"How shall we settle this? Let's settle this with bombs" sings Ruth Carr. In a Stuff interview she says "it's about how we ultimately deal with problems and differences. Thinking of all the people we'll miss when the bombs drop". "Warheads" is one of the strongest, more 'hooky' songs off Minuit's "Last Night You Saw This Band", their 4th studio album. The video gives us another local puppetry spectacular (last time was Fat Freddy's Drop) , this time involving a prehistoric hunt, some incidental geophysics, man's transition into the modern world, then apocalyptic end-of-days images leading into an accidental astral expedition...all followed by a heart-warming flattening of the initial hunter-prey hierarchy! Or as the YouTube blurb says, the video shows "Curly the caveman" chasing "his beloved (and juicy) intersex blue rabbit through time and space". The video has a warning on it for "serious non-vegetarian scenes". For puppets watching, please note it is positively gruesome in parts. This cleverly put-together visual work comes from Wellington artist Leda Farrow (puppet and set director), digital designer Alyx Duncan (production director) and director Jason Bock (post direction and editing). Great production with a huge rhythm track. I love the song. I own the album. You can too at the link below.
Warheads - Minuit
An old song gets a re-visitation, and again we have an original take on Wallace Collection's "Daydream". This song has done well out of remixes over the years. Natureboy (Nathan Noone) is an ex-Auckland, Melbourne-based producer and 'jack of all trades'. This is clearly not a purely NZ track, witness the red bricks of Melbourne, but Natureboy probably has a New Zealand passport, and he says he is ex-NZ, so that's enough for me. The MC is GMC (Graeme McIntosh) and is from a Kiwi/Filipino background also. The video is directed by Del-Ray Fruean (Tha Clippers) with some additional footage/direction by our protagonists. I am really enjoying the production vibe here. The visuals are also top-notch. "Daydream" is from a range of tracks they are releasing incrementally as part of "The Compression Sessions", what they call a ’smoker/dreamer/chill series’. You can guess what it is about. Thank you to www.nzmusician.co.nz for continuing to post NZ music videos on your site. That's how I got here. I have provided links to these guys below.
NATUREBOY X GMC - DAYDREAM (by th∆Clippe®s)
This is kind of a repeat post. An earlier version of this video was posted back in July last year but the band took it down as part of their build-up with Carpark Records, so I deleted it. Now its back with some ancillary footage. Not sure if that was necessary as the original was fine as it was. But hey, they are being geared up for wider consumption so who am I to criticise? The band is incredible and is getting critical bouquets all over the place. I can't wait to see how the energy follows through live. For me they are a natural successor to Straitjacket Fits and I can almost hear Shayne Carter sneering in there somewhere. But it's not derivative. I love the unorthodox chord/key changes, rapid shifts in tempo/key signature that turn up throughout their songs. 'Exciting' is an awful word to use...but get a thesaurus out and replace it with something similar. You can buy their album "Antipodes" at the link below. I have.
A bio link here:
Popstrangers "What Else Could They Do?"
It's been a little while since I made changes to the Honour Roll, and it's not as if I felt I needed to. The song/video combinations need to justify themselves there. But there are a couple of changes today. Firstly, Anna Coddington's "Bird In Hand" is triumph for the artist. With fleshed out texture, dynamics, great arrangements and a song/video that really comes into its own in the second half. Such a talented use of colour and editing, matching up wonderfully with some of the best string arrangements I have heard in awhile. It is great to see Anna Coddington taking her music to the next level. The second change is the result of realizing my natural antipathy towards the early hype around Lorde had caused me to overlook "Royals". The song of course is superb, Lorde performs it strongly and the video is really special (NPI). Joel Kefali has done a spectacular job on the video and I note it got a Vimeo staff pick. So a 'mea culpa' on "Royals". A link to Joel Kefali's website is here: http://www.joelkefali.com/
This week has had it's fair share of prodigies. A few days ago I posted Sam Perry of Zen Mantra. Today we have the much-hyped Lorde. I have to admit the hype still irritates me...but that irritation quickly fades when I come across her work. The talent here is enormous. The artistic/performance confidence is incredible for someone so young. And this is a voice that could almost carry any song. There's not a massive range, but what is there is very strong with a character so well-established for so few years (again sorry). And she can write. I really enjoy "Tennis Court", but let's be honest, there is not a lot of commercial hook here, and the song is possibly riding the coat-tails of the previous releases. But it would make a great album track, and put together with this visionary video, it is clear that Ella Yelich-O'Connor is going galactic. Doing my net-detective work I see that the www.ryanseacrest.com had posted the video. Some heavy sponsorship. With the talent, and the buy-in, stateside Top 10 doesn't feel impossible. You can buy both the "Tennis Court" single, and "The Love Club" EP at the link below...
The Ryan Seacrest link:
Lorde - Tennis Court
King Kapisi might be of the old guard but there is nothing sluggish about 'Crush'. A typically powerful track from the prolific and reliably exciting Samoan/New Zealand hip-hopper. One of the reasons I keep on coming back to the King's music is it's relentless momentum, combined with subject matter that actually says something. I have yet to be disappointed. I love the way he challenges some of the holy cows, and this sort of socio-political content is intrinsic to much of his art. Re the substantial impact of this production job, I was not surprised to find out Scratch 22 had a part to play. It is of course Kapisi, but I am pretty sure I can hear Scratch 22 in there. Dilated Peoples' Rakaa Iriscience is an awesome addition to this track. There are plenty of cameos in the video including Jerome Kaino, Che Fu, Teremoana Rapley (Kapisi's wife)...Marie Antoinette. The video was directed by Daniel James Gordon, and King Kapisi, with editing by King Kapisi, and a nice job of it by the way. An all-round quality job on this song/video combination. You can buy King Kapisi's music at the link below. I have also included a Wiki link to educate those who didn't know the depth of this career.
KING KAPISI "Crush" feat Rakaa Iriscience
KING KAPISI "Crush" feat Rakaa Iriscience
Although I know Anna Coddington's previous albums have been critically well-received by more important others in the music media, I personally have been waiting for an injection of texture, dynamics and what might be 'je ne sais quoi' into her songs. For me they have held a promise, that often on record is not fulfilled. "Bird In Hand" is what I have been anticipating, and more. Using SJD's production talents was entirely the right thing to do and I hope Anna continues to go down this path because this feels like it has a serious future. She has a beautiful voice and the songs are often very good. It's just they have often been delivered a little conventionally. I am only one voice, and my criticism of earlier material mustn't get in the way of what I think is a superb single. It is one of my favourites of the year. The drum track from Chris O'Connor is a doozie, and I am always a sucker for strings. But these string arrangements are pretty special. I can hear LIPS in there as well. It could even be a LIPS song - which is meant as a compliment. I love the lyrics the hook and the finish..."why can't I be the one with my face to the sun..." It all works. The video is excellent and Anna looks amazing in it. The video was directed by Aidee Walker, an old friend of Anna's. Apparently it is her first music video. It doesn't show. I have bought the single and you can too...at the link below. Two big thumbs up.
ANNA CODDINGTON | BIRD IN HAND
ANNA CODDINGTON | BIRD IN HAND
Sam Perry, "bedroom producer", has quite a future in front of him if he can continue to generate material of the quality of his first album under the Zen Mantra moniker, "How Many Padmes Hum?" Conveniently for me, over the last couple of days, Reviewcaster, a UK-based blog featured a glowing review of the album so I have supplied a link below. There is no argument here. Sam writes brilliant un-self-conscious hooks with a maturity that is well beyond what I assume is limited life-experience. "La La La La La" is a prime example of these hooks. The occult-oriented video for the song was directed by Bonnie Gosnell and filmed by Julian Vares. The vibe works well. "How Many Padmes Hum?" has been around for just under a year now, and is now distributed globally by Stroll On Records. You can listen to it at the Bandcamp link below. It is also purchasable through iTunes, Amazon, 7Digital and other digital stores. I have provided an Amplifier link below. I bought it.
The Reviewcaster review is here:
Zen Mantra - La La La La La (Official Music Video)
NZ is an amazing place for the creative individual. There is both a connection, and an isolation, which allows artists to absorb the best of the world's influences, but also to find space, and escape the noise of the modern capitalist society when needed. I wonder if that is how we end up with one of the most exciting new ambient/lo-fi/shoegaze acts I have heard in awhile... sink \ sink. "Black Gold" (about the Aberfan mining disaster in Wales that killed 116 children and 28 adults) is off the band's first album called "darkest dark goes". It's a great album but it is the new album "a lone cloudburst" which I am most interested in, and have had on high rotate for the last 24 hours or so. The first album's line-up has evolved with Kim Schulke (vocalist) and Callum Plews (keyboards/programming) leaving. To my ears there is nothing bad about the first album, but Gareth Schott, the principal driver behind the band, has a strong artistic vision. This has led to Swedish vocalist Ylva Krantz joining, along with Catherine Milson (cello) and Micah Templeton-Wolfe (piano/synth). Produced by Sean Erin-Lynch, the new anthology is a fuller, more satisfying album, so there is evidence to suggest the evolution was appropriate. It definitely has a Nordic (read Sigur Ros) feeling to it. Three of the songs are in Swedish. You can buy the first album off Bandcamp at the link below, which I have done. I was kindly given the new album to listen to, but I would have paid for it. The new album is available at the link below the Bandcamp link. I have also provided a Soundcloud link which provides a 4 track taster of "a lone cloudburst". The first track on Soundcloud is a mash-up by the way. There is also a Facebook link. Looking back at the last year or so, sink \ sink is one of NZMusic4U's big finds.
Black Gold by sink \ sink
Black Gold by sink \ sink
"In Colour" is one of my favourite tracks off the new "Delta" album from Shapeshifter, released recently on Truetone Records (their own label). This is their 5th album, but there remains a freshness and energy which would be difficult for some bands of this ilk, of this length of industry tenure (fourteen years!). A cohesive, creative and productive unit. It's a great video, directed by New Zealand DJ Nick Dwyer (become music/travel journalist/producer), with editing by Tu Neill. The footage was shot by James Anderson, Warren Green, Dean Cornish & Clayton Carpinter. All the direction/production team are from www.likerice.tv , a music + travel TV production group. Nice work. I have bought the "Delta" album. You can buy it at the links below.
NZ Itunes (Digital): http://bit.ly/ITunesDelta
International (Digital/CD/Vinyl): http://bit.ly/BCDelta
Shapeshifter - In Colour Official Music Video
French for Rabbits are not well-known in New Zealand yet, although that small crowd is growing quite quickly. More interestingly, 2,200 video views in a week suggests French for Rabbits are getting noticed offshore. Some influential radio support from foreign climes is an indication of the potential this duo have. According to their YouTube blurb, "Goat" is "slow-burning"..."a lament (or perhaps an ode) to stubbornness and being sorry". My wife might suggest I learn a lesson here. A lovely song. The video was directed by Misma Andrews, and filmed/edited by Jacob Perkins(www.readysteadystudio.com). Chloe-Rose Purcell is the female lead in the video. I bought French for Rabbits "Claimed by the Sea" EP and it has been a regular on my iPhone since. That's my vote. You can buy "Goat" at the link below. I will be.
Another video from one of the great NZ bands. The Phoenix Foundation still manage to put out reliably strong material that often takes one to poignant little places. Such enormous song-writing depth. And of course the arrangements are often lush, many layered. The band are building a loyal following in the UK now, thanks to a strong relationship with a very good record label, Memphis Industries. Luke Savage directs again and has managed to get UK Bafta winning comedian/actor Jim Tavare ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") to do the 'rough diamond' bit. He is most definitely not from there originally, although his visage does quite a job of imitating the landscape. "Thames Soup" is from the awesomely good "Fandango" album. The song is about being away from home, on tour...in London if you hadn't guessed already. I am assuming it was not quite as dry in London. You can buy the album at the link below. I have. Please go to iTunes for ex-Aus/NZ purchases.
I have included a link to Jim Tavare's website for those who are interested.
The Phoenix Foundation - Thames Soup (Official Music Video)
Melbourne-based New Zealander Eden Mulholland (who you might know from his role in Motocade) has been pushing out a bit of material over the last 18 months. "Blueprint" is off his just-released album "Feed the Beast", from which I recently posted "I Will Echo" on this blog. It's a pretty good video, and no doubt the dancers came with Eden's membership of the dance community. He is an accomplished choreographer and dancer. I am a fan of the structured approach that Eden brings to his song-writing, as well as his arrangements that often come in big, bold and simple colours. You can buy "Feed the Beast" at the link below.
From Edward De Vere comes another innovative video starring one of the last couple of millenniums' more notable historical characters...with a song from one of the most innovative New Zealand songwriter/producers of the last twenty years, Sean James Donnelly (SJD). If you have been reading this blog since inception you will know that SJD is a long-time favourite, building often complex electronic textures from strong song bases. "Make Love Ask Questions Later" is from his last album "Electric Wasteland", released in 2012. Edward de Vere was last seen on this blog with the brilliant video for "Time" from She's So Rad. I'm for Prague as the shooting location but really?...I don't have a clue. It looks good. I also don't know much about Monsieur De Vere but I assume he is currently domiciled in Europe. He is a very good filmmaker. You can buy the album at the link below. I have it of course.
SJD - 'Make Love Ask Questions Later'
To be honest I was a little jaded when I got home this evening. No energy for a blog post. But in the course of my coursing through the interwebs, I came across the latest video from Randa, someone I have thought had the real "X Factor" for some time. I have to say that talent show drives me bonkers, but it's premise is to find someone with real star power. And Randa has it. This video is just brilliant and whoever had the idea understands the Randa 'offer concept' beautifully. Congratulations of course to Randa, but also to Totems, Thunderlips, Alix Whittaker and Anna Duckworth at Candlelit Pictures (https://www.candlelitpictures.co.nz). Wow! You can buy Randa's music at the link below. The latest material is not yet there, but the older material is still superb.
Randa - Frankenstein
Sometimes songs come along that sound almost predictable, so easy to listen to, so obviously relevant that a songwriter might ask his/herself....how didn't I write that? It's not hard to make the case that's because the gap between artifice and a great song is the writer's integrity. Being real. "Paint Fade" sounds almost manufactured, but it grabs, delivers an enormous dopamine hit, and that is maybe because it is a simple, but real communication of how all of us sometimes feel when away from home for a long time, or missing someone special. I can identify with the sentiment. Professional execution, enormous chorus, it is superb. Chris Graham's video goes right where it should. Despite sounding like an international hit, this is a truly New Zealand song that deserves to be as successful as the other enormous hit that Smashproof had in the mid-2000s with "Brother". Special production job by Twice As Nice. And so great to see Drew Neemia as part of this group. I think he should have a permanent role to be honest as he completes what is essentially a hip-hop only line-up. You can buy the single at the link below. Go buy it. (and don't rip these guys off by downloading pirated copies)
Smashproof - Paint Fade (feat. Drew)
From the "II" album (out on Jagjaguwar), Unknown Mortal Orchestra's latest release "From The Sun" is an all-rounder. A great video with direction, photography and editing from Rick Alverson. (Bryan Decaterina is clearly a devoted UMO fan.) And of course another very clever song, with the usual almost familiar-sounding psychedelic pop/rock motifs morphed into something unusual, and just a little spacey. Having just come off a European tour they have announced a performance at Music Fest NW in Portland on September 6th, with further dates Europe in November. I have provided a range of links for you to follow up if interested.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - "From The Sun" (Official Video)
I saw The Golden Awesome live at Puppies earlier this year and was blown away by the melodic wall of 'shoegaze' sonorities these guys create. The low-end rumble with the glorious harmonies over the top makes for an intoxicating mix. Today's post is for another excellent video from Simon Ward (http://www.siward.tv/ ; http://skyranch.tv/), one of New Zealand's best video directors. "Autumn" is the title track from The Golden Awesome's 2011 album. The just-released video is a tide-over till new material hits us, hopefully late in the year. I have bought "Autumn" and recommend it as long as you listen to it on a system with good bass response! You can buy it at the link below.
The Golden Awesome - Autumn