new zealand music

The contents of this page relate to new zealand music.

Brian Smith: Taupo (Manu/Ode)

Brian Smith: Taupo (Manu/Ode)

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....

NPME: Mareureu (Pacific Echoes)

NPME: Mareureu (Pacific Echoes)

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...

Kevin Clark: Zahara (KCM)

Kevin Clark: Zahara (KCM)

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"...

Aronas: Culture Tunnels (Southbound)

Aronas: Culture Tunnels (Southbound)

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...

Buzz Bahdur: Horizontal Life (Rhythmethod)

Buzz Bahdur: Horizontal Life (Rhythmethod)

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...

Carolina Moon: East of the Sun (Global Routes)

Carolina Moon: East of the Sun (Global Routes)

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...

PETER HAEDER PROFILED: Portrait of the artist as musical itinerant

PETER HAEDER PROFILED: Portrait of the artist as musical itinerant

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...

Unity Pacific: Into the Dread (Moving Productions/EMI)

Unity Pacific: Into the Dread (Moving Productions/EMI)

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...

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

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...

Lewis McCallum: Wake (RM)

Lewis McCallum: Wake (RM)

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...

Tahuna Breaks: Reflections (Chewy/Rhythmethod)

Tahuna Breaks: Reflections (Chewy/Rhythmethod)

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...

ACID DAZE PART TWO: A Day in My Mind's Mind Vol 2; Fantasies, Polka Dots and Flowers

ACID DAZE PART TWO: A Day in My Mind's Mind Vol 2; Fantasies, Polka Dots and Flowers

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...

Billy TK Jnr: Presenting Billy TK Jnr (Ode)

Billy TK Jnr: Presenting Billy TK Jnr (Ode)

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...

ACID DAZE PART THREE: A Day in My Mind's Mind Vol 3; 28  Kiwi Psychedelic Trips 1967-72

ACID DAZE PART THREE: A Day in My Mind's Mind Vol 3; 28 Kiwi Psychedelic Trips 1967-72

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...

Grammaphone: Grammaphone (Thoughtless)

Grammaphone: Grammaphone (Thoughtless)

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,...

Frank Gibson's Parallel 37 (Ode)

Frank Gibson's Parallel 37 (Ode)

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...

FRANK GIBSON PROFILED (2008): Long Distance Drummer

FRANK GIBSON PROFILED (2008): Long Distance Drummer

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 argument myself. 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...

POSITIVELY GEORGE STREET BY MATTHEW BANNISTER (2000): Rocking and popping in Flying Nun

POSITIVELY GEORGE STREET BY MATTHEW BANNISTER (2000): Rocking and popping in Flying Nun

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...

Selina Tusitala Marsh: Fast Talking PI (2009)

Selina Tusitala Marsh: Fast Talking PI (2009)

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...

ALAN BROADBENT INTERVIEWED: The art of time, and timing

ALAN BROADBENT INTERVIEWED: The art of time, and timing

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...

TIGI NESS INTERVIEWED (2003): From street warrior to natural mystic

TIGI NESS INTERVIEWED (2003): From street warrior to natural mystic

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 SOUND OF THE PAST COMING ALIVE: The Whittaker's Musical Museum on Waiheke

THE SOUND OF THE PAST COMING ALIVE: The Whittaker's Musical Museum on Waiheke

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 ...  At Lloyd...

The Mamaku Project: Mal de Terre (Mamaku)

The Mamaku Project: Mal de Terre (Mamaku)

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...

Nathan Haines and Friends: Music for Cocktail Lovers (Thom Music)

Nathan Haines and Friends: Music for Cocktail Lovers (Thom Music)

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,...

SANDY EDMONDS: New Zealand's disappearing pop star

SANDY EDMONDS: New Zealand's disappearing pop star

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. In 67...

SELINA TUSITALA MARSH: Guys Like Gauguin

SELINA TUSITALA MARSH: Guys Like Gauguin

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...

NATHAN HAINES INTERVIEWED (2008): Cocktails, class and cool

NATHAN HAINES INTERVIEWED (2008): Cocktails, class and cool

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...

AN EMERALD CITY INTERVIEWED (2009): The sky-high vision

AN EMERALD CITY INTERVIEWED (2009): The sky-high vision

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...

Broadbent, Gibson, Smith: Together Again (Ode)

Broadbent, Gibson, Smith: Together Again (Ode)

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.) That said,...

NEIL FINN INTERVIEWED (2001): Man alone

NEIL FINN INTERVIEWED (2001): Man alone

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...

Dave Dobbyn: Twist (1994)

Dave Dobbyn: Twist (1994)

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...

Pacific Curls: Pacifi Celta (Pacific Curls)

Pacific Curls: Pacifi Celta (Pacific Curls)

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...

Dr Tree: Dr Tree (EMI)

Dr Tree: Dr Tree (EMI)

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, OF THE DISBANDED CHILLS, INTERVIEWED (1992): The dream is over

MARTIN PHILLIPPS, OF THE DISBANDED CHILLS, INTERVIEWED (1992): The dream is over

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Toy Love: Cuts (Flying Nun)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Toy Love: Cuts (Flying Nun)

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 Monkees. Something similar applies with New Zealand's now legendary Toy Love, the Chris Knox-fronted...

GREG HEATH IN LONDON 2009: Kiwi jazz in another climate

GREG HEATH IN LONDON 2009: Kiwi jazz in another climate

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...

MURRAY McNABB'S ASTRAL SURFERS ALBUM (2009): Keyboardist . . . to the stars

MURRAY McNABB'S ASTRAL SURFERS ALBUM (2009): Keyboardist . . . to the stars

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, A TIMELINE (2009): A solo, and sometimes solitary, man

TIM FINN, A TIMELINE (2009): A solo, and sometimes solitary, man

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...

MIRIAM CLANCY INTERVIEWED (2006): Career opportunities

MIRIAM CLANCY INTERVIEWED (2006): Career opportunities

“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...

GREG JOHNSON INTERVIEWED (2009): The song, not the singer

GREG JOHNSON INTERVIEWED (2009): The song, not the singer

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 INTERVIEWED (2009): Tales from the dark side

JORDAN REYNE INTERVIEWED (2009): Tales from the dark side

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...

MOANA MANIAPOTO INTERVIEWED (2003): Kia kaha with a backbeat

MOANA MANIAPOTO INTERVIEWED (2003): Kia kaha with a backbeat

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. Outside the front door is a pile of kids' basketball boots - the carpets have just been shampooed - and inside...

JACK BODY INTERVIEWED (2001): From street to string section

JACK BODY INTERVIEWED (2001): From street to string section

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

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...

Kevin Field, Ron Samsom, Olivier Holland: Irony (Rattle)

Kevin Field, Ron Samsom, Olivier Holland: Irony (Rattle)

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...

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI CD/DVD Edition)

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI CD/DVD Edition)

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...

100 ESSENTIAL NEW ZEALAND ALBUMS by NICK BOLLINGER

100 ESSENTIAL NEW ZEALAND ALBUMS by NICK BOLLINGER

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...

ARTISAN GUNS INTERVIEWED (2010): Heart, and art, on their sleeves

ARTISAN GUNS INTERVIEWED (2010): Heart, and art, on their sleeves

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...

Pacific Curls: Te Kore (Ode)

Pacific Curls: Te Kore (Ode)

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....

GRAEME DOWNES OF THE VERLAINES INTERVIEWED (2003): Such brave, flawed diamonds

GRAEME DOWNES OF THE VERLAINES INTERVIEWED (2003): Such brave, flawed diamonds

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...

THE VERLAINES; REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2010): Listened to Mahler, look over my shoulder . . .

THE VERLAINES; REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2010): Listened to Mahler, look over my shoulder . . .

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...

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

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...

POI E AND PATEA MAORI (1988): Dalvanius, man of passion

POI E AND PATEA MAORI (1988): Dalvanius, man of passion

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 INTERVIEWED: Light of the Pacific

BILL SEVESI INTERVIEWED: Light of the Pacific

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...

Johnny Devlin: Matador Baby (1958)

Johnny Devlin: Matador Baby (1958)

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...

NEIL FINN AND CROWDED HOUSE (2010): The returning son

NEIL FINN AND CROWDED HOUSE (2010): The returning son

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 Crowded House. His answer was...

Noel McKay: Sweater Girl (1963?)

Noel McKay: Sweater Girl (1963?)

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. These included...

WAI INTERVIEWED (2000): One hundred percent te reo to the future

WAI INTERVIEWED (2000): One hundred percent te reo to the future

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. McGregor is...

DEAN HAPETA'S 2002 UPPER HUTT POSSE REMIXES: Say The Word, and you'll be freed

DEAN HAPETA'S 2002 UPPER HUTT POSSE REMIXES: Say The Word, and you'll be freed

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...

Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

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...

Zirkus: Sirius Music (iiii)

Zirkus: Sirius Music (iiii)

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: She'll Be Right (1959)

Peter Cape: She'll Be Right (1959)

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...

Roger Manins: Trio (Rattle Jazz)

Roger Manins: Trio (Rattle Jazz)

Taking the 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 healthy. Nor do wine’n’jazz events or vineyard concerts...

QUEEN CITY ROCK: Auckland Nightlife, Look Back in Wonder (2010)

QUEEN CITY ROCK: Auckland Nightlife, Look Back in Wonder (2010)

“I hear the Queen City callin' . . . yeah, the whole place is rockin' . .  . " -- Peter Lewis and the Trisonic, Four City Rock, 1960 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...

AUCKLAND ROCK VENUES (2003): Pull down the shades

AUCKLAND ROCK VENUES (2003): Pull down the shades

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...

SUPERBREW: Journeys in the past

SUPERBREW: Journeys in the past

Any 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? Graybeards like me -- people engaged by local jazz and improv.music for over three decades, and aware of the decades...

GREAT LOST KIWI SINGLES: Rock follies

GREAT LOST KIWI SINGLES: Rock follies

They are found at the back of cartons at record fairs, under beds in long abandoned houses and sometimes stored lovingly -- but rarely played -- in the collections of the obsessives. They are those great, and not that great, singles by Kiwi artists which existed either in limited pressings or were simply so awful the artists themselves tried to...

BLUE SMOKE: THE LOST DAWN OF NEW ZEALAND POPULAR MUSIC 1918-1964 by CHRIS BOURKE

BLUE SMOKE: THE LOST DAWN OF NEW ZEALAND POPULAR MUSIC 1918-1964 by CHRIS BOURKE

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 House biography...

Katchafire: On the Road Again (EMI)

Katchafire: On the Road Again (EMI)

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: Converted Maori Car (1965?)

Lou and Simon: Converted Maori Car (1965?)

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...

Reuben Bradley: Resonator (Rattle Jazz)

Reuben Bradley: Resonator (Rattle Jazz)

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...

Darren Watson: Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red Rocks)

Darren Watson: Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red Rocks)

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...

LIVE; GIGS THAT ROCKED NEW ZEALAND by BRUCE JARVIS AND JOSH EASBY

LIVE; GIGS THAT ROCKED NEW ZEALAND by BRUCE JARVIS AND JOSH EASBY

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...

SERIOUS FUN; THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF MIKE NOCK by NORMAN MEEHAN (VUP)

SERIOUS FUN; THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF MIKE NOCK by NORMAN MEEHAN (VUP)

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...

Mike Nock: An Accumulation of Subtleties (FWM/Rhythmethod)

Mike Nock: An Accumulation of Subtleties (FWM/Rhythmethod)

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...

TICKET, HALF-REMEMBERED (2010): Hair today and gone until tomorrow

TICKET, HALF-REMEMBERED (2010): Hair today and gone until tomorrow

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...

This Nation's Dreaming: Room Full of Clocks (1989)

This Nation's Dreaming: Room Full of Clocks (1989)

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...

Chris Thompson: Hamilton (1990)

Chris Thompson: Hamilton (1990)

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 INTERVIEWED (2009): This heart, these songs

SHARON O'NEILL INTERVIEWED (2009): This heart, these songs

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 it, and...

Mundi: In the Blink of an Eye (Monkey)

Mundi: In the Blink of an Eye (Monkey)

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists (Monkey Records)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists (Monkey Records)

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...

Carolina Moon: Mother Tongue (Moon)

Carolina Moon: Mother Tongue (Moon)

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...

House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

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...

Samsom Nacey Haines: Oxide (Rattle Jazz)

Samsom Nacey Haines: Oxide (Rattle Jazz)

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...

The Scavengers; The Scavengers (2003 vinyl issue of '78 sessions)

The Scavengers; The Scavengers (2003 vinyl issue of '78 sessions)

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...

JOHN PSATHAS INTERVIEWED (2000): Rattle of a complex man

JOHN PSATHAS INTERVIEWED (2000): Rattle of a complex man

After John Psathas won best classical album of 1999 at the New Zealand Music Awards in March, nothing happened. 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...

JOHN PSATHAS, 21st CENTURY MAN: The helix of creativity

JOHN PSATHAS, 21st CENTURY MAN: The helix of creativity

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: The La De Da's

THE BARGAIN BUY: The La De Da's

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...

Peter Lewis and the Trisonic: Four City Rock (1960)

Peter Lewis and the Trisonic: Four City Rock (1960)

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...

JAYREM RECORDS (1975-2011): The independence movement

JAYREM RECORDS (1975-2011): The independence movement

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...

Dave Lisik: The Curse of the Queen's Diamond (Rattle Jazz)

Dave Lisik: The Curse of the Queen's Diamond (Rattle Jazz)

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...

Herbs: Whats' Be Happen (1981)

Herbs: Whats' Be Happen (1981)

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (Sub Pop)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (Sub Pop)

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...

Craig Scott: Smiley (1971)

Craig Scott: Smiley (1971)

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...

TINY RUINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Some were meant for greatness

TINY RUINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Some were meant for greatness

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 pretentious. It doesn't actually – unless you think mentioning Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea and the forties singer/band leader Tiny Bradshaw in the same...

NEW ZEALAND'S iiii LABEL: 20/20 vision into the past (2007)

NEW ZEALAND'S iiii LABEL: 20/20 vision into the past (2007)

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...

Peter Cape: Coffee Bar Blues (1959)

Peter Cape: Coffee Bar Blues (1959)

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...

The Tokey Tones: Butterfly, Caterpillar  (2007)

The Tokey Tones: Butterfly, Caterpillar (2007)

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...

Various: Get a Haircut compilation (2007)

Various: Get a Haircut compilation (2007)

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...

The Pictones: Hashish (1962)

The Pictones: Hashish (1962)

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...

Various: Sideways (2007)

Various: Sideways (2007)

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,...

The New Fuse Box: The Wakem/Nielson Project (LGW)

The New Fuse Box: The Wakem/Nielson Project (LGW)

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...

Cilla McQueen: Crikey (2006)

Cilla McQueen: Crikey (2006)

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 1966: New Zealand's rocking witchdoctors

CHANTS R&B 1966: New Zealand's rocking witchdoctors

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...

Pixie Williams: Maori Land (1949)

Pixie Williams: Maori Land (1949)

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,...

HOLLIE SMITH INTERVIEWED (2011): Are friends electronica?

HOLLIE SMITH INTERVIEWED (2011): Are friends electronica?

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,”...

45 SOUTH IN CONCERT by NEIL McKELVIE (Southland Musicians Club)

45 SOUTH IN CONCERT by NEIL McKELVIE (Southland Musicians Club)

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...

RICHARD NUNNS INTERVIEWED (2003): The questions are blowing in the wind

RICHARD NUNNS INTERVIEWED (2003): The questions are blowing in the wind

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...

RATTLE RECORDS AT 20: Decades of delivering

RATTLE RECORDS AT 20: Decades of delivering

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 INTERVIEWED (2003): The hard road from Samoa to South Auckland

MAREKO INTERVIEWED (2003): The hard road from Samoa to South Auckland

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...

Chris Macro: Macro-Dubplates Vol III; Brooklyn vs Kingston (chrismacro.com)

Chris Macro: Macro-Dubplates Vol III; Brooklyn vs Kingston (chrismacro.com)

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...

ILL SEMANTICS INTERVIEWED (2002): The meaning behind the theory

ILL SEMANTICS INTERVIEWED (2002): The meaning behind the theory

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 impenetrable wraparounds. But it isn't like...

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2004): Lights, camera, action

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2004): Lights, camera, action

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? Whatever happened to nightclubbing and staying up until dawn? Free, who lives at Piha and calls...

FLYING NUN AT 30 (2011): Getting older and bolder

FLYING NUN AT 30 (2011): Getting older and bolder

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 experienced. Not for you the...

Alan Brown: Between the Spaces (Ode)

Alan Brown: Between the Spaces (Ode)

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...

Bunny Walters: To be Free with Labour (year unknown)

Bunny Walters: To be Free with Labour (year unknown)

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...

Tom Dennison: Zoo (Rattle Jazz)

Tom Dennison: Zoo (Rattle Jazz)

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...

THE COOKBOOK TOUR, EUROPE by FLIP GRATER

THE COOKBOOK TOUR, EUROPE by FLIP GRATER

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...

Tim Hopkins: Seven (Rattle Jazz)

Tim Hopkins: Seven (Rattle Jazz)

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...

Olivier Holland: Duets (Ode)

Olivier Holland: Duets (Ode)

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...

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2000): Lightning striking again and again . . .

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2000): Lightning striking again and again . . .

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...

Ishta: Ishta (Monkey)

Ishta: Ishta (Monkey)

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...

Moana and the Tribe: Moko (1998)

Moana and the Tribe: Moko (1998)

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...

Campbell, Rae, Dyne: Storm in a Teacup (Rattle Jazz)

Campbell, Rae, Dyne: Storm in a Teacup (Rattle Jazz)

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...

Zionhill: Inside of You (Moko)

Zionhill: Inside of You (Moko)

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...

COLIN HEMMINGSEN PROFILED (2012): With his heart in both camps

COLIN HEMMINGSEN PROFILED (2012): With his heart in both camps

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...

Waves: Arrow (1975)

Waves: Arrow (1975)

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...

Straitjacket Fits: So Long Marianne (1990)

Straitjacket Fits: So Long Marianne (1990)

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...

Moana and the Moahunters: Treaty (1995)

Moana and the Moahunters: Treaty (1995)

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...

The Music Convention: Bellyboard Beat (1968)

The Music Convention: Bellyboard Beat (1968)

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...

KEVIN FIELD PROFILED (2012): The vision thing . . .

KEVIN FIELD PROFILED (2012): The vision thing . . .

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 dramatic. “Headlights coming towards me, that whole thing.” In 2008, Field's car was...

Nick Smith: Requiem (1985)

Nick Smith: Requiem (1985)

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...

JOHN COUSINS INTERVIEWED (1989): Taking time to explore time

JOHN COUSINS INTERVIEWED (1989): Taking time to explore time

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 INTERVIEWED (2012): The distant light that shines again

DOUG JEREBINE INTERVIEWED (2012): The distant light that shines again

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...

Stephen: Windy Day (1988)

Stephen: Windy Day (1988)

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 . . ....

Fatal Jelly Space: Moonlit Track (1990)

Fatal Jelly Space: Moonlit Track (1990)

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....

Hallelujah Picassos: Perfect (1995)

Hallelujah Picassos: Perfect (1995)

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...

Nathan Haines: The Poet's Embrace (Haven/Warners)

Nathan Haines: The Poet's Embrace (Haven/Warners)

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...

TOY LOVE; A RETURN BOUT? (2012)

TOY LOVE; A RETURN BOUT? (2012)

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...

Howard Morrison Quartet: Rioting in Wellington/Mori the Hori (1962)

Howard Morrison Quartet: Rioting in Wellington/Mori the Hori (1962)

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...

The Tigers: Red Dress (1980)

The Tigers: Red Dress (1980)

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'...

Red Hot Peppers: Witchwood (1976)

Red Hot Peppers: Witchwood (1976)

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,...

Golden Harvest: Give a Little Love (1978)

Golden Harvest: Give a Little Love (1978)

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...

Jennifer Zea and the Antipodean Collective: The Latin Soul (Mama Wata)

Jennifer Zea and the Antipodean Collective: The Latin Soul (Mama Wata)

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...

The Inhalers: Nico on a Bike (1990)

The Inhalers: Nico on a Bike (1990)

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...

Bike: Save My Life (1996)

Bike: Save My Life (1996)

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...

THE PICTONES 1957-67: Supper clubs and . . . hashish?

THE PICTONES 1957-67: Supper clubs and . . . hashish?

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 music. 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...

JENNIFER ZEA INTERVIEWED (2012): From metalhead to soul-jazz songstress

JENNIFER ZEA INTERVIEWED (2012): From metalhead to soul-jazz songstress

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,...

RIGOLETTO REVIEWED (2012): The chill of the familiar

RIGOLETTO REVIEWED (2012): The chill of the familiar

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...

AUCKLAND'S FIRST JAZZ CONCERT, 1950: Shedding some bloody light

AUCKLAND'S FIRST JAZZ CONCERT, 1950: Shedding some bloody light

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...

Howard Morrison: Howie the Maori/Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town (1982)

Howard Morrison: Howie the Maori/Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town (1982)

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...

Mr Lee Grant: Tabatha Twitchit (1968)

Mr Lee Grant: Tabatha Twitchit (1968)

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...

Graeme Gash: Watching Television (1981)

Graeme Gash: Watching Television (1981)

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...

The Fair Sect Plus One: I Love How You Love Me (1967)

The Fair Sect Plus One: I Love How You Love Me (1967)

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...

Rochelle Vinsen: I Wanna Swim With Him (1965)

Rochelle Vinsen: I Wanna Swim With Him (1965)

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...

Kim Paterson: The Duende (Sarang Bang Records)

Kim Paterson: The Duende (Sarang Bang Records)

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 INTERVIEWED (2012): Dance across genres

EDEN MULHOLLAND INTERVIEWED (2012): Dance across genres

Melbourne-based 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 –...

Thieves: Thieves (thievesss.bandcamp)

Thieves: Thieves (thievesss.bandcamp)

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. Soma...

PETER POSA PROFILED (2012): Pulling a hit out of the hat

PETER POSA PROFILED (2012): Pulling a hit out of the hat

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...

Artisan Guns: Coral (Warners)

Artisan Guns: Coral (Warners)

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...

Greg Fleming and the Trains: Edge of the City (LucaDiscs)

Greg Fleming and the Trains: Edge of the City (LucaDiscs)

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...

Ray Woolf: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy)

Ray Woolf: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy)

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...

EREWHON CALLING; EXPERIMENTAL SOUND IN NEW ZEALAND edited by BRUCE RUSSELL (Audio Foundation//CMR)

EREWHON CALLING; EXPERIMENTAL SOUND IN NEW ZEALAND edited by BRUCE RUSSELL (Audio Foundation//CMR)

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. From that...

Seva Hifi: Early (Sugarlicks)

Seva Hifi: Early (Sugarlicks)

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...

Pin Group: Ambivalence (Flying Nun)

Pin Group: Ambivalence (Flying Nun)

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...

The Bemsha Swing: Against Friends and Lovers (Muzai)

The Bemsha Swing: Against Friends and Lovers (Muzai)

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...

Hello Sailor: Surrey Crescent Moon (Warners)

Hello Sailor: Surrey Crescent Moon (Warners)

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 –...

Daniel Boobyer: Time Killed the Clock (Tasman Records)

Daniel Boobyer: Time Killed the Clock (Tasman Records)

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...

Zen Mantra: How Many Padmes Hum? (Muzai)

Zen Mantra: How Many Padmes Hum? (Muzai)

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...

Kora: Light Years (Kora)

Kora: Light Years (Kora)

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...

Plum Green: Rushes (plumgreen.co.nz)

Plum Green: Rushes (plumgreen.co.nz)

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. Doesn't...

John Rowles: If I Only Had Time (Universal)

John Rowles: If I Only Had Time (Universal)

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: Letters to the Future (dannymccrum.com)

Danny McCrum: Letters to the Future (dannymccrum.com)

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...

TOY LOVE: PULL DOWN THE SHADES (Real Groovy DVD)

TOY LOVE: PULL DOWN THE SHADES (Real Groovy DVD)

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...

Jackal: Only Everything

Jackal: Only Everything

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...

Tim Walker: You/Me (Native Tongue/Aeroplane)

Tim Walker: You/Me (Native Tongue/Aeroplane)

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. That latter...

Aaradhna: Treble and Reverb (Frequency)

Aaradhna: Treble and Reverb (Frequency)

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...

Vanessa McGowan: Mermaids and Whiskey (vanessamcgowan.com)

Vanessa McGowan: Mermaids and Whiskey (vanessamcgowan.com)

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)....

Ariana Tikao: From Dust to Light (Ode)

Ariana Tikao: From Dust to Light (Ode)

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 . . ....

The Harvest: Page/Brown/Psathas (Rattle Jazz)

The Harvest: Page/Brown/Psathas (Rattle Jazz)

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: SJD

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: SJD

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...

SJD: Elastic Wasteland (Round Trip Mars)

SJD: Elastic Wasteland (Round Trip Mars)

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Danny McCrum

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Danny McCrum

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...

Two Cartoons: Tiny Terrors (Far South/Yellow Eye)

Two Cartoons: Tiny Terrors (Far South/Yellow Eye)

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...

Crayford, Sellers, Dyne: Our Own Sweet Way (ia/Rattle)

Crayford, Sellers, Dyne: Our Own Sweet Way (ia/Rattle)

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...

Jack Landy: Lost and Found (independent release)

Jack Landy: Lost and Found (independent release)

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...

CROWDED HOUSE; LIVE FROM THE ARTISTS DEN (download)

CROWDED HOUSE; LIVE FROM THE ARTISTS DEN (download)

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...

Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing: Eeling (Muzai)

Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing: Eeling (Muzai)

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,...

MAREE SHEEHAN INTERVIEWED (2013): The beginning of the second act

MAREE SHEEHAN INTERVIEWED (2013): The beginning of the second act

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: Broken Record Syndrome (Hit Your Head Music)

Devils Elbow: Broken Record Syndrome (Hit Your Head Music)

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...

Donna Dean: Tyre Tracks and Broken Hearts (donnadeanmusic.com)

Donna Dean: Tyre Tracks and Broken Hearts (donnadeanmusic.com)

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...

Golden Curtain: English Tuning (bandcamp)

Golden Curtain: English Tuning (bandcamp)

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....

Popstrangers: Antipodes (Unspk)

Popstrangers: Antipodes (Unspk)

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...

The Bads: Travel Light (Warners)

The Bads: Travel Light (Warners)

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...

Sam RB: Queen Street Acoustics (samrb.com)

Sam RB: Queen Street Acoustics (samrb.com)

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...

Rhian Sheehan: Stories from Elsewhere (Loop)

Rhian Sheehan: Stories from Elsewhere (Loop)

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...

Jesse Will: Hold Your Cards (jesswillmusic)

Jesse Will: Hold Your Cards (jesswillmusic)

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...

Nathan Haines: Vermillion Skies (Warner)

Nathan Haines: Vermillion Skies (Warner)

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...

Salon Kingsadore: Anti-Borneo Magic (Sarang Bang)

Salon Kingsadore: Anti-Borneo Magic (Sarang Bang)

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...

Into the East: Fight from the Inside (intotheeast.co.nz/Aeroplane)

Into the East: Fight from the Inside (intotheeast.co.nz/Aeroplane)

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...

Rick Bryant and the Jive Bombers: The Black Soap from Monkeyburg (Red Rocks)

Rick Bryant and the Jive Bombers: The Black Soap from Monkeyburg (Red Rocks)

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...

Charlotte Yates; Archipelago (Universal)

Charlotte Yates; Archipelago (Universal)

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Nick Granville

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Nick Granville

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...

Various Artists: Waiata 2 (Sony)

Various Artists: Waiata 2 (Sony)

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Rodger Fox

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Rodger Fox

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Roger Manins

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Roger Manins

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...

Larry's Rebels/The Rebels; A Study in Black/Madrigal (Frenzy)

Larry's Rebels/The Rebels; A Study in Black/Madrigal (Frenzy)

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 Map Room: All You'll Ever Find (Rhythmethod)

The Map Room: All You'll Ever Find (Rhythmethod)

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,...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Scott of Phoenix Foundation

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Scott of Phoenix Foundation

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simon Gooding of The Map Room

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simon Gooding of The Map Room

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. “The...

Gray Bartlett: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy/Ode)

Gray Bartlett: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy/Ode)

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...

Chris Priestley: Unsung Heroes (Ode)

Chris Priestley: Unsung Heroes (Ode)

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...

Fat Freddy's Drop: Blackbird (The Drop)

Fat Freddy's Drop: Blackbird (The Drop)

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Fergus Barrowman

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Fergus Barrowman

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...

Bannerman: Clawhammer (bannerman.com)

Bannerman: Clawhammer (bannerman.com)

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. It...

Sugarbug: Flutterbye (Powertool Records)

Sugarbug: Flutterbye (Powertool Records)

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...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: John Bell

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: John Bell

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...

Jonathan Bree: The Primrose Path (Lil' Chief)

Jonathan Bree: The Primrose Path (Lil' Chief)

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 FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Grant Haua and Mike Barker of Swamp Thing

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Grant Haua and Mike Barker of Swamp Thing

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...

NRA: Bruce McLaren (1991)

NRA: Bruce McLaren (1991)

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...

The Prophet Hens: Popular People Do Popular People (Fishrider)

The Prophet Hens: Popular People Do Popular People (Fishrider)

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...

Transcendental Learning Collective: Shift (Powertool Records)

Transcendental Learning Collective: Shift (Powertool Records)

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....

Kingston: Black and Bloom (Aeroplane)

Kingston: Black and Bloom (Aeroplane)

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,...

One Man Bannister: Evolver (Powertool Records)

One Man Bannister: Evolver (Powertool Records)

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...

ROTOR+ CONSIDERED (2013): A beautiful journey into the black

ROTOR+ CONSIDERED (2013): A beautiful journey into the black

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...

Peter Posa: Golden Guitar; The Peter Posa Anthology (Sony)

Peter Posa: Golden Guitar; The Peter Posa Anthology (Sony)

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...

Sheep, Dog & Wolf: Egospect (Lil' Chief)

Sheep, Dog & Wolf: Egospect (Lil' Chief)

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...

Peter Jefferies: The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World (DeStijl//Flying In)

Peter Jefferies: The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World (DeStijl//Flying In)

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 --...

Hollywoodfun Downstairs: "The Mancunian Swing" (Muzai)

Hollywoodfun Downstairs: "The Mancunian Swing" (Muzai)

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...

TAMA WAIPARA INTERVIEWED (2013): Hope you like my new direction

TAMA WAIPARA INTERVIEWED (2013): Hope you like my new direction

About 10 minutes into a wide-ranging conversation with Tama Waipara – genial, self-effacing without false humility, and a ferociously gifted musician – we finally get around to talking specifically about his new album Fill Up the Silence. I compliment him on making “an album” (reviewed here) and define my terms: a...

Lorde: Pure Heroine (Universal)

Lorde: Pure Heroine (Universal)

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...

GUEST MUSICIAN SAM PREBBLE writes about his South Pole project

GUEST MUSICIAN SAM PREBBLE writes about his South Pole project

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...

Bond Street Bridge: The Explorers Club: Antarctica (Banished from the Universe)

Bond Street Bridge: The Explorers Club: Antarctica (Banished from the Universe)

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...

David Dallas: Falling into Place (Dirty/Universal)

David Dallas: Falling into Place (Dirty/Universal)

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...

Males: Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales (Fishrider)

Males: Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales (Fishrider)

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 brightly...

Tiny Lies: The Oaks They Will Bow (Lyttelton/Southbound)

Tiny Lies: The Oaks They Will Bow (Lyttelton/Southbound)

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....

SHONA LAING PROFILED (2013): The legacy of a Legacy Artist

SHONA LAING PROFILED (2013): The legacy of a Legacy Artist

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 performers. However we need only look back to the success of Gin Wigmore who won the International...

The Drab Doo-Riffs; Home Surgery (Liberation)

The Drab Doo-Riffs; Home Surgery (Liberation)

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...

T54: In Brush Park (Flying Nun)

T54: In Brush Park (Flying Nun)

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...

Mavis Rivers: Farewell Samoa (1950)

Mavis Rivers: Farewell Samoa (1950)

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,...

Paddy Burgin and the Wooden Box Band: Old World (Burgin)

Paddy Burgin and the Wooden Box Band: Old World (Burgin)

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 --...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Reuben Bradley

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Reuben Bradley

The name of drummer/arranger Reuben Bradley has appeared many times at Elsewhere, but because Elsewhere can't be everywhere we missed one major mention this year. He masterminded, played on and produced the album Mantis; The Music of Drew Menzies which was a tribute to the life and music of the late Menzies and which pulled jazz and...

Carnivorous Plant Society: Carnivorous Plant Society (bandcamp)

Carnivorous Plant Society: Carnivorous Plant Society (bandcamp)

Drawing on everything from cool and classic Miles Davis, sci-fi, Mexican music, Spaghetti Westerns and ambient sounds, this large ensemble lead by Auckland horn and keyboard player Finn Scholes (who also did the cover art and animated videos) doesn't exactly try to be all things to all people. But you can imagine listeners with catholic...

The Cakekitchen:  Calm Before the Storm (RPR)

The Cakekitchen: Calm Before the Storm (RPR)

The Cakekitchen which revolves around former This Kind of Punishment/Nocturnal Projections singer/guitarist Graeme Jefferies have been around since the late Eighties -- although their posted discography doesn't note their excellent self-titled Flying Nun EP of '88 which featured Dave the Pimp, Witness to Your Secrets, Silence of the Sirens and...

Mamaku: Twigs of Gold (mamakuproject.com)

Mamaku: Twigs of Gold (mamakuproject.com)

It has been some while since this world music outfit from West Auckland appeared at Elsewhere: back in 2007 and 2008 in fact when they were Mamaku Project and we had good things to say about their two albums which were amalgams of Pacifika, dub, gypsy sounds and so on. Again they bring together a meltdown of styles -- yes, the Kiwi default...

ONE WE MISSED: Surf City; We Knew It Was Not Going to be Like This (Arch Hill)

ONE WE MISSED: Surf City; We Knew It Was Not Going to be Like This (Arch Hill)

Because Elsewhere is a one-man outfit, "we" can't be everywhere at once -- and sometimes we are very elsewhere as you may see here -- so every now and again there will be slightly apologetic postings under the banner . . . One We Missed. And given we thoroughly enjoyed the 2010 album by this Auckland band Kudos (see here) we do...

Trick Mammoth: Floristry (Fishrider)

Trick Mammoth: Floristry (Fishrider)

Someone has to say it, so . . . Trick Mammoth – described as “a flower cult pop band from Dunedin, New Zealand”, which presumes an international audience – rarely rise above a very low thresh-hold for originality. Especially for anyone who heard Look Blue Go Purple/Sneaky Feelings/Britain's the Sunday...

Daniel Boobyer: Crazy Eyes (bandcamp)

Daniel Boobyer: Crazy Eyes (bandcamp)

Wellington singer-songwriter Boobyer appeared at Elsewhere at the end of 2012 when he wrote a column about recording his own vinyl album Time Killed the Clock (reviewed here, his article here). His appealing lo-fi and up-close songs sounded like weird blues and the opener here Hone Knows -- which also includes the refrain "Titewhai...

ROTOR PLUS INTERVIEWED (2014): The slow music movement

ROTOR PLUS INTERVIEWED (2014): The slow music movement

One of the most interesting albums/projects Elsewhere heard last year came from a New Zealand artist who goes under the name Rotor Plus (variously rotor plus, rotor +). With the release of the album Dust, he completed a trilogy of CDs which were as seductive as they were mysterious. The music was understated and sometimes barely there,...

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Ticket; Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Ticket; Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Recommended if for no other reason than people have been paying unfeasibly large sums for the original vinyl (doubtless rather scratched, the record came out in '72) . . . But more seriously because this second album by Christchurch's Ticket -- recorded in Australia and following their excellent post-Hendrix debut Awake -- is a fine example...

The Stardusters: Rock Around the Island (1956)

The Stardusters: Rock Around the Island (1956)

Written by the American Ken Darby who also penned Love Me Tender, this engaging slice of pop captures the spirit of the Pacific (Hawaiian music was still enormously popular at the time and Bill Wolfgramm on steel guitar here was a master practitioner) and also the new fangled sound of rock'n'roll beaming in from the States. And a little...

Neil Finn: Dizzy Heights (Lester)

Neil Finn: Dizzy Heights (Lester)

Last week a friend and I were discussing artists with long careers who simply cannot acknowldege their best years are well behind them. While there are exceptions of course, the vast majority of artists in the pop-rock genre do their best work early in their career and much of what follows is repetition with diminishing returns. Unless...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Stephen Heard of Clap Clap Riot

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Stephen Heard of Clap Clap Riot

New Zealand band Clap Clap Riot have had -- for two terrific albums now -- a mainline into edgy pop which works around those core values of energy, economy and indivduality. Their debut album Counting Spins was one of the most impressive albums of 2012 and their new one Nobody/Everybody sounds like its heading for the same list at the end of...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Will McGrath of Jackal

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Will McGrath of Jackal

Late last year Auckland band Jackal released their fourth album since 2009 (fourth!) and again offered it as a free download from bandcamp. Because Elsewhere took a well-earned break around that time, that new album Castle in the Air (also available on limited edition green vinyl) went right by us . . . but the band's drummer Will...

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this. Comments will be brief. Soulahula: You &...

ONE WE MISSED: Devils Elbow; Absolute Domain (Hit Your Head)

ONE WE MISSED: Devils Elbow; Absolute Domain (Hit Your Head)

Because Elsewhere is a one-man outfit, "we" can't be everywhere at once -- and sometimes we are very elsewhere -- so every now and again there will be slightly apologetic postings under the banner . . . One We Missed. This one -- by an Auckland band which has previously delivered an Elsewhere Best of 2010 album with Sand on Chrome...

Rob Thorne: Whaia te Maramatanga (Rattle)

Rob Thorne: Whaia te Maramatanga (Rattle)

Those with a greater understanding of Maori spirituality than me will doubtless get more from this gentle, frequently trance-inducing album of taonga puoro (traditional instruments) which evoke the natural world (wind, bird song) and disembodied voices. Rob Thorne speaks of the album in the liner notes as "a re-aquaintance of ancestor...

Maria Dallas: Lonely For You (1967)

Maria Dallas: Lonely For You (1967)

In the minds of many New Zealanders and on the pages of popular histories, country singer Maria Dallas was a one-hit wonder with her version of Jay Epae's very catchy Tumblin' Down. That song won her the Loxene Golden Disc award in '66 but if she mostly disapeared frpm the pop charts thereafter (although did have a huge hit with Pinocchio...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Louis Baker

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Louis Baker

One-time Wellingtonian Louis Baker has done good, as they say. Hopes are understandably high for his self-titled debut EP because of its soulful sound and the maturity of his songwriting. One of the tracks on the EP -- released on March 21 through record stores, bandcamp and iTunes -- is The Way which was written and recorded while he was at...

DELANEY DAVIDSON INTERVIEWED (2014): Christchurch, Colorado and Womad

DELANEY DAVIDSON INTERVIEWED (2014): Christchurch, Colorado and Womad

Singer and songwriter Delaney Davidson has carved out a rare niche in New Zealand music. Along with Marlon Williams, Tami Neilson and others he has rejigged traditional and contemporary country music into something that bridges folk, country and rock. He has twice won the Country Song of the Year award and also picked up the...

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this. Comments will be brief. Shayna King; The Day...

Double J and Twice the T: Mod Rap (1989)

Double J and Twice the T: Mod Rap (1989)

While going through a pile of old New Zealand singles I chanced on this. They may not have been gangstas or even remotely hard, but if you check the clip below their hearts were in the right place. But for this they pulled together Ray Columbus and the Invader's She's a Mod hit from '65 with rap and beatbox, and it wasn't as bad as some at...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Arthur Ahbez

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Arthur Ahbez

And still they come . . . Musicians are washing up on New Zealand's shores with more regularity than sea weed and empty water bottles these days. But here too comes local contender Arthur Ahbez once again after previous impressive showings. He's a psych-influenced folk-cum-rock guy who delivers a lovely line in dreamy acid-infused pop and Neil...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Liv McBride of Into the East

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Liv McBride of Into the East

Regular readers of Elsewhere would find it no surprise that the debut album by Into the East, Fight From the Inside, picked up the 2014 Tui for Best NZ Folk Album, Album of The Year and Band of The Year at the Southland Entertainment Awards and more recently, a nomination for the highly regarded Taite Music Prize....

John Psathas: White Lies (Rattle)

John Psathas: White Lies (Rattle)

Not having seen the film for which this is the music -- a single, 28 minute piece for piano, strings, taonga puoro and the composer on synth -- is no disadvantage at all. This beautifully understated, modulating and elegantly slow piece can at time sound less like a soundtrack (in that it doesn't parallel or evoke any kind of physical...

The Roulettes: The Roulettes (roulettes.co.nz)

The Roulettes: The Roulettes (roulettes.co.nz)

Well, they took their time to get to this debut album. The Roulettes formed way back in 2002 in Dunedin, did an EP five years later (the title track and I Think I Can were used in Outrageous Fortune) and the lead-off track here First Song of Summer was released last October (in time for summer, natch!) Located between power pop, indie rock...

Grayson Gilmour: Infinite Life! (Flying Nun)

Grayson Gilmour: Infinite Life! (Flying Nun)

When Grayson Gilmour signed to Flying Nun four years ago, back in that brief period when Roger Shepherd took control again of the label he had founded, there was considerable optimism that it might signal a rebirth for the label. Gilmour was quite unlike most FN artists in that his music was multi-layered, his songcraft highy refined and, if...

Pat McMinn: Geddes Dental Renovations advertisement (1949)

Pat McMinn: Geddes Dental Renovations advertisement (1949)

It's an odd but understandable thing that advertising jingles can often make as much, if not more, impact on our consciousness than serious music. The reason is perhaps simple: they are short, catchy and you hear them a lot. Few if any advertising jingles in New Zealand were heard more than this one by Pat McMinn whose other claim to...

Tami Neilson: Dynamite! (Southbound)

Tami Neilson: Dynamite! (Southbound)

Country singer Neilson (originally from Canada) set the bar high on three previous award-winning albums. But this exceptional outing – five songs co-written with Delaney Davidson who also co-produces with Ben Edwards -- confirms her gifts beyond country. This world-class album is a major statement from an artist at the top...

Greg Fleming: Forget the Past (gregfleming.co.nz)

Greg Fleming: Forget the Past (gregfleming.co.nz)

In a guest column for Elsewhere this week, the New Zealand singer-songwriter Greg Fleming notes dryly that his last album Edge of the City with his band The Trains was his dark rock-noir album which got good reviews . . . but didn't trouble the charts. Elsewhere certainly joined the chorus of acclaim for that 2012 album (see here), and also...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Chris from Gold Medal Famous

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Chris from Gold Medal Famous

You have to like and admire Wellington's artrock-cum-satirical pop group Gold Medal Famous. They rock, they roll, they are witty and droll. When Elsewhere reviewed their 2011 album 100 Years of Rock we concluded this was a band where one week you might be in the audience and the next you might be on stage as part of the group....

Flip Grater: Pigalle (Maiden/ Rhythm Method)

Flip Grater: Pigalle (Maiden/ Rhythm Method)

At the time, Elsewhere critically noted Flip Grater's previous album When I'm Awake I'm At War was weighed down with the first person singular. Every song was "I" (and invariably "you") and this trait can be endemic in singer-songwriters. The best get past that cloying self-obsession and use events in their lives or...

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this. Comments will be brief. Various Artists; Wolf...

Liam Finn: The Nihilist (Liberation)

Liam Finn: The Nihilist (Liberation)

What a remarkable year it has been so far in New Zealand music: bristling pop-rock from Clap Clap Riot, Grayson Gilmour's multi-layered album, singer-songwriter Greg Fleming stretching himself in various directions  . . . And now this excellent entry from Liam Finn, one of the sons of a senior statesman whose most recent album Dizzy...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Rachel and Hayden Donnell of Great North

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Rachel and Hayden Donnell of Great North

New Zealand band Great North impressed Elsewhere back in the day, 2009 to be precise, when we had the time to review EPs. Of their EP Soldiers we felt the angels were watching over them, and later their 2010 debut album Newfoundland was one of our best of the year choices. They were part of rock'n'roll lineage which stretched from...

LAWRENCE ARABIA INTERVIEWED (2014): Going back, going forward, taking stock

LAWRENCE ARABIA INTERVIEWED (2014): Going back, going forward, taking stock

Lawrence Arabia – known at home as James Milne – has made some of the most interesting New Zealand music of the past decade. Over three albums he has crafted fascinating pop which is embellished by strings and strange sounds, but always highly melodic and lyrically engrossing.. His has been an interesting career from playing...

Lawrence Arabia: Eye A (2009)

Lawrence Arabia: Eye A (2009)

In a long and interesting interview with Elsewhere, Lawrence Arabia spoke about his past, his present, his doubts and hopes. But also about the forthcoming concerts in which he will be playing his three albums -- Lawrence Arabia, Chant Darling and The Sparrow -- in their entirety at concerts in Auckland and Wellington (see poster)....

SHARON O'NEILL INTERVIEWED (2014): Surviving in the fires of fame

SHARON O'NEILL INTERVIEWED (2014): Surviving in the fires of fame

Go back and look at the newspaper and magazine articles from the late Seventies and early Eighties if you can -- and I can because I kept many shoved inside her album covers -- and see what writers and reviewers were saying about Sharon O'Neill at the time. After her backstory had been told -- singing as a kid growing up in Nelson, with the...

MIDGE MARSDEN INTERVIEWED (2014): Going to a well that never runs dry

MIDGE MARSDEN INTERVIEWED (2014): Going to a well that never runs dry

Midge Marsden has carved out a singular career in New Zealand music. He has won awards, toured this country and the USA, counted among his friends Stevie Ray Vaughan, studied in Mississippi and has passed the torch on through university tutoring and on bandstands. Marsden – who admits to being “sixty-several” –...

GUTTER BLACK; A MEMOIR by DAVE McARTNEY

GUTTER BLACK; A MEMOIR by DAVE McARTNEY

A few years ago when I was in Australia interviewing the re-formed Cold Chisel, I took a chance afterwards to talk with their songwriter Don Walker, who had written an exceptional, literary and darkly poetic memoir, Shots. I wanted to ask him about something which had been troubling me quietly for a number of years: Why was it that so...

Tim Guy: Dreaming of a Night Mango (Lost and Lonesome)

Tim Guy: Dreaming of a Night Mango (Lost and Lonesome)

New Zealand singer-songwriter and producer Tim Guy has appeared at Elsewhere previously, notably for his delightfully thoughtful and airy 2007 album The Hummabyes, and when he answered the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire in 2011 when he toured his Big World album. Elsewhere lost touch with him in recent years but then was delighted when...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Bryce Wastney

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Bryce Wastney

Because Elsewhere will never (knowingly) fib to you, we're going to be straight-up and say . . . Bryce Wastney? Never 'eard of 'im, mate. That was until this New Zealand singer-songwriter flicked us an e-mail saying he was touring with Australia's Germein Sisters. And who modestly mentioned some nice comments about himself from New...

Various Artists: Naga; New Music for Gamelan (Rattle)

Various Artists: Naga; New Music for Gamelan (Rattle)

Those of us lucky enough to have been to Java or Bali -- and who have ventured further than the beach or pool for cultural experiences -- will attest to the extraordinary sound of a gamelan orchestra in full flight. Whether it be on metal or wooden xylophones (for want of a better word), gongs large and small or massive vertical bamboo...

Great North: Up in Smoke (greatnorthband.com)

Great North: Up in Smoke (greatnorthband.com)

For a man with an almost obsessive regard for Springsteen – see his answers to the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire – Auckland songwriter Hayden Donnell of Great North here rarely writes like a chip of the old Boss. Only the title track nudges towards the musical melodrama of Springsteen, the rest allude to Donnell's...

Golden Curtain: Dream City (cosmicolitanrecords)

Golden Curtain: Dream City (cosmicolitanrecords)

Elsewhere was mighty impressed by the unpretentious pop-rock of the previous Golden Curtain album English Tuning and we're now pleased to note that was an opinion shared – according to their bio – by the Toronto Star and some reviewer in San Francisco. Not bad for a New Zealand trio with a very low profile, despite their prior...

Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One (Unspk)

Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One (Unspk)

The previous album Some Were Meant For Sea by Holly Fullbrook -- who was then sole proprietor of the name Tiny Ruins -- was such a delicately nuanced and quiet affair it was hardly surprising on the two ocassions I saw her present it (at the Kings Arms and opening for Fleet Foxes in Auckland's Town Hall) she struggled to keep a boisterous...

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this. Comments will be brief. Sherpa: Blues and...

Delaney Davidson: Swim Down Low (Rough Trade/Southbound)

Delaney Davidson: Swim Down Low (Rough Trade/Southbound)

That recent Record Store Day has still been diverting me as I trawl through my purchases . . . which accounts for coming so late to this one by multiple-award winning singer-songwriter Davidson who is loosely placed in the country category, but who has much in common with dark European cabaret and sometimes Nick Cave as he does with Hank...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Martin Phillipps of the Chills

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Martin Phillipps of the Chills

Although it is easy to be flippant about the Chills' constantly changing line-ups during their heyday, that denies the great music which poured from Martin Phillipps' feverishly melodic brain. As one of the great hopes of the Flying Nun label, they may have faltered from time to time on the career trajectory we might have wished for...

THE BATS REISSUED (2014): A timeless flight

THE BATS REISSUED (2014): A timeless flight

Very few bands get better with age, despite what the members themselves might think or their record company would have you believe. Most make their greatest statements early on, or have a fine peak a bit further down the track. There are exceptions of course -- there are always exceptions -- but by and large you're better off with the second...

Various Artists: Black America Sings Bacharach and David (Ace/Border)

Various Artists: Black America Sings Bacharach and David (Ace/Border)

It's one the great ironies that Hal David's name is less familiar today than that of his most famous writing partner Burt Bacharach. It sometimes seems that the shorthand of pop speaks about Bacharach's songs . . . but that rather ignores that Hal David provided all those memorable words which people sing. David -- who died in September...

COLIN LINWOOD INTERVIEWED (2014): Keeping the records straight

COLIN LINWOOD INTERVIEWED (2014): Keeping the records straight

The most extraordinary thing about the extraordinary Colin Linwood is just how ordinary he is. In his early 50s, he's married with children, has worked from the time he left school, is trim and in good condition, and when he walks into the lobby bar of the Heritage Hotel in Auckland for a chat, few in the room give him a second glance. He's...

The Gary Harvey Band: Ghost Dance (garyharvey.co.nz)

The Gary Harvey Band: Ghost Dance (garyharvey.co.nz)

The familiar line about singer/songwriter and bassist Gary Harvey is that he is a mainstay of blues-influenced rock in New Zealand who has been around for exactly the right number of decades, which is many. Eighteen months ago we had Gary answer the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire on the back of a live album with guitarist Tony Abbott as...

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this. Comments will be brief. Toni Huata: Tomokia...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Paul "The Axeman" Martin of Devilskin

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Paul "The Axeman" Martin of Devilskin

Devilskin bassist Paul Martin has some serious prior form in the noise stakes: He played in the legendary (not a word we use lightly here) Kiwi hard rock bands Knightshade and Blackjack, and more recently was lead guitarist/lead singer for World War Four. But with Hamilton's Devilskin it seems it has all come to a higher plane. The band...

Dinah Lee: He Can't Do the Blue Beat (1965)

Dinah Lee: He Can't Do the Blue Beat (1965)

Answer songs or cash-ins were very common in the late Fifties and early Sixties (after success of The Twist it was time for Let's Twist Again etc) and the great and gutsy New Zealand singer Dinah Lee recorded this song -- penned and arranged by Mike Perjanick -- to keep the momentum going after her huge success with the single Do The Blue...

PAINTING BY PIANO (2014): The art music of Henry Wong Doe

PAINTING BY PIANO (2014): The art music of Henry Wong Doe

Rannoch House, on a leafy and secluded street in a central Auckland suburb, houses one of New Zealand's most extraordinary art collections. Open to the public, the house contains works amassed by – there is no better description to convey the vast acquisition – the Rich Lister, arts patron and philanthropist Sir James...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Robert Scott

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Robert Scott

Because Elsewhere recently had a major piece on Robert Scott and was with specific reference to his new album The Green House, let's just give you the link to that . . . and observe that last week the Herald reviewer bestowed four and half stars (out of five) to The Green House with the tag "another solo gem". That reviewer also...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Glen Moffatt

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Glen Moffatt

For a while there, over a decade ago, the New Zealand country singer Glen Moffatt seemed to be everywhere, and at the close of the Nineties and into the new decade he released three excellent albums: Somewhere in New Zealand Tonight, A Place to Play and If That's What You Want. As those titles suggest, Moffatt could offer some commentary on...

Glen Moffatt: Superheroes and Scary Things (SDL)

Glen Moffatt: Superheroes and Scary Things (SDL)

Further proof that we export real talent. A little over a decade ago country-rock singer-songwriter Glen Moffatt quit New Zealand to base himself in Queensland, leaving behind three fine albums and a nomination in the songwriter of the year category. He immediately picked up good notices and awards in Queensland, but we haven't heard much...

Kimbra: The Golden Echo (Warners)

Kimbra: The Golden Echo (Warners)

When Kimbra appeared at this year's Womad in Taranaki I observed at the time it allowed her to roadtest new material away from the prying eyes of the international -- and even local -- music media. She wasn't quite the unusual choice that many thought for a world music festival (other mainstream pop acts have been on previous bills) and she...

Into Orbit: Caverns (bandcamp)

Into Orbit: Caverns (bandcamp)

This Wellington duo of Paul Stewart and Ian Moir (guitars and drums respectively) work the line of dynamically delivered astral psychedelica with nods to widescreen drone rock, but really make something of their own out of it. The emotional breadth and sonic textures on display here -- and our reference points might be Jakob, Wooden Shjips,...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Mahoney Harris

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: Mahoney Harris

Waiheke-based singer-songwriter Mahoney Harris is well known to many in the New Zealand music industry (as someone who takes care of licensing, promotion and such through her Aeroplane Music company), so perhaps its no surprise to see the list of local musical luminaries who appear on her debut album We Didn't Feel Alone. But frankly, you...

Mahoney Harris: We Didn't Feel Alone (mahoneyharris)

Mahoney Harris: We Didn't Feel Alone (mahoneyharris)

At the midpoint of this debut album by Auckland singer-songwriter Mahoney Harris there is a lyric that can stop you in your tracks: just when you think you've got her pegged there is Miss You. On a cursory listen this piece -- which comes with an elegant musical setting with guitar by Tom Healy -- seems to be a piece about a former partner:...

LEONIE HOLMES PROFILED (2014): An explorer in the landscape of orchestra

LEONIE HOLMES PROFILED (2014): An explorer in the landscape of orchestra

One of the pleasures of being in a university music department is the chance to put faces and personalities to people whose music you might have heard but had no other connection to. At the University of Auckland's School of Music it has been interesting for me to do that in the world of classical music of which I am...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Jeff Boyle of Jakob

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Jeff Boyle of Jakob

New Zealand three-piece Jakob have patiently carved out an impressively wide niche for themselves since their debut album Subsets of Sets back in 2002. Their broad sonic palette across their albums and EPs since have placed them in the vanguard of instrumental music which has its touchstones in widescreen psychedelica, dynamic prog, eerie...

BERNIE GRIFFEN INTERVIEWED (2014): Tales of a survivor

BERNIE GRIFFEN INTERVIEWED (2014): Tales of a survivor

Bernie Griffen lets out a wheezing laugh when I ask him if he's in decent health these days. He's 63, has lived hard and by his own admission not spared himself sometimes through drugs, self-doubt and damaging choices. “Well I've got emphysema,” he says. “I had an accident and my lungs got burned, but I also keep on...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Ben Morley of Mice on Stilts

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Ben Morley of Mice on Stilts

Few could watch the heartbreaking images from Gaza recently without feeling some pang of pain and discomfort. Regardless of the knotty politics of the situation there, seeing people's homes destroyed, families killed and schools bombed while children were there made you wonder just how civilised Mankind is in the 21st century. The horrors of...

Moana and the Tribe: Rima (Black Pearl)

Moana and the Tribe: Rima (Black Pearl)

For my money the most powerful, enjoyable and important act on the mainstage at this year's Womad in Taranaki – and there were some over-acclaimed but perfunctory internationals – was Moana and the Tribe. They delivered a thumping, visually powerful and cleverly calculated implosion of waiata, haka and electronica-flavoured...

PAULY FUEMANA REMEMBERED (2010): Once in the land of plenty

PAULY FUEMANA REMEMBERED (2010): Once in the land of plenty

I wish I wasn’t writing this. I wish it wasn’t humid and raining. I wish I could bring myself to put his album on right now. But – and I really don’t know why – I am overwhelmed by grief to learn that Pauly Fuemana has died. Many, many others knew him – or will now claim to know him – better...

French for Rabbits: Spirits (Lefse)

French for Rabbits: Spirits (Lefse)

This dreamscape debut album opens with such an elegantly simple guitar and piano part that it's hard not to be quickly seduced, and when vocalist Brooke Singer wafts in there is a lovely weightlessness at work above the undercurrents of drums and cymbal splashes. It sounds tidal and elemental. From their homebase at Waikuku Beach in New...

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this. Comments will be brief. Sam RB; Finding Your...

DOUGLAS LILBURN HONOURED (2014): The composer with the farmer's hands

DOUGLAS LILBURN HONOURED (2014): The composer with the farmer's hands

Here's an odd, post-modern idea for an episode of Doctor Who. The good doctor finds himself in London's BBC Radiophonic Music Workshop in 1963 where techno-boffins are fiddling with primitive electronic equipment. They're creating a distinctive piece of music to be used for a new television series called . . . Doctor Who. And...

Hip Flask: Hip Flask2 (Rattle Jazz)

Hip Flask: Hip Flask2 (Rattle Jazz)

I suppose it was always thus: Every generation of jazz players would complain about the music of their successors, whether it be big band swing, bebop, Third Stream, free jazz, fusion . . . I've certainly heard my share of gripes from jazz musicians who felt they weren't get enough attention when their juniors were being acclaimed. That...

Sola Rosa: Magnetics (Way Up)

Sola Rosa: Magnetics (Way Up)

Andrew Spraggon, the man behind the ever-morphing Sola Rosa, is a clever fellow. His albums are astutely focused and when he stretches himself he never strays too far from exactly where you think the beat-driven music should be. As the song here -- featuring singer Georgia Anne Muldrow -- says, "You're never too far from the...

Electric Wire Hustle: Love Can Prevail (Every Waking Hour)

Electric Wire Hustle: Love Can Prevail (Every Waking Hour)

Last month this album -- EWH down now from a trio to Mara TK and David "Taay Ninh" Wright -- got a very nice notice in the New York Times, noting their "knotty, disorienting studio fabrications, surrounding hand-played R&B" are "descendants of [Marvin Gaye's] What’s Going On". True, inasmuch as...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: French for Rabbits

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: French for Rabbits

This is what we love to hear. We sent the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire to Brooke, John and Ben of French for Rabbits and when it came back Brooke had written in the e-mail: "It made made the long trip from Warsaw to Berlin more entertaining!" Yes, New Zealand musicians out there conquering the world one gig at a time . . ....

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this.  Comments will be brief. Jakob; Sines...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Browne of Black River Drive

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Sam Browne of Black River Drive

When it comes to hard rock from New Zealand, you are spoiled for choice . . . but making a serious entry into the international stakes are Black River Drive whose second album Quicksand is a real milestone. Recorded over two months and produced in Nashville by Toby Wright (who has twiddled the knobs for Slayer, Alice in Chains and Metallica...

Ha The Unclear; Bacterium, Look At Your Motor Go (bandcamp)

Ha The Unclear; Bacterium, Look At Your Motor Go (bandcamp)

And now for something completely different . . . Singer-songwriter Michael Cathro who fronts this oddly-named band is a real one-off. His accent is unashamedly antipodean: He pronounces the Dunedin suburb "Core-sto-feen" as is the habit there, in Edinburgh it's the suburb I was born in and is "ki-store-fin". And...

Darren Watson: Introducing Darren Watson (Beluga)

Darren Watson: Introducing Darren Watson (Beluga)

After the fame/notoriety which came with his pre-election Planet Key song and video (see here), Wellington singer-guitarist and long-running bluesman Darren Watson reveals further humour in this album's title. Fact is, he's more than half a dozen albums into his career (from Chicago Smokeshop in the late Eighties, through Smokeshop and...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Michael Cathro of Ha the Unclear

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Michael Cathro of Ha the Unclear

On any given week Elsewhere receives at least half a dozen very interesting albums and about twice as many which are interesting enough to be worthy of attention. And then quite a few that -- very interesting or bloody awful -- just fall through the cracks . . . because of those dozens of others. We do our best, but it's always a pleasure...

Dudley Benson: Deforestation (Golden Retriever)

Dudley Benson: Deforestation (Golden Retriever)

Dudley Benson – who recently received a $25,000 New Generation Artist award from Westpac – has a small, and some might say, perfectly formed catalogue. But it is small. By my reckoning there have been just a couple of EPs (see here and here). And just two albums (this and this), some of which included...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE REGGAE QUESTIONNAIRE: A-Kel of Tomorrow People

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE REGGAE QUESTIONNAIRE: A-Kel of Tomorrow People

They began life as a studio project . . . but the Wellington collective that is Tomorrow People quickly became a proper band, and one which took their name from the Ziggy Marley song and are unashamedly purveyors of "sunshine reggae". Which might just mean one-drop for barbecues in Aotearoa. They are certainly firmly within a...

FleaBITE: The Jungle is Jumping (Border)

FleaBITE: The Jungle is Jumping (Border)

Elsewhere rarely touches children's music (so please don't start sending them) but we have made an exception for Wellington's FleaBITE (Robin Nathan) because her songs are so quirky and when she was Fatcat and Fishface I swear I've referenced Spike Milligan, Yoko Ono, Mary Poppins and reggae when writing about this left-field stuff. This is...

Nathan Haines: 5 A Day (Warners)

Nathan Haines: 5 A Day (Warners)

In a recent in-depth interview with Elsewhere, Nathan Haines spoke about how hard it was for him and his longtime producer Mike Patto to make this new album. In comments we didn't publish there he said, “we were running up against deadlines and it took a massive toll on our lives”. “I had to stop working because...

ONE WE MISSED: Eyreton Hall: Featherstich (Aeroplane)

ONE WE MISSED: Eyreton Hall: Featherstich (Aeroplane)

Life, the need to make a living and a trip to Australia meant this exceptionally classy folk-rock and catchy-pop album by Eyreton Hall -- the antipodean duo of Andrew Keegan and Toni Randle slipped right by us when it was released a fornight ago. It is certainly not too late to discover this classy confection which was mostly written near...

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this.  Comments will be brief. The Eastern;...

Dictaphone Blues: Mufti Day (bandcamp)

Dictaphone Blues: Mufti Day (bandcamp)

Ed Castelow aka Dictaphone Blues is, for Elsewhere's money, one of the most talented, smartest and best pop-rock songwriter/singers at work in this country right now. He's also very funny as he plunders doo-wop (here on the absurd intro to Lance's Tape), writes very witty lyrics and some highly moving ones, latches them to memorable tunes...

Mike Nock/Frank Gibson: Open Door (1987)

Mike Nock/Frank Gibson: Open Door (1987)

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...

Gianmarco Liguori: Stolen Paintings (Sarang Bang)

Gianmarco Liguori: Stolen Paintings (Sarang Bang)

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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