Archives for category: Pop Lib

francisca griffin 2019Dunedin musician Francisca Griffin releases a new album “The Spaces Between” on 25 January. “Stardust” has been shared ahead of the release. It’s an intriguing forewarning of an album that promises to be just a little bit different to what you may have expected from the former Look Blue Go Purple bassist.

Sure enough “Stardust” starts with a distinctive made-in-Dunedin jangling strum. But the busy tumbling drums of Griffin’s son Gabriel (better known in Dunedin for his extraordinary drumming with improvisational free-noise ensemble Sewage) warns this may not conform to preconceived expectations.

Then, at about the 1 minute 30 seconds mark “Stardust” explodes like a supernova, solar flares of plasma manifesting in Forbes Williams’ structural guitar noise. That unexpected combination of prototypical Dunedin jangling folk-rock and equally prototypical Dunedin noise-rock forms propels the song into the “Stardust” of the title.  It all makes for something quite unusual and glorious.

In addition to Francisca Griffin, Gabriel Griffin, and Forbes Williams here, the album  includes contributions from Alastair Galbraith, Ro Rushton-Green (Sewage), Deirdre Newall (Tiny Pieces of Eight), Alan Haig (The Chills, Snapper), Mick Elborado (The Terminals, Negative Nancies), Alexander Griffin, Peter Stapleton (The Terminals, Dark Matter, Eye), and Kath Webster (Look Blue Go Purple).

“The Spaces Between” can be pre-ordered on all the usual formats on Cocomuse Releases now.


current affairs

Current Affairs are from Glasgow and the reverb-heavy chorus and flange guitar sound of “Breeding Feeling” draws on that classic post-punk sound, adding its own distinctive joyous earworm chorus.

“Breeding Feeling” is one of two tracks on a new 7″ single from Current Affairs out on Glasgow label Not Unloved label. The song (and the B-Side) captures perfectly the exotic dark kind of guitar sound often attributed to fellow Scot John McGeoch (from Greenock, near Glasgow, and Magazine, Banshees & PIL guitarist). There’s also a bit of the fidgety ice cool brilliance of bands like Josef K (on legendary Glasgow label Postcard Records in the early 1980s) about this song’s totally wired energy.

Current Affairs are Joan (The Royal We/Seconds/Rose McDowall‘s band), Seb (ex-Anxiety), Josh (The Downs/Kaspar Hauser/Rose McDowall’s band/Jacob Yates) and Andrew (Shopping/Milk Records).

If you like the sound of Current Affairs check out the link through to guitarist Josh Longton’s earlier band Kaspar Hauser.

fazed on a pony 2019“Natural Toast” is a new release from Dunedin former bedroom DIY pop outfit, now fully-fledged band, Fazed on a Pony.  The FoaP bandcamp says: ““Natural Toast” is the first track from our new EP, out 1 February on trace / untrace records.”

“Natural Toast” is sweetly recorded at the Radio One studio. The buttery studio sheen is spread on a considerably thicker slice of sound than the previous self-recorded introverted masterpieces we’ve enjoyed from FoaP over the years. Smeared all over that buttery sound slice are some delicious jammy fuzzy guitars, smokey low-key vocals and a sprinkle of subtle synth.

Fazed on a Pony is now a 5 piece band, incorporating members of a couple of other Dunedin bands. Josh Nicholls and Connor Blackie are also in Koizilla while synth player Jayde Medder also alternates between guitar and drums in dynamic, hard-to-pigeonhole newcomers Mary Berry. Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Peter McCall has been a key part of Kane Strang‘s band in recent years too.

Drinks Cate le Bon Tim PresleyHappy New Year! It’s traditional to celebrate the arrival of the New Year with drinks, so here’s Drinks with “Corner Shops”.

“Corner Shops” is from an album called “Hippo Lite” released April 2018 by LA based avant-pop outfit Drinks. Drinks is made up of Welsh psych-pop experimenter Cate Le Bon and US anglo-phile lo-fi pop fanatic Tim Presley (White Fence).

It’s a great combination of musical adventurers.  Presley’s stock-in-trade is a kind of oddly British take on US garage rock, mixing a bit of early, Syd Barrett-era, Pink Floyd with some deconstructed Kinks and Who style pop into the scratchy melodic din. Le Bon’s music encompasses psych-pop, folk, avant-garde experimental pop and her own kind of unique spark that sets her apart as an original.

“Corner Shops” combines the best of these two artists, – music by turns playful, haunting, beautifully melodic, experimental in a post-punk kind of way, and just a bit minimalist and weirdly off-kilter, like some contemporary development of the partially familiar but strangely original musical forms of the likes of post-Roxy Music Eno or Robert Wyatt in his various post-Soft machine forms.

Cate Le Bon tours NZ in February, playing piano, accompanied by John Thomas (Cate Le Bon/Islet) on synth and sampler, for an intimate rework of her diverse catalogue.

Cate le bon NZ tour.jpg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot a ‘best of’. Just a quick round up of 10 favourite songs released in 2018 by artists featured here on PopLib, all brought together in one post for your ease of end-of-year discovery in case you missed them during the year.

Drahla – Twelve Divisions of The Day

Hairband – Flying

Thought Creature – Paradise

Negative Nancies – Candy Milk

Earth To Zena – Celestial Skins

The Ocean Party – Rain on Tin

Emily Fairlight – Body Below

Blades of Joy – Be Kind

Wurld Series – Slow Going

Synth Sisters – She Sang


But wait! There’s more!! As an extra bonus here’s another 5 songs, all from Dunedin releases in 2018.

Negative Nancies – I Wish

Koizilla – Take me to the Shop?

Bad Sav – Hen’s Teeth

Death And The Maiden – Hourglass

Stef Animal – Dragon Swirl


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a song from another of PopLib’s favourite albums of 2018 you probably haven’t heard of. “Sinking Ship” is from Emily Fairlight‘s self-released album “Mother of Gloom”, a slow-burning masterpiece of dark and damaged alternative folk music which has a heart of emotionally-charged pop.

Some would label the music on “Mother of Gloom” as “Americana”. I’ve never been sure what that word actually means. Or how it can be applied to the music of a singer-songwriter originating from the fertile Christchurch/ Lyttelton scene that produced the likes of Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding and helped develop Port Chalmers musician Nadia Reid. Emily Fairlight has also been based in Wellington before a recent shift south to Dunedin.

Sure there’s a hint of country in Fairlight’s music; a slow-strummed acoustic guitar tends to do that. And, although Fairlight is from the South Island of New Zealand, the album was recorded by Doug Walseth of The Cat’s Eye Studio in Austin, Texas, with Okkervil River drummer Cully Symington and multi-instrumentalist Kullen Fuchs (trumpet, accordion, omnichord, vibraphone) adding further exotic instruments to the atmospheric song arrangements. So there is legitimately something of Texas in the mix as well as the unstable geography of New Zealand’s South Island.

However, it is Fairlight’s striking, resonant voice which is the key to breathing these songs into life. It’s a wonderfully distinctive instrument in its own right, full of a dark magic – including a hair-raising vibrato – and carrying the weight of a world of heartbreak and torment.

To compare Fairlight’s voice to the likes of Emmylou Harris, Angel Olsen and Natalie Merchant – which is the kind of company it belongs among – runs the risk of denying its own unique powerful character.

In the end the only place that matters for “Mother of Gloom” is the space – metaphorically-speaking – between the head and the heart. Don’t be put off by the most likely tongue-in-cheek album title – “Mother of Gloom” is a rich and ultimately uplifting album of songs of perseverance and survival.

Emily fairlight Mirrow image

Princess Chelsea 2018Here’s more “Music For Christmas” #2 in the form of the latest Princess Chelsea album “The Loneliest Girl”.  Most likely all Princess Chelsea – and Lil’ Chief Records – fans will have the album. But it’s a great gift idea for anyone who loves a bit of dark alternative pop music. Here’s the self-explanatory “Growing Older” from the album to get your exploration underway.

“The Loneliest Girl” is the fourth album by globe-trotting Chelsea Nikkel, following “Lil’ Golden Book” and “The Great Cybernetic Depression” and a recent album of cover versions. It’s the best of the lot. It’s much less stylised synth pop than the previous albums, and, a more expansive, varied and exploratory collection of great pop songs.

“The Loneliest Girl” is a knowing and emotionally brave collection of reflections on real life, mixed with somewhat dark and melancholy fantasy, and all wrapped up in a set of glorious Serge Gainsbourg-esque arrangements. As you can hear on this track “Respect The Labourers”, complete with strings and sax solo outro: