NEW MUSIC: Charcoal Burners – Winged Bird

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Taken from their album The Best Day You Could Imagine, released earlier in 2019, here’s Charcoal Burners‘ excellent song ‘Winged Bird’.

The Dunedin, New Zealand band (the vehicle for songwriter Andrew Spittle) blend some fine dense and distorted guitars into lacerated and weary indie rock music that recalls Sebadoh, Husker Du and Swervedriver and JPS Experience. The brilliance of the song lies in its cascading wash of melody that both soothes and discombobulates the senses with its mix of psych and shoegaze elements.

 

NEW MUSIC: Rhian Sheehan – Last Time We Spoke

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New Zealand musician and ambient/electronic composer Rhian Sheehan has built a name for himself with nearly a dozen releases plus a wealth of soundtrack work and appearances on numerous compilations.

Fans of Nils Frahm will appreciate the nuance and blending of organic and synthetic elements in this piece. The way it pushes and pulls with it’s drifting piano melodies and mechanically-inclined rhythmic pulse.

‘Last Time We Spoke’ comes from Sheehan’s most recent album A Quiet Divide. He’s also composed the original score for the just-released Capcom Go!: The Apollo Story, an immersive 3D Planetarium Dome show documentary that showcases the historical achievements of the Apollo program and what it took to put the first human on the Moon.

ALBUM REVIEW: Beastwars – IV

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IV
Destroy Records

Sometimes it takes monumental life events to galvanise a band, or any creative endeavour for that matter. In the case of New Zealand band Beastwars it was the diagnosis singer Matt Hyde received, confirming Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In the weeks following his chemotherapy treatment the band hit the studio and recorded their fourth album – a blistering, pummelling, cathartic battle cry of a record.

“You can never get away from your mortal decay,” Hyde howls on ‘Mortal Decay’. This is an album that addresses mortality and the brutal reality of our time on this earth and the fragility of life. Out of that there is a sense of immense strength and resolution from both singer and band. There are winding, ruminative passages in some songs that add a reflective quality to the heavier, more visceral sound that dominates the album, but don’t start thinking this is a metal band going soft, their essence of heavy swinging and paint-peeling riffage is still firmly intact, made even more powerful with the quality of the songwriting and ideas on IV. 

As musicians, the band sound freer and more inventive than they ever have before. There is colour and shade on a song such as ‘Omens’ which combines the moodiness of Tool with lumbering doom metal density, while on ‘Mortal Decay’ the song straightens into pure metal chug and gallop at the three quarter mark to brilliant effect. On ‘The Traveller’, Hyde stands exposed, delivering an affecting primal scream  before the band join him and carry the song forward on a comforting melodic bed of heavy bass and avant garde guitar squalls. ‘Wolves And Prey’ tumbles and churns like a spinning vortex and ‘Like Dried Blood’ combines a piano and Hyde’s ghoulish vocal to great effect as the thunder grows and the riffs thicken and fill the air like heavy smoke.

“Out of adversity comes opportunity” said Benjamin Franklin and Beastwars have taken that mantra and bled a visceral, life-affirming album into existence. You’d be hard pressed to find many better metal albums than this in 2019. 

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Beastwars– Omens

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photo by David James

New Zealand metal band Beastwars return with their first single since singer Matt Hyde successfully underwent 6 months of treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2016. ‘Omens’ comes from their new LP IV, due out on Friday June 28th.

 Hyde said that through his diagnosis and subsequent treatment, he was given an opportunity to look into the abyss beyond life as we know it. “Throughout the treatment – I was numb – and it’s interesting to have the ability to confront that, to confront the void, to confront the idea of mortality. I didn’t make peace with it either.

To celebrate the album release Beastwars are touring New Zealand and Australia in June/July – presented by Panhead Custom Ales. They are hitting Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin in New Zealand and then jumping over the Tasman to play Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne shows.

IV can be pre-ordered now at all good digital stores and streaming platforms and Limited Edition Vinyl, Cassette and T-Shirt Bundles are available at http://www.beastwars.bigcartel.com. Single ‘Omens’ is available for streaming and purchase now.

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NEW MUSIC: Wax Chattels – Career

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Wax Chattels from Auckland, NZ have released the first single from their self-titled debut LP, set for release on May 18th via Flying Nun Records and Captured Tracks.

‘Career’ is a dark and ominous slow building track that conjures up images of fried circuit boards and ghostly monks in a post-punk landscape where sonic stabs pierce the gloom and deadpan vocals are the calm before the storm of swirling dissonant noise.

Album preorders available HERE. If you head to Bandcamp you can also hear the tracks ‘In My Mouth’ and ‘Disappointed’.

Wax Chattels are:

Peter Ruddell (keyboards/vocals), Amanda Cheng (bass/vocals) and Tom Leggett (drums).

REISSUE NEWS: Nocturnal Projections (2018)

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Nocturnal Projections were one of the finest post-punk bands in New Zealand in the early 1980s and now Dais Records have worked with them to reissue all of their recorded work across two releases.

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“Complete Studio Recordings” comprises the band’s three original highly sought-after vinyl releases on one record fully remastered.

Formed in Stratford, near New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1981, Nocturnal Projections was the explosive project of legendary and prolific brothers Graeme and Peter Jefferies (who would later form This Kind of Punishment before launching their solo careers), who along with friends Brett Jones and Gordon Rutherford, created some of the most energetic and influential avant-garde punk rock to emerge from the country.

Largely ignored during their tenure (but revered and referenced in the years after their breakup) and often compared to UK contemporaries like Joy Division, Comsat Angels, The Fall, or Wire, Nocturnal Projections stood well apart – never enjoying the luxuries of unlimited studio time, music videos or international fame, the NPs possessed a driven, rough-hewn serrated edge that cut through the lot comparisons to the UK post-punk exports of the era. They were ahead of their time, completely singular, and for those that had the benefit of seeing Nocturnal Projections play live – formative, with a dedicated cult following to this day.

As residents of New Plymouth’s Lion Tavern during their first year as a band, they perfected their soaring, impactful live set locally (often as the only band, without an opener and 3 hours to fill!) before heading off to Auckland in January of 1982, performing with bands like The Fall, John Cooper Clarke, and New Order at venues like The Mainstreet Cabaret, The Rumba Bar and Reverb Room. *The band recorded three EPs at Stebbing Studios in Auckland: The self-titled and self-released 7” single released April 1st of 1982, with the “Another Year” 12” EP following later that year. Their self-titled three song 12” was recorded in 1983, and released by the band posthumously that June, after the band called it quits.

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Inmates In Images pulls the best of the best from board recordings of live sets between 1981 and 1983, including the never-before-released tracks: “Blank Faces” and “Late Night”, along with unheard versions of previously released songs – and includes Peter and Graeme’s song “Walk In A Straight Line”, written in October of 1980 and originally intended for their earlier band The Plastic Bags.

VIDEO: Dictaphone Blues – Bully

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Aucklander Edward Castelow has unveiled a new pop-tastic sound with the first single from his new EP due out next month. The video has been floating around the internet for a few months now but it’s worth revisiting or checking out for the first time if you haven’t seen/heard it. In the past Edward has written in more of an indie/alt-pop style, more similar to The Shins than the day-go pop of ‘Bully’. Here it’s all about the production and that sugary melodic, musical rush.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Terminals – Antiseptic

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New Zealand rock unit The Terminals have been operating under various iterations for 30 years and at the band’s core, Stephen Cogle and Peter Stapleton (with Mick El Borado) have kept the ship on course and sailing a straight line into dark and swirling post punk and psych-laden garage rock.

Antiseptic finds the band on top of their game once more. If anything their music inhabits even darker territory, the songs collapsing in on themselves as they chug and career along on the back of Stapleton’s often urgent drumming. Compared to the slightly more twee and pop-considered sound of Uncoffined, their album from 1990, Antiseptic operates more in the shadows, with that bruised melancholic vibe that is such a recurring streak through their contemporaries such as The Chills, The Clean and Able Tasmans.

El Borado’s organ amplifies the kinship with The Clean and The Chills, its primitive, off-kilter psychedelic circus sound adding layers of swirling melody and disconcerting chaos. Beneath that the guitars are webs of fuzz and screeching distortion, moody gothic strumming and distant discordant soloing – the perfect backdrop to Cogle’s ominous, stentorian voice that bleeds anguish and pleading across songs that only hint at the core of their subject matter.

The highlights of the album are aplenty, there isn’t a weak track among the eight. The title track possesses a nervous insistency courtesy of Nicole Moffat’s violin, the undulating rhythm of ‘Edge Of The Night’s’ verses segues into a glorious see-sawing chorus while the grinding metal and anxiety-inducing sound of ‘Runaway Train’ drives the tension skyward before the heavens open with the glorious, open-ended ‘The Rain Has Come and Gone’ and its warm and comforting Velvet Underground/Krautrock drone. From there the template is set as they conjure wonderfully skewed soundscapes and art rock diversions through to the closing pulse of ‘Light Years Away’.

The Terminals have never been creatively stronger than they are on Antiseptic. It’s their finest album and the sound of musicians digging deep and exploring a lifetime of musical influences and experiences without concession to anything outside of their own ideas and instruments.

Chris Familton