new zealand music
The contents of this page relate to new zealand music.
Most New Zealand jazz is like the Kiwi: endangered, pokes around in the dark away from public gaze and doesn't take flight.
This year however is shaping up to be a good one: albums by Wellingtonians Kevin Clark and Charmaine Ford are both worth serious attention, and now a long overdue new album from Auckland saxophonist Brian Smith....
There is a growing genre of Pacific-influenced jazz: the Mamaku Project (see tag) has elements of it, and this album by the New Pacific Music Ensemble is another.
With saxophones and electric guitar alongside ukelele and log drums this has all the expansiveness of a jazz group but also the warm exoticism of island life.
Very hard to...
Wellington pianist/composer/arranger Clark won best jazz album of the year in 2003 with Once Upon Song I Flew, and again two years later with The Sandbar Sessions.
Clark is something of a rarity in New Zealand jazz, he has an internationalism about his music and thinnks nothing of incoprorating what we might call "global elements"...
This is an interesting one: originally released under the same title but in a different cover two years ago from the band lead by gifted young New Zealand pianist Aron Ottignon, it has now undergone a considerable reworking.
If you were one of the few who picked up on the early -- and lesser -- version you could actually get into this one...
Don't let the cheap cover put you off: this is a genuine slice of 70's-based jazz-fusion (with an overlay of contemporary world music and effects) by guitarist/composer Roy Venkataraman -- here as Buzz Bahdur -- whose CV boasts playing in Bob Marley's Wailers, on numerous television ads, appearing on Brooke Fraser's album What To Do With...
Even more New Zealand jazz. And different again.
Moon began her career in London more than a decade ago, moved to Australia (where as Caroline Lynn she won considerable media praise) and then came to New Zealand.
She is now married to saxophonist Roger Manins who appears here, along with pianist Kevin Field, guitarist-for-all-seasons Nigel...
In a recent conversation this German-born Auckland-based guitarist mentioned an album of his I had forgotten about: it was Kling-Klang (on Ode) and at a guess came from some time in the early-to-mid 90s.
His mention of it prompted me to get it out again because I had been very taken with it at the time.
It was Haeder in a variety of...
When the documentary about the life of Unity Pacific's singer-songwriter Tigi Ness made it to the small screen on Maori TV and the Film Festival many in the country had their introduction to a modest man and his remarkable life.
Now 52, Ness is something of late bloomer in making albums: his debut From Street to Sky (also the name of the...
About six years ago I first encountered Hamilton reggae band Katchafire playing in a pretty ropey provincial bar.
I'd met them backstage beforehand -- actually in a room full of beer barrels -- and I knew within minutes these guys could be huge.
They were genuinely nice people and had a repertoire of almost 200 songs -- mostly covers, and...
Young Auckland saxophonist McCallum -- son of singer Malcolm -- adopts exactly the approach he should for someone his age: he comes out of the post hip-hop/clubland culture and so is entirely at home with programmed beats, soul-funk clubland styles, and has been working with those who share a similar sensibility.
(He was in Relaxomatic...
While I understand the wide appeal of Fat Freddy's Drop -- a laidback distillation of reggae, soul and so forth -- it is too mellow for my taste.
Tahuna Breaks -- who also distill elements of soul and reggae but have an urgent rock attack too -- are much more my kind of thing.
Vocalist Marty Greentree often sings like his life depends on...
Rather than essay this second collection of Kiwi psychedelic songs from '67-'72 -- subtitled "Fantasies, Polka Dots and Flowers" -- why don't I just reproduce below the liner notes I wrote for it?..................
The exciting thing about this on-going series of psychedelic music from New Zealand in the late 60s and early 70s is...
It's odd that this album should be called "Presenting" given that Auckland-based guitarist Billy TK Jnr has been taking his brand of tough Texas blues around the bars and clubs of New Zealand (and to Texas) for about two decades.
Perhaps the reason he isn't a household name is that he has been known to take sabbaticals and go get...
As with the second volume in this excellent on-going and budget-priced series, I wrote the liner notes to this album and -- with the invaluable research and help of Grant Gillanders who once again chose the tracks and must be on the shortlist of an honour's list for services to Kiwi music -- I also wrote the profiles on the bands who...
Got to say when I went to school it was a big deal just to be in a band and the thought of making a record was beyond our comprehension -- which made Nooky Stott, drummer with Larry's Rebels, something of a distant (if slightly overweight) god to us.But times change (for the better) and these students from Auckland Grammar not only recorded, but...
Auckland jazz drummer Gibson has had a career that stretches back to the late 50s and he made his debut at age 8 on the stage at the Auckland Town Hall playing a duet with his drummer dad.
Since then he's played with everyone from Leo Sayer to Milt Jackson, and everywhere from Abbey Road and the Montreux Jazz Festival to some of the least...
Early in 2007 I would get calls from Frank Gibson, who some say is
arguably this country’s finest drummer. I would have thought that was beyond
Frank was asking what he could do, how he might capitalise on a
playing career that had taken him around the world, won him numerous awards and
the acclaim of musicians...
Credit Giles Smith’s hilarious Lost in Music if you will, but recently there has been a proliferation of stories about bands which, if not exactly losers, didn’t quite get a seat in the Business Class of Life alongside Bono.
Smith’s story of his time in the ill-fated 80s band Cleaners from Venus (“one man’s...
Every time I have played this track on radio it has had an immediate and favourable response: people want to know who the writer/reader is, and what else has she done.
Marsh has done a lot: she was the first person of Pacific descent to graduate with a PhD in English at the University of Auckland and is currently a lecturer/tutor in that...
To my horror recently, I realised it had been almost a quarter of a century since I first interviewed the LA-based expat jazz pianist Alan Broadbent. It was 1984 and he was briefly back in Auckland to play a show and record an album with New Zealand’s in-house rhythm section of drummer Frank Gibson and bassist Andy Brown.
At the time I...
The high-rise skyline shimmers in the summer heat beyond the faded iron roofs of Auckland's inner-city suburbs. Tigi Ness sits on the back porch of his Grey Lynn home, in the foreground a tended and productive garden, far beyond those gleaming towers of greed.At 47, Ness is the patriarch of Aotearoa reggae. A Rastafarian for 20 years, the years...
The journey takes less than an hour from downtown Auckland, but at its end you have stepped back in time.
Here the sounds of the 19th century fill the air: the rich swell of notes from a theatre organ made in New York in 1877, the wheeze of an accordion from the 1820s, the rinky-tink of an 1837 fold-away ship's piano ...
The Mamaku Project don't fit into simple boxes -- and that's a good thing. Their debut album Karekare found favour at Elsewhere for its blend of lazy South Pacific attitudes, the dub-influenced pop quality and its easy assimilation of French chanson and cafe/wine bar musics. This made for something unique -- and highly appealing -- in the...
Don't let the title fool you, this isn't some hipper-than-thou collection knocked off for a ready market of cool people.
Nope, what is here is a very classy and beautifully realised collection of listenable jazz which errs to the unfamiliar and is delivered by an excellent band under the eye of producer Nathan Haines.
Haines plays flute,...
New Zealand pop culture harbours few mysteries, but the disappearance of Sandy Edmonds on the cusp of the 70s is certainly one.
Before she vanished the striking, lens-engaging singer -- long honey-blonde hair, sensuous teen-sullen pout and wide-eyed dolly-bird expression -- had been dominant in the music scene since the mid-60s.
Auckland-based Pasifika poet Marsh has appeared before at Elsewhere and she's always welcome. Her poems are insightful, sometimes deliberately lacking in subtlety (because she can certainly do subtle) and always have something to say.
I believe -- I hope -- there is an album coming of her readings. Because here (as with Fast Talking PI...
About 45 minutes into the conversation in a noisy café just around the corner from Neil Finn’s studio where he recorded his new album Music For Cocktail Lovers, Nathan Haines mentions casually that this is his seventh album.
Murray Thom -- prime mover behind Music For Cocktail Lover and on whose label the album appears -- seems...
To hear guitarist/keyboard
player Sam Handley tell it, there was a magical moment when they knew: “That
first hit on the drum, it just sounded 10 times bigger than normal”.
In this suburban villa in
Kingsland, Auckland there are nods of recognition from the assembled members of An
Emerald City. They are talking about setting...
The title of this album might better be Together Again . . . At Last because it has been far too long since LA-based pianist/composer Alan Broadbent and bassist Putter Smith recorded with Auckland drummer Frank Gibson. (It might not seem that long because their Over the Fence album of 1990 was reissued on Ode two years ago.)
Neil Finn gives the impression he's happier than he has ever been. This year he's been around the country playing solo shows in small venues with contributions by ring-in local musicians, billing them as the Band of Strangers.
Soon he starts a five-night stand at the St James in Auckland with a guest list that includes Eddie Vedder from...
With the Australian success of the Footrot Flats film in the early Nineties, it made sense for Dave Dobbyn to relocate across the Tasman and ride the wave of popularity of the songs he wrote for it.
And in that great tradition of indifference Australians have shown New Zealand musicians -- more so then than today -- Dobbyn’s career...
The trio at the core of Pacific Curls made two "interesting" albums, but "interesting" is a word which suspends judgment. They didn't win me much, but most of this one certainly does and I'm starting to think that maybe only now I "get" what they are doing.
With the departure of Kaui, the remaining duo (Ora...
When this album came out in the mid-Seventies jazz-rock fusion was at its peak and many otherwise sensible jazz musicians were wooed to the dark side. Few came out with any dignity (they just didn't get "rock") but Dr Tree from Auckland nailed it directly at a point where they were most comfortable; more jazz than rock because they...
Martin Phillipps looks bad. His skin is pasty, he’s unshaven and his eyes look like an owls in an arc light. He’s been up for 24 hours and although it’s only lunchtime he’s going to hang out until the Iron Maiden concert that night. He’s tired ... though an 18-hour flight from the States does that to anyone. But...
Funny that people say how wild the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks album
was. Heard it lately? They sound like a pop band, albeit an angry one, and
musically didn't move too far from verse-chorus, like the young Beatles and the
Something similar applies with New Zealand's now legendary Toy
Love, the Chris Knox-fronted...
Saxophonist Greg Heath has been in London for two decades now, so you’d have to have a long memory to recall him alongside Rick Bryant in the early 80s as a member of The Neighbours – a band with a revolving door membership anyway.
In ‘84 Heath picked up a grant to study at the New South Wales Conservatorium (where another...
Long experience and years of disappointment have taught me that very few among this country’s more established jazz musicians listen to much beyond their own doorstep or record collection. Standards rule, okay?
Perhaps if you’d been at it for as long as these musicians -- with the so few rewards, financial or by way of public...
Tim Finn is one of New Zealand's most gifted songwriters. If his long catalogue sometimes lacks the easy pop-rock polish of those songs by his brother Neil (with whom he has frequently written and played) or the sentimentality of Dave Dobbyn's more recent output, that is only to say Tim has gone his own way.
From the idiosyncratic and...
“You know, I’d left school and had gone straight into playing in pubs,” laughs Auckland singer-songwriter Miriam Clancy. “I had no other training behind me. So it was either work in a café, or go and live at mum’s.”
Clancy laughs again as she remembers that difficult period a few years ago when she...
The first call catches Greg Johnson and his wife Kelli somewhere in the empty landscape of Texas heading for Shreveport, Louisiana with a fuel gauge hovering near “Empty”.
“We’re looking for gas at the moment,” he says slightly anxiously, and there follows a brief and fraught discussion in the front seat. They...
Jordan Reyne is one of New Zealand’s most challenging and innovative songwriters. Whether it be on albums under her own name or as Dr Kervorkian and the Suicide Machine, Reyne has pushed sonic and lyrical boundaries, pulled together electronica and acoustic instruments, explored noir-narratives and personal emotional states . . . and...
The view from Moana Maniapoto's Grey Lynn apartment is spectacular. Beyond huge
windows, which can be flung wide to offer the impression of floor-to-ceiling sky
is a vista across rooftops to the Waitemata Harbour beyond.
front door is a pile of kids' basketball boots - the carpets have just been
shampooed - and inside...
The music skitters off the disc as the Greek fiddle player takes to the tune at alarming speed, the notes slewing into each other.
The piece is Horos Serra, recorded for a 1973 collection, and it captivated Wellington composer Jack Body so much that he transcribed it. No mean feat, given the density and difficulty of the piece which lasts a...
HERBS, NEW ZEALAND'S POLITICISED REGGAE REVOLUTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME (2012): Hard tings an' times
When Herbs emerged at the start of the 1980s they were a very different band from the avuncular, mainstream entertainers they became.
The original five-piece was managed by the former president of the radical Polynesian Panthers, and the cover of their landmark EP Whats' Be Happen, released in July '81 during the Springbok tour, was an...
There's an old joke: if you want to make a million dollars out of jazz, start with two million.
Jazz is notoriously unprofitable for its performers and record companies (a decent selling jazz album in the US sells about 3000 copies, the days of 50,000 are long gone) and yet people still do it. Why?
Simple, because they love this music...
This will be brief because the original 2008 album (the third by this constantly working New Zealand reggae outfit) was reviewed at Elsewhere here, but just to note this expanded package now comes with extra tracks (two album tracks remixed and two live songs, one being Collie Herbsman off their debut album Revival, the other this album's title...
The purpose of books of lists - and the list of lists is growing by the day -- is probably two-fold: you get to look through and tick off what you've got/done/seen or whatever and make a note of other points of interest to see/collect/experience.
The second point is to argue with them: in your head you question the selections, howl in...
The guys in the young Auckland band Artisan Guns remind me it was four years ago that I first saw them, in this very same room -- the boardroom of EMI in Auckland where the harbour views can be so distracting.
When they played four years ago -- an acoustic set to maybe a dozen people on a beer-drinking Friday after work -- the room hushed...
The previous album, Pacifi Celta, by this increasingly interesting trio of singer, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Kim Halliday, singer/percussionist Ora Barlow and fiddle player Sarah Beattie lifted them right out of that special corner of te reo-cum-folk/women's music where they could have languished away from more mainstream attention....
If there were awards in local rock for candour beyond the call of
duty, then Graeme Downes, linchpin of the formative and formidable
Flying Nun band the Verlaines (1981-97), would be saying “Thank
you” at the podium more than most.
Always a straight shooter, Downes settles over lunch to chat about
the long overdue...
Quite why anyone thought there ever was a "Dunedin sound" is bewildering -- without even hearing a note of the music all you had to do was look at the cover of the famous "Dunedin double" album of mid '82 to see how each of the four bands -- the Stones, the Chills, Sneaky Feelings and the Verlaines -- thought of...
New Zealand has no great popular history of topical, political songs -- and the few that there are tend toward the humorous (My Old Man's An All Black with its reference to no Maori being allowed into South Africa in our representative rugby team during the apartheid era, or Click Go The Toll Gates about tolls on the newly constructed Auckland...
The old wooden Methodist church in a
side street in Patea isn’t used much anymore. A lot of places in
Patea aren't. It's a town battered by the economic ideas of
successive governments and people have had to move out.
The work just isn’t there anymore.
But at least once a week the cobwebs in
the church rafters shake when...
Bill Sevesi says he speaks three languages, but he actually speaks four. The three he will admit to are Tongan (he was born in Nuku'alofa almost 88 years ago), English which he learned when he came to Auckland at age 9, and Italian, picked up during World War II.
"I found out that making love to Italian girls was better than fighting...
It's widely known that Johnny Devlin was New Zealand's own Elvis Presley -- but unlike Elvis, Devlin wrote his own material.
Certainly he covered the hits of the day -- Hand Jive, Wild One, Bony Maronie and so on. But he also wrote some creditable originals like Hard to Get, High Heeled Shoes, Nervous Wreck and so on -- which all were firmly...
Many, many years ago Neil Finn told me
he believed bands, and he was referring to Split Enz at the time, had
a natural lifespan.
Some years after that – in 2001 when
he was well into a solo career with the album One Nil – I
asked him the question again, and specifically if he felt that about
His answer was...
Noel McKay had a drag act in New Zealand in the early Sixties (and lesserly so into the Seventies) but always walked both sides of the line.
He released albums in covers with him in drag but also had a series of EPs on the Viking label entitled Party Songs; For Adults Only which were directed at the straight audience.
Maaka McGregor has had a good day. In
Auckland for a week from his home in Titahi Bay and talking up the
Wai 100% album he has recorded with his partner Wai (aka Mina) Ripia,
he's just come from Mai FM.
His pitch met with a positive, if
unpublishably enthusiastic, response from programme director Manu
Taylor. A good day.
Dean Hapeta was the mainman in the Upper Hutt
Posse (which also included singer-songwriter Emma Paki), the group which recorded the first New Zealand rap
single E Tu in 1988. It was a powerful (if thin-sounding) statement of Maori anger and unashamedly used te reo (the Maori language) to strident effect. See lyrics below.
Hapeta - as Te...
Bassist (electric and acoustic), composer and arranger Atwill pulls together the cream of New Zealand jazz players (including Ron Samsom, Carolina Moon, Kevin Field and Kim Paterson) for this calling card of diversity recorded in London (which explains the presence of Greg Heath), Sydney, the States, Germany and New Zealand over the past five...
Wellington certainly throws up some interesting, if not always convincing, improvising artists who edge towards the free jazz idiom but rather hit a default position of swing-cum-Dixie with some slightly self-conscious moments.
This one -- recorded live in Happy and on the iiii label -- shows that the spirit of the old Braille label and...
Peter Cape was New Zealand's unofficial poet laureate in the days before television, when men were "jokers" and women were "sheilas" . . . and when you could afford to assume that "she'll be right". (ie no matter what happens, it'll be okay.)
Cape wrote and sang of awkward young men and women at a rural dance...
pulse of New Zealand jazz is difficult: just because there are
festivals (which rely on imported drawcards) and the annual Tauranga
event (a guaranteed core audience because of its youth band
competitions, and overseas guests) doesn’t mean the music is
wine’n’jazz events or vineyard concerts...
“I hear the Queen City callin' .
. . yeah, the whole place is rockin' . . . " -- Peter Lewis and the Trisonic,
Four City Rock,
Although Peter Lewis also noted the
Windy City, the Garden City and Dunedin (rhymes with “freezin' “)
in his classic celebration of New Zealand rock'n'roll...
It was Joni Mitchell who said it first
- and Counting Crows thought it bore repeating: "They paved
paradise and put up a parking lot."
It wasn't exactly paradise which
disappeared under the wrecking ball in Auckland city, but for rock fans
plenty of places that took them pretty close to heaven.
When it comes to knocking...
honest longtime observer of local jazz would say that right now it’s
moribund, the patient has no discernible pulse. Sure some musicians
would argue otherwise. But they would say that, wouldn’t they?
like me -- people engaged by local jazz and improv.music for over
three decades, and aware of the decades...
In the introduction to Stranded in
Paradise, his 1987 survey of New Zealand rock'n'roll from 1955,
John Dix addressed the question he had been constantly asked, “What's
happening with the book, Dix?”
Doubtless Chris Bourke – a former Rip
It Up editor, longtime music writer and author of the Crowded
The title song/opener here is
appropriate: for most of the past decade this hard-working band have
been playing everywhere from small town bars and main centres around
New Zealand to “London, Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii, Vegas, Cali, LA
. . .” and more, which they tick off on the promise of “Fire
layin' it down” in...
Lou and Simon (Lou Clauson and Simon Meihana) were one of the most popular and entertaining groups of the early Sixties. Like the Flight of the Conchords they were a kind of folk-comedy duo and very adept at parodies.
The other side of this single is a medley which pokes fun at Les Andrews' then-current song Click Go the Tollgates (itself a...
This new album on the immaculately presented and recorded Rattle Jazz imprint proves again there is a depth of New Zealand jazz talent to be encouraged and taken to a wider audience.
Helmed by drummer Bradley -- with a core group of Roger Manins on brusque and/or melodic tenor, keyboardist Miles Crayford and Mostyn Cole on bass -- this...
It's been far too long between albums for Wellington blues-rocker Watson -- frontman-guitarist for Chicago Smokeshop, later simply Smokeshop -- because his excellent South Pacific Soul album (under his own name) was five years ago.
In some ways Watson has mellowed, inasmuch as the vocals and guitar work here are taut as if the passions are...
At a recent Paul Weller gig at the Powerstation -- me with a wide smile, it was thrilling -- I was reminded again just how many great concerts it has been my pleasure to have been at, and the collective power of music to bring people together for a shared experience.
There are many of us who count milestones in our lives which have a great...
Alongside Alan Broadbent, Mike Nock has been New Zealand's most successful and visible jazz export. Like composer/pianist and Grammy-magnet Broadbent, Nock was lost to the country early.
Both men won Downbeat scholarships to Berklee and were there before they were 21, Broadbent having played the clubs of Auckland and Nock by a rather more...
This quite exceptional double disc by New Zealand-born pianist/composer Nock arrives with the advantage of great timing: Norman Meehan's fine biography of Nock, Serious Fun, has just been published (see Elsewhere review here) on the occasion of Nock's 70th birthday.
Well, age shall not weary him as the first, exquisite and commanding disc...
Two things I remember clearly about
Ticket: their hair was long and their songs were even longer.
And back in the early 70s those were
two very good things indeed.
In truth I don't remember much else –
definitely not the names of the long gone Auckland clubs I saw them at – but
they were at that Elton John show at Western...
It was a good idea at the time which turned into an even better one: follow the story of band playing its first public gig from their rehearsal room to that moment under the lights . . . or in this case on the grubby "stage" at the Rising Sun Hotel in Auckland.
And by sheer chance -- and I cannot remember who suggested This...
The reissue of some early Seventies recordings by New Zealand folk-blues singer-songwriter Thompson allowed us to hear again one of the great lost musicians of that era.
Thompson's broad spectrum folk style in that period incorporated Indian music influences and black rural blues -- but later on he also delivered a fairly droll line in...
Sharon O’Neill laughs loud and often
about her current profile in Australia, and admits that as a live
performer it is low.
”I’d be lucky if I could half-fill
the Rooty Hills RSL!” she hoots. “It’d be more like the Brass
Monkey down the road -- but that’s what everybody does. Dragon do
Every now and again New Zealand throws up a group which has a jazz/improv aspect but looks to diverse world music for influences. Elsewhere has posted albums by Superbrew from the Eighties and, from the past decade, releases by the Mamaku Project.
The prog art-rock band An Emerald City also incorporate elements from Middle Eastern-and-beyond...
Celebrating its 10th anniversary under the appealing banner "Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys!", the Auckland-based label Monkey Records is offering more than a dozen albums, a few EPs and some of its compilations at enticingly low prices (CDs are $15, EPs $10, the CD/DVD collection Monkey Magic Vol II at $20)
Elsewhere has a soft spot in...
Although this enchanting album -- songs of the Sephardic Jews of Spain -- might seem a departure for Wellington-based jazz singer Carolina Moon, she has previously explored what we might call world music, although never with this depth and resonance.
These glorious songs -- intimate, yearning, emotional -- come from centuries ago but are...
If it's true, as I am told, this album went to number one on the New Zealand charts it confirms two things: in this part of the Pacific we love them familiar summertime reggae grooves; and also that we have an indiscriminate love of them familar summertime reggae grooves to the point of ignoring the obvious.
The obvious here is that House of...
Although the names up top -- drummer Ron Samsom, guitarist Dixon Nacey and bassist Kevin Haines -- suggest a spare, piano-less trio, the guests here include guitarist Joel Haines, pianist Kevin Field, singer Chris Melville, Neville Grenfell on fluegelhorn and saxophonist Roger Manins.
And these players must have waited all their lives for a...
We all have musical moments
written into our autobiographies. The emblems afterwards -- the
album, concert ticket or scar beneath the eye -- are inadequate to
convey the emotion you experienced, whether it was when Tina Turner
belted out your favourite-ever song to you personally (and 35,000
others), or when you got nailed at Zwines in...
After John Psathas won best classical
album of 1999 at the New Zealand Music Awards in March, nothing
No arts writers called wanting to
profile this prolific composer, sales of the album Rhythm Spike on
the independent Rattle label didn't jump, and no critics decided to
belatedly acknowledge this exceptional album which, on...
It seems entirely fitting that the final piece on New Zealand composer John Psathas' new album Helix should be dedicated to Jack Body, a composer like Psathas who has always looked outward as much as inward for his inspiration.
Body has found source material in Indonesia and in his tribute Waiting:Still, Psathas pairs the spare piano figures...
New Zealand may not have much of a lineage of purely politcal rock music, but there has always been a strong thread of social dissent. Punks certainly didn't invent songs about boring people living in the suburbs (there were dozens in the psychedelic era of course) and any number of mid-Sixties bands stood in opposition to whatever normal life...
Outside of folk songs (eg this droll one), New Zealand has had no great history of name-checking local places in rock music.
But back in 1959 Jack Urlwin of the Christchurch label Peak scribbled down some words and handed them to young singer Peter Lewis and his guitarist Pat Nihonihoni. The scribble didn't have a title but they were words...
Despite the decline in music sales, anyone starting a record company today has it relatively easy when considering what James Moss was up against when he launched his label in early 1975.
CD technology -- cheaper to produce than vinyl -- was still more than five years in the future, labels were reliant on snail-mail postage, telephones were...
Yet another fine addition to the Rattle Jazz imprint, this beautifully packaged album by Canadian-born, New Zealand-based trumpeter Lisik (and others) explores that profitable margin between chamber jazz and classical music.
And in that he has unimpeachable assistance; Amy Rempel is on piano and her improvisations are at the heart here, bass...
History, according to Napoleon (among others), is written by the winners. True in one sense. But if the losers are still out there they are often so forgetful of their history as to be worthless and absent witnesses. Many buy into the narrative of the winners whom you might have thought would be their adversary.
Take the New Zealand reggae...
Writing parody songs is harder than it seems -- one Neil Young is possible but then try for Neil Diamond, the Bee Gees, Hendrix etc. Yet the Flight of the Conchords accomplish it with what seems an effortlessness, which just shows how smart they are.
This album was given a major review at Elsewhere on release (here) so we needn't go over the...
It is a sad reflection on New Zealand's counter-culture that at the height of the war in Vietnam there were so few songs addressing the most important international event of that generation. Maybe because there was no conscription in New Zealand, but the musicians of the day were almost mute in their response to the war.
And oddly enough the...
Hollie Fullbrook – who performs as
Tiny Ruins – laughs with slight embarrassment, tells of how she
came to her stage name and asks I not mention it because it sounds
It doesn't actually – unless you
think mentioning Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea and the forties
singer/band leader Tiny Bradshaw in the same...
In a remarkably short period in the mid 80s, maybe 18 months, Wellington’s Braille label released a swag of albums -- I have eight, there may have been more -- which were nominally “left-field improv”. There was a bit of free jazz, some faux-Dixieland and assaults on jazz standards, and too many unmemorable originals which...
The idiosyncratic Peter Cape (1926-79) has appeared at Elsewhere's From the Vaults previously, with his Kiwi vernacular classic She'll Be Right (here).
He wrote about things that ordinary jokers and sheilas could understand and were interested in: rural life, the All Blacks, the train on the Main Trunk Line (and the food), trams, beer and...
It’s a common occurrence: just when popular music has got up a head of steam, some supportive critical consensus, and is charging off in a particular direction along comes something which, by going the opposite way, captures the imagination.
At the height of Day-Glo acid-dropping hippiedom along came the Velvet Underground in all their...
Back in the mid Sixties Auckland’s Fair Sect Plus One -- originally an all-girl band called the Fair Sect who adopted the new name with the arrival of their male drummer -- released a terrific single with a raging bagpipe solo. At least I think it was terrific, I can’t say for certain.
I only heard it once -- on a transistor...
Not a lot is known about New Zealand's Pictones out of Levin, an instrumental group who delivered a nice line in country'n'western rock'n'roll on their 1961 single Pistol Packin' Mama which opened with galloping hooves, a whip cracking and a whinny. (The flipside of which was My Bonnie, recorded around the same time as the Beatles did it in...
From Loxene Golden Disc Award albums in the 60s through the Class of 81 and the Dunedin Double (82), and the South Auckland Proud collection of 94, the breadth and texture of Kiwi music has often been represented on compilations. And, on reflection, those mentioned also defined their period.
The Sideways collection of electronica,...
A little clarifying chronology here might be useful when teasing out the threads of this Auckland jazz group.
As I recall their debut album The Politiks of Jazz (just credited to Fuse Box) arrived in about 2000 and the group consisted of keyboard player Lindsay Wakem (who composed eight of the 10 tracks), guitarist Frans Huysmans, drummer...
Today -- Friday July 22, 2011 -- being New Zeaand National Poetry Day it seems only right we should acknowledge it.
It would be easy to go to the collection Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance for some Very Serious Poetics or link back to our particular favourite Selina Tusitala Marsh, but this being Elsewhere -- the place where...
Chants R&B, who styled themselves
"soul agents for r'n'b," were a raucous four-piece from Christchurch, New Zealand who would seem to have been in cultural isolation from r'n'b rock of the mid Sixties by them being at the bottom of the bottom island at the bottom of the world.
But Christchurch had an American airforce base and...
If Pixie Williams had done nothing else, she would still be in the history books for what happened on October 3, 1948 when she turned up at a makeshift recording studio in Wellington, New Zealand, still wearing her hockey uniform.
On that day she sang with the Ruru Karaitiana Quintette on Ruru's Blue Smoke, the first song to be written,...
In Berlin it's 8.15am so a yawning
Hollie Smith is forgivably vague about where her friends Electric
Wire Hustle played last night. And she is also on holiday, despite
having a new album Band of Brothers Vol 1 – with Mara TK of EWH –
released back home.
“I did talk last year of moving over
here for a lot longer,”...
There are a number of big and ambitious books about New Zealand popular music (like Chris Bourke's Blue Smoke and John Dix's Stranded in Paradise) and then there are others which are smaller and more focused in their subject matter, like Roger Watkins' When Rock Got Rolling: The Wellington Scene 1958-70.
But this book about music in...
The late Hirini Melbourne, who died of
cancer in January '03 aged 53, opened a window on the past which has
allowed others to see a future. Through his work with fellow
musicologist Richard Nunns, Melbourne -- of Tuhoe and Ngati Kahungunu
descent -- brought traditional Maori instruments back into the
spotlight through performance, teaching...
Even producer Steve Garden, one of the prime movers behind Auckland's Rattle label, finds it hard to believe it has been 20 years since their first releases.
Now with a catalogue of over 30 albums -- which includes those on their Rattle Jazz imprint -- Rattle is a significant player in New Zealand's musical landscape.
It has recently...
Mareko is seated at one end of a
stacked table in Dawnraid's South Auckland office. Piled high on the
other end are boxes of T-shirts emblazoned with his name and that of
his debut album, White Sunday.
During a wide-ranging conversation,
Mareko - aka Mark Sagapolutele - laughs about how much mileage he's
been getting in the media...
Those who like a good mash-up won't want to go past this collection by New Zealand producer Chris Macro, formerly of the excellent but short-lived Dubious Brothers (just one album, the excellent Trade Secrets of 2002).
Here -- as the title implies -- are implosions which include Ol' Dirty Bastard and Dawn Penn, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, the great...
You know how it's supposed to be in
hip-hop - the artists are kinda surly and mean, there's usually
something about the struggle of "my people", some
unspecified and unfiltered rage. That's how it's supposed to be: guys
in beanies with a bad attitude, sistas glaring at you from behind
But it isn't like...
Fortunately, Paddy Free and Mike
Hodgson, who are Pitch Black, get the joke behind the question: why
is it so many electronica artists like themselves live in the bush or
by the ocean, and are inspired by all that nature out there?
happened to nightclubbing and staying up until dawn?
Free, who lives at Piha and calls...
If you are 20, jeez even if you are 30,
the great days of Flying Nun -- that thrilling period between the
Clean's rallying cry-cum-single Tally Ho in '81 and, say,
Martin Phillipps announcing the end of the Chills on-stage in America
in '92 to the surprise of his bandmates – is not something you
Not for you the...
New Zealand keyboard player Alan Brown -- who has previously been in Blue Train and is currently in the Grand Central Band -- is on record saying that rather than writing a jazz album he wanted all his influences, classical to electronica and rock, to find their voice with his quartet for this release.
And with saxophonist Nathan Haines...
Right now in New Zealand it is the run-up to the election and -- unlike in what some of like to call "the old days" -- none of the main parties seem to have a high-profile election song.
There was always something pleasing about those sentimental, patriotic and reductive songs of yesteryear which played while the party leader posed...
While it is admirable that jazz musicians put out their own albums (especially in New Zealand where the market is small), it is even more so that any start-up label -- especially in New Zealand -- would firmly get behind an art form which has an audience which redefines the word "minority".
Rattle -- not a start-up label since it...
Subtitled "Adventures in Food and Music", this substantial book is of reminiscences and vegetarian recipes gathered on a two month European tour by New Zealand singer-songwriter Flip Grater, and it follows her previous smilar volume of journeys playing and eating her way around New Zealand . . . playing and eating delicately we might...
As with the Rattle album Ancient Astronaut Theory by Dave Lisik (interviewed here) and Richard Nunns, I was invited to write the liner notes for this release on Rattle's jazz imprint.
I was such a fine album, how could I refuse? So here is an expanded version of what appeared in the handsome CD sleeve . . .
“Jazz and freedom go...
Perhaps because it is a challengingly naked form, there has not been a great tradition in New Zealand jazz for duet recordings. In fact the only one that immediately springs to mind is Open Door by Frank Gibson and Mike Nock, and that was released in 1987.
Open Door had some small advantage in the genre in that Gibson is a drummer so the...
Lightning sears the walls, neon tubes
dance along the screen, mobile tie-dye patterns hover in the mist.
And all the while, pulsing, ever-changing electronic music triggers
the images, ebbs and flows, and engages the ear as the visuals
entrance the eye.
Welcome to the world of Pitch Black,
where light and sound collude to infiltrate the...
Listening to this multiculti outfit
from Auckland qualifies you for frequent flyer points: the line-up
has musicians from Dutch, Kiwi, Israeli, Indian and French
backgrounds; and the instrumental artillery on display includes
sitar, saxophone, didgeridoo, guitar, flute and double bass. All of
which could make for an unworkable implosion of...
In the late Nineties, this song by Moana Maniapoto with her band the Moahunters was the Grand Jury Prize Winner in the International Songwriting Competition. It beat out over 11,000 other entries -- and, without hearing any of the others, we might say "rightly so".
It is a remarkable piece, not just in its low and powerful delivery...
For an album which swing as much as it edges towards fluid bop, this outing by guitarist Al Campbell, drummer John Rae and bassist Paul Dyne, teases you into it with the opener, Rae's rhythmical stop-start Just Me Just Me, during which you are never quite sure where it is headed.
Campbell's guitar hits a repeated figure, then bends notes...
Too many New Zealand reggae bands, once they have got the rhythm and melody down, rarely have much to say lyrically which doesn't default to soft notions about home and family, or a bunch of tick-the-box Rasta cliches about Babylon and Jah.
It is as if the political contract which was outlined by Bob Marley (and on home turf, very early...
In many countries, what Colin Hemmingsen has done all his life would not be considerd so unusual. But in New Zealand he has been a rarity, a musician who has had successful careers in both classical music and jazz.
Hemmingsen was for many years the principal bassoonist in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra but also worked extensively playing...
Of the many New Zealand albums long overdue for a reissue, the sole album by the acoustic quartet Waves is among the most worthy.
The band of Michael Matthew, Kevin Wildman, Graeme Gash and David Marshall were straight out of the post-Crosby Stills and Nash school of close harmony singing, acoustic guitars and some pointed electric playing...
With Leonard Cohen much on our mind again with his new album Old Ideas, it was time to go to the vaults to find this version of his classic, as done by New Zealand's Straijacket Fits.
This treatment appeared on their Hail album (and was on the flipside of the Hail 12"), and was the line-up which many considered the most musically...
February 6 has always been an important date in New Zealand's short history. On that day in 1840 a treaty was signed at Waitangi between the indigenous Maori people and the British crown.
Over the many decades since, the Treaty of Waitangi has been a discussion point and Waitangi Day -- a national holiday -- was, especially in the fractious...
Some years ago while researching and writing the liner notes to a series of New Zealand psychedelic collections put together by Grant Gillanders, I came upon this track . . . and just kept playing it.
In '68, the Music Convention seemed trapped between two eras, the surf-rock guitar of the early Sixties and the psychedelic movement with its...
Auckland jazz keyboard player Kevin
Field has had a couple of major turning points in his career. One came
when, at age 18, he realised he didn't want to pursue his classical
piano studies to their logical conclusion, the other was more
“Headlights coming towards me, that
In 2008, Field's car was...
Behind all the big names on the Flying Nun label -- the Bats, Chills, Verlaines, Chris Knox et al -- were a large number of artists who made fleeting flights, but don't deserve to be forgotten.
Those who were there at the time hold special affection for the likes of Fatal Jelly Space, Marie and the Atom, Lee Harvey, the here'n'gone Stephen...
We see time contracted so often in our lives -- soap operas telescoping weeks into minutes, sports events distiiled down to highlight packages -- that it is sometimes hard to accept the longer natural rhythms of days and tides.
But exploring time, especially in relation to the natural landscape, is the province of Christchurch artist John...
Doug Jerebine sounds both amused and
detached about the fact that two days in a London recording studio
some 42 years ago have now thrown him into the spotlight.
At 67, and with almost four decades in the Krsna movement as a teacher and respected translator between those two days and now, he hardy sounds like the long-haired...
Unless you happened to be in Dunedin at the time, the late Eighties Flying Nun trio Stephen -- guitarist David Kilgour (Clean etc), baasist Alf Danielson (Goblin Mix) and drummer Geoff Hoani -- seemed to last little longer than their EP Dumb (which was about 13 minutes).
There was, as far as I am aware, just the EP Dumb (six songs) and . . ....
Although they had a band name which wouldn't have disgraced a prog-rock outfit of the Seventies, Auckland's Fatal Jelly Space were rather far removed from lengthy noodling.
They were an all-woman five-piece co-fronted by the wonderful Frankie who -- although tattooed and with a shaven head -- was far from a ferocious personality off-stage....
Thanks to the enthusiasm of former member Peter McLennan, Auckland band Hallelujah Picassos -- once a fixture on the New Zealand music scene in the late Eighties to mid Nineties -- are being given their dues through a series of reissues.
First out of the blocks was the compilation disc Rewind The Hateman (reviewed here) and now there is an...
At the launch of this classy album recently, the graphic designer Andrew B White -- who had done the cover for both this and Kevin Field's Field of Vision -- made an interesting aside.
He noted that Haines' new album -- all acoustic -- sounded more like Field's previous one Irony, and that Field of Vision -- with electronic keyboards and...
Since the cheaply printed posters reading "Toy Love, live at the Gluepot Sat 21st April" started appearing on walls and lamp posts around central Auckland, I have had to answer a few questions.
People say things like, "So Toy Love are playing the Gluepot, huh?"
Without being condescending I have to point out the...
Recorded live in concert in 1962, these two tracks by the enormously popular Howard Morrison Quartet show just how little things have changed in New Zealand, and how much they have.
The reference to Aunt Daisy in Rioting in Wellington won't mean much to anyone who wasn't there, but it is a reference to a radio star making the move to...
As the Warratahs embark on a 25th anniversary tour, it is timely to look back at this New Zealand band which brought country music into fashionable rock circles, and connected with that mysterious place known to city folk only as "the heartland".
But why not look back further?
Back to a band which had future Warratahs'...
Ten days out from Christmas and little
more than a fortnight before the 2012 Sydney Festival opening night
and director Lindy Hume seems almost unnaturally relaxed.
been the massage, she laughs.
At this point, aside from the usual
crises which hit at the last minute, she admits there isn't a lot she
can do but let things...
New Zealand's short-lived but impressive Red Hot Peppers in the Seventies revolved around multi-instrumentalist Robbie Laven (originally from Holland) and singer-guitarist Marion Arts.
Laven was quite a musical threat, he could apparently play about 50 instruments and on their debut album Toujours Yours he plays guitars, sitar, fiddle, lyre,...
In the late Seventies, Golden Harvest from Morrinsville were briefly riding a wave of success. Their song I Need Your Love (see clip below) had been a huge hit and won them single of the year, and their self-titled debut album -- recorded at Stebbings by Rob Aickin with Ian Morris engineering -- delivered on their promise.
With the exception...
Venezuelan singer and songwriter Zea must be thanking the gods that in 1994 she saw The Piano . . . and was so seduced by the New Zealand landscape she decided to move here. And that she brought with her a background of various musical styles picked up on home turf, American soul from the radio and time in Detroit, chanson in Paris, Brazilian...
When Nigel Beckford of Wellington got in touch two years ago about the album by the band Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga, he opened a door into a very strange and wonderful world.
That album Songs From the Bottom of a Hilltop went into our Best of Elsewhere 2010 list and has, as expected, become a collector's item. There were only 400...
Unless you actually know Andrew Brough, he is one of the great lost figures in recent New Zealand rock.
One of the songwriters in Straitjacket Fits alongside Shayne Carter, he jumped/was pushed in 1992 after their second album Melt and briefly re-emerged in the mid Nineties when he seemed to get the wind behind him with Bike which became a...
Quite why the Pictones would record an
instrumental enticingly titled Hashish back in '62 has long
fascinated those who explore the less traveled paths of New Zealand
But when Elsewhere posted the track and
opened up speculation (here), the answer was almost immediate. Dave
Clarke the guitarist from the band – now 71...
Singer and songwriter Jennifer Zea is
quite a colourful flower in the landscape of New Zealand music. The
Venezuelan-born singer and songwriter has impressed in live
performances for her vigorous and vital enthusiasm, and her album The
Latin Soul – produced by Nathan Haines and reviewed here –
captures her melange of styles,...
If any opera can successfully be
relocated into our own time it is Verdi's grand sweep through
corruption, avarice, lust, power play and venality that is Rigoletto.
Here are familiar elements of
contemporary political life played out in broad sweeps, and so it was
entirely apt the New Zealand Opera production should be located in a...
The words have written themselves into
the history of great New Zealand phrases in the same way as Peter
Jones' comment after the 1956 Springbok test, or prime minister Jim
Bolger's dismissive words about pollsters after the general
election in 1993.
For those those who were there on the
night though, Peter Young's first words through...
The late Sir Howard Morrison was a complex character. He was a master of self-placement in the public domain (at Michael Jackson's side when the singer visited) and although some skewered him for snuggling up to politicians and dignitaries, he was also a populist and popular figure, and someone who throughout his life quietly -- and sometimes...
New Zealand's Mr Lee Grant enjoyed a short but high profile career in the late Sixties on the back of his big voice (and distinctive hairstyle which was very Mary Quant).
But Grant's voice wasn't big and rounded like his peers Tom Jones, PJ Proby, Englebert Humperdink etc, and nor did he have an emotional range like Scott Walker or Roy...
Posting a From the Vaults song off the Waves album of 1975 (here) was almost more trouble than it was worth. There was so much off-line (ie. e-mail) traffic along the lines of, "Loved that album, why isn't it on CD?") that I even formulated a standard reply.
It went along the lines of "Thanks for your interest, but I don't...
Occasionally at the Herald, when I had written something about a Sixties rock band in New Zealand or a story about clubs of that era, one of the subs Trevor would come over for a chat. He was a man of few words most of the time but in these instances he'd have some wry observation or tightly delivered anecdote which made it clear he had been...
For those with a long memory, Wellington's Rochelle Vinsen is but a footnote in New Zealand pop history, the girl who gained some minor attention with My Boyfriend's Got a Beatle haircut in early '64 and . . .
Hmmm. That might be about it?
In fact, she also recorded with Christchurch's rocking Castaways and on this B-side displays some...
Auckland trumpeter Kim Paterson has been around for perhaps as long as most jazz listeners can recall but has been poorly represented on albums under his own name. In fact I'm scratching to think of even one . . . although he was on albums by such important groups as Dr Tree, Space Case and Jazzmobile of which he was a key member, and more...
Eden Mulholland has been busy recently, but often “busy” doesn't
translate into success for musicians. However with his broad
portfolio and diverse interests – from composition for contemporary
dance to pop-rock with the band Motocade and into commercial work for
advertisement and corporate clients –...
While I'm sure the three members of Auckland band Thieves wouldn't claim to be reinventing the rock genre (or would hope they wouldn't), on this six-song EP -- their second I believe -- they do manage to make an interesting impact in throbbing and moody widescreen rock, notably on Sudafed which delivers a real cineramic wallop.
Half a century ago, in that monochrome
world before the Beatles – before even Coronation Street screened
on New Zealand television -- guitarist Peter Posa from Henderson rode
a wave of local popularity with his single Wheels.
As was the custom of the day, he'd adapted an already established hit
– by the String-A-Longs out of...
Unlike so many young bands who leap quickly onto record, this Auckland band (once described as "young" but now "mature" might better) have progressed slowly and steadily towards this debut album after two fine EPs.
Elsewhere caught up with them way back (see here) after being impressed by a live performance in a record...
Some albums come with lyrics sheets which you think must be embarrassing for the "songwriter". Not so Aucklander Greg Fleming whose lyrics are so economic that as you listen you can picture the scenarios and characters.
Yet look at the printed words and you realise how refined and crisp they are, and have left huge gaps where...
The problem with any Ray Woolf compilation -- a man who has been in the New Zealand entertainment game for 50 years -- is even if it narrows the focus to just his first decade as this does, is: What agenda does it serve?
Even in that decade -- in fact more so, given the tectonic shifts of taste and styles in the Sixties -- Woolf was moving...
Although New Zealand has a comparatively short history of original and indigenous music (outside of waiata, of course), there has also been a significant tradition of experiment in sound, which in one direction we might date back to Douglas Lilburn's work in the mid-Sixties when he founded Victoria University's electronic studio.
As a genre, Pacific Soul has some very credible ancestors, not the least being Grace (who seem largely forgotten these days) and the funk-influenced Ardijah.
Each generation will bring what they will to the encompassing style and so this trio -- Baz Suamili of Niuean heritage, Fijian percussionist Levani Vosasi and Lebanese-Kiwi producer...
In his liner notes to this important reissue from Flying Nun, Bruce Russell makes the point that this collection has not only historical significance -- the Pin Group's Ambivalence was the first single on the fledgling Flying Nun label in '81 and ushered in a whole genre of underground New Zealand rock -- but that musically they exemplified a...
Courageous and/or foolhardy is a furious post-punk bassist and guitaring duo (with a pneumatic drill drum machine, buzz-shred guitar chords) which would name itself after a Thelonious Monk tune.
That seems designed to incur wrath and condemnation, but fortunately jazz aficionados are not going to venture into this world of bruising but white...
The mythology and facts surrounding
Hello Sailor as the Famously Dissolute Ponsonby Rock Band of the Seventies
probably does them a disservice these days.
They long since ceased to
be that band and those people. And while they've been an occasional
working band they haven't been represented by albums which means this
new one –...
When Wellington musician Daniel Boobyer sent an e-mail to Elsewhere asking our interest in his forthcoming album the reply was quick. I said he had me at "vinyl".
Yes, Boobyer has released this album on limited edition vinyl -- damn fine sound too, I have to say -- but he thoughtfully includes a free download code so you can also...
As so much New Zealand music -- especially what was once called "alternative" -- gets codified for radio play and aims for a middle ground, the Muzai label out of Auckland (with a slogan "independent fighting spirit") has provided some exciting, unpredictable and genuinely alternative listening.
In recent times Elsewhere...
Among the encouraging signs in New Zealand music at present -- the counter argument to all the pop which seems aimed more at radio programmers and funding money than coming from the heart -- is that some bands are moving past reggae as their default position.
The ubiquity of reggae (and its cousins dub and ska) has meant it has become the...
Singer-songwriter Plum Green has a good back-story. Apparently "the daughter of a jazz-singing Parisian showgirl and a saxophone-playing Jewish intellectual" and born in an East London squat her parents broke into.
She also has a good back tattoo which, if like her back story is real, we hope she doesn't live to regret.
This unnecessarily expansive collection -- two discs, 53 songs and doubtless a tie-in to the autobiography -- confirms a few things about the big voiced singer.
That he could really belt out pop hits in his early days (Girl Girl Girl from '67 puts him on equal footing with the great PJ Proby); that as he tried to find a style he was very...
Danny McCrum is one of those Kiwi pop-rock journeymen whose albums seem to go largely ignored by the mainstream print media (they have been reviewed at Elsewhere, see here) and probably even by radio.
Pity on the radio end of thing, because every album seems to have at least two songs which sound ideally suited for being belted out on a...
Anyone still wondering why all the fuss over thirtysomething years gone Toy Love -- the legacy award induction, double albums on vinyl, one of which has been the first New Zealand vinyl album to chart in decades -- need only tune in for this collection of video clips (Bride of Frankenstein animated by Joe Wylie), live footage which is manic in...
Going to flip all the cards here and say that much as I like some kinds of hard rock and metal, I originally thought Auckland's Jackal probably weren't going to be my band.
Dense, nail-gun riffery and hammered-down drumming I like and they deliver that early up with Rivet Head . . . but on this, their third album, they stretch into areas...
New Zealand singer-songwriter Tim Walker has already done the business before this, his debut album: the opener here Lullabies and Maybe Baby right at the end won him the Musicoz International Artist of the Year award earlier this year and more recently he has supported Greg Johnson on his Small Towns and Ball Gowns tour.
Although critics and commentators will inevitably, and rightly, point out the influence of Amy Winehouse in a couple of place on this, Aaradhna's third album, that doesn't change the fact that this is undeniably one of the best New Zealand albums of the year.
Okay, it's a bit too long at 17 tracks (it is bookended by the title track) but for...
In a classy cover and under a tempting title comes this, the debut album under her own name for double bassist/singer-songwriter McGowan who was one half of the quietly acclaimed Her Make Believe Band alongside guitarist/singer Cy Winstanley, who also happens to be part of this small band (and with whom she now appears as the Tattletale Saints)....
The much acclaimed Tikao presents a pleasant style which might be called te reo-folk as it has its roots in the Maori language and tikanga but is equally at home with the acoustic guitar folk tradition.
On this, her third album, the music is light, stripped back and simple, reverts to the customary reggae lope in a couple of places and . . ....
This two-part album -- The Harvest Suite in eight sections, Like Picking Fruit in nine -- features Adelaide-based expat Kiwi saxophonist Adam Page, guitarist James Brown and producer John Psathas on pieces where the raw sounds of sax and guitar are looped and electronic effects employed to create textural swathes and moments -- as on The...
With his new all-electronic album Elastic Wasteland picking up unanimously favourable reviews, it is timely to look back on the career of Sean James Donnelly, aka SJD.
Elastic Wasteland -- which is far from that, it is a nuanced and rich tapestry of sound, see here -- is Donnelly's sixth album and follows such diverse and mature collections...
Few New Zealand songwriters work with a sense of the mysterious in their lyrics, most are grounded in relationships (far too many going the you/I route) but SJD -- Sean James Donnelly -- not only reaches in that profitable direction but has the airy voice to pull it off.
So on the opener here when he sings of giving thanks to lizard kings...
New Zealand's Danny McCrum is one of those serial musicians: it's just what he does and he keeps on doing it. And at Elsewhere that is an admirable quality, especially when -- if like McCrum -- you can craft a good song with an intelligent lyric and deliver like you mean it.
McCrum has done that with great consistency -- although when his...
This New Zealand duo of Isaac McFarlane and Brad Craig -- based in Dunedin but only partially inspired/influenced by the Flying Nun sounds which emerged from that city in the Eighties -- again deliver an economic EP which extends the ideas of their impressively diverse debut Jelly Tip Lips of last year.
With an unashamed pop skew and lo-fi...
Released through the Independent Artists imprint of Auckland's Rattle label -- albums which don't quite fit the remit of Rattle Jazz but are deserving of wider distribution -- comes this collection of tunes by the likes of Thelonious Monk (Eronel, Bemsha Swing), the late Dave Brubeck (the title track), Wayne Shorter (Fall), Horace Silver...
If we were allowed to use big words like "peripatetic" here at Elsewhere we'd certainly use it about world traveler, musical itinerant, busker and on-the-road singer-songwriter Landy, originally of Auckland to where he has now returned.
His bio says he's worked at sea, busked in Italy and Maseilles, and the opener here is Lost In...
A little heads-up for Crowded House fans, a digital download is available (details below) of their appearance at New York's beautiful Masonic Hall Grand Lodge to celebrate the release of their Time on Earth album in 2007.
Superbly filmed for the US public television series Live from the Artists Den, the show has Crowded House playing material...
Given their chosen name, you can guess that this Auckland four-piece don't expect (or possibly want) mainstream recognition either at home or abroad. And you don't want to know what comes up if you do a web-search or look on You Tube for them.
But because this is on the always interesting indie label Muzai (who have Bemsha Swing which,...
After a fine start with a series of
singles in the mid Nineties (Make You My Own, Fatally Cool which used taonga puoro), awards,
her debut album Drawn in Deep, and the song Kia Tu Mahea on the
soundtrack to Once Were Warriors, Maree Sheehan seemed to suddenly
fade and disappear.
By the turn of the century this
talented woman –...
Devils Elbow -- the core of which is singer/guitarist Alec Withers -- deliveerd one of Elsewhere's best of 2010 albums with the excellent Sand on Chrome, an album that picked up favourable notices everywhere in New Zealand for its gritty country-flavoured folk-punk which drew on ragged alt.country and bar band rock'n'roll.
Another album is...
While the title of this album might look like an easy and reflexive nod to earthy country music and it's brokedown traditions, you need only flick straight to the second song Twister to be persuaded that New Zealand's Donna Dean is someone special.
She writes with the poetic economy of musicians like James McMurtry and Dolly Parton, and...
Given the pedigree of the players here -- guitarist Andrew McKenzie of Grand Prix, drummer Andrew Gladstone of Garageland and non-andrew bassist Matt Baker -- it's no surprise the opener is a big hearted, big chord and incredibly catchy indie-rocker Everything's Fine (it's not) which just makes you want to turn it up and fling the windows open....
Because international writers can often take a more dispassionate view of New Zealand culture -- witness the difference between local and overseas reviews of The Hobbit; ours mostly loved it, theirs went hmmm, yawn -- it is often salutory to look at what the rest of the world is saying about our stuff.
If our default position is to be a...
In an interview some years ago Graham Brazier said that in the rush to embrace younger artists, New Zealand had created what he called "adult contempt". If you were over 28 you were ignored, he said.
In the years since -- with the Heritage Artist and Hall of Fame awards -- some of those older musicians (among them Herbs, Ray...
Auckland songwriter Sam RB has been met
with some skepticism (if not outright cynicism) by many mainstream
music writers on account of her song for the New Zealand Olympic Team
(music journalists rarely like patriotic or cheerleading songs,
regardless of quality, in my experience) and that her debut album
came with assistance from a Mental...
Given its title -- and that I wrote a travel collection called Postcards From Elsewhere -- how could we not be interested in this textured, electronica-cum-ambient outing from New Zealand's Sheehan? And here he brings a real human warmth and some fascinating musical references from a wide palette to this, his first full length album since...
Elsewhere rarely bothers with EPs: too many of them; too few songs to glean a picture; too often juvenilia which the artists come to regret . . .
But we make an exception for Auckland singer-songwriter Jesse Will who learned some of his craft at MAINZ and late last year won a Songwriter of the Year award which alowed him to record two of...
Following his highly successful, back-to-origins Sixties-framed album The Poet's Embrace, saxophonist Nathan Haines here not only continues in a similar vein but expands the parameters of his writing (the ballad Lady Lywa is instantly memorable and a real highpoint of economy and craftsmanship) and works with a large ensemble on a stately...
The Auckland Observatory last year was
the perfect venue for Salon Kingsadore. While planets shifted and an
astral journey past the rings of Saturn played out on the Stardome
above, the group improvised fluid space-jazz rock propelled by the
mercurial guitar of Gianmarco Liguori and the inventive keyboards of
Murray McNabb, who here again...
This duo might come from Southland in New Zealand but they could just as surely have found a foothold in the American Midwest with songs like the catchy On the Run (a slightly reshaped rockabilly number which twists on the Tequila riff) or the ballads Black Hills Dakota and How Could Have Known.
But What I Have Done (subtitled On the Run...
It's widely acknowledged Rick Bryant
has one of the country's best soul-blues voices.
Or more correctly –
on the evidence of this collection, most co-writes with guitarist
Gordon Spittle – did have.
Here his voice is frequently a lesser
and often shredded version of what it once was, his range fraying at
the edges and only...
For over a decade Wellington's Charlotte Yates
put her energy into setting words by James K Baxter, Hone Tuwhare and
Witi Ihimaera to music by all-star casts, but only managed two albums
of her own, the last being the somewhat spare Beggar's Choice
five years ago.
Here however, across 12 originals, she invites in
strings, flute and...
Wellington guitarist and composer Nick Granville first appeared at Elsewhere as far back as 2008 with his Wishful Thinking album with his group.
An in-demand session player and guest performer (on everything from Dancing with the Stars to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) he is also a tutor at the New Zealand School of Music teaching...
Here's my guess: At a party if you played certain songs by Tom Jones, Tony Christie, John Rowles, Englebert Humperdinck, Frankie Stevens or any number of other MOR big ballad singers, most people couldn't tell the difference. Or even care very much.
Some of those artists covered the same songs (as did Elvis, whose ballads they also sometimes...
Rodger Fox has managed to do the unthinkable and what some might have said was impossible. For 40 years he has kept a big band viable in a small country. And along the way he has taken various versions of the band on overseas tours and brought in big names from the States to perform with his players in New Zealand.
His bands have also...
New Zealand-born saxophonist Roger Manins has made his reputation in two tough places: New York and Sydney.
Called "outstandingly gifted" by Mike Nock, he has brought passion and sensitivity to hard bop and recorded a series of critically acclaimed albums, among them the Trio album for Rattle Jazz with bassist Moysten Cole and...
Among the many interesting and unreleased things I have at home is a CD burn a friend made of the original versions of songs which Kiwi acts turned into homegrown hits. And the remarkable thing is -- and I will safely say this without pulling some reflexive bullshit Kiwi/nationalistic stroke -- the local versions waaaay oustripped the originals....
The Auckland duo of recording
engineers/producers and sound mixers Simon Gooding and Brendon Morrow
(York St, television and film work etc) craft the most unfashionable
music. And it's some distance from what their professional careers
might suggest. Far from deploying all the technology available to
them, here they offer up 10 atmospheric,...
And now for someone who should need no introduction, Samuel Flynn Scott of Phoenix Foundation. They have frequently appeared at Elsewhere and Scott has appeared under his own name also. But this is appropriate right now because with their new album Fandango and a tie-in national tour (dates below) we need to ask the questions, and go right back...
Simon Gooding is one half of The Map Room whose debut album All You'll Ever Find has impressed Elsewhere. He is a graduate of School
of Audio Engineering and that was where he met fellow Map Room
player Brendon Morrow. They studied in Auckland for a year then both went on
to Byron Bay in Australia to complete their degrees.
Although Gray (Graeme) Bartlett is best known today by that lovely old catch-all word "entrepreneur" -- he promotes concerts, discovers talent, tours national and international acts etc -- he was and remains a very fine guitarist, which was how he got his start in "show business".
At the end of the Eighties I accompanied...
The firmly held belief here at Elsewhere -- which is a quorum of one, and I have the deciding vote -- is that New Zealand folk music has never been cool or interesting for most of the Sixties Generation And Beyond People because this musical tradition became uncoupled from popular music (ie. pop music) at about the time we were slightly...
Given this album debuted at #1 on the New Zealand charts -- and deservedly so, it sounds extraordinary -- it hardly needs any comment at Elsewhere.
But . . .
And there is a "but". Because despite the fact it will be warmly embraced by longtime fans, that these long and loping songs (the opener 9.30, only one of the nine coming...
Fergus Barrowman is the Publisher of
Victoria University Press, New Zealand’s leading publisher of new
fiction and poetry, as well as scholarly non-fiction, where he has
been since 1985.
This year VUP has its biggest ever literary list:
eight books of fiction (including four first books and two second
books) and nine of poetry...
As in most countries, New Zealand musicians can usually be placed in a genre or style.
Not so Richard Setford who is Bannerman. His two previous albums (considered "outstanding" at Elsewhere) were so musically diverse you would be unwise to attempt any kind of labelling.
And in places they sounded nothing like his EPs.
As I understand it, this quietly
fascinating collection by a Wellington four-piece is a reissue of
songs previously unissued.
To backtrack then: Some of these 10 songs
topped the capital's Radio Active charts in the 90s and others did
well on bNet stations. Hardly surprising as they mine that profitable
post-Flying Nun ethos (they do the...
Multi-instrumentalist John Bell (vibes, horns, noises) has been at the cutting edge of New Zealand improvised music for many years. His name is on releases by CL Bob, the Spirals album with his own trio, various albums which take a new look at the possibilities of brass bands (which he grew up in and he revisits with the Spoilers of Utopia album...
If we think of "album" in the more traditonal sense of the word -- a collection of photos, memorabilia etc - then this quiet and remarkably honest album by Jonathan Bree (formerly one half of the Brunettes with Heather Mansfield) certainly qualitfies.
This is not just the post-breakup record with all the self-centredness and...
The duo is a well-established format in pop, rock and blues. A line runs from the Everly Brothers and Sonny Terry with Brownie McGhee to the White Stripes, Black Keys and local acts like the Hasselhoff Experiment to the Bemsha Swing . . . and Swamp Thing.
Swamp Thing are Grant Haua and Mike Barker, the former a singer/songwriter from...
The ferocious NRA (Not Really Anything) were one of those Flying Nun bands of the late Eighties/early Nineties that you either got, or steered well clear of.
Live, they were not for the faint-hearted so it was perhaps no surprise they should record this salute to New Zealand's famous racing car driver and the thrill of speed and twisted...
Although the promo sheet says this
four-piece from Dunedin “is marinated in the melodic sounds of that
mostly fictional 'Dunedin Sound' – think the Chills, The Bats . .
.” you'd have say on this debut album they conclusively prove it
was no fiction at all. They jangle like a new generation out of the
Flying Nun school and...
Given the pedigree of players on this
debut album released a couple of months back – produced by Mike Hodgson from
Pitch Black and Tinnitus, it is DJN (meulti-media artist Dan Newnham) of Drone, guitarist Sean O'Reilly of
King Loser and others – it's a surprise it has gone woefully
un-reviewed and largely undiscovered....
If you don't listen to ads you'd not
know these locals with cloud-piercing shouty choruses have songs
helping sell V, Pepsi, KFC and a Ford Kuga.
Both those latter
hook-filled heavyweights (Good Good Feeling and You Want
It? respectively) are on this 14 song album which is big on
“whoa-whoa” or “oh-ho-oh” hooks,...
The idea behind this album is hardly new. It's now a commonplace for Britain's Mojo magazine, for example, to include a cover disc on which various contemporary artists record a classic album in its entirety, most often one by the Beatles.
What makes this album unique however is that it is -- as far as I'm aware -- the first time a single...
For many decades Avis, the
international rental car outfit, had slogans which were variations on
its position as number two in the market. Among them was “When
you're only No 2, you try harder”.
To advertise its ethic the company
promoted itself with “We try harder” buttons . . . and it worked.
People like it...
Where the recent chart-topping White Rabbit compilation of the great guitarist Peter Posa picked up his hits and more familiar tunes, this 46-track double disc draws on the extraordinary back-catalogue of 20 albums and showcases the breadth and depth of his musical stylings.
The breath-taking opener -- a thrilling reinvention of the hoary...
On Auckland's Lil' Chief label which
brought us the charming Tokey Tones a decade ago, the Brunettes, the
barbed-pop of Princess Chelsea and more recently ex-Brunette Jonathan
Bree's melancholy Primrose Path break-up album (and others),
comes this debut from 19-year old former Aucklander Daniel McBride who's
already been named “a...
To be honest, I had not heard -- or even heard of -- this debut solo album by Jefferies. Forgiveable perhaps given it first came out as an Xpressway cassette-only release in 1990.
But its legend loomed large because after some underground critical acclaim internationally it -- plus the single Fate of the Human Carbine b/w Catapult --...
Things not quite in alignment here? One
part concept album, another part “What I did on my holidays”,
this debut from Wellington noise-rockers apparently documents singer
Kurt Williams' time in London during post-Britpop – which is when
exactly? – or it's a day in the lager-life of a very un-Merrie
England (isn't it...
It is a rare and wonderful thing when artists channel -- intuitively or otherwise -- their own concerns and those of their generation, and in the language of their peers.
Into that illustrious lineage which in pop culture stretches through Dylan, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell is Lorde, a preternatural talent who on this debut...
Imagine: you’re at a party, and
you’re talking about whatever it is you like to talk about at
parties – your children, probably, or how you don’t understand
music or fashion or politics any more. . . And then some lanky unshaven
lummox approaches your little circle and tells you that when Scott
arrived at the South...
Auckland's Sam Prebble of Bond Street
Bridge admits to something approaching obsession after reading about
Robert Falcon Scott's fatal expedition to the South Pole in 1912.
Immersing himself in Scott's diary, books about the journey (they
arrived at the South Pole to find Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten
them) and looking at...
In times to come when collections of contemporary New Zealand poetry are written (if not published in the form we have been used to), you'd like to think recent lyrics by Miriam Clancy, Moana Maniapoto, the Veils, Dubious Brothers, Lorde and people like Mareko will be in there as a reflection of who we are/were.
And I'd be astonished -- if...
Attuned to elevating West Coast USA pop
– with a twist of power-pop in the manner of the close-harmony
Shoes – this Dunedin duo here add an early single (the likably
chipper, slightly New Wave So High) and last year's
MalesMalesMales EP to a new EP Run Run Run.
The result is an economic nine-song collection of mostly
Not to be confused with Tiny Ruins
(Hollie Fullbrook), this Lyttelton-based duo of Harley Williams and
Charlotte Ivey here deliver a debut album of dark and often
bittersweet country-folk embellished by lap steel (from labelmate
Delaney Davidson), violin (Anita Clark), pedal steel (John Egenes)
and other appropriately evocative instruments....
Popular music – and pop music in
particular – usually comes from, and speaks to, young people. This
year with the success of Lorde, not 17 when her debut album Pure
Heroine was released, we seem very focused on the age of
However we need only look back to the
success of Gin Wigmore who won the International...
Because Elsewhere has had to adopt a policy of not reviewing EPs (just so many full albums without inviting that particular landslide) Auckland's Drab Doo-Riffs -- three EPs and the vinyl-only Aquatic Ape Theory -- haven't had a mention in these pages.
We sneakily rectify that because Home Surgery 2009-2013 is a 17 track compilation of songs...
Although it must be irksome for some of the younger Flying Nun bands to find their music constantly being referred to in the context of their predecesors like the Clean, Chills, Bats and so forth, some (eg Surf Friends' Confusion) invariably invite the comparison.
And certainly when this excellent album kicks in with the dreamy Nails Painted...
Because her career as singer was mostly in the United States -- where Sinatra apparently called her the purest voice in jazz -- Mavis Rivers was for many decades after 1953, when she made the first move from Auckland, more respected in New Zealand than actually heard.
Yet in her brief period in Auckland -- the family originally from Apia,...
Wellington guitar maker and musician Burgin has recorded some understated and finely crafted albums of what he calls "Kiwi urban folk" or "unoffical Kiwi folk" and after his 2009 album My Sweet Town we had him answer the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here to point to his more recent one Gentle Landings.
This time --...
When expat pianist/composer Mike Nock and Auckland-based drummer Frank Gibson got together in '87 to record these duets both men were at interesting points in their respective but separate careers, but neither had played together much.
Their sole recording together released prior to these sessions -- they had played on some Radio New Zealand...
Some weeks ago I mentioned having seen the group Dukes of Leisure play at the Auckland Observatory Skydome. On the same bill was Salon Kingsadore, also enjoying an appropriately spacey venue for music that took off on instrumental astral flights.
Liguori is the guitarist with Salon Kingsadore but here leans more towards jazz than setting his...
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