READ: MAKING MUSIC DIGITALLY

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Making music digitally....hmmmmm, allot has changed over the years in terms of making music. The options for how one creates a song has quadrupled. You don't necessarily have to rely on others to create music which sounds like a whole band is playing. A little while ago I tried to get my head around making music digitally; laptop-check, midi controller-check, drum pad-check, ableton live-check, but what on earth does this all mean? And how do you even start recording and making music?

This week I talk to Brent 'Parks' Park, the producer and music man alongside Ladi 6, a bit about making music digitally (also Ladi's husband and baby-daddy).


How did you get into making digital music?
I think i first got into it from listening to so much sample based rap music in the 90's. The sampler sound really intrigued me because i was learning to play guitar and hiphop beats weren't as rigid as other forms of programmed-style music of that era like techno and stuff. I think i related to it a bit more because of that. It had the raw sample which made this weird friction between raw live instrumentation within the sample and the stiff machine sequencing.

What is your background in terms of making digital music....are you self taught? If so how did you go about learning the process? 
Where I grew up in Christchurch basically no one made the type of raw rap beats that I was interested in. Drum n bass owned our city and I never really related to that. When I moved to Auckland at age 21 I started hanging out with some guys who were much more hip to the

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Read: Beat Streets – An old school history lesson

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With raucous reality shows at a pervasive premium, it is refreshing and timely that the naughty folks at Netflix have secured a dynamite dose of ‘hip-hopology’ in the funky form of ‘The Get Down’, an adaptation of the early formative years of hip hop in the boogie down Bronx. This humungous history lesson is the master creation of Baz Luhrmann, yes he of epic classics such as ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’ and promises to be a colourful cut ’n ’paste mosaic of the music, moves and grandmasters of the day.
So, with my Casio timepiece set to back in the day, I kicked off my Adidas, donned my Kangol cap and popped a personal mixtape into my memory bank of the sounds and music that etched its’ way into my scratched up lined refill from Waiheke Area School, circa 1984.   

Grandmaster Flash and his Furious Five took street gangs to the op shop, styling up in fur coats and fat gold chains, with the seminal ‘The Message’, an urban heads up from the crack laden footpaths of NYC. Def jams jingled and jangled care of ladies love cool James (or LL Cool J to those in the know), with Run DMC raising hell on the mic whilst Jam Master Jay transformed cold cuts to order like a beat crazed butcher.
Brat hop became a tag stolen from the bonnets of VW convertibles, as those beers swilling Beastie Boys tapped the bottle of teenage frenzy, taking keg party anthems to the suburban screens of everyday America via MTV. And for those who wanted something to dance to, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, lay down the mat for futuristic funk and unearthly electro, a head spinning mix of German electronica injected with James Brown drum loops.

As an English born beat lover, raised on the average avenues of Avondale, my mid 80s love affair with ghetto blasters, turntables and bedroom beat-masters is a far reaching testament to the raw sentiment, back shed construction and articulate recollections of a walk on the wild side, The fashion, the production and the fanfare came later, predated by a need for expression, escapism and scrapbooking pages and sounds from the time.


Delve into the vaults of our back catalogue and discover some treats of your own.I recommend a few to get you going on the good foot.
Try some Run DMC for starters, or let the Beastie Boys set the root down. A great collection for beginners is Rappers Delight or throw your hands in the air with Anthems.
Dave Tucker


                          

SEE: The Other's Way Festival - Our Picks

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Early September will see The Other's Way festival taking over K Road, in their follow-up to last year's debut. Run by Flying Out and 95bfm, the festival is becoming the NZ equivalent to traditional music industry-festivals such as CMJ or SXSW.

Along with classic NZ and Flying Nun associated acts such as The Phoenix Foundation and David Kilgour, there are appearances from hyped Aussie acts Twerps and Scott and Charlene's Wedding and many more. We've chosen our own stand-outs from the line-up below.

i.e. crazy


i.e. crazy is dark and powerful; she paints herself as the "deranged ex-lover who won’t leave you alone; the batty neighbour spying through the fence; the stranger at the bus stop who holds your gaze that fraction too long." Her live performances are immersive and intimate - drawing you in with quiet, nervous banter between crushing vocal and guitar deliveries. Currently she only has a couple of  songs on bandcamp, stream-able below, but you can also watch this milky video for her single 'You're a stranger to me now'.




Grayson Gilmour





Grayson has been making dense, textured pop music for about a decade now. Though recently his focus has been soundtracks (producing some incredible work for the feature films The Most Fun You Can Have Dying and Shopping, among others). Always a joy to watch. We have a few of his albums here.


Shocking Pinks




The Shocking Pinks are the ever-evolving project of Nick Harte. 2014/2015 saw the formation of a new lineup and completion of an approximately 60-date world tour. One of the best live acts in NZ at present, and who knows if you'll get another chance to see this particular (my favourite) lineup.

PS. The festival isn't all live music, Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd will also be doing a reading from his recent memoir of the label In Love With These Times.

Tickets are available from undertheradar.co.nz and Flying Out

PPS. (i.e. crazy is also a regular performer around Auckland if you're not interested in the festival atmosphere, watch for shows on their facebook page)

-  James


Listen - The History of Lawrence Arabia in Five Songs

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Absolute Truth cover art


Lawrence Arabia is the creative outlet for multi-instrumentalist musician, James Milne, one of New Zealand's most well-known indie musicians. His trajectory is somewhat similar to that of Don McGlashan - another musician who is known for the strength of his songwriting and willingness to try new things. In Lawrence Arabia's case, his drive to break new ground has meant playing in unusual venues such as art galleries and libraries or writing/performing music that was played live alongside a silent film (as he did at last year's film festival) or for live plays.

This month Lawrence Arabia has released a new album - Absolute Truth (out now through Flying Nun and available via bandcamp) and his first album fronting the band, The Reduction Agents, is being re-released on vinyl along with a tribute album with each track covered by other artists. Therefore it seems like a good time to take a look back through his career and have a listen to some of his finest tunes.

Before he became Lawrence Arabia, James Milne was the guitarist/keyboardist/bassist in indie pop group, The Brunettes. During this time, he wrote one track for the band, 'You Beautiful Militant', which was sung by their singer Heather Mansfield on The Brunettes' second album, Mars Loves Venus (2004). However, the original demo of this tune has recently appeared on Lawrence Arabia's soundcloud page and gives an early indication of his skill at writing a hooky chorus melody...



Next up, Milne decided to form his own band, The Reduction Agents, drawing in the Brunettes' drummer, Ryan McPhun (who has his own group, The Ruby Suns) along with Jol Mulholland (Gasoline Cowboy, Mulholland) and Ben Eldridge (from Heavy Jones). The band produced only one album, The Dance Reduction Agents (2006). However they also featured on the soundtrack of the Taika Waititi movie, Eagle Versus Shark - the film used both "80s Celebration" and the catchy rock number, "The Pool." The latter also happens to have a great video of Milne swimming at Pt Erin Pools at night...




Simultaneous with the release of the Reduction Agents album, Milne also released the first self-titled Lawrence Arabia (2006) album. This album lacked the raw energy and drive of the Reduction Agents, but made up for it with some quirky production and super sharp lyrics. His new approach is most apparent on the track, "Talk About Good Times", which features this witty run of lines: “You’d always condescend to take us back to your boxy-shaped apartment/ you showed us that we’re poorer than you are/ and you’re an undiscovered star/ but now you’re at the bottom of the ocean you’re forgiven and we talk about the good times..."


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Read- Let’s go to bed – Under the covers with The Cure.

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This week, for those sickening for a long awaited post-gothic pop performance from Robert Smith and his un-merry men, The Cure return to our shores to deliver a sentimental skip around the padded cells at Vector Arena on Thursday evening. Strangers on our beaches since their circus-like concert experience under the big top at Mt Smart way back in the nineties, I can’t wait to be fascinated and frolic amongst 37 years’ worth of heavenly pop hits.

My ticket purchase and a lovingly labelled vinyl collection is my way of paying homage to my teenage obsession, but many, far more talented souls than myself, have decided to revisit the band’s extensive catalogue, uncovering their own brand of gothic medicine.  

Now taking on an idol’s work is sometimes an extremely brave endeavour and one would hope that these kind gestures of fandom would serve to add to the merits and memories of a particular tune, rather than permanently stain any artistic archives. I have decided to delve deep into the timeless tomb of days gone by and those delicate days in between, to unravel the way we listened and recall pictures of them from our 80’s scrapbook.

Starting with my personal favourite, ‘Just like Heaven’, checked out by alt-rock gurus Dinosaur Jr  way back in 1989, unveiling their broody trip to church, via a compilation of sorts ‘Fossils’.  Closing in on the Seattle grunge scene that I lovingly worshipped from NZ, the boogie down- beat estates of Bristol bore witness to the juxtaposition of vaudeville beat-smith Tricky, Picked from the same wild bunch as Neneh Cheery and Massive Attack, Tricky turned the milk sour with his creepy but wonderfully wicked stroke on the ‘Love Cats’.
From the Brit stadium songstress Adele, there has been her personally stylised belted ballad ‘Love Song’, Billy Corgan made a poppy pulp from his smashed stewed and messy ‘A Night Like This’, whilst the deafening Deftones dutifully destroyed the epic anthem ‘If Only Tonight we could Sleep’.

Opinions are open and divided as to whether tackling tunes of such sentimental stature is warranted, with many a recovering goth unfriended from pale Facebook or snubbed at the black coat reunion.
My thoughts are well placed within the artistic canvas of freedom of expression and letting core values and threads be re-sewn and remixed to new and exciting effect. If you don’t like hearing your memories and moments revived, stay hooked in the past where the mist only rises only in the forgotten forest, but leave your tissues at home, because boys don’t cry!            

My regular grabs from Robert Smith’s original medicine cabinet, include the ethereal Seventeen Seconds, the fabulously low-end classic Faith and the more than decent Disintegration.  

Dave Tucker

READ- HAMILTON UNDERGROUND PRESS

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Hamilton Underground Press is a regular music zine being published out of Hamilton. Born initially from the frustration of cool bands skipping the Waikato town from their tours, the non-profit group (led by Welsh expat Rob Shirlow) are dedicated to re-cultivating the once lively indie music scene of Hamilton by putting on shows, producing podcasts and a zine, and for the first time next year, a festival.

With three issues out already, and another due in about a month, HUP aren’t messing around. The zine records and is simultaneously a part of increasing activity in the local music scene. The bulk of it consists of interviews with local and visiting artists, and the impressive photography of Ngamihi Pawa. The latest issue features Auckland bands ‘The Naenae Express’ and ‘Hospital Sports’, while Issue Two chronicles the history behind hometown favourites ‘Inchworm’, including a detailed musical family tree. 

But the zine is just one part of a larger holistic project. By providing print and podcast coverage, bringing out- of- town bands through and curating friendly and regular local shows, HUP is essentially a structure designed to bring together a community. Let’s hope it fosters some more incredible bands as Hamilton has in the past (see for example ‘Damsels’, ‘Yokel Ono’).

Overall, HUP is a well- produced, handy resource about an often-confusing musical destination, and a valuable record of mid-2010’s Hamilton music in years to come I expect.

Want to know more about zines?

Auckland Zinefest runs 15th-30th July, with workshops and performances happening around the city, including lots of free events at Central City Library. Hope to see you there!

-James


READ: MAKING MUSIC FOR FILM AND TV

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Photo: Paul Taylor
Have you ever muted the sound while watching a scary movie because the scene was getting way too intense? And because you just can't look away, the scene becomes way more bearable? Music for film and T.V has a huge impact on your viewing experience: it can change the mood quite rapidly, from not much happening to all of a sudden feeling tense or from feeling overwhelmed with sadness to really happy in a few short bars of music.

Karl Steven has created soundtracks for many documentaries and commercials, and composed original music for such T.V series as The Blue Rose' and 'Harry' (a finalist for best original music in a T.V series - APRA Silver Scrolls 2014). This week, I talk to Karl a bit about making music for film and T.V.

How did you get into making music for film and TV? Was it a career that you had in mind when you started making music or was it something you fell into?
I was super keen to do movie music as a youngster but I didn't know anything about it and just focused on music by itself. Then when I was 16, my uncle was working at an ad agency and asked whether I could make him a cheap jingle for a cat food ad. I borrowed an ancient sequencer from the music shop I used to vacuum in the weekends, hooked it up to my synthesizer, and took the first step along the road of music to picture.

What's the process? Is it collaborative between you and the director? Does the director have something in mind or is the director like RUN FREE?
It depends on the job how it works, but yes it's very much a collaborative thing...people come to me with a story and lots of hard work already done, so then my job is helping them to realize that project from a musical perspective. That's part of what I like about screen composing; it's about telling the story, not about individual egos, so we all only get to run as free as will be of benefit to the big collaborative story we've embarked upon trying to tell.

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Listen - Five Paul McCartney Deep Cuts

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This year has seen the passing of quite a few rock greats - David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy - but why wait until a loved musician passes away before we celebrate their work? And who better for recognition than Paul McCartney who has written some of the most loved songs on the planet and is still releasing new material - including: the track, 'Cut Me Some Slack,' that he penned with the remaining members of Nirvana and which won a Grammy in 2014 (available on the Sound City soundtrack); and the hit song he wrote released with Rihanna and Kanye West (his second collab with the latter).

I find that there's always some fun to be had in unearthing some usually overlooked tracks by a well-loved artist, so let's take the opportunity to dig for some gold in Paul McCartney's solo career. Hopefully this will provide some further listening for all of you who've listened to all those Beatles tracks far too many times.

Fortunately, a new compilation - Pure McCartney - has just been released which re-examines McCartney's solo career with the intention of digging out a few different tracks that were missed on previous "Best Of" compilations (such as Wingspan). The standout track for me is 'Coming Up', which is one of Macca's solo efforts that John Lennon also admitted having some admiration for (some have even suggested that hearing it might've spurred him out of retirement).

The song originally featured on McCartney II (1980), which is a slightly patchy album, but does have a few other fun tracks like the weirdly synth-heavy, 'Temporary Secretary' (which shows how McCartney sounds when he's trying to embrace new wave!).

It also happens to have a wonderful video, in which McCartney and his wife/bandmate Linda dress up as other musicals stereotypes. Seeing Paul in 1980 portraying himself as a young Beatle is particularly entertaining.


The next album worth checking out, once you've got past the greatest hits is Band on the Run (1973). By this stage, McCartney had his own band - Wings - with Linda and Denny Laine. This album was a serious hit at the time and featured a number of his best solo tracks including 'Band On The Run,' 'Jet,' and 'Let Me Roll It.'

However, let's dig up one of the tracks that didn't make the hits compilation and yet which showcases some great piano and bluesy singing from Macca. Here's Paul playing it all on his lonesome back in 1974.



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Read- 'Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting' by Eilon Paz.

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If you are anything like me, digging in the crates, foraging for rare white labels, first pressings, and picture cover sleeves took up weekends, lunch breaks and any spare moment that presented itself. Record collecting, selecting those cherished platters that mattered, requires a dedication for dusty covers, musty vinyl bins and solo excursions to the far reaches of long corridor second-hand stores. You will be on first name basis at Real Groovy and sport their orange signature bags with the pride of a giddy kid, eager to eliminate the return trip home to take your turn on your ever tempting turntable.

As noted by vinyl vixen Sheila Burgel “The joy of listening far exceeds my need to have it on record. The song is the cake, the original vinyl record is the cherry on top.”

Vinyl junkies rejoice, if you can find room on your carefully catalogued coffee table, have I got the perfect companion piece to compliment your collection. ‘Dust & Grooves’ signals a sublime sonic souvenir for all purveyors of the plastic persuasion, from the vinyl vaults of passionate people hooked on classical, cult cuts and 12inch circular journeys into sound.

With a foreword from the Wu-Tang;s RZA, a self-confessed album grabbing freak, ‘D & G’ cut and pastes a slide show of masterful mountains of records, lavished with lyrical waxings' on the haunts, hidden display hobby rooms and endless shelves of gems that fellow groove grabbers have created. 

Coming in at around 436 pages, this homage to honouring the record, masses more than obsessive odes to musical hoarding, uniquely undressing the tales of taking the time to search, sound-check and select personal pieces of rounded love. From dirty drum’n’bass dub plates  to crisp classical pressings, the community of collectors and aural appreciation society that sits in amongst us all, is as varied and vibrant as the undercover characteristics of their dutiful day job. A means to an end, working to be able to play those tunes, takes funds, fans and friends to share treasures with, and this beautifully presented scrapbook of sound peels back all the best examples of extreme adoration. Get collecting.


For this fine record resource, 'Dust & Grooves'  and more, dust off a few of these additional referenced reflections from your local library. Girls grabbing vinyl, serious addictsand the classics essentials.

Dave Tucker
         

New! Music and Performing Arts Channel

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Auckland Libraries is now providing access for library members to the exciting database Music and Performing Arts Channel  through the Digital Library. This database is a diverse collection of music and dance content that serves students, researchers, and music lovers alike. It includes hundreds of genres from alternative rock to zydeco and from alternative dance to operatic arias, and encompasses a wide range of materials including videos of live performances, audio recordings, instructional films, and previously unpublished works from acclaimed playwrights, performance posters, video interviews, and choreography.

The database includes the following collections:
  • African American Music Reference
  • American Song
  • Classical Music in Video
  • Classical Music Library
  • Classical Music Reference Library
  • Classical Scores Library: Volumes I, II, III and IV
  • Contemporary World Music
  • Dance in Video: Volumes I and II
  • The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music
  • Jazz Music Library
  • Opera in Video
  • Popular Music Library
  • Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries.  

With Music and Performing Arts Channel you can do amazing things:
  • Watch searchable transcripts that run alongside almost all titles
  • Search and browse by title, instrument, performers, composers, publishers, time periods, genres, people and playlists
  • Watch videos on-the-go with most handheld devices 
  • Create, annotate, and organize clips and playlists
  • Cross-search other Alexander Street music products
  • Export citations. 

Explore and enjoy this amazing resource!


A FEW LIVE UNDERGROUND NZ ACTS THAT YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GO OUT AND SEE!

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It's May, which means its New Zealand music month! And what better way to celebrate New Zealand music month then going out and watching some of the awesome local live acts playing around Auckland this month.

HEX

Wellington trio Hex are releasing their debut EP- 'CALLING TO THE UNIVERSE' this week and are playing their release show up in Auckland at the Golden Dawn Tavern. I've never been much of a fan of labelling bands and putting them into genre's, but on their facebook they describe their genre as pagan folk metal, which after much listening I think it sounds like exactly that. HEX play May 13th Friday at the Golden Dawn Tavern with Civil Union and DJ Kiran Dass, show starts at 8PM.





CIVIL UNION

Auckland band Civil Union who describe their music as stadium/death rock/shore core/slob goth, are releasing their debut album 'SEASICK LOVEDRUNK' this month. Their shows are always awesomely loud with heavy bass, mad drums and a guitar that cuts through all of it like a chainsaw, so good! Civil Union are having their LP release at Whammy Bar on May 19th Thursday with Peach Milk and Guardian Singles.




CENTRE NEGATIVE

Centre Negative are one of my favourites! I've seen them play twice now and each time was a hoot with lots and lots and lots of dancing. Two synths, heavy bass and some awesome guitar playing and then Michael McClelland, who fronts the band, is a force to be reckoned with. Centre Negative play at Audio Foundation on May 14th Saturday, with a swarm of awesome local bands. Show starts at 4PM.





I.E. CRAZY


Claire Duncan aka Maggie Magee is the absolutely mesmerising i.e. crazy. Hauntingly beautiful lyrics and singing, backed by a drum machine, and her electric guitar, is an act not to be missed. i.e crazy plays May 13th Friday at The Crown Hotel in Dunedin with Seth Frightening and Terrified.








Five acts to watch in 2016

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It's New Zealand Music Month, so it seems like a good time to run through some of the acts that seems likely to make a big splash in the local scene this year. There's everything from folk to garage rock to rap/EDM on this list, so hopefully there's something that'll strike your interest, though do feel free to add more recommendations in the comments if you wish.

Aldous Harding


Last year, it was the turn of Marlon Williams to be hyped as the latest, greatest artist out of the Lyttleton folk scene. Though this year it seems likely that the spotlight will return to his partner, Aldous Harding. She has a new album coming out later this year, which seems like it might add a gothic edge to the dark-folk sound of her debut self-titled album. It certainly sounds like there is a bit of PJ Harvey in the delivery of this live recording of new track, 'Horizon,' and the result is creepy and beautiful!





Lawrence Arabia


Lawrence Arabia has released very little new material since his last album, The Sparrow, came out in 2012. However he's been very busy on the live scene - playing at unusual venues such as art galleries and libraries, as well as scoring a silent film for the NZFF last year. Now there are stirrings that his new album is not too far away and a new single has emerged, which has all the playful lyricism we've come to expect from this sharp songwriter. I notice that the Youtube description mentions Flying Nun, which shows more signs of a slow return to prominence of the label over the past few years (they released Princess Chelsea's album, The great cybernetic depression, in the US and UK last year so they may again become synonymous overseas with great music from our shores).





Tiny Ruins


Hollie Fulbrook (the singer/songwriter behind Tiny Ruins) has been very busy since the release of her last full-length album, Brightly Painted One. She's currently touring through the UK and Europe as I write this, but has also been busy on the home front, mainly through her collaborations with an impressive list of highly-respected local musicians. She has toured with Bic Runga, which saw them forming a super-group from their two backing bands and playing a spread of covers and originals. She also contributed vocals to a song by Robert Scott (from The Clean) and recorded a whole EP with former Clean-drummer, Hamish Kilgour - Hurtling through. If that wasn't enough, she started this year by releasing a song that was produced by cult filmmaker, David Lynch (after Lorde recommended her music to him). Who knows what is coming next, but it's sure to be impressive. Here's the Lynch-produced track for you to check out...





Raw Nerves


The Raw Nerves are part of a recent revival of Auckland garage rock that has been instigated by the arrival of a new, vinyl-only record label, 1:12 Records. Others on the roster include: The Conjurors, Roy Irwin, and The Cavemen. Another band on the label, The Situations, will be known to many for acting as the backing band for Wanda Jackson on a recent visit to our shores, as well as working with Shaft and Ray Columbus in previous years. Nick Bollinger spoke at length about 1:12 Records on one of his recent sessions on National Radio and Grant Smithies was equally enthusiastic in his recent review of Roy Irwin - he's about to go overseas to tour from July-December, so no doubt he'll be known as NZ's answer to Kurt Vile by the end of the year (we have Irwin's first album if you want to hear how he got started).

However, my favourite among the label's band is The Raw Nerves, who seem to be bubbly with catchy hooks and gritty guitar sounds. This video also shows you how to make gourmet sausages, so hopefully that adds a bit of value for some viewers too!





Young tapz


The local hip hop scene has been bursting with talent over the last year, with Loui the Zu re-emerging as Mzwetwo and Tom Scott (from Homebrew/@Peace) starting a new group, Average Rap Band, whose focus on tongue twisting verbal dexterity has put his skills into true focus. Arriving hot on their heels has been Raiza Biza, a rapper from Hamilton who burst into the scene in 2014 with the fast-paced release of his first two albums. However the artist we're focusing on today - Young tapz - is even newer to the scene and is already looking to push out front.

Young Tapz works regularly along Mzwetwo as part of the Gallantino crew and their early achievements (along with those of Raiza Biza) led to an article on the Australian Vice website about the sudden emergence of NZ rappers originally born in Africa (and/or the Middle East). Their work is definitely worth searching out if you're interested, though be ready for some serious coarse language! (don't say I didn't warn you...)

So let's rewind the clock back slightly and look at the biggest breakthrough that Young Tapz has managed so far - dropping rhymes for "Buzz" by Aussie group, Hermitude (off their album Dark night sweet light), and thereby ending up in the Top Twenty of the Australian charts! Here's Young Tapz performing alongside Hermititude at the Australian Music Awards last year. He's sure got a lot of swagga for a twenty-year old!




Read- The best in new and upcoming music books

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The news has finally arrived that Roger Shepherd has finished his book on Flying Nun - In Love With These Times - and it is scheduled for release through Harper Collins at the end of next month (no doubt timed to coincide with NZ Music Month). This is a long awaited arrival since there has never been a complete account of how Shepherd's little label from Christchurch managed to achieve a cult following across the UK and US during the late eighties and early nineties, leading to dozens of drooling reviews in the pages of NME.

The closest we've come to a firsthand account so far was given by Matthew Bannister in his book, Positively George Street, though his scope focused around his own band (Sneaky Feelings) rather than encompassing the wider Flying Nun ouvre. Though if you're interested in the very early years of the label, then there's some great material in Have you checked the children by Wade Churton. It's packed with great anecdotes and quotes from the local seventies punk scene and the indie acts that followed soon after. However, be warned - it's a very lo-res production and the book takes the annoying approach of dividing events strictly by year, so just as the story of one band gets going, it has to abandon it for forty pages to fill out everything else that happened at the same time. 


If you looking for some more recent books on music to read while you wait for Shepherd's book to come out, then I'd recommend checking out How bizarre by Simon Grigg. You'd think that a story about an artist with only one hit song would not provide much opportunity for a whole book, but this work provides an amazing picture of how the worldwide music industry works and the clash of cultures that happens when a young man from South Auckland finds himself in the midst of it all, feeling like he can trust no one and, as a result, lashing out at those around him at the most inopportune moments.

  


Last year also saw the release of two fascinating autobiographies by highly-respected musicians. Elvis Costello has a lot of ground to cover in his career which spans back to the seventies, but his book (Unfaithful music and disappearing ink) remains poetic and vital throughout its 674 pages. Equally fascinating, but considerably shorter is Carrie Brownstein's Hunger makes me A modern girl, which charts her path to success in riot-grrl act Sleater Kinney and then her second life as an actress (in TV show, Transparent) and comedian (in Portlandia). 

It's also worth mentioning a few new music books that have been added to our catalogue as eBooks. First on my list is Your song changed my life, which has NPR music host Bob Boilen questioning a wide range of contemporary musicians on the song that had the strongest effect on them personally - his subjects include Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Cat Power, David Byrne (Talking Heads), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), and the afore-mentioned Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia, Sleater-Kinney). Alternatively, if you have kids that you'd like to foist some edgy music upon, then I'd recommend the picture book, What is Punk? (also available in a print version). 

If you've enjoyed any recent music books yourself, then do leave a comment below. There's always a little more room to add more books to the pile beside my bed...


Listen: Here’s to future twins – a past autumn play at Western Springs.

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At the weekend, as I stuttered past a fast filling stadium, aka Western Springs, upon Auckland’s public transport finest, I reminisced about the many acts that I had attended at this part time outdoor venue. U2, REM, Mc Cartney and more fill the faded lines of a well-worn and often mislaid notebook, but one great gig that had me toe tapping all the way to Albert Street.

Thirty years ago, 1986 to be exact, a British pop group with real Kiwi connections, in the form of local lass Allanah Currie, sat proud in our top 5 album charts with the platinum platter, ‘Here’s to Future Days’.
The Thompson Twins were (and still kind of are – having recently hit the road again), an 80’s hit machine. Taking their name from those famous Tin Tin comics and made up a cool collage of sound, the Twins blended a mixed bag of sound splices, everything from Caribbean percussion to soft, sultry strings with irresistibly catchy choruses.

Back in 1986, after a previously rained off attempt at an Auckland outdoor show two weeks earlier, the Twins were set to mop up the soggy stage to an extremely eager local crowd. I was a pimply pop fan of 15, with badges and white Reeboks, all set to kick off my stadium pop experience.  

By today’s standards the vast green field was laid quite sparse with just proud of 12,000 stone washed diehard fans, here to pop their 80’s cherries. These were the days of deck chairs and blankets, picnics at the pop concert. One of the things I recall as a super surprised pubescent fan boy was the pre-show cut up session from third member Joe Leeway. Often recognized for his high falsetto backing vocals, Leeway lead a 60 minute mash up of dub, funk and cinematic club tunes that pre-dated the superstar DJ by about a decade.
The ultra-clever Tom Bailey delivered a signature performance, with shout outs, re-rubs and raucous renditions of all their hits and I loved the fragrant odour of cabbage, chips and cheap cologne.

Live concerts and the outdoor up, close (as you can get) and personal is a timeless treat that I will long continue to enjoy. I keep the ticket butts, buy the badges and tee shirts and spend café time recalling the concerts from days gone by. Living in Point Chevalier I could hear the heaving heartbeat of Western Springs on Saturday as a whole new generation pushed the fences at the first Auckland City Limits music festival. And so the experience continues. Here’s to future days!

Curious for some nostalgic niceness? Then check out the  Thompson TwinsAlso try Tom Bailey’s side project International Observer for a variation on his original sounds.

Dave Tucker  

Listen: WOMAD 2016 Artists

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Taranaki once again plays host to WOMAD from 18 - 20 March this year. We know a lot of Aucklanders make the trip down for this unique music festival, so thought it would be worth recommending some acts that we're particularly excited to see.


Ladysmith Black Mambazo

This South African vocal ensemble first became famous in the 1980s playing on Paul Simon's Graceland album. They've released over a dozen albums since (including the remarkable No Boundaries with the English Chamber Orchestra), but for many this will remain their signature song:




Songhoy Blues

The landlocked areas of West Africa have become famous for gritty, spiraling style of guitar playing and each year WOMAD seems to uncover a new group with a fresh take on this style. This year the slot is taken by Songhoy Blues from Timbuktu (Mali). The core members of this group were forced to relocate to the Southern capital of Bambako when a jihadist group took over the north of the country and imposed strict sharia law (which included banning cigarettes, alcohol and music). Their newly formed group soon gained an international following and their debut album, Music In Exile, was recorded by Nick Zinner (from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The video below might induce motion sickness in a few viewers, but just hide the visuals if necessary and have a listen because it's a great example of the great music that's been coming out of that area of the world over the last couple of decades.





Edmar Castañeda

Castañeda's music might sound like a groove-based Colombian take on jazz, but if you actually see how he's creating the sound then you'll be amazed. What sounds like bass and acoustic guitar on first listen is actually just him playing a harp on his own. Even if this isn't your type of music then the musicianship on display needs to be seen to be believed.



Calexico

For the last twenty years, Calexico have been creating their own, distinct Tex-Mex sound. Their latest album, Edge of the sun, was seen by many as a return to their best, with rave reviews from Pitchfork, Q Magazine and Uncut. Here's a track of the album that shows that the influence of Mexican horns and rhythms still provides the heart of their music:




Also...


The artists above are just some of the fine acts appearing this year and the overseas line-up also includes: Fela Kuti's son, Seun Kuti, bringing some Afro-funk; De La Soul sparking up the dancefloor with their catchy hip hop sound; and St Germain providing some great live jazz instrumentation over smoothly programmed beats.

I'd also recommend the combined set by Tiny Ruins and Bic Runga, during which they do versions of songs by Fleetwood Mac ("Dreams"), Simon and Garfunkel ("So Long Frank Lloyd Wright"), Yoko Ono ("Nobody Loves You Like I Do"), Love ("Andmoreagain"), and Donovan ("Wear Your Love Like Heaven"). Amazing to hear two of New Zealand's strongest female voices come together in beautiful harmony, especially when their taste in covers is so intriguing. And if that's not enough local talent, then you also have the chance to see soulful country singer, Tami Neilson, and an amazing new piece ("No Man's Land") by one of our finest contemporary composers, John Psathas.

Auckland Libraries also has the 2016 WOMAD compilation on order and you can check out the full list of artists over at the WOMAD website.

If you want to investigate the line-up further then check out the preview piecs by Trevor Reekie and Grant Smithies on Radio New Zealand or the great coverage by Graham Reid's website, Elsewhere.