Staff Picks DVDs for October

Featuring rom-coms, thrillers, recent film festival entries, highly regarded tv series and a film by a blacklisted director, this month’s picks should contain something for everyone.

Cover image10 Cloverfield Lane.
Tense thriller that takes place in the ‘Cloverfield’ universe but is not a sequel to that film from 2008. The film opens with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in a car leaving her boyfriend. When the car is hit in an accident she crashes and blacks out, only to wake up in a bunker chained to the wall. She soon discovers that she was pulled from the car wreck by Howard (John Goodman), a survivalist who has built a shelter meant to withstand any apocalyptic event. He tells her that the world is in chaos above ground due to some sort of chemical or nuclear attack, and that he has saved her and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), the other bunker-mate. Certain things happen to lead credence to his story, and the three settle in to their confined surroundings. After a while however she begins to think that Howard might not have been entirely truthful about who he is & why he made the bunker in the first place…Fantastically claustrophobic, and full of plot twists, the film proves that you can still make edgy entertaining films with just small locations and a minimum of players. Some may feel the end sequence a little over the top, but it doesn’t really take away from what has come before. (Mark)

Cover imageMahana.
Adapted from Witi Ihimaera’s novel, Bulibasha and set in Gisborne in the 1950’s, Mahana tells a beautifully, haunting and tragic story of two warring families, The Mahanas and the Poatas, who are forever at each throats and competing for work, sport and engaging in the odd thrilling car chase. However the dynamic shifts when Simeon, idealistic, optimistic and bent on change, starts to question family expectations; uncover hidden secrets and even starts to make peace with sworn enemies, which threatens the tyrannical rule of patriarch Tamihana (a fine performance by Temuera Morrison), who rules the Mahana whanau with an iron and militant fist; and who will not be challenged in anyway. So a battle of wills irrupts between grandfather and grandson, where on the odd occasion the unquiet spirit of Jake the Muss is awakened. Overall I thought the film was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes, especially with regard to the on-going, but silent struggle that the grandmother, Ramona, (Nancy Brunning) goes through until the truth is finally revealed near the end. Both Temuera Morrison and Nancy Brunning owned and brought justice to the roles of the grandparents, Tamihana and Ramona. This film does indeed does justice to Ihimaera’s novel and beautifully showcases Aotearoa in its essence and culture. (Katie)

Cover imageParks and recreation. Season seven, the farewell season.
While the last season is perhaps not as consistent as what has come before, and perhaps a bit rushed in places given the need to round out the characters arcs and relationships, it is still a great wrap up to what was one of the most consistently funny comedy shows on TV. The show may be over but the wisdom of Ron Swanson will live forever. (Mark)

Cover image2 guns.
This is an action/thriller starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. This is a movie where the 2 men go undercover to try and get into a Mexican drug Lord’s cartel. Unbeknown to the other they both work for different crime fighting organisations (Denzel for the DEA) and Mark for (Naval Intelligence). They both get disowned by their own agencies and have everyone after them. Great pace and lots of action. Keeps you guessing. Not as violent as ‘Man on Fire’. (Brigid)

Cover imageBosch. Season two.
Season 2 of the adaptation of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series if a lot more consistent than the first season. All the rough edges have been smoothed over, all the actors now seem far more comfortable in their characters, the writing is a lot more consistent, and the changes in some of the characters in updating the show to a more modern period seem less jarring. Season 2 takes inspiration from Connelly’s novels Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote, and while the plot line of ‘The Last Coyote’ is the most truncated and differs from the book, the rest of the story draws enough of Connelly’s plotlines to satisfy fans of the books. Renewed for a third season which will supposedly adapt Connelly’s novel The Black Echo and elements of A Darkness More Than Night. (Mark)

Cover imageLove, Rosie.
‘Love Rosie’ tells the story over the course of twelve years, through letters, emails and instant messaging about the ever changing relationship between the two main characters Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart. The question that will hang on your lips throughout the film is are they always meant to be more than friends or will they risk everything including their friendship on love? This question can only be answered by watching the film. This movie is an enjoyable romantic comedy that is suitable for a girls night in. It has everything you can expect: laughter, tears and a little romance. I’m not usually a fan of chick flick movies, but I think this has been a great chick flick and romantic comedy movie I have seen since Love Actually. (Katie)

Cover imageOccupied. Series 1.
Excellent new Norwegian TV series, apparently the most expensive (and most watched) in the history of Norwegian television. Based on an idea by popular Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo the show is set in the near future, where a catastrophic hurricane fuelled by climate change, has led to the rise of the Norwegian Green Party into political power. Idealistic Prime Minister Jesper Berg, has plans for thorium-based nuclear energy, and cuts off all fossil fuel production. With the Middle East in turmoil, Europe is suffering an energy crisis, and in retaliation the EU asks Russia to initiate a ‘velvet glove’ invasion of Norway. Russian special forces kidnap Berg, insisting that he submit to EU demands or face a full-scale invasion. What follows is told from the perspective of several characters as the effects of a ‘non-violent’ occupation begin to insidiously colour the lives and undercut the political processes of the Norwegian people. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover image45 years.
A letter arrives a week before Geoff and Kate’s 45th wedding anniversary party and makes their long, harmonious marriage no longer the same. The England’s latest auteur, Andrew Haigh’s third feature ’45 years’ is a low-keyed, chamber piece but deeply affecting. It’s a simple setting drama like his breakthrough film Weekend, which portraits the devastating love affair of two young men, and subtly yet sharply exposes how fragile our love and relationships are. The film is shot in order from the first scene, and natural, wonderfully nuanced performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay make every detail meaningful. They reach the height at the ending scene with the memorable song ‘Smoke gets in your Eyes’. A quiet triumph. (Shinji)

Cover imageKill your friends.
Mostly good adaptation of John Niven’s hilariously nihilistic satire set amongst dodgy A&R record men at the height of UK ‘Britpop’ madness. A&R man Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is slashing and burning his way through the music business, a world where ‘no one knows anything’ and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public. Fuelled by greed, ambition and inhuman quantities of drugs, Stelfox searches for his next hit record, but a couple of bad missteps make it look like his career is all but done. Just how far will he go to get to the top…Stelfox is surely one of the most appalling Fictional creations ever put on paper, yet his narration makes the novels sordid nastiness so funny that you can’t help laughing. This, however, is a more difficult task to put over on film and while some of it works, other scenes could perhaps have used more of Hoult’s narration to undercut all the grim bits that hew a little too close to American Psycho. (Mark)

Cover imageLondon has fallen.
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman This movie is a sequel to Olympus has fallen. Many World Leaders have gathered in London for a Meeting and the Terrorists start to attack. Lots of explosions. If you enjoyed ‘Olympus has Fallen’ you should enjoy this one too. (Brigid)

CoverOrphan black. Series four.
After the somewhat convoluted third season ‘Orphan Black’ decided to do a bit of a ‘back to basics’ reset for the series, so the fourth season goes back to the beginning and follows the story of Beth, whose suicide set the whole story in motion for Sarah in Season one. Definitely an improvement over the previous season, which had gotten a little caught up in the complications of its mythology. (Mark)

Cover imageWhen Marnie was there.
This movie was screened at last week at the Thursday Night Film screening at the Central Library. This film tells the story of Anna, an introverted orphaned girl and a bit of a lost soul, who feels abandoned, unwanted and unlovable. However, while on holiday, a chance encounter with a mysterious blonde girl, Marnie, who in many ways is a reflection of Anna, changes Anna’s life forever. As the summer progresses, Anna spends more time with Marnie, and eventually Anna learns the truth about her family and foster care, which allows her to open up to possibilities all around her, mainly meaningful relationships with friends and her surrogate family. This film is hauntingly beautiful and truly captures the essence and beauty, you would in find in most Japanese animated films produced by the Company, Studio Ghibli, who also brought such Japanese animated films to life, such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro. Overall a great film that young girls will enjoy, that explores the true meaning of friendship and finding yourself. (Katie)

Cover imageThe nice guys.
Engagingly funny crime flick written & directed by buddy-movie maestro Shane Black. Set in Los Angeles in the late 70s, the film opens with a boy witnesses fading porn star Misty Mountains die in a car crash. Later that week, down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is approached by the aunt of Misty Mountains who claims to have seen her niece alive. March is sceptical of her claim, but realizes that a missing girl named Amelia is somehow involved. However, Amelia does not wish to be found and hires enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to intimidate March into staying away from her. Later that night, Healy is attacked at his home by two thugs who attempt to interrogate him about Amelia’s whereabouts. After escaping he then teams up with a reluctant March to find Amelia before the thugs do. Gosling & Crowe make a good pairing, and while it is not as sharp or consistent as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, nevertheless it’s an enjoyable melange of Black’s favourite techniques, dialogue and style. (Mark)

Cover imageA pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence.
Swedish one-of-a-kind auteur, Roy Andersson has a huge studio in Stockholm to build every kind of set for his works. It’s his holy ground where he established his idiosyncratic style; every scene is a single shot from a fixed camera position, meticulously composed painting-like milieu, deadpan style acting by non-professional actors, and so on. This latest work, the final chapter of ‘the living trilogy’, which explores what it means to be a human being, is no exception. It’s an utterly unique, absurd black comedy, which is dominated by a strange milky white colour, and slightly darker and heavier than its predecessors (Songs from the Second Floor and You, the Living). This peculiar taste may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but no one makes films like Roy Andersson. That’s for sure. (Shinji)

Cover imageMidnight special.
A great little ‘Sci-Fi’ movie from writer/director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud). The story revolves around Roy (Nichols regular Michael Shannon) and his biological son who are on the run from a cult that he has kidnapped the boy from, and also from some Government agencies who have an interest in the mysterious powers the boy apparently has. Shannon and his friend hook up with the boy’s biological mother (Kirsten Dunst) and together the four of them try to get the boy to a special place he feels he needs to go to to discover his purpose while trying to evade the forces after them. Endlessly intriguing, at times ‘Midnight Special’ feels somewhat retro, a homage to early Speilberg or Stephen King, and proves you need few CGI effects to create a modern ‘Sci-Fi’ film, just some good old fashioned character based story telling. (Mark)

Cover imageThe lady in the van.
Very unusual movie about an incident in the Author Alan Bennet’s life. He meets an eccentric lady (Maggie Smith) who lives in an old Van and moves from place to place in her Van. It is very sensitive in parts. ‘The Lady in the Van’ decides to live in his driveway for a period of time. It is a story about their interaction. Not a Comedy. (Brigid)

Cover imageBeauty and the beast.
A Walt Disney movie about a tough no nonsense heroine, named Belle (French word for Beauty), who offers herself in exchange for her father, who has been imprisoned by the Beast, and discovers that her captor is an enchanted prince in disguise. While the situation is anything than ideal, this Beauty and the Beast must learn, in very Pride and Prejudice-like to overcome their pride and stubbornness, in the hopes of falling in love and breaking the beast’s enchantment. This film is beautifully constructed and made! Filled with lots of quirky characters, in the form of Lumiere (a candle stick), Cogsworth (a cynical clock), Mrs Potts (a mother-hen teapot) and many musical numbers. A film that the entire family can enjoy – especially on a Saturday night! (Katie)

Cover imageTehran taxi.
In 2010, Iranian master director Jafar Panahi (This is not a Film, Crimson Gold) was baselessly convicted of crimes against national security and banned from making films. However, he is somehow still making films and ‘Tehran Taxi’ is his third feature since his conviction. This time, the director himself drives a taxi through the city of Tehran and picks up various passengers. At first, this simple set-up gives an impression similar to documentary shot by iPhone, but Pnahi’s ingenious hands turn the taxi into a mirror of Iranian society, social morals and politics. The message implied in the film is powerful and serious but he does it with a droll, playful manner. This film won the Golden Bear (best film) at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015, and Panahi’s niece, who appears in the film and is adorable, received the honour on his behalf because he has been banned from travelling. A genius work. (Shinji)

Cover imageEye in the sky.
Extremely tense ‘real-time’ thriller about a drone mission. Helen Mirren, a UK-based Colonel is in command of a top-secret drone operation to capture a high level English target in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from “capture” to “kill.” But as an American pilot (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone, triggering an international dispute reaching the highest levels of US and British government as to the moral & political implications of ‘collateral damage’. Gripping, intelligent film-making that is entertaining without shying away from posing some difficult questions. Features one of the last performances from the greatly missed Alan Rickman. (Mark)

Cover imageINXS : never tear us apart.
“I was standing. You were there. Two worlds collided and they can never tear us apart.” It’s amazing how sixteen simple worlds can have such a huge impact and really touch your soul. While it’s been two years exactly since this mini-series aired on television in New Zealand, in my opinion it’s still a goodie and is worth watching, especially as the 16th of August is band member’s (and unofficial leader of the band), Tim Farris’ birthday and INXS is hosting an event called Platinum Award Success… in Sydney that marks their achievement, success and contribution to the Australian and international music industry! “Never Tear Us Apart” is a two-part, 4 hour television event that tells the uncensored story of Australia’s most successful 80’s Rock band – INXS. It’s a story of mateship, success and excess. It’s the ultimate sex, drugs and rock’n’roll story that ends in tragedy. This movie portrays an honest and raw account of the rise and fall of one of my favourite bands, who decided to take an innovative approach to breaking the international music market overseas which paid off, at the price of alienating the Australian music industry. In watching this movie, you will get insight and details of their personal lives, their rise to fame from Australian pubs to stadiums around the world- Wembley as a major impact of their career! Features famous chart breaking songs such as New Sensation, Original Sin, What You Need, Need You Tonight and the chilling, heart breaking love ballad: Never Tear Us Apart. Also shows some archived footage of the original concerts and earlier tracks of their greatest hits – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!, near the end you will here an earlier recording that Michael Hutchence made of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. Overall this mini-series is in a word –AWESOME! Luke Arnold owned the role of Michael Hutchence and pretty much stole the limelight. This miniseries made me laugh, made me cry and entertained me from start to finish. (Katie)

Cover imageWhat we did on our holiday.
Starring David Tennant, Billy Connelly Rosamond Pike, Annette Crosby and Celia Imrie. This was a really good movie. Watched it with three generations and they all enjoyed it. The story starts with a family which is going through a separation process and they are going back to Scotland to see their Father (Billy Connelly)/Grandfather. Who is having a big 75th birthday which is possibly his last. They are trying to keep the separation from the rest of the family but the process is rocky. They give the kids a list of lies they have to tell. Some very moving and funny parts to this movie as the young children have to cope with the eccentric extended family. Really worth a watch. It is a Comedy and very funny in parts. (Brigid)

Latest Staff Picks from our CD collection

Our staff picks are always a varied lot, and this selection continues that theme. Genres vary from synth to psychedelia, dark noise to pop covers and everything in between. Have a browse!

Cover imageDay of the dead.
Released on the esteemed UK label 4AD, this beautifully packaged five disc tribute to mark the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead features 49 tracks by a wealth of artists including The War On Drugs, The National, Bonnie Prince Billy, Kurt Vile, Tim Hecker, The Flaming Lips and Real Estate with NZ’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra even getting a look in. From the Dead’s psychedelic beginnings to their mellow latter day songs, all bases are covered, so the collection spans full blown guitar freakouts through to sweet singalongs. The quality throughout is very high (pun intended), and though not all styles will appeal to everyone, within six hours of music it’s pretty certain that everyone will be thrilled by something. (John)

Cover imagesVoid beats/invocation trex.
Former Stereolab main man, guitarist and synth boffin Tim Gane, and his long term drummer, Joe Dilworth, have a new band, and while ex-Stereolab singer, Laetitia Sadier keeps that defunct band’s chanteuse elements flying with her solo releases, this project finds Stereolab’s retro-futurist motorik rhythms being mined far deeper. The first track, a 13 min. hypnotic groove sets the tone, introducing a predominantly instrumental journey into a range of contemporary krautrock and experimental compositions. Guest appearances from Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Jan St. Werner of Mouse On Mars, help make this an absorbing listen. (John)

Cover imageIt’s hard for me to say I’m sorry / Christian Fennesz & Jim O’Rourke.
Two prominent names of experimental music, Christian Fennesz and Jim O’Rourke are long-time friends but have teamed up to make new music as a duo for the first time. It is intriguing and surely will excite some people. The album contains two lengthy pieces and probably pleases fans of both musicians, as offering the profound sonic collage with the graceful noise. Both tunes seem to be spontaneously developed based around perhaps Fennesz’s lyrical, ambient compositions, and super versatile, chameleon-like O’Rourke responds with subtle but edgy play. They are genius at colouring sound and make this electronic improvisation a rewarding listen. (Shinji)

Cover imageGood luck and do your best.
Electronic producers such as Gold Panda from the UK do a great job of keeping the IDM flag flying and on his fourth album he excels. Inspired by a trip to Japan, this is Gold Panda’s warmest, sunniest release featuring lush acoustic samples from scratchy old vinyl, simple yet funky drumbeats, looped vocal snippets and a wide array of instruments, all arranged with a clear love of both house music and hip-hop. An off-beat but very catchy work, great for both the dancefloor and the armchair, and that’s no small achievement. (John)

Cover imageEverything’s beautiful / Miles Davis & Robert Glasper.
One interesting possibility offered by recent technology is that of a CD being co-credited to two musicians – one alive and one dead! Rather than oversee yet another remix project, US pianist Robert Glasper chose to combine original master tapes of Miles Davis with new input by a host of contemporary jazz, r’n’b and hip hop artists, resulting in what could be considered Black Radio Vol 3. Each track has a different story attached to it, outlined on the liner notes, and, well removed from any ‘novelty value’, what stands is another excellent milestone in the continued evolution of black American music. (John)

Cover imageEyewitness ; Modern times ; Casa loco.
In the 70s, Steve Khan was the most in-demand guitarist crossing over from Jazz to pop and rock, working for Freddie Hubbard, David Sanborn, Steely Dan and Billy Joel, to name but some. He was also a band leader and had a few acclaimed fusion albums under his belt. Turning into the 80s when fusion boom faded away, he made a radical progress and deepened his artistry with this super group, featuring bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Steve Jordan and percussionist Manolo Badrena, all of whom were also sought after session musicians. This band left three albums – Eyewitness (1981, the title became the band’s name), Modern Times (1982, amazing live performance in Tokyo) and Casa Loco (1983). These largely unavailable albums got digitally remastered and are put in two discs, and showcase Khan’s remarkable talent as a guitarist, composer and bandleader. The superb chemistry of the band allows these recordings to be memorable achievements of jazz/rock music. (Shinji)

Cover imageLife of pause.
US singer/guitarist Jack Tatum’s development over three records and six years has been significant. From the home recorded coy indie kid of 2010’s ‘Gemini’, through the Top Alternative Album awards for the dream-pop of 2012’s ‘Nocturne’ he has progressed to the rich complex arrangements of ‘Life of Pause’. While the sound of a talented outsider finally getting his turn in a state of the art studio can often take a few listens to get used to, here the effort is rewarded, as lurking within the highly polished arrangements featuring grand pianos, marimbas, backing vocals, and saxophones surrounding Tatum’s plaintive vocals, the songs are as good as ever, they just require a little more perseverance to reveal themselves. (John)

Cover imageA moon shaped pool.
A new Radiohead album is always highly anticipated and yet again, there are no disappointments. The strident pizzicato strings that kickoff the chamber pop of the opening track set the tone for another deep cinematic plunge into Radiohead’s elegant sound world. Featuring outstanding production, dense and detailed arrangements, electronics, strings, grand pianos and acoustic and electric guitars swirling around Thom Yorke’s vocals that sound better than ever, this is an immersive listening experience capturing a band that has matured yet continues to explore and expand. Our Thom doesn’t seem any happier but when you can make gloomy sound this cool, who cares? (John)

Cover image1989.
Whereas Taylor’s own songs are much more bright and poppy both in tone and how she tells her stories, Ryan interprets them in a much more solemn, romantic and low key way with the country rock style he brings to songs. So Taylor’s are up and Ryan’s are down. His versions are much more heart felt and filled with yearning, loss, desire and the whole feel of the album is much more melancholic, compared to Taylor’s upbeat renditions. It’s worth listening to both albums to hear the same songs treated so differently but both working as self-contained works. Stand outs for me are Out of the Woods and Wildest Dreams which are vastly different in mood to Taylor’s and make them seem thin by comparison. (Martin)

cover imageTwentyears.
French electronic duo Air ushered in a new wave of laid back Gallic uber cool back in 1995 with their cinematic future-retro lounge music and this compilation, to commemorate their 20th anniversary, is an excellent reminder of what a great band they continue to be. They have made just six albums in that time, but their discography is loaded with EPs, collaborations and soundtracks, and this collection draws from their entire catalogue. Nothing moves very fast in Air’s world, and they have always managed to sound innovative and captivating, employing vintage synths, vocoded voices, vibraphones, smoky saxophones, strings, vocal harmonies and great basslines to create their vintage pop influenced sounds. Disc one is a collection of highlights chosen by the duo themselves and disc two features a collection of session tracks, b-sides and rarities. Lovely stuff. (John)

Cover imageIn a moment : Ghost Box.
UK label Ghost Box has only released around 30 albums from a small roster of artists over their ten year history, but so well formed is the overarching label ethos that each release is like a different view into the same world. This double disc compilation celebrates the 10th anniversary of the label that pioneered the concept of ‘hauntology’ – the idea that music can act as a gateway to a world of subconscious echoes and archived references. Consequently, label founders – musician, Jim Jupp and graphic designer, Julian House – relentlessly reference the cultural landfill and psychic mulch of the mid-60’s to early 80’s to create an entire parallel world. The sounds brim with scientific optimism and the promise of a better world, but there is also poignancy, because something went horribly wrong with the plan. Ghost Box evokes feelings of both childhood innocence and the disappointment of promises unfulfilled, the reassuring authority of the adult world exposed as a sham – no one’s in control after all and the space age is held together with sellotape and velcro. (John)

Cover imagecase/lang/viers.
Although they didn’t really know each other until k.d. lang emailed the others a few years ago, three leading female singer-song writers; Nico Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs became a wonderful joint force. They seem to effortlessly harmonise and relish making music together, and it’s evident in this album. All three singers take solo turns and share the spotlight. It’s not surprising that lang shows great presence on medium/slow numbers and Case shines on country-infused songs, but pleasantly the least known Veirs often takes a lead and bring a freshness. With the help of the master producer Tucker Martine, who has worked with The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket and many more, a timeless album is born. (Shinji)

Cover imageLove streams.
Over 15 years and seven albums, sound manipulator Tim Hecker has explored and refined a highly distinctive style of grand, textured compositions, constructed of highly processed and manipulated sound sculptings layered in a haze of static. His most recent release finds him subtly shifting focus as he works with human voices for the first time, using software to translate medieval choral music to digital synthesis. The listener won’t find any ‘songs’ here, but a deeply melodic and moving music that explores the details of distortion, timbre, tone and harmony. (John)

Cover imageThe digging remedy.
Plaid, the electronic duo that helped define melodic IDM back in the ‘90’s, continue their unwavering path of creativity twenty years on with their ninth record. While their sound is highly distinctive and relatively predictable, no-one ever yawns at another Plaid release, and that is because these two musicians consistently tread an endlessly fascinating and captivating path through the terrain of electronica, albeit aided by glistening guitars and even a recorder. By turns, gorgeous, moody, wistful, majestic and exciting, these complex instrumental compositions are easy to get lost in and are able to remind the listener just why electronic music remains cutting edge and so cool. (John)

Cover imageSwan song series.
One of the most influential female figures in the 90s music scene returns with a 3-Disc collection that rounds up the 5 EPs she released on Bandcamp between 2013-14. Co-founding Throwing Muses with stepsister Kristen Hersh, which she played in from 1983-1991, she then co-formed The Breeders with Kim Deal of The Pixies, before founding her own group Belly. After ‘Belly’ folded she released 2 indie pop albums followed by 2 more introspective acoustic albums before essentially stepping away from music, so it was a surprise when 7 years later she began to release a series of EPs on Bandcamp. Each release featured songs co-written with friends, musicians and previous collaborators, including noted authors. American Laundromat Records collects up all the EPs and some extra tracks for a richly diverse compilation that wandered through a number of genres, all anchored by a sense of experience and wisdom, in addition to her lovely voice which sounds as good as it ever was. (Mark)

Cover imageDJ-kicks : Dam-Funk.
The latest instalment of the popular DJ Kicks series is from LA funkster Dam-Funk and pretty much stands as an introduction for the uninitiated as to where modern funk has currently progressed to. Damon Riddick, aka Dām-Funk, has been running a club night called ‘Funkmosphere’ for the past decade, helping in the evolution of modern funk from it’s ‘70’s origins. Modern funk asserts that synthetic percussion and synthesizer wriggles are as much a part of funk’s evolution as a chicken-scratch guitar line or James Brown grunt; consequently this disc comprises a great selection from across the spectrum of contemporary funk, with most tracks playing out in full – be warned – have your dancing shoes close at hand. (John)

Cover imageHopelessness.
The artist formerly known as Antony and the Johnsons returns under her new alias Anonhi, which comprises a stellar lineup of herself plus critically acclaimed electronic producers Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never. Sure, some of the beats are a bit crunchy, but considering the experimental status of the producers, this is a surprisingly accessible and user friendly project, the heartfelt politically charged songs breathing fully within rousing and muscular electronics that complement the vocals with precise elegance and power. What results is a meticulously crafted, epic and glorious thinking person’s record that reconfigures electronic pop as a set of beautiful and bitter protest songs. (John)

Cover imageStrange little birds.
Of all the older 90s bands that reformed within the last few years after long lay-offs (Mazzy Star, MBV, Lush etc) the Garbage reunion was perhaps the least interesting musically. 4 years later they have returned with another new album. ‘Strange Little Birds’ is more akin to their early sound, endlessly compressed and distorted guitars with Shirley Manson’s voice battling the layers of dark noise. Moving away from the more anthemic pop of their later albums, there are none of the big ‘singles’ here that dominated the last few records, instead it’s an album for people who still like ‘albums’, all slow burn. Eschewing nostalgia, they prove you can still make an album that incorporates all the old elements while still sounding fresh. (Mark)

StaffPicksCDs14Wolf party : New Zealand werewolf sounds from Stink Magnetic / compiled by D. Thomas Herkes.
The title suggests a novelty record but this compilation from Whanganui (!?) label Stink Magnetic Record Co., is a treat for lo-fi garage rock fans and a refreshing diversion from the high production times we live in. Label manager D. Thomas Herkes compiled these tracks from his label’s roster that covers genres including “NZ garage, surf, Hawaiian industrial, experimental country disco, Spaghetti Western, esoteric trash, rap and stone-age punk bands”. The production is appropriately raw with the songs loosely adhering to a lo-fi voodoo rockabilly ethos pioneered by bands like the Cramps and Suicide. This is available to loan on both CD and vinyl so if you want to tear up your speakers and annoy your neighbours then borrow this and TURN IT UP! (John)

Cover imageWarm leatherette.
Grace Jones reinvented herself in 1980, from the disco diva of her first three albums to the sleek, designer ‘80’s icon of the first of her legendary ‘Compass Point trilogy’, ‘Warm Leatherette’ (followed by ‘Nightclubbing’ and ‘Living My Life’). Producer Chris Blackwell, who owned both Island Records and the Bahamas situated recording studio, was the maestro behind the transformation, carefully choosing the songs to cover, the musicians and the image. Grace Jones modified her vocals to her, now characteristic, half spoken half sung style and took the new reggae crossover sound supplied by the Sly and Robbie rhythm section into a new world of mysterious subterranean funk reggae that helped define the ‘80’s. This re-release includes a second disc of long dub versions, singles and remixes. (John)

Shinji’s Vinyl Picks

Our vinyl collection is now live and available for borrowing and reserving! Come in to the Central library to browse the collection, or search our online

In the second half of the 70s, Shinji lived in Kyoto, Japan and spent a lot of time in jazz cafes where jazz records were always played with gigantic speakers (mostly JBL). Not many Jazz cafes exist now but vinyl brings back those old days.

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
Took a breath and waited for Coltrane joining in Ellington’s piano in the opening tune ‘In a Sentimental Mood’. Deep and elegant.

Duke Ellington Such sweet thunder
Love the flow of the side-B featuring ‘The Star-Crossed Lovers’.

Charles Mingus Mingus ah um
One of the best and most accessible albums to the addictive Mingus world.

Miles Davis Sketches of Spain
Cool, sophisticated Gil Evans arrangements take you on a magical Spanish tour.

Keith Jarrett The Köln concert
Although some jazz café didn’t play this album by claiming it’s not jazz, this was the most requested album when it came out. Jarrett’s one the highest points.

Donny Hathaway Live
What a performance. What a band. This landmark live album excited jazz fans as will especially the side-A, recorded at The Troubadour in Hollywood.

cover imagecover imagecover image

Monty’s top vinyl picks

Monty is the library’s music selector, so he sees everything that ends up on our shelves. He also instigated the revival of the library’s vinyl collection, so it’s well worth taking note of his top picks from the collection.

Don’t forget to join us tomorrow for our launch party! Check out all the details here and you can be one of the first to borrow from our new vinyl collection.

Live at Carnegie HallLive at Carnegie Hall.
Bill is personable, cool and soulful at the helm of this 2LP live set from 1973. Songs like ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ and ‘Let me in your life’ are hopeful and touching, ‘I can’t write left handed’ political and angry and ‘Harlem’ and ‘Let us love,’ stomping R&B gospel with audience. An amazing live album from one of the best and housed in grand gatefold package.

After the Gold RushAfter the gold rush.
Remember that distinctive LP cover, and Neil Young walking in trench coat past iron railings? Well, that image perfectly encapsulates the yearning heart of ‘After the gold rush.’ Songs like ‘Oh, lonesome me’ ‘Only love can break your heart,’ and ‘Don’t let it bring you down,’ distil the experience of breaking hearts into music. Ditties like ‘Till the morning comes’ and ‘Cripple creek fairy,’ break that spell a little and ‘Southern Man’ is thumping, angry and awesome.

I can’t ignore Tapestry by Carole King. That LP lingered in almost every bed-sit, bedroom and lounge of suburban New Zealand, and helped herald the 70’s phenomenon of the singer songwriter. So, it’s doubly important as a kind of relic and touchstone, but is also filled with immaculate song-craft and mood.

If You're Feeling SinisterIf you’re feeling sinister.
The second release of Belle and Sebastian is full of distinctive, sophisticated pop and after their first album ‘Tigermilk,’ provides a real sense that they’re an especially talented, unique group. Title track, ‘If you’re feeling sinister’ characterises the ease with which they achieve atmosphere, lyrical poise and is superior, winning chamber pop. The cover image blows up a treat in LP too.

Abbey RoadAbbey Road / The Beatles.
My brother had a very large collection of vinyl and we would play Duran Duran, The Police and other 80’s records, but occasionally we ventured further into the dark past. At the back of his collection were the complete Beatles. Mysterious and in full colour – to browse all the covers, inserts and liner notes just made you more curious – the Beatles were changing before your eyes. I played the long, manic medley on side 2 of Abbey Road often, and it changed my (musical) life.

Mark’s vinyl picks

Our vinyl collection launch party is happening this Saturday! Find us on Facebook or Eventfinda, and make sure to invite your friends. We’ll be popping records on from 12 til 1, then having a discussion with some vinyl professionals from 1–2.30. After that we’ll be spinning tunes til 4pm! Heaps and heaps of prizes to be won, including music and vouchers!

To give you a taste of our upcoming collection, our audio specialist Mark has selected his must-listen recommendations from our (soon-to-be) borrowing collection.

2nd in Shorter’s fabulous run of Blue Note solo albums in the late 60s, ‘Juju’ builds on his debut ‘Night Dreamer’ & the work he was doing as part of Miles’ 2nd Great Quintet. Backed by Coltrane’s famous rhythm section, the key lies in Shorter’s amazing writing that incorporated modal and chordal harmonies, improvisational form, & melodic variation but were still ‘proper’ structured compositions.

Donny Hathaway LiveLive.
Amazing live album, maybe one of the best ever, from the soul genius who would tragically take his own life 7 years later. Recorded at the Troubadour in Hollywood and the Bitter End in New York in 1972, with a top band who played soul with serious Jazz skills. Features great reworking of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ (still on the charts at the time), John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ & Carole King’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend’. The fantastic call and response from the crowd tells the story.

Chet is BackChet is back!
‘Chet is back’ is one of Baker’s best albums, voted by ‘Q Magazine’ as 3rd in a list of essential jazz albums to own (after ‘Kind of Blue’ & ‘A Love Supreme’). Busted in Italy for forging drug prescriptions, Baker spent over a year in jail, and returned with the album ‘Chet is Back’ in 1962. Teaming up with the best players in European jazz the newly clean Baker re-established his cred with a harder fluid bop style, as well as a gorgeous reading of the classic ballad ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’.

But We Love Our Brothers and SistersBut we love our brothers and sisters.
More amazing music from Seth Frightening, the first full length album since his 2010 debut The Prince & his Madness. His lovely eerie double-tracked vocals float above sinuous guitar lines and weird odd moments of noise and disquiet.

Time Killed The ClockTime killed the clock.
Expanded from a mini EP Dan Boobyer’s full length LP ‘Time Killed the Clock’ is full of short atmospheric tracks, with his voice multi-tracked for effect. The deliberately lo-fi recording evokes an older style of folky blues songs & singing that doesn’t seem calculated or deliberately nostalgic, just a vehicle for the type of songs he likes to sing..

Axel’s top vinyl picks

With our vinyl collection launch coming up on September 24th (see our event page for more details) we’ve asked some of our library staff about their top picks from our upcoming vinyl collection. Axel puts together Spotify mixes for us, and his taste is varied and eclectic. Here are his recommendations for must-listen records you’ll be able to borrow from us:

Bill Evans – Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Best recorded live jazz EVER!!!

Black Sabbath – Paranoid
CANNOT wait to play that one backwards!

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing
An ode to vinyl right here!

Daft Punk – Discovery
Well, this will be the funkiest and grooviest sounding vinyl for both reference and dance purposes.

The Doors – L.A. Woman
I’ll enjoy this while reading Blake. Thank you Jim!

Jon Hopkins – Immunity
For a late night of dance (and neighbourly complaints!)

Sunday at the Village VanguardParanoidEndtroducing
DiscoveryLA WomanImmunity

John’s Top 5 Vinyl picks

With our vinyl collection launch coming up on September 24th (see our event page for more details) we’ve asked some of our library staff about their top picks from our upcoming vinyl collection. If you’re a follower of our Sound & Vision blog, you may be familiar with John’s in depth music reviews. Here are his recommendations for must-listen records you’ll be able to borrow from us:

It’s very exciting to play a small part in the creation of the relaunch of WCL’s vinyl collection, as far as I know the only such collection in NZ, and very cool to see local music so well represented, with not one, not two, but all three of Orchestra of Spheres records in the collection, alongside albums by the Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Lontalius, the Mantarays, Glass Vaults, Eb & Sparrow – the list goes on.

Local albums aside, to choose five all time favourites is a big call, but these five records have either changed the shape of modern music, or changed me personally in some way!

Music Has The Right To ChildrenMusic has the right to children.
Not many records can be said to have created a genre, but Scottish duo Boards of Canada’s first album did just that. Released in 1998, the album predated the hauntology movement, featuring as it did, a pre-occupation with nostalgia, naivete and childhood memories, all presented within a woozy haze of melodic psychedelic pastoralism generated by submerged samples, distorted electronics and blunted beats. The nostalgic atmosphere, created with the use of samples of children’s voices augmented by simple yearning melodies filtered through electronic gauze, fit the cultural climate perfectly. Released when the end of the 20th Century loomed and with an uncertain future dawning, it is telling that the dusty golden patina of this record is as enticing today as it was almost 20 years ago.

My Life in the Bush of GhostsMy life in the bush of ghosts / Brian Eno + David Byrne.
Originally released in 1981, this pioneering work from Brian Eno & David Byrne is widely recognised as a milestone in sample based music. While not exactly inventing sampling, this was the first time sampled material had been extensively used as lead vocals. Recorded before the advent of digital sequencing, the voices, sampled from radio talk-show hosts, Lebanese mountain singers, preachers, exorcism ceremonies, Muslim chanting and Egyptian pop, were synchronized with the instrumental tracks via trial and error, creating a pan-global jumbled stew, without regard for race, creed, or color. Consequently, this was a prescient record for the cross cultural fertilisation that was to occur in the music of subsequent decades. Eno described the album as a “vision of a psychedelic Africa” and the worldbeat/ funk rock feel of this project bled through into Talking Heads hugely successful ‘Remain In Light’, recorded at the same time.

It’s almost impossible now to imagine just how weird the Pixies seemed on arrival in the late ‘80s. They were well on the outside of the outsiders, writing songs referencing surrealism, Biblical violence, death, suicide, sex and environmental catastrophe. ‘Doolittle’ was their second album and featured a cleaner production than their debut’s raw Steve Albini stylings, courtesy of Gil Norton, who had produced Echo & the Bunnymen. With songs that averaged just over two minutes in duration ‘Doolittle’ is now widely recognised as an album that helped shape 90’s indie rock. It’s no secret that Nirvana were heavily influenced by it, and it even made the Top 10 in Britain, while a 2003 poll of NME writers ranked Doolittle as the second-greatest album of all time.

The EraserThe eraser.
Thom Yorke’s 2006 solo electronic release was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize and the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. Relying heavily on samples taken from various Radiohead sessions, the album was originally intended to be instrumental, but producer Nigel Godrich encouraged Thom to add vocals. What resulted is a beautiful and compelling observation of the isolated urban life the current neo-liberal reality offers – “an evocative portrait of life made slippery by urban sprawl, murky political alliances and global warming … with the blips and bleeps of Yorke’s laptop excursions coalescing into soulful, politically charged songs.” Yorke said that the album title was inspired by “these huge elephants that we have in the room at the moment, in the West, and people are desperately trying to erase them from public consciousness.” Fans note – the library vinyl collection also includes Radiohead’s In Rainbows, The Bends, OK Computer and their excellent latest – A Moon Shaped Pool.

Hatful of HollowHatful of hollow / The Smiths.
By late 1984 in the UK, the energy generated by the fierce creativity of early ‘80’s post-punk had begun to fade and the miner’s strikes were in full swing as the Thatcher government began to dismantle British society. Out of this ferment The Smiths debut appeared, followed by a string of stunningly good singles offering a real voice for disaffected youth amidst the vapid synth pop that dominated the charts, that, surprisingly, remains relevant today. Morrissey and Marr were like the indie Lennon and McCartney, broadcasting their infectious, morose yet joyous, guitar based pop from a gloomy bedsit, as the reality of life in Thatcher’s Britain hit home. Hatful of Hollow is a compilation album composed of singles, b-sides, and alternative takes to several of their debut album’s tracks that, although released to bridge the gap between their first and second albums, stands as arguably, the essential Smiths record.

Athletics for your mind and body – Sports picks for Winter

Long winter months do not mean we have to curl up in the armchair with no exercise. This selection of books offer a wide range of activities indoors to stimulate the mind as well as the body.

Syndetics book coverThe Sports Book : the sports, the rules, the tactics, the techniques / editorial consultant, Ray Stubbs.
“The ultimate armchair companion to over 200 sports. The 4th edition presents fully up-to-date information covering all sorts of sports, from equestrian sports, athletics and gymnastics to winter sports and extreme sports. Check out the rules, history, players and events for the world’s greatest sports such as football, cricket, basketball and golf.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMathletics : a scientist explains 100 amazing things about the world of sports / John D. Barrow.
“Drawing on vivid, real-life examples, mathematician John D. Barrow entertainingly explores the eye-opening, often counterintuitive, insights into the world of sports that math and physics can give us. For example, we learn that left-handed boxers have a statistical advantage over their right-handed opponents. Through clear, detailed, and fascinating mathematical explanations, Barrow reveals the best techniques and strategies for an incredible range of sports, from soccer and running to cycling, archery, gymnastics, and rowing.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverSnooker and Billiards : skills, tactics, techniques / Clive Everton.
“In this second edition of Snooker & Billiards – Skills, Tactics Techniques, the history of the game is covered along with the rules of the game; choosing the right equipment and top tips from many of the game’s great players. All the skills and techniques are explained clearly with full-colour sequence photography and detailed table diagrams help explain more advanced tactics such as breakbuilding and safety play.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverTai Chi : 37 steps to happiness : with an introduction to aqua tai chi / Peter Chin Kean Choy.
“As the physical body flows more easily, Choy demonstrates, it is able to tune in to its own internal chi, and to the positive chi energy in the world around. In addition to the 37 movements of the traditional T’ai Chi form, the book contains a section of exercises to be done with a partner and some specially devised movements to be performed in water. The step-by-step color photography and accessible writing style make this a must for beginners, while the greater insights and unique new sequences will also appeal to the more experienced student or teacher.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverKrav Maga for Beginners : a step-by-step guide to the world’s easiest-to-learn, most-effective fitness and fighting program / Darren Levine, John Whitman, Ryan Hoover ; photographs by Andy Mogg.
“In Israel, Krav Maga is the official system used to teach self-defense. The no-holds-barred techniques–including cardio, strength training, and fight moves–are easy to learn, require a minimal amount of strength, and, most importantly, are designed to immobilize an attacker.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTraining Fencing / Barth/Barth [i.e. Berndt Barth & Katrin Barth].
“Building on the book Learning Fencing, this book explains how to train for technique and tactics in fencing and shows why fencers must improve their endurance, strength, and speed. Young fencers learn to go beyond practice bouts and enrich their training with exercises that may seem at first to have nothing at all to do with fencing. With the help of this book, young fencers learn to manage their own development and to take responsibility for their own behavior.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAikido :The Basics : techniques, principles, concept / Bodo Roedel in collaboration with Nadja Gaertel and Susen Werner.
“Aikido is a highly developed martial art form based on standardized principles which the book explains by numerous examples of movements. The basics of the foot and hand movements are also covered. The details of the basic techniques of Aikido are not merely described; the reader also learns their implementation. A closer look is further taken on the roles of the defender and the attacker.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverRock & Wall Climbing / Garth Hattingh.
“A colorful, clear, comprehensive reference for climbers of all skill levels. Here in one volume is a basic guide to the equipment and techniques for rock and wall climbing, training the mind and body, and the vitally important skills of safety and first aid. A chapter on where and when to climb highlights some of the best sites around the world, with detailed maps and locations of climbing gyms.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDancing with the Stars / written by Guy Phillips and Tasha Brown ; exercise routines by Cal Pozo.
“Part fitness guide and part scrapbook, this official guide to the hit television show features an easy-to-follow exercise plan that will help readers samba, salsa, and rumba their way to the best shape of their lives.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks : an epic quest for reality among role players, online gamers, and other dwellers of imaginary realms / Ethan Gilsdorf.
“In an enthralling blend of travelogue, pop-culture analysis, and memoir, former role-player Gilsdorf asks gaming and fantasy geeks how they balance their escapist urges with the kingdom of adulthood.” (Syndetics summary)

Latest Staff Picks DVDs

Some staff DVD picks for June with a bit of everything from financial dramas, mysteries, foreign thrillers, and book adaptations…

Cover imageThe bridge. The complete series three.
Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) returns in the third season of The Bridge investigating a series of strangely posed murders all seemingly linked to a right wing vlogger. Assigned a new Danish partner, Henrik (Thure Lindhardt), whose private life seems murky, she also has to deal with the sudden appearance in her life of her estranged mother. While the plot of the third season of the super popular Danish/Swedish crime show is as convoluted as previous seasons, it is perhaps somewhat pulpier and not as consistent. However on the other hand, Saga’s new work partner is more enigmatic and interesting than Martin (now in jail following the events in Season 2) and his backstory plays out quite cleverly throughout the episodes, paving the way for perhaps the next season. As for Saga, Sofia Helin’s performance continues to amaze, with the return of her mother and some more of her history revealed she is able to shape her character with a deeper emotional palette. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageWinter. Season 1 ; + The killing field.
The peace of small town, Rocky Point, a beautiful seaside fishing town off Sydney, is disturbed when a young mother, Karly Johansson is found murdered and it’s up to Detective Sergeant Eve Winter (Rebecca Gibney) and her taskforce to solve the case. While there, she reunites with Detective Sergeant Lachlan McKenzie (Peter O’Brien), who has feelings towards Eve. Lachlan suspects that Karly’s murder has a connection to a murder case 8 years ago where another woman was found dead. The key solving the case lies with unlocking the memory of Karly’s best friend/foster sister, Indiana Hope, (Sara West), a troubled former prostitute and a key witness that could bring down an underground drug and human trafficking ring. As the season unfolds, everyone’s pasts are revealed. You also find out that there is more to Karly, or should I say her family, than meets the eye. As for the true identity of the killer, well you won’t see it coming. Overall I enjoyed this series. Once the first episode locks you in, you have to watch it to the very end to get an understanding of how everything connects, who done it and why. If you are a fan of crime series like Broadchurch, The Killing and The Bridge, then Winter is a must see series. Also check out the telemovie ‘The Killing Field’, that sets the whole series in motion. (Katie)

StaffPicksDVDs399 homes.
Well acted but depressing drama focusing on the speculative property market that arose as part of the 2008 financial crisis. Andrew Garfield plays a single father evicted from his family home along with his mother by ruthless local property kingpin (Michael Shannon). Forced into living in a motel, Garfield’s character needs money & is forced to parlay his construction skills into doing odd jobs for Shannon. Soon, rising in the ranks, he is leading Shannon’s eviction crew and spiralling into a moral abyss of hard cash & speculation, centring on a massive land deal that can only be secured if they acquire the titular ’99 homes’. Shannon is great. Much to admire here, but hard to enjoy. (Mark)

Cover imageWitnesses.
‘Witnesses’ is a 6 part French thriller made for TV in the Scandinavian Noir style, set in Le Treport, Normandy. It has been likened to The Bridge and The Killing. Although people have said it was grisly, I didn’t find it so, and in fact it was less grim and creepy than some of the Scandi thrillers. The main character of Sandra Winckler is an interesting woman, as is Paul Maisonneuve a suave retired cop who is hauled out of retirement to solve the case, (which turns out to be two cases). The tension between the two leads dates back to when Paul was training new recruits including Sandra. Le Treport is bleak and atmospheric. ‘Witnesses’ is stylish and well worth a look. Hopefully there will be Series 2. (Marilyn)

Cover imageThe lobster.
We don’t usually post negative reviews on this site, as we are here to recommend movies that you will actually like. However this is a wildly diverging film which has as many 1 star reviews as 5 stars on Amazon, so here are 2 different takes on this film for you to decide…
The first English language feature from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) is a satire on modern relationships. In this dystopian future people live in The City where if they suddenly find themselves single they are taken to The Hotel, where they must find a romantic partner in forty-five days or be transformed into an animal of their choice. Guests at the hotel can gain extra days by hunting and capturing any of the non-conformist ‘loners’ who live in the forest. David (Colin Farrell) arrives at the hotel after his wife has left him, but soon falls in with the Loners, who are led by the sadistic Léa Seydoux. Amongst the Loners he meets the quirky Rachel Weisz, but the Loners have many rules, one of which being that you can never fall in love…Not really a ‘comedy’ or ‘romance’ as such, but there are many hilariously deadpan moments. Definitely not for everyone. (Mark)
We recently watched the Lobster. It is a dog. We were completely sucked in by the blurb on the case. The cast of Colin Farrell and Rachael Weisz looked promising but alas it is total rubbish. We watched to the bitter end hoping something would happen but nothing does. I think they were trying to be quirky but it is just weird nothingness. (Pru)

Cover imageCarol.
In the painting of Edward Hopper’s like milieu, Douglas Sirk-esque gorgeous melodrama unfolds. Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s love story of two women (The Price of Salt published in 1952) is a tender, immaculately executed drama. Under Haynes’ direction, the milieu of the era is exquisitely recreated and every element shapes the film; cinematography, art design, wardrobe, music (particularly ‘No Other Love’ sung by Jo Stafford), contribute marvellously to this story of two women’s forbidden but distained encounter. Obviously it’s about the rich, unhappily married woman Carol (played by stunning Cate Blanchett) but it is told from the young Therese’s point of view, and we also witness Therese’s growth, from the weak-minded girl to the woman who has her own identity. This process is superbly performed by Rooney Mara. It’s a beauty of underplayed moments. Divine. (Shinji)

Cover imageUnforgotten. Series one.
Classy UK crime drama sees the excellent Nicola Walker (Spooks) as a DCI in charge of investigating the cold case of a young man’s body discovered in a derelict building. The key to this series is the focus on the step by step, painstaking investigative methods used by the squad to identify the body, discovered to be that of a homeless boy murdered in 1976 when the building was a hostel, and the focus on the realistic characters involved, from the grieving mother to the suspects the case throws up. Everyone, from the victim to the suspects is portrayed as a complex character, neither all good or all bad, and the shows quiet rhythm gradually peels away the psychological damage that festers in the past. (Mark)

Cover imageOur zoo.
This DVD series is highly recommended. Our Zoo is a six part series that is based on the true story about George Mottershead, his dreams of creating a cage-free zoo, his family, of both humans and animals, and how their lives changed when they embarked on the creation of Chester Zoo, despite opposition from the local community. Overall, a fantastic and heartwarming series that the whole family can watch together and enjoy, especially during winter. Moments of highlights include Mottershead saving a camel, parrot and a monkey from certain doom AKA being put down, a flock of Humboldt penguins being lead to on foot to the zoo after the van breaks down and the birth of two bear cubs. It’s a shame that this programme wasn’t renewed for another season. (Katie)

Cover imageThe invitation.
Excellent low-key indie thriller sees the protagonist Will (Logan Marshall-Green), still mired in grief after the loss of his young son young son in a tragic accident, attend a dinner party at his old house with a group of old friends, hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new partner David (Michiel Huisman from ‘Game of Thrones’), who have returned to town after being away for some time. As the night progresses, Will begins to suspect that things are not as they seem, but is his disquiet and burgeoning paranoia just a reflection of his unresolved grief and anger that his ex-wife seems to have moved past their son’s death, or is something else going on…’The Invitation’ shows just what you can do with a bunch of relatively unfamiliar actors, a tense script, and a small location. (Mark)

Cover imageThe assassin.
Taiwanese master director Hou Hsiao-Hsien tackles a wuxia (martial hero) film for the first time in his long career but it’s not a usual film of its kind. ‘The Assassin’ is a sublime, breathtakingly beautiful film in which every scene is a work of art. The story is told in typical Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s ‘read between the lines’ style and it’s a little difficult to understand the relationships among the characters. It may be better to go into the film with some prior knowledge of the plot. Hsieo-Hsien has a no-rehearsal policy and waits for actors to be ready for the scene. Amazingly, he sticks with this policy in this film which includes action scenes and that requires intense but subtle nuanced acting (the only exception was the dance sequence to allow actors to memorize the choreography). It took seven years for him to complete but his perseverance paid off. This meticulously crafted film should be watched on a big screen to appreciate every detail. Regardless, it’s bliss. (Shinji)

Cover imageThe absent one.
The next instalment in the on-going series of adaptations of Danish crime writer Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q novels, follows on from 2014’s The keeper of lost causes. When the policeman father of twins murdered 20 years ago approaches Carl Mørck he turns him away, however when he commits suicide shortly after he becomes obsessed with the exacting justice. His investigation leads away from the then young man originally convicted and towards a group of young students from a nearby boarding school. ‘The Absent One’ has every trope we’ve now come to expect from our Scandi-noir: socially awkward detectives in long raincoats, corrupt rich people, lurid crimes, kinky sex, and dollops of brutal violence and it’s a testament to the talents of the actors involved, the tight screenplay & high production values, that it is all still so gripping. (Mark)

StaffPicksDVDs4Grantchester. Series 2.
This series had me on edge from start to finish. An unspeakable crime, the death of a pregnant 15 year old girl, has been committed that shakes the local community to its core and where no one is unable to find peace. Worse, this is a crime that threatens to tear crime fighting partners, Geordie and Sidney, apart. Poor Sidney suffers a crisis of faith, hence leading to more drinking and smoking as usual, and Geordie finds that there is a huge price to pay for doing his job and has to reassess what is defined as justice. The questions remains on everyone’s lips – both characters and audience, What is defined as justice? Does the cycle of hate, vengeance and taking life end? And will all parties, both guilty and innocent find peace? Sadly, you won’t get any spoilers out of this review, except to say that if you thought Season One was good, then Season Two is even better. This is the best British detective series I have seen since Sherlock Holmes. (Katie)

Cover imageThe night manager. The complete series.
Fairly faithful British-American television miniseries adaptation of the 1993 novel of the same name by John le Carré, adapted to the present day starring Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, and Olivia Colman. Hiddleston is the titular ‘Night-Manager’, a loner and former soldier who crosses paths with the beautiful mistress of a powerful man in the Cairo hotel where he works. After she passes some documents to him for safe keeping, he in turn passes them onto a contact in the British Embassy & thus on to British Intelligence. A leak ensues, and blaming himself after she is killed, he drifts through several courtiers, eventually ending up 4 years later in a small hotel in Zurich. One night he learns a guest is coming to stay, an English arms dealer (Laurie) whom he believes was one of the people responsible for the death of the woman years ago. Seeing a chance for revenge he re-instigates a contact at British Intelligence (Coleman) and thus begins a plan to infiltrate Laurie’s organisation. Shades of 007 abound in this stylish global thriller. Excellent cast, particularly Coleman, and Laurie who is excellent as the morally bankrupt Dicky Ropher. No surprise that Hiddleston is being tipped as the next Bond. (Mark)

Cover imageMaleficent.
This is Sleeping Beauty as you have never seen it before. The story of Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” is different from its predecessor. But more importantly this story focuses on the evil fairy/villain in the original story, Maleficent. In this version, Maleficent, (Angelina Jolie), who was originally a good fairy and protector of the fairy lands called the Moors, becomes a vengeful, bad fairy, (or ‘turns to the dark side’ in tradition Darth Vader style), after she is betrayed by King Stefan. To pay him back, she curses his daughter, the infant princess Aurora to a ‘sleep like death’ which she can only awaken from by ‘true love’s kiss’. However things become complicated when Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well. To add more complication to the mix, Maleficent, acting as a surrogate mother, becomes fond of Aurora! Throughout the film, Maleficent experiences conflict, similar to iconic Star Wars villain, Darth Vader, whether being trapped in the dark side is permanent or whether there is still good in her… and she will save the day. Overall I found the film very entertaining and without question, does it’s predecessor justice. Lots of things you can expect from a Disney movie: Excitement, adventure, action and… a happy ending! I rate this movie: 7/10 (Katie)

Cover imageThe big short.
Based on the book of the same name by journalist Michael Lewis, the doc-style film follows eccentric financial analyst Michael Burry (Christian Bale) as he uncovers an impending crash in the housing market and puts together a plan to profit from it. As Burry’s predictions are spread by those who believe he is crazy, a small number of people, including Jarred Bennett (Ryan Gosling), Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) and Mark Baum (Steve Carell), begin to follow his lead. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Bale), winning for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film also won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Fascinating and hugely entertaining ‘The Big Short’ is also an incredibly unconventional, using fourth wall techniques where the actors speak to the screen to facilitate plot points, and cut-away’s to other celebrities and actresses (not in the actual film) who explain the complexities behind subprime mortgages and collateralized debt. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageSpotlight.
This one of the most heart breaking and shocking of all movies I have ever seen. However it is a movie worth seeing that really opens your eyes and will shake you to the core. Spotlight is based on the true story of how in 2001, a team of investigative journalists from the Boston Globe uncovered and published a massive scandal of child molestation, spanning over 20 years where unfrocked priests were molesting children in the poorer areas of Boston. As if perverting the course of justice for these children weren’t enough, the reporters uncover further scandal within the local Catholic Archdiocese, where, (MASSIVE SPOILER), not only were they were aware the abuse, they moved the offending priests to other parishes leading more children being abused, as well as dishing out cash payments to the families in exchange for their silence. However in true vigilante style, the reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church and publish it to raise public awareness within the community of an ongoing universal problem/issue. (Katie)

Staff Picks CDs for June

New Staff Picks for June include plenty of variety from synth pop to electronica, shoegaze to ambient, singer-songwriter to Jazz. We hope you find something new you like, or a new genre to explore…

Cover imageEdition 1.
King Midas Sound is the crossover project of Kevin Martin (aka The Bug), London/Trinidad poet Roger Robinson and Japanese artist and singer Kiki Hitomi. It has been seven years since their excellent Hyperdub release, Waiting For You and here, the addition of ambient electronic guitar washes courtesy of Fennesz adds an even deeper phantasmal, immersive air to the deep and soulful lyrical excursions, which could only just be called songs. When beats appear they are slow and shrouded in a smoky gauze, yet there is an odd serenity to this music, something approaching a dubbed out, blissful yet wounded resignation, which could be described as post-apocalyptic lover’s rock. A welcome alternative is the inclusion of a second disc featuring instrumental only versions. (John)

Cover imageStill in a dream : 1988-1995 : a story of shoegaze.
This well curated collection features five discs and a booklet that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the early ‘90’s UK guitar based genre. The term ‘shoegaze’ arose as these bands tended to look down at their vast banks of effects pedals, so it is to be expected that the sounds here are big, complemented by characteristically fey, melodic vocals. My Bloody Valentine, who arguably started the movement, are mysteriously absent, however, with a strict one track per band policy, 87 bands are featured in loosely chronological order. The first three discs feature expected bands such as ‘The House of Love’, ‘Spacemen 3’, ‘Lush’, ‘Ride’ and ‘Slowdive’, while the last two include international bands such as ‘The Flaming Lips’ and even NZ’s own ‘Bailter Space’. (John)

Cover imageIII.
The ongoing collaborative project of Modeselektor, the German electronic duo, and Sascha Ring aka Apparat, vocalist and electronic producer, has proven more popular than either of those separate ventures, and on their third record they excel, forging a link between underground electronic dance music and pop. While the immaculate production has cleaned up some of the appealing rougher edges of their previous releases, it takes nothing away, creating a rich, luxurious sound that is by turns moody, wistful and celebratory, reconfiguring the trio’s techno origins into a pristine and confident electro-soul. (John)

Cover imageArrangingtime.
Pete Yorn was one of those artists that never seemed to live up to the potential of his fantastic first album. His second was a solid follow-up, but the next couple were patchy, and his last effort, 2010’s ‘PY’ with Frank Black, was a total misfire. After that he seemed to disappear, popping up briefly as part of ‘The Olms’ in 2013, whose very short Beatles-esque album had some Ok tracks. However Yorn is back with his first solo album in 6 years on a new label. ‘Arrangingtime’ shifts the guitar sound to a wash of synths on some tracks but he still hews close to the sonic template of his first couple of albums. Sounding invigorated by the break, this collection of melodic synthy rockers is his most consistent and enjoyable for a long time. (Mark)

Cover imageI’ll forget 17.
Wellington based muso Eddie Johnston, aka Lontalius, aka Race Banyon, has quietly built up an international following over the seven years he has been regularly posting music on his Bandcamp page and now, at 20 years old, he has his first CD released on NY based Partisan Records. Sounding far more world weary than one may expect from someone just out of their teens, he has confidently produced an excellent album of fine and gentle indie-pop. The production is pristine and the arrangements are beautiful, perfectly complementing this sweet and melancholy homage to the emotional turmoil of youth. (John)

Cover imageWhy choose.
Fans of early 80’s post-punk are in for a treat here, as this London based trio breathe new life into a sound template now over 30 years old. Their sound is sparse with driving bass, itchy spiky guitar, primitive drumming and half shouted female vocals that comes across like ‘The Slits’, ‘Gang of Four’ and the ‘Delta 5’ put into a blender and poured out of the staff room teapot of the Rough Trade shop. No surprises then that this is actually released on Rough Trade. These 12 songs, average length 2.5 mins, while danceable, have an edgy urgency about them, and dealing with consumerism, confusion and post-modern relationships, as they do, offer a taut, smart and refreshingly familiar take on indie-pop. (John)

Cover imageThe ship.
Brian Eno’s 25th solo release, and his first vocal one since 2005’s Another Day On Earth, contains only four tracks, two of which at around 20 mins each, take up most of the disc’s 47min duration. Over the four tracks vocals are used in a variety of ways – from diffused electronically treated murmurings within glacial ambience to half sung, half spoken poems (one about war, generated by a computer algorithm), through vocoded and totally manipulated utterings barely recognisable as a human voice, to the albums closer, a lovely version of Lou Reed’s ‘I’m Set Free’ complete with lush vocal harmonies. It’s a strange, captivating and enthralling journey that stands as a highlight of Brian Eno’s later career. (John)

Cover imageThe first quartet.
Berklee College of Music’s alumni super group, the guitarist John Abercrombie’s First Quartet (with the pianist Richie Beirach, the bassist George Mraz, and the drummer Peter Donald) left 3 albums – Arcade (1978), Abercrombie Quartet (1979) and M (1980) – but they have long been out of print until now (Arcade was once released on CD in Japan). The rumor goes that ECM label owner Manfred Eicher had suspended them because Richie Beirach had a feud with him. In any case, they are essential recordings for both ECM and Abercrombie’s catalogues. Although there are some patchy moments in these 3 albums, music generally remains beautifully refined while taking risks, and their interplays are masterful. Abercrombie’s unique mandolin guitar stands out particularly on Arcade. This is a very welcome reissue from ECM’s ‘Old and New Masters’ series. (Shinji)

Cover imageHuman performance.
Brooklyn, NY, based Parquet Courts make smart, spiky slacker rock following a course set by US bands such as ‘Television’, ‘Pavement’ and even Jonathon Richman, and their third album finds them fine tuning their sound with a collection of highly articulate acrid songs, possibly their most accessible yet, but still loaded with suitable post-punk angst. Despite the obvious influences of ‘The Fall’ and ‘Wire’, it’s a relief to know that bands are still making music like this in our troubled post-millennial times and this may well be the perfect soundtrack. (John)

Cover imageThe Hope Six demolition project.
Following on from her first ‘political’ album, 2011’s Let England Shake, which focused on the first World War, PJ Harvey continues the trend with her ninth record, turning her attention to our war-torn and inequality-ridden world. Written after visiting Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington D.C, a primal pulse moves through these songs, which feature vocal, brass and string arrangements, within which her voice sounds better than ever. Whether the criticisms levelled at the album for its ‘poverty tourism’ stance are valid or not, it’s great to hear PJ Harvey in such fine form and still socially committed and rocking hard 24 years on from her 1992 debut. (John)

Cover imageBuild it.
Wellington based Brockaflower have built up a good local following from their live shows over the past couple of years and they do not disappoint with their debut CD. This collection of deep and soulful bass driven grooves, some sultry, some rocking, breathes confidence, and the extended length of many of the tracks (half are over 7 mins) give the compositions time to unwind in splendour. They are a nine piece band, with the musicians uncredited on the sleeve, but featured are excellent soulful male and female vocals, rapping, brass arrangements, keyboards, guitar and electronics, with a couple of tracks such as ‘Arched’ making excellent use of hypnotic loops. These cool and self-assured compositions deserve a wide audience. (John)

Cover imageFever dream.
Ben Watt’s Hendra from 2014 was his first solo album in 30+ years, the majority of his musical career being spent as one half of the band ETBG. Guitarist Bernard Butler remains an integral part of Watt’s sound on this latest album, the last 2 years playing together having forged a deeper musical connection. A shorter set of songs this time around, built around a classicist 70s singer-songwriter sound, with dark hued tales of aging & the changing nature of relationships. Features guest vocal cameos from Boston’s dream-folk singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler and Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor. (Mark)

Originally released as a digital file, ‘Sleep’, Max Richter’s “eight hour lullaby” is now also available in a neat nine disc box set. For listeners that choose to follow the project’s original intent and play the entire work while they actually sleep, a Blu-Ray disc is included that will play all eight hours in one go. Those that choose to listen while awake will find over the eight CDs a selection of truly gorgeous ambient tracks that never wander into sugar coated New Age music territory. Dipping at random, for instance, into Disc 3 can be found two tracks of almost half an hour in length, a 7min track and a 16min piece that variously employ piano, strings, electronics and human voices to truly mesmerising effect. Max Richter has produced an ambient masterpiece featuring 31 pieces, each fully immersive yet uncomplicated, which lull the willing listener into an ethereal trance like state. Welcome to Richter’s “manifesto for a slower pace of existence”. (John)

Cover imageBig black coat.
Junior Boys bring the romantic institution of the suave, lovelorn playboy, which extends down through bands including ‘Roxy Music’, ‘Spandau Ballet’, ‘Pet Shop Boys’ and ‘Hot Chip’, firmly into the 21st Century with their fifth album, which extends their sleek, minimal electro pop onto the dancefloor. The production is immaculate and the pristine and sparkling Detroit techno inspired grooves create an uber contemporary complement to Jeremy Greenspan’s songs of love and longing that are difficult not to be seduced by. (John)

Cover imageIs the is are.
Brooklyn, NY, based label, Captured Tracks, have re-issued several classic Flying Nun titles and the bands on their roster have an obvious love for indie rock, none more so than ‘Diiv’, who make music that has the ability to remind keen listeners of the power, beauty and pure pleasure that the simple line-up of bass, drums and guitars can summon. The 17 tracks of their second CD feature reverb drenched hushed vocals over guitars that either wail in squalls of overdriven splendour or chime in glistening cascades, while the bass thunders in melodic harmony driven by metronomic drumming. It is excellent no frills indie rock, some tracks fast and some slow, and is highly recommended for those who love unpretentious music made by musicians who are in love with sound. (John)

Cover imageSongs from a decade : the best of Beady Belle.
Lead by the lovely singer Beate S. Lech (who sings in English), Norwegian jazz/pop band Beady Belle formed in 1999 and since then they have been well loved by fans and critics alike. They have constantly issued their albums with the wonderful Norwegian jazz-and-beyond label Jazzland, and the tour with Jamie Cullum made them an international act. Songs from their first ‘very best’ album are selected with the help of fans, and nicely presents their music; a subtle mixture of pop, soul, house etc. centring around jazz. Although the tracks are not entirely in chronologically order the album shows their development as a band and disc two which is slightly darker and artistically deeper, suggests that they are the real deal. The third disc captures their fantastic live performance and indicates that they are best suited to a cosy club. Enchanting. (Shinji)

Cover imageA mineral love.
Bibio’s sixth album on UK label Warp, finds him celebrating his characteristic pastiche of, ’70s and ’80s R&B, funk, electronica and pop all rolled up into an original funky folktronica quite unlike anything else one is likely to hear. He is creating his own personal summer of love here with a cheerful, candy-colored falsetto funk that seems to be giving warm and fluffy day-glo fingers to any ideas of gloom that may be prevalent in a post austerity UK. It’s not a dance album or indie-pop, nor is it jazz, lounge, folk or electronica; it’s actually all of these things, existing across multiple genres while belonging to one of Bibio’s own creation. (John)

Cover imageAtomic : a soundtrack.
To mark the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima, director Mark Cousins made the doco “Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise” for the BBC, featuring archive footage intended to provide a comprehensive, visual history of atomic power. Scottish post-rockers, Mogwai, were commissioned to create the soundtrack and this CD finds them reworking the original material into a standout addition to their discography. The soundscapes are grand, beautiful and intense, featuring the bands’ signifying soaring guitars alongside piano and electronics as they move between blistering crescendos and more sombre, haunting passages that create an overall otherworldly sonic experience. (John)