Neil Robinson Leaving Party!

Christchurch-based former Rockquest winners and all-round fun-time band Neil Robinson play their last show with the departure of frontman Chris Young for England. Supported by Bang! Bang! Eche! at a well-known Sockburn flat, this was a damn epic (and messy) party.

Click here for the photoset.

The New Originals [jan 2006]

‘they’re new, and they’re original’.
– Janus currie [lead singer of the leper ballet]

the first time i saw the new originals, supporting solo bravo at the jetset lounge – i thought they were crap. Talented – but crap. Still, you’ve gotta admire a band named in the spinal tap tradition.

Tim moore (guitar and vocals) formed the group in 2002 with his former shirley boys schoolmates matt oram (drums) and louis dudson (bass), by the time they started performing in christchurch’s bar scene, they were boosted by a couple of exchange students – anne ito (keyboards) and per warberg (acoustic guitar), with clare mclennan-kissell (percussion) completing the lineup.

I couldn’t understand how a huge group (by my recollection there must have been at least a half-dozen on stage) of what were presumably under-aged kids (and i use the term fiercely – lousy high school brats, how dare they be in my local, etc), could clamber up the stage of the jetset lounge with keyboards and classical style percussive instruments. I was definitely stuck in a drums, bass and guitar mindset.

Of course i was completely wrong – the group’s only fault is that they possibly hadn’t yet found their feet. And over the next couple of years that would change as they developed their own distinctive sound, perhaps hastened by their reduction in numbers. See around two years later i caught these feller’s once more and found that; they’d been reduced to a slender 4-piece, the twee overbearing-ness i’d imagined had given way to lovely heartfelt melody mixed with glorious noise and lastly (and possibly most importantly) they were now all above the legal drinking age. They’d become one of these groups were you could endless name some points of reference in their sound, but never name a group that sounds quite like them; a reflection of influences harmonized into something, well – original.

In the last couple of years i’ve gotten to know them and their songs quite well, sharing a number of bills with everybody’s favorite erstwhile maniacs the leper ballet meant i saw them more and more, and their quirky approach had more than grown on me – they’d become one of my most beloved local groups.
The group plays a sharp blend of pop-rock, infused by over-the-top drumming; driven by this overwhelming chugga-chugga rhythm, much like the best bats songs – though they can drag on a bit you don’t really want each song to stop.

Tim sings in a kind of almost-embarrassed-by-himself-but-enthusiastic kind of way, plays a mean guitar with a little bit of finger-plucking/tapping style (thanks to a long few months with a couple broken fingers), is simply frightening behind the keyboard and has a pretty swish theremin that the group never really over-use. Ann ito is the cutesy keyboardist and backing vocalist who always seems to be too low in the mix. Louie dudson is the ‘lead’ bassist (ala peter hook) and resident fan favorite pretty-boy – his high-register runs are often pivotal points in their best songs. And of course matt oram -probably the one member of the group that draws the most undeserved critical flak, he’s simply a fire-cracker of a drummer – making the group burst at the seams with tom-heavy drum rolls, feeding that indulgent streak.

So now the end result is a chameleon of a group; from their recordings you might expect the new originals to be a timid, mellow live act – but on witnessing the ferocity and chaotic nature of their performance (especially oram’s full-tilt drumming) you’d be hard-pressed to imagine the group recording at all.

[debut ep] ‘ya stal’ was recorded at the end of 2003 with jules marchant at the desk, and we released it in august 2004 with the party at the dux with leper ballet supporting. It was the first proper recording any of us had done, so it was a real learning curve. The name came from a history textbook at shirley, which said that as a child, stalin’s favorite game was to have the other kids carry him on their shoulders in a mock victory rally, while he shouted “ya stal!” which means “i am steel” and this is also why he later changed his name to stalin, which means “man of steel”.
– Tim moore

a particular point of reference is that tim and i share a mutual love of all things jeff mangum -the crazy bastard behind neutral milk hotel. Of course he’s one of those overblown obsessive types though, with the dozen’s of bogus quality mp3’s and demo recordings – all that crap. You can hear a bit of that in their sound, along with the new order approach to rhythm, and what i see as a velvet underground-esque pulsating drive; i’ve been trying to get him in to the microphones – now there’s a crazy loon i’m obsessive about.

Disappointingly they’re currently on hiatus at the moment as a live group, though it still looks like there’s a future for the new original’s wonderfully comical songs: since then, we did some recordings with nick harte, and more with jules, which became the [excellent] ‘jump on the wagon’ promo cd. We are planning to record an album, as there is at least an albums worth of material we played but never recorded…

there’s no definite timeframe at the moment, because for now at least the band is sort of on hold. We’re going to call it “none dare call it a conspiracy” whenever we do get around to doing it.’ ‘for now, i have recorded an ep “in miracle world” which is 6 tracks, 3 recorded with marcus [winstanley] at the undercurrents studio, and 3 i recorded by myself (i’m going under the name cold war babies). I played every instrument on the ep, drums, bass, guitar, keys, vox, theremin and jews harp.’
– tim moore

look out for their future release and track down the ‘ya stal’ ep – if you can find it. It’s a little old and a little crinkly round the edges, but contains some cracker tunes from the groups substantial back catalogue – ‘and today’ should by right be a hit single, and is always a thrill live. On first impression the cold war babies material varies quite markedly both from the new originals and from song to song. Featuring drum-heavy lo-fi meshed with accomplished guitar and keyboards, sonic experiments and some genuine pop numbers – keep an eye and ear out.

Not So Experimental, Ed Muzik, Tiger Tones

At the Dux de Lux, oct 7th 2006

What a tremendous show! i felt real local harmony tonight as some of christchurch’s freshest local acts took a step up and showed what the garden city is capable of.

My first time seeing ed muzik and i must say i’m impressed. Hugely funny and entertaining fellow, Ed delighted the crowd with a soviet-themed performance that involved enya samples, songs about ipods, and a couple really kooky outfits.

Now a lot of you out there will be familiar with the Tiger Tones, especially since they won roundup a couple weeks ago. we’ll things have taken a major step forward with the addition of guitarist james; freeing up frontman mark to play keyboards and giving the group a whole new set of songs – upbeat and just about the most fun i’ve ever had.

With the gauntlet set down, not so experimental also took a step up, thrilling the crowd with a cataclysmic performance, vocalist johnny throwing himself about the stage and amongst the crowd as the group reached peak after peak. in fact the crowd were so eager for more songs the guys had to repeat themselves as an encore…

see more photos from this show at flickr

OLovely’s Leaving Show

An exhausting but exhilarating show at Al’s bar with 11 bands and a bunch of DJ’s, celebrating the OLovely’s leaving for a European jaunt. Though there were a few technical difficulties that extended this epic show well after 2am, it was definitely a not to be missed show with the Insurgents, Beytown Grifters, Denmark Street and a ton of other bands putting on stellar sets.

Click here for the Photoset.

Otautahi Social Centre Show

Great fun at this new All-Ages venue run by the Food Not Bombs people. We (Palace of Wisdom) had a great time playing alongside Abortion Bucket, Tweak, Mikkey Pixton and Craig and Teke.

Click Here for the Photoset.

LIVE: 47 Diamantes with Tommy Ill and Shorty K

47 Diamantis, originally uploaded by fraew.

Unfortunately I missed the main Christchurch connection in this Goodbye Blue Monday show, with Tommy Ill trading rhymes in a new duo with Shorty K a little after I arrived; as I’d missed local opener (and Bang! Bang! Eche! frontman) Zack Doney fronting his new project Teen Fortress. Much more upbeat than the last time I saw Tommy rhyme, Shorty K (aka Kelvin Neal of the Crackhouse 5) adds a bit of sing-along to proceedings, helping to get the party started for me.

The hilarious 47 Diamantes feature an ex-garden city-ite anyways in front-woman and exhibitionist Gemma Syme (Dianna Rozz / ex-Holiday with Friends) and brought the night to a great close. After ripping through some electro + screaming classics (with Shorty K manning the keyboards and playing some sweet catchy beats and riffs), Gemma started stripping layers and inviting the crowd forward. Check out the full photo set by clicking the link above.

LIVE: Witchuals and Kutomo at High Street Project

Witchuals, originally uploaded by fraew.

Me and 8 other folks caught a lovely show at High Street Project last night. I turned up on time at 8pm to the usual message; wouldn’t be starting for a while yet so Rory from Witchuals, plus the Finnish guy Veli-Matti walked down to South City for some food and booze, talking about Earthquakes and Brisbane’s floods (as Veli-Matti has been living there).

Witchuals is the latest name for Rory and Shannon’s junk noise, vocal play with dictaphones and percussion performances. Really cool stuff, got some on video which i might upload later.

Veli-Matti then played a few songs as Kutomo using a loop station, guitar, nice lil casio keyboard and some wind instruments. Fairly down-beat but nice stuff, which he book-ended with awkward descriptions of their meaning.

Beverage of the night was Rochdale Ginger Cider, which at 8% hits more like a scrumpy but tastes pretty great.

HSP: Metal Rouge, The Renderers, Antony Milton, Adam Willets

Metal Rouge HSP Poster
Metal Rouge HSP Poster

Wow this looks like an epic show at the might High Street Project performance space on Jan 22nd. Check out the write-up:

Andrew Scott and Helga Fassonaki’s Metal Rouge channels what the couple call the ‘forward motion of ecstatic jazz and drugged stasis of NYC loft minimalism circa ’66’, invoking their magical tumult and doomy elation through a vivid moiré of uplifting guitar confusion and requiem-like, choral unease. Based in LA since 2006, they have recorded albums for Digitalis, Stunned, Not Not Fun and their own newborn Emerald Cocoon. They have also toured the US extensively, playing at Root Strata’s renowned On Land festival alongside the likes of Grouper, Oneohtrix Point Never, Charalambides and Daniel Higgs; and Not Not Fun’s Neon Commune, next to Pocahaunted, Pukers, Robedoor and Foot Village.

The Renderers’ noir psych and ritual country is one of New Zealand’s most formidable musical forces, having first appeared on Flying Nun in 1990, and subsequently on Merge, Ajax, Siltbreeze and Last Visible Dog, next to artists such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Lambchop, The Shadow Ring, Guided by Voices and Fursaxa.

Antony Milton’s countless excursions into the dominion of eldritch folk and pop have included the curation of the PseudoArcana label (CJA, Birchville Cat Motel, The Skaters, Edward Ruchalski), a myriad of collaborative appearances in groups such as Claypipe, Black Boned Angel, The Stumps, Sunken and MRTYU!, and work for labels like Last Visible Dog, Music Fellowship, Tipped Bowler, Deserted Village, Black Petal, Humbug, Haamumaa, Root Don Lonie and Jeweled Antler.

Adam Willetts is a musician from Christchurch, whose synthesizer zones slip from babbled reverie to staccato rapture. He has performed and recorded in New Zealand and internationally, alongside musicians such as John Wiese, Tomutonttu, High Places and Dan Deacon.