New Zealand Music
by Evan Alexander
Its all bright new
things right now; entertainers in the southern hemisphere must
be currently pushing a median age somewhere around 17 (possibly in
the wake of the travesty of Aussie Idol artists that are still
managing to maintain secure positions all across the charts). A
plethora of young poppers are being offered up all across
20 year old Australian
songstress Missy Higgins is
Australias current darling, the talented Higgins has been the
success story of 2004 with her 'The Sound of White' album debuting
at No. 1 in Australia and selling more than 45,000 units in just
Higgins is the latest
addition to the all-Australian Homebake Festival line-up in
December, other acts added to Homebake are Machine Gun
Fellatio, Cut Copy, sonicanimation, The Cops, End of Fashion,
Gelbison, The Art of Fighting, The Spazzys, Wicked Beat Sound
System, Sarah Blasko, Ground Components, Koolism and Gerling.
Homebake is on December 4 in Sydney's Domain.
The other big commercial /
pop newcomer is Eran
James. Born and raised in Melbourne, at 15 years of
age, James was eight when he started singing and was 13 years old
when he signed to Universal Music. His debut album Reviewing
The Situation, features covers of acts as varied as John Lennon
to James Brown and Fatboy Slim.
have been treading the boards of the Aus Music Scene for nearly a
decade now. In for the whole nine yards, cutting their teeth live,
honing songs and building a fan base. The release of their
self-titled album serves as a testament to this. Dave Larkin, Shan
Vanderwert, Pete Satchell and Chris Brodie first started pounding
their crunch guitar based rock n pop in Melbourne pubs in 1996.
After what could be
construed, in Australian Music Industry terms, as a meteoric
rise over the last twelve months, The Red Sun Band have
just released their debut long-player Peapod. A sensual,
brooding wash of hook-ridden angst wrapped in a wash of fuzzy
guitar and swirls of organ, Singer/guitarist Sarah took a moment
out to answer a few questions for me.
guys have been flat out lately, what do you do when you get to
sleep a lot.
general, as your profile increases, are you noticing different or
larger audiences at live gigs?
i tend to keep my eyes closed, so I
couldn't really say. the last show in
Sydney was really big though. i think as people get to know the
they listen at live shows more.
three singles, you've now released your debut album (Peapod Aug
30th), a longer process obviously, how did you approach recording
instead of three?
we did seventeen at once. i guess because we'd been waiting so
make an album it was very easy. it did take longer, and towards
the end we
all went a little stir crazy... but it was the same process-
instruments at the same time and then recording vocals and
other embellishments later (when we went mad).
Being your debut album, is ~Peapod" a mix of newer songs
with some you've had for years?
yes. the oldest song is astrovisionary, i
wrote the lyrics many years ago,
even before the band. peapod is the newest which was written just
we went into the studio. fresh songs always sound best.
Both individually and as a band, do you have a set system
in the way in
which you approach your songwriting process?
not really. it seems to be different for every song. some are
private, others are more collaborative. writing the band part of
production on "Peapod" highlights a density of texture,
almost swampy broodiness, was there any particular approaches you
within the recording / mixing / mastering processes to garner /
um, not my bag. turn up the distortion i say.
sort of stuff were you listening to immediately prior to recording
the voices in my.. the shins. and
wrong with the Oz Music Industry / what's right with it?
is the best piece of advice you've received about the music
just play good music. all the other stuff will just happen.
do you look forward to at the end of the day?
hopefully to have finely tuned the whole
writing, recording, making
artwork, answering questions, so that we can keep doing it and be
Web site: http://www.theredsunband.com/
New Zealand Music News
The big news on the New
Zealand front is triple pronged. Scribe, Brooke Fraser and
Hayley Westenra the headlining acts NZs bright young
things reigned supreme at the 2004 New Zealand Music Awards.
the 20-year-old singer/songwriter awards rookie, who's debut album
'What To Do With Daylight' has hit four times Platinum in her
homeland and spent over 40 weeks in the charts had a double win,
walking away with the Tui Awards for two of her nominated
categories for Best Female Artist and Best Breakthrough Artist.
it was Hip-hop sensation Scribe who dominated the
winners list, collecting seven awards. With his debut album The
Crusader, the hip-hop superstar won Album of the Year, Best Urban
/ Hip Hop Album and Best Male Solo Artist. His debut single,
Stand Up, was awarded Single of the Year while Not Many The
Remix! co-written with P-Money, Con Psy and Savage
won its authors the award for Songwriter of the Year. Scribe also
won Peoples Choice Award voted on by New Zealanders around
the country and Chris Grahams video for Stand Up earned both
him and Scribe Tuis in the C4 Best Music Video Award.
the creation of former Straightjacket Fits front man Shayne Carter
picked up two for Best Group and Best Rock Album.
outstanding success in the UK, Asia, and Australasia was
recognised with an International Achievement Award. Hayleys
album Pure won Highest Selling NZ Album having sold more than 1.5
million copies worldwide.
continues to produce winning beats picking up the Best Dance /
Electonica Album for One Drop East. The group won the same
award last year for Outside the Dub Plates.
award for the Highest Selling New Zealand Single goes to pop idol Ben
Lummis for They Cant Take That Away and Goldenhorse
takes out Airplay Record of the Year with its single Maybe
2004 New Zealand Music Awards are presented by RIANZ and are in
their 39th year.
Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) music awards spokesperson Adam
Holt says the 2004 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards winners
strongly reflect the quality and depth of local music.
"Increasing numbers of young local talent are now achieving
success both here and internationally and that means the future of
New Zealand music is in great shape, it's also fantastic to see
that artists are excelling across a number of different genres.
Local musicians are producing great music that caters to the
tastes of all New Zealanders."
Finn (son of Neil of Crowded House / Split Enz fame) and his band Betchadupa
have released their second album 'Aim For Your Head'. Their
debut effort 'The Alphabetchadupa' gave people an idea of the band
but the pop / rock sensibilities and melody driven oomph of Aim
For Your Head sees them setting the bar a few rungs higher,
Having recently relocated to Melbourne, the band are now in full
motion. With an ever-increasing dedicated fan base quickly
developing on both sides of the Tasman, Betchadupa look set for a
the band formerly known as Shihad,
who changed their name to Pacifier (whilst recording their last
album in the US during the Sep 11th attacks) because it sounded to
much like Jihad have now changed their name back to Shihad. Expect
their new album to be out in a few months.
New Australian Releases
Peabody,The Red Sun Band
The Red Sun Band have been
garnering a fair bit of attention over the last twelve months.
After three singles, their brooding, Mazzy Starred infusions of
alt / indie, sub-pop rock have had them pegged as one of the next big
things, but dont hold it against them.
An enthused, sure-footed,
melodic debut, Peabody churns along an atmospheric route
that, if it wasnt so inspired could be referred to as sluggish.
The title track sets the
precipice, opening the album with a convoluted netting of swampy,
angst drawn electric guitar and midnight drumming that, along with
chordal refrains coerced out of out a low slung organ,
cornerstones the entire Peabody soundscape.
Continuing on through the
pointed jaunty tunefulness of Sleep Forever onto the wailing
terrils of feedback soaked whine that trail out closing track Astrovisionary,
The Red Sun Band have a knack of being able to infer a musical
saga of haphazardness and emotional languor that smoke-screens a
sharply focused and concise delivery of raw emotional wrangling.
That said, theres no doubt
where this hive gets its honey. Sarahs anguished; breathy
vocals form the focal point, affectingly brittle, lulling and yet
Under the guise of his alter
ego King Curly, Lullaby is the second album from
Sydney singer/ songwriter Steve Appel. Pulled into the national
eye when a home recording of his song Curly and Sue received
an unprecedented public response after an airing on ABC radio, the
refreshing, unassuming nature of the resulting album
Familyman (2001) secured Appel a focused position on the
somewhat under exposed canvas of Australian folk.
The aptly titled
Lullaby sees him continuing to extend his self-effacing
brand of melancholic, understated realism with confident aplomb.
Authentic responses to emotive callings, tinged with a lilting,
organic, almost baroque musicality are countered by a gritty, sham
stripped tell it as it is lyrical mentality that lifts Appel
those few crucial rungs above his contemporaries (of whom though,
to be truthful, there are not too many) on the ladder of validity.
The title track is the pick of the bunch, not so much tongue in
cheek as tongue between teeth, meandering along a lazy
waltz it manages to simultaneously comfort and haunt (broken
skin beneath an open sky). Despite some easily digestible
exteriors, there is an eerie lack of complacency that lurks
beneath Lullaby, tracks like The Land of Love speak of
a place with no hassles, records, issues or rules where
you can smoke cigarettes inside and via a swarthy groove and
a dangerously down-home guitar riff, even a cover of Teddy
Bears Picnic manages to slightly disturb.
The Long Road Back
Not quite long enough, Im
sure some of you would exclaim and Im inclined to agree, but if
Peter Andre is what turns on your faucets, this ones gonna get you
Thanks to his participation
in one of those celebrity reality shows over in the UK earlier
this year, Andre is currently enjoying his second bite of the
It hasnt improved his
music any, hes still peddling the same mush of unenthused pop
tripe he always has, but not unlike his first run ten odd years
ago now, he has the best minds and ears in the - unenthused pop
tripe - market to help him do it. Hence the production is snappy,
the vocals are rich, the snare is phat and the melodies are
dutifully constructed epicentres of thick Stock, Aitken and
Waterman flavoured syrup. Too sugary and unimaginative for my
palette, you could swear on Mysterious Girl that all
theyve done to Girl Im Gonna Make You Sweat is wipe
off the vocal track and replace it with their (notice my pertinent
use of the plural) own.
If upon hearing this you
think youve heard it before, its because one way or another,
A double disk set from this
punked up Australian five piece, Dollar Bar have earned their
suppers. Theyve been doing this for a while now and they do it
well. The first disk, the album proper is a well hung
collection of crunch factored, melodic, punk pop that rattles with
well focused angst and a general disenchantment for all things
related to relationships.
Their melodies, both
conscious and inherent, are what keeps Dollar Bar floating on
the top of the Australian sales pool. From the taut desecration of
Some Assembly Required to the stuttered grumble of Note
To Self, structured, lean and sprung like coils, all eleven
trackss on Receiving Transmission bear merit. The second
disk contains eleven tracks of album offcuts, singles and the
like. Including their slightly questionable version of Kasey
Chambers Not Pretty Enough. More of the same, but if its
the same thing that your after, tuck in.
New Zealand Releases
latest ten tracker by New Zealands Sola Rosa, namely Andrew
Spraggon and his pit-crew, is an innately wrought little
masterpiece of phat, sullen beats in a low-fi, down-groove
infested nether world. Fashioned
around a stubby base of trip hop and sample inserted electronic
groove, the entire album was written, produced and arranged by
Spraggon, who also performed (programmed) ninety percent of it
Spraggons touch is a
gentle one; he coerces and lulls you, tugging lightly on the parts
that resist. The five and a half minute Terrafirma is an
absolute pearler; acoustic guitar peeling away behind an
iridescent lead, drenched in reverb and whammy bar glitter,
Scratch Apprentice is another triumph. His poignant use of
samples (yes, there is such a thing) allows for the sparsity and
simultaneous register depth of his grooves to dominate the fore.
Think DJ Shadows The Private Press with some of the
Californian sass replaced by New Zealand serenity.