Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, May 14

The Yoots  - Me he manu rere
Syd Jones and the Troubadours - Cordova
Dutch rhythm steel and show band - Down by the river
Guinness cassanovas - Stormy
Charles Bradley  -Why is it so hard
El Michels affair - Detriot twice
Joy Denalane - Change inst
Hugh Masekela - Dont go lose it baby
Fishbone - Everyday sunshine
Beat pharmacy - Assassination of the mind - Teddy G dub
Seed - Sound a goody goody
Turntable dubbers feat Brother Culture - Get lively now - Blend Mishkin mix
Ruts DC  - Whatever we do - RSD remix
Gulls - Mean sound - strategy dub
Delroy Wilson - Can I change my mind
Roots radics - Babylon dont touch my sensi
Barrington Levy - Why you do it
Pavlov and mishkin  - Mafia
Centry - Melody of life
The Yoots  - Tutira mai
Futura 2000 and The Clash - Escapades dub
The normal - Warm leatherette
Material w Nona Hendryx - Busting out
Fredericks Brown - Betrayal
Esther Phillips - Home is where the hatred is
George Benson - Theme from Good King Bad

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Stay at home

Simon Grigg popped up on Twitter earlier today with some very exciting news... He announced that "as of today, I now have 9 previously unreleased Suburban Reptiles tracks, thought lost for 30 yrs. Quite excited." He found them in a cupboard belonging to a guy who now lives in Bangkok and who used to hang with the band. He also found some unreleased Swingers songs. He posted a pic of one of the tapes, see above. Simon says that Hospital is a Jonathan Richman song. So Fucked Up is 1969 - Stooges.

3 Sided Dream

The latest issue of Wax Poetics magazine returns to the theme of jazz, with Jazz's Mad Men. One of the albums profiled in the mag is The case of the 3 sided dream in audio colour, by Rashaan Roland Kirk. The tale behind it is pretty crazy.

Kirk cut this album while his producer at Atlantic Records, Joel Dorn, was leaving the label, as it had morphed from jazz and soul into a rock monster, with Led Zep, Cream and CSN&Y. Unfortunately for Kirk, he wanted to depart too but still had two albums to go to fulfil his contract. So, he cut two albums simultaneously. As you do.

Only hitch - the budget was a mere $21,000, and they ran out of money after only recording three sides. Solution? He handed in a double LP with music on three of the four sides of vinyl.

This blog on the album describes it a concept record and fills in the story... " the fourth [side of the record] is a blank 12-minute track with 30 seconds of conversation at the very end." Nutty.

These impressions...

Some fresh goodness from Mr Mayer Hawthorne. No covers of The Impressions tho.

Free download, 6 song EP of covers.

Jakob: nice day for an earthquake!

For New Zealand Music Month, I've hauled out some old magazine articles on local musicians that I wrote a while back. They give you a snapshot of artists earlier in their career... This interview with Jakob was originally published in Pavement magazine, 2001. Jakob are playing two shows soon; Auckland - Kings Arms on June 4  and Wellington - San Francisco Bathhouse on June 11. Jakob member Jeff Boyle is also playing as part of the lineup for Rhian Sheehan's live show Standing  in Silence at the Mercury Theatre in Auckland, May 23.

Set of Subsets is the moody debut album for Napier band Jakob. Its a heady concoction of minimalist guitar, offset with bursts of distortion and melodic delights. Following on from their entrancing EP, the album finds them still inhabiting a world of swirling guitars and thunderous dynamics. The band started out in the middle of 1998.

"Maurice (Beckett) our bass player had just come back from Sweden and Germany, and was ultra-keen on getting things happening," says guitarist Jeff Boyle, who, along with drummer Jason Johnston, makes up the Jakob lineup. "We'd been jamming together before he left, at the start of the year, and we just pushed things along a bit, and the ep songs just came out of nowhere, and we recorded it, and its just been snowballing from there ever since, really.

"The first recordings we did, for the ep, was just a fleeting idea. We had a friend with a bit of studio gear, and he said 'flick us $300 to do a little experiment with you', and so we did it over a weekend, and it was basically one-take stuff, and it ended up being sweet as. With the album we tried the same thing, and it didn't really work too well. So we re-did everything with a lot of overdubs and samples. We started recording the album in late November last year, and finished in May this year."

Playing live in the studio is crucial to the band. "That's how we write, that's how we play, so that's how we record. That's the whole basis of our approach. There's no actual physical song writing ever involved in our musical creation.

"It comes down to us getting into a room and just taking whatever comes our way basically. We try and keep all preconceptions of music out, and just let something come to us, or just fiddle around til something happens naturally between the three of us, and then once something does, then we work on it. That's just one way of trying to keep our music completely original and completely ourselves. We've got a standard-o-meter, you know what I mean? It basically comes down to if we enjoy it enough, if we all end up with nice big smiles on our faces then that becomes a Jakob song."

Once the album was nearing completion, their thoughts turned to the next step; getting the music out there. "We didn't have any plan, release-wise; all we wanted to do was record the songs we had, cos we were sick of them! We'd been playing these songs for about a year, and everyone liked them, and we just wanted to get them out, and move on to the next step. We know Paul Maclaney, who released his album Permanence through Kog, and he's been a friend and a fan of ours for the last few years. He told Kog 'check these guys out', and they gave the album a listen and they loved it. So they said 'do you want to go with Midium?' (Kog's guitar label) and we said 'yeah'. They treat us like brothers; whenever we go up to Auckland, we stay at the Kog studios. They treat us real good, we're absolutely over the moon to be on that label."

The band are quite content to continue to call Napier home, and have no burning ambition to move to the Big Smoke. "I'd much rather be in a band here, than in Auckland. There's a lot of crap you have to deal with in Auckland. I was living up there in 96, 97, and I tried to get a few things together with a couple of people, and that went nowhere, basically. It's just really hard to focus when you're in Auckland, for me it is.

"Everything is much more relaxed here, there's no media bullshit you have to deal with. There's no 'hip' scene down here in Napier, there's just a bunch of musos hanging out, jamming with each other and coming up with cool music. No one's like, keeping up appearances, trying to be real cool. Its makes it easier to just sit back and create music."

There's plans afoot for a few music videos, some travel around our fair shores and also further afield.

"Our main goal is to get overseas and play, mainly in Europe, because that's where a lot of the bands we're influenced by come from. Bands like Godflesh, Slint, Bardo Pond, Mogwai, etc etc. We just want to keep going and keep progressing, and never do the same thing twice. We think there's a whole huge space in music that hasn't been filled yet, and we want to fill it up." ok?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Awards tour...

Taite Prize finalist Dudley Benson has written a thoughtful piece on the judging and presentation of the Taite Prize, over at The Corner blog. Sure, he didn't win, but this isn't simply a case of a sore loser. Benson touches on the nature of competitive awards and how does one judge them. It's an interesting read.

In Defence of Creativity (& The Greater Problem Of The ‘International Quality’): An Artist’s Response To The 2011 Taite Music Prize.

"...I’d firstly like to pre-empt any inevitable interpretation of this response as one of upset in my being a finalist but not winner of the award. My motivations here grow both from an overall concern that I’ll go on to describe, as well as a result of receiving significant feedback from others – both in and out of the music industry – who are also interested in discussing the judges’ decision, specifically in relation to the award criteria.

"Also compelling is my observation that when something of an imbalance occurs within our music community, very few people seem prepared to make their concerns public. I suspect artists fear being blacklisted from future chances of recognition within the circles in question, while others in media positions have business and personal relationships that they are afraid of bruising. These anxieties do not personally concern me, especially in comparison to the responsibility I feel in contributing positively to the dialogue of what in New Zealand music we consider to be creatively successful work...."

London's burning

My friend Hans wrote his thesis on punk rock when he was at university in his native Belgium back in 1980. It was a photocopied self-published document of the punk rock scene at that time.

"It explores the sociology of punk in Britain, its history and cultural aspects such as music, imagery, fanzine publications and independent record labels. The analysis section embeds the phenomenon in the rich tapestry of British post-war youth cultures.  It has a new (2011) preface and is concluded with short essays and updates. It contains original punk rock band photography and a substantial bibliography and URL resource list."

He's recently completed the huge task of translating it from Dutch into English ready for publishing, and I designed the cover for it (with a photo from Jonathan Ganley, of The Clash in Auckland). The e-book is out now on Amazon (for Kindle) and there's a print version on the way too.

London's Burning: An Exploration in Punk Subculture (Amazon)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dub plates: Salmonella Dub

For New Zealand Music Month, I've hauled out some old magazine articles on local musicians that I wrote a while back. They give you a snapshot of artists earlier in their career...This interview with Tiki has a tale about him walking round the streets of Dubai with people pointing at him... the explanation why is pretty funny...

(originally published in Pavement magazine 2001)

The last 12 months have been an exciting time for Salmonella Dub. Following the commercial and critical success of their last album Killervision, they launched themselves out into the big world, touring to Australia, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East, after securing release of the album in these countries. In between all this travel, they started laying down the foundations for their fourth album, Inside The Dubplates.

Soundman and vocalist Tiki says its been a year of exciting new places and strange adventures. "I got in trouble in Dubai," he recalls, relaxing in the record company boardroom in Auckland, a long way from the political hotspots of the Middle East.

"It was so hot, I went out in shorts and a t-shirt, and people would cross the road, freaking out at me, big time. I couldn't understand why. People were stopping their cars and watching me. I spent the whole day walking round, just going 'why are these people freaking out at me?' I went back to the hotel and the reception guy was totally freaking out, going 'oh my god, you didn't go out like that did you?'

"I said 'what do you mean, like that?' And he said, 'oh, you should cover yourself up'. I said 'why?', and it was something to do with the tattoos, the moko and the dreads, it meant they thought I was the devil, basically. When you're born, I think they believe that you should die as you were born, without any markings or anything. If you do mark yourself then you are going to spend the rest of your life on earth in eternal damnation! And then I understood.

"The cool thing was, I had a bunch of kids running up and touching me, checking me out, going 'where are you from?' I got talking to them, and they were saying you just don't get bands here, it's really hard to get exposed to anything else that's happening in the world. The kids there are really starved for Western culture. That made me realise how lucky we are. Even though we're from the South Pacific, these guys were way closer to the rest of the world than what we are, but they still so isolated."

"Paris was amazing too, its got this vibe about it, it's just so old. The people there are just awesome. They're just confident, and strong in their culture and really supportive as well, and really interested in Aotearoa and the South Pacific, and the lifestyle here. A lot of the interviews I did there, they didn't talk about the music, they just wanted to ask me questions about home. They wanted to know what my moko meant, what the scene was like: Once Were Warriors always came up, they'd ask 'is it really like that?', and I'd say, 'well its like that everywhere in the world'. One question as if we all had pet sheep, which was hard case. The All Blacks always came up; I remember in a subway in Paris, there's this big billboard with Jonah Lomu selling Adidas!"

Yes, the Dub have come a long way from their Christchurch origins, back in the mid 90's. "When I was 19," remembers Tiki, "we had just started coming up to Auckland and Wellington, and that was like, the big time for me! Back then the guys were talking about playing in Australia. I couldn't believe that. The next year we went to Australia, and then we talked about going to Europe, and the next year we went to Europe, so it's starting to become a bit more realistic. I think learning that anything can happen, that its not so much of a dream, even tho we're from the South Pacific, and things are quite hard with the dollar and we're so far away, it not that unrealistic for a Kiwi band to go out there."

The new album uses the mixing skills of several talented local engineers, rather than following the path of their last few releases that utilised UK producer David Harrow. "We used David Wernham, who does live sound for Shihad. We bought him over, and he took care of all the drums, he knows how to get a good sound. We did it all with Paddy Free co-producing, so its all New Zealand flavours. It was a tight crew, we're all friends. The other thing, Dave our drummer went a bit more crazy on this one, and also not doing so many ballads, if you know what I mean. They're more instrumentals, which is kind of where we started out. "We did the last album in two weeks. This one we've had a couple of months to do it. We've had a bit more time to prepare. Rather than have such a tight deadline, we've had a bit more time to experiment.

"This is the closest album we've done that sums up the band as a whole, and captures that live feel that we've got. The character of the band has changed quite a bit, just from being on the road a lot. We've been overseas, and been checking out what other people are doing, and checking out how crowds overseas take your music, and what they go off to. For example, in France, they liked the more spacious, crazier stuff, than the funkier, groovier stuff, which is quite interesting."

The overseas experience has strengthened their belief in what they're doing. "If anything, the travel we've done in the last year, because we've taken it to different parts of the world, has made us realise is actually original. Most people who came along said 'wow, we haven't heard anything like this'. That makes us think 'okay, well, don't aspire to be anything else that's happening, this is where we're from. We're from the South Pacific, and living here is just so much different from the rest of the world, so much cleaner, open space, just a different lifestyle. I think that's something we should treasure, and be proud of. I think it's okay for us to be completely Kiwiana, South Pacific, and not try and aspire to be a UK style dub reggae act or whatever."

Tiki says the plan for this year is "get the album in the stores, release it, let the public get into it, then hit the road. We've got some gigs around New Zealand, then it's off to Australia, and France is on the cards. Canada is another area we want to nail. We'll definitely do a big New Zealand tour at the end of the year, when its nice and warm". Ah, dub in the summertime, nothing's finer.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Whiskey barons

Gyedu-Blay Ambolley - Simigwa do (whiskey barons rework) by flavorheard

Tune and a half. Check it.

But wait. There's more...

whiskey makossa by flavorheard

Osibisa - keep on trying (whiskey barons edit) by flavorheard

More from the Whiskey Barons over at Soundcloud. Lots for download too. Woohoo!

100 miles of shelves

Gene DeAnna in the Library's vaults  (Los Angeles Times)

There's a great article on the LA Times site, "Library of Congress builds the record collection of the century." It's got some fascinating facts in the Library's archive. The storage facility had  a former life as a cash depository during the Cold War.

It's "a repository containing nearly 100 miles of shelves stacked with some 6 million items [taking up 45 acres]: reels of film; kinescopes; videotape and screenplays; magnetic audiotape; wax cylinders; shellac, metal and vinyl discs; wire recordings; paper piano rolls; photographs; manuscripts; and other materials. In short, a century's worth of the nation's musical and cinematic legacy.... It's here that a recent donation from Universal Music Group, nearly a quarter-million master recordings by musicians including Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby, is now permanently housed."

"As part of the Library of Congress, this trove is available to anyone, free. But because of the complexities of copyright law, access is restricted to the library's reading rooms in Washington and Culpeper..."

Their collection sounds amazing, including such delights as every 78 rpm disc recorded by Jelly Roll Morton, or "half a million LPs, among which are dozens of surf and hot-rod music-themed discs that Capitol Records issued in the '60s to capitalize on those crazes, including "Hot Rod Hootenanny" by Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos, with cover art and songs co-written by fabled car designer Ed "Big Daddy" Roth."

The story also discusses the various formats the Library has to archive, from cylinder recordings to DAT tapes. 

"I love to give the example that the cylinder from 1900 may be easier to play back than the DAT [digital audiotape] from 2001," sound curator Barton said. "Seriously. There are a lot of DATs that just won't play now."

The most enduring formats? Not CDs or MP3 digital files.  "Vinyl discs properly stored will last hundreds of years," Miller said. "Shellac too."

Of course, getting access to this material runs into copyright issues.

Museum director Loren Schoenberg said, "My goal is to have all of it, every last second of it, available on the Internet. If it was up to me, I'd just throw it on the Internet, let everybody sue each other and happy new year. But you can't do that, because you're dealing with [musicians'] estates, labels, record companies and publishers."