Archives for posts with tag: Christchurch

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

Kool Aid saturated mirrorIs the Christchurch music scene only about a dozen musicians who are all interchangeably members of all of the vast multitude of fine fuzz & jangle guitar bands sprouting regularly from the South Island’s largest city?  Kool Aid provide further evidence to support this theory via their new single “Family Portrait Revisited”

Kool Aid (thankfully now shortened from a formerly longer variant involving the name of a self-styled NZ bishop and cult-leading bigot I won’t bother naming) include Jamie Stratton, Violet French, Luke Towart (Wurld Series, Adam Hattaway & The Haunters), Ben Dodd (Ben Dodd & His Organ), the ubiquitous Brian Feary (drummer in every Christchurch band this decade*), and Spencer Hall.

On the strength of “Family Portrait revisited” Kool Aid may well be the best of the bunch. Recorded at The Dogshit Factory in Christchurch, “Family Portrait Revisited” manages to combine the essence of David Kilgour’s nonchalant strum and twang with the melodic laid-back psychedelia of Rain Parade.  The more I listen to the song the more perfect it becomes. Looking forward to hearing the whole EP set for release 11 July on prolific Christchurch label Melted Ice Cream.

*Bands Brian Feary has played in include X-Ray Charles, Wurld Series, Shacklock Meth Party, Dance Asthmatics, Salad Boys, Christian Rock, and probably dozens more I’ve forgotten about or don’t know about, and if he hasn’t played drums in a band he has recorded and/or mastered their recordings and/or designed the artwork for their release. He’s the Mikey Young of the Christchurch underground scene and deserves a medal.

MinisnapSomehow missed this gem of a single “Bear Hunt” from Minisnap from 2012 with an accompanying video filmed around the ruins of earthquake damaged Christchurch.

Minisnap are an offshoot from The Bats. Basically Minisnap are The Bats (Kaye Woodward & Paul Kean and drummer Malcolm Grant) without Robert Scott, with Woodward taking the lead vocals (and songwriting) as she has done on the occasional song by The Bats over the years.

Fourth Minisnap member is guitarist Marcus Winstanley, however on this single they are joined by John White (of Mëstar, The Blueness, and the first line-up of The Prophet Hens) on layered guitars and backing/ harmony vocal. It all adds up to a perfect kind of fuzz’n’jangle popcraft with a bit of feedback shoegaze style guitar layered beneath it all. Fantastic.

Also fantastic is the full range of releases by Minisnap and The Bats available in digital format via The Bats and Associates bandcamp site which is well worth some detailed archeological excavation if you are either unfamiliar with the bands or wish to add to your collection of sublime jangling NZ guitar pop.