Andrew McKenzie: The Edge of the World (Arch Hill)

 |   |  1 min read

Andrew McKenzie: The End of Summer
Andrew McKenzie: The Edge of the World (Arch Hill)

Andrew McKenzie is the singer-guitarist in the New Zealand band Grand Prix which has long delivered a very pointed kind of slightly snarling alt.country with a rock'n'roll heartbeat and a dark, unsettling edge.

For this album under his own name McKenzie (who plays almost everything from drums and bass to harmonica and sitar) mines some of that same rich vein, but also steps off into other possiblities.

He gets you in gently however with the rolling ballad Captain Cook which brings to mind Chris Bailey/The Saints in acoustic ballad mode (and again later in the lovely Soul Tsunami) as much as Dylan at his most rewarding in the early Seventies (something in the dragging of the vocals, the chiming electric guitar).

He then picks up the pace with the wry but bitter pop ("ba-ba-baba") of Happy Face before You're Wrong I'm Right which is an exciting, acerbic and taut psychedelic blues rocker with a sneer at "the new Puritans" and "holy pilgrims": "The world goes round the sun, you're wrong, maybe I'm right".

McKenzie keeps the edge of his world usefully blunt in that regard -- why pander to revisionists when you can nail them with a song this hard? -- and Internaut is an amalgam of Happy Face and You're Wrong ("Ba-ba-Baba" but with a twisting Oasis-like psychedelic grandeur).

Letter From Kabul is an urgent acoustic-driven country ballad about a love going into a personal warzone: it includes this great couplet "Well, we paid the wedding singer and we paid the wedding band, couldn't get them off the stand" then later about the marriage "like Muhammed and Jesus we ended up in a fight, both of us trying to what's right".

This is smart, engaging and often gripping stuff with reference points in country-rock Rolling Stones (Ginger Tom) and the dark Southern stuff of James McMurtry and Chris Whitley (The End of Summer) -- which are all excellent reference points.

This album was "recorded at home in Hawkes Bay" and I'm given to understand was perhaps the last album that the late Ian Morris mastered.

He must have taken great delight in its willingness to lean across the precipice.

 Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

Andrew Gladstone - Jan 31, 2011

Excellent review Graham. I thought I should also point out to your readers that while Andrew's album is not available in shops it is available for FREE via www.archhill.co.nz as a download.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Brian Wilson; Brian Wilson and Friends (BMG CD/DVD)

Brian Wilson; Brian Wilson and Friends (BMG CD/DVD)

There is certainly no shortage of Brian Wilson music about these days. We've had a couple of versions of SMiLE (including the excellent box set) and more recently the 50th anniversary reissue... > Read more

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Following Cash's Personal File: Bootleg Vol I -- and of course the Dylan bootleg series, Kris Kristofferson's Austin Sessions and demoes, George Jones' Great Lost Hits and various Willie Nelson... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER JARED HILL on the tainted legacy of Bob Marley

GUEST WRITER JARED HILL on the tainted legacy of Bob Marley

Of all the many historical figures in the 20th century regarded as forbearers of cultural revolution, Bob Marley is probably the most overlooked. While his unique brand of counterculture music... > Read more

Ubud, Bali: Sinking into luxury

Ubud, Bali: Sinking into luxury

The printed note on the bed in our room in Bali could not have been more polite. Tomorrow, it told us, would be a special day for Hindu people and the temple in the complex would be decorated... > Read more