Archives for posts with tag: Wellington

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a song from another of PopLib’s favourite albums of 2018 you probably haven’t heard of. “Sinking Ship” is from Emily Fairlight‘s self-released album “Mother of Gloom”, a slow-burning masterpiece of dark and damaged alternative folk music which has a heart of emotionally-charged pop.

Some would label the music on “Mother of Gloom” as “Americana”. I’ve never been sure what that word actually means. Or how it can be applied to the music of a singer-songwriter originating from the fertile Christchurch/ Lyttelton scene that produced the likes of Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding and helped develop Port Chalmers musician Nadia Reid. Emily Fairlight has also been based in Wellington before a recent shift south to Dunedin.

Sure there’s a hint of country in Fairlight’s music; a slow-strummed acoustic guitar tends to do that. And, although Fairlight is from the South Island of New Zealand, the album was recorded by Doug Walseth of The Cat’s Eye Studio in Austin, Texas, with Okkervil River drummer Cully Symington and multi-instrumentalist Kullen Fuchs (trumpet, accordion, omnichord, vibraphone) adding further exotic instruments to the atmospheric song arrangements. So there is legitimately something of Texas in the mix as well as the unstable geography of New Zealand’s South Island.

However, it is Fairlight’s striking, resonant voice which is the key to breathing these songs into life. It’s a wonderfully distinctive instrument in its own right, full of a dark magic – including a hair-raising vibrato – and carrying the weight of a world of heartbreak and torment.

To compare Fairlight’s voice to the likes of Emmylou Harris, Angel Olsen and Natalie Merchant – which is the kind of company it belongs among – runs the risk of denying its own unique powerful character.

In the end the only place that matters for “Mother of Gloom” is the space – metaphorically-speaking – between the head and the heart. Don’t be put off by the most likely tongue-in-cheek album title – “Mother of Gloom” is a rich and ultimately uplifting album of songs of perseverance and survival.

Emily fairlight Mirrow image

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paperghostA new 4 song EP from paperghost has appeared out of the aether. It has the wonderful title “A Million Dead Dust Motes Hum To Life”. Here’s the opening track, “A Map of Things”

It has been three and a half years since the last Paperghost release. If this is a kind of electronic dream-folk, it is from a future in which dreams are monitored, recorded, mixed and played via some kind of glitchy synth-connected bio-ether-net, controlled by telepathic sentient insect networks.

Paperghost’s fractured yet cohesive futurist sound is a strange alternate-reality with enough conventional melody and rhythm to hold it together and work as rich and detailed subversive pop music. There is much here to explore…

Earth to ZenaEarth to Zena are a 4-piece band from Wellington describing themselves – very accurately – as ‘psychedelic shoegaze’. Here’s the remarkable “Celestial Skins” from their debut album, “Transmundane”:

“Celestial Skins” here represents the best of all the bands’ elements combined together. There’s muscular crushing space rock noise (Hawkwind, circa “Space Ritual”, with Lemmy on bass!) to open and close the song, and, in-between, passages of diaphanous dream-pop/ shoegaze wonder, plus a kind of free-flowing psychedelic rock reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane. The outro combines everything – plus added synth – in a celestial celebration of distorted glorious saturated noise.

Lead vocalist Renee Cotton also plays synthesizer, adding extra textures and melodies to the futuristic (and Hawkwind-esque space rock) elements of the sound, with Barton McGuire on guitar, Alex Sipahioglu on bass and Nic Allan on drums.

“Transmundane” is a great collection of strong songs, rendered with confidence and style, and also quite often with the amps and effects turned up past the point of no return. Give it a whirl for yourself!

Tidal Rave FOMOWellington band Tidal Rave are back with a great new single “FOMO”:

Their EP last year had a churning claustrophobic feel, reminiscent of the dark garage rock of 1980s Christchurch band The Terminals.

“FOMO” is lighter – there’s more space around the three guitars to let the song breath – and the combination of keyboard with those three guitarists brings to mind the wry chamber pop of another 1980s/ 90s Flying Nun band The Able Tasmans, or perhaps even the Sarah Records pop of bands like Even As We Speak.

It has a distinctive Australasian feel to it. Maybe it’s the way we strum guitars down here, but it’s also in that distinctively Antipodean conversational vocal delivery and storytelling from Emmie Ellis, who takes the lead vocal here, and says of the the song “An ode for the excitable drunk who never wants to go home. Maybe based on real-life events.”   

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.

full moon fiasco photo by Laura Cherry

Full Moon Fiasco [photo by Laura Cherry]

Day 14 of PopLib’s 31 Days of May for New Zealand Music Month comes from Wellington psychedelic group Full Moon Fiasco and “Summer Eyes”.

“Summer Eyes” is the title track of an excellent album released late last year on Fantasy Fiction. Full Moon Fiasco is another Will Rattray band, and listening to this track, and the other songs there’s a clear link to the music of his other band, Thought Creature.

While Thought Creature mix their psychedelic approach with a bit of dance music and even glam rock, Full Moon Fiasco are more of a ‘traditional’ style of psychedelia. There’s a bit of the spirit of Pink Floyd’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” to the sound at times, but mostly it has more of a grainy “Pebbles”/ “Nuggets” era style of garage rock psychedelia. It’s an album well worth the time tracking down an LP copy if you are that way inclined.

ThisisDEAFDay 10 of our 31 Days of May for New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Wellington band DEAF and their darkly atmospheric post-punk stunner “Truancy” –

“Truancy” is earworm pop – a gloriously constructed and recorded piece of freakishly hummable oddness, built on monstrous chorus bass, subtle arpeggio guitars, foggy synth washes and intriguing vocals delivering a chorus that may or may not be be “what I want to be, when I finally grow up, is a clown.”

Former Sunken Seas guitarist Luke Kavanagh is the distinctive vocalist here. It’s a winning vocal performance that makes the song, reminiscent of the slightly unhinged nocturnal otherness of say Fad Gadget, or Gary Numan, and perfectly matched to the dark-yet-accessible melodic post-punk of “Truancy”.

DEAF are comprised of former members of Sunken Seas and Tiddabades. In addition to Luke Kavanagh’s guitar and vocals, DEAF consists of Hayden Ellis (bass), Craig Rattray (drums) and synth players Mat Machray & Jarrod Crossland.  “Truancy” is a very promising introduction and taster for an EP expected later in the year.

Only at Day 10 of our NZ Music Month trawl through the uncharted waters of New Zealand music on bandcamp. Songs you won’t hear on any mainstream radio station (or Spotify playlist for that matter) in NZ Music Month or any other month but all well capable of being the soundtrack to our lives if we take the time to explore and listen beneath the surface.