Archives for posts with tag: LP

“Tell Me” is the second song of an ambitious 14 song double LP of lost Dunedin music by Charcoal Burners. Choosing just one song to feature was a fraught task. “Tell Me” seemed to best encapsulate in one relatively brief song all the jangling, squalling, cyclical, melodic wonder in his amalgam of 70’s rock (Neil Young & Crazy Horse especially), hardcore-post-punk-via-shoegaze (part Hüsker Dü, part Ride, part Velvet Crush), all as re-imagined from within the hyper-busy, perhaps obsessive mind of sometimes Dunedin musician Andrew Spittle.

Since 1990 Andrew Spittle – under his own name and with bands Dating Godot, Das Phaedrus, All Red Cables and now Charcoal Burners – has independently released over 40 albums of original music as well as a handful of singles and EPs titles. The earliest releases were cassettes, progressing to Compact Disc and eventually digital releases via Bandcamp.

Just to confound and confuse, this new release on gatefold double LP called “The Scottish Play”, which is attributed to Spittle’s most recent Charcoal Burners iteration, was initially released as a Dating Godot album in 2002. Spittle was the only remaining member of the band when it was recorded, Dating Godot having dissolved after the release of 4 (!) albums into the void the previous year, so I guess 18 years on he can chose whichever name he wants to release it under.

The album features a few piano based songs, and some acoustic neo-folk, but the predominant theme is overdriven guitar rock, and an unusual but successful blend of traditional guitar rock, post-punk’s hardcore and grunge sonics, appropriated drum loops, and the textured layered soundwalls and submerged vocals of shoegaze. It’s a wonderful album, full of variety, melody, and a lot of mystery and haze.

While the album title references the alternate name used by superstitious thespians for a certain Shakespeare play, this is only loosely a ‘concept album’ and any themes around obsessive ambition and regret appear to be the personal reflections of the songwriter. But, as with the play, the story (lyrics here) sometimes offer coded universal themes.

I’d heard of Dating Godot, and saw their prolific CDs in Echo Records here in Dunedin at the time. But, without hearing them, I didn’t understand where they fitted into the music I liked. So having “The Scottish Play” (re)released in the imposing and enduring format of a double LP 18 years on is a revelation, and the discovery of a seam of ‘lost’ (overlooked) Dunedin music from the past. Having never heard this, or the band, before, there’s no aura of nostalgia. The use of drum loops ‘sampled’ painstakingly from favourite albums also gives the album a curiously contemporary but timeless feel. Like that Scottish castle, this album feels haunted by ghosts.

Spittle has been called an ‘outsider’, but most independent NZ music is made by ‘outsiders’, making music beyond the commercial mainstream, following rules of their own making, or perhaps attempting imitation of, or homage to, a particular overseas style, and failing with original results. The prolific and independent Spittle has also operated outside of any particular scene or label.

Music made in Dunedin has tended to be invisible to the world – and therefore to much of NZ. There have been rare exceptions – the 1980s and early 1990s saw a scene based around the Flying Nun Records label celebrated around the world. Then, in the 1990s Bruce Russell’s Xpressway label provided a conduit to Dunedin’s yeasty underground scene, and again in the 2010s there has been a further modest interest, facilitated by the accessibility of the internet and perhaps some post-FNR/ Xpressway curiosity. But in 2002 Dunedin was all but invisible to the world, and a band outside of recognised scenes at the time would be doubly invisible, regardless releasing 4 albums in a year. Here’s an overdue chance to correct that.


Tiny Pieces of Eight is a unique Dunedin ensemble, beholden to no scene or genre, and now responsible for one of the city’s most unusual LP releases, called “She Shanties for Frank”. Here’s the sonic wonder of “Wooden Boat”:

“She Shanties For Frank” is a wildly unconventional album. I’m not even sure what genre the music of Tiny Pieces of Eight is. If it is notionally folk, it is a very noisy, non-conformist experimental type of folk music, full of clattering percussion, reverb-heavy guitars, discordant feedback drones, pump organ, and echoes of quieter odd-folk arcana among the noise.

Deirdre Newall is the songwriter behind Tiny Pieces Of Eight.  A long while ago she was one third of award-winning Dunedin folk trio Delgirl. This album represents something altogether different and often much closer to the wilder side of Dunedin’s guitar rock heritage than Newall’s folk background.

The opening track evokes the spirit of early Jefferson Airplane, while in “Dreaming of Pluto” the electric maelstrom seems distantly related to the wild, lurching folk-infused rock created decades ago by another Dunedin oddity, The 3Ds.

Tiny Pieces Of Eight get seriously noisy on “Hymn To Poet Is” and on the track featured for this post, “Wooden Boat”, a song about Otago Harbour’s floating history. It starts with a jazzy bass line and vocal, but it soon explodes into an unexpected and exhilarating blast of crusty psychedelic space rock that would not sound out of place on a Hawkwind album from the mid 1970s.

There’s a limited run of 200 NZ-pressed LPs of “She Shanties For Frank”. Each one is in an up-cycled, re-purposed reversed LP sleeve with an eye catching stamp design.  It’s all as fiercely independent as the music on the album and I recommend you get yourself one if you get a chance.

Cate Le Bon 2019.jpg“Daylight Matters” is the first song shared ahead of the release of “Reward”, the 4th album from California-based Welsh musician Cate Le Bon, on 24 May 2019. As always with each of Le Bon’s albums, this first taste of “Reward” suggests something a little different and yet also unmistakably her good self.

Once again there’s an Eno-esque quality to the sounds on “Daylight Matters” with its gorgeous descending chords and warm blanket of treated saxophone, with twisting guitar over a gentle bed of piano chords. It’s always the unexpected touches, like the parts the instruments are playing and the melodic diversions along the way, which help provide Le Bon’s songs with their distinctive appeal. That and her unmistakable voice.

I remember this song – the words in particular – from Le Bon’s recent piano-based show in Dunedin on her recent NZ tour.  Words are important, as Le Bon explains, talking about the album name: “People hear the word ‘reward’ and they think that it’s a positive word” says Le Bon, “and to me it’s quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it’s really indicative of the times we’re living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning.”

“Reward” is available to pre-order now on all the usual formats. The pre-order from Bandcamp comes with a download of “Daylight Matters” now and the rest of the album on its release day. I’m hoping this will turn up in NZ record stores, but a digital pre-order is irresistible in the meantime.

grand veymontNot long after the release of Grand Veymont’s second album they are back (in time) with the LP (re)release of their self-titled debut album. Here’s “Les Rapides Bleus” – a song about travel and escape.

Grand Veymont is Béatrice Morel Journel and Josselin Varengo. They described their music as “long improvisations with only constraints the number of hands available and an installation of organs and synthesizers…[which] superimpose exotic-medieval melodies on a bed of Krautrock, Waltz or Tango rhythms” when releasing their second album, “Route du Vertige”, earlier this year.

This first Grand Veymont album is a slightly stripped back variation on the morphing long-form constructions of that excellent second album. “Les Rapides Bleus” here is the shortest and most “pop” of the 4 tunes here, and a perfect introduction to the French duo.

The album is a blend of minimalist motorik keyboard based music (synth arpeggios and dueling organs, vocals and occasional drums), sometimes reminiscent of Stereolab, as much due to Journel’s vocal delivery – sung in French (obviously, given their geographic location).

But Grand Veymont have their own character, with longer songs like the 13 minute opener “Je cours apres avant” morphing into classical styled twin-keyboard improvisations which take on an oddly psychedelic character – a theme taken even much further on their 2nd album.

The glorious layered 9-minute track “L’odyssée du petit parleur” is as quietly wonderful as anything on “Route du Vertige” and the closing track “Upie” a playful experimental adventure in grainy dub-electronica and looped, layered voices. These four very different tunes add up to an intriguing debut, now on LP on Outre Disque.

Their 2nd album “Route du Vertige” is available on LP on French underground pop label Objet Disque.



grand veymont“Route du Vertige” is the title of a 2018 album of experimental medieval krautrock by French duo Grand Veymont and “Valse Tango” is the 10-minute opening trip.

Grand Veymont is Josselin Varengo and Béatrice Morel Journel. they describe their music as “long improvisations with only constraints the number of hands available and an installation of organs and synthesizers…[which] superimpose exotic-medieval melodies on a bed of Krautrock, Waltz or Tango rhythms.”

“Valse Tango” is exactly this… multiple keyboard/ synth parts interwoven and ever-changing. At times reminiscent of exploratory psycehedelic rock, medieval music, and the kind of repetitive human-made machine music of the likes of Harmonia and Cluster.

The vocals add an extra element of other-wordliness to this. Combined with the motorik keyboard music, sometimes evokes the kind of European grand pop of Stereolab, and at other times the wordless voice improvises flights of fantasy into the aether. The whole album is unusual, accessible and quite brilliant.

“Route du Vertige” is available on LP on French underground pop label Objet Disque.

Grand Veymont have another  album out on 1 February 2019 on Outre Disque. It’s a remixed and re-arranged physical LP release of their digital self-released first album from 2016.

Bitumen_2018.jpg“Twice Shy” is from the first album by Melbourne post-punk band Bitumen. “Discipline Reaction” was released a few weeks ago by Melbourne label Vacant Valley.

As noted here last year when the band released two songs on a split cassette, Bitumen present beautifully crafted post-punk – a hint of the ice-cold pummeling sound of Clan of Xymox and the ice-storm guitar skirl of Skeletal Family but Melbourne has been the home of this kind of industrial futuristic pop music for even longer than Germany or the UK.

Carb on Carb 2018Day 18 of PopLib’s 31 Days of may marathon for New Zealand music month is the epic closing track of the brand new album by Wellington “emo pop-punk” duo Carb on Carb – “Mitimiti”.

“Mitimiti” is a song about NZ, homecoming, travelling, the places you find that re-connect you to life, to friends and family, to the country, to the world. Mitimiti, the place, is a tiny settlement on the wild West Coast of Northland just below the start of 90 Mile Beach, a long drive along winding gravel roads. If there’s a theme to the album “For Ages” its about travel and home-coming and the people and life in between.

Carb on Carb’s take on “emo pop-punk” is not what you may associate with the genre if your only exposure was the hyper-produced blast of US bands. The guitar/ drums duo of Nicole Gaffney and James Stuteley means there’s plenty of space and dynamics in Carb on Carb’s sound. This is just great honest melodic guitar-pop for real lives by real people.  “For Ages” is released on LP and CD on their own label Papaiti Records.

Suggested Friends.jpgSuggested Friends describe their sound as ‘tweemo’ and, while this is no doubt tongue-in-cheek, it does indeed combine some noisy emotional punk pop with the kind of perfect melodic songcraft that would’ve fitted perfectly on Sarah Records in the 90s. Here’s 1 minute 51 seconds of their perfect melodic songcraft:

Suggested Friends are from London and comprised of Jack McGinn, Kirsty Fife, Faith Taylor, & Christabel Williams.  “I Can’t Roll My Eyes That Far (Back)” is almost impossibly melodic and bounds through so many twists and turns in a short time – including a glorious fuzzy 12-string guitar solo – that it fair takes the breath away.

It’s on their self-titled album, which is out on LP format on Cardiff’s Odd Box Records.  Give it a whirl and while you are there check out the other releases on this enterprising DIY label.

AJ Sharma

“Red is the Colour” is a wonderfully odd, unsettling and dark track from the new album “Tabla Diablo” by Dunedin avant-folk musician AJ Sharma.

If very early Bonnie “Prince” Billy/ Palace Brothers is your thing, or the singular vision of Dunedin’s Alastair Galbraith, step right into the world of AJ Sharma. He’s a fellow traveler in fractured and direct outsider music, played simply, obeying no rules save the ones he makes himself.  Guitar, voice, and the atmosphere created by those sounds vibrating the air in a room, as recorded expertly in its raw honesty by Forbes Williams.

“Red is the Colour” features an additional vocalist adding a kind of ghostly backing vocal. It sounds like a very small child. It’s more unsettling than cute though, possessing the song with an disturbing otherness. Perfect of course for the atmosphere of an AJ Sharma album, described by label CocoMuse Releases as: “An assemblage of real life characters all dealing with death in their own way: Art Teachers, Outsiders, Rock-Gods, Poets, Prophets, Trees, Stars, Tortoise, Bar-Flies, Friends, Family, Cosmic Forces, Visionaries and the Unknown.”

I have a 7″ lathecut by AJ from over 20 years ago, recorded in Invercargill, release 1994. In between times he has been part of the fabulous late 1990s/ early 2000s Dunedin band Jetty and released an album called “Santo” in 2008 “The Road Back” in 2010 and “You are a Traveler” in 2013.  There have been other small run lathe cut singles and tracks on compilations… usually hard to find.

AJ Sharma’s “Tabla Diablo” album (LP) is available in Europe from Zelle Records and in NZ and the rest of the world from CocoMuse Releases.


Beaches by Darren Sylvester

BEACHES (photo by Darren Sylvester)

Continuing the heavy psych theme, here’s a blissful Sunday Psych-out fuzzfest called “Arrow” from Melbourne five-piece band BEACHES:

BEACHES have just released (September 2017) a double album of ultra-melodic psychedelic rock called “Second of Spring”. Actually, it’s a bit more than *just* psych rock, as the double LP format allows the band to mix their usual 60s/ 70s psych-rock via German 70s experimental motorik and 80s New Wave goodness with even more shoegaze melodic pop stylings to great effect, as “Arrow” here shows.

Some songs may even remind anyone who has established a long-running relationship with Australian alternative guitar music (guilty here) of the fuzzy melodic power-pop goodness of the likes of 80s/ 90s bands The Hummingbirds or Someloves. To my ears BEACHES more natural propulsive and joyful psychedelic stylings are way more preferable than the over-worked self-indulgent noodling of some of their much more vaunted Australian psych-rock contemporaries. Enough said!

BEACHES are Antonia Sellbach on guitar and vocals, Alison Bolger on guitar and vocals, Ali McCann on guitar and vocals, Gill Tucker on bass and vocals and Karla Way on drums and vocals.

They’ve been playing and releasing singles, EPs and albums as BEACHES since 2008. You really ought to dig back into their catalogue for stunning gems like the 2013 release “She Beats” which features even more motorik psych+melodic fuzzrock wonders.