New CDs at Te Awe

I’m Mark, the Customer Specialist for Music & Film at Wellington City Libraries. Here is some of the new material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe library. My colleague Neil & I decided to do some quick reviews of some new titles. Our limit was a couple of lines only. Do we actually carefully appraise & select the latest new music releases for your listening pleasure? Or do we just buy every third item on the list and hope it works out? Do we actually know anything about new music? Can you encapsulate an entire album in just one line? Read on to find out…
[Ed. Sadly we could not contain Neil’s exuberance to only one line for these reviews. We apologise in advance].

All bets are off. / Aphek, Tamar
Neil: Well I have to confess I don’t know much about the Israeli music scene, but if it’s all this good I need to seek more out. This is Tel- Aviv power pop trio Tamar Aphek’s debut album. It follows the grunge loud quiet format, think a modern Zeppelin or Nirvana but fronted by P. J. Harvey.
Mark: Rising star Aphek, a key figure in the Israeli underground scene, releases her debut album on the legendary Kill Rock Stars label. Fuses emotional, social & global concerns in a melange of crooning vocals, fuzzy indie rock, distorted basslines and Jazz riffs. Catchy.

Neil Young archives. Vol. II, 1972-1976. / Young, Neil
Neil: In the early to mid 70’s Young’s prodigious creativity was at a peak it was such that he could shelve for decades fabulous albums like the only just released Homegrown. This box set of rarities, out takes, alternative versions and unreleased tracks is a fitting demonstration of just how on fire creatively he was at this period. In short, a must listen if you are a Neil Young fan.
Mark: 10-CD box set follows 2009’s The Archives Vol. 1 1963–1972, and covers a three-and-a-half-year release period from 1972–1976. 131 tracks. 63 previously unreleased, including alternate & live versions, with only 12 songs never been released in any form before. Is this value for money if you’re a Neil Young fan? Don’t worry, we bought it so you didn’t have to…

Little oblivions. / Baker, Julien
Neil: Julien Baker’s third album features for the first time a full band so it is a big departure from the acoustic alt folk roots of her previous two outings. However, the brutal personal honesty of her lyrics is still there, making this universally lauded album both a captivating and unsettling listen.
Mark: After critical breakout Matador album, 2017’s Turn Out the Lights, Baker builds a larger musical palette around her lacerating narratives of self recrimination, substance abuse, and faith.

As the love continues. / Mogwai (Musical group)
Neil: The mighty Mogwai release their tenth album and score their first UK number one album in the process. The traditional trademark slow build up to a mountainous wall of sound, starting with and tempered by sad melancholic harmony is very much in presence in this new work. Which feels like they are building on past structures and forms rather than diving into new worlds.
Mark: More atmospheric noodling. If that’s your thing you’ll enjoy this.

Collapsed in sunbeams. / Parks, Arlo
Neil: A cool, chilled, and accomplished debut by the twenty-year-old London poet Arlo Parks. Perhaps just a little bit too radio friendly for my tastes, but seemingly Michelle Obama is a big fan, so who am I to judge.
Mark: Debut studio album by British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks. ‘Next Big Thing’ status. Catchy beats, positive messages. Lily Allen meets Corine Bailey Rae.

The raw & the cooked. / Fine Young Cannibals
Neil: Rerelease of one of the eighties defining classic pop albums, packed with hits galore and memorable catchy tunes. It proved to be their last album (they only made two) but they had already left their mark on eighties pop history.
Mark: Deluxe reissues of the only 2 albums (1st album here) from the iconic Birmingham band that were huge in the 80s. 29 bonus tracks for the first album (including B-sides, remixes, BBC sessions and more) and 22 extra tracks for The Raw & The Cooked. Nice sets if you were fans of their funky soul tinged rock, and the unique voice of Roland Gift.

Flow state. / Sultana, Tash
Neil: 23-Year-old Melbourne based former busker Tash Sultana is the perfect example of the term overnight success, after posting a performance on you tube, she gained 10000 followers overnight. This is her R&B flavoured, radio friendly obviously highly commercial debut album. She plays all the instruments and sings all the vocals on the release.
Mark: Debut album from Australian singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist-guitar whizz. More Neo soul/RnB-ish, but she threads in enough guitar workouts to satisfy Rock fans. A myriad of styles & genres sometimes collide. A prelude of what was to follow on 2021’s Terra Firma [On Order].

Not your muse. / Celeste
Neil: Smokey atmospheric vocals are all over the heavily played artists debut album. (She’s done Christmas adverts and sport break music links) But within and behind the commercial gloss and glitz there sounds to be a great artist with real depth and heart at work. A soul singer who has the potential to be more than just a mainstream star.
Mark: British-Jamaican Celeste is a 2019 Rising Star Brit Award & BBC Sound Of 2020 winner. Another Neo-soul debut album. Perhaps too obvious with its influences in places, but has its share of stand out tracks like ‘Tonight, Tonight’ & ‘Stop this Flame’ that draw you in, and hint at something stronger at play.

That’s life. / Nelson, Willie
Neil: This album is Willie’s second album that features him covering Frank Sinatra songs. It’s a difficult feat to pull off without sounding like a bad Frank Sinatra copy or murdering the songs by losing their uniqueness, but by doing the tracks in his own inimitable style he effortlessly succeeds in making them his own. Interesting fact: Willie Nelson used to cheer up a downbeat Johnny Cash by phoning him up late at night and telling him dirty jokes.
Mark: If you liked 2018’s My Way, this is more of the same. Willie sings Sinatra. His way.

The RCA albums 1977-1985, with bonus tracks. / King, Evelyn “Champagne”
Neil: A Box set of the disco diva Queen Evelyn “Champagne” King’s RCA albums. A lot in there, with some classic disco glitterball tracks amongst them.
Mark: One of Allmusic’s Best of 2020 Archival releases. Chronicles her long run with RCA Victor highlighted by 20 charting singles and a trio of Top Ten R&B LPs through 1986. At the forefront of the evolution of post-disco soul/R&B, she worked with upcoming producers using new synth technologies & sounds that would shape the sound of 1980’s soul-Pop.

Power corruption and lies. / New Order
Neil: New Order’s second album is often regarded by fans as one of their finest. It still has tracks that definitely have Joy Division elements to them such as Ultraviolence and synth atmospheres that could easily have fitted into closer but it also has the beginnings of their new musical direction and Bernard Sumner is still trying to find his own lyric writing voice. That all said it is a brilliant album that shows the green dance shoots taht found their total reinvention in albums like the Studio 54 inspired Technique. This new release features loads of previously rare or unreleased live and other material.
Mark: Seminal dance-rock album given the Super-Deluxe treatment. Another entry from Allmusic’s Best of 2020 Archival releases. The remastered album is the first one made from the original master tapes. Unreleased tracks, a Peel session & an impressive amount of video content.

Good woman / Staves
Neil: Know as an innovative folk trio, The Staves further push the boundaries of that particular genre further out in this new release so much so that it would be difficult to still call them folk artists. Their beautiful overlocking harmonies remain, and the lyrics reveal a newly found deeper emotional honesty and rawness. A band moving towards something very new.
Mark: First original album in 6 years for England-based sisters. More soft rock than folk at this point, as lovely unison harmonies surround Laurel Canyon pop sounds that focus on rising above the emotional travails of life.

Just dropped in (to see what condition my rendition was in) / Jones, Sharon
Neil: The album sounds just like a work released by some Motown Era label, but this is actually an album of modern song covers from artists like Prince and Janet Jackson the trick is they are done by the sadly deceased soul Singer. The analogue production gives them authentic sounding 60 grit and a crackle and Sharon’s years of club singing give her the musical chops to pull it off.
Mark: Points for the clever title. A great posthumous collection of the late soul singer’s cover songs. She had that rare ability of all great singers to stamp their own personality on a song, no matter how iconic the original performance.

Magic. / Oneohtrix Point Never
Neil: Splicing, looping, sampling Daniel Lopatin’s latest album employs all his trademark tricks, just when you think a track is settling down it moves on to something else endlessly shifting and moving to great effect. An experimental album constructed from fragments and a perfect introduction to his work.
Mark: I don’t even understand the Pitchfork review about this album, let alone the music itself. Like someone working their way through a radio dial…

Time outtakes / Brubeck, Dave
Neil: ‘Time Out’ is one of the most popular, instantly recognizable, and iconic jazz albums of all time. ‘Time outtakes’ gives fans a fascinating look behind the scenes as the album slowly evolves from rough ideas and jams to slowly become the masterpiece it is.
Mark: An album of previously unheard recordings from the sessions of one of Jazz’s most iconic albums, 1959’s Time Out. Five alternate versions, and two tracks that didn’t make the final album, show the band trying to carve out the direction they wanted to go as they grapple with the rhythmic complexities of the tunes. A fascinating listen for Jazz fans.

Cuba : music and revolution : culture clash in Havana, Cuba : experiments in Latin music 1975-85. Vol. 1
Neil: The hot bed of radical, musical invention that was the Cuban music scene in this period is fully on show in this compilation. Western genres and styles are taken mutated, fused, and melded into the already vibrant Cuban scene creating unique and new sounds. You can hear the long tail echoes of this explosion all over the place.
Mark: Compiled by DJ Gilles Peterson and Soul Jazz Records founder Stuart Baker, this compilation tracks the history of Cuban music post the pre-revolutionary Buena Vista Social Club, proving a wealth of innovative and adventurous music was still being made under a repressive regime.

For the first time. / Black Country, New Road
Neil: Jagged, angular post punk debut album with nods to prog rock drumming and Jewish Klezmer music. Coupled with mercurial vocals and lyrics, it all makes for a marmite album if I ever heard one. Check it out to see what side you are on.
Mark: The genre bending (post-punk, free jazz, klezmer, math rock) 7-piece band have already been hailed as delivering one of the best albums of 2021. Only 6 tracks, but those tracks are full of genre shifts, instrumental breaks, opaque lyrics and adventurous exploration that defies expectations. Maybe not to everyone’s taste but, as the reviews say, ‘undeniably original’ which these days is a achievement itself.

Isles. / Bicep
Neil: Lush, lavish, melodic dance floor electronica with solid beats from Northern Ireland. The album pulls off that Holy grail of dance music that only a few acts like Aphex Twin can do, by being simultaneously interesting on and off the dance floor.
Mark: Northern Irish DJs keeping the dancefloor alive during Lockdown. The beats have enough edge to escape fading into a background playlist.

Love is the king. / Tweedy, Jeff
Neil: During lockdown with his family the Wilco frontman used his sons Sammy and Spencer as musical cohorts to him help create this mellow country infused album with loneliness and longing as its driver. It also celebrates human connectedness and solace in Jeff’s personal musical snapshot of our times.
Mark: More tedium from Tweedy. If you like Wilco’s post-Jay Bennett albums then probably you’ll like Tweedy’s solo efforts.

OK human. / Weezer
Neil: The fourteenth album by the American rockers is a quirky 38-piece orchestra pandemic fallout album with numerous references musical and otherwise to things like Pet Sounds, Serge Gainsbourg and even George Orwell’s 1984. Despite the heavy orchestration and shining through it, the album is undeniably and unmistakably a Weezer release.
Mark: Guitar strings are swapped for Classical ones as Rivers Cuomo gives us his unique take on living in the Covid era. Many bands choose to put strings to old songs rather than new ones, but the uplifting nature of these songs suits the change of musical pace. Moody, yet catchy at the same time.

On all fours. / Goat Girl
Neil: Swirling psychedelic guitars, accompanied by shimmering electronics coupled with angry lyrics deliberately obscured by mock cheerfulness. Make goat Girl’s album an intentionally strange, off kilter listen with discordant lyrics to match often contrasted by sweet vocal deliveries. I rather enjoyed it.
Mark: Post-punk London quartet. The follow-up to their acclaimed 2018 self-titled debut sees a more mature politicized bent that digs into topics like climate change, toxic culture, identity, and mental health, all underpinned by some great playing & confident layered vocals. As relevant and interesting as the more acclaimed punk of Fontaines D.C.

New York. / Reed, Lou
Neil: A reissue of Lou Reed’s 1989 album, described as a protest album with the background being Reagan’s America and the HIV/ AIDs epidemic but unsurprisingly this is very much a protest album on Reeds own terms. The music is bleak and the lyrics often nihilistic about futility, fear, and darkness but there is no doubt that his legendary song writing skills are used to their full effect.
Mark: Regarded as the pinnacle of his solo career, this Deluxe edition 3CD+DVD+LP package features a 2020 remaster, a live version of the entire album, and another disc non-album tracks & ‘Rough Mixes’ of tracks from the album. The DVD includes The New York Album a concert video that was originally released in 1990 on VHS and Laserdisc but has never been available on DVD. Sadly many of the themes on this album still resonate within today’s American landscape.

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New CDs at Te Awe

I’m Mark, the Customer Specialist for Music & Film at Wellington City Library. Here is some of the new and material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe branch.
My colleague Neil & I decided to do some quick reviews of some new titles. Our limit was a couple of lines only. Do we actually carefully appraise & select the latest new music releases for your listening pleasure? Or do we just buy every third item on the list and hope it works out? Do we actually know anything about new music? Can you encapsulate an entire album in just one line? Read on to find out…

Real low vibe : the complete Reprise recordings 1992-1998. / Mudhoney
Neil: One of Grunge rock’s pioneers, this compilation is from their major label period & features lots of rarities. The transition didn’t bear the financial rewards the label hoped for, though the albums themselves were quite good, and after a few years they returned to Sub-Pop
Mark: Round up of the Grunge pioneers 6 year major label career. They paved the way for later bands but never commercialized their sound enough to claim a mainstream audience.

 

Super blood wolf moon /Brix & The Extricated
Neil: The Extricated’s 3rd album moves further away from the long shadow of The Fall. Bass driven psychedelic modern garage. Surprising & rather good.
Mark: Ex-Fall members 3rd album sands off their rough edges for a more 90s Boston college rock sound of shimmering guitar pop/rock. Think Throwing Muses or early Blondie…

 

Yellow Magic Orchestra USA ; &, Yellow Magic Orchestra / Yellow Magic Orchestra
Neil: The hugely influential album from pioneering Japanese Electronic outfit YMO features a huge mash-up of dance music, video game samples & progressive rock tropes.
Mark: Allmusic describes Ryuichi Sakamoto’s synth-pop group as second only to Kraftwerk in influence. Creating new worlds of sound with emerging technologies. Kitchy today in some parts maybe, but pioneering in the late 70s…

 

Introducing… Aaron Frazer. / Frazer, Aaron
Neil: Smooth debut release from this golden voiced crooner. 70s soulful R&B with a funky late night grove. Obviously a labour of love for a style of music he’s a big fan of.
Mark: The drummer for retro-soul revivalists Durand Jones & the Indications. Smooth falsetto crooning recreates a warm 70s soul vibe.

 

Pow-wow. / Mallinder, Stephen
Neil: Re-release of the 80s album from half of the Cabaret Voltaire duo. Chunky danceable groves & rhythms. Still sounding fresh & new. Industrial, post-punk, funk, & electronica
Mark: 1982 solo debut from Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder. His next solo record would be in 2019. Wonky vocals drift in & out of Lo-Fi beats. Intriguing. Not sure if you can really dance to this though…

 

Born into this : the music of Rattle. Volume 2, Improvisation.
Neil: Rattle Records have been at the forefront of classical, Jazz and Experimental art music in NZ for 30 years now. This compilation is their 150th release with over 40 tracks spanning their entire catalogue. A testament to the vast influence & cultural significance of the label.
Mark: 40 tracks from 3-decades worth of Rattle recordings. Artistic improvisation via Taonga puoro, acoustic instruments, Jazz, electroacoustic soundscapes and beyond. Contains some of the most important pure NZ musical statements of the last few decades.

 

Girls go power pop!
Neil: Catchy, infectiously sing-along classics from the likes of the Go-Go’s & the Runaways, with some lesser known bands making up the compilation. Great fun, uplifting and solid road trip music.
Mark: Some usual suspects as well as some obscure gems in this choice Ace records comp of female Power Pop from the 80s and 90s. Plenty of crunchy guitar riffs and catchy choruses.

 

Greenfields : the Gibb brothers’ songbook. Vol. 1 / Gibb, Barry
Neil: The last outstanding Bee-Gee looks to his legacy and records an album of Country versions of Bee-Gees classics with a bunch of Country guests. Mixed results. For me the standout track was ‘Words’ with Dolly Parton.
Mark: The Bee-Gees catalogue through the Country Music looking glass. Better than you might think for the most part.. Shows that the bones of great songs can retain their essence no matter the colourings applied.

 

Spare ribs. / Sleaford Mods
Neil: Their 6th album is another rambunctious, caustic, socially aware quintessentially ‘British rapper’ outing. Quality control remains high. As good as previous albums.
Mark: More working class Rap-punk from the Sleaford Mods filled with a sense of paranoia & trapped claustrophobia. Recorded during Covid-19. Digs deep into the social & political ills of modern Britain.

 

 

Think of spring. / Ward, M
Neil: Beautiful, sad, melancholic renditions of Billie Holliday classics. Exquisitely executed.
Mark: A pervading sense of wistfulness shades the tracks which drift gently along. Perfect Sunday afternoon music.

 

 

Black majik terror / Stälker
Neil: Wgtn based speed metal trio deliver a very 80’s styled sound. Very reminiscent of Ronnie James Dio’s Holy Diver. One for fans of this type of Speed Metal.
Mark: Stalker return with more great 80’s inspired Metal fun. Like the soundtrack to an old Horror classic about fighting Aliens or Demons or something….

 

The king of Sudanese jazz. / Ahmed, Sharhabil
Neil: What a find! These recordings from the early 60’s are a joyous mix of all sorts of styles such as Jazz, Samba & Tango but all with it’s own musical identity. It’s infectiously groovy and better than the early Beatles albums!
Mark: Fascinating recording from the 1960s Sudan before a military coup brought in a strict Islamist government that repressed the arts. Fuses western music like Rock N Roll & Surf Rock, early R&B with Ethiopian jazz, Congolese music, and the sounds of South Sudan for something truly uniquely funky and original.

 

The lost songs : 48 unreleased recordings / Welch, Gillian
Neil: After the roof of her recording studio was ripped off in a Tornado, Gillian Welch decided to rescue these archival tracks from the following flood. Her trademark Southern gothic bluegrass Country & Western style is well served by this compilation.
Mark: Boots No. 1 from 2016 was a collection of outtakes from her 1996 debut. This lavish Box Set follow up was originally recorded in 2002 to fulfil a publishing contract. The tapes were excavated for release during Covid-19, and reveal a vein of consistently evocative and enigmatic song-writing vignettes that are sure please fans of her type of Hillbilly country-folk.

 

Transmissions : the music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland : collected songs + unreleased music. / Glenn-Copeland, Beverly
Neil: This compilation of tranquil chilled music traces the artists entire career. Much of the music was recorded in relative solitude. An eclectic and unique album, but difficult to describe.
Mark: Rediscovered after decades of obscurity due to a Japanese collector’s request for copies of his 1986 album ‘Keyboard Fantasies’, the transgender Black artist has gone on to be an influence on Blood Orange, Moses Sumney, and Caribou among others. Following a documentary in 2019 which took his story wider, ‘Transmissions’ is an attempt to gather works from across his career. Beautifully relaxing, hopeful & uplifting music.

Hidari ude no yume. / Sakamoto, Ryūichi
Neil: This is a welcome re-release of the unedited Japanese version of this album that varies dramatically from the Western release. Also contains an instrumental version with the vocals stripped out. A thoroughly engaging album from one of the giants of Japanese music forging ahead and pointing towards future masterpieces.
Mark: Original Japanese edition of Sakamoto’s ‘Left Handed Dream’ released outside of Japan for the first time. Minimalist Electronica masterpiece. Still ahead of its time…

 

 

Deutsche elektronische musik. 4, Experimental German rock and electronic music 1971-83.
Neil: The 4th instalment of the series that documents the creative furnace that was the German music scene in the 70’s & 80’s.
Mark: More German experimental rock. An endless autobahn of electronic, progressive, & ambient torture…

 

 

Rollins in Holland : the 1967 studio & live recordings featuring Ruud Jacobs & Han Bennink. / Rollins, Sonny
Neil: A piece of Jazz history given a welcome 21st century official release.
Mark: Some unearthed Rollins featuring some studio & live tracks from European gigs with a pick-up band. The studio cuts showcase a surprisingly sympathetic degree of musical attunement. The live cuts show some great interaction but the sound is of lesser quality.

 

McCartney III. / McCartney, Paul
Neil: What can you say about a new Paul McCartney album? My best shot is: If you’ve enjoyed his previous solo outing then you’ll probably enjoy this too…
Mark: All McCartney all the time in yet another lockdown album. Aims to recreate the strengths of the similar Chaos and Creation in the Backyard but falls short on the songs. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of the lo-fi musings of McCartney & McCartney 11.

 

Plastic bouquet / Kacy & Clayton
Neil: In this Kiwi-Canadian collaboration Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams carefully craft a largely solemn collection of tracks that infuse country-folk, rockabilly & blues in unexpected ways and forms. Yet it all sounds & feels very natural & effortless like they have worked together for years.
Mark: Folky Canadian Saskatchewan cousins meet NZs Marlon Williams. A meeting of kindred spirits melds folky pop & Americana narratives. Pleasant but slight.

 

 

Pwr up. / AC/DC
Neil: Who would have though that after Brian Johnston had to pull out of the Rock Or Bust tour due to medial reasons that AC/DC would ever release a new album. Yet this is as good as their hey-day, firing on all cylinders. A full blooded rock out. Just goes to show you can never tell.
Mark: Surely one comeback that no one saw coming. Yet this is definitely not a ‘Money Shot’ as the album is chock full of punchy, catchy songs. AC/DC doing what they do best. A worthy addition to their legacy of rock…

 

 

 

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Sound & Vision: New CDs – Box Set

Check out some of these newly catalogued CDs in our AV collection. To reserve these items click on the title link below, and to find out a bit more about them click on the cover images…

Lloyd Cole Lloyd Cole in New York : collected recordings 1988-1996
Elvis Presley Platinum : a life in music
Kitchens of Distinction Watch our planet circle