring many previously unreleased pictures plus an anecdotal short biography [in Spanish]). I found it inside a national newspaper’s special edition I bought back in 2008, and which I had the pleasure to donate to the library. (Axel)

Cover imageChewed corners.
Way back in the mid 90’s a sub genre of electronic music was created, called IDM, an acronym for Intelligent Dance Music. Despite the dumb and elitist name a lot of very cool electronic music fell within the frame – music which employed the production qualities of electronic dance music, while not specifically intended for the dance floor. Mike Paradinas, as μ-Ziq, was one of the musicians who contributed to this genre and here, with his first release in six years, he ably recreates the heady optimism, drama and strange beauty of those days with a collection of engrossing tunes ideal for headphone listening. No exercise in nostalgia, this CD manages the balancing act of nodding to the past while sounding contemporary at the same time. (John)

Cover image6 feet beneath the moon.
He looks as a boy typically does on a Ken Loach film. Archy Marshall, aka King Krule, from South London put out the single ‘Out Getting Ribs/Has This Hit’, which was titled from the words the painter Basquiat wrote on a paper napkin when he was 16. It featured only the reverbed guitar and his baritone voice but amazed many. Now he is 19 and has issued his first full length album on his birthday. Chet Baker, Joe Strummer, and Hip Hop duo Gang Starr are his influences and above all he loves and respects Charles Bukowski. They are evident in his dark music which is a kind of mixture of Burial-like Dubstep sound and The XX-ish sensitive pop-sense. Vulnerable and naive, this boy sings almost funeral songs but underneath there is a strong desire to live. Very Bukowski? (Shinji)

Cover imageWorld of echo.
I happen to have certain affinity with works that have been produced/released to the world in the year I was born. Such is the case with my (BY FAR) favourite Arthur Russell album, World Of Echo, which was released by one of my favourite record labels, Rough Trade Records. Celebrating as well the very recent acquisition of this record to the libraries by our awesome Collection Development Team. (Axel)

Axel’s Monthly Mix – December Playlist

Welcome to the second monthly mix from staffer Axel. There are literally thousands of CDs in our collection and each month Axel ventures into the depths to find some hidden treasures. This month the genres exposed are: Pop-Metal-World/Hip Hop-Electronica/IDM [Intelligent Dance Music]-Post Punk-NZ/Progressive Rock-Dubstep-Experimental/Classic-Instrumental/Hip Hop-New Age. Enjoy the track-by-track read through and accompanying playlist.

Early Days [Paul McCartney]
For some reason this song instantly reminded me of Johnny Cash’s cover version of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Hurt’. Though faster paced, this song delivers a sense of nostalgia; hearing the 71-year-old Beatle sing about his early days effortlessly takes me to the spaces he describes. Aptly titled NEW, this album certainly sounds fresh and at the same time very personal.

Stengah [Meshuggah]
Seven string tuning? A drummer (not to mention other band mates) who can play two different time signatures at once? Hardcore Scandinavian chills? You got it all, this time screaming live from Montreal! Pump it up and let your hair loose!

Abarajame [Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas]
Of course I have to add a worldly (*cough* Argentine *cough*) tune! Here they are blowing your mind with their rhymes; they are Illya Kuryaki! Spinetta’s son and his mate came out of nowhere to play music that is still something foreign to most Argentinians. A one-off alien duo who are still very active, although not in this un-mannered manner.

Telephasic Workshop [Boards of Canada]
Celebrating Boards of Canada’s [abbreviated as BoC] 2013 release Tomorrow’s Harvest, I present you with one of my favourite tracks from this psychic Scottish duo’s first studio track, back from 1998. Music Has the Right to Children features field recordings, heavy editing, sampling and Dadaist cut & paste brushes that will take you somewhere else. Ideal for coming down after a hard day’s night.

Damaged Goods [Gang of Four]
Flowing with first releases, this is the Gang’s first single release. While you can enjoy it at our library through their album Entertainment!, I highly recommend the original, rough and industrial version which was pressed as an A-side single together with one of their best known songs, ‘Love Like Anthrax‘.

Walking Down A Road [Split Enz]
Taken from their second album Second Thoughts [UK release] rather than from their First album Mental Notes [Australian Release], this version sounds amazing. Call it Art Rock, Progressive Pop, or just Circus Psychedelia, the fact of the matter is that this song ROCKS!

Meltdown [King Midas Sound]
Also known as Kevin Martin & Roger Robinson, this duo bring the sound of Bristol to your ears. Swoon with the vibes and let the tune melt your body!

Thirteen Harmonies: I. Harmony 18 [John Cage]
The musical material here dates back to the 18th Century and is based on chorales, hymns, and congregational songs from the United States’ East Coast Protestant Church. All were written by composers born in North America, and whose knowledge of European musical traditions was indirect. Cage adapted and fragmented these pieces of music and positioned them in time as individual, singular objects. Heinz Janisch, author of children’s books, selected the songs and has illustrated the album insert.
Annelie Gahl, violino
Klaus Lang, oianoforte elettrico (Fender Rhodes).

Building Steam With a Grain of Salt [DJ Shadow]
This album perfectly exemplifies what the possibilities of DJing are. Fortunately, those whose idea of DJs as people who tweak and turn knobs and faders, without any musical creative input are declining every year. As a genre, electronic music is becoming more and more popular and accessible. Mixtapesmixessets, are all words that are sounding less foreign to the general public, or anyone who wasn’t always familiar with the new 21st Century paradigm of music production/composition. But enough historical blurb; tune in with this heavyweight milestone!

Nada Himalaya [Deuter]
Krautrock drummer turned spiritual musician, Deuter’s life was changed after meeting the great (and controversial) master Osho. Once installed in India, this German started a career of composing music that is still coming out of the oven as I write this. To close this month’s chapter, and in order to come down from our agitated start, I leave you with the vibes of singing bowls and bells… 30 minutes of peace for all!