Reviews

The Trendees – ‘The Trendees Go To Town’

“Oamaru no-fi goons blast through six songs in twelve minutes on their new 7″ EP (on Wellington label Epic Sweep). ‘Abandoned Hospital’s’ in-the-red psychedelic hiss doesn’t prepare you for the anthemic ‘Dona Marina’ a tribute to conquistador Hernan Cortes’s interpreter/lover that boasts a vocal cadence reminiscent of The Enemy-era Chris Knox, whereas closing track ‘Friendfriendfr’ (at a positively epic three minutes and forty-nine seconds) has a plaintive refrain of ‘I just want to be your friend but do I have the credentials yet?’ over The Fall-esque clatter”

Stevie Kaye (The Spinoff)

“Flying Calvittos reish AND Trendees debut in the same yr? Bam! The coral’s jacked w/MDA, so grab a razor ‘n scrape”

Tom Lax (Twitter)

“Nice vinyl debut by this post-form NZ free-punk trio. They have an approach that keeps making me think of Black Randy’s ‘Trouble At The Cup’ single, if it were done by drunk Kiwis with a large guitar. There’s some of Darby’s cry-baby persistence mixed in, all of which makes this a true face-loading no-fi-blasteroo.”

Byron Coley (The Wire)

“What good would this site be if I didn’t tell you about crazy and limited punk 7″s from New Zealand every once in a while? That’s the story with The Trendees and their debut 7″, which has all the unfiltered energy of the early Savage / Shake catalog and a severe impulse to boil their songs alive ala Danny & The Dressmakers. “Horror Watching Youth Watching Horror Watching Youth” is the closest thing I’ve heard to Maniax since Maniax themselves, and they follow it with “Be A Rebel”, which shoplifts Fang’s riff from “The Money Will Roll Right In” and obliterates any sense of professionalism thanks in no small part to the squawking vocalist who seems incapable of emitting anything but vowel sounds. If this were a group from 1980, I’d be scrambling to sell blood platelets so that I might go big on Discogs, but from what I can tell The Trendees are very much a real band alive today (there’s even a video for the Eat Skull-esque “Abandonded Hospital” on YouTube). Will you email the label, just as I did, and figure out how to awkwardly PayPal them far too much for a single 7″ and the necessary shipping costs in order to secure one of the mere hundred copies that exist? I can only hope so.”

(Yellow Green Red)

“2007 (and 1992, and 1980) come rushing back into the bloodstream with this incredible EP by this New Zealand outfit, crashing through like the Flying Calvittos trapped inside Times New Viking’s VHS tape-as-album-master aesthetic. There’s so much char on the surface of opener “Abandoned Hospital” that it’s a wonder the durable triplet of chords holding the whole thing up can even pierce through, but the yelped/overthrottled vocals and intense cymbal crash build on its strengths. It was one of my favorite songs of 2016 and 2017’s not looking too good for anything else. The rest of the record does what you’d hope: offer visions more mangled (the UK82 pisstake call/response of “Horror Watching Youth Watching Horror Watching Youth”) and seared with ADHD (“Be a Rebel,” “Dona Marina”) while sticking to the main charge of exuberant, snaggletoothed punk. Only 100 made and still around if you look hard enough. Whatever you spend on this is but a fraction of what far less impressive debut singles will set you back. It’s everything I could want in a band like this, except with less songs, as I want more, and soon.”

(Doug Mosurock, Still Single)

Cookie Brooklyn and the Crumbs – ‘His Hands Are Normal’

At first glance, it would seem that this band has a bordering-on-unhealthy obsession with the band Television.  But with a closer investigation and a couple listens, I find that Cookie Brooklyn& the Crumbs are the right kind of obsessed.  The cover is essentially a partial transcript of emails that detail the minutia regarding the stature of each of the members of Television.  I can’t tell if this is oral history or fan fiction, either way, it gets my attention.  Another aspect of this release that makes me smile is the cassette case’s indication of wear and most likely that it originally housed another tape.  Frugality, ingenuity and deep fandom/appreciation combine to form a unique creation.

Side 1 opens with “Tom, Richard and Richard”, a call-and-response using Verlaine, Lloyd and Hell’s namesakes, and further exploring their assumed and actual heights.  This and “Is there logic in Pop?” are recordings from a show at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2013.  Judging from the audible applause and banter, The Crumbs have a sizable fan base.

The other side has tracks from two separate recording sessions, each documenting the band well into a groove, loose and relaxed.  The bass is dense like a stuffed animal, the drummer digs the toms and the guitar meanders on the dark side of Marquee Moon.  The lyrics and playing style tells me they like to have a good time, and would prefer the audience to dance. What originally sounded like someone else’s story turns out to be a vividly crafted narrative of its own.  I’m not sure whose hands are normal, but this was produced in an edition of thirty, and I now see that they are sold out. 

[Adam Padavano, Cassette Gods]

Rory Storm – ‘Low Fidelity Electronic Music’

“Ultra limited CD-R from New Zealand’s Rory Storm from the same label that brought us the great Maxine Funk LP: Storm has cut a buncha dazzling sides over the years, often in the company of Jon Chapman, ex of Double Leopards but this something else entirely, a massive side of euphoric industrial electro, with tight complex breaks and the kinda flesh/metal confusion of a Black Sun Roof.  Think a more flight but less thudding Henry & Hazel Slaughter and then cut it up with post-TG cyborg moves, chopped and screwed beats, heavily phased electricity and some of the momentum of your favourite jungle pirate, all rendered with a post-Hototogisu/Sunroof/Astral Social Club intensity. Recommended.”

[Volcanic Tongue]

“Across Low Fidelity Electronic Music‘s six long-form song running time, Plimmerton producer Rory Noble espouses an abrasive techno soundworld which are in short, impressively maximal in scope.  Making reference to the noisey  environments imagined by Pan Sonic, Crude, early Aphex Twin, and Pom Pom Records, locally speaking, Noble’s work places him alongside the low-profile wave of out-of-the-box beatmakers and sound architects including (but not limited to) F.I.S, Tlaotlon, Shuedet, Bromelain and Keepsakes.”

[Vanguard Red]

“There’s no possibility of a relaxing earl grey this afternoon – there is more broken music to be reviewed. Armed with a badly blocked ear due to a heavy flu infection, NZ based Rory Storm lives up to his name on a sextet of horribly brutalised industrial techno. I can’t even try to figure out what these sounds once were, and it’s a surprise that this much manipulation didn’t result in an album full of pure noise (he managed to limit that to track 5). Yet each sound carves it’s own distinct place in the mix, combining to resemble a pneumatic drill copulating with a landslide. To be honest, if I had just had the flu, my first instinct would be closer to a nice warm bath than making an album of necro-noise-gabber, but that’s probably why I haven’t released a CD yet. It seems that channeling these extremes of mental state into music is a great way to summon creativity (even at the expense of recovery). We’ve already seen Venetian Snares (under the alias Last Step) head down that route by keeping himself up all night to finish ‘Sleep’, but the intensity present here totally eclipses that record. Get well soon, man.”

[Norman Records]

The Coolies – ‘Punk Is Bread’

“BEST REASON TO WRITE A FUCKIN’ RECORD REVIEW TODAY (6/18/14) – Have not heard anything this recklessly wired and of its own universe since what, Slay Tracks: 1933-1969? That can’t possibly be true, but all the same, this is completely tilted. Epic Sweep does it again.”  

[‘Fuckin’ Record Reviews’]

“With a pedigree stretching back an impressive 14 years, Auckland based punk legend Coolies seem keen to prove they’ve lost none of the chaos and bluster that they became famous for. As the first offering from the three-piece since 2011’s full-length offering Master, six-track EP Punk is Bread will be a welcome stop-gap for fans ahead of a record slated for release later in the year.

Opening cut, ‘God Take Me’ should immediately allay any fears that the trio have succumbed to the temptations of modern day “faux-fi” recordings. This is the real deal. The four-and-a-half minute fuzz fest is relentlessly busy, offering oscillating bass lines crowded out by perpetually collapsing walls of guitars and founding member Tina Pihema’s urgent vocal refrains.

From here, Punk is Bread ricochets from the avant-garde such as a child’s wailing over an assaulted drum kit on ‘The City’ to the dreamlike and almost pop sensibility of ‘Mother in Mantis’ which employs a lazy drum beat to anchor a floating, clean guitar sound. Record on various media and with various methods (including old fashioned tape and new fashioned iPhones), Punk is Bread is a veritable (if brief) patchwork of textured punk at its most curious.”

[Paul Larsen, Under the Radar]

“Excellent six-track EP from this Auckland, New Zealand underground destructo psych/fuzzy DIY girl/boy unit in an edition of only 100 copies: The Coolies move from amazing, almost Suckdog-esque hysterical pre-teen disobedience with spontaneous vocals, Shaggs playroom rhythms and random keyboard bleeps before dropping into hazy Shop Assistants-play fuzz pop from the edge of the world. An instrumental track like “Punk Is Bread” is completely deformed, sounding like an afterimage of a bootleg Crime cassette assaulted by Robbie Yeats and the Corpus Hermeticum Orchestra. Then we get a simple, two chord pop songs like “Mothers In Mantis” that combines alla the above. Touching on alla the bases that we have come to love from NZ, this is a classic shot of out-of-time avant garage pop and free noise that makes for an ultra-exhilarating listen. Plays at 33, very highly recommended!”

[Volcanic Tongue]

“It took me a few listens to realize there are only two kind of regular songs with vocals on this six-song EP. There are also two brief, fuzzy atmospheric instrumentals and two songs with what sounds like a six-year-old singing? In my mind, this puts the record structurally in the same league as Brian Eno’s Another Green World, except Coolies are noise pop kids in their own universe instead of one cool egghead who’s friends with Phil Collins and Robert Fripp. “God Take Me” and “Mothers in Mantis”—the two, I guess, reg jams—are mixtape worthy, or classic, without trying to be. They disintegrate completely or hang out until they’re ready to split and both approaches are correct. This is one of those 7”s you hold close for a long time.”

[Matt Werts, Razorcake]

“Freewheel jag-fi punkers from a New Zealand group that’s been operating in relative dormancy lo these past 14-15 years, women who’ve added Stefan from Pumice and Gfrenzy to their ranks, and from the sounds of it, a child. I’m admittedly ignorant to this group’s previous entries (rectifying ASAP) but their expansion to include them definitely entails some splitting of expectations when it comes to what’s a song versus what’s a recording, and here we get two songs, maybe three in a recognizable rock/basement profile that are brilliantly circular and could really be jammed on for quite a while (and opener “God Take Me,” the longest one here – see, subversion clinches results; most bands woulda stuck this one at the end, thinking that the finale is somehow more important than the initial impression – well, you get it. It does just that), with some looser additions (a sped-up vocal on “The City,” fun with echoplex on “Sucking,” a duet with said kid on “Ashes in the Sea,” maybe the loosest Pumice-style track ever committed) that call to mind a bunch of folks who are happy and confident enough in their approach to allow a slightly larger audience to feel what they feel. This whole thing might sound sort of clinical and perfunctory to read but this record totally kills, and recalls the first Party of Helicopters demo in both setting and stance, that rolling bass and octopus drumming, that stormed port guitar breaking up in the 4-track, those vocals (male model kissyface angel replaced with something you might hear from Rachel on a Comet Gain record, but same approach) and I just want to play it over and over and over to its eventual demise into bruising noise. “Mothers in Mantis” gives the same feeling. This is the kind of record that communities can make, and in that it shares with today’s Pig DNA, Replica, Die Schacht and Family Stoned write-ups which, while all capture different styles of music, do so without the burden of expectation or fear of any reprisal. A beautiful, human approach to a punk style where expectations are removed is all that I want, and all that is delivered here.”

[Doug Mosurock, Still Single]

“Wow! 14 years after their first single, this Auckland trio have reformed with Stefan Neville on drums. Five great songs in the destroyed garage vein they began exploring so long ago. I didn’t hear the semi-recent album, but this is brilliant skittering that makes me think of early K groups blasted through massively distorting PAs. Then things take a turn for the wildly abstract. A fantastic record.”

[Byron Coley, The Wire]

Piece War – ‘Apathy’

“Piece War are a guitar and drums duo from Auckland featuring Barbara Rocha and Tina Pahema of the Coolies. At first glance, the band seem part of the well-worn garage aesthetic of cheaply distorted guitars, straight-forward drum patterns and sweetly-sang vocals – but the songs of Piece War always redeem themselves from these unfair associations.

‘Call on Me’ (and much of the rest of their digital EP, Apathy) carries a deep dose of turbidity underneath the sunny guitar-pop surface. It gets anxiously distracted mid-track before careering off into infectious (but quickly obscured) vocal melodies. ‘Dead Bodies’ (also on the Apathy EP) is the opposite, beginning sweetly before falling into a morbid, adjacent chorus. Like their expressions of insecurity and suggested failures, Piece War always push their songs to collapse.”

[Max Easton, Crawlspace]

Auckland based duo Tina Pihema and Barbara Rocha are Piece War, a lo-fi band with a barely contained aversion to structure, rehearsal and production. Recorded in full before Rocha left for a European sojourn in 2010, the band’s debut record Apathy, which has only just been released, wears these traits proudly. Like tattered badges on a denim jacket, they define the band’s sound completely.

From the hurried power chords of opener, ‘Darkness’ to the dying vocal strains of ‘Who Will Love You Now’, Apathy is fast loose and beautifully lo-fi throughout its compact running time. Though the production is low key, the disarmingly powerful and assured vocals of both players add a third dimension to the band’s sound. ‘Call on Me’ is a fine example of this and one of the album’s stand out tracks, Pihema’s swirling wall-of-sound guitar laying down an expansive canvas for the song’s raw sentiment (“you can call on me if I can call on you!”).

‘We Are At War’, a frenetic battle-cry of a song which will be familiar to b-net listeners is also worthy of note. Again, despite sounding like it may have been recorded in the fireplace of your local pub, the net product is somehow a lot more than the sum of its parts. If the album’s name is a reflection of the effort that went into it, then I don’t want Piece War to try much harder.”

[Paul Larsen, Under the Radar]

“In a chair cluttered, Auckland city courtyard surrounded by tall apartment buildings are amps, guitars and gurl duo Piece War. Chugging and hitting their instruments, these punks are making some pretty tight music. Their fresh 8-track debut album Apathy, with it’s dubbed female melodies sort of reminds me of Tegan and Sara in the early days, where they couldn’t afford expensive music equipment but still managed to make awesome music in their garage.

Piece War has a lo-fi rock core, with dashes of added punk and grunge. Their writing is fueled by the darker elements of life, the angsty moments whose narratives are told with sing-talk and shouting vocals. The crash and ride of the percussion fill the lines of songs, and the contemplative, mono-melodic vocals fused with distorted, wobbly guitars will leave you hooked. Looking forward to seeing more from these guys as their profile builds and access to better recording facilities becomes available.”

[Music News Nashville]

Tlaotlon – ‘Calavities’

From Melbourne via Wellington, our awkwardly-monikered Southern Hemisphere-dwelling madman has a right bleedin’ cornucopia of sound palettes he chooses to work with, resulting in a form of kaleidoscopic ADD electronic music that is multi-layered, nay, almost feverish in its scope and reach. Coming from a similar psychedelic techno angle – such as on opener ‘Spil’ – to that old Finnish imp Tomutonttu with a spot of Astral Social Club, Flying Lotus, Our Love Will Destroy the World and that berserk Matmos/Wobbly/Lesser collaboration from a few years ago – this is music infused with wonder, madness and a lot of love.

Tlaotlon appears to favour off-set rhythms and a bristling jungle of unusual samples (usually centred on throbbing techno pulses or pattering tribalisms) to create a riot of organic, excitable sound-colour that becomes increasingly tropical and humid as layers are subtly compacted. Take the sublime track ‘Sirona’ for instance. It ends up coming across like a boisterous gabba version of German minimal techno nature-boy Dominik Eulberg, which is really saying quite something about its hyper-glorious altered-states appeal.

‘Fuelling the Inferno’ is certainly worth shouting about too. It could easily appeal to lovers of ‘My Life In The Bush of Ghosts’ by Birds of Ego or ‘Horizontal Structures’ by Der Maurice Van Ozworld Duo. So here we have another bright-eyed and delirious record that words cannot ever do justice, his previous limited releases on visionary labels such as Trensmat are increasingly impossible to purchase – I’m unsurprised given the ludicrously small figures that are pressed!?

For this is exciting trans-dimensional music from another planet (VERY cosmic shit!) and can truly transport your mind somewhere very vibrant indeed.”

[Norman Records]

“Eight songs long, Calavities sees Tlaotlon essaying on, and expanding upon his unique overlapping loop based mode of celestial futurism within psychedelic techno/footwork. Crystalline superstructures, song segments that chirp and flutter, byzantine cathedrals of sound populated by inventive-yet-infectious rhythms and pitch-bent tones, and so forth, I’m going to stop with the descriptors right about…now…”

[Martyn Pepperell, Vanguard Red]

“Enough hyper-kinetic electronics to drown out your last sane thoughts. Tlaotlon (real name: Jeremy Coubrough) kicks off his second album Calavities with klaxons and doesn’t let up from there, practicing the sort of “sitting on the keys of the sampler” kitchen-sink pink noise jitters that make me wonder if this guy didn’t have an earlier career in breakcore, so irreverent and maximalist is the sound on display here. It’s MAX/MSP pushed to its last gasp, reams of laser sound rumbling and zapping both loose and congestive, with enough patterns overlapping that the loops become hidden; a silly stampede, a battery of synths played in manners that shop owners frown upon and anyone looking to dance makes a beeline from. Eventually things quiet down a bit by the end, but the madness buzzes until the runout. It’s a hard record to hand to someone and say “I think you’ll like this,” but there’s so few of them to go around – 100 copies, all gone – that it doesn’t really matter.”

[Doug Mosurock, Still Single]

Rory Storm – ‘Old Songs Sung In Wolves’ Tongue’

“Limited to only 25 copies (!) CD-R from New Zealand’s Rory Storm from the same label that brought us the great Maxine Funk LP: Storm has cut a buncha dazzling sides over the years, often in the company of Jon Chapman, ex of Double Leopards. Here he is in full abyss-gazing solo mode, with a dark, isolationist set of fully-eviscerated drones haunted by distant metal sonorities and liminal, disembodied spectra. It feels like the sonic equivalent of pointing a small torch into a huge, black abandoned cavernous space, with the lights sweeping around the walls and catching sudden movements from the corner of the room and highlighting the presence of odd, occult vibrations. Think Thomas Koner, Kluster, Nijiumu and Andrew Chalk but with a blacker, bleaker, abandoned Industrial atmosphere. Highly recommended but very limited supply, obviously.”

[Volcanic Tongue]

“…Nature can be horrifyingly violent, and human nature doubly so. Ultimately, Rory Storm seeks to explore rather than exploit that reality, superbly documenting the unease we feel when dealing with overwhelming emotions. Like the work of New Zealand’s most (in)famous experimental drone-lord, Campbell Kneale (Black Boned Angel, Our Love Will Destroy the World etc), Old Songs Sung in Wolves’ Tongue combines unsettling tones with an organic timbre, capturing hair-raising chills and profound, perhaps uncomfortable, realizations at their immediate source. The album is a slow creep towards encroaching darkness. Like the best dark ambient music, it conveys and transcends the fears we all share.”

[Craig Hayes, Popmatters]

Maxine Funke – ‘Felt’

“I wanted to add my two cents the hype swelling around Maxine Funke’s new album Felt.  This is a laid back folksy LP from the woman who fronted The Snares and produced the beautiful album Lace in 2008.  It’s a New Zealand production (from a New Zealand chickie) and is out through Epic Sweep Records. 

I’m not usually the “folky” type, so it has to be something rather special to be able to grab me.  For me folk is always the same lamentations / celebrations  set to always the same music. There are stand outs and exceptions. Maxine Funke adds enough discordant piano rumble and rolling deep double bass to keep me excited about even the purer sounds when it is just her pretty voice and her guitar.

Apparently Funke wrote this material over several years, between babies and the brief pocket spaces that allow for the transition from mother to woman and back again. I think you can hear that maturity in the work. At eighteen beautiful songs on a limited release L.P. (only one hundred copies) one gets the feeling this is an artist that works for the sake of working.  Perhaps the songs were a chance to feel like herself after a day with the kids. Perhaps they were a chance to escape from herself. Either way, the weight of a woman in touch with something far below the surface is juxtaposed with the lightness of the songs for a lilting and beautiful effect. The songs come from deep within and meet the listener in a penetrating and quiet place.

I found myself drawn tightly in, and after that I keep going back.”

[Lisa Thatcher]

“Stunning micro-press LP in a hand-numbered edition of only 100 copies from spectral NZ underground singer/songwriter Maxine Funke, the partner of Alastair Galbraith: Maxine’s previous release on Galbraith’s own Nextbestway imprint, Lace, was a stone classic of distant lo-fi fixated ur-folk and this is a fantastic extension of that release’s blasted atmosphere. Funke was a member of $100 Band, The Snares and Snapper but her solo work orbits the lonesome never land of void walkers like Collie Ryan, Linda Perhacs, Judee Sill, Barbara Manning and Syd Barrett. Her music is superficially simplistic, acoustic guitar, faltering vocals, piano, some overdubbed vox etc, but the effect far outstrips the basics of the set-up, combining muzzy moments of straight to tape epiphanies, the low level buzz of home-burned satori, staggering piano works that combine snatches of Goldrush-era Neil Young with Tori Kudo-plays-Advent, and a weird psychedelic aspect that is extremely disorientating. Post-Xpressway song form bled straight from the heart doesn’t come much better than this, totally fantastic and highly recommended!”

[Volcanic Tongue]

“Long-overdue new material from New Zealander Maxine Funke, teenage vocalist of The Snares and the creator of one of the finest singer-songwriter efforts of the last decade, 2008’s Lace CD-R. That work seemed to take the haunted/shackled nymph demeanor of Grouper and return such fantastical sentiments back to a nearby bookshelf, where they could loom ominously against a rough yet flawless collection of raw, original songs. Her second album jettisons the wax cylinder production, and instead sets her up where some of the best records from her country were made: alone, in front of a four-track, with the sounds of a home settling gently around her. Felt drops what little pretense the debut had and dives into an 18-song set of austere, revelatory folk music, gently sung and played with focus and determination on guitar with some piano, drumming and minimal adornment otherwise. This is one of those records you’ll have a hard time shaking; the lyrics focus on freedom, the time we spend mulling over relationships, and the spaces in between. It plays like something that fell out of the Galactic Ramble, the whole understated feel of the session, and the warmth that Ms. Funke brings to these songs pushing this in the sphere of timelessness (both the music of Tony, Caro and John as well as Mark Fry’s unimpeachable Dreaming With Alice come to mind as valid comparisons in terms of content and approach). At this stage, however, few will hear it, as it’s been pressed in an edition of 100 numbered copies, with no further plans in sight. It’s also why I almost didn’t write this record up. I think most of you who know where this review is coming from and hear Felt will fall in love with it instantly, and I’m not sure that someone half a world away who’s keeping a profile this low really wants to be disturbed. Even Epic Sweep prefaces the release of this album on their label blog with the oh-so-exciting header “more new vinyl.” Those of you with deeper pockets than mine at present should certainly try to knock on that door, though, and bring all of her work to at least a few more people.”

[Doug Mosurock, Still Single]

Marineville – ‘Face’

“Short, delirious bursts of enjoyment in the post-punk/NZ pop dynasty vein, from folks who’ve been in that scene longer than most (Denise Roughan from the 3Ds, Greg Cairns from Sferic Experiment/The Renderers/Constant Pain, Jeremy Coubrough from Tlaotlon, Mark Williams from Bad Statistics and Real Life Tragedies), and who take this opportunity to go apeshit in fine style. “Face” rides the roller-rink organ so familiar in Kiwi music to a maddeningly joyful run, the band leaping all over the place in ecstatic, punked-up glee at the opportunity to cut loose. “Eat Toast” probably has more to do with the gaudily-colored marmite-style spreads being shoveled in by the band members on the cover, and its discordant, atonal riff doesn’t pose too much of a threat, because this band seems to be all about FUN, at least where this record is concerned (I managed to cop their Roughan-less earlier LP Foul Swoop for a fiver off Discogs, but haven’t had the chance to spin it yet). I’m so used to much of the good music of New Zealand being of this sort of somber, well-constructed artifice that to hear something this immediate (in the vein of the Swell Maps 7”s – obviously, given their namesake – or Pere Ubu’s more in-your-face early material, a la “Non-Alignment Pact”) caught me off guard. It’s always great to be surprised. From the label that brought you that now long-gone Maxine Funke LP, and pressed in a similarly scant edition of 100 numbered copies. For fans of that country’s rich musical legacy, it’d be worth your while to seek this one out.”

[Doug Mosurock, Still Single]

Great quartet from Wellington, New Zealand, who combine No Wave keyboards, coarse and/or slashing guitar and those non-mawkish emo-vocals that NZ is famous for. Quite a keeper.”

[Byron Coley, The Wire]

“Maddie Collier: What a cluttered, stressful song. Starts with a shrill keyboard riff and piles on tinny percussion, clunky guitar and jarring vocals until it’s just full-tilt aural mess. It was over in two and a half minutes, and then I had peace again. [3]

Tim Herbert: The persistent synth and drums will either rub you the wrong way from the start or will have you wanting more and more. Fortunately I’m a fan of the Baba O’Riley style keys and wanted more – it’s a thoroughly enjoyable track with chirpy melody and buzzing guitars that had my foot tapping uncontrollably. If I were alone I probably would’ve danced about the room. [7]

Matthew Plunkett: This thing surges and swings with crackling electricity. It hurries along as an extended organsmic vamp. The singer takes some getting used to but I’d rather have a new human voice than another well worn facsimile. The tune has successfully achieved the notable trick of sounding spontaneous and next time it is played you could imagine it being quite different. Marineville do not sound weighed down by any expectations except for their own idea of fun and that is why they sound so good. Add to this Denise Roughan from the 3d’s and you have a meaningless number out of ten. [8]

Laura Vincent: Excellently jaunty. The Who-esque keyboard work is very simple and largely unchanging, and yet makes me want to dance – and soon. [8]

Louie G: I have never heard The Verlaines, The 3D’s and Tlaotlon but are they like Pakeha versions of John Dowie and the Mothersbaughs? If they are that’s fine and quirky as. [4]”

[A selection from ‘The Corner’]

Cartoon – ’69er On A Magic Carpet’ (Cassette)

“Thank you for sending me the most fucked-up prog-rock funky-time weirdo-party tape I’ve received all year!  Thank you Cartoon!  You are one fucked up people/person. Worth it for the cover of “Birdland” by Weather Report alone (though that’s not all).  This is a seriously well done tape that is completely chopped and screwed.  I mean this is also seriously “bad music”, but it’s got the awful charm of your favorite Boredoms side project or the absolutely immortal Ground Zero Plays Standards (must have).  Don’t hesitate. Amazing artwork, especially on the inside of the J-fold.”

[Cassette Gods]

“Take a ride on Cartoon’s magic carpet through an interstellar world of warped synths, squeals and relentless barrelling drums. Listening to the album 69er On A Magic Carpet is like being stuck in a remixed computer game, upside down. Dizzying sounds whir past at breakneck speed in an ever-upbeat utopia. In the spirit of Dan Deacon, Ryan Bennett’s energy levels remain high in a constant state of psychotic bliss. With chewy synths splitting the crisp cuts of seamless melodies it seems like he barely takes a breath throughout the entire album. An epic drum master from a myriad of bands, including Megaheroes, Ryan continues his effortless conquering of the skins with this frenetic attack. Enlisted to help with the album’s production were Luke Rowell (Disasteradio) and Jeremy Coubrough (Marineville, Signer, Orchestra of Spheres and founder of the Rampant Runes label) with mixing, Jason Post with mastering and Tim Shann with drum recording.”

[EMJ]

Cookie Brooklyn – ‘Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Under My Car’ (Cassette)

“It’s always fun when an album comes with a back story, whether it’s true or not. The claim here is that Cookie Brooklyn (aka New Zealand’s Mark Williams) recorded these songs between 1996 and 1999 and then finalized this album between 2006 and 2009. This seems like an awful long time to spend on some lo-fi music, but if the story’s correct, this could almost be a diary composed of the whatever ideas and emotions Williams was sorting out at the time. If nothing else, he dabbled with lots of different kinds of music.

What you get with this tape is a little bit of everything, from subdued bedroom folk songs to blown-out noise pieces to electric guitar solos to loose spoken word improvisations. Of all the songs, “Top Hat and Funny Face” and “Little Boats” might come the closest to being an actual, fully formed songs in the traditional sense, in that they have something resembling verses, choruses, etc. Really though, what is best about this tape is that it takes recognizable traits of more standard music and puts them through the blender, as it were. Another fun bit (and a good demonstration of the range of this tape) is “Everyone’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Money,” which is a collage of sounds, including speaking, singing, Pac-Man noises, guitar, and electronic feedback. Even with this to contend with, the strangest part of this tape is the title track, which features a hypnosis session with Williams (I presume) and his therapist. This is mixed up with some spare percussion and light touches of feedback. It’s extremely eerie, but also very effective as a mood piece.

Parts of this hit home more than others, but it’s certainly interesting all the way through. As a complete album, I’m not sure how convincing this is, but if you think about this as a series of snapshots, it becomes more compelling. Bottom line, if you want to hear some weirdo recordings, you could do a lot worse than this.”

[Matt Blackall, Foxy Digitalis]

“This Cookie Brooklyn tape is definitely my kind of thing. A collection of recordings made between 1996 and 1999 and then completed from 2006-2009. You get a little bit of downer folk, you get a dollop of noise/drone guitar jamming, you get a healthy helping of avant-garde spoken word with piano and plunking sounds. The guy’s got a really nice voice and it shines even when buried beneath murky instrumentation, as it is on some tracks. Plus there’s a really funny double-sided foldout insert with rambling commentary from Mr. Brooklyn, whose real name appears to be Mark Williams. I hope to be reviewing the next Cookie Brooklyn tape in about 15 years or so…”

[Cassette Gods]

Rory Storm – ‘Wirewreath’ (Cassette)

“…I feel like I just might not be qualified to comment on this music accurately. As far as I’m concerned, the most slamming “techno” I’ve ever heard is “Come Out” by Steve Reich. That shit really gets me dancing. Be that as it may, Rory Storm’s “Wirewreath” is a completely enjoyable collection of beats and blurps to get your party started. Well, at least until the much more harsh B side kicks in. While this sort of music isn’t usually my cup of tea, I have to say I enjoyed this tape.”

[Cassette Gods]

The Kites – ‘Sunfish Twins’ (Lathe/CDR)

“Sunfish Twins” is a pleasantly surprising reissue of a cassette and 12″ EP by an obscure, good-humored Dunedin, New Zealand duo who were active during the mid- to late-1980s.  The music on the disc is very peaceful, charming, and (especially) humble, and is composed mainly around quietly-strummed acoustic guitar and warmly-sung, overlapping vocal lines.

Production throughout the collection is minimal and totally lacks pretension, the songs loosely performed into a basic tape recorder, with the musicians often giving sincere, informal spoken introductions to each piece.  (There is even a point during “Algae Mum” when it sounds like someone in the group’s mother is being sung to.)  Later tracks on the CD-R are better-recorded, better-written, and better-performed – songs like “Got It So Good” and “So Dumb” sound lovely, like less formal performances by Colin Blunstone or Alex Chilton.

While The Kites had an obvious gift for pop songwriting, the songs don’t push out from any conventions; the music, like the production, is made within tightly-confined boundaries, but this seems to be exactly what the band intended.  These qualities of form and content can make the CD-R feel like a minor work, emotionally engaging the listener in the same way that spending a quiet, carefree afternoon with friends might.  But this is not a bad thing at all, and the Epic Sweep label deserves credit for introducing the band to new listeners. 8/10″

[Jordan Anderson, Foxy Digitalis]

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