Friday, April 08, 2005

Some New Zealand music is.... "New Zealand is a small country, not a musical sub-branch.
NZ music don't need no pity. We don't have to give it a headstart. Around half of the music we play on RDU happens to be NZ music.
But that's not an act of charity. Our independent radio station has proudly pimped the good stuff - regardless of genre and origin - since 1976. Sure, we have some responsibility to buy drinks for NZ music. But equally, we should tell it when to stop annoying everyone, get in a cab and fuck off home."
From Radio RDU. Bloody genius.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tunes for days.
MP3 action all over the show... Boom Selection has some Lady Soverign and unreleased M.I.A. Don't tell! Check Scissorkick for a sneak preview of the new Tosca album.

From the Captain's Crate...
"I recently got a pre-release copy of "Gilles Peterson in Africa", where you can find the song Mulatu. It's a 'wikkid' compilation, as to be expected from the 'Best DJ in the World'. Not too many surprises, but strictly solid picks that cover a lot of ground. One disc of 60s and 70's gems, and another of modern club tracks that are keeping the groove alive. If you're a semi-obsessive collector like myself, you'll probably have a lot of the tunes already. If you don't recognize the song titles, then pick it up. Anyway, Gilles came onto my show back in the fall right after "Gilles Peterson in Brazil" came out. It was a real treat for me, and we ended up getting on the topic of Quantic- one of my favorite producers. It turns out that he's currently working on a project with my favorite Ethiopian musical mastermind. I flipped out. I'm still drooling in anticipation of the undoubtedly sick results. You heard it here first (maybe)."

The long rumoured Toy Love album reissue looks likely to drop soon, 15 years after the idea was first suggested, according to the knowledgable Mister Grigg. I've often seen this album on vinyl in Real Groovy and thought of buying it, but its usually way overpriced ($70-100) for an recording that Chris Knox and co have stated they hate (the sound, that is). It's a pretty limp sounding album (compared to their earlier singles), so the reissue should be worth checking if it's been suitably tweaked.

"There was nothing quite like the Saturday afternoons at The Windsor over the spring and summer of 79-80..hundreds of punkish looking teens invading main street of the pristine upper middle class Parnell every week and causing mayhem (not least to my flat..Chris had an unfortunate habit of announcing a party at my place on stage...). Terry Hogan, the man who signed Toy Love to WEA, and myself were running the local record shop, which, in the Stalinistic days of Rob Muldoon, was the only record shop open in Auckland on a Saturday..we closed at 2pm too. In mid 79 we were, thanks to Terry, the first to get the “Rebel” / “Squeeze” single and, with Toy Love playing down the road, we sold a truckload..."
Out April 26, preorder thru SmokeCDs.

From Flying Nuns website..
"TOY LOVE scared me shitless at first. I was 16 or 17 and too young, too straight and way too uptight for that kind of carry on. But I had mates who adored them. And Jane Walker was a third cousin twice removed of my very best friend... so I was practically a member of the band. Thus, at some stage in the early eighties, I trooped along to see them at the Rock Theatre in Wellington. Of all the gigs I ever saw that was the most terrifying. Boots, safety pins, spiked hair, sneers and attitude. Pogo'ing was violence with a beat. A bootgirl had a t-shirt with "fuck off" written on it. Excuse me? Chris Knox was a punk Peter Cushing... so demonic I wanted garlic and a crucifix. It was a cult meeting. I stood at the back appalled, transfixed and utterly in love. I'd seen the future of rock and roll and it was small, white and demented. Pull down the shades? Christ, I felt like someone had lifted them! What would I pay to hear them remastered and issued afresh on cd? Easy: I'd give my Maserati." - JOHN CAMPBELL, TV3 autocue reader, 2005

ADDED Jim emailed me to say that the original Toy Love was selling in Time Bomb Records in Osaka for 12000 yen (about 160 kiwis). Ouch.

McDonalds says an apple a day keeps the lawsuits away...

"In an effort to escape its junk-food image, McDonalds, the company that built its success on fries and burgers, now buys more apples than any restaurant chain in the US. This also gives it enormous power over growers - which could lead to fewer varieties and fewer small producers. Gary Younge on how the golden arches could revolutionise an entire industry.

...McDonalds is already the largest buyer of beef, pork and potatoes, and the second-largest buyer of chicken. With volume comes clout: last year, at an apple-marketing conference organised by the US Apple Association, McDonald's director of quality systems announced that if growers wanted to work with the company, they would have to cultivate more of two varieties of apple in particular: cameo and pink lady. Already, the cameo crop in Washington state is 58% larger than it was last year, according to growers in Yakima Valley.
The interest of McDonald's in healthy eating is not altruistic: it is partly a case of rebranding and partly a defensive manoeuvre against the future possibility of obesity lawsuits..."

McDonalds quietly shut down its restaurant in Auckland Hospital recently due to poor sales. A fast food outlet in a kids hospital - yep, that sent a great message to kids, right?

Thursday, March 31, 2005

"We decided to stop being rappers and become Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young."

Uplifted from cos their archive is crap, but this album is good.
A clean break - 27 March 2005 By Grant Smithies, Sunday Star Times

I'm leaning on a wall outside Auckland venue Studio with bFM diamond geezer Stinky Jim and Breaks Co-Op rapper and beatmaker Hamish Clark. Inside, a slightly off-form Pluto is squeezing out cerebral pop to an appreciative full house. Out here, pissed Westies in dress shirts are queuing to get into the strip bar across the road and a huge Samoan tranny in a short black skirt is pashing a small, well-dressed Asian man as they fall into the back seat of a taxi.

Red-eyed and righteous, their tongues loosened by THC, my two companions are ranting about their favourite subject, and mine - music. The names of inspirational musicians flutter to the dirty pavement alongside the spliff ash: D'Angelo, Freddy Cruger, Lady Sovereign, Nas, The Nextmen, local rappers Dam Native and Tha Feelstyle, Fat Freddy's Drop singer Dallas, the TrinityRoots boys.

As he speaks about the music he loves, Clark cannot keep still. Well over 1.83 metres tall, he weaves and feints like a boxer, punctuating his conversation with his huge dinner-plate hands.

"And what about your own record, mate?" says Jim. "That new single's a pearler." He's referring to "The Otherside", the first radio song lifted from new Breaks Co-Op album The Sound Inside.

It is indeed a pearler - simple yet instantly affecting, its slippery strum and almost gospel harmonies instantly recognisable as Polynesian but also utterly universal. But Clark looks suddenly sheepish. Though he's been talking about other people's albums with all the restraint of a runaway train, analysing his own work is a different proposition entirely. Eventually, he says this: "What can I tell you, bro? We didn't want to make a hip-hop album like the last one. We wanted to try and write some real songs."

He takes another long draw, exhales a pungent cloud. "We decided to stop being rappers and become Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young."

Thank God for that, I say. I wasn't convinced by previous Breaks Co-Op album Roofers from 1997, an album that to my ears tried too hard to be clever, but The Sound Inside got me right from the very first play. Simple and tender, more focussed, with an unpolished home demo quality that's enormously appealing, this album bears witness to Hamish Clark and Zane Lowe, two New Zealanders then living in London, finally finding their rightful sound. And that sound is ballads, me old mate. Love songs, squire. There's barely a rap track on this new album and it's all the better for that.

"To tell the truth, I probably haven't listened to a hip-hop record all the way through since we made Roofers back in 1997," says Clark when I call his Auckland home one night. "Same with Zane, probably. He loves Pavement, Tortoise, Sebadoh and so on, and he's a great guitar player, and I'm a freak for Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Marvin Gaye, Nick Drake, John Martyn and that kind of thing."

Clark followed Lowe to the UK in 1997 with the sole purpose of making a follow-up to Roofers. This wasn't to be. Lowe had just begun the swift ascent to his current position as arguably the most powerful broadcaster in the UK music industry, listened to by millions on his BBC 1 radio show, watched by millions more on his MTV2 show, and so the Breaks Co-Op record languished on the back-burner.

Clark twiddled his thumbs for eight long years. "Life intervened, you might say," he says drily. "I was in a few bands, made tracks with other people, but I've always loved the music me and Zane make together more than anything else. So I waited, and I hassled him, and eventually we started making time to do it. And I think this album has been well worth the wait."

Oh, yes. The best bits of The Sound Inside are very special indeed. "Last Night" takes the chord progression from REM's "Everybody Hurts", adds a few rudimentary bits of vinyl scratching, some subtle dub effects and a fumbling xylophone solo and makes from these unlikely elements one of my favourite songs of the year so far.

Rendered in glorious harmonies, "A Place For You" ponders the importance of creating - both physically and symbolically - a safe area for the person you love to inhabit. "Duet" features the kind of shivering strings and busy bassline that used to back up many a florid '70s ballad, while "Too Easily" is late-'50s west coast cool jazz, rakish and aloof, with its crisp edges eroded by electronics, like Chet Baker adrift in an echo chamber.

Instrumental track "Question Of Freedom" subverts some prog-rock snare-drum and organ noodling with atonal sax blasts, synthesised ray gun sounds and the kind of el cheapo play-by-numbers guitar that might have been lifted from a B52s' record.

Lowe plays most of the instruments on the album, while Clark edits out bad ideas, suggests moods and finds inspirational samples from his sizeable stash of old folk and soul records. New member Andy Lovegrove and good mate Jont Whittington sing on about half the tracks, Lowe the rest.

"This album still has a lot of hip-hop breakbeats on it," continues Clark. "It's just that they're now way in the back, behind the melody. To my mind, there's a strong hip-hop ethos underpinning this record, even though no one would would mistake it for a rap album.

"It's also a record made by men, not teenagers. A lot of records that use breakbeats are made by kids that still have a lot of confusion and aggression to get out of their systems. Me and Zane have both been through that, and now we just want to make some simple music that's beautiful and speaks to you directly." Mission accomplished.

Breaks Co-Op: The Sound Inside (EMI)
'Crosby, Stills, Lowe and Clark' says Mister Smithies. ****
Audio samples at SmokeCDs here.

Via Popbitch...
>> No Marley No Cry <<
BBC attempts reggae resurrection

With so many people still surprisingly alive, sometimes it's easy to forget that anyone has actually died. Even the BBC is prone to this problem. One of their researchers contacted the Bob Marley Foundation last week, wanting co-operation in a documentary about the making of No Woman No Cry.

The email says, "... The Story of No Woman No Cry" would obviously only work with some participation from Bob Marley himself. I would be very grateful if you could see whether this is the kind of project that he might be interested in... It would only involve Bob Marley spending one or two days with us to talk about this hit track."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

You need art like a hole in the head.

British artist Banksy has recently had his works displayed at the MOMA in NY. He walked in to the gallery dressed as a British pensioner and just put them up himself. Pure genius!

"This historic occasion has less to do with finally being embraced by the fine art establishment and is more about the judicious use of a fake beard and some high strength glue." Banksy continues -"They're good enough to be in there, so I don't see why I should wait" (Via Noizy)

...and famous last words from mr bug-eyes Antonie Dixon, after being found guilty... "Someone from the public gallery shouted "Goodbye, Mr Dixon", he replied "You will see me again next time and you won't be getting the hand back"."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ride The Bandwagon
There was Verve Remixed, then Atlantic jumped on the bandwagon, now Motown Remixed is coming your way. Not too sure about this one - the Jacksons Remixes outta Japan a few years back were wicked, but this one.... Still, they got Hank Shocklee remixing Undisputed Truth...

- Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson and James Poyser - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (Gladys Knight & The Pips)

- DJ Green Lantern - "Mary Jane" (Rick James)

- Salaam Remi - "ABC" (Jackson 5)

- DJ Z-Trip - "I Want You Back" (Jackson 5)

- DJ Jazzy Jeff - "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" (The Temptations)

- DJ Spinna - "Keep On Truckin" (Eddie Kendricks)

- Hank Shocklee - "Smiling Faces Sometimes" (Undisputed Truth)

- Easy Mo Bee - "Just My Imagination(Running Away With Me)" (The Temptations)

- Mocean Worker AKA Adam Dorn - "I Just Want To Celebrate" (Rare Earth)

- Hotsnax AKA Full Phatt - "The Tears of A Clown" (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)

- King Britt - "War" (Edwin Starr)

- DJ Smash - "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" (Stevie Wonder)

- Da Producers, including Paul Simpson - "Let's Get It On" (Marvin Gaye)

- Rafe Gomez and David Baron as The Groove Boutique - "Quiet Storm" (Smokey Robinson)

- Tranzition (everyANYTHING) - "My World Is Empty Without You" (Diana Ross & The Supremes)

Pick up Motown Remixed along with the classic version CD, Motown Unmixed, in stores in May 24th. Catch a sneak peek on Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 vinyl in stores May 10th.

Wanna be a freelance music journalist? Here's a quick lesson in what to watch out for.

Check Tom Waits 20 favorite albums. Ever heard of a musician described
as 'a prosthetic Cuban'? It's in there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

SXSW snippets
"At a panel discussion by A&R (artists and repertory) executives, speakers described a business that wagers huge amounts on promoting blockbuster hits, with little interest in slower-building, long-term careers. Asked about the advantages of signing with a major label, Tony Wilson, the founder of the influential Factory Records who is now the director of F4 Records, said, "If you think you are an interesting band, don't." from NYT.

More on that panel at Billboard- "The New York Times' Jon Pareles asked the one question on my mind: Why, then, would a successful artist need a major label? The panelists all sprouted the company lines about international distribution and easier access to radio -- both of which do indeed carry some weight. Yet even that answer illustrated the growing strength of the independent sector. Whereas a major label contract may have once been the destination of choice for most artists, today more and more acts are regularly becoming successful without the help of a major label machine. The access to radio a major can provide is a large factor, but it's essentially the only one, and it's a gap that's being narrowed each passing year by the strength of the Internet."

The Village Voice blogged SXSW here, thanks to Amy from More in the Monitor. Excerpt... "After Kaiser Chiefs, I booked it across town to Elysium to see M.I.A. I was greeted by a gigantic line outside the club. So I waited. And waited. I waited so long, I managed to make two new friends, read the entire SXSW issue of Vice, make up my schedule for today and get a new freelance gig at a New York paper. Pretty productive, huh? When I finally made it inside Elysium, I was shocked to find that the place was only about 3/4 full. It better have been some sort of fire code thing, or else me and all the other people who waited in line for an hour and a half are gonna riot."

Didn't see any sign of NZ bands getting mainstream press coverage. If you spy anything, let me know.

And Bizgirl didn't win a Bloggie, but she did have breakfast with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Apparently.

I was watching Rove on Friday night, he was getting all excited about a Maori phrase book, with the word 'whaka'. The pronounciation had him in fits - he said something about wanting to hear TV3's John Campbell, say whaka (sounds like focker or... you get it, right?) on the air, so there's John Campbell on the debut of Campbell Live saying whaka repeatedly (and enjoying saying it immensely), then mentioning he'd be talking with Rove later in the week. Can't wait. Holmes managed to harangue an Egg spokesman about egg cartons, and Susan Wood followed some NZ woman for a dodgy operation in China - what devastating competition. least Campbell didn't run off tree planting. Still gutted that TV3 moved the Simpsons to 5pm, tho.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Brawling at the Bowling Club.
No, there wasn't any fighting, tho Frontseat producer Gemma Gracewood did get a bit pissed at Damian Christie for bagging TVNZ for not doing a better job promoing their screening of Taika Waititi's film Two cars One Night. When he laboured the point, that Maori TV had heavily promoed their screening of this Oscar-nominated film, and TVNZ had done very little (Frontseat screened the film), Gemma let fly. "Oh fuck you, Damian", which shot him down in flames and bought much applause and laughter from the assembled honkies. Still, it's not every day you get to play tunes by Kraftwerk, Bob Marley and Daphne Walker (Haere Mai) at a DJ gig, so I have to say yesterdays Public Address Live event was pretty cool, from my point of view. And free coffee! Cheers to everyone involved in setting it up.

Jeff Chang interview (author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hiphop Generation), plus downloads from the official mixtape of the book. Wicked.

M.I.A. gets Boinged.

"Two Australian DJs were ordered to pay more than $800,000 in damages for illegally using dance tracks on their mix CDs.

"The CDs of both DJs contained 17 remixed works that were produced without permission of recording artists and other DJs. In evidence to the court Fraser-Smith (one of the defendents) said he had been granted copyright licences for all the works."

What, he didn't get it in writing?" Via Coolfer.

Following on from the Verve Remixed series, Atlantic have decided to borrow the concept and apply it to their back catalogue of funk and jazz. "Due May 10 from Rhino/Atlantic, "Atlantiquity" is based on material from the likes of Donny Hathaway, Carmen McCrae and Chic and defined for the dance floor under the guidance of Los Angeles radio/club DJ Garth Trinidad." Here's the tracklisting.

"Tonight," Kleeer (Sa-Ra Remix featuring the Sa-Ra All Stars & Me'Shell Ndegéocello)
"Watching You," Slave (Vikter Duplaix Remix)
"Bold and Black," Eddie Harris (DJ Nu-Mark Remix)
"Getting Uptown (To Get Down)," United 8 (Quantic Remix)
"Pick Up The Pieces," Average White Band (Charlie Dark Remix)
"We Are Family," Sister Sledge (Daz-I-Kue Remix)
"Little Ghetto Boy," Donny Hathaway (Freddy L. Remix)
"A Warm Summer Night," Chic (King Britt Remix)
"I'll Be Around," Spinners (Kev Brown Remix)
"Just a Little Lovin'," Carmen McCrae (GB Remix)
"Riding High," Faze-o (Remix featuring Tiombe Lockhart & The Army Of Love)
"Nubian Lady," Yusef Lateef (Metisse Remix)

ADDED: It's official: blogging is over. The evidence? Rosie O'Donnell has one. And it aint a hoax either (oh how I wish it was).