S.F.T. - Wishing

"Reflections Of" by S.F.T. was one of my favourite beats albums of 2012. Of all the New Zealand beats producers, S.F.T. is the one whose music approaches what might legitimately be described as "soul". His music is moving, humanist, intelligent and evocative. Not what you typically expect from rappers/beats producers, although I think many New Zealand beats artists and rappers moved the genre well beyond its historical limitations some time ago. This piece is a taster for his upcoming new EP. The video, shot around the moneyed haunts of London's West End is directed by Haider Zafar, and is actually footage from a short film he made called "Homeless". The film in Haider's words is "a short tale about a homeless (person) wishing to interact and be part of society, but instead struggles to be acknowledged". I know this area of London well. Quite impressive and leafy in a traditional sense, with plenty of tourist attractions, it can also be a callous and cruel centre of capital - which often comfortably wears the lack of a heart on its sleeve. I like this taster but if you really want to experience S.F.T. at his best, please go to the link below where you can listen to, and buy the "Reflections Of" album:


A link to Haider Zafar's website is below.


S.F.T - Wishing

Ghost Wave - Sunsetter

Brighton's (UK) Justin Champney gave me the proverbial "kick" into action on Ghost Wave. From Auckland, this self-described "fuzz" band write tight, melodic rock songs. Their Facebook bio describes the band as finding itself "somewhere between the Flying Nun bands of the 80s, the British explosion of the 1960s and the wayfaring dubs of Lee "Scratch" Perry..." I hear a strong psychedelic influence. Promising enough to be invited to CMJ 2012, and this year's SXSW 2013 in Texas, the band have clearly been noticed by some key influencers within "the industry". "Sunsetter" the first single from their self-titled EP (released in 2011/2012) is now an oldie, but still a goodie. I hear there is some new material to be released very soon. "Here She Comes" was released as a video a couple of weeks ago, and can be heard at the YouTube link below. There is a link for the download of that single (from the "Wreck Room" anthology) below the YouTube link.


For more on Ghost Wave, please go to the Arch Hill recordings web-link below. Below that is a link to the band's Bandcamp page where you can buy "Sunsetter".


Sunsetter - Ghost Wave

Eden Mulholland - I Will Echo

An Eden Mulholland (Motocade) song, has been posted previously on NZMusic4U. "Shanty Town" was, like many of Eden's songs, a slow-burner. His music is original, often has excellent dynamic range, unconventional structure, and some great hooks. Interestingly, these hooks sometimes seem to take awhile to work, and I am not sure this plays into the hands of selling music quickly upfront. But the staying power of Eden's songs is considerable. I had not bought his material previously, but on listening to "Shanty Town" again last night I just had to buy it. I suspect "I Will Echo" has similar longevity. This song, now starting to get a bit of airplay in Australia, is from his new album "Feed The Beast" available from mid-2013.  This is his second solo offering, the first being the "Jesus don't you get my jokes" EP from whence came "Shantytown". Having been based in Melbourne for some time, (the clearly pretty talented) Eden writes for dance, theatre, TV and film through his business, Mulholland Sound. You can find out more about Mulholland Sound at the link below. I have also provided a Bandcamp link where you can listen to "I Will Echo" and/or buy a wide range of his other material.


Eden Mulholland - I Will Echo

Hughes Brothers - So Many Places

I was the lucky recipient of an introduction to ex-Auckland three-piece Hughes Brothers today - a result of Streets of Laredo (see link below) posting this video on their Facebook timeline. One play of "So Many Places" and it was today's NZMusic4U post. Difficult not to like, the arrangements, structure, instrumentation, harmonies and production all work for me. A subdued northern hemisphere light (one of the only good things about a northern winter) also makes for a good basic pallette for the video, which  is simple and well done. It was shot, edited and completed in a single day by Ryan Alexander Lloyd. (see website link below). Hughes Brothers are now based in Berlin and from what I can tell, not many know who they are - yet. That will change very quickly putting out material as good as this. The indie/electro/pop band is made up of Benjamin and Simon Hughes (former members of bands Falter & Alex The Kid) and Rene Corbett, a friend who contributed to production of this single, and who now has joined them on drums/percussion. You can buy this song and their "Take Me On" EP (released May 2012) at the link below.



The Streets of Laredo link is here:

Hughes Brothers | So Many Places

Janine and the Mixtape - Rainy Night, New Mind

After the release of "Bullets" in early 2012, Janine and the Mixtape (one of NZMusic4U's #summershot2013 winners) headed off to the Big Apple to take the industry head-on. I am sure it has not been an easy ride, but judging from the snippets of material in development she has been releasing incrementally, the experience has been positive from a creative perspective. I have previously showcased some of these mini-videos. "Rainy Night, New Mind" continues the high standard. Smooth production, vocals sound superb. The writing is clearly there. I am meeting up with Janine (Foster) in New York in a couple of weeks. It will be interesting to find out what her plans are. I suspect an EP release might not be far off. For more information, go to the website link below.


Janine and the Mixtape - Rainy Night, New Mind (Sketchbook Video)

DJCXL feat Sabre - YO DJ

A lot of music comes out of South Auckland, either directly (the artist lives there), or indirectly (i.e. born and raised there, or promoted from there).  I felt that I haven't adequately represented the large quantity and diversity of music that has come out of South Auckland on NZMusic4U. But with the quantity produced, therein lies my problem. Where there is a lot of content, inevitably there is much that sits around the average. And I have to be honest - much has been disapppointing for me in terms of delivering the break-through qualities needed to make it in a competitive global marketplace, either as a mass-market offering, or within a global niche. Often the material is pleasant, easy to listen to, is well produced...but doesn't quite have the "je ne sais quoi" (ok pretentious git - "I don't know what"),  that is needed. But still, there is some awesome material with breakout potential coming out of South Auckland e.g. see my recent posts regarding Tyree, Sid Diamond and Cavell. This track from DJCXL , real name Peter Chambers (Ill Semantics), the sixth single from his 2012 album "Represent", is of similar quality. The album has been released by Illegal Musik via Warners. "YO DJ" was co-produced by DJCXL and Anonymouz, and features Sabre (ex-Nesian Mystik).  There is a problem with the NZMusic4U blog format in that I need a good video to post, which means sometimes good tracks don't make it. But in the case of "YO DJ" we have excellent production, an infectious groove (love the scratching), a hook from the heavens, and a video with great photography, editing and lighting/filtering...which was probably subject to the usual NZ budget constraints, but doesn't suffer from a "look" that indicates a lack of resources. Well done Danny Aumua and Saphron Moore. This song is "commercial", but there is nothing wrong with that where the offering is good, and this song is as good as some of those I grew up listening to in 1980s' night clubs. (You know the artists I am talking about.) "Represent" can be purchased at the link below. You can also find out more about Peter Chambers' impressive local hip-hop pedigree at the link below that.


DJCXL feat Sabre - YO DJ

Scalper - Black Glory

I prefer posting newer videos to keep the blog "fresh", but to bring attention to a recent release which doesn't have a video, and where I can find a good quality proxy, we have a blog post. I had no idea an East Londoner was giving us something like the Bristol sound out of Auckland's beautiful west coast , but since early today I have been listening to, and enjoying, "Black Glory" from Scalper's  2010 "Flesh and Bones" album. (His real name is Nadeem Shafi.) The reason I am posting the video is a just- released collaboration between Scalper and Claire Duncan (of Dear Time's Waste), in what looks like it might be one of the highlight tracks from Scalper's upcoming album "The Emperor's Clothes".  I came across "Lullaby", thanks to the timely recommendation of a Twitter friend (KXVGXN). Regular readers of this blog will know I rate Ms Duncan very highly, but in "Lullaby" she doesn't dominate, balancing Scalper beautifully in what is a stunning, close-to-ambient track...well produced, and with staying power. There is little syncopation, which sits it closer to the Dear Time's Waste sound, (almost becoming a Nick Cave classic), but in the end it remains a Scalper track. Highly recommended. I look forward to the new album. To hear "Lullaby" (the reason for this post), and to buy Scalper's historical material, you can listen at the link below.


Black Glory - Scalper

Sherpa - I'm Happy Just To Lie

With an excellent video from Ralph Matthews ( http://ralphmatthews.com) Sherpa gives us "I'm Happy Just To Lie" off their 2012 album "Lesser Flamingo". The band have been around for a few years now, and from what I understand have released, in addition to the latest album, an EP through Muzai records called "Pretty Sparklers" and the 2011 EP, "Pretty Cool Optical Illusions". Describing their music as psychedelic power pop, it is melodic, adventurous and entirely pleasant to listen to (not in a bland way!)...with extensive use of vocal harmonies and the occasional use of unconventional song structures. There is some very good songwriting here. You can buy "Lesser Flamingo" and their earlier material at the links below. I really enjoyed this video.


Sherpa - I'm Happy Just To Lie

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - So Good At Being In Trouble

Unknown Mortal Orchestra might be thought of as a glorious accident for Ruban Nielson, with his first album, and the band, growing out of a series of 'developed doodles'. Now the pressure is on with his sophomore album "II". I saw Ruban and his band at Bar Bodega recently, and despite the atrocious sound, it was clear the songs are as good, albeit slightly more contemplative. "So Good At Being In Trouble" is an excellent example of some of the new material I enjoyed live. Once I have had a chance to listen to the album in its entirety, I will update this blog post with my opinion. In the interim, go to the link below for an excellent review of the album. Thank you to www.undertheradar.co.nz for the review.


So Good At Being In Trouble (Official Video)

Cavell - Last Summer

Last year I posted two earlier singles off Cavell's "Last Summer" EP, "I Need You", and "The Crowd feat. Sidney Diamond". One of the reasons I liked those tracks, is also one of the reasons I like this one - "Last Summer". The song is stripped back in all the right ways, leaving only what needs to be there. Of course, when one does that, the raw materials have to be of the appropriate quality, which in this case, they are. Great songwriting, arranging, good vocal performance - a little auto-tuned I think, but that's the genre, and smooth production. I still believe Cavell has what it takes to break internationally as a quality RnB artist. Readers who like this genre should have a listen to the EP. Maybe buy it? You can hear more of the EP at the link below.


Cavell - Last Summer

Death In Texas - Fear Of The Hundred

Sometimes music works when written with a sizeable proportion of input from the "rational" left brain sphere. As a result, it may typically need a bit more time to appeal, as the usual connections we make as listeners are not there. Stopping a semitone short of a convention, leaving a guitar out where we expect one, changing meter, all subtly challenges us as listeners. But repeated listenings sets up new pathways in our consciousness, pushing aside the old pathways. Death in Texas, a UK-based band made up of two married Kiwis, Ruth Searle, on keyboards and lead vocal, Kane Power on drums and backing vocals, and Terry Blake, an Englishman, on bass, write music that has deliberate structure, unconventional patterns and atypical instrumentation, in part reflecting the formal musical training of both Ruth and Kane. I asked whether there was a love of musicals somewhere back in their combined histories, but that was not the case. Cinema yes, musicals no. But there is something theatrical about "Fear of The Hundred" which although veering dangerously close to "contrived", leaves us with a surge of sevenths and layered textures that is quite satisfying, and had me wanting the song to hang around a bit longer.  But leaving just as everyone wants you is always a useful creative device. The MGTHB blog (www.mgthb.wordpress.com) says "imagine Phantom of the Opera, but written by Lana Del Rey and not Andrew Lloyd-Webber.” An apt description. I might also add "gothic Joe Jackson" to that as well. "Fear of The Hundred" will not be for everyone, but if you want to do this song justice, listen at least three times from start to finish. This will sneak up on you, and you might just come back looking for more. You can buy Death in Texas' music at the link below. Their website is also linked below.


Death In Texas - Fear Of The Hundred - Official HD Video

Tyree - Fighter (feat. Stella & Sid Diamond)

I promoted "Fighter" on Twitter back in December, and had meant to post it on the blog but got distracted by sun, sand and summer. Hearing Tyree talking about the song and his new album on ZM...then hearing the song leap out of the car speakers...bumped me out of my inaction. Regular readers of this blog will know this is not my favourite genre, but when it is done well I can't ignore it. The song cuts through the morass out there extremely well. I want to do my bit to give this a push, as here is a local act putting out quality hybrid RnB/hip-hop that beats much of the international material we import. Some great performances all round, with Stella's vocal performance, in solo, but also in combination with Tyree in the chorus, lifting the track beyond the ordinary. But the one thing that makes this stand out for me is the production - by Tyree. I had no idea he was a producer as well, and this is world class. The track is from Tyree's new album "MOTIVATION" which is due on February 22nd through Move The Crowd Records. Look out for it! You can pre-order at the link below.


Tyree - Fighter (featuring Stella & Sid Diamond)

Raiza Biza & Crime Heat - Art & Soul

"Dream Something", the 2012 album from Raiza Biza is one of the most rewarding purchases I have made in the last few months...on continual replay in the car and on my phones during my daily walks. The principal producer is Crime Heat, a revelation...for me one of the most talented of the new wave of producers coming out of New Zealand...as exciting as someone like Jay Knight who did such a great job with Louie Knuxx "Stan Howse", and S.F.T., both also producing on this album. Si Res, from The Side Steps Quintet is another making his mark on one of the album tracks. "Art & Soul" was an attempt by Raiza Biza and Crime Heat to put together an entire song/video combination in 24 hours, and they did it. Crime Heat directed, edited the video. The project was done as a promotion for the "Dream Something" album and a quality piece of art with soul it is (yup that was bad sorry!) . You can buy Raiza Biza's music at the link below. I strongly recommend the CD version for the two extra tracks "Broken" and "Whenever". Magic.


Raiza Biza & Crime Heat - ART & SOUL (Music Video)

Bangladesh - Lean

Some people just have the knack...of writing hooks that is. These guys surely do. With a great late summer pop song, Bangladesh presents us with "Lean", a track my teenage daughter instantly gave the "thumbs up", pretty much the initial commercial test one would apply to anything in the pop genre. Formed in 2009, and taking out the 2010 Smokefree Rockquest as The Good Fun, the band went into a hiatus, but reformed in April last year. The band has previously released two videos, both under The Good Fun moniker. The first was for their debut single  called "Naughty Little Sin", which has managed to clock up a respectable 140,000 views on YouTube. The second was for "Karaoke", fewer views, but I prefer it to the first single. Describing themselves as indie-pop, which puts them with the likes of one my NZ favourites, Tom Lark, they cite influences such as Vampire Weekend and Mystery Jets. For "Lean" they enlisted the production talents of Joel Little and Jaden Parkes, putting together a track that really lifts, and is so very difficult to dislike. Superb vocal performance by Leroy Clampitt, however one very small gripe for the mastering team, where is the bottom end? It's not missing, but I would like to hear more. But that is minor. A great song, I have had no trouble playing it over multiple times. The video is directed by Claire Littler who has done a very good job here. An EP is due soon and I look forward to buying it.

Below is a link to the the video that started it all off back in 2010. The Good Fun - "Naughty Little Sin". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23xQ1sR4tAA. I will post "Karaoke" at a later date.


Louie Knuxx - Dying Slow

An acquired taste, this track has crept up on me over several listenings. With production by Netts Money, the sound is in Louie Knuxx's (aka Todd Williams') words from "a time where I was really looking for something different". It is not a texture I have heard from him previously, but invariably I find Todd's distinctive delivery tends to bring out the best of the production behind it. He admits that the addition of a strong vocal by Bim turned this offering into a song, and I agree. I initially had a small problem with the repetitive vocal motif but that faded after a couple of listens. With the usual challenging and evocative writing again a feature of this track ("I wrote the hook to this song when I was going through an existential crisis"), Todd says "the refrain at the end 'progressive gangsta thug slash gentleman romance rap' is what I like to call my genre of rap I feel I have created (although) I doubt there will ever be a section for it in a CD store". Don't worry Louie - how many of those are left? I really like this song. The video is of a gothic persuasion. Not one to be eating the evening meal to, but the imagery is powerful. The video was directed by Johnny Brixton of Fly Island. "Dying Slow"is off the new EP from Louie Knuxx called..."Dying Slow"! The EP will be available from www.iheartdropdead.com later this week. A compulsory buy for me.

Louie Knuxx - Dying Slow

Change in the NZMusic4U Honour Roll...

As stated previously, the Honour Roll has to evolve, but I am reluctant to change it unless a song/video combination hits me with a reasonable amount of force. And that was the case with Sid Diamond's "No Sympathy". With it's superb video telling an honest and moving life story, reflecting the storyteller's determination to move on from a traumatic life history, this is one of New Zealand's great pieces of homegrown hip hop. The song is also very well produced by Koolade. So She's So Rad's "Confetti" moves on. It has been on the Honour Roll for over 6 months, reflecting my affection for the overall package developed for that track. But it's "No Sympathy" day today. Excellent work by Sid Diamond and crew.

Sesh - All Up To Me

It appears "Derty Sesh" might be attempting a transition into "Sesh". Works for me. He has had a volatile/difficult last few years with the controversy around a graphic horror-themed video he did for "Forever" (off his first album, "Sic Love") undermining what had been some quite strong local momentum. From what I remember of the controversy, there was some basis from which to make it an R18 rating, as a video such as this was just not appropriate for children, and had some nasty themes (which incidentally, I have no time for). But the almost forced take-down of the original clip I think was interesting, as I am sure a white indie musician implementing a hipster-ish ironic take on serial killer/horror movies might well have got a lighter ride. He/she might even have been celebrated? Or ignored? I don't know. I do know "the media" does like to equate rappers with gangsters (some encourage this sadly), but it is my view that this is often used as a lazy way to scare up the paler-skinned middle classes into consuming media, and also to promote other more political objectives. So I have some sympathy with the predicament that this MC found himself in. But he has been fighting back with some tenacity since, releasing both an EP, and his second album "Apology Accepted". He has offshore plans, as seen in this video. And Sesh is clearly talented. I have promoted his material on Twitter previously but after seeing this on Sid Diamond's timeline, I thought it was time to put something up on this blog, especially considering the honesty driving Sesh's writing is of the same level of integrity that we saw in Sid Diamond's "No Sympathy".  If one were to take this rap literally, it seems recent times have not been kind to Sesh. But there is a triumphant despair coursing through "All Up To Me", a track off his upcoming album that is actually one of the reasons I posted this video. It is compelling. Although lacking a little bottom end in the mix, the production drives along well. I like the self-directed video also, well done considering the lack of resources. You can buy Derty Sesh's music at the iTunes links below. There is a link to his Facebook page and a link to another video he released recently for "I'm Done" (production Smokey Beatz) which I will post on this blog at some later date.


Sesh - All Up To Me

Sid Diamond - No Sympathy

I had previously bought some of Sid Diamond's early material, and enjoyed it. This is a return of some note with"No Sympathy" being possibly his best track ever. Ok, most people won't rate my opinion on a hip hop artist's music, but that's my view. This track hit me like the proverbial sledgehammer last night. With powerful and moving lyrical content, great delivery (Brad Marquis on additional vocals), a well-balanced production job from Koolade, and one of the best NZ hip hip videos I have seen in awhile, this feels like it could chart. The video was edited and directed by Andy Morton with Andrew Stroud as D.O.P and Shayne Radford on art direction. Produced by Ivan Barge. Well done guys. All round class act. (In this song's context, some irony to that comment). You can buy the new single at the link below. You can also find out more about Sid Diamond and Move The Crowd Records at the link below that.



Sid Diamond - No Sympathy