Sunday, October 29, 2006

I'd Like To Thank The Academy, My Family, And God.

There has been a terrific response to the Counting The Beat Alternatuis (see the post below). This may even become an annual event.

Some of the winners have been in touch and made acceptance speeches.

Album of the Year: Steve Abel - Little Death

Steve recommends people check out the tracks he has streaming on MySpace.

Best Male Solo Artist: Dudley Benson

Best Group: The Mint Chicks

Monday, October 23, 2006

In My Humble Opinion

Never mind the Tuis - Here's the Alternatuis.
Last week the Tuis were held. These are probably the biggest of the NZ music awards. There are a number of categories based on commercial and artistic success. Unlike the Silver Scrolls, which are judged on songwriting ability, for the Tuis sales and public appeal do count. This week Counting The Beat will feature some of the Tui winners alongside the Counting The Beat picks for artists and releases of the year - The Alternatuis. The criteria for selection is simply whether or not Counting The Beat rates it or not - hence, In My Humble Opinion.

Single of the Year: Chris Knox and The Nothing
What is a single anyway? There are hardly any singles actually released anymore. A single nowadays is just a track picked for promotion and airplay. Even the single charts are put together on the basis of both airplay and sales. Whether it is a real single or not - to succeed it must have a hook, be catchy as hell, and preferably a great sing-along chorus. The Tui was picked up by Pluto for "Long White Cross". The Counting the Beat Alternatui goes to Chris Knox and The Nothing for "Great Big Puppy Eyes".

Best Male Solo Artist: Dudley Benson
Dave Dobbyn picked up the Tui for this category- his fifteenth. While he must be respected for his longevity and genuine talent, these award shows can sometimes seem a bit like the Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan show. Here on Counting The Beat we like to showcase new talent so the Alternatui goes to newcomer Dudley Benson. I guarantee you haven't heard of this guy. He put out an EP, Steam Railways of Britain, in a limited run of 75 - a surefire way to cultdom and obscurity. But what a voice. Take a listen.

Best Female Solo Artist: Bic Runga
Bic Runga won the Tuis For Best Female Solo Artist and Best Album, and you won't get any argument from me. Birds is a fantastic album full of dark, slightly unsettling but fragile songs. Runga is a fantastic performer and a truly great songwriter. Notable mentions in the female solo artist category go to Miriam Clancy (stream of live performance here), Reb Fountain (tracks on myspace) and Flip Grater (songs and video). New Zealand is producing some very good female singer-songwriters at the moment. These three are top class.

Best Group: The Mint Chicks
Pop-punkers Elemeno P pick up the Tui. There was absolutely no doubt in the Counting The Beat camp who the Alternatui would go to. The Mint Chicks are the stand out group of the year by far. Their album Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! is superb. These guys write pop songs full of oddball structures and tangential ideas. Live, they go off like the Energiser ad. As previously heralded here on the Counting The Beat blog the Mint Chicks are currently the best band in the land.

Best Rock Album: Jakob
One of two Tuis for The Bleeders in this category, they also took out Breakthrough Artist. The Alternatui goes to Jakob for their third album Solace. Jakob are a guitar, bass and drums instrumental three piece whose songs are at once brooding , powerful and beautiful. They draw influence from the isolation and power of the landscape around their home town, Napier. I once saw this band perform at The Big Day Out. They were so loud the whole crowd took an involuntary step backwards. They built slowly to a huge crescendo and then the gear blew up - literally - smoke / silence. Awesome. The Jakob website is currently being rebuilt so check out some tracks from their myspace page.

Album of the Year: Steve Abel
As mentioned earlier Bic Runga got the Tui for best album. My pick is a little old but one of the strange things about the Tuis is that they seem to span a long timeframe. This year Dave Dobbyn was nominated for Available Light, the same album he was nominated for last year. So, if it's good enough for them it's good enough for me. Steve Abel's Little Death has also had a previous mention on this blog. He is an extraordinarilyly good songwriter - the album is haunting and quiet with the songs he often performs solo live augmented with additional instrumentationon including accordion and the additonal vocals of Golden Horse singer Kirsten Morrell. A hidden treasure in the New Zealand music scene, check out this stream of a live performance.

There you go - the Counting The Beat Alternatuis. Any questioning of the judges decisions will be treated with utter contempt. You can check out the full list of Tui winners here and if awards are your thing also take a look at the bNets.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hauraki Hoedown Highlight - Ramblin' Jack Elliot

Apparently the name Ramblin' Jack is not as it may seem the mark of honor given to a well travelled man (although I'd imagine that he is that as well) but is rather the result of this 75 year olds propensity to retell countless stories before answering even the simplest of questions. It's kind of ironic that a man so prone to the conversational arts can produce an album of 16 tracks that clock in at a mere 32-and-a-half minutes. "My Old Dog and Me" lasts 19 seconds!

As you might suspect the story goes a little something like this: born 1931 in New York, ran away from home as a teenager and joined a rodeo in an attempt to fulfill his childhood dream. Learnt to play the guitar and started busking for a living. Eventually he hooked up with Woody Guthrie and lived with him as a kind of student. Not too bad. And at 75 Ramblin' Jack has changed labels and released "I Stand Alone" on the Anti- label (home to the likes of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Michael Franti & Spearhead) with an assortment of guest backup players including Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, and celebrated rockers Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker, Nels Cline, and X / Knitters drummer DJ Bonebrake.

I played one of the longest tracks on the CD: "Arthritis Blues", a nicely sung prescription of folk cures for the protaganists arthritis including apple jack, gin and opium, none of which seem to do the trick. The only cure seems to be shared misery. Theres a lot of tales shared with the listener on this short CD, tales from songs collected over a life of travelling. In an anecdote that may resonate with people on the island, Elliot was going to call this CD "Not For The Tourists" because it was recorded in response to his daughter's request for songs he loved but never played in concert. When she asked why he did not play them in public, he replied "These songs are not for the tourists".

There's a couple of free downloads of the "not for the tourist" songs available from the Anti- site, here:

The full playlist of the Hauraki Hoedown can be found at the Casa de Country Mike.

Dj Simon - MIx & Mash 7th Oct

This weeks show was stuffed full of new goodies including a new track from Beck's, Cell Phone's Dead, a signature Jacque Lu Cont Thin White Duke Mix of The Killers new single When You Were Young, a great new track, (supported obviously by a stunning video) from Beyonce and two 'not so new' remixes from the DFA although they are just released on the brilliant new 'DFA remixes - Chapter 2' CD out this week. Am still loving the CSS - Let's make love and listen to death from above single (is anyone hearing that up there in the northern hemisphere?) but in the end my track of the week has to go to..........The Rapture - Get Myself Into It (Serge Santiago Edit). First up, I'm just glad that The Rapture have a returned with a quality single after a three year wait and this subtle, funky remix from Brighton's own Serge Santiago is excellent! Download it from

Hour 1 Part 1 - 22:19

Shapeshifter - Electric dream
Nerd - She wants to move (DFA remix)
Beyonce Feat Jay-Z - Deja Vu
Beck - Cell Phone's Dead

Hour 1 part 3 - 21:18

Basement Jaxx - Hush boy
Chromeo - Destination overdrive (DFA remix)
The Killers - When You Were Young (Jacque Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Mix)
Peaches - Downtown

Hour 2 Part 1 - 19:13

The Gossip - Standing in the way of control - (Soulwax nite version)
Goose - British mode
The Rapture - Get Myself Into It (Serge Santiago Edit)
CSS - Let's Make Love & Listen Death From Above

Hour 2 Part 3 - 27:42

The '25 minute mix'

Plump DJs - Electric disco (d. ramirez remix)
Cassius Toop Toop (Cassius Reggae Rock Mix)
Robbie Williams - Lovelight (Soulwax Ravelight Dub)
Goose - British Mode (Jester Mix)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hauraki Hoedown Playlist

I followed on from another BOBcast - this time celebrating the onset of daylight savings time by playing songs with the word "time" in the title. A significantly easier task for a country boy than some of Bob's earlier themes I discovered that I had a plethora of "time" related tracks at my fingertips so instead of the usual one or two offerings I extended the cast for another hour. Here's a list of what I played:

All the Time in Airports - The Handsome Family
A Matter of Time - Los Lobos
Baby Let the Bad Times Be - Junior Brown
Cry One More Time - Gram Parsons
Hard Time Killing Floor Blues - Chris Thomas King
Honky Tonk Night Time Man - Merle Haggard
Pretty Woman Won't Give Me the Time of Day - National Grain
Time Changes Everything - Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys
Right in Time - Lucinda Williams
Time of Your Life - Pickin' on Green Day
Hard Times - Waco Brothers
On Time - Soledad Brothers
Funny How Time Slips Away - Elvis
Just Passin' Time - Dwight Yoakum
Big City Good Time Girl - Wayne "the Train" Hancock
One More Time - Alejandro Escovedo
Hi Ho Silver - Freakwater
Dumb Blonde - Dolly Parton
Japanese Cowboy - Ween
People Learn Things When I Drink - Ron White
Nashville Radio - Jon Langford
Tornadoes - Drive-by Truckers
Driving Nails in my Coffin - Ramblin Jack Elliot
O Death - Ralph Stanley
Kiss of Death - Split Lip Rayfield
Star Witness - Neko Case
Winter in the Hamptons - Josh Rouse
I Feel Just Like A Child - Devendra Banhart
Wine Don't Lie - Dale Watson
Ain't Life Hell - Hank Cochran and Willie Nelson
Donkey Ride Straight to Hell - Michael Sheehy

Thanks to everyone who filled in the Beach Radio survey by either dropping it off in the station or filling it out online. Will try to get a bit of an aggregate of what we found out and post on the blog in the coming weeks.