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Wellington Music: A Trip Through the Archives – Part 2

Last edited: 27.05.15 | Comment? | By

We have always been passionate about reviewing music here at WCL, and our online archives go all the way back to 2003! Our old Staff CD Picks HTML archive can be found here which begins in 2003, and then moves onto our blog archive which starts here in 2011. There is also an old NZMM archive here.

All in all a lot of music has been listened to by Staff here. A lot of that music was by New Zealand artists and of that quite a few are from local bands, so here is another trip through our back pages….


Cover imageHorse power / The Phoenix Foundation.
This local band’s cd has made the NZ Listener’s “Top CDs for 2003” list this week. It’s a great release, very mellow. Heard them at Labour Weekend’s Wellington Folk Festival, and they were great. The opening track “Sister Risk” is a standout. (Fiona)

Paradigm shift.
Wellington musician Rhian Sheehan presents his first downbeat album, an easy-listening, attractive blend of acoustic instruments & electronic computer wizardry. These are very individual soundscapes, with sound effects, samples and melodies all beautifully melded together. Lotus Hartley (Nomad) sings – and somehow you will not be surprised to read on the leaflet that Jeremy Geor ( 50Hz) was involved in this whole slick local production. Rhian Sheehan trained as a guitarist – there are also a couple of his own pure & lovely acoustic guitar tracks on this album. If you like this you might also like two other local albums: Haunted out-takes by Aucklander Sola Rosa (and his previous album Solarized). (Pauline)

Cover imageBleakhouse | Self-Help Cassette
Due to constant degradation of the entire music industry via constant releases of money orientated Rap and Hip Hop, Punk that lies in a hypocritical stance to its origins and Metal which merges on being a constancy of noise as opposed to music; the inaugural coveted Album of the Year award must go to Bleak House’s “Self Help Cassette”. As deserved as the Olsen’s twins deserved to be awarded for most fake existence. Tops. (Ben)
The only new music CD I bought this year and everyone in our house enjoyed it. I especially found the bibliographical references scattered through out the songs quite endearing. Good original songs and great bass guitar. (Linda)
…let’s not forget Bleakhouse for local sounds. Those tunes, they get stuck in your head. Seeing them live has the same effect. (Stu)

Cover imageBlues for Guppy.




Covre imageHome, land and sea.




Cover imageWhat to do with daylight.





Cover imageHorse power / The Phoenix Foundation.
I like its laid back self-deprecating humour. (Rebecca P.)




Live at Bats.
Barnaby Weir and some very talented friends have put together an outstanding collection of beautiful music. Recorded live over five nights and the best songs selected to be on the album. I wish I had bought tickets. (Ellie)



Cover imageE.P.
Hollie has the most beautiful voice, the sound is hypnotizing. The album features some great local talent and a mix of soul, jazz, reggae and r&b. You won’t be disappointed, this album plays repeatedly on my stereo. (Ellie)



Cover imageTiny blue biosphere.
Great electronica with tasters of instruments such as his guitar-playing. Guest vocalists Jess Chambers and Anika Moa, and a bunch of other guest musicians, it’s easy-listening, evocative, both organic and digital. (Hannah C.)



Cover imageBased on a true story.
This is the best album I’ve listened to in so long now. Full of amazing vocals and harmonies, lots of funky beats and bass, it stayed in my stereo for a long time! This seven-piece Wellington band play dub, jazz, dance-music and soul, all packed into one tightly-orchestrated album. Guest vocalists Hollie Smith, Ladi6 and P Digsss lend their voices, while some other well-known NZ musicians lend their musical talents to the pool. The rhythmic melodies will warm the soul through the cold winter days and nights! (Hannah C)


Live at Bats.
Representing Wellington with the true Kiwi accent. Upbeat sounds with lots of variation. (Jenni)



Cover imagePegasus / The Phoenix Foundation.
Perhaps they have too many ideas, too many musicians, too many instruments, too many styles. Or perhaps we should feel overwhelmed when listening to music. On Pegasus the listener is dragged through perfect pop, non-existent movie soundtracks, faux-Westerns, sensitive strummers and a delicate piano piece. And if you come out the other end a bit dazed, the best cure is to listen again. (Karen)

Cover imageBased on a true story.
(Ellie H.’s pick)





Staff Picks June ’08
Cover imageWorkers leaving the factory / The Actualities.
This mini album from local live faves The Actualities is a great showcase for the sort of talent emerging in Wellington these days. Gorgeously produced by Grayson Gilmour, the cracking songs really get their chance to shine atop a bed of lush strings and a wall of guitars. It manages to sound like the Arcade Fire, Coldplay and even So So Modern all at once. So check this out and then go to one of their shows – they’re one of the friendliest bands around and they have a very handsome guitarist too. (Sam)


Staff Picks – Best of ’08
Cover imageThe Woolshed Sessions.
(Fleur’s Pick)





NZMM – 2009
Cover imageFlik y’self off y’self / Head Like A Hole.
Throughout their career HLH suffered endless comparisons to Faith No More; so here’s one more. Like FNM, HLH also went out on a limb after their ‘successful album’ and shook things up royally with album number two. It was a wise move, allowing them to break free of what could have been the stagnant rut of a funk-metal band. On Flick Y’self, they opened up a Pandora’s box of musical delights and tried out a whole bunch of new directions and sounds. It works wonderfully; it’s a disjointed, disorganised mess and all the better for it. Packed full of failed experiments and one of the best single releases in the history of New Zealand rock, Flick Y’self should really be compulsory listening for all New Zealand school kids, it’s the very definition of rock ‘n’ roll; dangerous, unhinged and downright filthy. (Craig)

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


Staff Picks – December ’09
Cover imageSun moon stars rain.
I love, and am still loving the latest from Wellington’s own jazz pianist extraordinaire, Norman Meehan. The name of the album is ‘Sun Moon Stars Rain’ and it is just wonderful. Here’s what Attar Media said: “…In 2007 Norman started composing music for poems by E.E. Cummings that he felt drawn to. This album is the result. Working with three of his favorite musicians – trumpet player Nick van Dijk, vocalist Hannah Griffin, and reed player Colin Hemmingsen – Norman has written a series of compositions that reflect the quiet, playful and transcendent aspects of Cummings’ work. Six of the pieces are songs; the other six are instrumental variations inspired by Cummings’ words. Because there is no rhythm section, the music is very open and spacious, leaving room for the individual voices to stretch out and explore – and for the listener to enter into the performances. This is a case of music and poems coming together together perfectly. It is music – pure and simple. Just the way we at Attar like it…” (Ellie)


Staff Picks – October 2010
Cover imageLive at Roundhouse London.
Live concerts, the only way to feel the magic and be in amongst the atmosphere of Fat Freddy’s Drop. There’s nothing like being there, but when you can’t be there, this is the next best thing, a live recording of their concert at the Roundhouse London, which was the final of their six week European tour in December 2008. Tracks are longer than usual which is often the norm at live shows, an opportunity to add a few beats and dubs here and there while they play, however, more relaxed and mellow, but charged nonetheless. The music and the light banter with their audience, sure to make the ex-pat kiwis miss home even more. (Ethel)


Staff Picks – November 2010
Cover imageOra.
Mina Ripia and her partner Maaka McGregor have done it again. It’s been a while since they released their debut album Wai 100% (10 years in fact) but it’s been well worth the wait. This is their second international release. A mix of melodies with western electronic influences. The opening track “Tuhia te Ha” a dedication to the late Charlie Gillett, is a beautiful and moving unaccompanied vocal, a tribute to the success and triumph of the Maori Language. A distinct and unique harmonious blend, of traditional made modern, Maori music. (Ethel)


Staff Picks – December 2010 / January 2011
Cover imageFlags.
Straight to number one in the NZ and OZ charts on its release, and it’s easy to hear why. From the catchy ‘Something in the water’ to the pensive ‘Flags’, it’s practical yet emotional, refined and defined, mature and whole, the substance eminent of what we’ve come to realise, recognise and expect from/of Brooke. Her voice honest and real. I could compare this album to ‘What to do with daylight’ and/or ‘Albertine’ but I think each holds their own, and each has grown from one to the other, this one a reflection of both with a hint of maturity apparent in this album. Brooke is a very gifted singer/songwriter with limitless flair and ability. Time, age and ultimately her audience, the winner. A definite ‘cheers’ from me for this album. (Ethel)


Staff Picks – June/July 2011
Cover imageI can’t keep secrets.
An album I’ve really been enjoying recently is ‘I Can’t Keep Secrets’ by Eva Prowse. Her voice is so emotive and the music full of beautiful instruments (guitar, mandolin, violin) is a wonderful combination of indie-folk. The entire album is really melodic and calming, I could listen to it over and over again. (Theresa)



Staff Picks – Best of 2011
Theresa’s Picks:
Cover imageBeastwars.
This is an amazing self-titled, debut album from Wellington sludge-metal band Beastwars. A powerful, onslaught of an album featuring epic cover art by Weta’s Nick Keller. And if you love the album (it’s impossible not to if you’re of the heavy metal persuasion) make sure you catch them live too – Beastwars live is an experience not to be missed!


Cover imageBlood will out.
This album is such an exciting come back from NZ rock n’ roll legends HLAH. Heavy, catchy and packed full of good-time songs that are as great as their old classics, if not better!




Staff Picks – NZMM 2012
Pauline’s picks
To mark New Zealand Music Month our librarians have been thinking about their favourite local music memories, albums and artists. Pauline has whittled down a long list of favourites to compile a top 5 list of New Zealand albums. Fun fact #1: four of them are from Wellington, go Wellington! Fun fact #2: all of them are in our catalogue, available to be issued for just $1!

Cover imageAutumn / The Golden Awesome.





Cover imageBuffalo / The Phoenix Foundation.





Cover imageI love you / The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra.





Cover imageDesire.





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

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


Cover imageAutumn / The Golden Awesome.
Wellington based shoegazers The Golden Awesome played a couple of album release shows over the weekend to celebrate the release of this, their debut, were you there? You should’ve been, because the four of them are making some of the best noise currently coming out of New Zealand. Beautifully hypnotic shoegaze that works equally well up loud at a party, or down low on some headphones as you drift off to sleep.


 Svend’s picks


The Best CDs Of 2013, Part Two
Monty’s Picks:
Cover imageStories from elsewhere.
Evocative collection of ambient, orchestrated, soundscapes from Wellington’s Rhian Sheehan that transcend genre and definition but are still really, very good.




Staff Picks CDs from May 2014 (Part One)
Cover imageLight years & the hearts arrow.
We are very pleased to have finally secured a library copy of this disc, which compiles the first two EPs from the Wellington alt-country underground stars who, over the past year, have built a loyal following through live gigs and international support slots. Their debut album is due for release soon but these two eps, featuring a collection of sad and sweet songs, all written by vocalist/guitarist, Ebony Lamb (Eb), and lovingly recorded, produced and mastered by lapsteel guitarist/percussionist, Bryn Heveldt (Sparrow), are an excellent introduction to a very talented band, which has expanded since these recordings to currently include a trumpet player, drummer, and stand-up bass. In a world overflowing with singer/songwriters it is difficult for an artist to shine, but this band captures that indefinable factor which makes these beautiful, harmonic, gentle and evocative songs, carried by Ebony’s rich voice, easy to cry to… and in the alt-country world you can’t ask for much more than that. (John)

Cover imageTOI.
This Wellington band, comprised of graduates from the Wellington Jazz School, exceeded all expectations at the last Tora Tora Tora Coastal Music Festival and blew everyone away. Formed in 2011, they won first place in the 2012 Wellington Battle of the Bands and came second in the National Battle of Bands, they also won the Emerging Artist award at the Waiata Maori Music Awards 2012. Their sound draws from dub, funk, rock, soul, jazz and reggae and this five track EP, recorded with Warren Maxwell, is a fine introduction to a band of young musicians whose original compositions display a confidence and musical maturity far beyond their years and who are definitely worth discovering so early in their career. (John)

Posted in: GeneralNew Zealand Music MonthOld ReviewsWellington Collection

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