Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, April 23

Lee Oskar - Haunted house
East side symphony - Hot pants road
Scratch 22 - Window rattle
Buddy Miles - Them changes
Roy Ayers - Running away
Soul society - Sidewinder
Big T Tyer - King kong
Billy Fair and orchestra - I'll be true to you
Sly n Robbie - Don't stop the music
Chic - Good times
Luther Vandross - She loves me back
Eric B and Rakim - Paid in full - Coldcut remix
Mantronix - Who is it?
Schoolly D - Whe'd you get that funk from?
George Clinton - Do fries go with that shake?
Born Jamericans - Boom shakatak
Aggrolites - Reggae hit LA (playing at the Kings Arms, Wed 27 April)
African head charge - Dobbyn joins the head charge
Ray Bryant - If I were a carpenter
Rae and Christian - Ready to roll
Herbie Hancock - Magic number - Todd Terje edit
Natural yoghurt band - Latin Illusion
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - Better things
Konk - Soka loka moki
Fredericks Brown - Betrayal
Lightning head - Bokoor sound special
Disrupt - Riddim grid
Aggrolites - Complicated girl
Puppajim - Robot version

Friday, April 22, 2011

Questioning Record Store Day

"Is Record Store Day a Bunch of Bullshit?" is the name of a post written by DJ Prestige on his excellent blog Fleamarket Funk.

"... Here’s my question, why are we just promoting independent record stores one day a year? Where are all these record and music enthusiasts the other 364 days? Rob Henry, a NJ based DJ/ Record Store Buyer had this to say:”I think record store day is just that. Not vinyl awareness day. Not a thank you to all vinyl buyers. It’s a day for those record stores to make some coin. This is their Black Friday. I’m cool with that. I hope they prosper from RSD. If the ‘industry’ needs to make an excuse for people to spend their money in record stores, that’s fine.

"Vinyl sales have increased over the past few years yet shops are closing all over the place. Who wants record stores to be solely online? We need to keep a physical connection between distributors and vinyl buyers.” This is true, it is not vinyl awareness day, it’s record store day. I get a little touchy because it has the word “record” in it and the logo for RSD has an LP and a 45 in it. However, I am posing the question again: Where are all these people the other 364 days a year? Downloading music from iTunes for pay or the internet for free?"

He also notes that Record Store Day has sponsorship from EMI, Warners, Sony and Universal, which isn't exactly indie.

He puts forward a good argument on what exactly Record Store Day has grown to signify.  Funnily enough, someone from Record Store Day's official organising team saw it and posted a response. It's a little patronising.... "Ironically, here I am typing you about a negative slanted posting about record stores running Record Store Day .... As far as not celebrating year round. I can’t help but think you are new to discovering Record Store Day."

DJ Prestige replies, pointing out his years of experience as a DJ, record store owner and promoter.  "... I still make a living as a DJ who celebrates every day as Record Store Day. In fact, I did a joint collaboration this year with photographer Eilon Paz from where we showcased a record store owner in Brooklyn that has been a staple in the community for over 4 decades.

"Being record related, it was posted on the Facebook page of Record Store Day to help spread the message of this man who’s business was in danger of being shut down. The photo essay and short paragraph were removed shortly after I posted it. I found that a bit odd, seeing that it was celebrating a record store, on RSD. It was then I wanted to do some investigating on my own on RSD itself..."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You want everything, all the time

Bill Wyman (Ex Rolling Stones geezer) has written a fascinating piece entitled "Lester Bangs' Basement -What it means to have all music instantly available".

"Lester Bangs, the late, great early-rock critic, once said he dreamed of having a basement with every album ever released in it... [now] A previously "rare" CD or movie, once it's in the iTunes store or on the torrent networks, is, in theory, just as available as the biggest single in the world...

Wyman talks about wanting to find the Rolling Stones film Cocksucker Blues.

"The film, a porny, drug-soaked cinéma vérité by the noted photographer Robert Frank, was never officially released. Indeed, under some sort of legal agreement with the Stones, Frank can show it publicly only when he is physically there. It tends to be presented at college events or in museum screening rooms..." it took Wyman 30 seconds to find it and about half an hour to download. He also talks about some film fans who work at restoring the films before uploading them too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

J-Rocc mix

J-Rocc dropped his wicked debut album Some Cold Rock Stuf recently on Stonesthrow, here's a mean mix he did for Fact Mag. Available for DL for a few more days.

FACT Mix 238 - J. Rocc (Apr '11) by factmag

Direct download on Fact Mag's site.

Big playback

Onra is giving away his 2007 album The Big Payback. Why? According to Potholes In My Blog , Onra says “we never made any money out of this shit, so might as well give it for free now.” Which is kinda grim. But wait, there's more.

Onra's Facebook page has a bit more information... "I don't know if you heard about this project I made with a keyboard player from Alabama called Byron The Aquarius. We made it in 05/06, on some futuristic ish, but it was released in the summer 2007, only in Japan and France. Time to share it with the world now..."

Download: Byron and Onra – The Big Payback [Mediafire, 54MB]

Watch this: Onra on the last night of his US tour, playing Knitting Factory in New York with Oliver Daysoul, and fitting in some record shopping too... from

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shalamar doco

Spotted via Twitter from Harry Allen (yep, THAT Harry Allen, PE alumni). Mean.

Doug Hream Blunt

Read this great story over on Martyn Pepperells' blog, damn it's a cool read. Doug Hream Blunt dropped a few tunes in the late 90s, then disappeared. Martyn tracked him down, after discovering his music "while trawling the internet for a Dam Funk remix of an Ariel Pink song. Googling both artist’s names together, the first entry to come up was a blog post in the Line Out Section of Titled ‘Dam-Funk X Ariel Pink = Doug Hream Blunt’, writer Dave Segal’s post included a YouTube link to ‘Gentle Persuasion’."

“Yes, this is Doug Blunt! Who is this?”
Speaking down the line from San Francisco, Doug Hream Blunt literally can’t understand a word I’m saying. To be fair though, he has probably never had a phone call from New Zealand before. The loud background noise of a TV set playing and several children running rampage around the house isn’t helping either. For a moment I consider abandoning ship. “Oh, you’re from New Zealand right?” says Blunt, speaking with a tone which makes me realise he knows exactly who I am and why I’m calling.

Whist speaking with this highly underrated San Francisco singer and musician, this sort of dichotomy characterises all. With an accent which mixes American and Caribbean, Blunt will swing from having no idea what I’m saying, to connecting completely with my questions, in the process displaying an amazing degree of enthusiasm. On the other side of the scale, he’ll just as quickly disconnect from me, slowly trailing off with his sentences. And as someone familiar with his highly prized musical output, every answer or reaction sits perfectly with his sound.

I first became aware of Blunt’s work while trawling the internet for a Dam Funk remix of an Ariel Pink song. Googling both artist’s names together, the first entry to come up was a blog post in the Line Out Section of Titled ‘Dam-Funk X Ariel Pink = Doug Hream Blunt’, writer Dave Segal’s post included a YouTube link to ‘Gentle Persuasion’.

An incredible song, ‘Gentle Persuasion’ blends the hazy lo-fi aesthetic Ariel Pink has become associated with, with the early eighties boogie funk/RnB feels often connected to Dam Funk; evening throwing some carribbean/tropical touches in for good measure. I was absolutely floored over by this waking dream of a tune. Faded as hell, the song sees Blunt alternate between singing macked out sexual innuendos and noodling away on his guitar. The sort of player who goes so out of key on his solos that he actually comes back into key, Blunt is aptly supported by some super beached keyboards, strutting bass, snappy drums and a gorgeous female backing vocal.

Completely captured by ‘Gentle Persuasion’, after some specific digging, I made contact with Blunt’s LA based label, OT Records and Fun. Through them I purchased copies of both Blunt’s 12inch ‘Gentle Persuasion’ record and a CD album of the same name. OT Records and Fun also put me onto a series of video clips on Taken from CITYVISIONS, a public access TV channel in San Francisco, the three incredible clips show Blunt and what looks like a band of high school music students syncing along to three of Blunt’s songs: ‘Ride The Tiger’, ‘Love Land’ and ‘Caribbean Queen’. The clips are incredible, easily some of the most amazing examples of a hypnagogic state I’ve ever seen.

Rocking a mini-afro, slender black aviator shades and a cream suit, Blunt holds down guitar and vocals. His band consists of a white girl with big hair and blue denim jeans on guitar, another white chick with a cowboy hat and a leather jacket on keys, what appears to be an Indian woman in a lime shirt on bass, a funny little bearded guy on vibraphone and a spiky haired guy in a striped blue shirt on drums. Backed by a black backdrop, and positioned on a blue stage, in reference to Hypnagogic states, all three videos have a weird quality to them which makes you think they might not actually be real. It’s kind of like the sci-fi/fantasy story trope about the shop weird shop you visit once and get a gremlin from. The strange shop you can’t ever find again and seems to have been replaced by a brick wall. I was obsessed and I needed to know more.

Juggling talking with me on the phone with entertaining his three children (“They really are a handful,” he says with a happy sigh), Blunt slowly lets me in on the best kept secret that is his back story. The facts are interspersed with constant laughter and a reoccurring sense of disbelief that someone from New Zealand is talking to him on the phone. “I was born in Arkansas originally, but I came to San Francisco when I was younger, when I was seven,” he says, after repeating my question about where he is from back to himself several times. This parroted verbal repetition is a habit he displays throughout our interview.

While his parents were music lovers, they didn’t play any musical instruments themselves. That was something Blunt would have to pick up for himself later in life. Still, between them and the rest of the people on his street, he had the love of music drilled into him from young. ” I was raised in this poor neighbourhood in San Francisco,” he passionately reflects, placing emphasis on the word “poor”. “The only thing we had to do was listen to music. You know? It was really poor. You couldn’t go outside and stuff. All you could do was just listen to music. It was funny. I got addicted to it.” Raised on RnB and Rock and Roll, Blunt quickly became a record collector. As he puts it, in a very matter of fact way, “I was of that generation, so I collected, you know? I collected a lot of vinyl cause I was of that generation.”

Name-checking The Whispers and Jimi Hendrix (a name he will come back to later), Blunt had been playing guitar and singing for, in his words, “six or seven years,” when he hooked up with a young studio owner named Victor Flaviani to record at his Flaviani Recording Studios in San Francisco. As to when exactly this occurred however, Blunt is close to blank. The best he can hazard is sometime in the late 90s. “Victor [Flaviani] was a music teacher,” Blunt happily recalls. He had a music workshop so he was able to do the album for me in there.”
As to why he wanted to record a record at the time, Blunt is just as faded as he is with exact dates. “I don’t know why man? I have no idea?” he laughs. What he does remember though, is he recorded it in less than a week. “Victor was new to studio work,” Blunt says. “Since he was new, he didn’t ask a lot. And I didn’t ask a lot, cause I didn’t know a lot,” he explains, trailing off with a giggle. In terms of his studio band, Blunt teamed up with some musician friends, a couple of Flaviani’s music students, Flaviani’s sisters and even Victor himself on drums. It sounds pretty ad hoc and somewhat slapped together, and it kind of was, but not completely. “I wasn’t just whoever I could get though,” Blunt passionately states. “I felt that they could all do it you know. If I thought you could do it, I let you do it!”

Defining a capable musician as one who, as he puts it after a lot of serious thought, “Can keep a beat and keep the time and knows his chords,” Blunt’s ultimate musical icon is Jimi Hendrix. “I like Jimi Hendrix,” he enthuses with a touch of frustration. “I’ve been trying to get a weird sound like that, but I can’t get it!” “I want to sound like that, but,” seemingly on the verge of a big statement, he just trails off, dropping into silence for a few semi sad moments. Ironically, what Blunt doesn’t seem to realise, yet is constantly ticking over, and occasionally interjecting my questions with his own questions about, is his lionised cult status.

On ‘Gentle Persuasion’, an album inspired by, like he explains, “the life experiences of living all over California,” Blunt and his ragtag band of players throw down a series of seven fundamentally Californian (and cross-genre jams). Musically, the record is the sound of spending your whole life in a haze of weed smoke, whiskey and women on the beaches of California. They’re the sort of daydream funk meets glazed over radio rock jams that make doing nothing but staring at the wall all day seem like a pretty cool idea. You can literally feel how much time Blunt must have spent chilling on corners and stoops across the state, taking it all in, one breath at a time. Subconsciously drawing his lyrics from these languid days, Blunt views music as something which just pops out and comes through you. His favourite jam is his tune ‘Wiskey Man’, a tune built around the repeated refrain “I got to be mellow”. And if you ask him where he got his sound from, his answer is simple, and so damn cool. “I got it from California man!”

In terms of what he has done on the live circuit, Blunt is just as vague as he is with recording dates. He mentions having held a few gigs singing and playing guitar at the local hospital. Then there is the CITYVISIONS performance, which in typical Blunt fashion, he has minimal factual memories about and a maximum emotional response. “I don’t know man,” he says, speaking with a special emphasis which makes you realise those televised song were a special moment for him. “It was just something that happened, and I just did it. It was good. It was good to be on TV, and I did it!”

These days, Blunt is a lot more low-profile with the music. He’s a father with a young family. Worryingly though, the major reason he hasn’t been playing is he had a stoke recently. “I’m getting back on my feet, but that took it out of me,” he admits, with an underlying mixture of strength and sadness. “That was a lesson man. It doesn’t really bother me that much though, not now.” Still, as a result he isn’t playing guitar. As a replacement, Blunt has been playing the congas (perhaps an extension of flourishes of tropical feel on his earlier work?) and taking trumpet lessons. Alternating between happy and sad, he makes and amusing and really exciting musical threat. “When I’ve finished studying trumpet I will probably go back to record with Victor Flaviani and try and do some singing behind the trumpet .”

Blunt doesn’t use the internet and as a result is more or less ignorant of his cult artist status and the astronomical prices people attempt to retail copies of his twelve inch record and CD for on the internet. During our conversation I actually get the sense that processing the stories I tell him about the niche interest in his music and the manner in which it presages plenty of contemporary musical trends is probably making it difficult for him to focus on my questions. As alien as the idea is to him, he is very enthusiastic about it. The thing is though, as you can tell from listening to his songs and his earlier comments, he is one hell of a chilled out dude. People find him, he doesn’t find people. Equally, as opposed to seeking out opportunities, opportunity seeks him out. It’s situations like this which have lead to his current arrangement with OT Records and Fun, who have been pumping his CDs and vinyl records out to music lovers across the globe, for a fair, affordable price. Similarly, it’s thanks to OT Records and Fun that I’m able to interview Blunt.

Doug Hream Blunt might be unknown, he might be underrated, and he might even stay that way forever. I get the sense that none of that really matters to Blunt though. He’s made music, played music, has a family and is experiencing a late career resurgence he probably never even imagined would occur. It’s the “well ahead of your time” scenario that so many truly great artists suffer from. Regardless of what happens from here on in, one thing is certain, Doug Hream Blunt is gonna remain chilled out as hell, just like his awesomely casual musical output.

Bottling the essence of everything carefree about California isn’t easy, unless you’re so laid back, you didn’t even have to think about trying. Which in a nutshell is - the Doug Hream Blunt story.

If you want to purchase the vinyl or CD then you can contact

Distance from view

Distance from view is the debut album from Auckland-based DJ and producer Scratch 22, and it's out this week. He's stitched together an epic sweep of sonic sauciness, that takes you on a rather splendid journey. There's student radio faves Medicine Man, and Window Rattle, plus a ton of other great tunes. Think DJ Shadow or RJD2, add in some David Axelrod and a healthy dose of Ennio Morricone and you're on the right track... Have a listen below.

Read Rip It Up's interview with Scratch 22 by Martyn Pepperell, over here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Love dancing

Preview a track off the album from Arthur's Landing, out now... download it too if you like

"Love Dancing" (Is It All Over My Face) (mediafire)

Arthur's Landing- Love Dancing (Is It All Over My Face) by Strut

"Strut is thrilled to present the debut album by Arthur’s Landing, a morphing collective of musicians who worked with the late and revered Downtown New York singer / songwriter and virtuoso cellist Arthur Russell at various times during his career, from his experimental pop (The Sailboats) and modern classical (Singing Tractors) to his avant-garde disco projects (Loose Joints, Dinosaur L)..."

WATCH: Arthurs Landing discuss their album project and the late Arthur Russell...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

High Noon Tea playlist, KiwiFM, 17 April 3-5pm

Tubbs - The professional
Illphonics - One of those days
Mycroft Holmes - Sideshow viewing
Rhombus - Piano dub
Opensouls -Sweet love - Mabanua remix
Tehimana Kerr - Xit
Joint force - Nightmare dub
Salmonella dub - Push on thru - Adrian Sherwood remix
Cornerstone roots - Future is now
Phase 5 - Realistic biscuit
Jellphonic and LP - Beatsreal flip
Riki Gooch - Ode to a vegetable
Chrostoph el Truento - Meow
Sola rosa - Del ray - Chancha via curcuito remix
Fat Freddys Drop - Shiverman
Pitch black -1000 mile drift - International observer remix
Lord echo - Thinking of you
NSU - West coast dub - Dub asylum remix
Pacific heights - TK funk
Karl marx project - Ares
Loudhaler - 30 degrees on the rocks
Onelung - Dark carousel
Downtown brown - Late edition
Scratch 22 - For walking faces

Show repeats Friday 2-4pm.

R.I.P Barbie

If you were in the music scene in Auckland in the late 80s and early 90s, you will have crossed paths with Barbie Francks. She was a ball of energy, a crazy, inspired woman always bursting with ideas. She was a BFM DJ, and I first came across her as she was good friends with Lisa van der Aarde, who managed my band Hallelujah Picassos (Lisa hosted BFM's Freak The Sheep show). She was also a music journalist - I recall her interviewing the Picassos for Rip It Up magazine.

Barbie came on tour with us once, as our driver. We were going down to do some shows in Napier and Gisbourne. She was a crazy driver too, from memory. Barbie died suddenly of a heart attack on Friday, aged 50. Much love to her partner Phil and her children.

From NZ Herald: FRANCKS, Linda (Barbie). On 16 April 2011 suddenly at Auckland City Hospital. Loved partner of Phil. Mother of Patrick, Bella and Lawson.
ADDED There's a wake for Barbie, this Friday April 22 from 1pm at The Thirsty Dog, 469 K Rd.

ADDED Some photos from the wake are here on Facebook, more on the event page here, plus a short video clip I shot, below.