Lawrence Arabia at the Sunday Sitdown

Blue Smoke welcomes you to ‘The Sunday Sit Down Get Down’ our very own folk club event. We present local luminaries and national touring artist of the finest calibre, this is a first rate opportunity to catch a matinee concert with family and friends.

The music always starts at 4pm so make sure you come early to get settled in.

Space will be limited so to ensure yourself a place buy a ticket online at Under the Radar.

Or there is a suggested ‘Koha’ entry for this event we encourage you to support the musicians and pay what you can afford.

One of New Zealand’s finest songwriters, Lawrence Arabia delivers wry observations of contemporary life in deftly arranged pop vignettes.

catch this rare opportunity to see him perform songs from the roots whence they came, in their unadulterated solo form..

Lawrence Arabia has traveled far of late, performing at Primavera Sound in Barcelona and to a sold out audience in London – only to find upon returning that his Christchurch-inspired song “O Heathcote” had been long listed for the Silver Scroll

Singer of songs, teller of tall tales, beloved entertainer par excellence – Lawrence Arabia; every bit as good as he ought to be.

Andrew Keoghan

Auckland-based songwriter (and the brother of Television host Phil Keoghan) who has come to prominence with the release of his debut album Arctic Tales Divide, which was nominated for the prestigious Taite Music Prize in April 2012. Keoghan has toured as part of the Lawrence Arabia backing band and is a skilled multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, violin, guitar and singing.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Arctic Tales Divide [2011 Brave Beluga]

See-Also

Lawrence Arabia and Andrew Keoghan

St Michael and All Angels Church
At Michael and All Angels Church
At St Michael and All Angels Church, Friday July 13th 2012

With the release of his third album under the Lawrence Arabia pseudonym, Christchurch-native songwriter James Milne decided a special opening show was in order. St Michael and All Angels is one of the most majestic Churches left in our shaky city, the walls strong and comforting and formed from great arches of unbeatable wood. The venue itself had an ethereal vibe which suits both Milne’s music as Lawrence Arabia, but also opening act Andrew Keoghan.

Andrew Keoghan
Andrew Keoghan
Keoghan has been making great strides himself as a songwriter in recent years. His debut album Arctic Tales Divide has received a lot of praise since its release last year, picking up a Taite Music Prize nomination along the way (an award Milne himself won in the inaugural 2010 competition). Keoghan plays guitar, piano and violin – often looping layers of sound to create evocative arrangements that envelop. According to Keoghan the album’s central theme is that of escape and longing for isolation – yet the warmth of his music feels comforting and drew in an appreciative audience.

Lawrence Arabia
Lawrence Arabia
With The Sparrow, Lawrence Arabia has an expanded sound, utilizing a string quartet both on the album and in this enchanting live show. An excellent live band augment Milne’s charming melodies and dynamic musical arrangements. The show was broken up into parts, Milne labelling the first handful of songs ‘Side A’ of the album (performed in order throughout the show), with a handful of oldies bridging the gap before ‘Side B’ finished off the evening. Milne is witty throughout the evening – the somber Bicycle Riding and album highlight The Bisexual standing out as key songs. I hope we see more shows in this terrific venue.

See more photos here.

[Published in the Christchurch Press 20/07/2012]

Campus A Low Hum 2011: Day 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey sorry things have gotten a bit quiet around here lately… I’ve kinda run out of steam over the last day of camp. I remember Hold Dear being cute, the sun being barely escapable – which made watching Lowtide almost unbearable, though Toro Y Moi in the garden shade was a treat.

Some time around then James Dansey (who had been absolutely unstoppable last night, climbing the walls as the frontman of the Sneaks) lead a trio of B-Ballers to glory in the 3-on-3 competition, Teen Hygiene one-upped themselves by laying on the steel roof of the bike sheds (must have been a million degrees up there!), and I hung around the terrifically laid-back Ocean Floor, as their set was delayed on the main stage.

The Pool!
The Pool!

The rest of that afternoon is a bit of a blur, I don’t think I really resurfaced till the phenomenal sequence that went like this:

Lawrence Arabia on the main stage! Holy heck I love everyone of his songs, and I’m clearly not the only one… I had recently saw him play a request show in Lyttelton and was surprised at just how many songs I can croon along too…

B-Ball
B-Ball

Next things were taken to another level with Spring Break ripping it up in the pool – Ryan and that man Dansey (yet again) handing out necklaces and getting the crowd nekkid and sweaty.

Must have missed Orchestra of Spheres, and I heard the Golden Awesome suit their name, but I couldn’t really get in to Leno Lovecraft‘s pool performance, though I think that was mainly due to the sound, his recordings are ace.

Caribou
Caribou

Next though was what I was waiting all camp for, Caribou! One of my favourite current artists, Dan Snaith is INCREDIBLE! He played keys and as 2nd drummer with an absolutely blisteringly hot live band, running through the bestes songs like Sun, After Hours, my personal favourite Melody Day and an incredible rendition of Odessa that had me dancing like a maniac with my girl Joey. What a way to wind up a festival…

I caught a bit of Four tet, and there were parties all night before an early morning shower set in, bringing things to a close once and for all. I missed last year, but man I was glad I came back – Camp is my favourite time of the year.

Ps. as a side note – at Wellington airport on the way home, hanging out with Joey, Charlie, Jos and Dove – we caught Dan Snaith walking around looking lost.. and somewhat lonely… The four of us cracked jokes(‘Where’s my bandmates!?’ etc) , but we just wanted to hug the guy…

The Reduction Agents

James Milne’s reduction agents spawned out of his Brunettes association with Ryan McPhun – which also created the McPhun -led Ruby Suns. Milnes variation create country-tinged pop tunes, infused with a dose of Dennis Wilson era beach boys harmonies and white-boy soul.

The group released a wonderful debut single with urban yard in 2005, a slippery, groovy pop classic.
In 2006 the group made a big splash with their excellent full-length debut, plus Milne’s own solo debut as Lawrence Arabia – both a highly recommended pop sensations!

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Urban Yard lathe-cut 7″ single [2005 self-released]
  • Dance Reduction Agents [2006 Lil Chief LCR014]

See-Also

Ryan McPhun and the Ruby Suns

Excellent quirky pop from Brunettes side-men Ryan McPhun (guitar, keys and vocals) and James Milne (drums and backing vocals) – also both in the Milne-led Reduction Agents. Flanked by Amee Robinson (keyboards, saxophone, melodica), Mark Stebben (bass), Gareth Shute (guitars, glockenspiel) and Harry Cundy (trumpet, percussion, tape echo) the 6-piece are a slick well-versed group, with group harmonies and stacks of good songs.

Discography (picks in bold)

Music Videos

See-Also

Sheep Technique [01/07/2008]

My very last Sheep Technique (kiwi music show on student radio station RDU); with Paul, and with an aborted interview with Cindy (previously known as Sandra) from former Flying Nun single band 25c.

Bible Black – Hell of a Woman
The Renderers – Low to the Ground
The Clean – Point that Thing Somewhere Else
25c – The Witch
Front Lawn – A Man and a Woman
25c – Don’t deceive me
The Good Housewives – Concerto in D Minor
The Stones – See Red
Spacedust – Too Much Action
3Ds – Outer Space
Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine – Woman By My Side (Mexican Man)
Ticket – Mr. Music
Shaft – The Downhill Racer
Scorched Earth Policy – Sunset on the Loading Zone
Scavengers – Mysterex
Toy Love – Bride of Frankenstein
Reduction Agents – Urban Yard
Blam Blam Blam – There is No Depression in New Zealand
Pop Art Toasters – What Am I Going to Do
Tomorrows Love – 7 and 7 Is
King Loser – 76 Comeback
Straitjacket Fits – Life in One Chord
Palace of Wisdom – Found and Lost
Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos – All of This
the Bats – Block of Wood
Snapper – Snapper and the Ocean
Bitch – Wildcat
Die! Die! Die! – Sideways Here We Come
The Androidss – Auckland Tonight
Lawrence Arabia – Half the Right Size

The Sneaks

Another great Auckland rock act to emerge from the mid 00s. The Sneaks have a enough fucking around, get to the chorus mentally, throwing up ridiculously catch pop songs that seem to emerge from a writhing mass of noise and fury – their single ‘Kuzai Heart You Girl’ is one of my favourite songs, and an instant party on the dance floor.

Sporting scientist coats and mysteriously knob-twisting (the group possess a rather nifty sine-wave generator) the 4-some consists of James Dansey (Keys And Vox), Daniel Ward (Drums), Matt Rayment (Bass) and Martin Keane (Guitar and Effects, Vocals) and released their schorching 14-minute, 6-song debut ep on Rob Jeffersons’ newly established some confusion label. Around 2005 Matt Rayment left the group, and the remaining trio carried on, releasing their Sophmore EP ‘Peep Sounds’ and self-titled album in 2007 before relocating to England.

The trio of Dansey, Ward and Keane continued playing shows in the United Kingdom, and were soon supporting the likes of Lawrence Arabia in English and European tours. A further EP trickled out in 2010 as the group returned to New Zealand.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • You All Suck Ep [2005 Some Confusion Dazed001]
  • Peep Sounds Ep [2007 Some Confusion Dazed002]

  • The Sneaks [2007]
  • Today EP [2010]
  • Bubble Gum America / Duane Leinan [2011]

See-Also

The Brunettes – Mars Loves Venus

2004, Lil’ Chief, LCR007

Over the course of the last two years, The Brunettes must surely go down as one of New Zealand’s most productive bands, with a series of long-stay live tours flowing across New Zealand and stories of their international travels. along the way they’ve had trials and success, line-up changes (including a little controversy) and the odd bit of exposure and critical response, spiked by the release of their debut-following EP ‘Boy Racer’ last year.

Boy Racer was a little sloppier than their tightly constructed Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks, and maybe showed a bit of initiative towards diversifying their 50’s/60’s pop-schlock referencing sound – not that their debut wasn’t a marvel in genuine catchy pop.

Despite accusations of regurgitating long-dead music styles, the Brunettes (full-length) debut posses a level of panache and intricate song-play that even their influences (Phil Spector, Jonathan Richman and Shadow Morton springing to mind) would be proud of.

Compared to Holding Hands.., Boy Racer was the darker side of the tracks. Suddenly the ‘Leader of the Pack’ / ‘Out in the Street’ side of the band was shining through, a pop group with dark themes – much akin to Mortons’ Shangri-Las, the production on Boy Racer’s ‘I Miss My Coochie Coo’ / ‘Don’t Neglect Your Pet’ cut back the gloss to show a beating heart at the center of the band.

My immediate impressions on the new album have been that it sounds almost claustrophobic compared to what has come before. Musical influences are less obvious (with the exception of ‘record store’ – a catchy mix of the modern lovers and what sounds like a Tex Pistol guitar lick), the band now concentrating on a more lyrically focused, vocal-heavy mix with guitar, hand claps and percussion making up the majority of the sound. Secondly, its probably the most addictive, catchy album I’ve heard in a long time, particularly Polyester Meets Acetate, which i’m continually finding myself singing along to after just a few listens. Jonathan (Bree) takes a more active role as vocalist on the album, leading a fair portion of the tracks or fueling duets with Heather (Mansfield) with the kind of quirk and honest edge you’d normally only hear from such song-writers as Lee Hazelwood (and his greatest chanteuse, Nancy Sinatra), or early Richman minus the naivety.

After the shiny burst of the opening trio of songs comes ‘Too Big For Gidget’, the first track to really emphasis the presence of erstwhile ex-member Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson, now having a particularly rough time with his own band, The Shocking Pinks. Harte’s drumming is to the front over what is one of the albums musically somber tracks, constructed from a reverberate organ, emphasizing piano and guitar flourishes and Harte’s double-timed drumming. A downbeat but fairly throwaway lyric pretty much spoils what could have been one of the albums finer notes.

In fact the entire second side of the album is far darker than the first, tracks like ‘Don’t Hit Your Head Honey’ and the two-part ‘Your Heart Dies’ new-wave pastiche add an intimate and conversational element to the album, often full of hipster pathos – which oddly seems to be the defining element in Bree’s song-writing here. Very modern, post-ironic cool lyrics distinguish Bree (along with some fine touches from Mansfield with ‘These Things Take Time’ and even guitarist James Milne’s rather off-beat ‘You Beautiful Militant’) as fairly removed from their name-checked influences, creating quite a distinctive style throughout the album.

A pretty fine follow-up to one of the most intriguing debuts in recent memory, Mars Loves Venus is the maturing of Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks’ carnival candy-floss and ferris-wheel naivety, showing the cracks of regular life, and presented in a charming blend of a plethora of musical influences, distilled into the Brunettes own, and surely by now unique sound. Even their throw-away and catchy numbers (‘Loopy Loopy Love’, ‘Whale In The Sand’) stick in your head like the intro to ‘Da Do Run Run’ – though maybe not in the same capacity as their slick all pop first album. Though Boy Racer showed a band in transition, they haven’t quite settled yet, and thankfully that makes for an eclectic musical mix and a dynamic sophomoric album.

The Brunettes

Biography

Sunshine and candy-canes, The Brunettes were a hard-working and extremely promising, genuine kiwi pop band – a rare thing in this day and age.

Forming around Heather Mansfield and Jonathan Bree’s girl-boy vocals and a plethora of instruments used both on record and live (Heather being a rather talented multi-instrumentalist and Bree taking on the role of recording whiz Svengali), the band expanded to a 5-piece for the release of their brilliant 2002 release Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks – a Beach Boys / 50’s girl-group pop inflected album which was to be released independently, before EMI scooped them up for distribution at the last minute

After the albums release they furiously beavered away at new material, putting out the charming (and often bizarre) Boyracer EP and making low-key tours both nationally and internationally.

The Incisions‘ Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson joined as drummer in early 2003, as the band entered the studio for their follow-up release. Harte left the band on the brink of 2004, concentrating on what would become his signature group, The Shocking Pinks.

By mid-2004 The Brunettes had once-again cemented a new line-up, and their sophomore release Mars Loves Venus (taking the name of their ultra-rare debut lathe-cut 7″ EP) was completed with the line-up of Mansfield, Bree, James Milne (aka Lawrence Arabia) and new drummer Ryan McPhun (soon to find fame with his own group The Ruby Suns).

With the success of their 2nd album the group once again departed for foreign shores, taking in South-By-Southwest and building an overseas audience.

Over the course of the next 3 albums the group would court US audiences (releasing their 2007 album Structures and Cosmetics through legendary US indie label Sub Pop), go through a myriad of line-up changes and some internal conflict.

Paper Dolls and the Red Rollerskates EP would be their final releases – both put out via the Lil’ Chief Records imprint in 2009. Bree would go on to release his debut solo album The Primrose Path in 2013.

Members

  • Jonathan Bree (Guitar/Vocals/Bano/Sitar/Keyboards/Drum Machine/Percussion/Arrangement, 1998 – 2009)
  • Heather Mansfield (Vocals/Glockenspiel/Harmonica/Marimba/Organ/Piano/Clarinet/Arrangement, 1998 – 2009
  • Jia Xin Cheng (Cello, 2002)
  • Kari Hammond (Drums/Percussion/Vocals, 2002)
  • Scott Mannion (Guitar, 2002)
  • Dominic Blaazer (Harmonica, 2002)
  • Tom Dale (Saxophone, 2002)
  • Kingsley Melhuish (Trumpet/Trombone, 2002)
  • Peter Wood (Vibraphone, 2002)
  • Andrew Gibson (Violin, 2002)
  • John Fennell (Violin, 2002)
  • James Milne (Guitar/Bass/Vocals/Chamerblin/Vibraphone/Percussion, 2004 – 2007)
  • Ryan McPhun (Drums/Percussion/Vocals, 2004 – 2007)
  • Mike Hall (Bass, 2005)
  • Amee Robinson (Saxophone, 2005)
  • Nick Hodgson (Drums, 2004)
  • Harry Cundy (Trumpet, 2005 – 2007)
  • William Cotton (Vocals/Saxophone/Celesta, 2007)
  • Dionne Taylor (Guitar, 2007)
  • Jamie Power (Drums, 2007)

Discography

  • Mars Loves Venus 7″ Lathe EP (1998, Self-Released)
  • Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks (2002,  Lil’ Chief Records, LCR001)
  • The Boyracer EP (2003, Lil’ Chief Records, LCR002)
  • Mars Loves Venus (2004, Lil’ Chief Records, LCR007)
  • When Ice Met Cream (2005,  Lil’ Chief Records, LCR010)
  • Structures and Cosmetics (2007, Sub Pop/Lil’ Chief Records, LCR019)
  • Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth CD Promo (2007, Sub Pop, PROCD122)
  • Red Rollerskates EP (2009, Lil’ Chief Records)
  • Paper Dolls (2009, Lil’ Chief Records, LCR025)

Links