"Medicine" is the second single/video off Third3ye's new album "Ajna", a significant progression from the last, principally in production terms. There is the usual mix of producers including the very talented Edward Waaka ("Crystal Cloud"), and the quality is again uniformly high. It is a more atmospheric vibe, very slightly less rhythmically/loop-driven, and more immersive than previously. Much of my affection for Third3ye's art is derived from a message that is less "me, my life, my career" and more about the spiritual journey they seem to be taking/enjoying. If you want an idea of where the album sits aesthetically, it might be somewhere between The Impending Adorations and their old material. Interesting eh? It is an awesome move forward for one of my favourite NZ hip-hop/beats outfits.You can buy "Ajna" at the link below. I have bought it.
Third3ye - Medicine (Official Video)
This song didn't hit me at first, but most of the stayers don't. With a lazy melancholic vibe, the song doesn't really grab until one absorbs the lyrics. Then it bites. Some great lines. Flip Grater is based in Paris, an appropriate domicile for a known 'foodie' who readers might know from her authoring of "The Cookbook Tour" and "The Cookbook Tour Europe" (2007 and 2011 respectively). Quite a renaissance woman, this Grater lady. There is a Bandcamp link below where the single is available for purchase. I will be doing so.
Flip Grater - The Quit (Official Video)
Pop magic! I had missed the release of this video the other day, otherwise I would have posted it straight off. An awesome ditty, sung by one of NZ's great unsung female vocalists. Not as known well as perhaps she should be, L.A. Mitchell is also a (Silver-Scroll-nominated) writer of great pop songs. This song/video is good enough to have made made the Coldplay Hypnofeed, so if you like the track, go and vote for the song at the following link(http://www.coldplay.com/hypno.php?id=1076). Click on the "like" button to cast your vote. The video was directed by Karl Lear of Red Yeti Films. DOP was Donny Duncan with art direction by Joseph Leary. I suspect there is going to be big commercial synchronization money to be had off this song with a whistling track like that. You can buy L.A. Mitchell's music at the link below.
L.A. Mitchell - Lose The Game
From local hip-hop and RnB label, Move The Crowd Records, Tyree delivers another strong single from the "Motivation" album. The album has been well-received critically (NZMusic4U agrees), and "Take Me Away" is a good example of the production standards that drive the album, despite a range of producers contributing. In this case, the producer is Willistah. We know that production alone does not make an album, and the strength of the songs keeps this album from melting back into what is a very competitive background. The video is directed and edited by Zac Blair on behalf of Stake. I have provided some links below where you can find out more. Enjoy!
Tyree - Take Me Away (Feat. Five A & Scribe)
"Girl Songs", one of my favourite albums of 2013, is the second from Auckland-based hip-hop collective @Peace. Their first, self-titled album released in 2011 is also frequently played on my urban foot forays. Driven by the lyrical heft of Homebrew's Tom Scott and Lui Tuiasau , with beats from Christoph El Truento and Dandruff Dicky (also additional instrumentation I think), and keyboards from B.Haru, the latest album is not for the easily-offended. It is however an honest, moving account of the break-up of a relationship, and the conflicting emotions and regret around that. The album's intersection between poetry, jazz, beats/hip hop is interesting, and the execution of that ambitious blend puts it in the top group for 2013 so far. I am sure the album was more intuitively put together than "designed", but the end result seems pretty clever to me. Favourite songs off the album include "Cake", "Flowers", and "Bar Stool Balancing Act". The beautiful, erotic and slightly disturbing video for "Anaesthetised" was directed by Tom Gould. The band have put it out there that they are breaking up. Not sure how real that is, or if that is to do with a move to Australia, but exiting on a high ain't bad. If they aren't breaking up - great! You can buy both "Girl Songs" and "At Peace" at the link below.
With a rather brilliant video, "Clean The House" is the second single release off the upcoming "Blackbird" album from Fat Freddy's Drop, due in late June. The video was directed by Mark Williams who some may know as MC Slave. He had previously been the director of their excellent video for "Wandering Eye" which was notable for its cameos by local entertainment luminaries. There have been some complaints about the wooden performances in the video by the band members...although it has also been noted by some that recent exercise regimes seem to have been very successful. Some excellent stunt work executed in the making of the video. The puppetry was by Jon Coddington by the way. For more from the band, please go to the link below.
Fat Freddy's Drop - Clean The House
More psychedelic power pop from Sherpa's 2012 album "Lesser Flamingo". This video was released a couple of weeks ago, and confirms the ability of the band to deliver consistently strong visuals, which I suspect might not just be because the directors are good, but also a result of the band's strong aesthetic sensibility. Be interesting to find out. They certainly write great songs, and perform them very well. I love the harmonies, the tempo/meter changes, and the way they play with song structure. A highly recommended album. The video for "Lunar Bats" was directed by Levi Beamish (www.chrysalisfilms.co.nz). For more information on the band go to http://sherpaband.com/
You can download this single for free at http://sherpa.bandcamp.com/. But as the offering is so good, how about an album purchase?
Sherpa - Lunar Bats
A simple but quite lovely song with great vocal performances from folk-pop act We Stole The Sun. The Auckland-based duo is jazz-trained Emily Rice and Sam Burrows. The two came together roughly three years ago and cite finfluences such as Swell Season, Corinne Bailey Rae, Laura Marling, Norah Jones, Bon Iver, Jon Foreman, and Kimbra. Their debut self-titled EP is due to be released late-May. I will include a download link in this post when it is available. For another perspective on the band, have a read of the blog post from Musioso below.
For some time I have thought Loui the Zu capable of something with global chart potential...and finally we have a track that might just be there, combining one of my all-time favourite songs ("Feels Like" by Lydia Cole), with a rap that shows a growing maturity and confidence. The delivery is outstanding. Loui has clearly got "it" and I hope he makes a move offshore soon. NZ is a cosy place to start a career but if the big game is a target, one needs to leave ASAP and do the 'hard yards'. This is one of my favourite tracks of 2013 so far. Great video. Find out more at the link below.
Loui the Zu - In the Winter feat. Lydia Cole
This song demanded a strong video, and it got one - from Joel Kefali. So very well done. Lorde (Ella-Yelich O'Connor) is a schoolgirl from Auckland's North Shore who has been somewhat of a local industry earthquake...clearly as a result of her precocious song-writing and performing talent. There has been a little too much hype for my liking, but it has worked so far...so my objections are null and void. But some care is probably needed to avoid an early backlash. Managed by Tim Youngson (who has also done a great job with Mt Eden in the USA), it looks like Lorde has a serious chance of cracking Stateside. There is much noise around her. The songs are great. She can sing them. And there is definitely a presence well beyond her years. Impressive. Listen some more at the link below.
Third3ye have featured on NZMusic4U a couple of times previously and made it into my #summershot2013 candidate list. I am also regularly tweeting their beats out on Twitter as a result of listening on my walks around London. Channelling an almost-hippie, spiritual hip-hop blend, they are one of my favourite New Zealand beats outfits. The video is good enough, but it is the continuation and development of the "Earth Raps" vibe that has me keen to hear the upcoming "Anja" EP due late May. You can buy these guys' material at the link below.
Third3ye - Catmandu (Official Video) // Lifers.Co
Mt Eden signed to Ultra Records, a successful New York-based dance label in January 2013. This will see them release a couple of EPs and an album, as well as various videos. The new "No Man's Land" album is due in June. This video features the track that got them noticed internationally, "Sierra Leone", and is probably the most-long-awaited official video I have come across! Mt Eden are now truly are on the map globally, with over 100 million views of their YouTube channel. There has been an unusual release pattern with the band, possibly reflecting the almost accidental success of two guys who just liked putting together music they wanted to hear, out of a bedroom in Mt Eden, Auckland. It has also historically been principally a live performance business. They have previously used recorded content (aural and visual) to help build momentum for their live shows...although this is expected to change with the Ultra Records tie-up. Jesse Cooper and Harley Rayner (Split Enz progeny yes) are now playing to massive crowds globally. I had the pleasure of meeting Jesse and manager Tim Youngson (Stereogram) in New York late last year. Their down-to-earth attitudes bode well for an acceleration of their music sales. No BS here, and it is great to see the momentum of a major label behind what is already a global success. You can buy their music at the link below. The official website is linked below that.
Here is an interview with the guys from 2011. Still good.
From the heartfelt, evocative and deeply personal album, "Me & Moon", Lydia Cole has delivered another well-put-together song/video combination in "Love & Loss & Love". The video was directed by Dan Fowler , drummer with Tom Lark and a consistent source of cost-efficient videos (which don't look "cost-efficient" if you know what I mean http://www.fowlface.com ). Lydia was responsible for art direction. It is a great looking video. I have been very impressed with the production quality on the "Me & Moon" album and see that Nic Manders (who has also done brilliant work with Brooke Fraser ) is behind this. He seems able to liberate songs, while still enhancing with sometimes lush instrumentation, which in any other hands might swamp the message of the original offering. I am a big fan. You can buy "Me & Moon" at the link below.