New movies and shows for you to enjoy!

These new DVDs have a biographical theme with TV show The Durrells, Goodbye Christopher Robin (about children’s author A. A. Milne), Battle of the sexes (featuring the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King and ex-men’s-champ Bobby Riggs) & A Quiet Passion (Emily Dickinson); NZ tinged Hollywood blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok; acclaimed animation with My Life as a Zucchini; and the latest season of historical romance Outlander.

The Durrells. Series two.
“The Durrells sees impoverished but sparky widow Louisa Durrell make the radical decision to seek out a new destiny for her family when her options in late 1930’s England seem to be limited to struggling on or marrying a wealthy but dreary older man. Concerned that the lives of her four ‘children’, ranging in age from 11 to 21, are heading down the wrong track, she relocates her reluctant brood to a dilapidated house in the Greek sun.” (Syndetics summary)

Justice League.
“Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes it may already be too late to save the planet form an assault of catastrophic proportions.” (Syndetics summary)

Thor. Ragnarok.
“Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.” (Syndetics summary)

My life as a Zucchini.
“After losing his mother, a young boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love.” (Syndetics summary)

A quiet passion.
“The story of poet Emily Dickinson, whose genius, wit, intellectual independence, and pathos only came to be recognized after her death.” (Syndetics summary)

Battle of the sexes.
“In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King and ex-men’s-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles.” (Syndetics summary)

Goodbye Christopher Robin.
“A rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne, and his nanny Olive, Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?” (Syndetics summary)

Madame.
“Adding a little spice to a waning marriage, Anne and Bob, a wealthy and well-connected American couple, move into a manor house in romantic Paris. While preparing a particularly luxurious dinner for sophisticated international friends, our hostess discovers there are 13 guests. Panic-stricken, Anne insists her loyal maid Maria disguise herself as a mysterious Spanish noble woman to even out the numbers. But a little too much wine and some playful chat lead Maria to accidentally endear herself to a dandy British art broker. Their budding romance will have Anne chasing her maid around Paris and finally plotting to destroy this most unexpected and joyous love affair.” (Syndetics summary)

Detroit.
“Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel.” (Syndetics summary)

Outlander. Season three.
“The third season picks up right after Claire (Caitriona Balfe) travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948. Now pregnant with Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) child, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another, each haunted by the memory of their lost love. The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart… as well as new doubt. Separated by continents and centuries, Claire and Jamie must find their way back to each other. As always, adversity, mystery, and adventure await them on the path to reunion. And the question remains: When they find each other, will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones, all those years ago?” (Syndetics summary)

New vinyl featuring NZ artists and more

Image from amazon.co.uk

New vinyl features fantastic new releases by Kiwi artists; Hex and Marlon Williams. Our vinyl collection keeps getting bigger and better. Come and have a look.

Hex – The hill temple
“HEX is the progeny of wives Kiki and GG Van Newtown, a musical love affair who draw on influences spanning classical to folkto punk to metal. Together with Jason Erskine they align quick, incisive lyrics and rock opera levels of riffage to reflect the chaos approaching post-capitalism with fury and laughter.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Marlon Williams – Make way for love
“Known for his effortlessly distinctive voice, Make Way For Love marks Marlon’s exponential growth as a songwriter. Throughout 11 original songs, he explores new musical terrain and reveals himself in an unprecedented way in the wake of a fractured relationship. While Make Way For Love draws on Marlon’s own story, it captures the vagaries of relationships we’ve all been through: the bliss, ache, uncertainty, and bitterness.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Rolling Stones – On air
“A collection of rarely heard radio recordings from their formative years. The songs, including eight the band have never recorded or released commercially, were originally broadcast on bygone UK BBC shows such as Saturday Club, Top Gear, Rhythm and Blues and The Joe Loss Pop Show between 1963 and 1965.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Nick Cave – Abattoir blues ; The lyre of Orpheus
“This masterful double album was produced by Nick Launay at Studio Ferber in Paris in March–April 2004 with Cave splitting drumming duties for the two parts, with Jim Sclavunos on ‘Abattoir Blues’ and Thomas Wydler on ‘Lyre Of Orpheus’. The entire album was completed in twelve days, and notably, the last track on the album, ‘O Children’, was featured in the 2010 film Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part One. The song is also referenced as an achievement in Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7!” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Belle and Sebastian – How to solve our human problems
“Taken as a whole piece, though, the striking thing about How to Solve Our Human Problems is neither the finely honed sense of craft — evident in both the compositions and sharp production — nor how the group now excels in churning out a disco epic like the six-minute ‘Sweet Dew Lee.’ Rather, it’s how Belle and Sebastian have completely devoted themselves to joy, squeezing out any remnants of melancholy that may have lingered in their music.” (adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – The imperfect sea
“The album title refers to a saying by his father that ”we wade in a sea of imperfections,” reflecting upon the idea that beauty can be found amongst the chaos. ”If there is a narrative to the album it’s coming to the acceptance of the imperfections in all aspects of life; moreover, the recognition that these imperfections and tiny randomnesses are in fact what make up the best parts,” Arthur explains. Predominantly self-composed, the new album also features covers of electronic works by Simian Mobile Disco and Kraftwerk, along with a re-working of Simon’s ‘Now Nothing’.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Stranger than fiction: New DVDs

Image from mightyape.co.nz

New DVDs this month include the stranger-than-fiction true story of James Bond actor George Lazenby, an adaptation of the popular Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbo, acclaimed NZ film Waru and historical drama with Lady Macbeth from the novella by Nikolai Leskov.

Becoming Bond.
“The stranger-than-fiction true story of George Lazenby, a poor Australian car mechanic who, through an unbelievable set of circumstances, landed the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), despite having never acted a day in his life. Then after being offered the next seven Bond films and a one million signing bonus, he turned it all down …” (Syndetics summary)

Brigsby Bear.
“Brigsby Bear Adventures is a children’s TV show that James has carried with him into adulthood. When the show abruptly ends, James’s life changes forever, and he sets out to finish the story himself.” (Syndetics summary)

The snowman.
“When an elite crime squad’s lead detective investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit, the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.” (Syndetics summary)

Lady Macbeth.
“Rural England, 1865. Katherine is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family are cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.” (Syndetics summary)

Waru.
“Eight female Maori directors have each contributed a ten minute vignette, presented as a continuous shot in real time, that unfolds around the tangi (funeral) of a small boy (Waru) who died at the hands of his caregiver. The vignettes are all subtly interlinked and each follow one of eight female Maori lead characters during the same moment in time as they come to terms with Waru’s death and try to find a way forward in their community. In Maori, waru means eight.” (Syndetics summary)

The dinner.
“It is a dark psychological thriller about a fierce showdown between two couples during the course of an ornately prepared meal at a fancy restaurant. When Stan Lohman, a popular congressman running for governor, invites his troubled younger brother Paul and his wife Claire to join him and his wife Katelyn for dinner at one of the town’s most fashionable restaurants, the stage is set for a tense night.” (Syndetics summary)

Maps, Middle-Earth & Miss D: New film and TV books

Cover from Syndetics

Take a journey through your favourite movies with the gorgeously illustrated Cinemaps: an atlas of great movies. New books on movies and TV shows also feature the intriguing Movie Geek and The Girl in the Show. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverCinemaps : an atlas of great movies / maps by Andrew DeGraff ; essays by A. D. Jameson.
“This beautifully illustrated atlas of beloved movies is an essential reference for cinephiles, fans of great films, and anyone who loves the art of mapmaking. Acclaimed artist Andrew DeGraff has created beautiful hand-painted maps of all your favorite films, from King Kong and North by Northwest to The Princess Bride , Fargo , Pulp Fiction , even The Breakfast Club –with the routes of major characters charted in meticulous cartographic detail.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMovie geek : the Den of Geek! guide to the movieverse / Simon Brew with Ryan Lambie & Louisa Mellor ; foreword by Mark Kermode.
“Movie Geek is a nerdy dive into popular movies, brought to you by the hugely popular entertainment and pop culture fan website Den Of Geek. Discover hidden stories behind movies you love (and, er, don’t love so much), and find out just why the most dangerous place to be is in a Tom Hanks film.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girl in the show : three generations of comedy, culture, and feminism / Anna Fields.
“For fans of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer–and every other “funny woman”–comes a candid feminist comedy manifesto exploring the sisterhood between women’s comedy and women’s liberation. At its heart, The Girl in the Show captures the urgency of our continued struggle towards equality, allowing the reader to both revel in–and rebel against–our collective ideas of “women’s comedy.”” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI’ll have what she’s having : how Nora Ephron’s three iconic films saved the romantic comedy / Erin Carlson.
“A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron’s revered trilogy– When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle –which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham. In I’ll Have What She’s Having entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMiss D & me : life with the invincible Bette Davis / Kathryn Sermak with Danelle Morton.
“For ten years Kathryn Sermak was at Bette Davis’s side–first as an employee, and then as her closest friend–and in Miss D and Me she tells the story of the great star’s harrowing but inspiring final years, a story fans have been waiting decades to hear. Miss D and Me is a window into the world of the unique and formidable Bette Davis, told by the person who perhaps knew her best of all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMiddle-Earth from script to screen : building the world of The lord of the rings & The hobbit / foreword by Peter Jackson ; written by Daniel Falconer – additional writing by KM Rice.
“For the first time ever, the epic, in-depth story of the creation of one of the most famous fantasy worlds ever imagined–an illustrious compendium that reveals the breathtaking craftsmanship, artistry, and technology behind the magical Middle-earth of the blockbuster film franchises, The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy and The Hobbit Trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStar Trek beyond : the makeup artistry of Joel Harlow / Joe Nazzaro.
“With the release of Star Trek Beyond in 2016, viewers were given a spectacular visual treat as a whole host of new aliens made their appearance for the first time in the rebooted franchise. At the heart of the process of bringing these breathtaking intergalactic species to life was Academy Award-winning make-up artist Joel Harlow. Star Trek Beyond – The Makeup Artistry of Joel Harlow presents the extraordinary work done by Harlow and his crew. Featuring fascinating pencil sketches, stunning concept art and beautiful photography, this visually arresting book gives fans a unique in-depth look into the remarkable work that went into this immensely popular movie.” (Syndetics summary)

New CDs in our AV collection

More new CDs, including fantastic box sets from The Fall and Wilco, have been added in our popular CD collection. Check also the exciting newcomers such as Moses Sumney and Sunflower Bean.

Sunflower Bean – Human ceremony
“Drawing inspiration from a vast pool of influences such as Black Sabbath and The Cure, Sunflower Bean refine their sound and take it to the next level on Human Ceremony. It is a crystalline, bright, sparkling record, tipping its cap to the likes of The Vaselines, The Velvet Underground, The Feelies, and more, loaded with an innate artfulness that belies the band’s young age: all three members are under 21.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Eminem – Revival
“Eminem releases his new album and it features collaborations with Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Pink, Kehlani, Skylar Grey, X Ambassadors and Phresher.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Moses Sumney – Aromanticism
Aromanticism is a concept album about lovelessness as a sonic dreamscape. It seeks to interrogate the social constructions around romance. The debut includes single “Doomed,” as well as new versions of standouts “Lonely World” and “Plastic.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

The Fall – Singles 1978-2016
“The band is noted for its prolific output: as of autumn 2017 they have released over 32 studio albums, and more than triple that counting live albums and other releases. This is the first collection of all The Fall singles recorded across a multitude of labels and this edited 3-CD set features all of the A-Sides.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Wilco – Being There [bonus tracks]
“The DELUXE EDITION builds on the original with 15 bonus tracks released for the first time, including alternate versions of tracks “I Got You” and “Say You Miss Me”. It also features Wilco’s 20-song performance at the Troubadour from November 12, 1996, combining songs from A.M.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

The Residents – 80 aching orphans
“Extended, 4CD anthology set chronicling the career of the legendary San Francisco experimentalists and curated with the band themselves, from the debut 1972 single to the band’s most recent album, The Ghost Of Hope. •Singles, fan favourites, album highlights, live recordings and material never before available on CD.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

INXS – Kick 30
“4-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition featuring the remastered original album, B-Sides, rare mixes & more across 3CDs plus a Blu-ray disc with the full Kick album mixed in Dolby Atmos immersive surround sound by Giles Martin & all the music videos. Housed within DVD sized ‘fan-deluxe’ packaging including 48-page booklet with interviews, essays & rare photos.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Jam – 1977
“40th anniversary five-disc box set (4CD/1DVD), celebrating the Jam’s debut year when they released two albums and three hit singles. Features ‘In The City’ & ‘This Is The Modern World’ – original albums re-mastered as well as unreleased demos and live recordings. The DVD features TV appearances and promo videos from 1977.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Dr. John – The Atco albums collection
“All seven studio albums included in the collection have been remastered for the first time. The set features: Gris-Gris (1968), Babylon (1969), Remedies (1970), The Sun, Moon & Herbs (1971), Dr. John’s Gumbo (1972), In The Right Place (1973), and Desitive.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Staff Picks CDs: The Best of 2017 Part 2

From our very own Wellington bands to Kendrick Lamar and soundtracks, check out more of our best music picks of 2017!

Mark’s Picks

Patriotic grooves. [VINYL]
Awesome anarcho-punk feminist diatribe against everything from Trump to neo-liberal politics, capitalism, misogyny, patriarchal violence, oppression, misogyny, transmisogyny, sexism, and cissexism. If this sounds didactic it’s not. It’s just relevant and timely. Also has great tunes that channel all the best elements of the classic Riot grrrl aesthetic.

Miles Calder & the Rumours.
Following on from their 2013 EP ‘The Crossing Over’, which was nominated for the 2014 NZ Taite Music Prize, Miles Calder & The Rumours deliver their eponymous debut 5 years after forming as a band. The culmination of a couple of years work, the self-produced album was engineered by Lee Prebble but mixed by Grammy-award winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, and features a large array of local talent (Lisa Tomlins, Ed Zuccollo, Dayle Jellyman, Finn Johansson, Chris Winter, Matthew Benton and Lucien Johnson) who add musical shadings from piano to horns to organ on various tracks. From the first track it’s easy to see just how much the songs benefit from the richness of sound the studio environment provides, and there’s a consistent calibre of songwriting across the whole album.

Dark arts / The Nudge. [VINYL]
The 2nd album from The Nudge only has 3 tracks, one of which clocks in at 13 minutes, the other at 24. The four minute opening title track (and single) is just a hint of the genre mashing that is about happen, but provides a basic reference point for the bands diverse sound. If you’re not enamoured with anything vaguely ‘prog’ and hate tracks that are basically longer that 3 and half minutes, be prepared to have your opinion changed by this addictive record. With relatively few vocal interludes, it’s all about the structure of the sound here and they manage to weave in out of different styles and atmospheres within the same track with nothing feeling overly laboured or obvious. All the tonal shifts seem like smaller songs within the larger canvas of the track and by the end of 13 or 24 minutes they leave you wanting more not less.

The weight of melted snow.
Lovely new meditative album from French For Rabbits based around the dissolution of the romantic relationship of band members Brooke Singer and John Fitzgerald. Male vocals provide a counterpoint to Singer’s softly lilting voice, and the dreamy atmospheric ambient sounds that the fully fleshed out band provides. Previous albums have drawn inspiration from nature and the physical, but ‘The Weight of Melted Snow’ while not short of imagery of the natural world is all about the internal, the dynamics of the heart and how to keep it beating when you lose part of it.

If you’re born on an island the ocean heals you.
With the exception of bass and drums on a few tracks and backing vocals everything is played by Lake, along with all the writing and arrangements. The synthy pop structure of a lot of the tracks enfold the layered vocals (and lovely backing voices of Seamus Maguire, Penelope Esplin, Felicity Herbertson and Nadia Reid) with a sense of warmth rather than cold beats. He uses a distinctively ‘kiwi’ voice on the brilliant ‘Good Keen Man’ that cleverly updates a series of iconic NZ images with the realities of the now. A mini-album exits within the larger work, with ‘Renters’ & ‘The Cost of Living’ addressing what he sees as the social crises’ facing people in NZ today. A love of nature, the land and the beauty that surrounds us pervades against the avarice and capitalism of modern life.

Teeth.
When you heard that Luke Buda & Tom Callwood (Phoenix Foundation) were teaming up with David Long (The Mutton Birds), & Anthony Donaldson (The Labcoats) you could be forgiven for thinking that the result would be more along the experimental spectrum. But Teeth turn up the indie guitar dynamics to just rock out, in a straight ahead way that differs from its members previous bands. You get the feeling that the entirety of Teeth is a great palette cleanser for everyone involved. Trippy guitars, riffy bass lines, shimmery reverby vocals, songs that bounce from the cosmic to the angsty to tongue in cheek and back. Every song is so catch & melodic it’s hard to pick highlights but ‘Glass Ceiling’ & the wry ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’ are both super fun.

Harmonies.
Super funky new album from Lord Echo. A melange of analogue dance floor grooves that take in everything from ‘Rebirth of the Cool’ Acid Jazz, Caribbean disco vibe, African funk, classic American R&B and back. The ever awesome Mara TK takes vocal duties on 4 tracks, with Lisa Tomlins on 2, and Toby Laing & Echo himself on one each. Lucien Johnson’s sax & flute float around the beats with Daniel Hayes synth’s. It all somehow meshes into a groove that becomes more than the sum of its parts and the funky retro-ness always seems genuine and never a deliberate pastiche.

Unearthing.
As with listening to Into Orbit’s debut album ‘Caverns’ it still seems amazing that the group just consists of two people, guitarist Paul Stewart and drummer Ian Moir, as their immersive soundscapes sound so epic. The hybrid post-rock/metal/experimental template of the first album is expanded on. Elements shift up against each other, heavy guitar riffs meld into moments of calm and delicate playing, only to explode into crushing drums. But it’s not just a series of loud/quiet/loud moments tied together as ‘tracks’. Into Orbit never seem to be welded into a particular set definition of what each track should be in terms of sound and atmospherics, and the subtle layering of complex patterns & textures make each track a unique experience.

Morningside.
Fantastic new album from Auckland based Amelia Murray (AKA Fazerdaze). Fuzzy guitars, programmed drum patterns and the odd sinewy keyboard line make up the sonic palette of most tracks, but her sweet airy vocals soar over all of it. The shimmery reverby guitars invoke a summery sense of well being, but the ‘poppy’ musical framework hides a lyrical disillusionment and uncertainty. A pervading sense of anxiety permeates nearly every track, inhabiting every relationship and interaction, and hovering cloudlike over the future itself.

Otherness.
Fantastic next level sophomore album from Grayson Gilmour, filled with superbly textured sounds and catchy melodies. His voice is moved up in the mix so it floats upon the layers of often dichotomous sound he builds into the tracks. There is an almost academic level of focus on the soundscapes & chord structures but it is more an organic exploration rather than fussy cleverness, and moulded around the album’s overarching themes of growth and acceptance.

Ennui.
The songs on ‘Ennui’ form themselves through shifting styles, overriding an easy definition or pigeon-holing, subsuming genres, metres, keys, & vocal styles into the original narratives of each of the songs rather than being in service of them. With 3 vocalists at play and elements of everything really from post-hardcore/sludge, psych Rock, post-Rock, stoner riffs, desert rock, doom layers it’s impossible to delineate the trajectory of each track adequately, suffice to say that each is challenging and complex and overall it’s an alum that reveals its musical and emotional layers after repeated immersion.

Perfect body.
Vibrant second album from the Mermaidens trio scored a flurry of great reviews upon its release, and rightly so. The tracks wind in and out of indie rock influences (newer bands like Warpaint, and older classic exponents like Sleater Kinney), elements of shoegaze , brighter Britpop, & echoy layers of early Cure’s goth. As a whole the album sounds fantastic, the breathy vocals merging perfectly with the dense drum patterns and creeping sinuous guitar lines, creating a cavernous sound that builds and releases. The precision of the music is aligned with the murky melodicism of the vocals which shift between an intense attack and detached emotion, as they dissect the juxtaposition of animalistic physicality and the sensory experience of the natural, with the pressure of the modern digital world of social media, fractured relationships and uncertain interactions. Bold and accomplished, enigmatic and intense at the same time. Continue reading “Staff Picks CDs: The Best of 2017 Part 2”

The life of a song: New books on popular music

Check out this wide range of intriguing books on popular music. They include The Life of Songs which is the fascinating backstories of hit songs, the rare study about ‘post-rock’, and the insightful biography of Joni Mitchell.

Syndetics book coverA brief history of album covers / Jason Draper ; foreword by Paul Du Noyer.
“Cover art can be an influential factor in a record’s success, and some designs are so memorable that they go down in design and music history – who doesn’t instantly recognize the covers for the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon? Now celebrate some of the greatest covers of the last 50 years alongside entertaining and informative text, in this great little book that will make an ideal gift for any music aficionado or art and design enthusiast.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe life of a Song : the fascinating stories behind 50 of the world’s best-loved Songs / edited by David Cheal and Jan Dalley.
“Each 600-word piece gives a mini-biography of a single song, from its earliest form (often a spiritual, or a jazz number), through the various covers and changes, often morphing from one genre to another, always focusing on the ‘biography’ of the song itself while including the many famous artists who have performed or recorded it. The selection covers a wide spectrum of the songs we all know and love – rock, pop, folk, jazz and more. Each piece is pithy, sparkily written, knowledgeable, entertaining, full of anecdotes and surprises. They combine deep musical knowledge with the vivid background of the performers and musicians, and of course the often intriguing social and political background against which the songs were created.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe new electronic guitarist : new technologies and techniques for the modern guitar player / Marty Cutler.
“In The New Electronic Guitarist, Marty Cutler puts more than thirty years of expertise at your fingertips, explaining the nature and history of guitar synthesis before walking you through all the tools you need to find your sound. This unprecedented, pragmatically subjective book contains everything you need to know while scouting and adapting today’s finest products and technologies to your favorite guitar. From the Beatles to Prince, from Hendrix to EVH, all the greats have obsessively managed and altered every element that influences their tone. Why restrict your creative potential? Boldly take your twentieth century rig into the twenty-first with The New Electronic Guitarist !” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverReckless daughter : a portrait of Joni Mitchell / David Yaffe.
“Joni Mitchell may be the most influential female recording artist and composer of the late twentieth century. In Reckless Daughter , the music critic David Yaffe tells the remarkable, heart-wrenching story of how the blond girl with the guitar became a superstar of folk music in the 1960s, a key figure in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1970s, and the songwriter who spoke resonantly to, and for, audiences across the country. Reckless Daughter is the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaximum volume : the life of Beatles producer George Martin, the early years, 1926-1966 / Kenneth Womack.
Maximum Volume offers a glimpse into the mind, the music, and the man behind the sound of the Beatles. Martin s working-class childhood, his education, and his musical influences at London s Guildhall School of Music and Drama profoundly shaped his early career in the BBC s Classical Music department and as head of the EMI Group s Parlophone Records. These musical influences would become the fount out of which flowed the genius behind his seven years producing the Beatles incredible body of work, including such albums as Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSo much things to say : the oral history of Bob Marley / text and photographs by Roger Steffens ; introduction by Linton Kwesi Johnson.
“Roger Steffens is one of the world’s leading Bob Marley experts. He toured with the Wailers in the 1970s and was closely acquainted with Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and the rest of the band members. Over several decades he has interviewed more than seventy-five friends, business managers, relatives and confidants–many speaking publicly for the first time. Forty years in the making, So Much Things to Say weaves this rich testimony into a definitive telling of the life of the reggae king–the full, inside account of how a boy from the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, became a cultural icon and inspiration to millions around the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPop stars in my pantry : a memoir of pop mags and clubbing in the 1980s / Paul Simper.
“Author, columnist and TV writer Paul Simper had a front-row seat at one of pop stardom’s most exciting shows: the 1980s. His memoir, Pop Stars in My Pantry, is an account of a wide-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears lad from Wiltshire landing in London just as the capital’s club scene went into orbit. As a pop writer and fellow clubber, he had unique access to the artists who would become the biggest pop acts of the decade.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFearless : the making of post-rock / Jeanette Leech.
“In 1994, the music critic Simon Reynolds coined a new term: post-rock. It was an attempt to give a narrative to music that used the tools of rock but did something utterly different with it, broadening its scope by fusing elements of punk, dub, electronic music, minimalism, and more into something wholly new. Drawing on dozens of new interviews and packed full of stories never before told, Fearless explores how the strands of post-rock entwined, frayed, and created one of the most diverse bodies of music ever to huddle under one name.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeet me in the bathroom : rebirth and rock and roll in New York City, 2001-2011 / Lizzy Goodman.
“In this fascinating and vibrant oral history, acclaimed journalist Lizzy Goodman charts New York’s explosive musical transformation in the early 2000s. Drawing on over 200 original interviews, Goodman follows the meteoric rise of the artists that revolutionised the cultural landscape and made Brooklyn the hipster capital of cool–including The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, and Vampire Weekend. Meet Me in the Bathroom is the definitive account of an iconic era in rock-and-roll.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUncommon people : the rise and fall of the rock stars / David Hepworth.
“In Uncommon People, David Hepworth zeroes in on defining moments and turning points in the lives of forty rock stars from 1955 to 1995, taking us on a journey to burst a hundred myths and create a hundred more.” (Syndetics summary)

Staff Picks DVDs: The best of 2017

A round-up of our favourite library DVDs from last year (plus a couple from early this year that made the cut). We hope you find something new, or something you missed from last year.

Mark’s Picks:
Billions. Season two.
Billions sees Damian Lewis as Bobby Axelrod, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Paul Giamatti as U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhodes, determined to bring him down. Season 2 begins with Bobby attempting to rebuild Axe Capital after the events of Season 1. Meanwhile Rhodes is under scrutiny from the Attorney General for his previous investigation into Axelrod’s business dealings. Each manoeuvre’s to gain the upper hand and destroy the other amidst a background of inside deals, political gameplay, money, and influence. Season 2 is all about short stocks and long cons, but who is playing who? Machiavellian brinkmanship taken to it’s end point with millions of dollars, reputations and careers to be won or lost.

Homeland. The complete sixth season.
Homeland is back for another season taking place several months after Season 5. The season features the results of a presidential election of a female candidate, and takes place between Election Day and inauguration day, as CIA operatives Saul Berenson and Dar Adal begin to suspect that the new President Elect has an anti-intelligence bias and that Carrie may be helping shape her policy. A more personal season as the attacks on Carrie become more insidious, the show also follows an eerie parallel to the current US political climate, and a fascinating look at the topical political manipulation via Social Media platforms.

Trapped. The complete series one.
A ferry carrying 300 passengers from Denmark pulls into an Icelandic town’s small port, just as a heavy snow storm begins. Then a mutilated and dismembered body washes on the shore, an unidentifiable man murdered only hours ago. The local police chief, Andri, realizes a killer has descended into his town.The local police are told to wait until a crack police team can arrive from the capital city of Reykjavik to do the investigations, but then the corpse goes missing and dead bodies start to turn up – all linked to a mysterious fire that destroyed an abandoned factory & killed a local teenage girl 15 years previously… More great Scandi-Noir.

Salamander.
Sixty-six safes belonging to high-level members of industry, finance, the military, the magistracy, politics, & unions are robbed during a spectacular and heist on an influential private Bank in Brussels. Soon an unparalleled blackmail scheme is underway to destroy the country’s entire political system. Doggedly honest Euro-cop Inspector Paul Gerardi catches a rumour of the bank robbery from an informant, and when his informant later turns up dead from an apparent ‘suicide’ he knows he is onto something big. He has to stay one step ahead of people from his own Government out to silence him, and protect his family from a mysterious group called Salamander whose origins lie in a botched operation during WW11. Excellent self-contained Belgian series grips over 12 episodes.

Christine’s Pick:
Wonder Woman.
I don’t go to the cinema much any more, but as a 70s kids who spent a fair chunk of her time spinning on the spot and leaping off her bed wearing a cardboard headband and bracelets, Wonder Woman had an irresistible appeal. My memories of the Lynda Carter era were hazy enough to avoid any real comparison, however, so nostalgia remains untainted by the absolute freaking awesomeness of the newest incarnation.

Neil J’s Picks:
Maudie.
Sally Hawkins extraordinary portrayal of the arthritic Nova Scotian housekeeper Maud Lewis who becomes in the face of fierce adversity a much loved and celebrated artist is sublime, touching ,harrowing and heart-warming all at once . The films sense of brutal occasionally uplifting realism and its depiction of Maud Lewis’s inner spirit that somehow manages to rise above it all is vividly and startlingly realised. This film shows beyond any doubt that Sally Hawkins is one of the finest actresses in film today.

Blade runner 2049.
I suspect it will take several years before Blade Runner 2049 can be viewed in its true light. Until then I think it can still safely be said that it is a startling, visually masterful and striking vision of a future that deals with complex and profound ideas and that it also contains career best performances from some of its cast. An astonishing work that I am sure will be regarded as a future classic.

The red turtle.
A shipwrecked sailor has to survive on a desert island and comes across a red turtle that changes his life. This studio Ghibli co production is as you we have come to expect an exquisitely animated and very beautiful film in places it’s like watching a dream. The story is deceptively simple with the narrative instead driven by the visuals. In tone it’s like an adult version of the studio Ghibli classic Ponyo. If you are enjoying the new golden age of animated film we are in then this is a must. (Neil J)

Guardians of the galaxy. Vol. 2.
A technicolour explosion in a glitter factory. The cinematic equivalent of a long soak in a huge luxurious bubble bath, sound tracked by an ace, superb. guilty pleasure music mainly “from the 1970s” with wise cracking, funny well rounded characters you love or loathe. Basically just a jolly fun retro romp. In a sharp, well-paced, slick, action packed science fiction story. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2’ is everything you want it to be and totally lives up to its predecessor. So get out the popcorn, turn off the lights settle down on the sofa you are in for a real treat. (Neil J) Continue reading “Staff Picks DVDs: The best of 2017”

Exciting new CD arrivals

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. They include the new albums by Bjork and Taylor Swift. Fantastic box-sets keep coming to our extensive collection and REM’s much-loved Automatic for the People is back as a super deluxe box-set!

New Albums

Björk, Utopia
“2017 release, the ninth studio album from the Icelandic singer/songwriter. Björk began working on Utopia almost immediately after releasing Vulnicura in 2015. The artwork was created by Jesse Kanda.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Taylor Swift, Reputation
“2017 release, the sixth studio album from the pop singer/songwriter. Reputation is the long-awaited follow-up to her 2014 album 1989. One of the leading contemporary recording artists, Taylor is known for narrative songs about her personal life, which have received widespread media coverage.” (adapted from realgroovy.co.nz)

Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rest
“The eleven essays on Rest are nothing if not sure-footed, proffering a compelling fusion of gleaming, string-emblazoned modern electro-pop and cinematically textured avant-chanson – their magical music box melodies kissed by bruised, introspective, occasionally disquieting lyrics.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

U2, Songs of experience
“U2 return with their hotly anticipated new studio album ‘Songs of Experience’. The new album – their 14th – is the companion piece to 2014’s ‘Songs of Innocence’, the two titles taking reference from English poet William Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’. ” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Morrissey, Low in high school
“Low in High School is Morrissey’s first studio album since 2014 and was recorded at La Fabrique Studios in France and in Rome at Ennio Morricone’s Forum Studios. Morrissey’s talent for combining political statements and beautiful melodies is more prevalent than ever on Low in High-School, capturing the zeitgeist of an ever-changing world.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Box Set/ Reissue

Bob Dylan, Trouble no more : the bootleg series vol. 13, 1979-1981 : deluxe edition
“30-track set spanning his controversial ‘gospel years’ 1979-1981. Includes 14 previously unreleased songs + live performances, rare studio outtakes and more.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

REM, Automatic for the people : 25th anniversary deluxe edition
“Commemorating the album’s 25th Anniversary, this remastered Deluxe edition boxset features previously unreleased material, including 20 never-before-heard demos, and the previously unreleased tracks “Mike’s Pop Song” and “Devil Rides Backwards.” A Blu-ray disc offers the full album (with bonus track “Photograph” featuring Natalie Merchant) mixed in Dolby Atmos, plus a high-resolution master of the album, music videos, and the original 1992 EPK. Also included is Live At The 40 Watt Club 11/19/92 – a live set performed in R.E.M.’s hometown of Athens, GA.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Black Sabbath, The end
“The End is a celebration of Black Sabbath’s final hometown concert at Birmingham’s Genting Arena on February 4th, 2017. This unforgettable farewell show from one of the biggest bands in the world will be released by Eagle Vision on November 17th, 2017. The limited deluxe collector’s edition contains: The End on DVD and Blu-ray; The End on double CD; The Angelic Sessions on CD; a 32-page perfect bound book.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Ramones, Rocket to Russia [deluxe].
“Contains two different mixes of the album: a remastered version of the original and a new 40th Anniversary Tracking Mix by originalRocket To Russia engineer/mixer Ed Stasium. The collection also includes a number of unreleased studio recordings, plus a previously unissued recording of the band’s 1977 concert in Glasgow, Scotland.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Monkees, Monkees 50 : classic album collection
“THE Monkees 50 is a three-CD set packed with 50 unforgettable songs from the band’s historic career, including She Makes Me Laugh and You Bring The Summer” (adapted from mightyape.com)

Staff Picks CDs: The Best of 2017, Part 1

John, Neil J., Jackson and Alex select their favourite CDs of 2017 from our collection. There is a wide variety of music here and you might find something interesting or missed. Part 2 is coming soon so keep checking.

John’s Picks:

Real Estate – In Mind
Indie hipster heroes, Real Estate, deliver another portion of their gorgeous laid back jangle pop and it’s 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.

Grandaddy – Last Place
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.

 

Gas – Narkopop
Wolfgang Voigt follows up his 2000 ambient masterpiece ‘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.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble – Find Me Finding You
The demise of UK post rockers Stereolab left a gap in contemporary music, but vocalist Laetitia Sadier continues to create her surreal sensual pop informed by the harmonies and lush instrumentation of exotica, easy listening and tropicalia.

 

Laurel Halo – Dust
On ‘Dust’ her music remains as unclassifiable as ever and, as much jazz as electronica, has attained a new found warmth and softness with her treated vocals woven through absorbing and often playful sound textures and beats to create a collection of tracks as original and beguiling as anything you will hear this year.

Thurston Moore – Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness
Sonic Youth fans are in for a treat here as that legendary NY band’s guitarist, Thurston Moore, explores five lengthy, textural, guitar centred songs that are reminiscent of his playing on the groundbreaking Sonic Youth album, Daydream Nation.

 

Shirley Collins – Lodestar
84 year old Shirley Collins, the “faerie queen” of UK psych folk, was finally coaxed back to a microphone by devoted fans and recorded live to laptop in her rural cottage accompanied by members of the next generation of folk musicians.

 

Dauwd – Theory of Colours
Electronic producers often find it difficult to maintain an entire album and it is nice to be able to report that UK artist Dauwd, bucks that trend with most of the seven tracks here maintaining a lovely rolling chilled rhythm with deep bass lines and skittering hi-hats pushing it all along.

LCD Sound System – American Dream
Seven years after they disbanded, we get the fourth LCD album and it’s as good as anything they have done. Anything but a cynical cash-in this album confirms James Murphy as a major artist.

 

Kraftwerk – 3D: The Catalogue – Box Set
German electronica pioneers, Kraftwerk, release their entire catalogue of eight discs once again, but the difference is that these are all recently recorded live versions, capturing the band using modern state of the art equipment with pristine clarity.

 

Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
The highly anticipated follow up to 2012’s ‘Shields’ from the darlings of the NY hipster scene doesn’t disappoint featuring all of the band’s distinctive touches – excellent musicianship, great arrangements, gorgeous melodies and inscrutable lyrics. They are here in Wellington for the NZ Festival in March.

Grayson Gilmour – Otherness
Wellington based multi-instrumentalist Grayson Gilmour plays everything but the drums and strings on this sophisticated, beautifully composed album that brims with heart while avoiding sentimentality.

 

Peaking Lights – The Fifth State of Consciousness
US husband and wife duo, Peaking Lights, gain more confidence with each release and with this, their fifth album, they effortlessly explore their relatively unique world of ‘80’s influenced cosmic dub/synth pop.

 

Washed Out – Mister Mellow
Released on the US Stone’s Throw label, Ernest Greene’s third record is an intoxicating blend of downbeat, free jazz, hip hop and lounge with spoken word samples thrown in to keep things interesting.

 

Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
This is an intensely political record that harks back to the early days of hip-hop as the fiery UK poet directs her fine honed literary tirades at capitalism, gentrification, climate change, war, disconnectedness, isolation and more.

 

Machinedrum – Human Energy
Inspired by the California new age movement, Human Energy finds US electronic producer Travis Stewart, coming as close as he has come to the popular arena, featuring very catchy tunes, a range of guest r’n’b vocalists, great beats and excellent production to create a summer record of euphoric glitch pop.

Roman Flugel – All the Right Noises
Roman Flugel’s third album is “about the solitary time in hotel rooms between gigs, and that strange mixture of peace and isolation”, and he has created a collection of pieces that lie between ambient and dancefloor in the wonderful world of electronic listening music.

Brian Eno – Reflection
Brian Eno has finally created a piece of infinite music, via an iOS app, that generates music indefinitely without ever repeating itself. In these anxious times, this hour long excerpt is a welcome respite, presenting a peaceful and calming virtual river to sit beside.

 

The XX – I See You
The London trio’s third release in seven years finds The XX creating their gorgeous and beautifully produced take on pop throughout, arguably, their best record yet.

 

Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
LA songstress Lana Del Rey matures into a true artist with her excellent fifth album that expands her sound palette and makes real her fascination with modern pop culture via guest appearances from Sean Lennon, Stevie Nicks, the Weeknd and A$AP Rocky.

 

Neil J’s Picks:

David Long, Richard Nunns and Natalia Mann – Utterance
This is a truly remarkable album, it is what great music sounds like, this is a major work in any sphere of artistic endeavour and it’s what many musicians strive their entire lives to achieve and is one of the finest albums in any genre from anywhere I have heard in a very long time . It is the culmination of a lifetime for Richard Nunns who knew from the start of the albums production it would be his last work and it sounds as if he has placed some deep aspect of his very being into the piece. It is a modern beautiful abstract work that is very aware of the deep spiritual and cultural traditions from which it springs and embraces these roots whilst being totally unique and new and timeless. Its powerful, emotional, challenging, spiritual and simultaneously personal and universal.

Blade runner 2049 : original motion picture soundtrack
Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack to Blade Runner 2049 is a startling, original and stunning work that ranges from faint melodic echoes of the original to dark, bleak, unsettling, industrial howls and cries, it’s a fantastic piece. Whilst many soundtracks are just designed as audio cues for events in the film, only the very best create atmosphere and add to a film rather than just compliment it. Wallfisch and Zimmer’s soundtrack joins the esteemed ranks of people like Ennio Morricone or Bernard Herrmann in creating a classic soundtrack that stands up on its own right even when its stripped away from the films visuals.

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.

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.

Ross Harris – Requiem for the fallen
Ross Harris has had a very busy 2017 and for me this was his finest release and also the best new classical work I heard all year. A deeply emotional melancholic work, that drains the listener with its intensity (as a piece on this subject matter should) Its melodically subtle and is powerfully moving a piece that touches the heart in the saddest of ways. Its beautifully recorded and performed a stunning work in every way and my favourite classical work of 2017. Words by Vincent O’Sullivan.

Jackson’s Picks:

Kendrick Lamar – Damn

 

 

 

Aldous Harding – Party

 

 

 

Jay Z – 4:44

 

 

 

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

 

 

 

Alex’s Picks:

Kendrick Lamar – Damn

 

 

 

Kelela – Take Me Apart