Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Taste of Fat Freddy's Drop ...

There's a brand new Fat Freddy’s Drop album (BAYS) about to be unleashed. Here's a taster - a video clip for the wicked electro-style single ‘Razor’ - in advance of the album's October 23 release date. You can pre-order BAYS here.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Consent, the Scrolls, and Counting The Beat ...

One of the best things about the Silver Scroll Awards in Auckland last Thursday night (for me) was the recognition given to hardworking ex-Palmy musician Grayson Gilmour, who was honoured for his work on Consent, the tele-movie which told the true story of rape survivor Louise Nicholas.

Gilmour’s dramatic and tension-packed score won the Scroll for Best Original Music in a Feature Film, and the work is available over at the now Wellington-based composer's Bandcamp page on a name-your-price basis (click here). But be generous, as all proceeds go direct to Rape Crisis NZ.

The 2015 edition of the Scrolls was especially significant for greybeard music fans, with the debate about the “lost” 1981 Song of the Year scroll (which was retrospectively awarded) finally laid to rest, and the gong going to The Swingers for ‘Counting The Beat’ (clip below). That was not unexpected, and it was even less surprising to see the 2015 version of the same award go to Ruban Nielson, for Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s ‘Multi-Love’.
There were also awards acknowledging airplay and chart success for the likes of Six60 (locally) and Lorde (globally). Well done to all nominees and winners.
Here's The Swingers with three minutes of pure retro magic:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sunshine On My Back

There have been a few reports recently that The National is currently hard at work on a new album. I'm not sure how accurate those reports are, but The National is another band which has long been a firm favourite of everythingsgonegreen. Earlier this year, back in April, the band released a new single, 'Sunshine On My Back', which was available as a free download when purchasing the documentary Mistaken For Strangers on the band's official website. It was initially a shelved tune from the Trouble Will Find Me sessions, but it's one that's had a fair amount of airplay at everythingsgonegreen towers in recent months. It features the dulcet tones of current indie darling Sharon Van Etten, which complement the baritone wonders of Matt Berninger's voice perfectly.

Check it out the clip below (for 'Sunshine On My Back') if you haven't heard it already:


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

'Plastic' ... *new* from New Order

It's just over a week now until the scheduled release of Music Complete, the brand new album from New Order. I blogged about the first taster 'Restless' a few months ago, and now the band has released a video for 'Plastic', the second advance sampler for the album. I'm liking what I hear, and it's fair to say I'm really looking forward to the album. Check out the clip below ...

“...gold-plated, weapons-grade Eurodisco anthem” - Uncut Magazine.

Download ‘Plastic’ and ‘Restless’ instantly when you purchase ‘Music Complete’ at iTunes:


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bourke remembers Brazier on AudioCulture …

There has been a lot written about Graham Brazier over the past week. Brazier died on September 4 and all forms of the media here in New Zealand have been awash with obituaries and tributes. Which is fair enough, Brazier died a true icon of the local music scene and his music touched many lives.

Brazier's solo debut
For me personally, his startling early Eighties solo hit ‘Billy Bold’ stands as his finest moment, by some distance, but beyond that I probably couldn’t be classed as a fan. I do have a particularly blurry memory of seeing Brazier perform live at what would have been either the Albert or Lion Tavern in Palmerston North sometime around 1982 or 1983. It won’t have been with Hello Sailor (I was never really a fan of that band either) and it seems most likely it was a Legionnaires gig rather than anything else (solo, etc). I can’t really be sure.

Anyway, as such, since I was only lukewarm on his music, I’m not about to embark on any sort of clumsy obituary. Rather, I want to direct you to a fine piece of writing by local music historian Chris Bourke over at the AudioCulture website. You can feel the love and the passion fair dripping off the page:

Chris Bourke profiles Graham Brazier here 

R.I.P Graham Brazier 1952-2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Trainspotting To Return?

There were reports this week that Danny Boyle has plans to make (and direct) a sequel to his classic movie Trainspotting, 20 years after our last encounter with Edinburgh’s most famous on-screen schemies, Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy et al. The basis for such a movie, or at least its script, would be Irvine Welsh’s novel Porno, an inferior book to the original Trainspotting but one that nonetheless revisits the lives of the Trainspotting characters a notional ten years on.

One of the very best things about the original movie, of course, was its (then) state-of-the-art soundtrack, a real favourite of mine throughout the late Nineties. There was also a sequel to the original soundtrack, Trainspotting 2, which was released just over a year after the first one. Here are my reviews for each of those albums:

Trainspotting OST (1996)
Now here’s a thing – a great soundtrack doing justice to a great movie. Not something that can always be taken as an automatic given, but considering this movie’s content, theme, setting, and target market, the compilers of the Trainspotting OST album were always likely to be onto a winner providing they got the mix right. Which they do.

Released around the same time as the Brit-Pop “wave” was reaching its zenith, it’s hardly surprising that the album includes cuts from several bands at the forefront of that scene: Blur (‘Sing’), Pulp (‘Mile End’), Elastica (‘2:1’), and Sleeper (with a cover of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’). Damon Albarn also appears in his solo guise on ‘Closet Romantic’.

There’s a nod towards the omnipresent techno genre, a staple of the Nineties, with class acts Underworld, with the classic ‘Born Slippy’, and Leftfield, with 'A Final Hit'. Plus we also get Bedrock and KYO’s rather more forgettable brief moment in the sun ‘For What You Dream Of’.

New Order (‘Temptation’) and Primal Scream (‘Trainspotting’) provide genuine highlights, but the real feature of this album – one that distinguishes it from other more run-of-the-mill compilations – are the contributions made by the grizzled old veterans Lou Reed (on ‘Perfect Day’), Brian Eno (‘Deep Blue Day’), and Iggy Pop (with the magnificent ‘Lust For Life’ and ‘Nightclubbing’). You simply don’t get any more iconic than that trio, and their presence alongside more youthful contenders here provides for an exceptional balance and a soundtrack that offers great variation.

Highly recommended ... and certainly a leading contender for the best soundtrack album of the Nineties.

Trainspotting 2 (1997)
The second volume is the lesser heralded of the two. Part of the reason for that, I suspect, is the overkill factor. Individually these are excellent tracks but I’m struggling to recall the presence of many of them in the movie itself, and it could well be that some of these selections are merely “inspired by” the movie rather than “featured in” – I’m really not certain, to be honest.

Three tracks from the first edition (albeit different versions) feature a second time around – Underworld’s 'Born Slippy' gets a remix, as does Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’, and Leftfield is back with a longer taste of ‘A Final Hit’.

Underworld and Iggy actually contribute two tracks each, with the welcome addition of the techno duo’s ‘Dark And Long’, and Iggy’s classic ‘The Passenger’. We also find Iggy’s pal David Bowie in fine form with ‘Golden Years’, and the drama quotient is upped considerably with a brief foray into ‘Habenera’ from ‘Carmen’.

As with the first album we again get tracks from Sleeper (‘Statuesque’) and Primal Scream (‘Come Together’). Where we had New Order last time out, we now have Joy Division (‘Atmosphere’), and the smiling Mancs are joined by fellow Eighties stalwarts Heaven 17 (‘Temptation’) and Fun Boy Three (‘Our Lips Are Sealed’).

The obligatory club/dance reference points are provided by Ice MC’s ‘Think About The Way’ and Goldie’s excellent ‘Inner City Life’.

Overall, not bad, not quite as good as the first volume, but again we have a nice blend of the old and the (then) new to keep things nicely balanced. Not as essential as Trainspotting 1 but a bloody good listen all the same.

Friday, September 11, 2015

More Bizarre ... and some Linky Love

Following on from my review earlier this week (below) of Simon Grigg's book, 'How Bizarre', I just want to link to a great interview with the author himself on Auckland journalist Duncan Greive's website The Spinoff ... Greive actually nails a review in far fewer words than I managed when he asserts the following with his closing words:

"I read it in less than 48 hours, and was absolutely riveted. To me it’s an instant classic of pop industrial non-fiction. And so much more impressive and enjoyable because it’s from New Zealand – it’s so much better than you’d expect from our entry into the genre, somehow."

Read The Spinoff's full interview with Simon Grigg here

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book Review: How Bizarre … Pauly Fuemana and the Song that Stormed the World by Simon Grigg (Awa Press, 2015)

I'll be honest, when I first learned that New Zealand music identity Simon Grigg was writing a book about Pauly Fuemana (aka OMC) and the hit song 'How Bizarre', I was more than a little bit wary of how it might work out. Of whether or not it would work at all.

After all, how much could possibly be said or written about that one song and an artist whose musical legacy was otherwise strictly limited? An artist who is no longer with us (RIP Pauly), and a song that is the best part of 20 years old.

What I didn't fully appreciate at the outset however was Grigg's intimate knowledge of his subject matter, or indeed, his ability to weave all of the peripheral events into an utterly compelling tale. Even just a few pages in it soon becomes obvious that this book is about so much more than the making of a global hit record; it's an in-depth analysis of the inner workings and peculiar mechanisms of the music industry, both locally and abroad. Well, at least the pre-internet music industry as it stood in the mid-to-late Nineties.

More than that, it's the story of a charismatic young man swept up and washed away by a series of events that took him beyond his comfort zone. Beyond anything he could possibly have previously imagined during his humble South Auckland upbringing. Events that eventually started to spiral well beyond his control. The story of a talented yet massively troubled young man ill-prepared for the fame and (limited) fortune that came his way.

And if it's about Fuemana, it's also about producer Alan Jansson, the studio wizard and collaborator behind 'How Bizarre', a far less tragic but equally inspirational figure, without whom there would have been no hit record and no story.

It's also Grigg's story, in context of the author being the owner of the label that initially released the record. As the friend, mentor, and almost constant globetrotting companion of Fuemana. And as the close friend and confidant of Jansson. That makes Grigg an authority on all of the events as they unfolded, and provides for a unique overview of the processes associated with making, releasing, and promoting the record.

Grigg is also able to offer honest views on all of the important personalities and parties involved. Plus rare insight into the era, the fledging South Auckland “scene”, and the wider “urban pacific” genre. The book is also testimony to the author’s meticulous record-keeping. Nobody else could have told this story with the love and detail offered here by Grigg.

And so 20 years on, the full story behind ‘How Bizarre’ – the first (only?) NZ-recorded and released song to feature on Top of the Pops – finally gets written. It’s a story every music fan should read. Many of the key elements within are surely not unique to this particular record. Or specific to New Zealand, for that matter. More simply, ‘How Bizarre’ is one of those hard-to-put-down books you’ll want to finish reading before you do anything else. Highly recommended.

How Bizarre ...Pauly Fuemana and the Song that Stormed the World by Simon Grigg is published by Awa Press, and is available now, priced at $38.