Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Australian(?) Band Gets NZ. Taxpayer Funding

A Dead Forest Index are a couple of ex-pat Kiwi bros who have moved off shore to Melbourne, been there for three odd years. 

You can buy stuff off their Bandcamp site in Australian Dollars, see in their web presence they are comfortable announcing to the world they are a Melbourne band these-days.   

But it goes further than mere pedantics on a single web site.  

The Australian Bigpop Studios is plugging on their web site “Engineer/Producer Simon Gooding was in last week finishing touches on the upcoming album for Melbourne band, A Dead Forest Index.”   

DFI’s record company (Denovali) bio doesn’t mention a word about their N.Z origins.  

It’s Melbourne that crops up again.

Further when they toured N.Z last year or so ago DFI were touted as a band from MEB AUS.  

Similarly DFI were promoted (top of page and below) as Australian when they toured Europe last year.

Minimalist retro rock from Australia to be exact.

Adam & Sam Sherry, who incidentally formed the band in London, clearly don’t have an issue being dubbed Australian – when suits their cause.     

Except for recently.
When it comes to getting a grant to make a video (N.Z on Air Making Tracks, July 2012 Funding)
Then they are happy changing tack, reverting back to being Kiwi’s.  

Sure guys, it was all a horrible typo, promoter blunder being called Aussies all the time when you are so clearly Kiwis.  
Those dummkopft menschen in Munich and Vienna can't tell the difference between "Keeping N.Z Music on Air" and "Keeping Aussie Music on Air" anyway eh?   
Oi! Oi! Oi!

This is again another case of lax vetting and 'open' criteria by NZOA.

The fact still remains the N.Z Taxpayers paying for a video for a band that flew the Australian flag on their European and 'to rub salt into the wound' even the New Zealand tour! 

The only bands that should get N.Z Taxpayer funding are those that advertise themselves as New Zealanders.


What qualifies as a New Zealand Artist in the eyes of N.Z On Air?

Jess Harlen is a New Zealand born soul vocalist who now lives overseas, Boston being a long way from Ngapuhi and Ngati Porou territory.   

Harlen forms one third of Cocoa Jackson Lane who if google is correct have never performed in New Zealand.  

On her site Harlen proudly displays the accolades of Australian magazine 3D. 

Jess Harlen is steeping into the spotlight and AUSTRALIAN MUSIC is richer for it 

The capitisation of Australian Music was their call and not mine.

Cocoa Jackson Lane is a street in Melbourne.  

Her fellow group members are Camilla Charlesworth and Meritxell Vinaixa.  

Vinaixa is Spanish and Charlesworth is Australian.  

So to get the make-up of Cocoa Jackson Lane straight -  not one in this group lives in New Zealand. 

Two of them may possibly have never even visited our shores.     

Harlen their song-writer was born here but has since moved off-shore for education, doesn’t mind putting the Aussie flag up the mast when it suits record sales.    

Their only video on You Tube, studio work was made in Massachusetts, not Masterton.     

So why is the N.Z Taxpayer giving this band money? (N.Z on Air Making Tracks decisions July 2013) 

Does the fact you simply have a N.Z passport qualify you as ‘Keeping N.Z on The Air’ when you & your band spend the vast majority of your lives overseas?  

When two thirds of the band couldn’t hum the N.Z anthem?  

Can bands throughout the world with N.Z passport holders also similarly qualify for Making Tracks funding based on the loose criteria of having a Kiwi in their midst? 

If you shifted to Australia as a toddler would the Making Tracks committee still consider you a New Zealander or is it only if you have Maori heritage?        

Surely playing the local circuit is a right-of-passage for any band wanting tax-payer money?  

I for one would like to see the criteria tightened up.  

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Why Do Bands Now By-Pass Christchurch?

Going straight for the jugular perhaps the easy answer is: because Christchurch crowds are too ‘fickle’ (the pc word for ‘shit’)?   

Worse than Dunedin, come on?  

Now one of the benefits of me having a messy desk is the ability to dredge up old copies of the Groove Guide, Penthouse mags from the 80’s etc.    

I found 4 of them, Groove mags as opposed to Penthouse of which I only discovered 2, from this year and decided I would do a completely unscientific study as to what percentage of N.Z bands graced Christchurch on their N.Z Tours.  

Auckland punters got all but 100% of the bands. 

Wellington just over half at 60%. 

Christchurch was 40% and Dunedin not far behind at 35%. 

Rider: I did fail School Cert maths.  

So Christchurch is definitely no longer seen as a must-do ‘destination’ for N.Z bands doing the traps.  

Perhaps it never was, but traditionally it was always one tare above Dunedin gig wise. 

Increasingly bands today are opting for Dunedin, Unknown Mortal Orchestra springs to mind, over Christchurch.  

Bands are signalling N.Z Tours that is better framed as North Island Tours.    

This death spiral trend (less crowds mean less visits, means less venues willing to have bands versus a local DJ) is replicated with overseas bands. 

I spotted in the latest Gig Guide that The Hard Ons aren’t making the trip across the ferry, picked New Plymouth over Christchurch and the Japandroids are appearing in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, no Christchurch.   

Just an hour ago via the Cheese On Toast Facebook link a band I’m getting into, The Drones are crossing the ditch. Peoples of Wellington and Auckland will no doubt enjoy them whilst I can but look on in envy.      

This is all a sad indictment of Christchurch music-fans malaise, people here have no one else to blame but themselves.   

The post-earth-quake stupor continues to see people of all varieties sitting-in front of televisions and computers wasting their lives away.   

There is an old saying that is apt here: Once the rot sets in.  





Sunday, 7 July 2013

Death to Wall-of Noise Shoe-Gaze!

The shoegazing sound is typified by significant use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blend into the creative noise of the guitars. 

Common musical elements of shoegazing consist of distortion, droning riffs and a "wall of sound" from noisy guitars. Typically, two distorted rhythm guitars are played together to give an amorphous quality to the sound. Although lead guitar riffs were often present, they were not the central focus of most shoegazing songs. [Wikipedia]  

The other night I was at a gig, the two bands were a blur as was their music and shall remain nameless, least I up-set the guilty.  

I wasn’t even that pissed, which is rather unusual.    

Both guitarists, I caught the end of band A and start of band B, possessed enough effects boxes of varying descriptions to make The Edge jealous.  

One had his rigs ‘nailed’ to a board, side by side for ease of use and to move from A to B.  

At $500 a throw there was a small fortune of technology on display, playing through amps high on reverb.    

And what does a small fortune of effects boxes get you over same a single ‘fuzz box’ unit? 

Say a better sound for the audience? 

What say a discernible difference between the varying devices?   

Perhaps a significant marketable differential for the band in question?  

Well no. 

It was a wall of reverby, wahy guitar sound punctuated by a wailing bass-line.   

Not to be outdone the bass players having plugged in their respective instruments into an effects box of some persuasion.  

The overall sound was filtered into homeopathic percentages. 

Don’t ask me to tell actually what any of the songs were about. 

It was too loud to tell, people looked like stunned mullets, a super 8 movie of 1950’s LSD experiments.     

After less than an hour it actually got annoying as each song drifted seamlessly into the next like a grunge version of a Yes album.  

So I departed.  

My cranium stopped reverberating two days later.  

To be fair the bar sold ear-plugs and there’s a message in that.


Footnote: I wrote this sometime last year, it got buried and dug-up.  

Thursday, 4 July 2013

What qualifies as ‘Alternative Rock Music’ these days?

The term ‘alternative’ is one of the most over-used terms in music.

Bands like REM have been described as alternative, its meaning diluted to the point it is itself now virtually redundant, self-prescribed.   

‘Alternative’ to what?  

Contestants off The X-Factor?  

Neil Diamond? 

 Alternative to me is something like Throbbing Gristle or Einst├╝rzende Neubauten.  

Bands that explore musical soundscapes that set themselves apart from their contemporaries, set-out to be different damn the audience numbers, record sales and media write-ups.     

Try and sound different, simply because they desire to do so. 

One of the dictionary meanings of the word is after-all: ‘Existing outside traditional or established institutions or systems’.   

Can the term in its rawest form be attributed to Soundgarden, Linkin Park and All American Rejects – the first names that appear on google when you type in ‘alternative rock band’? 

All these bands are generic, have peers, been there done that.   

Who were the peers of Devo when they first came out?     

Who else sounds like Radiohead these-days?  

Being a punk or death metal band doesn’t mean you are alternative.    

Punk and Metal are fairly main-stream and have been about for ages, seen little movement away from the original template set 30/40 years ago.  

Most parents of teenagers probably have a Black Sabbath or Deep Purple album lurking somewhere. 

Nor does wearing a mask, chopping things apart with a chainsaw on stage actually qualify a band as being alternative. 

Only your music can do that.   

Quint Baker Appreciation Society

I first heard of Quint via the magnificent Natures Worst (NW) series. 

His bio reads: New Zealand’s weirdest songwriter.  

A quick gezz at his Flickr site shows the Aucklander is more than just an avant-garde musician. 

Painter, poet, photographer and You Tube producer par excellence. 

The play on the iconic 4 Square Grocer and the green Lenin head on the NW3 CD are all of his work.  

Sadly for Mr Baker his output is largely ignored, even by the arty-farties.  

Piss all hits on quality musical output like this is a cruel injustice to his talents, what I for one see and hear in front of me.
Still, I try not to fixate too much, embroil myself in negativity, when it comes to New Zealanders attitudes to the arts in general.

Doing so would get me joining the 1 in 5 on some sort of anti-depressant.  

Music is mostly my vent and I see a vast array of talent that is all but ignored, north to south.  

Musical ‘talent’ is seemingly hedged to your ability to sing karaoke style in front of a camera, look good in make-up and the lynch-pin: attracting enough pubescent girls to masturbate over you.    

This is my humble cry from ‘the wilds’ for Kiwi’s to switch channel now and again.      
The one I watch is much more interesting.