Archives for posts with tag: Christchurch

…And while we are in Ōtautahi Christchurch, and still with Melted Ice Cream Records, here’s something completely different from Local Tourist, also released last month. “Colors” is the opening track from a quiet album of introspection called “Other Ways of Living”:

“Other Ways of Living” also features the bassist on the previously featured Best Bets album, Joe Sampson. He’s more familiar as a guitarist, cranking out sublime noise with a variety of Christchurch bands (T54, Salad Boys, etc.) and it’s as guitarist and bassist that he appears here, but in a more subdued, reflective mood.

US born songwriter Erin Umstead was living in Christchurch, New Zealand and frequenting local live music venue Darkroom where she met bassist/guitarist Joe Sampson (Salad Boys, T54) and drummer Rory Dalley (Ben Woods Group). Local Tourist formed, However, the pandemic and visa complications halted any chance of extensive touring and Umstead was forced to leave her adopted home, but not before the group recorded this album, over her last few days in New Zealand.

The album is an immersive listen. If you are familiar with the work of Wellington’s WOMB, and American Analog Set, then you will understand the power of introspection.

Back to NZ, where’s there’s been a flurry of new releases as summer turns to autumn downunder. One person Ōtautahi/ Chr istchurch-based shoegaze pop enigma T. G. Shand (Annemarie Duff) has just released a new song “Little Sieve” also available as a very limited edition lathe-cut single.

Compared to the preceding single “Seats” released in December – a thrilling mix of electro-clash of Curve-style crunchy drum-heavy layered guitar rock, clattering post-punk bass, Cocteau Twins-style liquid guitars and a hyper-melodic chorus of layered heavenly voices – “Little Sieve” here dials back the noise for a blissful a lighter-than-air atmospheric dream-gaze-pop song, delivered in a vocal version and in an equally wonderful instrumental version mixed with field recordings.

Here’s a fabulous brand new slice of 21st century post-shoegaze guitar-pop from Christchurch musician Annemarie Duff flying as T. G. Shand.

Following on from two excellent singles earlier this year – “The Ease” back in February, and “Lemony” in July – “Seats” here is the most arresting and sonically complex of the three.

It’s a little bit off kilter, in a very good way, rocking a mesmerising electro-clash of Curve-style crunchy drum-heavy layered guitar rock, clattering post-punk bass, Cocteau Twins-style liquid guitars and a hyper-melodic chorus of layered heavenly voices.

What’s ahead in 2022 from T. G. Shand? Download these songs and follow the T. G. Shand Bandcamp and you will find out directly as soon as something new is released.

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 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 16 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Call Centre” by Les Baxters

Les Baxters, described as a “tabletop electronica quartet” emerged 7 years ago from the post-earthquake Christchurch/ Ōtautahi experimental sound scene. The NZ ensemble is made up of long-time friends John Chrisstoffels (The Terminals, Dark Matter), Dave Imlay (Into the Void, No Exit), Paul Sutherland (Into the Void, Fence), and Erin Kimber (Sheet Sweater). They draw on a love of sci-fi movie soundtracks, Deutsche Elektronika, goth-doom, and ambient techno, using vintage synths, Theremin, Casio beats, and found recordings to create their music.

While the name references the master of kitsch exotica, US composer Les Baxter, who released dozens of albums of soundtrack music and exotica (including Yma Sumac albums) in the 1950s and 1960s, the NZ Les Baxters are (much) less about kitsch exotica, and heavily into experimental sound collage and old/odd instruments.

If there’s a style to describe such a varied collection of sound-making, it probably aligns closest to the UK “hauntology” scene, but with the retro-futurist aesthetic given a more international – and experimental – scope. Best example of where this sits in the landscape of sound would be the classic album Broadcast And The Focus Group ‎– Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age. In other words, adventurous, multi-layered musical sound-art that the listener can get lost in for a long time.

Les Baxters eponymous album is available on LP and digital from CocoMuse Releases.

Here’s the second single shared ahead of the March release of the Wurld Series album “What’s Growing”… something from the other side of the Wurld Series universe. “Supplication” reveals a surprise pastoral psychedelic folk side of the Christchurch band:

Wurld Series has been creating little gems of EPs for a few years now. Previous releases were generally on the lo-to-medium-fidelity end of the spectrum; perfect for the DIY melodic pop with fuzzy wandering lead guitar lines.

This time their “Pavement-y” influence is less of the slacker pop style and more the wonky melodic psych-folk element of that band (and a bit of Brit-Psych-Folk too). The loopy off-kilter lead guitar is replaced by various mellotron and flute sounds. It’s charming and different and sounds like there’s more of this once the full album is released next month:

“The songs contained in What’s Growing are submerged within reeling guitar, hypnotic mellotron and meditative drones. Lyrical themes include post apocalyptic living, extraterrestrial visitation, TV game show monsters and the workplace as a dreamlike medieval dystopia. At times traces of Tall Dwarfs or The 3Ds can be heard. More obvious American 90’s indie rock influences are also evident, alongside a clear strain of unsettling, pastoral British psych folk that runs throughout the album. What’s Growing is a compact statement of intent; a collage of full-noise indie rock recordings and minimal, psychedelic, and homespun artefacts.”

There are still some LPs available to pre-order but it may be best to pre-order soon if you want to make sure you get a copy of the LP in March.

Minus 2 were an off-shoot of long-running Christchurch band The Terminals, made up of guitarist and singer Stephen Cogle, bassist/ cellist John Christoffels and keyboard player Mick Elborado. They recorded a couple of albums in the early 2000s, released as limited CD-r runs on small underground labels. This song “Crocus” is second of these Minus 2 albums “Joy of Return”:

Minus 2 recorded “Joy of Return” album about 2002 or 2003, but it wasn’t released until 2009 on 50cc Records. It has recently been made available again via Mick Elborado’s ‘Melbo’ Bandcamp as a free download. I would have happily paid generously for this – it’s an extraordinary collection of dark swirling folk-pop-noir.

The mix of keyboard and a weaving lead guitar line here means “Crocus” sounds like a demo for a mid-period Felt song, from the Ignite The Seven Cannons And Set Sail For The Sun album, the only to feature both guitarist Maurice Deebank and organist Martin Duffy. But instead of Lawrence we have the distinctive ominous vibrato baritone proclamation of Stephen Cogle.

Whereas The Terminals were often a multi-instrument wall of sound, the percussion free space of Minus 2 gives a different kind of setting for Cogle’s voice, and the resulting music has a character of its own. The whole album is glorious, and the epic title track closing the album – a duet with Nicole Moffet – is particularly wonderful:

Cowboy Machine are from Christchurch and part of the wide (and wild) Melted Ice Cream Records family. As the name suggests this band is part cowboy (in the loosest sense of the word, which doesn’t involve prairies, horses, wide-brimmed hats, yodeling, or indeed cows) and part machine (in the rowdy guitar plugged into a noisy amp sense of the word). Here’s the emotionally cathartic “Sand Dunes”:

Cowboy Machine is guitarist and vocalist Mikey Summerfield (The Undercurrents), Marcus Winstanley (The Undercurrents, Minisnap) on bass, along with drummer Thomas Isbister and organ (not keyboard) player Josh Braden, the latter two formerly of the frenetic prog-noise merchants Butterflies Welcoming Spring and even more experimental Hermit Permit. Brian Feary (who else) recorded, produced and mastered the recording which is not unusual, but he does not also play in this band, which is unusual, as he plays in so many Christchurch groups.

Cowboy Machine sound more like an Australian guitar band than a New Zealand one, although Christchurch is the Australia of New Zealand in a way (or maybe just the Melbourne and Brisbane of NZ).

It appears a somewhat rough and tumble interpretation of what a city slicker might imagine “Country Music” should be, if played like rock music, but it’s not country punk or anything like that.

Instead there’s something immediately loveable (in a roguish charmer kind of way) about this song, maybe from the melodic flights it takes, or Mikey’s wild but sometimes extraordinary vocals (like when he does those falsetto parts), or the kind of Stoned tumbledown beauty of the guitar thrashing, or the combination of all these slightly ramshackle parts into a piece of oddly affecting soul music. It’s not the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” but it’s a feral beast of it’s own peculiar NZ/ Australasian breed.

Cowboy Machine also appeared on the Melted Ice Cream compilation CD “Sickest Smashes From Arson City” a year of so back, with a song called “To The Border”. It’s another great ramshackle tune, and the video – which consists of Mikey and the band doing a lot of wandering around and pointing at things – is also a bit of loose’n’light fun in the Christchurch sun.

T G Shand

Our song for Day 3 of New Zealand Music Month 2020 comes from another Christchurch artist, T.G. Shand. It’s the title track of a just-released 4 song EP called “Golden Hour”.

T. G. Shand is Annemarie Duff ( Miniatures’ ) and the accomplished EP was self recorded/ produced.

“Golden Hour” is an enchanting dream-pop concoction, vocals floating on clouds of chorus and reverb guitars and programmed drums, in a way that inevitably will trigger memories for some of 1990s Cocteau Twins (“Heaven or Las Vegas” era onwards). It’s a high bar for a debut EP but “Golden Hour” (the song and the EP) is convincing and satisfies any shoegaze-to-dream-pop cravings you may have.

NZMM 2020