Archives for posts with tag: Zelle Records

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.

 

Advertisements

Seafog_2017Day 6 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness keeps things in Dunedin again (and why not?). Your Saturday blast comes from crusty Port Chalmers punks Seafog and their brilliantly odd and spiky tribute to legendary Dunedin venue “The Crown”.

The debut Seafog album “Raise Your Skinny Fist” had a kind of wiry treble guitar sound and spidery lo-fi charm. But this 6 track EP “Dig It On Up” is a more muscular beast, recapturing the primal essence of Sharma’s 90s band Jetty.  It’s available on 12″ vinyl from Zelle Records and it’s one of this year’s essential Dunedin releases.

“The Crown” is the perfect song about The Crown too. “Welcome to The Crown!” says actual Crown proprietor and local legend Jones Chin at the start. “Play some pool! Here’s some change for the jukebox!” 

Crown Hotel

The Crown is not my favourite venue in Dunedin, but it is the most distinctive of basic live music spaces, essentially a bit of floor at the far end of the public bar. There’s an interesting cross section of Dunedin society co-mingling. It’s best to go with a friend if you are of a nervous disposition or lead a sheltered life away from the fringes. It’s an odd space, wrong shape and size to be a really good venue, although a crowd of 20 feels half full and,when you play there, Jones will serve you a platter of savouries and pastries at the end of the night.

But here’s a surprise – The Crown boasts the best collection of Flying Nun Records era gig posters on display anywhere in the world and the jukebox has local CDs rubbing digital shoulders with classic albums from around the world. If you can’t get to The Crown, just listen to “The Crown”.

JPSE Poster

JPS Experience poster on display at The Crown

marineville.jpg

MarineVille from the cover of their “Face” 7″ from 2012 on Epic Sweep Records

MarineVille hail from Wellington and play a raw and distinctively New Zealand version of “driving rock” music. “75 Watts Frosted” is the opening track from their 4th album “Penguins Ate My Chips” which is out in a few weeks on LP on Zelle Records.

The line-up of the band which recorded “Penguins Ate My Chips” is led by guitarist/ vocalist Mark Williams and includes a few names folks may remember from some other NZ bands. Denise Roughan (Look Blue, Go Purple, 3Ds) plays bass, Greg Cairns (The Renderers, The Verlaines, Constant Pain) plays the drums, and Jeremy Coubrough (Tlaotlon) plays  keyboards.

“75 Watts Frosted” is a rip-snorting opening track. Part motorik beat, part wild fairground ride. Imagine Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” mixed with The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” played by the Able Tasmans and you are on your way to understanding the loopy genius of this classic slice of urban New Zealand storytelling rock and roll.

“Penguins Ate My Chips” was originally self-released by Williams in 2015 on cassette. The LP version (out 15 March 2017) on Austrian label Zelle Records, which specialises in Southern NZ sounds, is a suitable acknowledgement of an album that fits comfortably into the beer and sweat-stained fabric of the NZ alternative rock underground.  The download also contains the live album 15 Wax Tears, recorded in 2011 and originally released on cassette in 2012.

Surfdog_seafog6

Seafog above Port Chalmers

“When you’re stuck inside the song/ and the nights are so long”

Songs about songs, about listening to songs, about living with songs, about living in songs? Here’s one, straight from Dunedin’s underground. So “Raise Your Skinny Fist” to the skies with Seafog.

“been listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor/ and this is what it sounds like when you’re living with me”

It’s a great song, lyrics and title referencing GY!BE’s “Lift your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven” album, and written to celebrate the birth of songwriter and guitarist Robin Sharma’s daughter into this world, and into his home of uneasy-listening music.

As the lyrics of “Raise Your Skinny Fist” indicate, Sharma draws his influences from the disturbed alternative sounds of the 1990’s from the likes of G!YBE, Pavement, Sonic Youth, Slint, Silver Jews and many others.

But the band and the voice, guitars and recording are also the sound of, and a direct link to, the darker, noisier late 1990s to early 2000s decade of Dunedin music that is largely unknown/ forgotten beyond Dunedin memories.

Seafog descended from fine Dunedin band Jetty who released their one great album – “Soundtrack For Modern Heartbreak” – in 1998 (subsequently re-released on Powertool Records in 2008).

Seafog play an unadorned guitar noise with heart-on-sleeve, stream-of-consciousness lyrics; a search for meaning, a search for escape. The album is packed full of this yeasty, prickly, characterful guitar music.

“Raise Your Skinny Fist” is released on Zelle Records on 1 May in a limited edition of 300 LPs.