March’s New Music for Te Awe…


via GIPHY

Statler: Well, it was good.
Waldorf: Ah, it was very bad.
Statler: Well, it was average.
Waldorf: Ah, it was in the middle there.
Statler: Ah, it wasn’t that great.
Waldorf: I kind of liked it.”
-‘The Muppet Show’.

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries. I buy music for the CD & Vinyl collections, and also run the Libraries’ Wellington Music Facebook page). My Music Specialist colleague Sam, and Fiction Specialist (and avid music fan) Neil, join me every month to cast an eye over the new material we have been buying for the music collection at our CBD Te Awe library. We pick out some interesting titles across a range of music genres, and try to limit our reviews to a few lines only. Can we encapsulate an entire album in just a couple of lines? [Ed. This is probably unlikely at this point]. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? [Ed. This is more than likely]. Read on to find out…

Purge / Godflesh
Sam Says: Godflesh established themselves as a major pioneer of the industrial and post metal genres back in the late ‘80s into the ‘90s and went on to become influential to many artists across a variety of metal genres, including such major names as Metallica, Fear Factory, Korn and Mike Patton. They disbanded in the early-2000s, before forging a successful comeback a few years later. Purge is their third album since then and finds them in a comfortable and familiar place, infusing musical features from various stages within their eclectic career. Particularly of note is the inclusion of trip-hop and breakbeat elements, which came to the forefront in their mid ‘90s output on albums such as Songs of Love and Hate and Us and Them. This is slathered with noisy and punishingly discordant heavy guitar riffs recalling their earlier work, albeit with much slicker production values, which in turn makes it firmly feel like a Godflesh album in the present day. Purge carries a real sense of catharsis, with the title being a reference to Godflesh’s music providing a temporary relief from frontman Justin Broadrick’s diagnosed autism and PTSD. Overall, this is an impressively potent collection of songs for a band now several decades into their career.

Madra / NewDad
Mark Says: A pandemic success story, this Irish rock band put out a series of singles & videos over the lockdown, building an online audience and millions of streams. Their debut full-length throws up a strong entry into the shoegaze revival, very much reminiscent of the 90s Trip-hop/shoegaze sound, channelling elements of Curve, Garbage, early Sneaker Pimps, and also Robin Guthrie’s post Cocteau’s band Violet Indiana (with vocalist Siobhan de Maré). There’s nothing really new here, but it’s done really well. A nice slice of spiky, angsty pop from a young band who are sure to rise above their influences with further releases.
Neil Says: The debut album from London Via Galway pop shoegaze band NewDad clearly shows their influences, but also shows their desire to move beyond them. It is clear that the dulcet tones of bands like Garbage, The Pixies, The Breeders and The Cure frequently grace their turntables. The lyrics are more personal, and are focused around themes of self-doubt and the emotional turmoil of being a young adult. It’s a fizzing dream pop outing with heavy fuzzy guitars and solid bass lines; the sound of a band who know where their roots lie, but who also want to stamp their own musical identity on them.

Dangerous day to be a cold one / Dartz
Sam Says: Over the past five years, Dartz have rapidly become one of the most exciting and prolific acts within the local Wellington punk scene, with several EPs and singles put out since 2019. Released on the famed Flying Nun records, the aptly (and humorously) titled Dangerous Day to be a Cold One is their sophomore full-length effort, and finds them sounding more confident and polished than ever before. Packed full of infectiously catchy and highly energetic pub-rock party anthems over the space of 30 minutes, it is a fiercely immediate and decisive album from a band firing on all cylinders, a notion made all the more apparent by the quick turnover since the release of their debut little over a year ago. With Dangerous Day to be a Cold One, Dartz have clearly established themselves as a major up-and-coming force within the local scene.
Neil Says: The second album from the New Zealand slash and burn punk rock outfit Dartz sees them capitalising on their reputation for high octane explosive live gigs. They’ve been playing to packed audiences of ecstatic heavily involved fans, and this resulting new album doubles down on their brand of raucous, anthemic, fast and furious punk sing along tracks, all with a unique local bite to their lyrics.

Continue reading “March’s New Music for Te Awe…”

February’s New Music for Te Awe Part 3

You can check out our first round up of new music for February here and part 2 here.

Albion / Harp (Musical group)
Neil Says: Albion is well named, as former Midlake frontman Tim Smith and his new musical partner Kathi Zung (who is also a puppet maker who has worked with the likes of Guillermo del Toro) have created a work immersed in lonely, windswept, bittersweet English landscapes where the misty moors are shrouded in perpetual twilight. They sought lyrical inspiration from the poetry of William Blake and musically inspiration from the likes of dream pop pioneers The Cocteau Twins and Fleetwood Mac. There are also, unsurprisingly, a few moments that suggest Tim’s previous band Midlake. A dreamy 80’s dream-pop inspired creation that also encompasses English pastoral music, and has a loneliness and eerie sadness running through it.

Gold / Sol, Cleo
Mark Says: Having released Heaven in September last (which made the Best of 2023 list of one of our colleagues), she followed it up with the surprise release of another album ‘Gold’ later that month. As always her music combines the best elements of neo-soul, classic 70’s soul, Jazz & spiritual touches. There’s just something about her music that makes her stand out from the other (too numerous to list) female artists currently mining the same retro sound. Perhaps it’s the organic minimalism of the music that leaves plenty of space for her brand of hopeful personal lyrics, the lack of processing around her vocals, or the way the albums function as a whole to create a sense of soothing calm and quiet strength. Another winner.
Neil Says: Wow, what an album. Intense, intimate, soulful, euphoric, languid and chilled; but it doesn’t achieve this at the expense of ignoring the darker aspects of life. The lyrics are as strong as the music and vocal delivery; everything about it fits and works perfectly. What makes it even more remarkable, is that it just a part of a creative explosion Cleo Sol is undergoing at the moment. She released another album barely a month before this, and is a core part of the phenomenal Sault outfit. It’s neo-soul with strong gospel influences, with a 70’s feel to the musical arrangements that, in places, reminded me of the mercurial Aretha Franklin. As I said at the start: Wow.

Continue reading “February’s New Music for Te Awe Part 3”

February’s New Music for Te Awe Part 2

You can check out our first round up of new music for February here.

Silver / Say She She
Mark Says: This sophomore album from New York trio Say She She ended up on some of the Best of 2023 roundups. Three classically trained vocalists create dreamy disco-soul, channelling early 80s NY, with a core band behind them providing an ever grooving funky backbeat. Smooth silky vocals float in and out of the fun, frothy beats, each track taking it’s time to peak, and revel in all the elements at play. At 16 tracks (all close to the 4 minute mark) it’s perhaps overlong, but still takes you on a relaxing journey.
Neil Says: The sophomore album from Say She She is a soulful, disco focused outing that has echoes of the disco gods Chic. However, this album is much more than a homage, it pushes the boundaries of both these popular forms, without losing sight of what makes the genres so successful in the first place. There are even a few moments of very dreamy lite-psychedelia thrown into the mix. The feather smooth tight interlocking vocals are fantastic, and this modern twist on the soulful funky disco vibe is sure to win lots of fans.

Rainbow revisited / Ntuli, Thandi
Mark Says: A collaborative studio album by South African pianist-singer Thandi Ntuli and American ‘Ambient Jazz’ composer/producer Carlos Niño (producer of André 3000’s debut solo album New Blue Sun) deconstructs more Jazz orthadoxy via the inherent improvisation a the heart of African music. Essentially a solo piano-and-voice session, recorded in 2019 in one Venice Beach afternoon at the studio of LA multi-instrumentalist Niño. A minimalist affair, with some minor overdubbing & post-production, it’s fluid delicate runs explore the nature of freedom and the beauty of the natural world with feelings of hope, loss and serenity. A very intimate, vibey type album; you have to be in the right mood and place for. Made the Guardian’s Top 10 Global Albums of The Year, and ended up on Mojo’s top 10 Jazz albums of 2023.

Continue reading “February’s New Music for Te Awe Part 2”

February’s New Music for Te Awe Part 1


via GIPHY

Statler: Well, it was good.
Waldorf: Ah, it was very bad.
Statler: Well, it was average.
Waldorf: Ah, it was in the middle there.
Statler: Ah, it wasn’t that great.
Waldorf: I kind of liked it.”
-‘The Muppet Show’.

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries. I buy music for the CD & Vinyl collections, and also run the Libraries’ Wellington Music Facebook page). My Music Specialist colleague Sam, and Fiction Specialist (and avid music fan) Neil, join me every month to cast an eye over the new material we have been buying for the music collection at our CBD Te Awe library. We pick out some interesting titles across a range of music genres, and try to limit our reviews to a few lines only. Can we encapsulate an entire album in just a couple of lines? [Ed. This is probably unlikely at this point]. Do we actually know anything about new music? Or, are we just too old to understand what most of this is banging on about? [Ed. This is more than likely]. Read on to find out…

Outta sync / Letts, Don
Neil Says: Legendary filmmaker, D.J, producer and musician Don Letts has released his first musical project since his work with Big Audio Dynamite in the 1990’s. He has worked in various creative guises with the likes of the Clash, The Psychedelic Furs, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders and Bob Marley, to name but a few, was a key instrumental figure in the British punk and reggae scenes, and has for many years presented his BBC radio six’s culture Clash radio show. ‘Outta sync’ is a personal album in many ways, and reflects his unique eclectic tastes and worldview. It is a mix of heavy-duty dub bass tracks with spoken word interwoven through, featuring a plethora of musical guests including Terry Hall, Wayne Coyne, Hollie Cook and his daughter Honor. He described the album as “a soundtrack to my mind with some cool bass lines”, which pretty much sums it up.

Continue reading “February’s New Music for Te Awe Part 1”

The Music Box Sets Of 2023

Music box sets!!! 3 CDs. 4CDs. 5CDs. 6CDs. 7CDs. 8CDs… 8CDs!!

But they’re all so expensive! The dollar is terrible. And now you get taxed for everything you want to buy on Amazon that your local record store doesn’t have. Assuming you even have a local record store! It doesn’t seem fair. But don’t worry! We buy these, so you don’t have to…

Following on from the roundup of box sets we purchased in 2022 [Part 1, Part 2] here are the box set titles from 2023 that we added to our collection.

March of the flower children : the American sounds of 1967
“By 1967, rock’s eternally restless spirit had moved on from Liverpool, the British Invasion and Swinging London and found a new place to dwell. The scene’s new creative epicentre was San Francisco, from whence the underground’s tentacles spread throughout the nation… Over three CDs and four hours of music, ‘March Of The Flower Children’ anthologises the sounds of American rock and pop during a year that would become enshrined in the history books as the Summer of Love.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk).

We can work it out : covers of The Beatles 1962-1966
“Three CD compilation that focuses on the massive influence The Beatles had on a multitude of artists in disparate genres throughout numerous countries, right from the very start. Featuring Mary Wells, Count Basie, Cilla Black, Joe Cocker, PJ Proby, Mae West, Jose Feliciano, Jimmy James, Liza Minelli and many more. Sunshine pop sits next to raw soul while bluegrass nudges up against jazz. Serious British folkies mix with campy Hollywood legends as Hungarian gypsy guitar makes way for proto psychedelia – nothing was safe from the all-encompassing influence of The Fab Four!” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk).

Continue reading “The Music Box Sets Of 2023”

So…Peter Gabriel has returned

After a fairly quiet last few years, Peter Gabriel has released i/o, his first album of original material in 22 years. Originally the frontman for progressive rock legends Genesis, Gabriel departed the band following their 1974 masterwork The lamb lies down on Broadway / Genesis (Musical group) to embark on a solo career that would bring him both critical acclaim and commercial success over the ensuing five decades. He would also branch out into film soundtracks, scoring such films as The Last Temptation of Christ (see below) and Rabbit-proof fence.

In 1982, driven by an interest in world music, he founded the WOMAD (World of Music, Art and Dance) festival, followed in 1989 by the Real World record label. Both are still going to this day and have been instrumental in bringing world music to a wider audience in the West. Many of the titles in Wellington Libraries World CD collection will have been issued on Real World.

The following list, while by no means exhaustive, provides an overview of Gabriel’s work held at Wellington City Libraries.

Peter Gabriel [1] / Gabriel, Peter
After taking some time out after leaving Genesis, Gabriel announced himself as a creative force in his own right with the first of four self-titled albums (we have them all!). Co-produced by Todd Rundgren it’s a varied collection containing one of his greatest and most recognisable songs, “Solsbury Hill”.

 

Continue reading “So…Peter Gabriel has returned”