Nightchoir: 24 Hours of Night (1157 Records)

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Nightchoir: Glass Tiger
Nightchoir: 24 Hours of Night (1157 Records)

Every May, being New Zealand Music Month, many dozens of albums arrive almost simultaneously -- over 40 in four weeks last year, which is kinda ridiculous -- so Elsewhere sifts judiciously (as best it can with that volume) and points to those which might fly beneath the radar.

Let's hope this one doesn't.

Nightchoir play what could loosely be described as indie rock, but this debut album is a much more delicate flower than that and is closer to alt.country (steel guitar, slow ballads) with a touch of Neil Finn's intuitive sense of melody. Maybe the latter comes from recordings in Finn's Roundhead studio -- although the players here have pedigree.

All played together in Pluto, with singer-songwriter Mike Hall being involved in the Brunettes at the pop end of the spectrum and Balance at the more nut-busting opposite end. In the course of recording -- and turning into a fully fledged band -- keyboard player Matthias Jordan brought his songs to the sessions.

The result is an album of melodically strong, alt.pop with a light colouring of country: Don't Want to Look is a dreamy, almost psychedelic ballad; R'n'R Star is not what the title suggests but a soft and subtle, piano and string ballad; Stranded is a soulful slow burner with humming organ and strings; Shelter of Your Heart owes more to Paul Simon than current pop-rock and opens with finger-picking folk guitar; elsewhere are hints of Beatles and the most melancholy, melodic Flying Nun songs of a couple of decades ago . . .

There are many, many New Zealand albums vying for attention right now. Let this one come through the pack.

It's a keeper. 

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Jeremy - Jun 11, 2010

Definitely a keeper - thanks! Strong songs driven by a love of melody - something too often lacking in NZ. And their closest reference point is surely Wilco - which is another plus in their favour of course!

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