Thursday, 28 July 2011

Be very afraid of this Magazine Cover

Seriously how can anyone resist a You Tube gem like this? A piss-potted guy in his undies, doing an acoustic cover of Magazine’s ‘Motorcade’. What tipped it for me was his tourist t-shirt from New Zealand and an out of tune guitar. And he still pulls it off! Gotta love shit like this. 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Stop bolstering Amy Winehouses musical credentials

Amy Winehouse is dead, my respects and condolences go out to her family and friends.

Lazy journalists have kept telling the tabloid frenzied public Winehouse has joined a long list of rock stars that died aged 27. These include Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain etc. Is Amy Winehouse in the same class as any of the illustrious ‘dead before your time’ artists listed above? No, no. no. 

Amy Winehouse was/is over-rated.  

During her brief career her fame and notoriety revolved around her substance abuse, appalling taste in clothes, love-life etc more than her music, which most if not all was co-written.   

She had just two albums, her debut (4 from a possible 5 stars on Allmusic) is good but hardly in the class of say ‘Electric Ladyland’ or ‘Nevermind’ etc.  

The other one ‘Back to Black’ is, as my wife keeps telling me, excellent.

One excellent album from an output of two in say seven years doesn’t make Winehouse a megastar.   

The last concert Winehouse gave she was booed off stage.

The U.K’s ‘Marketing Magazine’ readers voted her the most hated personality in The United Kingdom.

To be charitable she was polarising.

I can’t believe the gushing press she is now getting in death given her lack of impact on the musical universe, flimsy material she penned herself and dearth of singles – just five in seven years!    

Please don’t tell me about Grammy’s either. Anyone who treats a Grammy seriously is in the same headspace which confuses The Disney Channel with The Documentary.

It is always sad when someone dies prematurely like this but please for fucks sake stop bolstering Winehouses thin musical credentials.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sleepy Age Mark 2 is Good

Until today I was never into Sleepy Age from Christchurch, which in case you missed it is where I live. They didn’t really spin my wheels to be honest. Nice guys, great musso’s they just seemed to be too much like a whole heap of other guitar driven bands.

But recently I stumbled onto Sleepy Age again on You Tube, the mark 2 version that’s traipsing around Europe currently. Namely this ‘new romantic’ single (below) that pays tongue-in-cheek homage the gushy eighties stuff from ABC, Spandau Ballet etc.

I mean if the world can get a second dose of glam, endless punk re-makes why not give New Romanticism (is that an actual term?)another day in the sun, the 2nd chance to place “juxtapose” in amongst the lyrics, grow a significant fringe and not be considered an emo? Getting Kiwi blokes to dress better, consistently brush their teeth may be the biggest obstacle for campy synth pop like this taking hold again down here. Berlin, Manchester and Paris seem more fitting places if re-vamped vamp will ever take hold again.    

But as they say on the streets of Sydenham, Burnside and Cashmere “Give it a crack Nigel” and that’s exactly what Sleepy Age are doing.

Mind you Sleepy Age are going to need a way bigger budget to  stand a dogs-show of competing with a benchmark gayfest video like this one for an 'ever-green wedding fav' from the eighties:  

Super Groups = Time Out Groups

The concept of a super-group is simple and on-paper at least, should work.

Drag talented artists/members from other groups and place them together to write and perform, whilst retaining the original integrity of the prime band.

In truth if one surveyed rock music history you’ll soon see super-groups hardly ever work.

Sure they can often sell records and have the inside running for record company promotion.

When you drag W, X, Y and Z to play in a band, you by rights drag some of their fans as well.

Curiosity however doesn’t last.

Super Groups are by and large holding-pens for bored band members, quick and easy money.

Too often of late they can devolve into some sort of ‘public jam session’ like for example Thom Yorke and RHCP’s Flea’s pretentious group Atoms for Peace.  

Even with oddles of previous talent onboard, bands such as Angels and Airwaves (members from Blink 182, Offspring, 30 Seconds to Mars) failed to ignite their old fans, produced as much electricity as the static from a pair of slippers.

Make no bones about deep down-inside-the staunch fans wants to see the ‘old’ band, try to embrace the new but invariably their expectations fall short.

This intro leads me to The Adults, probably New Zealand’s first bona fide ‘Super Group’ who are touring New Zealand as we speak.

I am certainly more of a Dimmer man than a Shihad one but I’ve probably enjoyed Shihad more live than say Dimmer. The other troops I know little to nothing about and don't plan to.   

I still won’t be going to The Adults Christchurch, more technically now Rangiora, gig next week.


Because I know I will be disappointed.

I will be looking in all the wrong places to find something that isn’t there.

Then again you might have discovered something I've missed here so far? 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Apart from the Judd era Split Enz, Straitjacket Fits are my favourite Kiwi band. So  don’t expect any objectivism in my critique. Every time I listen to one of  their records it seems impossible that SJF  didn’t ‘make it big’. Incredulity aside, success and failure in the music industry are not necessarily in anyway related to share-talent. There has never really been a globally successful Kiwi band and if the experience of SJF (1986-94) is anything to go by – it is highly unlikely there ever will be. Becoming inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame is no where as significant as making an impact, heaps of dosh on the global music scene. Geography and lack of motivated multi-national record companies, underpowered locals are seemingly impenetrable barriers for N.Z bands to overcome. So what made Straitjacket Fits such a great band? In two words: their songs. They wrote great guitar-driven songs that complimented the relative strengths of the vocalists and musicians. They clicked, in my humble opinion never produced a bum tune. Sonics melted into Pop in a wonderful amalgam. That’s why you can’t go wrong investing in their music. Melody Maker (4th January 1992) succinctly stated "Straitjacket Fits are the weirdest guitar band in the world. They are also the best." Need I say more?

The Worlds Five Ugliest Rock Artists

In no particular order we have, top to bottom: Amy Winehouse, Dave Dobbyn, Genesis P Orridge, Lemmy, Mick Hucknall.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Let’s firstly all try our best to get over ‘Another Girl Another Planet’ and place it in the wardrobe for the entire duration of the article whilst we examine more closely the tragically underrated band The Only Ones. Folk tend to forget 'the' song itself didn’t get a lot of airplay in its day due to drug references. In case you missed them The Only Ones (1976-81 odd) wrote what I define as psychedelic pop songs and I defy anyone to label them punk, the convenience they are often painted with. Does that photo (above) look like a fucking ‘in ya face’ punk band in the heady days of 1978 to you? Christ their drummer, Mike Kellie, came from the group Spooky Tooth who employed at varying times two keyboardists! The bassist, Alan Mair, was close to 30 when the band formed and hardly likely to identify with teenage angst. Trivia time: Mair use to run a London leather-shop and employed Freddie Mercury as the manager at one stage. Guitarist John Perry, who is now a renowned rock music writer, was balding. Do those You Tubes (below) sound remotely late 70's punk to your ear? The Only Ones lyrics/themes often delved into relationships, mostly dysfunctional, rather than say overthrowing the establishment, politics etc. Emotion oozed from their nasally delivered songs. Singer, Peter Perrett is an acquired taste, but so is Guinness and like those who enjoy the magnificent black drop from Ireland the public who don’t get him are welcome to their shandies, quite nights in front of the fire watching The Eagles Reunion Tour on DVD. It was share bad timing that doomed The Only Ones to ‘also rans’ on the music charts. Their biggest selling album stalled at 37. The music press loved them and generally lauded their works which is befitting their timeless sound. The public at the time however was looking for the next ‘new thing’. The Only Ones fell between the chasms of Punk and New Wave, a square peg in a round hole. Despite staunch support from a small legion of fans and great press the band never followed-up their one seminal song as Perrotts and the teams addiction(s) took hold the band dissolved into the ether. Drugs were entwined with the band, not that this is always a bad thing when it comes to creating music, just re-creating it for an audience becomes the issue, managing life in general. The effects of drugs invariably also leads to ‘off stage’ acrimony. At the point of meltdown Mair, remained the only member not addicted to one substance or another. So it was a sad end to a group that given another time & place would have enjoyed both success and status they so richly deserved. No record collection is totally fulfilled until it has something from The Only One’s firmly ensconced.    


Friday, 8 July 2011

Dunedin ‘Garage Magazine’ wants to meet Kiwi Garage Band for no strings attached relationship.

Richard Langston is best known to most Kiwi’s from his appearances on TV3’s ‘Campbell Live’. The TV3 web-site lists his favourite dead musician as Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens, which is a strong hint this dude knows his stuff when it comes to contemporary music. Hailing from Dunedin Langston cut his journalistic teeth with a hand produced magazine called ‘Garage’. Somewhere in my messy study I still have a few of these legendary mid-eighties mags gathering dust. In its day the black & white Garage was the premier underground music magazine in N.Z. Full-stop. Stark, eclectic, ardently Otago its primitively typed writings and photos, all 24 pages!, remain one of the best surviving testaments to a remarkable era of music. The punk ethos of passion before profit oozes from its newsprint, grainy photos & miss-stapled bindings. Who needed the internet when you could pick-up a magazine like this for a princely sum of a buck, yep a mere dollar for the first issue at least. The following ones went for $1.50 and then an eye-watering $2. Inflation was fife in the 80’s. Langston was chief editor and bottle washer listing his literal garage in St Kilda as correspondence point. At varying points Dean Allen, David Swift (London based) Alaistair Agnew (Melbourne) Bruce Russell were regular contributors. Garage # 4 featured one of the first adverts, definitely the most primitive, for a fledgling Flying Nun (below)

As part of Flying Nuns 30th Anniversary the record-company have re-produced the first copy of Garage. If you don’t read it you deserve to be an Australian.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Weird and wonderful covers that despite the long odds came-off!

String quartet version of King Crimsons ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’  

 Sex Pistols on Accordion

Depeche Mode 'Personal Jesus' on 8-Bit

Steeldrum version of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'

Lounge-lizard Paul Anka pulls-off 'Smells like Teen Spirit'

College Marching Band does Zappa! 

FuturNari – Chips minus the fish

Don’t ask me to be incisive or the slightest bit in-depth with this one. You have google as well as me! What little I know about this group (not in a literal sense) is they (read: he) is from New Zealand is the medium employed is what is loosely know as ‘chip music’. That’s music made from discarded computers and gameboy consols etc. Being an electronic dunce – don’t ask me how that sort of crap works. Think Space Invaders meets Ibiza nightclub with Brian Eno as DJ. This home produced clip, not to be confused with chip, is worthy of a larger audience – that’s why I’m giving it a plug . So give it a quick play and travel off to Bandcamp for a free-download of the EP it came from (refer below) Free is a good price.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Here's a brief 'off the top of my head' list of New Zealand bands which employ a band-name identical, or frighteningly similar to others around the globe: 

The Androids(s)
The Business
Dead Flowers
(Garbage and) The Flowers
Shocking Pinks
Split Ends
The Underdogs
The Vacants  

So which came first?

The chicken or the egg?   

Additions welcome.