Archives for posts with tag: NZ Music Month

Our Day 12 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Combine Harvester” by Opposite Sex:

After relocating to Dunedin and recording their hyper-active eponymous debut 10 years ago Opposite Sex replaced original Gisborne guitarist Fergus Taylor with Tasmanian import Reg Norris, and released two more albums, “Hamlet” in 2015 and “High Drama” earlier this year, from which “Combine Harvester” here is from. 

While Taylor provided musical and melodic counterpoints to Hunter’s dark and warped post-punk pop on album #1, Norris provides distressed and queasy dissonant guitar noise.

It’s an acquired taste, often sounding like a post-punk odd-pop group is sharing the studio with guitarist playing music by a different band – the Dead C unfortunately – which can distract from the tunefulness of Hunter’s unique songwriting. That may be the point.

The music of Opposite Sex has grown increasingly darker and mis-shapen over the years, so sometimes that extreme noise terror approach works in service of the song. “Combine Harvester” is one such occasion. Norris’s terrifying guitar noise sounds like a dozen furious wasps trapped in an empty beer bottle, amplified and then annihilated through a distortion unit.

When the song is about wishing an ex-lover was consumed by the mechanical threshing machinery of a combine harvester, that approach works just fine.

Our Day 11 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Slow Song Simmer” by Seafog:

“Slow Song Simmer” is another song from the recent Dunedin compilation “…And It Could Be Right Now – New Music From Ōtepoti​/​Dunedin” It says it is a demo for the “Slow Death” LP, presumably in the works.

Hopefully that LP retains the washed out shoegaze (seahaze?) shimmer of this because it all sounds as distant and spooky as the noise of fishing boats lost in the disorienting haze of a harbour fog in winter.

Seafog are form Port Chalmers near Dunedin, made up of guitarist and lead vocalist Robin Sharma (Jetty), guitarist Nigel Waters, bass guitarist Andrew Barsby and drummer Martyn Sadler. As they expain: “Seafog are a 4 piece that have been around for a while. We play in the garage out Port, sometimes like our lives depend on it.”

Womb 2020

First up for day one of PopLib’s 31 Days of May madness for NZ Music Month is WOMB with a new (April lockdown) release “Used to Be”:

WOMB is siblings Charlotte Forrester and Haz Forrester, along with Georgette Brown. The trio is based in Wellington and “Used To Be” precedes their second album “Under the Lights”. The song continues on from the beautiful mix of unusual folk, psychedelia, and dream-pop explored on the first album.

To support artists impacted by the COVID19 pandemic, on May 1, June 5, and July 3 (the first Friday of each month), Bandcamp is waiving their revenue share for all sales on Bandcamp, from midnight to midnight PDT (Pacific Daylight Time) on each day. New Zealand Standard Time is 19 hours behind New Zealand Standard Time (NZST) so here in NZ it is is 7pm Friday 1 May to 7pm Saturday 2 May.

We all “Used to Be” once, and hopefully soon we will resume, and continue to be, in some kind of post-pandemic ‘new normal’ involving small venue live music, which the music video for the song begins with…

NZMM 2020

Too Tone NZ Music Month

Shop display of re-purposed NZ Music Month poster at Too Tone Records (2010-2017) in Dunedin.

Our New Zealand Music Month song for day #14 is the title track from the new Aldous Harding album “Designer”*:

If you found the first two Aldous Harding albums a bit impenetrable and uncomfortable with their heavy mannerisms, wilful oddness, and dark horror (as I did) then “Designer” is the album to help you make peace with Harding’s music. It’s a glorious album of beautifully rendered often minimalist and haunting pop songs.

If songs like “Designer”* here sound a bit like Cate Le Bon that could be because the album shares a few musicians in common with Le Bon’s usual recording band. There’s still a sense of other-worldly oddness with “Designer” but it’s a subtle and considered experience this time. The songs, their musical arrangements and Harding’s lyrical flights and glorious voice keep it accessible and welcoming even when the strange word puzzles make you think twice about what’s really going on in the songs.

[NOTE: *As you may have noticed, despite attempting to embed the song “Designer”, the embed code for the song defaults to “The Barrel”. It’s another fine song from the album, but not the one I wanted to share here to highlight the album. I guess that serves me right for wanting to share something here from an already popular album on a major-ish label. So it’s back to obscure artists on labels which haven’t disabled track embeds from their Bandcamp page for the rest of the month!]

The RothmansDay 8 of the 31 Days of May for NZ Music Month 2017 comes from Dunedin noise-makers The Rothmans. Here’s their borderline-terrifying “Holstenval”

The track is from their EP A.S.L.  They are also part of new Dunedin label  trace / untrace records so that means a cassette release is probably available (or will be sometime).

“Holstenval” has the kind of dark energy, crackling electricity and angular structure and pummeling delivery reminiscent of 90s post-rock from the likes of Slint and Polvo. So, if you like your guitar rock dark, brooding, noisy, then go explore The Rothman’s catalogue. And – on the strength of the following Radio 1 live to air vide – go see them play live if you get a chance.

TPH_School Photo1_Large_Cropped

The Prophet Hens – photo by Phoebe Lysbeth K

Day 4 of the 31 Days of may Madness for New Zealand Music Month 2017 is another Dunedin tune, this time dialing up some jangling melancholia by The Prophet Hens. Here, from their 2nd album “The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys”, is “Good Shadow”

“Good Shadow” is an enigmatic song, apparently about nothing more complicated than, well, the writer/ narrator’s shadow. But it is saturated with metaphorical weight and the pay off line -“don’t let me down” seems to be sung more in resigned hope than confident direction.

As a noun “shadow” in its most direct meaning is a dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface. But it can also refer to proximity, ominous oppressiveness, or sadness and gloom. There are a lot of shadows of both kinds in Dunedin.

I’m always going on about the (oppressive) shadow cast by the past of Dunedin’s fabled 1980s music era over the current era of musicians. Unusually for a contemporary Dunedin band, The Prophet Hens wear their local influences on their sleeves (or wings) so they would probably regard it as a… “Good Shadow”!

The song (along with half the album it is from) features the wonderful voice of Penelope Esplin. She also plays the old Casiotone given to her as a child by her father which gives the song (and the album) it’s colourful fairground wheeze. Penelope’s voice can also be heard with French For Rabbits and her own duo Grawlixes, along with The Prophet Hens’ bassist Robin Cederman.

[Note: Music released on the label I run isn’t usually featured on PopLib because PopLib is more about helping with the discovery of other mostly underground/ under-known/ under-appreciated bands and musicians. I’ll be making an exception during this, the 4th year of NZ Music Month daily posts on PopLib. As over 160 great NZ songs have been released on the label over the past 11 years it seems a bit unfair to omit them from consideration. These are after all some of my favourite local bands creating some of my favourite music.]

Peach Milk 2017Day 2 of the 31 Days of May for NZ Music Month 2017 and we head to Auckland and the studio of Peach Milk for “Super-Ambi”

Peach Milk’s “Finally” EP has been one of my most-played NZ releases for the past six months. It’s perfect for a variety of occasions. Late at night (mostly), early morning, sunshine, rain.

As noted back in October 2016 the music on the 5 track EP is superbly tasteful in the sounds and the moods created, the sheen and shimmer of the synth washes, the understated beats, and the icy ambient minimalism leaving space to set the mind free to wander and imagine.

“Super-Ambi” is the last track on the EP and the most recent recording of the set, indicating the future direction of Peach Milk. It’s a future we can’t wait to discover.



Day 30 of NZ Music Month comes from Auckland/ Nashville band Punches. It’s a track from their 2011 album “Etheria” called “Downtown” –

Punches was Kelly Sharrod (Dimmer) and James Duncan (Dimmer, SJD), and on “Etheria” – recorded partly in Nashville and partly in Auckland – they were joined by a bunch of Dimmer-associated friends.

“Etheria” was released on Arch Hill Recordings in 2011 and you can still track down the CD release via the Flying Out online store.

Transcendents 2016Day 29 of NZ Music Month is the fractured rock music of Christchurch band (of one) The Transcendents. They have a new 10″ EP out Called “The Sun Is Still Asleep” and “Say Never” is the more reflective acoustic song therein.

Once more The Transcendents create their own post-rock landscape of sounds which defy most of the accepted conventions, like a song might sound in one of those dreams where your mind is stuck in a loop.

Yet, like an abstract painting, this still displays enough form for recognition. The lyrics provide a narrative and the song still has shape and form. There may be no easy listening on “The Sun Is Still Asleep” but you’ll still be rewarded for listening.

Swampy Summit Panorama

Dunedin. No pony. Unfazed.

Day 27 of NZ Music Month is a home-recorded mumbled masterpiece from Dunedin’s reclusive Fazed on a Pony, called “Palz”

I’m often reminded of Sparklehorse when I listen to Fazed on a Pony.

It’s not that the music sounds particularly alike, but it shares that sense you sometimes get from Sparklehorse songs like they are an intimate confessional from a close friend going through a difficult time.

The DIY recording, unusual ideas used in the arrangements, the general woozy melodicism of the songs and that can’t-quite-make-it-out vocal delivery all conspire together to draw you into the recording.

“Palz” is from a now sold out 5 song cassette EP called “Hunch” released last year by UK cassette label Fox Food Records.