Thursday, April 18, 2013

SJD wins Taite Prize

Last night SJD won the Taite Prize for his sixth album, Electric Wasteland - hearty congratulations to him, and to Stinky Jim, of SJD's longtime label Round Trip Mars.

The new look trophy (which kinda looks like a Ralph Hotere) was award to SJD, who made a brief but heartfelt speech thanking those who had supported him over the years. Listen to the album below. This is the fourth year the Taite Prize has been awarded, and also marks ten years since Dylan Taite passed away.

Earlier, Shayne Carter had presented the inaugural Classic Album Award announced prior to the awards, to John Halvorsen of The Gordons, for their bone-crunching debut from 1981. Halvorsen seemed genuinely thrilled by the recognition of their work. As Shayne said, The Gordons were mean, sharp, and real.

The brief video presentation on the band's debut talked about other acts who were influenced by them such as Sonic Youth, although they got the recording session duration wrong -as stated on the back of the record  it was recorded and mixed in 22 hours, not 23 - that was all they could afford, so the story goes. A great night out. Congrats to all involved. I was thrilled the bar had Creaming Soda too. Top work.

Music writer and Taite Prize judge Gary Steel offers up some insights into the judging process over on Metro's site, noting he went in rooting for SJD, but not holding out much hope.

"... It was agreed that Aaradhna’s Treble & Reverb was great in so many ways, but after heated discussion, it was crossed off the list. Why? It might be a great album that’s easy to like, but it harks back to the ‘60s with such determination that it simply fails to tick the main boxes. There was nothing innovative about it.
Ultimately, two more popular choices – Home Brew’s self-titled debut and the closely related @Peace album failed to make it through for similar reasons. Many of the assembled loved the Home Brew album, but innovative? Not really...

...At the kick-off, it didn’t look good for SJD’s Elastic Wasteland. Several panelists were obviously utterly bemused by the record and the artist, while others generally loved Sean Donnelly’s work, but hadn’t warmed to the synthetic sound of this, his sixth album. But after numerous rounds and eliminations, miraculously, SJD emerged the winner. I was somewhat flabbergasted. While I had gone in rooting for SJD, I hadn’t expected this outcome, especially for an album that seems to have proven more difficult even for his fans than previous works.

It did, however, tick all the boxes, and to me, it’s vindication at last for a singer/songwriter/composer who has not been lacking in critical praise since his first album in 1998, but has been all but ignored by the industry, resulting in what must at times have been a frustrating journey for Donnelly. It says a lot for his perseverance that, despite having flown mostly below the radar, he’s kept chipping away at his little masterworks; songs that are informed by the work of many of pop music’s geniuses, but never submit to facsimile reproductions or boring genre ghettoisation, and always reflect the essential internalisation of Donnelly’s world into his art work. It also says a lot for Stinky Jim and his label, Round Trip Mars (distribution: Universal) for sticking with him through adversity.

But I don’t want this to be a sob story. Donnelly is already celebrated in certain quarters, and his talents have been voraciously consumed as a sideman by the likes of Neil Finn and Don McGlashan..."

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