Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fresh Cuts for NZ Musician December 2015/January 2016

The December/January issue of NZ Musician hit the streets this week, and as per usual I managed to sneak a couple of album reviews past the quality control radar of the magazine’s editorial staff …

B2KDA: Rising

Officially, Rising is album number four from the collective previously known as Batucada Sound Machine, or BSM. But it’s also a first for the group while wearing a shiny new B2KDA badge. Such is the fluid nature of this ever-evolving 10-piece-plus ensemble, it’s quite remarkable how many of these tunes stay faithful to the modus operandi and work of all previous BSM line-ups. And that’s a good thing – a proven formula that works. If B2KDA does manage to set out its own stall under the new guise, then pure unadulterated funk remains very much at its heart – see tunes like the single, Can’t Give You (What You’re Asking For), and The Greatest Step. There’s also a crossover into bass and brass-heavy dub territories, with king-size slabs of electro (I’m A Physicist), ska (Same Old Thing), and world music flavours (Por La Noche). Such is the diversity on offer, Rising appeals as being almost completely borderless in its widescreen vision, a hybrid of international sounds blending together in the name of a funky dance party. Which is hardly surprising given that the album was recorded and pieced together at five or six different locations across the globe, places as far flung and diverse as Berlin, Singapore, Dunedin, and umm, Blockhouse Bay. The finishing touches were added in the studio of Sola Rosa’s Andrew Spraggon, with the end result being a light and breezy album crammed full of fresh summery vibes.

Host Club: Gymkhana EP
If the tunes found on this debut EP are anything to go by, then Host Club look set for a big future. Coming to us straight out of Western Springs High School, as recent regional Rockquest finalists and yet veterans of Auckland’s vibrant all-ages scene, Host Club’s most immediate and obvious point of difference is the very distinctive baritone of lead vocalist Finn Dalbeth. It’s a voice that defies his teenage years, underpinned by the type of energetic and quirky indie rock more readily associated with a much older generation. As such, this music should appeal not only to the band’s own demographic, but also to those of us raised on the eccentricities and foibles of ’80s pop. Gymkhana was recorded and mixed by Karl Apao of Soundkard Productions. While each of the four tracks here offer up something slightly different, it’s the brooding tension and heavy vibe found on Miscellania, the closer and single, that showcases the Auckland four-piece at its very best. Whisper it, lest we place a hex, but these guys might deserve some watching.

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