NEW MUSIC: Montecore – Ott Sauce

Straight out of the gates into a krautrock, psych sprint from Chicago group Montecore. The song comes from their One Night album that came out in May and they’ve already followed it up with a new album, House Fire Themes, which hits the same frantic, hyper-melodic hypnotic sweet-spot, Those kinds of songs that could (and should) go on endlessly as guitar solos fire off into the stratosphere, drums hit like a metronome and bass-lines tie it all together like Peter Hook on a bender.

NEW MUSIC: Peter Bibby – Whyalla

Great new song from the esteem larrikin-rock exponent Peter Bibby. The verses sound like S.P.U.D/Solid Gold Hell from 90s Auckland. Countered by the sweet chorus, the song goes everywhere else across 6 minutes. Recorded with the band Dog Act.

‘Whyalla’ is simultaneously a love letter and a cursing damnation to regional Australia. Its spoken-word bridge lays down tall tales about some of its most notable legends, while the chorus draws you in like a mozzie to the zapper, only to get promptly shocked once again by the song’s churning riff. “I wrote this song a few years back after my mate Racoo asked me to write a song for an Australian road trip compilation she was putting together.  I don’t think it saw the light of day.  I had a lot of help from Wikipedia,” says Bibby of the track. 

‘Whyalla’ comes from Bibby’s new album Marge, out Fri September 18th via Spinning Top Records.

ALBUM REVIEW: RVG – Feral

RVG

Feral

Our Golden Friend/Fire Records

RVG’s new album finds them presenting a fuller sound with even greater depth and clarity in the guitars and the spotlight still firmly on Romy Vager’s declamatory yelp and melancholic musings.

Quality Of Mercy already had the defining ingredients of the RVG sound – The Smiths-like insistency and nimbleness of the rhythm section, those sparkling, chiming and shimmering guitars and Vager’s voice a commanding strident force out in front. What Feral does do is highlight some sharper songwriting with more space and dynamics, in a wider, more sonically detailed sound courtesy of producer Victor Van Vugt. 

You can particularly hear the sound of The Go-Betweens and Echo & The Bunnymen amid the jangly post-punk and garage rock. It’s simple, melodic indie guitar pop but those guitars sound perfect in the way the notes tumble and cascade from the speakers, all frantically free-falling and forlorn. 

I Used To Love You is a heartbreaking ballad par excellence with its ache and swoon perfectly conveyed, while Photograph sends the listener out on a high. Tentative at first, it builds into a glorious rallying cry. On Feral, Vager’s dissection of how it feels to be sidelined and disenfranchised is treated poetically and ultimately there’s a sense of hope and resilience that rises from the near perfect musical backdrop.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling

There’s a great upbeat feel to ‘Old Time Feeling‘, a song that skips along with loose shakedown rhythmic feel. S.G. Goodman at times remind us of a more rural Hurray For The Riff Raff in the way she blends indie rock and Americana and mixes hooky melodies and open-highway, rustic grooves.

The song, with its biblical images and Southern feel, is the title track from Goodman’s new Jim James (My Morning Jacket) produced album, released July 17th.

Raised in Western Kentucky on the Mississippi River Delta in a strict church going family of row crop farmers, Goodman went from singing in church three times a week to a prominent member of the Murray, KY indie scene. She grew up in one of the most isolated parts of Kentucky, and Goodman’s new record catalogues her unique perspective of feeling like “the insider who is also the outsider.” 

NEW MUSIC: Harrison & Dunkley – In CD

‘In CD’ is a collaborative release from UK duo Stuart Harrison and Peter Dunkley who have played in post-punk bands together in the past but more recently reconvened to explore intstrumental minimalism in the vein of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich.

‘In CD’ is a piece in two parts. The first section is built around keys and guitar circling, looping and overlapping as they build up a hypnotic pulsing post-rock sound. At the track’s mid-point the mood changes, while some of the central repeating motifs still drive the piece along, albeit with a more subdued and reflective tone.

Says Stuart Harrison: “We don’t think that In CD sounds anything like In C – but we took some of the compositional elements, and in particular how Riley instructs ensembles to play his piece, as ‘inspiration’ as we constructed our music. We compose through a process of continual improvisation without necessarily having a defined outcome or even a structure, which tends to take us into unexpected. We’re constantly surprised at what we produce! With this piece, however, we took certain motifs and played them in slightly different ways on different instruments, particularly in the second section.”

Says Peter Dunkley: “Actually, it should have been ‘In DC’ as the first part is in D and the second C. We thought In CD was funnier, though!” 

Check out their profile on Spotify for a bunch of other new compositions.

SPECIAL SOUNDS FOR STRANGE TIMES: Simon Sweetman

Over the last few months, one of the things many people have been turning to during periods of isolation during the pandemic is music. Music for distraction, companionship, solace and joy. Whatever the reason, putting on a favourite album or discovering something new that pulls you in and hits the spot, intellectually or emotionally, can be a great and wonderful experience. In this series we check in with musicians, journalists and broadcasters to see what has inspired repeat listening and provided some special sounds for these strange times.

For episode two we’re very lucky to have New Zealand author, podcaster, music journalist and poet Simon Sweetman taking us through three albums that he’s been drawn to over the last few months. Simon has been writing about music for much of his adult life, he’s the man behind the long-running music blog Off The Tracks, host of Sweetman Podcast, which is now up to its 218th episode and in 2012 he published his first book – OnSong: Stories Behind New Zealand’s Pop Classics. His next writing project is his first book of poetry, due out in October through The Cuba Press and titled The Death of Music Journalism. He also recently made his first foray into e-books with Drummers You Just Can’t Beat a series of essays about favourite and influential drummers.

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Forces of Victory (1979)

Lockdown – in its various states and guises around the world – has done funny things to us and I first noticed that when all I wanted to listen to was reggae and dub music. This isn’t usually the case – but I found myself a fan anew. Returning to old favourites and desperately soaking up classic material that was brand new to me. I devoured the entire Bob Marley canon which included first listens to a few albums and I warmed my soul with the work of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Dennis Bovell. Of their collaborations, this has always been my favourite, I guess it’s that nostalgia-thing of returning to the work you heard first. I hunted this album out 20 years ago or so after watching a documentary that was ostensibly about the poet John Cooper Clarke. And much as I loved it for that and soon immersed myself in his written words and worlds, it was the footage of LKJ that really impacted. Specifically his poem called “Sonny’s Lettah” – it’s probably my all-time favourite work of Johnson’s. And so Forces of Victory has been on a loop or me across the last few weeks. And, yes, I’ve gone through other albums by LKJ – his first handful all so magnificent that it’s almost a line-call – and Bovell’s production and DJ work outside of his collaborations with Linton. It’s all pretty special but Forces of Victory remains the one for me. It’s one of those albums where I remember instantly where I was when I first heard it.

Curtis Mayfield – Curtis (1970)

I was preparing a recent feature for RNZ where I talked about Curtis Mayfield’s life and work and played some tunes. That means I went deep – right through all the work, even though it was only a 40-minute program and I focused mostly on the soundtrack work and the diversity of his writing, from The Impressions through his own songs and several producing and writing jobs for other acts. But at home, in the build-up, I worked through all of the Impressions albums (fabulous!) and all of Curtis’ solo material. The album I kept coming back to though was his 1970 debut. I finally bought myself a copy for the turntable, but this was one of the first things I rushed out to buy when I got hooked on Curtis Mayfield about 25 years ago. The songs here, and the production, so vital and fresh and perhaps sadly so they are still so relevant. I mean take a listen to ‘We People Who Are Darker Than Blue’. That’s a movie in and of itself right there; that could be anyone else’s one and only greatest hit. For Curtis, it’s one of the ones you mention in a first or second breath.

Grace Jones – Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions (1998)

This two-disc anthology covers the work Grace Jones did with Sly & Robbie in the early 1980s. Phenomenal music that had a massive impact on me at the time and continues to – I feel like I’ve never not been a Grace Jones fan. As a kid she was just intriguing: turning up on TV and in movies, making these great pop songs and then finding out she was a model, artist, celebrity. The music is the thing I’ve always cared most about with Jones and this time around it was as much to do with loving and studying the work of Sly and Robbie – all timed and tied up with my reggae fascination I guess. The signature Grace Jones hits are here – ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, ‘Walking In The Rain’ and her magnificent covers of ‘Nightclubbing’ and ‘Love Is The Drug’. (In fact she’s just a covers machine here: ‘She’s Lost Control’, ‘Use Me’, ‘Breakdown’, ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Demolition Man’ and of course the title track – ‘Private Life’. Again this sounds so fresh and inventive close to 40 years on and the mix of dub and long versions, demos and originals paints a picture of the studio genius of Sly and Robbie as players and producers. 

NEW MUSIC: PC Nackt – Space_Schubert

What starts out sounding playful and tentative, quickly blossoms into something deeper and resonant on ‘Space_Schubert‘, a new track from an album that features an impressive array of contributors.

Plunderphonia is a new series of musical projects that create original music by “plundering” unexpected historical sources and genre blueprints. Developed by !K7 founder Horst Weidenmüller, the debut Plunderphonia album has been recorded by Grammy nominated artist PC Nackt – collaborator with Apparat and José González and creative head of The String Theory and Warren Suicide.

Continuing a theme explored in Henrik Schwarz’s 2018 Plunderphonia concert, which re- appropriated 700 string sequences, PC Nackt’s new album re-uses classical piano compositions that have been selected by music supervisor Hania Rani. The piano scores have then been played into MIDI by pianist Antonis Anissegos. And the MIDI Files have been “plunderized” (processed and played live) by PC Nackt through two Yamaha Disklaviers (MIDI operated classical pianos), creating compositions that take classical music into unexplored territory.

“It started in 2015”, says Weidenmüller. “A string arranger on !K7 had been writing highly emotional music and I was amazed by its intensity.” He decided to launch a sub-label, 7K!, to explore new classical and undefined music. “And from that moment I wanted to mirror the DJ Kicks series on the new label.”

The inaugural Plunderphonia album release from PC Nackt is set for release this Friday, June 26th release date on 7K!.