Paper Cranes - Little Darling

Describing themselves as "epic indie-alternative immersive folk", Paper Cranes are principally husband and wife team, Fraser and Naomi Browne. Additional members are Joel Bremner, Kristina Roper, Tim Roper and Matt Hoyle. There is a well-projected seam of "Nihon no bunka" running through the identity of the band, courtesy of Naomi's upbringing in Japan. I understand the lingering affection, having lived in Tokyo for five years in the 1990s. It gets in the blood. I first came across Paper Cranes in September 2012 when they released their debut EP "Oh, Love". The debut album "Be My Home" is to be released sometime in the new year, "Little Darling" being the first single off that release. The band revealed the song was the result of an intense personal experience, "written in the middle of a health scare, so the subject matter was a response to that. Its about hope and renewal springing from a dark place". Bruce Lynch played bass on the song. The single was (well) produced by Nic Manders, known for the work he has done with some of the best NZ folk artists including Lydia Cole. The very-good-looking video was directed by regular visual collaborator Nikki Castle, and was filmed in the Crystal Palace theatre in Auckland using a combination of new and found footage. If you would like to know more about the band, or get hold of some of their lovely tunes, please go to the link below.

Paper Cranes 折り鶴 - Little Darling

Connan Mockasin - I'm The Man, That Will Find You

Delivering his inner Bryan Ferry with loads of sevenths and heavy chorus effects, Connan Mockasin slinks it up in this delightfully sorta-sexy video for the first single from the new, and well-reviewed "Caramel" album. We have a Daniel Brereton video ("Forever Dolphin Love") again. Daniel is not a Kiwi but he has given Mr Mockasin another video that seems so appropriate to the material. The new album has been described variously by the UK's Guardian newspaper as "an LSD binge in a sleazy motel, or an elf covering a Barry White album, or maybe even a rom-com set on Mars". "Eclectic" is probably a dull, but viable adjective. The best way to approach Connan Mockasin is to force oneself to listen to it several times, and then as it works its way into the subconscious, slowly come to the realization that other music favs won't sound quite as interesting again. The album is available on vinyl at the link below. It is also available as a digital download at the Amazon link below that.

Connan Mockasin - I'm The Man, That Will Find You (Official Video)

Connan Mockasin - Forever Dolphin Love

The next couple of days will be "Connan Mockasin Days", marking the recent release of the "Caramel" album. Today its 2011's "Forever Dolphin Love", and tomorrow, the new video for "I'm The Man, That Will Find You". Both are Daniel Brereton videos. A chance encounter with a fan of the man at a London gig for French for Rabbits reminded me to remind you just how good this expat musician/composer/producer can be. Mr Mockasin's music is an acquired taste, and not for all, but it definitely rewards some listening effort. Although his creativity seems owned by nobody, one can pick up flecks of genre influences which range from 1970s soul to 1960s psychedelia. I believe it pretty safe to say that no one has ever sounded like Connan Mockasin.  The layers of textural discordance that come and go, the lashings of syrupy sweetness in between, and the heavily-effected man-child vocals..."unique" is an overused word...but it is. "Forever Dolphin Love" is from 2011's album of the same name. You can download the album at the link below. Remember to come back tomorrow for the more recent material.

Connan Mockasin - Forever Dolphin Love (Official Video)

Broods - Bridges

Introduced to me by Wellington-based music writer Martyn Pepperell, Broods has been a notable miss (by about 8 weeks!) as a result of my recent travels. With production by Joel Little, and creating a substantial buzz stateside...this release is clearly (and cleanly) launching off the Lorde bow wave...and doing it well. Albeit not a lyrical offering it is a lovely combination of ethereal vocal textures and subtle dance-infused beats...with the dynamics that I pretty much always need to like something. The lineage is Nelson's The Peasants, posted elsewhere on this blog. The video, shot and edited by Jordan Arts, is a beauty. You can download the "Bridges" single for free at the link below. I have done so gladly. What's in the water down there Nelson?

Postscript: I have learnt that those tracks I keep coming back to are the ones are worthy of being on the NZMusic4U Honour Roll. So up it goes - both on the Honour Roll, and the global charts hopefully!

BROODS - Bridges (Web Video)

MayaVanya - Run

This Croatian-New Zealand hybrid sisterhood make catchy, idiosyncratic dance tunes that easily justify their place on NZMusic4U. It might all be just a little bit indie/hipster without 'em. I last posted "Turn Me Out" in 2012. The song was a triumphant cooperative effort with P Money and LA-based vocalist Kaleena Zanders. The Fish'n Clips video was a goodie also. "Run" features Canadian vocalist Mars on vocals. The slightly off-key vocal performance took me awhile to warm to, but now its difficult to imagine the song without that vulnerability of delivery. Currently working on their first album, the duo have plans to base themselves in Europe to further leverage what is an emerging dancefloor/DJ brand. If you like "Run", you can buy the song at the link below. Go on...

MayaVanya - Run

Louie Knuxx - PGT/GRR Interlude

It's only been 9 months or so, but Todd Williams aka Louie Knuxx is back with a new album "PGT/GRR". "Interlude" is a teaser for the album, the video being put together by S.Williamson for "photosbyghost". He's done a great job. Louie goes places other people don't with his writing, and there's almost a silky menace to his delivery. Combined with the production talents of Jay Knight, the end result is just magic. I initially found the vocal too low in the mix on this track but adjusted after a few listens. The driving loop is simple, dominates the track, but doesn't outstay its welcome. I think one of the reasons Jay Knight is so good is texture and mix depth are never missing. So far it has been difficult to be disappointed by his work, and in terms of beats producers, I am pretty sure he is one of NZ's up and coming greats. Of the new album, Louie says it is "more mature, more progressive". I haven't heard it yet, so can't comment. But this teaser is sounding great. I loved "Dying Slow" so the bar has been set high. I own it. If you would like to hear more from Louie, go to the link below. Have a listen, then buy it if you like it.

Louie Knuxx - PGT/GRR Interlude

Grayson Gilmour - Minus Times Infinity

Although faced with a challenge of similar ferocity to that of the Black Knight in the Monty Python movie "Holy Grail", Grayson Gilmour isn't able to maintain his dignity in mortal combat with a dragon...and dies minus three limbs. No Hollywood endings here. But the soundtrack to this mini-epic is a triumphant, psychedelic counterpoint to his gory failure as a knight. Grayson has had a video posted on NZMusic4U previously, and he returns with this soaring track from his upcoming album, to be released in early 2014 on New Zealand's famous Flying Nun label. "Minus Times Infinity" also features Claire Duncan of Dear Times Waste whose work has featured many times on NZMusic4U previously, including making the NZMusic4U Honour Roll for her "Fortune" video. Put together by Jessie Taylor-Smith, the video for "Minus Times Infinity" was meticulously hand-painted frame-by-frame, as was done by early cinematic pioneers. This fascinating and fun visual work has made the BBC Music Video Festival, an online event celebrating innovative musical-visual collaborations. See the link at the bottom of this post for more. Wellington-based Grayson is a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer who this year won Best Composer at the 2013 SORTA New Zealand Film Awards. Clearly enormously talented, I am looking forward to hearing what he comes up with on the new album. In the interim you can buy "Minus Times Infinity" at the link below. I will be.

Grayson Gilmour - Minus Times Infinity

Princess Chelsea - We're So Lost

I don't like posting covers. But against that, I have no problem posting a New Zealand artist covering another New Zealand artists' material...especially where they have taken that material somewhere special. Princess Chelsea is somewhat of an indie icon in New Zealand, continuously delivering defiantly original material, that she has tagged on Bandcamp as "chamber pop", but which in truth is pretty difficult to categorize. It is often, but not always, a combination of nursery-rhyme-like melody combined with ascerbic lyrical observations. The Princess is now famous for having over ten million views of her "Cigarette" video, created in partnership with another New Zealand artist, Jonathan Bree. She is not quite as famous for making very little, if any money out of this extraordinary success. But I suppose this is the artist's burden in a period of structural and technologically-driven mispricing of artistic content. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be paying artists though, so here is your opportunity to contribute. "We're So Lost" is a cover of a song from the long-running, and simply brilliant Auckland band Voom. One of the founding members, Andrew MacCaskill, sadly died just over a year ago at the age of age. It resonates. Both Princess Chelsea and Voom are available through the brilliant little label that could, Lil' Chief Records. I have supplied a link to the label below. The original version of "We're So Lost" is as compelling as the Princess' version, and I am pretty chuffed that it is still available as a free download (at the link below). Go get it. Then go buy Princess Chelsea's version at the link below that. I recommend both. Make sure to pay if you like it! I have. (Another great video from Simon Ward by the way.)

Princess Chelsea - We're So Lost

The Wyld - Confusion

From inception in 2011, The Wyld have gained recognition from international music blogs and other industry influencers. The local industry has been slower to catch on, but there is now growing support. The band's fusion of hip-hop, rock and electronica could have been clumsy, but they seem to have worked out how to integrate these elements to create a cohesive sound, all their own. Strong production values have been applied consistently, even with scarce resources. In fact I have been constantly impressed by their ability to create the illusion of backing by "big bucks" production budgets. This video for "Confusion", for what may  be their breakout track (10,000 downloads since mid-October), is a good example of their aesthetic talents. Done on a shoestring it is an interim solution until they finish the official video for the track. The video is a simple idea, but is executed well, not hurt by what is a photogenic band. The Wyld have an integrity, but they are also eminently marketable, and for that reason I am picking these guys for break-out success over the next year or so. The USA is beckoning, and Lorde's coat-tails are there to be ridden. I look forward to seeing the official video. You can buy their new "Abstract" EP at the link below. I like it.

The Wyld - CONFUSION (Online Video)

Nathan Haines - Ancestral Dance

I am off to Ronnie Scott's in Soho (London) tomorrow evening. It is something I have been looking forward to as it marks approximately 25 years since I last saw Nathan Haines play. The last time I think was at Ellerslie Racecourse where he was accompanied by his brother Joel on guitar, and Steve Harrop on bass. I cannot remember who was on drums (sorry). "The Poet's Embrace" from "Ancestral Dance" is taken from an album that saw Nathan return to more traditional jazz stylings. I enjoy this just as much as his older material that drew on a much wider range of influences. "Squire for Hire" is probably still my favourite of that early period. This quirky little video is a little synchronistic as some of the shots show the Chelsea area where I will be later on in the evening, hopefully to meet Andrea Madden who curates the syncs for "Made in Chelsea", the enormously popular show about young 'toffs' in London. I will be representing the amazing breadth and depth of New Zealand music...although I am not sure how much reminding she needs. "MIC" as it is known has already featured The Phoenix Foundation, Avalanche City, the Naked and Famous, and last week, Lorde. If you like the retro sounds of Nathan Haines, why don't you try his most recent album "Vermillion Skies"at the link below.

Nathan Haines - Ancestral Dance

The Naked and Famous - I Kill Giants

The lyrics that drive "I Kill Giants" are a result of a young Alisa Xayalith's early adaptation to a world without her mother, a victim of the Big C. They are heart-felt, although somewhat swamped in the powerful textures that The Naked and Famous (TNAF) build around their sound. That is no problem for me. I take the offering as it comes, and enjoy this particular lyrical/textural blend. I actually prefer this sophomore album "In Rolling Waves". Although impressed by the first album "Passive Me, Aggressive You", it was almost as if from a distance. I knew it was good. I was just tired listening to more than 5 songs. This album is more mature, warmer and confirms TNAF as no flash in the pan. I have happily purchased it. As for the video here. Joel Kefali (video director) continues to take the everyday mundane, and imbue it with flecks of the suburban gothic. Here the child-women's dancing morphs gradually into contortions. I assume this is a subtle metaphor for the ongoing torture of having lost such an important person in one's life.  It is inspired work to watch. Joel Kefali is at the top of the international game. He must be in such demand now, what with the Lorde videos as well. If you would like to buy "In Rolling Waves", you can do so at the link below.

The Naked and Famous - I Kill Giants

#summershot2014...what is it?

#summershot2014 is a follow on from February's #summershot2013.

#summershot is my way of recognizing, and giving back to, the small, diverse and talented New Zealand music community. This often financially-challenged community helps reinforce our identity as New Zealanders, and confirms that we may take on the world in our way, on our own terms. They also make wonderful tunes!

#summershot2014 manifests simply, as before. I select 50 tracks, each from different artists. Each has supplied a feel-good "dopamine hit" over the last year. I will then put the artists behind those tracks into a random draw. The three drawn will get a gift of $1000 each. (I am sorry, but bands count as a single person)

The first recipients of #summershot2013 were:

Janine and the Mixtape
The Golden Awesome

The #summershot2014 draw will be held live on Twitter (@NZMusic4U) at 7 pm NZ daylight saving time on January 31st 2014.

I hope it helps just a little.

#summershot2014 comes to you from NZMusic4U and Pure Capital Thinking.