New Zealand and Australian music
by The Tonemeister
New Zealand and Australia have an ever vibrant music scene,
with many top-notch rock musicians old and new plying their
trade.One such act is Ishtar, a hard rock group from Auckland,
New Zealand. Their live sound draws on equal parts melodicism
and big riffs, an extensive musical palette, and a dark gothic
undertone. Though influenced by such bands as Led Zeppelin,
Megadeth, Evanescence, Queen, Nightwish, Dream Theater and Van
Halen, Ishtar avoid slavishly cloning any particular band. Known
in Auckland’s music scene for their combination of a powerful
gothic female vocals, virtuoso guitar work and tight and heavy
rhythm section, the band is doing a North Island tour of New
Zealand later this year. They have recently been in the studio
with Rock Factory engineer Michelle Klaessens recording their
debut EP, ‘South of Sanity’ with a sound that ranges
from technical heavy rock to epic pieces, zeppelinesque exotica,
an acoustic ballad, vamped up rock and roll and proto- grunge
drop D riffage. Due for release late July, South of Sanity will
be initially available through the bands website, Ishtar's
In January this year I had the opportunity to watch a band
called Ghostplane perform at a festival near Levin, New Zealand.
I was suitably impressed with this group that hails from Wellington.
I watched them at their Organic River Festival concert, and
have noted with interest that they recently released a CD titled
"Beneath the sleepy lagoon".The Ghostplane sound is
a mix of experimental indie rock/pop with a side of dark alt-country
thrown in. The album was released by Arch Hill Records, and
the songs are thoughtful and intriguing. Utilising acoustic
and electric guitars and electronica from a bygone time this
band is worth a listen for sure.
Up and coming singer-songwriter, Michelle Nadia from Auckland,
likened to Dido and Joni Mitchell. Her debut offering 'Stars'
by the Southern Hemisphere's beautiful night sky, produced by
Nic Manders (Goldenhorse, Brooke Fraser, Nathan King) and features
string arrangements by Murray McNabb. The song "Stars"
has a music video filmed at Auckland's Karekare beach, and has
received some local television play. While softer, and not out
and out rock, this song is worth checking out, as it is a catchy
one, and I look forward to hearing more of this artist.
Nadia at myspace
May is officially New Zealand music month, when homegrown kiwi
music is the order of the day across the country, receiving
extra promotion and interest. Numerous events are staged over
this month-long period nationwide. One such event was a 13 hour
music marathon sponsored by the Kapiti Live Music Club. Non-stop
music all the way from from 11 am to midnight was the order
of the day. Based just north of Wellington, this concert featured
an interesting mix of music: from country to folk, bluegrass
to blues rock, melodic rock to hard alternative music. Being
present there, I was impressed by much of what was on offer.
Acts featured included celtic rock band Black Eyed Susie fronted
by the multi talented Susan Colien-Reid, who fills the role
of lead vocalist and violinist, and plays acoustic guitar exquisitely
in some songs as well. She sings with a powerful haunting voice,
and much of the band's music is written by Susan, and is very
captivating and soulful. The sound is an interesting blend of
heavy electric guitar, and the acoustic guitar and violin, over
which the vocals float and at times soar majestically. An album
of this band's music is currently being recorded, and due for
release in the coming months. Also on show was Tony koretz performing
the classic style progressive rock and blues songs from his
"Kicking Cans" CD, and additionally a new song "World
Gone Mad", the title track from his new album, which is
currently in the recording process. This album will hopefully
be completed later this year. Both Black Eyed Susie and Tony
Koretz can be found featured at the Koretz
Music Online website Other acts present at the marathon,
to name just a few, included a blues sound pumped out by the
Blair Allen Trio, interesting alternative music by Ginger, fronted
by Karen Clarke, and an 80's style sounding band Monty Wolf.
The event went off without a hitch, and was great fun to attend.
Well known and long standing kiwi band The D4 played their
final concert in Auckland in June after almost 8 years together.
Apparently it was group decision to have an indefinate hiatus
for the band. Their absence in the future will leave a noticable
hole in the New Zealand music scene.
Moving across the Tasman to the Australian music scene, held
in April in Victoria, the annual Apollo Bay Music Festival this
year saw a mixed bag of weather, but a sellout crowd enjoyed
the full weekend of music. The festival gives people the chance
to see a diverse range of acts in different musical styles,
and was again a big success. It was headlined this time round
by rock band You am I, who have recently released their seventh
album, and are hitting the road from June doing a national tour
of Australia. This group is pretty big news at the moment in
the Australian music world, and performed an outstanding concert
at the festival..
Based in Melbourne Australia, Jet are currently working on a
follow-up album to their extremely successful debut release
of 2003 "Get Born". The new album is being recorded
in Los Angeles and produced by Dave Sardy. The previously stated
album sold over 2.5 million copies. The music of Jet is influenced
by groups such as The Beatles, AC/DC, The Kinks, and The Rolling
Stones. It will indeed be interesting to hear their new material.
Fans of the veteran Australian rock band Cold Chisel may be
interested in picking up a copy of the ‘Last Stand’
concerts on DVD. Recorded and filmed at the Sydney Entertainment
Centre in December 1983, this DVD includes interview and back
stage footage along with the concerts, and is available in widescreen,
having been remixed and remastered. The original VHS is still
the highest selling video by an Australian artist.
Well that wraps up the news on the australasian music scene
for this issue. We are always keen to hear from acts in that
region that feel they have some news worth reporting.