Archives for category: New Zealand Music Month

Finally, an end to 31 Days of May Madness for New Zealand Music Month, posting a New Zealand music track a day throughout May. Ending the way we began, with an appropriately-titled song from Dunedin post-noise-rock (or maybe we could call it Dun-gaze) newcomers Bathysphere called “See Ya”:

Bathysphere released their first album just as May started. That’s wonderful news because their first song “Window” and then this song – which is from the recent Dunedin compilation “…And It Could Be Right Now – New Music From Ōtepoti​/​Dunedin” – were the kind of thing there ought to be more of in the world.

Bathysphere is made up of a who’s-who of the Dunedin music underground, including Trace / Untrace Records founders Julie Dunn (Asta Rangu, Mary Berry) and Richard Ley-Hamilton (Asta Rangu, Space Bats, Attack!, Males), with Josh Nicholls (Koizilla, Space Bats, Attack!, Asta Rangu, Fazed on a Pony) and Peter McCall (Fazed on a Pony).

Our Day 30 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is Negative Nancies with “What Would John Say”:

Some of the Dunedin songs posted this month have had a hint of anarchic anything-goes punk and Weird Dunedin, and Casio-powered Negative Nancies are another from that realm. “What Would John Say” is from the Dunedin trio’s not-quite-fully-released-yet first album “Heatwave”.

Its full release may have been complicated by uncertain pandemic manufacturing and freighting logistics, but almost everything else about the band and the album is unconventional and unpredictable so dive in and weird out. Check their thrilling 2018 12” EP “You Do You” as well.

Negative Nancies are Tess Mackay (Casio, vocals), Emilie Smith (drums, vocals), and Mick Elborado their wired guitar+feedback sonic alchemist. They are an intergenerational amalgam of musical explorers from different scenes, with Mick part of many great bands like The Terminals, Scorched Earth Policy and The Shallows released on Flying Nun Records in the 80s.

Our Day 29 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Reed Replacement” by Robert Scott & Dallas Henley:

“Reed Replacement” is from a very limited edition CD album called “Level 4” with an original artwork cover from Robert Scott (The Clean, The Bats, Magick Heads). Scott and his partner Dallas Henley recorded the songs at home during “Level 4” during NZ’s nationwide Covid19 Level 4 lockdown in 2020.

Scott’s two most recent solo albums – “Ends Run Together” and “The Green House” – are two of the understated highlights of NZ music in the past decade.   

This low-key unpolished set of songs is an audio scrap-book of songs that, in normal times, would end up being developed for albums by The Bats, or The Clean. “Reed Replacement” here would make a perfect song for any future (but highly unlikely) album by The Clean.

The guitar and voice is Scott’s of course. His unavoidable influence on bassist Dallas Henley is clear throughout the album, as she provides the most Robert Scott-esque basslines imaginable, using the instrument as a melodic counterpoint to Scott’s guitar and vocal melodies.  

If you are in Dunedin and pop out to Port Chalmers on Otago Harbour you will find their gallery and art supplies shop Pea Sea Art on the main street. Pop in, view and buy the art works, and check the bins of local music on LP instore too.

Our Day 28 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Portable Shrine” by Earth Tongue:

Heavy doom-rock duo Earth Tongue’s music is built around thick gooey low-frequency fuzzy riffs, and doomy sci-fi inter-planetary travel theme lyrics.  

It’s a bit too weird – in an agreeably H E A V Y psych-rock/ prog-rock/ space-rock kind of way – to be doom-metal, but it certainly shares some of the ominous frequencies of that genre at the same time as being a convoluted and interesting feast of restless rhythms, riffs and melodies.

Earth Tongue are guitarist/ vocalist Gussie Larkin and drummer/ vocalist Ezra Simons. Larkins is also one third of Mermaidens

Our Day 27 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “The Ease” by T G Shand:

T. G. Shand is Annemarie Duff (Miniatures) and this new 2021 single follows the accomplished self-recorded/ produced “Golden Hour” EP released in 2020.

“The Ease” is enchanting dream-pop, vocals floating on chorus and reverb guitars and programmed drums.

Inhabiting the general sonic territory of 1990s Cocteau Twins (“Heaven or Las Vegas” era onwards), the song continues the high standards set by the “Golden Hour” EP, satisfying any shoegaze-to-dream-pop cravings you may have.

Our Day 26 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Bravo Eugenia” By Luke Shaw / Tuha Tuimaka:

“Bravo Eugenia” is a live improvisation recorded to the Ilam Press Records TEAC 4-track reel-to-reel in Christchurch and was released earlier this month as a limited (25 copies – sold out) lathe cut 12” LP “Nihilist Dinner Party” by Ilam Press Records. Ilam Press Records is a subsidiary of the Ilam Press, a print publishing workshop at the Ilam School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, NZ.

Luke Shaw coaxes sound from an electric guitar and effects, while Tuha Tuimaka plays keyboard and synth. The best improvised music is made by people who listen to each other (seems kind of obvious to say that, but sometimes you do wonder…) and share a kind of telepathic understanding of each person’s part in the piece, adapting to each other, and where the sound is taking them.

This is the best kind of improvised music. It’s meditative, interesting, approachable and each of the four improvisations push and pull with tones and textures of sound.  

Our Day 25 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Moat” by Wurld Series:

It’s hard to pick just one song from the glorious album “What’s Growing” to represent it. But “Moat” mixes some of the sweetest soaring lead guitar lines (courtesy of Adam Hattaway) with woozy mellotron atmosphere.

That combination of brilliant lead guitar lines and the pastoral psychedelia of the mellotron is as good a sonic calling card for the wonky guitar-pop/ psych-folk of Wurld Series. Then there’s the enchanting songwriting and Luke Towart’s bemused delivery of skewed elliptical philosophical lyrics.

It may initially sound to be under the influence of Pavement and Guided by Voices (Tobin Sprout era), but the more you play it, and the more thoroughly this set of songs embeds in your subconscious, the more this takes on a charming homespun form of its own.  

“What’s Growing” is one of the highlights of 2021. Every home should have one.

Our Day 24 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “The Four Seasons” by Tidal Rave:

“The Four Seasons” is a new song from the Wellington band, released in March this year, and following their first album “Heart Screams” released last year just as the pandemic lockdown commenced in NZ. That album demonstrated Tidal Rave do the dark garage guitar and keyboard thing that New Zealand is world famous for really well.

Anyone into those peculiarly dark and brooding Christchurch bands that were on Flying Nun Records in the 1980s (Pin Group, The Terminals, Max Block, Scorched Earth Policy, and their later post-FNR offspring Dadamah) would have recognised the uneasy listening claustrophobia lurking in Tidal Rave’s music on last year’s album. 

“The Four Seasons” seems a step up in the short disrupted year since the album, and the band here sound less like those NZ antecedents, and more like Vivian Girls with urgent its urgent pulsebeat drumming, three-guitar+keyboard density, those vocal harmonies, and a killer chorus.

Our Day 23 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Worm Regenerate” by Grecco Romank:

Don’t know much about Grecco Romank, and only came across the name in a Vanessa Worm interview, but they describe themselves, with good reason, as “glamorous electronic degenerates”.

They describe “Worm Regenerate” as KLF inspired dystopian techno merged with hazy Snapper inspired dirge, which is also quite accurate. You could also add a bit of classic Chris & Cosey into the mix too, and, keeping it local, some of the dark grainy electronica of Élan Vital for good measure.

Our Day 22 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Close The Door on Love” by Ersatz Savant:

“Close The Door On Love” is from a recent 4 song EP from Timaru’s remarkable DIY Glam/Goth/Post-Punk/New Wave trio.

The EP features a re-mix of “Mademoiselle” and three new songs. The EP continues in the decadent/ sinister New Wave/ Goth corruption of Bowie’s “Hunky Dory” era proto-Glam style, the songwriting, sounds, and arrangements capturing the essence of early 70s Glam as well as early 80s Gothic post-punk and New Wave.

A big part of this is vocalist, guitarist Robert Fraser’s extraordinary voice which walks a line between Bowie’s early 70s hammy music-hall poshness, and the also the sinister undertaker purr of Bahaus’ Pete Murphy, or decadent expressiveness of The Only Ones’ Peter Perrett.