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Tonemeister New Zealand and Australian music

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 own website

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, is frequently
likened to Dido and Joni Mitchell. Her debut offering 'Stars' is inspired
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.
Michelle 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.