Archives for posts with tag: New Wave
Photo credit: Alex Lovell-Smith

“VIC” is the latest single from Asta Rangu, ahead of an epic-sounding first album “ENTRTNMNT” due out at the end of May. The song is a reflection on Western society’s “fascination with celebrity, legacy and progress”.

“VIC” is the least fidgety, most poppy (in a New Wave kind of way) song Asta Rangu have released so far. It’s also their best. Sometimes with popcraft less is more, certainly in turning a hook-filled song into a sing-along classic.

Asta Rangu is the latest music creation entity of Richard Ley-Hamilton, since 2017. Prior to that he led helium-powered Dunedin surf-pop band Males, who combined their first two EPs and single on a release called “Run Run Run/ MalesMalesMales” in 2013 then followed that with an album “None The Wiser” a few years later, both of which are essential listens if you want to tune into Dunedin music in the mid-twenty-tens.

In addition to Ley-Hamilton (who also plays in Space Bats, Attack! and Bathysphere) Asta Rangu also features some heavyweights of the noisier end of contemporary Dunedin music scene with guitarist Julie Dunn (Bathysphere), drummer Josh Nicholls (Koizilla, Space Bats, Attack! Dale Kerrigan) and bassist Angus McBryde (Bye Bye Fishes).

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. 

Ersatz Savant mirrorTimaru, a city of 44,000 people, situated midway down the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, half way between Christchurch and Dunedin, is world famous for absolutely bloody nothing. The last record shop in Timaru closed last century. Even the claim that a member of the Jean Paul Sartre Experience came from Timaru turned out to be a lie, played for laughs. But Timaru has news for you: Ersatz Savant. Have a listen to “Improvement” from Ersatz Savant’s second album, ambitiously named “II”:

In a world of fakes and imitations, the name chosen for this musical project is self-deprecating, signifying an inferior substitute for a learned person. But this is actually a pretty classy, and ultimately original album. There’s nothing inferior about “II” at all. It is quite wonderful.

The album sounds like a sometimes sinister New Wave/ Goth corruption of Bowie’s “Hunky Dory” era proto-Glam style. What the self-recorded album lacks in studio sheen it more than makes up for in strong songwriting as well as sounds and arrangements capturing the essence of early 70s Glam as well as early 80s Gothic post-punk.

But the crowning jewel is Ersatz Savant’s extraordinary voice which walks a line between Bowie’s early 70s hammy music-hall poshness and Pete Murphy’s sinister undertaker purr.  Added all together “II” is an intriguing and hugely enjoyable album. Who would have guessed it, Timaru?

Veronique Vincent.jpgHere’s a blast from the future past, via a 30 year old recording “Ex-Futur Album” finally released a few years ago on Belgian label Crammed Discs.

Véronique Vincent was the vocalist from 1980s New Wave band The Honeymoon Killers. Their  1981 album “Les Tueurs de la Lune de Miel” is one of my favourites from this era.

Aksak Maboul were inextricably linked with The Honeymoon Killers through common personnel but their own releases were on the far-out weird-pop fringe of the avant-garde European New Wave, compared to The Honeymoon Killers more accessible avant-pop.

Aksak Maboul’s Marc Hollander was the founder of Crammed Discs and, together with Veronique Vincent, wrote and recorded “Ex-Futur Album” between 1980 and 1983 before the project was abandoned for reasons unexplained.

It’s not a typical Aksak Maboul release by any means. Instead it is typically idiosyncratic European pop, mixing electronic dance music with inventive exotic French pop stylings and goodness knows what else. What I’ve heard of it sounds utterly contemporary. It’s hard to imagine how this would have fitted into any ‘scene’ at the time of its creation, which may explain why it took 30 years to be released.

Here’s the current 2016 version of the band (presently touring Europe), with a song from the recent album of re-visitations of “Ex-Futur Album” by various contemporary contributors (including Veronique Vincent & Marc Hollander).

allison-crutchfield“Dean’s Room” is the first single, 3 months ahead of the release of an album called “Tourist in this Town” by Allison Crutchfield. The more you hear it, the more you want to hear it again. Pop perfection.

A song from the excellent Allison Crutchfield mini album “Lean In To It” was featured here on PopLib two years ago. That was more sparse and mellow melodic fuzzy synth-pop by comparison to this first tune from the new album, due out 27 January 2017.

“Dean’s Room” is firing on all cylinders – pummeling drums, distorted bass, an epic cheesy synth melody, nagging guitar lines and a sublime vocal delivery. If this new tune is any indication of the album, the pace and intensity has been ratcheted up to New Wave levels and the pop-tastic melodic quotient rivals any classic Blondie tunes.