Ingrid Saker MirrorOur day 31 song to conclude our New Zealand Music Month 2020 parade of music worthy of your Bandcamp purchase consideration comes from Wellington’s Ingrid and the Ministers with “Love By Proxy” –

Ingrid and the Ministers’ music is succinctly described as “Psychedelic “frock”-n-roll from down-under” and  it’s a kind of Australasian not-quite-country-psych, with a dark undercurrent, likely to appeal on both sides of the Tasman sea. Songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Ingrid Saker is joined by her Ministers, Tony Paine (guitar), Peter Scriven (bass) and Kim Andrews (drums).  Saker’s accomplished set of songs is brought to life by the performance of the band who can keep it tastefully restrained and then let rip when required (check “Pepper’n’Sand” for a bit of that dynamic range). But the magic ingredient here which gives the music its distinctive heart is Saker’s vocal performance.

Listening to the whole album “Kill the Sights” from which the featured song today “Love By Proxy” comes, I was immediately reminded of an old favourite, and largely unheralded, Connecticut, US band called The Mountain Movers who started out with a style of ambitious not-quite-Americana-rock and not-quite psychedelic rock, but straddling the traditional and the contemporary in interesting and adventurous ways, as do Ingrid and the Ministers.

NZMM 2020

 

Paul Cathro

Our song for day 30 of New Zealand Music Month 2020 is the opening track “Birth” from Paul Cathro’s recent 4-track concept EP “Birth, Religion and Loneliness”:

Cathro is the bassist and in former Dunedin/ now Auckland based band Ha The Unclear, in which guitarist band principle songwriter is his brother Michael Cathro. Michael has a distinctive Kiwi voice and a lyrical imagination combining observational storytelling with absurdist surrealism.

Paul Cathro here sounds much like brother Michael, and his lyrics take a similar questioning and probing approach, examining the human condition from the somewhat unusual perspective of a newborn baby only seconds old here on “Birth”, and wondering “What if I turn out to be/ A psychopathic business junkie?” before ruefully concluding “I didn’t ask to be out”.

Cathro’s songwriting and vocals on these 4 conceptually-linked songs comes across like a Kiwi Jarvis Cocker; nerdy, awkward, anxious, overthinking, and capable of delivering some of the most skewed lyrical wonders.  The music is also like a thrillingly adventurous mix of Pulp and another UK band Squeeze. 

Unlike the Aussie guitar-pop bands who sing in unashamed ‘strine accents, here in NZ we are mostly still embarrassed about our funny ex-cents and musicians who perform as their natural Nu Zild selves. Our commercial radio stations still prefer overseas sounds and locals who re-heat generic international sounds with geo-anonymous vocals, justifying this on the basis “it’s what the public want” even though it must be hard for their listeners to know what they want – what they really, really want – if they never hear it on the radio.  We should be hearing these songs on the radio, and celebrating who we are. 

NZMM 2020

Laura Lee Lovely

Our song for day 29 of New Zealand Music Month is a haunting synthpop re-imagining of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Chrsitchurch musician Laura Lee Lovely, called “Beyond The Rain”.

It’s technically a cover of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” sung by Judy Garland in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” but re-engineered and reconstructed to such an extent it becomes its own song.

The synthpop is spacey 1980s retro-minimalism, like an early Human League single, and Laura Lee Lovely’s vocals have the kind of haunted and wistful dream-pop eeriness of Julee Cruise giving the song a kind of unsettling Twin Peaks vibe as well.

All in all, a magical kind of song for the last Friday in May 2020.

NZMM 2020

 

 

Beastwars

Our day 28 song for New Zealand Music Month 2020 comes from NZs sludge-metal riff-monsters BEASTWARS who released a live album recorded at their Friday 13th July 2018 reunion show at San Fran in their home city Wellington. Here’s the opening song “Damn The Sky” –

BEASTWARS say: “This album is a live recording from our reunion show in 2018. It was special to us as it was our first gig in over 2 years after the band broke up and got back together again and our first show since Matt slayed the Cancer dragon. It’s pay what you want…”

I saw BEASTWARS play at a Camp A Low Hum festival in 2012. For a thrill I thought I’d hang out up the front against the stage and take photos. It was loud and intense and vocalist Matt Hyde is one of the world’s great rock vocalists, with commanding and terrifying possessed-by-demons stage presence. It was only a few minutes into the first song that the crowd themselves became possessed and a seething mosh pit enveloped me. Time to squirm out and watch in awe from safety out the side as Matt toppled, arms spread, into the crowd to be carried around on raised hands before being deposited back on stage in time for the next verse. He did that over and over again and the crowd made sure he got back safely to the stage to complete each song. This is a great live album of a first rate sludge-metal band at their best. It’s almost as thrilling as being there, and a lot safer.

CaLH_Beastwars

Matt Hyde of BEASTWARS at Camp A Low Hum 2012.

NZMM 2020

 

 

 

CutssOur Day 27 song for New Zealand Music month is “Le Sun” from a six song EP “UAWA” from CUTSS:

CUTSS is the solo project of Sjionel Timu of legendary Auckland noise-punks Coolies. The “UAWA” EP “Le Sun” is from was originally released in a limited edition of 20 copy 7″ lathe cut records on NZ label Epic Sweep Records which specialises in grainy lo-fi NZ DIY pop-experimental esoterica, often in limited runs on physical formats.

The lathe cut sold out quickly of course, but the digital release of “UAWA” is here. “Le Sun” rumbles and spits along, melodic vocal line over a distorted bass and clanging guitar. For all its minimalism “Le Sun” (and the other songs on the EP) distills the essence of the same kind of crossover of 1960’s ‘girl group’ pop, primitive garage rock, and the 1980s post-punk melodic pop of bands like Shop Assistants.

NZMM 2020

 

 

LEAO

Our song for day 26 of New Zealand Music Month comes from LEAO via ghost roads from memories of music from the Samoan islands.

This is first take lo-fi DIY pop – East River Pipe or early Ariel Pink comes to mind, or our own Kraus or Roy Irwin – but filtered through a Samoan pop perspective.

LEAO is Tāmaki-based David Feauai-Afaese (AKA Dave Urso) and his “Ghost Roads” EP was “written from a fa’asamoa core, providing feelings and messages embodied both in language and spirit.”

There’s ghosts in this music. The vocals sound like field recordings from a previous era, the music a woozy smudged vagueness. Although originating from the opposite side of the world to Irish experimental pop creator Maria Somerville, there’s a similar approach here to the music on Somerville’s “All My People” album through linking the traditional and the modern, transforming memories into a ghostly personal tribute to the communal experience of childhood music memories.

There’s an introduction to and overview of Noa Records, the Auckland label on which this is released, in this recent Bandcamp Daily feature.

NZMM 2020

Bad Sav_Hope Lucinda NoMike_photo by Chris Schmelz_smaller for web

Hope Robertson (guitar, vocals) and Lucinda King (bass, vocals) of Bad Sav. (Absent is drummer Mike McLeod) – photo by Chris Schmelz.

Our tune for day 25 of New Zealand Music Month 2020 comes from Dunedin noise-rock trio Bad Sav – the instrumental-with-belated-arrival-vocals “TV Theme Song”

Three minutes in the repeated line “I never wanted to stay up/out” arrives. Not sure which it is or if it is both. It work just fine in the context of a “TV Theme Tune” either way. It’s unconventional, which is the Bad Sav way, and we can make of it whatever we want, which is also the Bad Sav way.

I’m not sure if there is an equivalent of synesthesia (musical notes ‘seen’ by the listener as colours) whereby chord and note patterns take on a physical, sculptural form, but that’s always been the sensation I’ve had listening to the sonic storm from Hope Robertson’s guitar, with the intricate patterns of notes, chord progressions through various loop, delay, reverb and distortion effects, allowing the sound to form layer upon layer of gloriously noise to form imaginary physical form. Maybe that’s why I like music with repetition so much. Listen with your eyes closed, music loud, following each guitar progression and see if it happens for you.

NZMM 2020