Sunday, December 31, 2006
James Brown remembered
From LA Times website... excerpt... (photo by Bob Gruen)
Rhythm and blues founder
We lost a good one, man. I knew the guy all my whole life. We were good friends. We got closer as we got older too. When we were young we used to be battling on the stage. They would have Ike and Tina on the back of one truck and James on another truck. They backed the two trucks up and we'd do one song and then he'd do a song. It went back and forth like that.
James, he was a real nice guy. There were people who thought he was strict, too strict. He made his band stay dressed on the bus, during their rides. It made a good impression, though. He cared about what people felt about him and the things they said. He cared about the way he handled his thing. He didn't want any of his guys looking like a slouch. Later on, those guys came back and they said to him, 'Thank you, man, I learned a lot from you, I got a lot and I didn't even know then that I was learning.' And that's how it is. We lost a good one.
In 1980 I set myself the task of reviewing every James Brown album of the '70s — 23 by my count, many borrowed from my neighbor Vince Aletti, who'd had the sense to keep even the soundtracks. To add verisimilitude, I worked in order of release, playing each record until it sunk in, then proceeding to the next. Ten titles I judged good-to-great, but though I home-taped like there was no tomorrow, many of these I never played again.
That job I undertook was part of a book project. Now James Brown's death has occasioned another job, only this time I'm immersing willy-nilly, often streaming albums I still own only on cassette. And so it came to pass that I woke from a brief nap to hear ... what the hell was that? At first Brown's grunts sounded African, or more African; later I decided maybe he was speaking in tongues. The track was "Time Is Running Out," from 1973's good-not-great "The Payback." Seven minutes in it gets really crazy, Brown's tongues and Fred Wesley's trombone dueling over a typically locked-in groove. But it kept morphing and it kept staying the same. I couldn't believe how experimental it was, and how enjoyable.
Out of curiosity, I reread my review of "The Payback." Hmmm.
I had noticed it, actually: "a horn-and-voice excursion that shambles on for 12:37," I'd sniffed. What then I'd disdained, now I loved. That's how profound James Brown is. We're still trying to catch up with him. I doubt we ever will.
Former singer with the James Brown Revue
One of the scariest moments in my life I had on Mr. Brown's Lear jet. It must have been around early 1969. It's no secret that I was his girlfriend at that time.
On that particular day, we were on our way from Cincinnati to Atlanta, if I remember it correctly. It was pretty late at night and dark outside while we flew about 30,000 feet above sea level. Suddenly I heard something like a big bang, and something shook the plane. The oxygen masks dropped down, I put mine on and started to pray. Mr. Brown's personal pilot announced that both engines had failed and he was gonna try an emergency landing. I looked at Mr. Brown and noticed that he had not put on his oxygen mask. He completely froze up and stared out of the window. On top of that, his face was as white as a sheet.
After what seemed like an eternity, the engines went back on. Mr. Brown didn't say anything until we landed. He kept on staring out of that window; his shirt was soaking wet. That day I learned that James Brown freezes up when he gets scared.
Former tour manager
When I went to work for James Brown, it was a pretty difficult time for white people in the black music business. The militant end of the civil rights era was at its peak, and the black community frowned on white involvement in anything within their community.
Brown represented the antithesis of that. At the passing of his manager in 1968, he took complete control of his career. I had met Brown through a radio station and stayed in touch with him through the year, and he offered me a job as tour manager, to go out and sell the show around the country. I said, "Are you sure you wanted to hire me — is this the right thing to do?" He said, "To hell with the industry, I've got a place for you." He was as difficult a boss for me as for everyone else. He was like the tough-love father, the patriarch of this extended family of people who came through his orbit.
Writer-scholar and creator of soul-sides.com
Like many in my generation, I was introduced to Brown's music via hip-hop samples. Moving backwards to his original songs, what I discovered was the incredible intensity he could bring to just a single moment. He and the JBs could do more with a horn stab or grunt than most other artists could achieve with entire songs. My favorite example of this comes on the "Sex Machine"-era version of "Give It Up or Turn It Loose," where, in the midst of the stripped-down bridge, James yells out, "Clyde!" [drummer Stubblefield] and one heartbeat later, the funky drummer himself drops in - on the one, of course - and lays out a nasty breakbeat. It's that pause between James' command and Stubblefield's response that sums up Brown's genius - he understood that rhythm was built from as much promise as it was fulfillment.
Author, cultural historian
I have two memories of James Brown that are bookends of a sort.
I first saw him perform in the mid-60s when my mother took my sister and I up to the Apollo Theater. We rode the A train up to 125th Street where we joined a line of Negroes (as we were called then) that snaked around the block. We sat in the back of the orchestra where I got quite concerned that Mr. Brown was gonna have to be hospitalized because of all his moaning, falling to his knees, and the way he kept tossing off that cape. I remember that matinee show like it was yesterday.
The last time I saw James Brown was at the Hollywood Bowl about a year and a half ago. It had been a while since I'd seen him live. In fact I'd kinda of avoided Mr. Brown's show since seeing him in the mid-90s and been saddened by a listless performance. That original memory was so precious to me, I didn't want it tampered with. But the old man I saw out in L.A. conjured just enough magic moments - his vocal on "A Man's World," a shake and strut on "Superbad" - that the middle-aged me felt excited to be seeing him again. I couldn't be at the Apollo for the public viewing but I can put on "Live at the Apollo" and have Mr. Brown entertain the little boy in me again and again.
Comedian, actor, radio show host
I'll always remember one time while in Augusta, Ga., performing at a comedy club, I saw James Brown sitting in the hotel restaurant. We started talking; he knew me from my appearances at the Apollo. As we talked, I told him how my parents would feel if they knew I was sitting here talking to you, Mr. Brown! He said, "Get them on the phone." JB sat there and talked to my mother and father like they were old friends. My parents talked about those moments with JB until they passed a few years later. I was later able to thank him several times; as a matter of fact, every time I saw him I thanked him for doing it. And every time he acted like he was supposed to do it. But having a mere taste of the fame he had, I can tell you what he did was big. Thank you, Mr. Brown, for letting me see that with my own eyes. In my book, you were, are, and will always be the Godfather of Soul.
James Brown – Don’t tell it
JMX feat Tikiman – Tikisong (Osunlade emix)
The Doors – Riders on the storm (Nightmares on wax remix)
Horace Andy – Money money
Jackie Mittoo – Chicken and booze
Quantic soul orchestra – Get a move on
Quatrertones – Caffeine (DJ Format remix)
Henry Mancini – Shot in the dark
Tyra and the tornadoes – Hui hui
Newmatics – Riot squad (for National Party leader John Key, who can’t remember where he stood on the 81 Springbok Tour - he was at university at the time. How flaky is that?)
Kitachi – Raise it up (Capoeira twins remix)
Audioweb – Faker (Justin Robertson Lionrock remix)
Joe Gibbs – Marriguana affair
St Etienne – Only love can break your heart
Global youth feat Jah Meek – The riddim (Disciples remix)
Afrodisiac sound system – Makossa saved my life
Nomo – Hand and mouth
James Brown – Funky president
(And in Holiday 'WTF?' News - anyone at the NZ Herald want to explain why the only photo they could find for James Brown's obituary was a police mugshot? That is just disrespectful - he's one of the most important musical figures of our times, and that's the best you can do? Someone at The Herald deserves to be shot, or at the very least, strapped into a chair and made to listen to the entire recorded works of Robbie Williams for 24 hours straight.)
Taffari – Water on glass
Paragons, Vegas, Uroy etc – Wear you to the ball
Meters – Look-ka py py
Gilberto sextet – Good lovin
Iggy and the stooges - 1969
Femi Kuti – Truth don die
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Larry Gold - Aint no stopping us now
Aretha Franklin – Jump
Jackie Mittoo – Earthquake
Eternals - Queen of the minstrels
Grant Phabao - Message to you Rudie
Nightmares on wax – Damn
James Brown (Rest in peace) – Santa Claus go straight to the ghetto
Dynamics – Seven nation army
Nina Simone – Seeline woman (MAW remix)
Mongo Santamaria – Sing a simple song
Junior Reid – Bubblers
Skatalites – Addis Ababa
Iggy and Peggy – Passenger fever
45 King feat Wildchild – Two-five
Black grass – Lucha contra de la injusticia
Rick James – Bustin out
Paul Murphy – Soul call
Aldo Vanucci – Evrything’s alright
Jay Z – Lucifer
Prince Fari - Give love
Eartha Kitt – I want to be evil
Boozoo Bajou – Under mi sensi (Thievery Corp remix)
Jugoe – Ohio city
The Beat – Hands off, she’s mine
Junior Murvin – Roots train
Chico Hamilton – El toro (Mark de Clive Lowe remix)
Roots Radics vs Carpenters – Carpenter Xmas (GHP Mashup)
Barrington Carey – Love u forever (Boxsaga remix inst)
Chuck Womack and the sweet souls – Ham hock and bean (Quantic remix)
Friday, December 22, 2006
Insert Christmas platitude here.
Been compiling my annual Christmas CD for friends and family - it usually contains track both old and new. 2006 was not a great year for music - that's been confirmed by the best of lists I've been seeing round the place.
I pored over Real Groove's top 50 albums and singles lists at the weekend, as compiled by it's esteemed critics, and found only one album I'd bought this year (Nudie Suits) and one I was thinking of buying (TV on the radio). Same ratio for the singles list. And doing the Xmas CD, well, even the new tracks I included sound old, like they could have been recorded 30 years ago (Hot Grits, Quantic Soul Orchestra, Nomo). If you disagree, then show me the evidence that 2006 was a great year for music - cos I aint seen any signs of that. Sure, there were tunes that made me happy, but the pickings were pretty slim.
And then there's TV2. They finally start showing my fave program Entourage, then, 4 weeks into the first season (hey, it debuted in the US in 2004, and series one and two have been out locally on DVD for several months), they ditch it from their Friday night line-up, and replace it with Tommy Lee Goes To College. WTF????
Just as well I've got Bad Santa on DVD - best Christmas movie ever, just don't watch it with the kids, especially when Billy Bob Thornton's mall Santa picks up bar waitress Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) and shags her in his car, as she cries "f*ck me Santa, f*ck me Santa, f*ck me Santa..." now, that's quality Christmas entertainment right there. (Watch the trailer here)
Anyways, that's my obtuse way of leading into thanking you for dropping by (and a big thank you to those who contributed, via comments/posts - much appreciated) during the past 12 months, and wishing you a happy Christmas and a fantastic new year.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Cheers to the young fella who came up to me when I was DJing at the Midnights/ Kingites/ House of Shem gig on saturday night and asked me what my DJ name was, did I do a radio show (yes, saurday mornings) and then told me he listened to my show at work all the time. Nice one!
George Benson/MAW -The ghetto
Gap band – Shake
Timmy Thomas - Why can’t we live together? (Shoes dub edit)
Quartertones – Caffiene (DJ Format mix)
Kraftwerk – Tour de France (Francois K remix)
Mckay -Take me over
Breakestra – Keep on playing
Trinidad Steel Band – I want you back
Jackie Mittoo – Got my boogaloo
In crowd – Mango walk
Katchafire – Collie herb dub (Sola Rosa remix)
Black grass – Oh Jah
Ramsey Lewis Trio – Wade in the water
Amadou and Mariam – Coulibaly
Kevvy Kev - Give and take dub
Kingites – Whistling in the dark
James Brown – Soulful Christmas
Eric B and Rakim – Follow the leader
Emmanuel feat KRS One – My thing remix
King Kong - Step pon mi corn
Sugar Minott – Identify yourself
Dod G -Trojan soap
Roy Ayers – Red black and green
Temptations – Zoom
Dynamics – Seven nation army
Rosalia De Souza – Maria moita
Friday, December 15, 2006
There are a bunch of news items floating round the internets that claim iTunes sales are collapsing, based on a Forrester research report. Unfortunately, that's not quite what the report says. The data was for Jan-June, and of course, just like music retail, sales drop off at the start of the year. Here's more, from Coolfer...
"Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff, whose name has been all over the news because of a report on slow sales at iTunes, offered clarification on his report. At a follow-up post at his blog, Bernoff called it a "a case study in how information -- and misinformation -- spreads on the Net."
News or the report started with a "fairly balanced" article at The New York Times. Then The Register and Bloomberg, he wrote, "decided to dive in and highlight one finding of the report -- that iTunes sales had dropped in the first six months of this year." With that came sensational words like "collapsing" and "dropping." Newspapers around the world followed suit. Apple's stock dropped 3%. All from a report that indicated what everybody already knew -- iTunes' sales have been flattening out.
Bernoff laid out his opinion in very clear terms (emphasis his):
"Now for the record, iTunes sales are not collapsing. Our credit card transaction data shows a real drop between the January post-holiday peak and the rest of the year, but with the number of transactions we counted it's simply not possible to draw this conclusion . . . as we pointed out in the report. But that point was just too subtle to get into these articles."
He added that Apple's refusal not to comment either or or off the record "fuels speculation, pro and con, from their supporters and detractors."
So there you go. The sky is not falling. iTunes sales, while not breathing new life into recorded music sales, are not 65% down since January. Even just a cursory glance at Soundscan figures indicate positive year-over-year growth and slower growth in 2006."
Monday, December 11, 2006
via Pop candy... The Onion A.V. Club has posted an interview with Mick Jones from The Clash...
and the top 50 music videos of 2006 (according to indie fanboy-types)
Metacritic's Best of 2006 Music (also includes best ofs from NME, Mojo, Uncut, Q, Urb etc)
Friday, December 08, 2006
Judith, what are you thinking?
Via Boingboing, more soon...
New Zealand to get the DMCA?
New Zealand MP Judith Tizard has sponsored an amendment to New Zealand's Copyright Act. The new copyright proposal mirrors the US DMCA and the EUCD in that it criminalizes removing DRM, even if you do so for a lawful purpose. This has been an unmitigated disaster in the US: not only has it totally failed to keep copyrighted works from being copied without permission (every "copy-protected" work ever released is available on P2P networks within minutes of its release), it has also created an anti-competitive marketplace where companies can sue their competitors for making compatible products. Not to mention the devastating effects on user rights, and the chilling effect on legitimate security research.
The US had an excuse: when it passed the DMCA in 1998, no one else had tried this and seen how bad it was (though it wasn't hard to predict). But here we are, eight years into the DMCA trainwreck -- what possible excuse can New Zealand have for adopting this failed US policy initiative? Why would you want to import another country's disaster? Link (Thanks, Brett!)
Update: Ben sez, "It would be great if you could post contact information for MP Judith Tizard so people know who to contact to fight this. Her ministerial web page is here, and her email is email@example.com Suprisingly for a politician, Judith is an eminently sensible woman (my sister was her press secretary for a few years), but as 'Associate Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage', she has the Labels in her ear, so we need to give her a different side of the story."
I’ve been contemplating doing a best of 2006 musical list for a few weeks now, and then I hit on the idea of getting someone else to write it. Ah, guest blogging. I hit up a bunch of folk I know around the place, and they kindly replied, with their favourite local release of 2006, and their predictions for the coming year. It’s some incisive commentary from an all-star cast of musicians, artists, authors, academics, DJs, bloggers, indie label henchmen, and music fans. Enjoy, and add your own thoughts in the comments.
What was your favourite New Zealand release of the year and why?
Greg Churchill: I have two fave NZ releases for the year… Pluto: Long White Cross - I know this is unfashionable, and sadly they sold it to Vodafone, Telecom, whoever it was. BUT I remember the first time hearing this late one night on C4 and being stopped dead in my tracks. I had no idea who the artist was, except that this track had an immediate and emotive response. To be honest I had no idea even who Pluto were (yeah I couldn’t care less about most "NZ" music). Sadly, the album didn’t quite measure up to this single moment and thankfully the powers that be had the foresight to judge this best single at the NZ Music awards over Don McG's pile of typical kiwi dribble. Angela Fisken: Trash Test (Luke Walker Remix) (Cosmonote Blue/Italy) – Okay, not out till January, but as I've been playing this for the last 6 months it must be included. Better than 99% of locally produced music I've heard this year, and once officially released the rest of the world will claim testament to this. As usual NZ electronic and dance music in particular gets NO local funding, focus and support, yet the likelihood of this music making it big on the worldwide stage is a somewhat far greater possibility and realisation than 99.9% of the music gaining NZ On Air $$.
Trevor Reekie: I’ve got a few. All totally indie releases. This wouldn't have happened a few years back cos FMR or someone would have picked em up, But Anji Sami (The El Dorado EP), Reb Fountain (Like Water. The single Hold Hands should be all over radio), Flip Grater (Cage For A Song) and Miriam Clancy (Lucky One) put out great debut self-released albums, all with high songwriting strike-rates. These girls are not shy in coming forward and they eclipsed most of the major releases by far!
At a time when we have seen and heard it all before, the remarkably unique Dudley Benson is one artist who immediately celebrates his point of difference. It will be his meal ticket. Nigel Gavin's album 'Visitation' is a true jewel of an album. This guy plays guitar like a novelist. His music takes you places. Alphabethead's album Electricity. Deconstructivist turntablist. Te Ku Te Whe Remixed (on Rattle). Original music from Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns - album of the year.
Russell Brown: My favourite release of the year has to be 'The Dance Reduction Agents' by the Reduction Agents, which I'm still playing regularly. It's hard to believe there can be so many great songs on one album. It's bursting with ideas and there's a sense of the joy of just creating stuff about it. I also liked the sound of the not-a-million-miles distant Lawrence Arabia, and the Samuel Flynn Scott and Luke Buda solo albums. How come we suddenly have so many quirky songwriters? And how could I leave out the Mint Chicks' 'Crazy? Yes. Dumb? No.'?
Andrew Dubber: The New Zealand album that I most want to celebrate in 2006 (aside from the obvious Veils album, which kind of goes without saying) is the superb 'Stolen Paintings' by Salon Kingsadore guitarist Gianmarco Liguori. He's put together a collection of some of my favourite New Zealand jazz artists, invoked the spirit of Morricone and made a really great record, featuring Kim Paterson, Miguel Fuentes, Murray McNabb, and Brian Smith. It will probably be noted in passing as a nice record by the likes of Graham Reid who have at least done it the courtesy of a good listen. But if the right people get their hands on it - it could be just as important and influential a record as the crucial mid-late 70s Dr Tree album, which is seriously overdue for a reissue. It has never been released on CD, for which the New Zealand music business should be ashamed.
Jessie from the Backyard: Choosing a single top release of 2006 is a terrible, terrible task. How to discriminate between all the great local records of the year? Dimmer, Luke Buda, Over the Atlantic, Samuel Flynn Scott, Voom, Shapeshifter, the Mint Chicks, Cassette, Don McGlashan - to name a discrete selection - have all released albums that have been revelatory, revivalist, balloon-goes-pop, sharp as glass-edged punk and as rockingly introspective as I'd care to be. However, to not choose seems cowardly.
Music that has the power to evoke an emotional response is something rare and special. Although I'd been aware of this band for a good number of their eight-year history, my first purchase was earlier this year when I spotted a 7" in the bins of Real Groovy, Wellington, with such a title that I couldn't leave it behind: 'The Diffusion Of Our Inherent Situation,' by Jakob. I am quite fond of song titles that offer a bit of history (this is a factor in my enduring love for Phelps and Munro's 'Horse Winning Without Rider' and 'Ex-Sports Star Turned Commentator'), and this was entirely appropriate to my circumstances at the time. Later in the year, Jakob's third album Solace was released on Midium. I liked it well enough, but it wasn't until I saw them live recently that I grasped a bit of what this band are about. Within minutes of the set starting, I was open-mouthed and enthralled, in the grip of an emotional response that seemed to go so deep as to be unfeeling - cerebellar, perhaps. Their instrumental songs have the power to draw in, carry along, chew up and leave the listener changed. I went home and ordered the entire back catalogue. What more?!
Simon Grigg: Having lived abroad for all of 2006 I'm a little out of touch with the day to day NZ music scene. That said, I've been kept well supplied by some, and the Kiwi Hit Discs arrive regularly, and I listen to them with some interest.
Perhaps it’s me though, but I don't think that 2006 was a vintage year for NZ's homegrown sounds. I wish it was. But the whole industry, hampered by its small size, has suffered the backlash of the post-airplay and post-Fat Freddies booms. I'm sure there are interesting things at the grassroots level, there always is - it just hasn't filtered through to me yet.
So having said that, my favourite NZ release of 2006 is, at the time of typing, the mighty Flying Nun Box set. How can anything compete. As Bob Dakatari said on his blog, it’s best seen now as more of a wake than anything else since FN doesn't (despite the trademarked name still being used), exist in any real sense, and hasn't for some years. But what a wake. Very cool.
Gareth Shute: Well, I'd be tempted to say the albums by Lawrence Arabia/Reduction Agents, but it seems inappropriate to talk up Lil Chief albums since I'm involved with the label. Therefore, my favourite release would be "Isolation Loops" by Bachelorette. The tunes are thick with synthesizer-induced atmospheric layers and endless expanses of delay. Her voice is like an angel lost in a huge cluster of stars...
Chad Taylor: Minuit - The Guards Themselves - By taking a small step sideways into 70s melodies and Bunnymen lyrics, the trio have delivered a tuneful, sexy and emotional breakthrough. This is better than dance: it's industrial pop right up there with D.A.F, the first Sneaker Pimps LP and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. It sounds like it matters and you feel like you're the first to discover it. My most played album of the year.
Rob Warner: Miriam Clancy's debut album 'Lucky One'. It's a sultry collection of proper songs with a quirky, fun vibe and some outstanding song-writing. It's a great lazy afternoon listen from start to finish - how an album should be.
Fraser, The Joint: Pig Out "Club Poems" LP (Pinacolada). Hard to believe that Pig Out only played their first gig in March. It was totally improvised and was possibly the best gig of the year at the legendary Dux de Lux. Saying that, each of their gigs has been very, very special. Mixing up the spirit of Detroit techno and Madchester, Pig Out achieved the impossible task of getting the indie kids, the emo kids, the music lovers, and the hardened music cynics of Christchurch dancing in public. MC Kit Lawrence is the bastard child of Shaun Ryder and Bobby Gillespie. Marie Celeste provides the synth and the glamour. Kris Taylor could have played drums for Joy Division. And "Club Poems" is brilliant. Bleeps, beats, cheekiness, and emotion. My personal favourite track is "Jules on X" which reminds me so much of Underworld's "Born slippy" - it's epic and I want to listen to it over and over again until my CD player dies.
Robyn Gallagher: You Really Got Me – Boyband. New Zealand has always had an uneasy relationship with openly manufactured pop, and never really managed to get on the boy band bandwagon of the '90s. But a local radio station decided it wanted to party like it's 1999, and got some lads together to form a group called Boyband. The group's debut single, an adequate cover of the Kinks' "You really got me", entered the charts at number one, a testimony more to the power of radio than any degree of poptasticness. But this may be a good thing - having hit the bottom of the barrel, practically any other pop act is going to look talented and artistic in comparison.
Nabeel Zuberi: Been in Auckland for almost a decade (!) and now a citizen of this fair settlement, but I don't really think about music representing or belonging to a nation so have little time for the idea of 'NZ music' or 'Kiwi music'. To my imported ears, most local hits sound like middlebrow, polite versions of stuff from elsewhere, but I’ve no axe to grind about any particular artist. Still this may be one of the best times and places for music I’ve experienced in my 44 years. I’m listening to more music than ever before and learning so much from so many people here, as well as through the www. Local highlights include Fat Freddy’s Drop remixes (Submariner, Digital Mystikz etc.).
2006 highlights: radio with Nick on The Basement; the support and generosity of sisters & brothers at BASE 107.3 FM (in particular Manaia Toa, Manuel Bundy, Simon, Addison, Dylan C, Peter M, Bridge, Sophie); Cian & Conch; audioblog skooling, esp. Moistworks, Locust Street, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Funky 16 Corners; YouTube; iPod; Yeti; Wax Poetics; The Wire; Simon Reynolds; Kerry Buchanan’s columns; Component’s techno-fetishism; Real Groovy’s reshape; Brazilian wax [vinyl]; 1960s Europop; 7” singles; Bollywood samples; psychedelia; honky tonk; New Orleans funk; Revenant; Stone’s Throw; Honest Jon’s; Soul Jazz; Hi; Warp; Rhythm & Sound; Hyperdub; Dave Kelly; Ce’cile & Lady Saw; Lady Sovereign; DJ /Rupture & Islamopop; re-edit remix mash-up cover overdrive; Kompakt; Isolee; electronic music to fall asleep; Joanna Newsom; Devendra Banhart; Coldcut live; Animal Collective live; and making people dance at the Quay Street Social Club [DJ Nabeel on the wheels of steel!].
James Guthrie (aka Noizyboy): Far and away my favourite NZ release of 2006 has been Over the Atlantic's 'Junica'. Quite minimal in style - essentially just Nik Brinkman's voice and guitar over an electronic rhythm (and noise) section supplied by Bevan Smith (Skallander, Aspen, Signer) - it's one of those rare albums that just grows on you with each listening, there's no dud tracks, and the album actually works as an 'album' as opposed to bunch of songs thrown together to make up numbers. Other people have compared it to various 80s artists like OMD and New Order, but Over the Atlantic take that sort of synth/pop/rock sensibility and take it somewhere quite new and unique. The final track 'Fly to the States' is worth the price of admission alone: a slow-building epic that builds to the most blissful of guitar-noise white-outs you'd ever hope to hear. Awesome.
Paul Stowers: Shaft - Down At Your Life (Lil Chief). Still great no matter how many times the line-up changes. Warwick Blair - Accordian (www.amplifier.co.nz) Intriguing and minimalist. Listed as being "the perfect soundtrack for modern rail transport" but I'm not sure why.
Renee Jones: Hard to pick one as there were a few goodies...I'm going to be greedy and pick 2 I really liked for various reasons as I can't decide which one I like best. Flip Grater 'Cage for a Song' is an assured debut, a bit harder edged than people might expect from the one-woman-and-a-guitar setup which is fine by me. Grayson Glimour's 'Phantom Limbs' is a great, angular album full of unpredictable instrumentation, and some great tunes. Big ups also to Humphreys and Keen, Shapeshifter, Cassette...and too many others to mention.
Peter McLennan: Open Souls present Tyra and the Tornadoes – You got me thinkin’/Hui hui (seven inch single).The Open Souls kick it up with their side project (how many bands are these cats in?), delivering the meanest-sounding local recording of the year. They played at the NZ Music Awards and had their performance cut from the televised version of the show – hands up who made that lousy call?
Other fave release was Fat Freddy’s Drop – Flashback (Jazzanova Mashed Bag remix). Even though Fat Freddys didn’t release a new album this year, they still walked away as the big winners at the 2006 NZ Music Awards. Why? They put out consistently strong vinyl remixes for the past year, keeping their profile up with DJs in Europe and around the globe. Check em out on iTunes NZ – there’s 43 tunes of theirs for download, including a stack of previously vinyl-only releases, like this one, which cleverly reimagines Fat Freddys as an indie-rock band. Genius.
What’s your your predictions for the local music scene for 2007?
Who will hit big, what’s the next big trend/idea?
Greg Churchill: It’s not a question of it happening, but just when it will happen for NZ dance music on the world stage. And the big question I want someone else to ask is "what the f^ck happened to NZ hiphop?"
Trevor Reekie: Until the industry creates a business that is responsive to the needs of artists, and not the industry , it will be every man for himself . If I was in a young band right now I’d get the f^ck out of here and live in East Berlin. Musicians, singers, songwriters have to realise that they are not in the record business, they are in the artist business. What's the next big trend/idea? Reality drug shows. Dealer cam.
Russell Brown: More songs. I think the Lil Chief/Brunettes crowd are on a roll and we'll be hearing more good stuff from that quarter. I'm gaggin' to hear the Checks' debut album, because the advance reports are good. And I hope that second Scribe album will be worth the wait - if it is, I think it'll kick along the local hip hop scene again. I hope that some of the finalists in the bNet Awards will be the finalists in the grown-up Music Awards next year, because the Tuis were a little underwhelming this year.
Andrew Dubber: Prediction for 2007? Sax player Lewis McCallum will be rich and famous at last - and Che Fu will learn to delegate far more to Godfrey de Grut (please). The forthcoming Cairo Knife Fight album will make Nick Gaffaney a household name, spanning the difficult bridge between enthusiastic critical acclaim and popular success. The new SJD album will be surprising and wonderful, but we don't even have to hear it to know that. I'm looking forward to a dark experimental collaboration between Shane Carter, Jordan Reyne and Paul Casserly. Double 10" vinyl only. Possibly with traces of dubstep and with dashes of outrageously infringing samples. Side 3's a Dub Asylum remix. Trevor Reekie will release it and it will turn out to be the international pot of gold we have always expected lay at the end of his particular rainbow.
And finally, rollout of fibreoptic cable broadband of 32Mbps speeds across New Zealand, commercial-free digital telly channels, and Digital Rights Management will be the punchline of some 'You know you're a child of the 90s when you remember...' jokes.
Jessie from the Backyard: As for what's to be large 2007, I would have mentioned the ability to use one's iPod for its god-given purpose, but that's yesterday's news. Probably our out-of-date copyright legislation will limp into the digital age, doubtless barely a nose ahead of obsolescence. And musically? I have no idea, and that's okay with me.
Simon Grigg: Next year… well it has to be The Others. Their debut, half available on CD and half online, is incredible. To me it finally gives a NZ hip-hop a voice of its own that isn't trying to be somewhere and something else. I'm biased and I've had the album for a month or two now but its stands head and shoulders above virtually anything else I've heard out of NZ in recent times.
Gareth Shute: As far as guitar music goes, off-kilter rhythms seem to the next angle. Post-punk sixteenth notes were one thing, but there's a lot more that can be done with dropping a beat from a bar or switching time signatures, as long as the singer can follow it. The Mint Chicks (and possibly the Shaky Hands) could break through with hooky melodies and off-kilter rhythms if they can get their music heard more widely before some overseas band clocks the idea. Hell, even indie pop bands like us Ruby Suns are toying with switches between 3/4 and 4/4, etc...
As far as local hip hop, the hype has all passed and the hard work is ahead - sales aint what they used to be (not in this country, anyway). The scene will have to look at itself, and someone will have to come through with a new take on things. Time for Scribe & P-Money to stand up? Cyphanetik & 22? Mareko/Deceptikonz? With no more Disrupt Gallery, no more Holla Hour, and no more Hip Hop Summit, it's gonna take some action to keep the scene from returning to the underground.
Chad Taylor: 80s easy listening is going to hit hard. And after pogo-ing in an age of treble (Sony, MP3), superior AAC compression will reintroduce the young ones to what their parents called "mid range". I predict prog-rock soundscapes and folk sensibilities over a Beefheart base but nothing, hopefully, will ever be "big" again.
Rob Warner: Definitely NZ funky-house/electro producers have had great success in recent years. I can see producers in the more edgy or fringe genres starting to make a few more waves overseas, especially techno and chill/lounge styles.
A trend in electronic music, which I can already see happening in forward-thinking labels/artists overseas, is the blending of genres more and more - South American influenced techno; the return of classic garage-house but with a futuristic twist to it etc.
Fraser, The Joint: I am the last person you should ask for predictions. I have no idea who will hit big. As far as trends go, maybe, because it seems to be an older crowd who listen to BBQ reggae (eg The Black Seeds, Fat Freddys Drop, Kora etc) the kids will want something quite different and not what their parents are listening to? But I guess that's been happening for the last few years anyway.
Robyn Gallagher: Now that the New Zealand iTunes Store has opened, I expect that downloading music will finally become less teenage/geek and more mainstream. But this will mean that people can buy one song without having to buy the whole album. So to help steer people back to albums, I reckon we'll see more concept albums, with bands (and record companies) trying to convince us that all the album tracks are equally important, and, like, we must respect their artistic vision and go on a musical journey.
Nabeel Zuberi: copyright wars; Timbaland produces Radiohead; ringtone virus becomes a global hit; Now That’s What I Call Music For Torture compilation series launched; Borat starts label to build on fad for Balkan, Turkish & Central Asian sounds; U2 play Africa; Jay-Z retires & makes comeback; More stadium rock in NZ.
James Guthrie (aka Noizyboy): Well, I'm thinking that Little Bushman's 'The Onus of Sand' and Connan and the Mockasins' 'Uuuu, It's Teasy' are signalling a return to a late 60s/early 70s psychedelic rock sound. This will see one or the other of those bands (or someone on their coat-tails) make a splash on the world stage at some point. Probably Connan is front-runner to get 'big' in the near future - he's definitely got the X factor, and seems to be generating the right sort of buzz over in the UK, where the band is currently based.
If I had my way, Coco Solid's old-skool hip-hop stylez would go ballistic on the back of their latest album 'Gentlemen Prefer Bombz', but I suspect the 'mainstream' listening public just isn't ready for their particular brand of music to crossover quite yet. More's the pity...
Paul Stowers: Be sure and listen to the self-titled debut album by The Broken Heartbreakers, due around March/April in the 2007 Continuum.
Renee Jones: With quite a number of NZ bands and labels picking up attention in various parts of the world, it's hard to say who might make the most impact. Fat Freddy's Drop will continue to win fans around the globe for sure. There are many others making an impact too...Die! Die! Die!, the Phoenix Foundation, Connan and the Mockasins, Concord Dawn, Like a Storm (who I've just heard about, doing big things in Canada) etc - I think we'll continue to see lots of artists and labels forging their own paths in an increasingly diverse arena.
Peter McLennan: A year from now, the Open Souls will be as big internationally as Fat Freddy’s Drop. Their latest singles are selling more copies in England than in Aotearoa. Itunes will not save the local industry. John Keys will appear onstage with the Deceptikonz at the next NZ Music Awards, doing Stop, Drop and Vote. Jordan Luck will stumble onstage and mistake him for Winston Peters.
Barbecue reggae will wake up and finally throw down some conscious lyrics, recalling great NZ reggae bands such as Herbs, Aotearoa, and Dread Beat and Blood. On the same tip, people will stop calling Kora a reggae band and realise they are Bob Marley crossed with Metallica – this results in the band’s next single shooting to number one with no radio play, as every Marley and Metallica fan in the country buys the single. And Helen Clark will come up with an original speech at the Music Awards. Yeah, right.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
That's the sound of iTunes hitting NZ today... more here...
"With a catalogue of over two million songs, the iTunes Store features the most music of any digital music store in New Zealand with songs priced at just NZ$1.79, music videos at NZ$3.59 and most albums at NZ$17.99.
Exclusive music featured on iTunes includes tracks from New Zealand artists Fat Freddy’s Drop, Brooke Fraser, Tim Finn, The Datsuns and Bic Runga as well as extensive catalogues from New Zealand greats including Shihad, Crowded House, The Black Seeds, Breaks Co-Op, Elemeno P and Dei Hamo... The iTunes podcast directory currently features over 65,000 podcasts, including featured New Zealand podcasts from TVNZ, The Voice Booth and Radio NZ."
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
from Hollywoodland... "Here's a list of actual subtitles taken from martial arts movies. Dunno where these come from, but they're presumably "authentic" inasmuch as a certain translation of martial arts dialogue can be."
1. I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way.
2. Fatty, you with your thick face have hurt my instep.
3. Gun wounds again?
4. Same old rules: no eyes, no groin.
5. A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries.
6. Damn, I'll burn you into a BBQ chicken!
7. Take my advice, or I'll spank you without pants.
8. Who gave you the nerve to get killed here?
9. Quiet or I'll blow your throat up.
10. You always use violence. I should've ordered glutinous rice chicken.
11. I'll fire aimlessly if you don't come out!
12. You daring lousy guy.
13. Beat him out of recognizable shape!
14. I have been scared shitless too much lately.
15. I got knife scars more than the number of your leg's hair!
16. Beware! Your bones are going to be disconnected.
17. The bullets inside are very hot. Why do I feel so cold?
18. How can you use my intestines as a gift?
19. This will be of fine service for you, you bag of the scum. I am sure you will not mind that I remove your manhoods and leave them out on the dessert flour for your aunts to eat. [sic, of course]
20. Yah-hah, evil spider woman! I have captured you by the short rabbits and can now deliver you violently to your gynecologist for a thorough examination.
21. Greetings, large black person. Let us not forget to form a team up together and go into the country to inflict the pain of our karate feets on some ass of the giant lizard person.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Keep your eyes posted, I'm working on a killer end of year list for later this week, compiled with the assistance of a talented cast of bloggers, music types and more. That is all.
Deodato – Superstrut
Hot grits – Say I love it
Cleaning fluid – East of the river Ganges (Groove corp remix)
Tenor fly – Mind weh yu sehh
Lennie Hibbert – Go for yourself
Bronx river prkwy – La valla
Cymande – Brothers on the slide
Romanowski and Doze Green – Strudel strut
Tony Alvon and the Belairs – Sexy coffee pot
Shriekback – All lined up (disco mix)
Osibisa – Happy children
Taxi gang – Mambo mambo
Salmonella dub – Loop 7 (DLT version)
Hot grits – Bloody number
Abbysinians – Yim mas gan
Treacherous Three – Bum bum bum bum (Freddy Fresh remix)
Quartertones – Caffiene (DJ Format mix)
Hugh Masekela – Mama (Metro area remix)
Bim Sherman – You are the one
Keith Lawrence feat Rodney P – Style and fashion
Trinidad steel drummers – Cissy strut
Fat freddy’s drop – Midnight marauders (Pylonz and Kinetix remix)
MJ Cole – Sincere
Nile Rogers – Land of the good groove