Staff Picks: DVDs and Blu-Rays at the Library

Stumped for something to watch this weekend? Here are some DVDS and Blu-Rays that our library staff have enjoyed watching recently, featuring a range of new arrivals and deep-cut classics from the collection.

Shinji’s Picks

She said – Maria Schrader

The banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh

Both sides of the blade – Claire Denis

The passengers of the night – Mikhael Hers

Triangle of sadness – Ruben Ostlund

Wheel of fortune and fantasy – Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Paris, 13th district – Jacques Audiard

Pearl – Ti West

The velvet queen – Marie Amiguet, Vincent Munier

Accident – Joseph Losey

She SaidThe Banshees of InisherinBoth Sides of the BladeThe Passengers of the NightTriangle of SadnessWheel of Fortune and FantasyParis, 13th DistrictPearlThe Velvet QueenAccident

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Staff picks: CDs

Here are some music titles that library staff have recently been listening to and enjoying.

Martin P’s Picks:
Sunshine hit me / Bees (Musical group)
Debut album by a British band, came out in 2002, described by Wikipedia as “eclectic and summery, with a range of influences that include psychedelia, Jamaican dub, reggae, indie, 1960s rock and others”. It’s a lovely, melodic bunch of pop songs. They made several further albums, but none as good as this. Great summer record.


Miss America / O’Hara, Mary Margaret
Came out in 1988. The debut (and so far only) album by this Canadian artist. Came and went almost without trace at the time, but subsequently lavished with praise by musicians such as Michael Stipe and Tanya Donelly, as well as having its songs covered by bands from Cowboy Junkies to Perfume Genius. Her idiosyncratic vocals are unlike anyone else, and the album sounds like it could have been made last week rather than 35 years ago. Try Body’s In Trouble for a taste.

Heavy heavy / Young Fathers
Released Feb ’23, this new album from the Scottish trio sees them further developing their unique mix of tribal music, rap and singalong choruses. The production is a little less raw now perhaps, than on their early releases, but their ear for hooks and thought-provoking lyrics is better than ever.


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NZMM Reviews: Part 1 – Wellington Vinyl

A lot of bands choose vinyl now as the sole ‘physical’ format for an album release. For New Zealand Music Month, we checked out some recent vinyl exclusives for Wellington artists that we have added to the collection over the last year or so.

New Zealand Music Month logo - May 2023

Jazz from the underground nightclubs of Aotearoa. Vol. 5 / Devils Gate Outfit
Mark: An improvisational jazz collective comprised of some of Wellington’s most well known experimental music figures (Anthony Donaldson, Steve Roche, Daniel Beban, Cory Champion etc). Recorded at Meow in 2021, it was nominated for 2022 Jazz Album of the Year at the NZMA. Full of improvisations that take their cue from Wellington’s rugged coastal landscape with sonic textures resembling bird life, cascading crashing streams, and conflicting, driving, waves and winds.
Neil: This is volume five of a series of Aotearoa jazz albums by the Devils Gate Outfit. This live release from Wellington’s very own Meow venue features some of Wellington’s best improvisational jazz musicians. The music has the feel of the 70’s experimental jazz albums of that time, rugged with lots of sonic explorations, deep grooves and tonal changes.

Saturn return / Soft Plastics
Mark: ‘My World/Your Girl’ was a epic slice of Twin Peaks styled dream-pop/shoegaze balladry from 2020, and now leads off Soft Plastics’ debut album 3 years later. The layered, reverby, billowing guitar lines perfectly wrap around Sophie Scott-Maunder beautiful voice, but the band also pulls in traces of new-wave, punk and surf rock, all refracted through a modern lens. As good as anyone internationally mining this genre.
Neil: Soft Plastics are one of the most hotly tipped NZ bands of recent years, already internationally acclaimed. The music is perfectly formed. Fuzzy, shoegaze indie-rock with dark atmospheric, gothic, lyrical content.

+ Other colours / Wallace
Mark: ‘Future-soul’ singer Wallace, previously based in Sydney, returned to Wellington for the release of her debut album ‘+ Other Colours’, following on from her 2017 EP Pole to Pole. Tipped by industry insiders as NZs next big international music star. Slinky beats and a series of eclectic styles meld a visual and emotional sense of personal experiences grief and vulnerabilities. pair this with feminist themes and nostalgic dance-bop groves, you get an album that channels a smooth late night club vibe, where the past meets the future.

Being alone / Wiri Donna
Mark: Wiri Donna began as the indie-folk alter-ego of SOG’s Bianca Bailey, before becoming a fully fledged band. Lo-fi, jangly indie-pop meets heavier melodic guitars, and touches of cello and violin. Confessional, and sometimes confrontational, the songs focus on finding strength in independence and self-honesty, and navigating a male-dominated world.
Neil: Wiri Donna’s independently released EP is a work that amply demonstrates the quality of current NZ musicians’ output and the state of music scene in NZ. It’s really well produced, doesn’t have a weak track from beginning to end, and showcases her strong voice and her emphatic energetic riff rock vibe, resplendent with summery sweet tones and very personal lyrics. In decades past it would have attracted major record label interest, but these days this sort of corporate interest doesn’t seem necessary.

Big fresh / Richter City Rebels
Mark: Richter City Rebels return with ‘Big Fresh’, another unique mix of jazzy big band grooves, squalling brass, funky reggae dance rhythms, soulful vocals, and rap breaks. Raw Deezy, Chris CK, Moira Jean are on vocal duties, along with Troy Kingi on top track ‘Through My Venetians’. The propulsive energy of the music probably better translates in a live context rather than a studio one, but great music to put on to get your party night started.
Neil: The Richter City Rebels’ music is a soulful and heavy blend of funk, RnB, jazz and hip-hop, held together by a torrent of vibrant brass and pounding bass. This is a good album and gives you a feel for what they are like, but their live performances are totally knock-out and the album doesn’t quite catch the lightning in the bottle of their exhilarating live shows.

Goodnight My Darling / Goodnight My Darling
Mark: The music project of Maxine Macaulay. One of the first graduates from Massey University’s Bachelor of Commercial Music, she shifted from electronic music to a more full band indie-pop sound, and wrote the material for her self-titled debut during a seven month lockdown in Berlin, early 2021. Lovely, reflective, lilting, soft-pop with elements of shoegaze. Introspective and haunting, themes include love and loss and integrating life’s experiences. She described the lush tracks as representing ‘an evolution of self…’.
Neil: A perfectly executed album of laid back and chilled out indie-rock, with elements of shoegaze and even very occasionally psychedelia. Maxine Macaulay’s voice soars in a crystal-clear fashion hovering over the music. A very fine album, and a band to keep an eye on.

No drama / Hans Pucket
Mark: The sophomore LP from Wellington’s indie stalwarts Hans Pucket. Melodic, literate, cleverly written indie rock, it functions as a sort of a concept album about modern twenty-something anxiety. Meeting new people, nervous talking, the pressures of socializing, looking back a the past while trying to find a future. Catchy, dancey tracks, feature everything from strings and guitars, to synths and horns.

Journey to freedom / Welch, Devon
Mark: Recent vinyl reissue of Kapiti musician Devon Welch’s 2021 debut. A multi-instrumentalist, he blends a funk infused feel with elements of reggae, hip hop and soul in this series of instrumentals and vocal tracks. Plenty of tasty guitar lines frame that smokey, laid-back, soulful sound that seems to permeate music from the Kapiti Coast. It must be something in the air up there…

Dreaming of the future again / Womb
Mark: The sophomore album from Womb is another slice of beautiful, warm, ethereal dreamy pop, full of layered strings and gentle melancholy. The immediate reverby sound of the album gives it an intimate ‘live in the studio’ feel. The beautiful vocals wash over you, but there’s a muscular tension at play beneath all the smooth dreaminess, a restrained intensity that underpins all the tracks.

Solar eclipse / Clear Path Ensemble
Mark: More jazz from Clear Path Ensemble, which is the jazz project of Cory Champion, who makes electronic music as Borrowed cs. ‘Solar Eclipse’ follows on from 2020s self-titled debut, and contributors include Daniel Hayles, Johnny Lawrence, Michelle Velvin and Ruby Solly, among others. Fully integrated electronics frame an atmospheric melodic groove fest that takes its launch off point from classic 70s fusion & ECM noodling. The jam-like pieces incorporate elements of ambient, experimental, house and funk, synthy hooks and moody soundscapes that all merge into a retro cosmic journey.

Break / Fazerdaze
Mark: Last year Fazerdaze (AKA Amelia Murray) returned with her first new music in 5 years. Burnt out after the success and touring following Morningside, writer’s block, anxiety, and the break up of a long-term relationship; she embarked on a long period of self-realisation and rediscovery. Returning to music with a new found freedom, she eschews a lot of the dreamy, fuzzy pop associated with previous work and delivers an EP of edgier tracks with bigger riffs and samples; it’s full of uncertainty and tension, but still distinctly melodic.

Wax///wane / Johnson, Lucien
Mark: The sound of critically acclaimed local saxophonist Lucien Johnson is a thread that weaves through many Wellington and international albums and projects. His sophomore album, inspired by the lunar cycles of the Southern hemisphere, has a lovely drifty feel. His shimmering saxophone lines are surrounded by the cascading, dreamy tones of vibraphonist John Bell and harpist Michelle Velvin. Searching in places, but always centred, this is a powerful take on the ‘spiritual jazz’ genre that easily stand alongside anything that has come before.

The blessed ghost / Voodoo Bloo
Mark: The sophomore album from this local post-punk outfit, helmed by Rory McDonald who gained a lot of attention with previous band Lucifer Gunne. Debut album, Jacobus, was a deeply personal reaction to the passing of a close friend, and while ‘The blessed ghost’ is less specific, it’s no less intense, presenting the cathartic journey of its fictional narrator. His voice really is massive, easily navigating between power and fragility, as the emotional tones of the album shift in turn with the various styles on display from post-punk, to indie and pop elements.

Hang low / Dawson, Elliott
Mark: The debut album from Doons lead singer Elliott Dawson. Full of programming, weird drums and grooves that the songs are shaped around, rather than the other way round. ‘CEO’ channels UK post-punk art-rock, with it’s squalling saxophones and in-your-face lyrics, but the rest of the album has a more considered, almost cinematic vibe, set to an often jarring mix of heavy sounds with smooth laid back jazz vibes. The juxtaposition of the pretty with the abrasive frames a series of character sketches that seem to revolve around the breaking of personal cycles of one sort or another.

Orbit I / Recitals
Mark: Recitals are a local 7 piece ‘supergroup’, consisting of members from the bands Fruit Juice Parade, Yukon Era, Soda Boyz, and Courtney Hate. Formerly known as Prison Choir, they released their debut single, ‘Tongue’, in 2020, and their debut album ‘Orbit I’ dropped last year. Vocals are mixed with unusual instrumentation – trumpet features prominently, as does cello – giving the album a unique sprawling feel. With the juxtaposition of heavy alt-rock indie elements, ethereal folk-pop, and new London jazz stylings; it pulls all the musical influences of the band together, delivering something different with its fusion of the chaotic and the calming.


CDs From The Vault – 2006: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of our ‘CDs from The Vault: 2006’ post. You can catch up with Part 1 here.

The eraser / Yorke, Thom
More depressing noodlings from Radiohead front man on the subjects of anxiety, paranoia, war, & the death of Dr. David Kelly in the spirit of the electronica of Kid A. Not as fleshed out as Radiohead tracks, leaving some of the tracks sounding like rough demos. Still it gives Yorke a chance to show how much of an instrument his voice can be. (Mark)

The trials of Van Occupanther / Midlake
The Texan band’s second album moves deeper into 1970s territory with this gorgeous collection of songs. Sweet harmonies, varied instrumentation and weird 19th century lyrics make it an exciting and rewarding listening. (Neil P.)

Highway companion / Petty, Tom
His first album since 2002’s patchy ‘The Last DJ’ and first solo album since 1994’s ‘Wildflowers’ sees a welcome return to form. Teaming with producer Jeff Lynne and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell he delivers a stripped down acoustic based set that is closer in style to 1989’s ‘Full Moon Fever’. Petty’s classic rock style was never groundbreaking, but on this effortless album he seems to know he’s no longer got anything left to prove, and the album is filled with the kind of melodic catchy guitar driven songs that no one seems to make anymore. (Mark)

Faust IV [2 CD] / Faust
The German band’s 1973 album is re-mastered and re-released with a bonus disc of Peel sessions and alternate takes. The sound is an improvement on the original release and the result is a collection of idiosyncratic pieces that make up what is truly one of the great albums of the seventies. (Neil P.)


Don’t you know who I think I was? : the best of The Replacements / Replacements
Anyone hearing The Replacements for the first time might just conclude that they sound like a lot of other bands, when the truth is that most other bands sound like The Replacements. For the first time a compilation gathers their work from indie & major labels, showcasing just how influential Paul Westerberg’s song-writing is. Their album ‘Let it be’ is regarded as one of the first grunge albums, & the song ‘Achin’ to be’ credited with heralding the whole Americana movement. An obvious influence on bands as diverse as Wilco, Nirvana, Green Day & Ryan Adams. Essential listening for any true ‘rock’ fan. (Mark)

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CDs From The Vault – 2006: Part 1

Our music review archives go back 20 years now. In that time various library staff members have reviewed a huge range of material, across every genre in our collection and, since we used to have multiple copies of titles, we still hold a lot of these items in out off-site storage facility.

Due to a catalogue upgrade the links from our old, archived HTML Music & Film web-pages no longer worked, so they became unavailable to browse some time ago. However, since from February 1st of this year we are running a one year trial where all CDs will be free to borrow, we thought it was a good time to go back and revisit some of these old reviews for a new series called ‘CDs From The Vault’.

Chaos and creation in the backyard / McCartney, Paul
Nothing shows how difficult the legacy of having been in a hugely influential band is than Paul McCartney’s solo career. From the uneven output of Wings in the 70s, to treacly pop duets in the 80s & coasting in the 90s, he made a renaissance in the late 1997 with ‘Flaming Pie, but it’s this low key effort with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich that equates to some of his best work. Low key, reflective, & intimate with McCartney playing nearly all the instruments himself, it’s reminiscent of his first solo effort ‘McCartney’ & nearly all of the songs could have easily appeared on any late period Beatles album. Well worth a look. (Mark)
Milo goes to college / Descendents
Fueled by “rejection, food, coffee, girls, fishing and food,” the Descendents sprang up during the halcyon days of the Los Angeles punk scene. This is their 2nd album from 1982, a 15-songs-in-22-minutes blast of adolescent angst, despair and joy. (Neil P.)



I am the cosmos / Bell, Chris
Co-founder of Big Star, one of the most influential cult bands in rock, the troubled Bell left that band after their first album (1972’s “#1 Record”) and spent the next 6 years struggling with depression & drifting in and out of music, before dying in a car accident late one night. Various tracks were recorded during this period, but the only thing released commercially was the single ‘I am the Cosmos’. 15 years after his death Rykodisc compiled all his unreleased demos into one album, a melodic & lyrically poignant masterpiece that only hinted at the depths of his talent. Highlights include the epic Badfinger-meets-Pink Floyd downer of the title track, the aching beautiful ‘You & your sister’ (which features Big Star bandmate Alex Chilton on backing vocals), the spiritual ‘Look up’, & ‘Speed of sound’. A lost classic. (Mark)

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CDs From The Vault – 2005: Part 2

Here is Part 2 of our ‘CDs from The Vault: 2005’ post. You can catch up with Part 1 here.

Somebody’s miracle / Phair, Liz
Indie-rock queen Liz Phair polarized fans with her self titled 2003 pop opus. Not just pop, it was teen-pop and collaborations with The Matrix left her sounding like Avril Lavigne’s newly divorced big sister. While some found it fun & refreshing, others found it a horrific sell-out. Her new album, a step back from that effort, heads straight into ‘adult contemporary’ territory. Now she wants to be Sheryl Crow, but the songs suffer from a polished overproduction which, while it suits artists like Crow, doesn’t really match up with Phair’s voice or lyrics. At least on some tracks she sounds like herself (‘Leap of innocence’, ‘Stars & planets’ & ‘Table for one’), but others just tend to merge into each other. Worth checking out though if you hated her last album. (Mark L.)

Dreaming wide awake / Wright, Lizz
This person can sing. She respects the words, and lets us hear them. Slight touch of Cassandra Wilson and Oleta Adams, but better. Mixed bunch of songs from old standards to her own creations. Interesting smooth arrangements of upbeat oldie ‘I’m Confessin”, Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’, and late 60s anthem of peace love & brotherhood etc., ‘Get Together’ that really work. Bill Frisell plays on 3 tracks. (Chris F.)

Careless love / Peyroux, Madeleine
Born in Georgia in 1975, raised in Paris, and sings in an easy, 30s swing style, often in French, with hints of Billie Holiday & Jolie Holland. Previous CD Got you on my mind was with multi-instrumentalist William Gallison, inventor of the Moonwatch. Excellent driving music for those who need soothing rather than winding up. (Chris F.) [New Deluxe Edition here]

Rock swings / Anka, Paul
Anka, a noted singer songwriter (for everyone from Buddy Holly to Sinatra & Tom Jones) reconfigures ‘contemporary standards’ to a swing context. What could have be an appalling gimmick for the most part works as Anka sounds totally committed to the idea and, together with his lead arranger, turns everything from Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ to Billy Idol’s ‘Eyes without a face’ into brassy swing anthems, or crooneresque ballads with surprising ease. Not everything works, as the subtlety of ‘Tears in Heaven’ is lost in the transfer, and ‘Smells like teen spirit’… well he may not have known who Kurt Cobain was but he sure belts the hell out of the song (though probably not in a good way). The rest is great though. Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s my life’ is delivered with a swagger that sounds like its taken straight from one of Sinatra’s 50s Capitol LPs, and who doesn’t want to hear a swing version of Van Halen’s ‘Jump’…(Mark L.)

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