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.

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