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  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD – May: Womb/April Fish/Estère/Backyard Burial/Darren Watson/Steph Casey/Thomas Oliver/Julia Deans/Frank Burkitt Band

    11.06.18 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Like splitting the head from the body. [VINYL ONLY]
    The debut full length album from the fabulous Womb. Every track swirls in and out of beautiful dreamy vocals and layers of languid guitar and synth lines. Music with a sense of grandeur that uplifts the listener on swelling waves of lush sound. Completely sublime. Album of the year already? Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Buy here. ‘New Album’ interview here. Spinoff interview here.

     

     

    An alien invaded the circus.
    April Fish is Katie Morton (vocals/keys) and John Costa (guitars). New album ‘An alien invaded the circus’ is as hard to categorise as is most of their work. It’s not really ‘pop’, but it’s not really outside of ‘pop’ so much that you could label it as anything else. Chamber pop with a theatrical bent maybe. The whimsical stories, layered vocals, quirky instrumentation and odd time signatures sound like they are being delivered by a couple of Classical kids who rebelled, ran away, joined the circus and became musical carnival barkers. Compellingly different. Website here. Bandcamp here. Facebook here.

    My design, on others’ lives.
    It must be one of the most difficult gigs a musician can do. Being the warm up act to a huge star who hasn’t toured for ages and has legions of passionate fans. Estere’s support slot for Grace Jones in Queenstown was a stunning success for this new artist she handled her time with poise and aplomb gaining a fair few fans in the process. Her self-produced debut album is a lush hybrid beast a unique combination of sonic elements from pop/jazz melodies to sensual electronica and serious rhythmic cores. She also has a beautiful soaring voice and a fine turn in lyrics, and whilst it is definitely a mainstream album it certainly has some experimental leanings too. This is album marks the entrance of a vibrant new voice and sounds to this reviewer like the kind of album a future superstar would release. Also available to borrow on VINYL. Website here. Facebook here. Bandcamp here. (Neil J.)

    Repeat offender. [VINYL ONLY]
    Reissue on Vinyl for Record Store Day of the Lower Hutt grindcore band’s 2002 album. There is a sense of brutal catharsis to the tracks, but also a some (very) dark humour. The Sixnoises review here does a good job of re-examining the band’s place, history and continuing influence. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. UpthePunks here.

     

     

    Too many millionaires.
    The first all-acoustic album for Darren Watson is an artistic triumph on every level. Watson has always been a champion of the underdog, whether in the context of love or social commentary, and his authentic, pointed and gritty songs traverse the songwriting spectrum from the personal (Un-Love Me, Pilgrim) to the political (Hallelujah (Rich Man’s War), National Guy, Too Many Millionaires). Recorded live in the studio by award-winning engineer Lee Prebble, Watson surrounded himself with a talented and sympathetic band including Delia Shanly on drums, Steve Moodie on Double bass, Dayle Jellyman on Piano, electric piano & Terry Casey on Harmonica, and everyone is so simpatico and deeply in the groove it’s no surprise the album has received rave reviews from local & international sources. An high water career mark. Website here. Facebook here. YouTube here. Elsewhere review here. Sweetman podcast here. Also available on VINYL.

    Whisper & holler.
    Steph Casey is a Kapiti based singer-songwriter. Her music is a mix of Contemporary Folk and Americana. Her debut album Whisper & Holler (2013) went to #4 in the NZ Indie Album charts and #8 in the NZ Album Charts upon release. Three of the songs on Whisper & Holler were semi-finalists in the 2013 UK Songwriting Contest and her debut has received glowing international reviews. A really accomplished album with a strong set of songs, sparse guitar work, nice vocals and plenty of soaring melodies. Standout tracks include ‘Nice to Almost Know You’, ‘Thievery’ and ‘Kapiti’. Stands alongside anything from a similar genre overseas and recommended if you like that classicist singer-songwriter style. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Website here. Review here.

    Live at the Crystal Palace.
    The first live album from Thomas Oliver recorded over two nights at the Crystal Palace Spiegeltent in Havelock North, delivered with the confidence honed from constant touring through NZ and Europe. He runs through a catalogue of tracks from his last album ‘Floating In The Darkness’ and fan favourites, as well as a couple of covers (‘Is This Love’ by Bob Marley and ‘Helpless’ by Neil Young) The touring band of Ed Zuccollo on keyboards, Minimoog, Johnny Lawrence on electric bass & synth bass, Sam Notman on drums, and Bella Florence on backing vocals & samples, draw out the tracks with a honed precision but also with that little bit of funky looseness a live context gives. Most impressive is his vocals which don’t seem to lose any range or nuance outside of the studio context. Website here. Facebook here. Bandcamp here. You Tube here.

    We light fire.
    First album in seven years from the former Fur Patrol front woman. That’s a long time in the ever shifting music world and the catchy guitar pop of Modern Fables has shifted into a heavier synth based sound with more layers of production on the tracks. But all the flourishes don’t detract from another set of great songs and that amazingly powerful voice, with its crystal clear range. Beginning with a slow ballad ‘Clandestine’ the album builds up, as gentle guitar strings alternate with washes of synth and grungier beats. Most albums taper off but all the best tracks are stacked towards the end with the super catchy ‘The Panic’, followed by the title track, ‘Burning Cars’ and the amazing ‘Centre’ with it’s layers of vocals. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Track by track with RNZ here.

    Raconteur / The Frank Burkitt Band.
    Scottish singer Frank Burkitt released a couple of albums under his own name before moving to Wellington and forming the Frank Burkitt Band in 2014, with ‘Raconteur’ the follow up to 2015’s Fools and Kings. A musical-meld of influences from both continents – UK folk meets American bluegrass/Western Swing, with touches of his early Jazz influences. From toe tapping workouts to sincere ballads, all the seemingly disparate elements combine into a thoroughly enjoyable set of melodic narratives. It all seems effortless and simple but that belies the skill of his tight backing band, and the consistently high levels of song writing and the sophisticated arrangements at play. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Website here. Stuff article here. NZ Musician Magazine here.

    All covers used with permission.


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD – Mar-Apr: Stef Animal/Tomorrow People/Eb & Sparrow/Al Fraser & Phil Boniface/Bulletbelt/Disjecta Membra

    31.05.18 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Top gear.
    Quirky collection of tracks from Golden Awesome member Stef Animal. A collection of fifteen song-in-a-day writing exercises, each using sounds from a different piece of cheap or unfashionable musical equipment. Like the soundtrack of a forgotten childhood console game or a bad 70s Sci-Fi TV show. An odd, yet strangely compelling, even soothing listen. Facebook here. Bandcamp here. NZ Musician Magazine interview here.

     

    “BBQ” reggae.
    The Wellington-based collective took the Simon Sweetman insult as the title of their new EP, and achieved the seemingly impossible earlier this year by knocking international superstar Ed Sheeran off the top of the charts, when it debuted at #1 in the Official NZ Music Charts. Like movie franchises that embrace certain tropes, there are certainly a degree of musical ‘touchstones’ that this kind of friendly Reggae indulges in. But that isn’t necessarily a negative as when you are hanging out in the sun with friends, you want the kind of music that plays to those strengths, and criticizing it on those terms ignores the talented musicians at work here. They also showed their integrity by releasing single ‘Don’t Wanna Fight It’ in three languages – English, Te Reo and Samoan, as a mark of respect to the band members’ heritage and the diversity of their audience, and performing a tri-lingual mash-up of the track. Facebook here. Bandcamp here. Stuff article here. Website here. Spotify here.

    Seeing things.
    Most bands first albums are the result of many years hard work, often resulting in the pinnacle of their sound – which subsequent albums then try to recapture. It’s a rare band that grows better with each release, but Eb & Sparrow are in that category. ‘Seeing things’ shifts their sound from Country/Americana of the first few releases into a more sophisticated lush soundscape. The lap steels are replaced with a more shimmery guitar sound that evokes the languid lines of The Cowboy Junkies or Mazzy Star than anything that has come before, all focused around Ebony Lamb’s burnished vocals. A beautiful collection of songs that finds you reaching for the repeat button as soon as the last track fades out. Recommended. Facebook here. Spotify here. Buy here. 13th Floor review here. Off the Tracks review here. [Also available to borrow on VINYL]

    Ponguru / Al Fraser, Phil Boniface.
    Phil and Al began performing together in 1998 while studying jazz performance at Massey University Conservatorium of Music (NZ School of Music). Phil shifted to Canada for more than a decade where he played with some of the finest jazz musicians on the West Coast. With Ponguru, Phil and Al bring together the deep voice of the double bass and the many voices of ngā taonga pūoro into a more contemporary context. Melody, silence, and our natural musical language combine to shape a haunting atmosphere of reflection and mood. Facebook here. Bandcamp here or here. Elsewhere review here. Rattle records here. RNZ feature here.

    Nine centuries.
    Third album from Wgtn’s top Metallers marks Bulletbelt’s final album with vocalist Jolene Tempest and guitarist Seth Jackson, who left after the album had been recorded. Guests include Midnight’s Vanik, (solo on Cloak the Night), and Massacre vocalist Kam Lee (vocals on ‘Show Me Your Throat). Lyrically the album focuses on the witch trials of the Dark Ages, the examination of such brutal & violent themes paying off with some intense and aggressive tracks. A punk energy in a Metal framework, raw and powerful. Facebook here. Bandcamp here. Website here. Ambient light review here. Nocleansinging review here.

    Achromaticia.
    Disjecta Membra formed in Hamilton in 1993, and Achromaticia was the group’s début full-length album, on Australia’s Heartland Records in 1997 which cemented the band’s global reputation as the nation’s leaders in the gothic genre. The album’s stature and influence has only grown with time. Long out of print, surviving copies of the original pressing have been known to sell on eBay for upwards of $US100. To celebrate the album’s Twentieth Anniversary, the band reissued Achromaticia as a 3CD set. Accompanying the original album, are two 70+ minute bonus discs featuring demos, live content, studio out-takes and previously unreleased tracks. The Organs, synths, moody baritone, angular guitar lines and atmospherics all combine into a sum greater than the ‘Goth’ label attached to the music. Website. Facebook. Bandcamp. Hamilton Underground Press review here. Ansolution NYC piece on the band here.


  • General

    Digital Pick: Nicole Andrews

    10.05.18 | Permalink | Comment? | By

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ‘Digital Pick’ is a new feature where we highlight a new (or old) album that is only available on one of the digital platforms like Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music or Soundcloud. Up first is Nicole Andrews, who has just released sophomore album, ‘A Stranger’.

    Nicole Andrews is a self-taught pianist from Portland Oregon, now based in New Wellington. Her first album In The Shallows was released in 2015 and was a piano based female-centric album of strong compositions that garnered positive reviews (“Simple, stripped back, yet incredibly solid”, NZ Musician Magazine and “for those who like their femininity fierce and fearless”, The Listener Magazine).
    New album ‘A Stranger’, was Produced and engineered by Thomas Voyce (Rhombus), who engineered the piano on her first album along with some programming. This time the two of them play everything, with the exception of a small string section on some tracks, with the compositions on the new album all created on a Prophet 6 synthesizer, in a deliberate shift to broaden her musical palette and shift in a more electronic direction.
    None of this would matter much if the songs themselves didn’t hold up, but it is an even stronger set of compositions than her debut. The rawer edge of the electronic backing provides a backdrop for a set of songs with a much darker feel, letting her fully explore the rough edges of regret, loss and anger that play out through the tracks. An album that definitely works as a whole suite (008 and 004 being purely instrumental tracks) but ‘Beg for More’ ‘Echo’ & ‘Bass Player’ are definite high points.


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD & Vinyl, Jan-Feb: Owlet Nightjar/Hayden Chisholm/Brendan Conlon/Stress Ghetto/Spook the Horses/HEX/Scorn of Creation/Teresa Bergman/Merrin

    14.03.18 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    The regenerative principle.
    New Kapiti based soul/dub & blues/reggae band, a project of Newtown Rocksteady guitarist Tim Key. Socially conscious grooves based around a quote from ‘Understanding Shiva’ by D.K Hari and D.K Hema Hari. The resulting album sounds more cohesive and musically diverse than the premise would suggest. Bandcamp here. Website here. Facebook here. Music.net review here.

     

     

    Unwind / Hayden Chisholm, Norman Meehan, Paul Dyne.
    Following Small Holes in the Silence, an album of exceptional settings of New Zealand poetry performed with vocalist Hannah Griffin, Hayden Chisholm and Norman Meehan have teamed up again, this time with renowned Wellington bass player, Paul Dyne. Recorded at the end of Hayden’s New Zealand tour in November 2016, ‘Unwind’ features a set of original compositions beautifully played by this fine jazz trio. Lovely and mellow, full of elegant ballads and wistful moods. Buy from Rattle here. Elsewhere review here.

    Rook.
    Brendan Conlon is a Wellington based musician who has played in bands and solo since the early 1980s. In 1993 he migrated to southern France where after a year of busking and playing in café’s he released his first solo album, Thinking. He subsequently moved to Ireland and spent the next 10 years writing and singing his own songs in pubs around Dublin. After arriving back in New Zealand Brendan formed Black Wings, who released their album, Meltwater, in 2010. Brendan has returned to playing solo and has released a new album, Rook, on Powertool Records. Bandcamp here. PowertoolRecords CD here. Facebook here.

    Material hardship.
    More raw noise from the Razored Raw label, with the sophomore release from ‘powerviolence’ trio Stress Ghetto. Lo-fi bursts of grinding hard-core. Bandcamp here. Six Noises review here.

     

     

     

     

    People used to live here.
    The post-metal stylings of previous efforts, 2011’s Brighter & 2015 Rainmaker are gone, in favour of moody atmospherics, understated guitar lines, doom laden chord progressions, and clean melodies. Less reliance on specific genre elements opens up the songs for a broader sound, and the stripped down tracks create a more challenging musical palette than the heavy/soft dynamic that dominated previous albums. Spotify here. Facebook here. Buy from Pelagic Records here. Review here.

     

    For Pete’s sake : the political songs of Peter Conway.
    In the early 2000s Peter Conway founded Not The Day Job, a band of trade unionists and community activists who would regularly meet and play their brand of political folk songs to diverse audiences. When Peter passed away in 2015, NTDJ made the decision to record an album of Peter’s songs. The CD is the product of the decision, a project that saw NTDJ augmented with a group of musician friends. Bandcamp here.

     

    The hill temple.VINYL
    Awesome new album from the ‘witches’ of Hex, with new cohort Jason Erskine. Beautifully soaring harmonies, delicious melodies, crunching guitar lines. All the best elements of indie rock surrounded by a fierce female empowerment aesthetic. Bewitching. Album of the day from Bandcamp. Elsewhere review here. Listen on Bandcamp here. Buy Vinyl here. Facebook here. UTR interview here.

     

    Scorn of Creation.
    Scorn Of Creation is comprised of well regarded members of the local Metal community, sharing past and present personnel with bands like Bulletbelt, Backyard Burial, Saving Grace, Depths and The Dauntless. Their brutally short debut album is a tribute to the old school death metal sound with the precision that modern approaches to recording and technology can bring, sounding fresh and direct without being self indulgent. Facebook here.Bandcamp here. Website here. Band interview here.

     

    Bird of a feather.
    Berlin based singer originally from Eastbourne. Debut album ‘Bird of a Feather’ is a conglomeration of funky guitar folk, various other musical elements, and quirky song-writing reminiscent of Ani DiFranco and that 90s era of musically eclectic female singers. Facebook here. Website here. Stuff article here.

     

     

     

    Merrin.
    More patented Merrin madness from the Hutt hard rockers. Following on from earlier singles Mr. Dominant & Sin Merrin follow up with an album chock full of big riffs and melodic rockers. Some spoken word tracks frame a Demonic subtext that allows for some more progressive musical shadings and darker tones. Facebook here. Website here. Buy CD here.


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD & Vinyl: Nov-Dec – Ria Hall/Bill Lake/Highway/Stalker/Reuben Bradley/Black Minnaloushe/Full Moon Fiasco

    21.12.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Rules of engagement.
    Fantastic album from Ria Hall, blending Te Reo & English with a contemporary neo-soul/R&B vibe. Hall was based in Wgtn for 10 years & was inspired by the idea of building an album around the concepts of the stories she had heard growing up. She started out co-writing with Electric Wire Hustle and Mara TK but moved home to Tauranga to finish the album, hooking up musically with Tiki Taane who had moved to the area at the same time. He helped finish the album, producing a few of the tracks and mixing it. Five years in the making, it uses as its starting point a fateful battle between Tauranga Maori and the British in the mid 1800s to jump start themes of war, recovery, compassion, love and conflict as they exist, or should exist, in modern cultural and personal relationships. Facebook here. RNZ interview here. Stuff article here.

    As is where is / Bill Lake & The Right Mistake.
    Unassuming bluesy folk from Bill Lake (whose long career in Wgtn bands dates back to the 70s with ‘Original Sin’ & the ‘Windy City Strugglers’, the 80s with ‘The Pelicans’, and the 90s with Home Truths). With the backing of Windy City Strugglers alumni – Nick Bollinger, Andrew Delahunty & Andrew “Clyde” Clouston – and recorded in Lake’s living room. Honest, heartfelt folk, the simple straightforward arrangements and playing belie the emotional and musical integrity at the heart of the songs. Website here. Facebook here. Elsewhere review here.

    Highway.
    They were the hottest live band in Wellington in 1970, and in 1971 made fans up and down the two islands with their tour of universities, and they even made an album, but just a few years later, Highway were already an obscure memory, their record remaindered for $1.99 in superette bargain bins. The brief story of Highway didn’t re-emerge until NZ Listener critic Nick Bollinger included the self-titled Highway in his book 100 Essential New Zealand Albums (2009), after which it got its just deserts: a handsome CD reissue. More from their Audioculture profile here.

    Shadow of the sword.
    Ripping old school speed metal album, following on from the ‘Satanic Panic’ EP in 2016. Signed to Naplam Records, there’s nothing ‘post’ about Stalker’s ambitions with this full length release, it’s just classicist metal riffs, pummelling drums, and swaggering vocals. Review here. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Buy here.

     

     

    Shark variations.
    Reuben Bradley’s fourth album for Rattle. Features Bradley on drums with Roger Manins (saxophone) & Brett Hirst (bass). Recorded after their New Zealand tour in September 2016 (by Rattle’s in-house engineer Steve Garden), Shark Variations is an album that defines the close musical & personal relationship of the participants. No ego’s or showboating. Just the genuine desire of 3 simpatico musicians to explore and improvise from a place of honesty & the commitment to discovering new musical possibilities without the confines of any pre-set expectations or boundaries. The forward driving pieces sit comfortably alongside moments of rumination like the nice ‘Don’t be Afraid’. NZ Musician review here. Facebook here. Listen here. Buy here.

     

    Vinyl Exclusives:

    Summer eyes.
    Cosmically cool 2nd album form this from ex-Wgtn band, now based in Berlin featuring ex-pats Will Rattray and Mitchell James (of Aporia) as well as Jelena Mirceta (a Croatian born in Berlin) and Megan Wright (from South Africa). Trippy psychedelic jams meld vintage equipment and digital recording. Layered textures of reverb and sound make the album seem retro and modern almost simultaneously. Shades of Jim Morrison & The Velvet’s echo through as the melodic and hypnotic tracks flow together into a spacey trip. Facebook here. Bandcamp here. WCL interview here. SplendidBerlin interview here.

    Get down.
    Black Minnaloushe is the creative project of musician Andrew Carey. New album ‘Get Down’ is, as the title suggests, a bunch of funky Summer Jams to get your grove on to. Reminiscent to Lord Echo‘s grove in some places, but Carey diverges in other tracks to completely different styles. ‘Super Moon’ has more of an atmospheric soundtrack vibe, with some Vangelis like noodling, while ‘Make Some Noise’ & ‘Message On The Line’ both have a definite late period Beach Boys psychedelic vibe. It all flows well together into a funky laid back album perfect for Summer nights. Bandcamp here. Facebook here.


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD & Vinyl: July-Oct. Part 2: Tape Wolves/Mermaidens/The Black Seeds/Too Many Chiefs/Pervertor/Opium Eater

    04.12.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Fabric / The BlackSeeds.
    6th full-length studio album from the Black Seeds after a 5 year break from 2012’s Dust and Dirt sees Barnaby Weir and Daniel Weetman’s vocals propel a harder more reflective edge to their patented reggae-dub sound. Single ‘Better Days’ establishes the bands trademark sunny groove, but some edgier synths and focused lyrics bring a darker vibe with tracks like ‘Lightning Strikes’ & the political/social focus of ‘Beleza’ which samples Noam Chomsky. Some crowd pleasing familiar elements will always be at play with any band that has been around as long as the Black Seeds, but they can still find nuances in different sounds, elements and lyrics to bring something fresh to the table. Bandcamp’s Album of the Day. Facebook here. Website here.

    So many tracks.
    The answer to what would happen if you put 4 distinct songwriters together on one album is answered with Too Many Chiefs ‘So Many Tracks’. After a chance meeting in a Paekakariki cafe in 2012, singer/songwriter bandleaders Laura Collins, Rob Joass, Andrew London & Wayne Mason decided to join forces and present a show featuring their favourite original songs, without their usual respective band mates. With the resulting studio album each track features a different leader, which may seem like it would lack identity or cohesiveness, but all the tracks play off each other nicely. Collins’ mournful ballads sit next to London’s whimsical tracks, Joass’ country-Americana and Wayne Mason’s classicism. Each person supports the other, instruments are swapped and you can feel the level of enjoyment they get from playing with each other, and the combined years of experience show in every track. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Interview here.

    Perverted tales of depravity.
    Second album from Wgtn’s purveyors of Black Thrash metal. Features eight new tracks, that the band claim as being ‘forged in the fire of alcohol, heavy metal and perversion!…’. Who are we to argue with titles like ‘Systematic Violation’ & ‘Faecal Apocalypse’. A barrage of catchy thrash metal riffs underlie the unhinged vocals that could probably work well as the backing music for the fight scenes in hell’s arena…Bandcamp here. Facebook here.

     

     

    Ennui.
    Tagging Opium Eater as something encompassing like ‘progressive metal’ or ‘post rock’ probably acts as a limiter rather than anything else. ‘Post genre’ might be a better term as the band, signed to Art As Catharsis (the same label as Into Orbit), don’t really subscribe to any particular musical philosophy. Instead the songs on ‘Ennui’ form themselves through shifting styles, overriding an easy definition or pigeon-holing, subsuming genres, metres, keys, & vocal styles into the original narratives of each of the songs rather than being in service of them. With 3 vocalists at play and elements of everything really from post-hardcore/sludge, psych Rock, post-Rock, stoner riffs, desert rock, doom layers it’s impossible to delineate the trajectory of each track adequately, suffice to say that each is challenging and complex and overall its an alum that reveals its musical and emotional layers after repeated immersion. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Interview here.

     

    Vinyl exclusives:

    Esoteric surf trash.
    The Tape Wolves second full-length LP ‘Esoteric Surf Trash’, via Stink Magnetic Records is more of the garage -surf-rock trash that defines their sound. Listen to ‘Mysterio’ here. Buy here.

     

     

     

     

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


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD & Vinyl: July-Oct. Part 1: Gold Medal Famous/David Long/Grayson Gilmour/Daniel McClelland/Charlotte Yates/Grawlixes/Hollie Smith

    31.10.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Activity.
    The latest album from Gold Medal Famous’ was created using the “firing squad methodology” which is explained below in this quote from the liner notes: “We created the sounds on this album on electronic devices that we each took turns to generate sounds then passed on the device to another member of the group. This generated a sound file library that we used as source material for the album.” A list of instruments include: ‘Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator Arcade and Pocket Operator Rhythm, Stylophone Beatbox, Drone Lab*, Nebulophone*, ‘Rollz-5’ Percussion Synthesiser*, Thingamakit*, Moon Cake Noise Synthesizer*, Rucci Electronics 8-Bit Synthesizer, Rucci Electronics Drone Jar…’ and that’s just before it get’s weird. Avant-pop? Or the kind of ‘music’ a demented AI would make after the fall of civilization, filled with random snatches of words and sounds from obsolete technology? Is ‘We Bought A House’ just gratingly obnoxious, or a clever political statement? Weird non sequitur’s tumble over each other like puppies on acid, yet the beats drive the songs along and after a few listen it’s all weirdly catchy. Facebook here. Bandcamp here. Powertool Records here.

    Utterance / David Long, Richard Nunns, Natalia Mann.
    ‘Utterence’ features David Long (banjo, theremin, bowed guitar, & assorted paraphernalia), Richard Nunns (taonga pūoro) & Natalia Mann (harp, prepared harp, zither, gongs, voice). Ostensible leader, former Mutton Birds guitarist David Long has composed music for TV, a wide range of documentaries, and dramatic features and has been involved in many Wellington music endeavours from ‘Six Volts’ in the 1980s to ‘The Labcoats’ in the 90s and recently with ‘Teeth’. Richard Nunns has been an inspiration & influence to countless artists, but ‘Utterence’ proved to be his last recording, due to illness. A lovely mix of natural sounds and ambient textures. Buy on Rattle records here. From RNZ’s Upbeat.

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

    Anxious heart.
    The mission of one man band Daniel McClelland is to bring back pop, and he definitely succeeds with debut album ‘Anxious heart’. In his own words …’Imagine The Beach Boys listened to a lot of Michael Jackson and Nirvana… in 1991′. The album has a slew of pop references from the 60s to the 80s, with crunchy guitars, hard snares, synthy throwbacks and lots of layered vocals. The cumulative effect is definitely more than the some of the parts and the overall tone feels a lot like 90s power-pop bands like Gladhands or Jellyfish who had a similar love of merging classicist pop elements. Website here. Bandcamp here. Muzic.Net review here. RNZ’s The Sampler review.

    Then the stars start singing.
    ‘Then the stars start singing’ is the seventh album by Charlotte Yates, in a career that dates back to the late 1980s. As you might expect there is a degree of maturity in the song-writing and subject matter. But it avoids that mannered feel that weighs down so many female (& male) singers as their career progresses. There is still a freshness at play in both the production which features loops and electronic touches from 50Hz aka Jeremy Geor and the lyrics which delve into relationships ending and beginning, intimacy & commitment. Buy album here. Website here. RNZs The Sampler. Elsewhere review. 2017 Audioculture profile.

    Set free.
    The debut album from Wellington (by way of Dunedin) indie folk duo Grawlixes (Robin Cederman and Penelope Esplin) was released on the Home Alone music Label and serves as a musical examination of the former couples romantic relationship. Much like fellow Home Alone band French For Rabbits, Grawlixes are a couple that decided to continue playing music together as a duo after breaking up so, as expected, the resulting album is fairly intense. Languid guitar lines meld with the occasional fiddle and accordion. A bit of a Paisley Underground vibe. The lyrics are sometimes harsh, but also sometimes darkly funny, so it’s not all doomy & insular. Facebook here. Bandcamp here.

    New on Vinyl:

    Fabric / The Black Seeds.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Long player.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    All covers used with permission.


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD & Vinyl – June: Toni Huata/Glass Vaults/Jörmungandr/New Vinyl inc: Name UL, Bulletbelt & FFD

    19.07.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Kahungunu maranga.
    Expanded from a 3 song EP in 2016 this 2017 8 track album, Toni Huata’s 6th, is a sweet jaunt through a set of Te Reo tracks. A mix of new recordings and some re-recorded versions of older tracks, it eschews the dub/electronica of previous albums for a gently lilting country-swing with touches of Showband Jazz that is thoroughly charming. The beautiful harmonies and arrangements of these songs written by her forefathers, act as an ode to tīpuna, whānau and Iwi. Just lovely. Website here. Facebook here. NZ musician interview here.

    The new happy.
    The groups second album after 2014’s Sojurn was apparently created with the aim of creating a kind of sonic serotonin, a euphoric wash of beats and pulses. They certainly achieve a musical gestalt of some kind, with their brand of funky indie psych/pop beats. The tunes swirl around your sensory systems in a pleasing manner, but at times it’s hard to figure out if they are serious about he whole endeavour. A bit like Connan Mockasin they seem to straddle the edge of earnestness and tongue in cheek satire, but with tunes this catchy it’s all good. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Website here. The Wireless Verse Chorus Verse interview.

    Cernunnos.
    Everything you’d expect from a Viking Metal album. Deep voiced invocations of doom, odes to dark forces, thrashy crushing guitar riffs and songs about Asgard, serpents and altars of blood. Facebook here. Bandcamp here.
     

     

     

     

    New on Vinyl:

    Choice(s).
    Created as a sort of ‘ode’ to the capital’s nightlife Emanuel Psathas’ (aka Name UL) was mixed by Lee Prebble and mastered by Mike Gibson, and features production from Whiterose, C-Sick and Psathas himself, among others. Psathas has been rapping since he was 15, building up a solid following thanks to a series of high profile opening slots for international acts but apparently is more of a fan of ’70s funk which makes itself apparent on the albums instrumentation, which eschews the usual heavy beat background for swirling woodwinds with a jazzy CTI vibe. The lyrics confront the negatives of the city’s embedded drinking culture: the cyclic binging and resulting fallout, the pressure to party, the demeaning of the self, the isolation of trying to break free. Gifted stuff. Spotify here. Facebook here.

    Rise of the banshee.
    Limited Edition Gatefold vinyl. Remixed and remastered by Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) – joelgrind.com. Expanded artwork and A2 poster from Scarecrowoven – scarecrowoven.com. Transparent Blue w/Opaque Gold Swirl.

     

     

     

    Hope for a generation.
    Back in 2003 FFD released a limited 10″ featuring this now mythical track – Hope. The band always wanted to release Hope on a louder pressing and Record Store Day 2017 was the perfect excuse. This super limited 12″ features a re-mastered version of Hope on the A side and a re-interpretation of the original artwork engraved on the flip.

     

     

    Unearthing.Morningside.

     

     

     

     

     

    Harmonies.The new happy.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    All covers used with permission.


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD – May: Thomas Oliver/Teeth/Lord Echo/Into Orbit/Meech Brothers/Ebb/Fazerdaze

    21.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Floating in the darkness.
    Thomas Oliver has such an amazing voice that just glides along making it easy to just get lost in the textures of his falsetto, and not really pay attention to all the quality musicianship on display on each track on his new album ‘Floating in the Drakness’. Oliver’s Weissenborn/slide playing is a key element of course, but there is plenty of acoustic textures, some cool organ from Ed Zuccollo, Louis Baker lends some electric guitar to ‘Shine like the sun’, some nice backing vocs from the likes of Lisa Tomlins &Bella Florence & strings on a few tracks. The songs revolve around relationships and love and the losing of both, but there is a broader meditative focus on tracks like ‘Let it Be This One’ & the coming of Age tale ‘Boy’, a collaboration with Rhian Sheehan. Just a classy album all the way through. Facebook here. Website here. Bandcamp here. Wireless interview.

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Brown owl.
    Clint and Gareth have been producing indie folk-pop under the Meech Brothers moniker since 2007. When not working on Meech Brothers material, Clint also plays in Matt Hay & the Makers and Anxiety Club. He also played keyboards on Matt Langley’s critically acclaimed Featherbones album. New EP ‘Brown Owl’ was recorded mostly in Clint’s study with some parts of the EP’s centrepiece, “Diving Bell” coming from sessions that took place towards the end of their tenure at the Toi Poneke Arts Centre in Wellington. Acoustic guitar and piano underpin the tracks, with more synthy keys and electric flourishes mix the sound up a bit, but overall the EP has low key intimate feel. A reference point musically might be Americana heavyweights The Jayhawks, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Blog here. Youtube here.

     

    Plush bomb EP.
    Out of print limited edition EP from Loop group Ebb, who were a project of vocalist Lisa Tomlins, with musicians Iain Gordon (Fat Freddy’s Drop) and Reuben Sutherland. A big presence on the local electronica/dance scene, the EP release part for ‘Plush Bomb’ in 2001 was a sold out audio-visual extravaganza at The Embassy Theatre. The 5 track EP melds organic instruments and dance floor beats, with Lisa’s sultry vocals gliding over the top of an amalgamation of break-beat rhythm’s, techno, house & soul-dub.

     

    Morningside.
    Fantastic new album from Auckland based Amelia Murray (AKA Fazerdaze). Fuzzy guitars, programmed drum patterns and the odd sinewy keyboard line make up the sonic palette of most tracks, but her sweet airy vocals soar over all of it. The shimmery reverby guitars invoke a summery sense of well being, but the ‘poppy’ musical framework hides a lyrical disillusionment and uncertainty. A pervading sense of anxiety permeates nearly every track, inhabiting every relationship and interaction, and hovering cloudlike over the future itself. While signed to Flying Nun the album eschews the archetype Dunedin sound, and seems to draw influences from the 90s with shoegazy Britpop reminiscent of the Sundays or Lush, or US Sub Pop bands like Velocity Girl or The Spinanes. While there is not a lot of musical variation on the 10 tracks it only clocks in at 31 minutes, so never overstays its welcome. Short but super sweet. Bandcamp here. Facebook here. The Spinoff interview.


  • General

    New library ‘Wellington’ music on CD & Vinyl Jan-Apr, Part 2: The All Seeing Hand/The Nudge/Cave Circles/Deathgasm/Dave Lisik/French For Rabbits/Julie Lamb/Jeshell/Teeth & Tongue/Lake South

    01.06.17 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    Every month, Wellington City Libraries acquires new CD’s for its large, broad, eclectic collection, and Wellington music is no exception. We regularly inspect Bandcamp, local music websites, trawl music vendors latest releases and check out independent labels like Flying Nun, Arch Hill, Rattle and Lil’ Chief for the latest in Wellington and New Zealand music. So, with this influx of mint music in mind, every month we’ll provide the latest titles and artists added to our Wellington music collection…

    Mechatronics / The All Seeing Hand. [VINYL]
    Vinyl version of the band’s 2nd album. Deane Hunter adds guitar to three songs but the massive soundscapes of the rest of the tracks are just (amazingly) the drums of B. Michael Knight, the turntables of Alphabethead and the throat-singing of Jonny Marks. A dark percussive collision of spooky grunts and doomy metal riffs, avant stylings and structured playing. Intense and other-worldly, it sounds like an end point conglomeration of all places other musicians from differing modes of sound wanted to get to but never could. Bandcamp here. Facebook here.

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

    My heart is a beating drum. [VINYL]
    Cave Circles is the moniker of drummer/producer Riki Gooch (Trinity Roots,Eru Dangerspiel). A merging of drums and electronica as a concept seems insular but Gooch manages to create a warm funky techo vibe as the tracks percolate along happily, with melodies burbling out of the faulty Drumtrax and synthy blips. The 12″ EP has four tracks, with an extra track on Bandcamp here.

     

    Deathgasm : original motion picture soundtrack. [VINYL]
    Onslaught of local & international Metal from Kiwi film Deathgasm. Watch the movie here. Buy vinyl here. Features tracks from Wellington bands Bulletbelt, Razorwyre and Beastwars.

     

     

     

    Machaut man and a Superman hat: the music of Dave Lisik.
    Canadian composer and trumpeter, Dr. David Lisik teaches jazz composition, arranging, theory and pedagogy at the New Zealand School of Music. Recorded in 2012 at Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, New York & mixed by Dave Lisik in New York City and Wellington the compositions on this album were collected over several years, a few older originals and others written recently specifically for this recording. Some quality playing by pros who are clearly enjoying bringing out the different facets in Lisik’s explorative writing, the tunes wind in and out to the point of collapse before being brought back into the structure of the song. Bandcamp here. Elsewhere review here. Website here. Facebook here.

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

    Ordinary days.
    Is there a more consistent singer and band on the scene than Julie Lamb and her group? With each release you know you are going to get a set of melodic bluesy rockers that tackle everything from personal relationships to social issues and the quirkiness all tightly played by a group of total pros. The combined talent, the time and gigs they have played together, and the respect everyone has for each others contributions all come together in the subtle flourishes on each track. This album seems to have a specific focus on the increasingly pervasive influence of the digital in all its mediums on our everyday lives, and just how ordinary people and relationships of all kinds cope in response. Plus did I say it rocks….Bandcamp here. Facebook here. Website here.

    Jeshel.
    Illinois-born American has a had a highly significant impact in various fields of endeavours, including law, academia and activism and as a published novelist and poet and reborn singer-songwriter. He led the Rank Strangers Bluegrass Band in Australia for many years, with awards at Australia’s Country Music Festival in Tamworth and a tour of the USA, appearing at top Bluegrass venues. The Rank Strangers put out a series of award-winning LPs in the late 1980s and 1990s. As a lawyer, he has taught ethics at various universities around the world most recently, 10 years at Victoria University. Taking songs from 2015 album ‘Alma Rose’ he has added 10 more to create a double album of sparsely arranged country folk that mixes a few covers with his folky straightforward Americana narratives. Bandcamp here. Wikipedia entry on him here. Listener article here. Stuff article here.

    Grids.
    Melbourne based, Teeth & Tongue’s (Jess Cornelius) 3rd album, Grids was released in 2014. It was named Album of the Week on RRR FM, Radio Adelaide, and Beat Magazine, and Feature Album on ABC’s Double J and RTR Radio. The album led to three The Age Music Victoria Award nominations, for Best Band, Best Album and Best Female Artist. If ‘Grids’ isn’t quite as good as what was to follow with 2016’s Give Up on Your Health it’s probably because all the musical elements she has in play here hadn’t quite yet coalesced the way they would on the outstanding 2016 follow up. The textured layers often bump up against the more traditional pop & folk leanings and the album lacks a sense of cohesiveness in the different styles. Shades of uncertainty and a search within oneself filter through the lyrics. The destination is unknown, but the beats impart shifting lights in the grandiose gloom. Wikipedia here. Bandcamp here. Website here. Facebook here.

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


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