Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lost for Words

This week I'm launching a new weekly feature on Counting the Beat. Lost for Words will be a regular showcase for great kiwi instrumentals. Each week I will play one or two songs san vocals.

The series was inspired by a new album I picked up by a band called Salon Kingsadore. Once I had struck on this idea the immediate question I had to ask myself was how to define an instrumental. On the surface it seems quite simple, a piece of music that doesn't feature voice. But the whole electronic / dance music thang muddies the water. Sure it might not feature vocals but is the music made by Pitch Black or Concord Dawn what you think of as an instrumental. (Come to think of it some of that music doesn't even feature instruments, unless you're going to count a laptop.)

If we look back a bit it gets easier. Many early kiwi rock acts in the 1960s aped their overseas counterparts such as the Stone etc and some also picked up on huge instrumental acts like The Shadows or the American surf guitar sound of Dick Dale, Link Wray and so on. In New Zealand the biggest instrumental act was Peter Posa, his most famous tune - White Rabbit. He drew on the surf guitar sound but wasn't quite so drenched in reverb and was a mighty fine picker. It is with Peter that I will start the Lost for Words series because he was the master. He is still around playing gospel and in fact he put out an album a couple of years back.

The instrumental tradition is still going strong in New Zealand and much of the best is still in a surf guitar vein (The Counting the Beat podcast that you can link to on the right is a kiwi surf guitar special). Check out tracks by The Hollow Grinders.

Anyway, Lost For Words will feature the best in kiwi instrumentals over the next few weeks. I would love to hear any suggestions you have, click on comments below.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Mix and Mash Radio show - DJ Simon July 15th

Yeah some good tunes out at the moment as listed below. The Lily Allen's a surefire winner as is (strangely) the new Christina Aguilara single (out this week) and the Peaches track promises much for the forthcoming album. My tune of the week though has to be 'Jim Noir - Eanie Meany (Fat boy slim remix)'. The original was fine as it was to be honest but the Fatboy's added some more umph to the drums and some extra bleeps where necessary and it's converted into a modern uplifting classsic. Kinda what Norman does best really - and it's all about football too! You may well have heard the song recently. You recall that Adidas ad that was playing during the world cup where 2 young lads are picking there team for a game of soccer (sic) and chose from such luminary stars as David Beckham, Franz Becckenbauer, Zidane etc? Well it's the tune used in that ad.

Hour 1 Part 1 - 18:27

Pepe deluxe - Before you leave
Christina Aguilara - Ain't No Other Man
Gorillaz - Dirty Harry - Paul Mac Remix.
Peaches - Downtown
Lily Allen - Smile

Hour 1 Part 3 - 19:35

Jim Noir - Eanie Meany (Fat boy slim radio edit)
Lazyboy - Police dogs bonfire (linus loves mix)
Tiga - (Far From) Home The Speed Of Sexor Reprise
Daft Punk - The prime time of your life

Hour 2 Part 1 - 19:52

Muse - Supermassive black hole
Snow Patrol - Alpine Stars
Fatboy slim - Praise you (mike d and adrock remix)
Gorillaz - El manana (Metronomy remix)
Freelance Hellraiser - You Can Cry All You Want

Hour 2 Part 3 - 22:08

Goldfrapp - Ride a white horse (fk ek vocal version)
Madonna - Get Together (Tiefschwarz remix)
Gabrielle - Forget About The World (Daft Punk Remix)

Madonna - Get together

Oh you can always tell when someone is flavour of the month because Madonna's people get them in for a remix. Tiefschwarz drop this floor-friendly electrohouse remix.

Peaches - Downtown

As a prelude to her forthcoming album "Impeach My Bush", Peaches returns with new tracks to whet our appetites. Unique with her minimal pumping beats and loved by true innovators as diverse as Deborah Harry, Iggy Pop, Bjork, Josh Homme, Lil Kim, Marilyn Manson, Kelis, 2 Many DJs, MIA and LCD Soundsystem.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Melancholy: Bleak is the New Black

Some of the best NZ music ever has been melancholic, dark, depressive and even downright gothic (think of the meaning of the word of here, not Bauhaus and The Cure). Bands like The Chills, The Gordons, The 3Ds were all top standard, as good as anything else in the world, but none of them wrote songs your likely to hear at a kids birthday party. And when NZ bands have gone for the happy sound the results have been dire - remember "Melting Pot" by When the Cats Away - or "For Today" by The Netherworld Dancing Toys? Awful!

This month there have been a slew of great releases by kiwi acts that wallow in the melancholy. Bleak is the new black.

First up - Cassette. This band released a stone cold classic EP called EMO in 2000. The EP drew on everything great about laid back country era Neil Young but managed to sound fresh with engaging songs and great hooks. EMO has been on high rotate at home and on my show for five years. Cassette first started talking about an album release around 2001. Five years later Cut For Summer is here. (True to form they're still running late, releasing an album of that title in the midst of winter.)

So, has it been worth the wait? Absolutely. There are a handful of tracks on here, Pieces, Not Home and What a Relief, that could easily have sat on EMO. These songs are vey laid back, so slow they're almost not moving forward. There are a couple of rockers, one of which, Pick Me Up, has a great muted guitar refrain that just gets under your skin. Towards the end a couple of the songs are less engaging, but that seems to be the case with just about every albums these days.

The other thing about this album is that it's a grower. First time through I was thinking "okay", now I'm finding it hard to listen to anything else. You can stream tracks from both Cassette releases here.

A couple of other releases warrant mention too. The Haints of Dean Hall have put out a self released album on Arch Hill Records. Not to everyone's taste, this album is sparse and quiet, many tracks featuring only acoustic guitar and vocal, although a couple of tracks are reminiscent of the great NZ gothic country outfit The Renderers.

A haint is a southern term for a ghostly steam rising off the road, often mistaken to be a ghost, and the songs on this album are ghost like, definitely present but hard to get hold of. I'm still getting my head around this, but if you like acts like Bonnie "Prince" Billy, the great Steve Abel, or quieter moments of the Renderers give it a try. You can stream and download tracks here.

Finally, well worth checking out is the new album from Don McGlashan, Warm Hand. This has had plenty of media, so I won't say too much. However, the standout feature of this album is his melancholic lyrics. My favourite track, Toy Factory Fire, is narrated through the eyes of a New York executive whose company was ran a third world sweatshop factory that burnt to the ground killing 151 workers (a true story). There aren't many people who could turn that into a song without being heavy handed and overly polemic, but Don McGlashan is one.

For these and other depressing songs make sure you tune into Counting The Beat, Sundays at 6pm.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Hauraki Hoedown Highlight - Scott H Biram

A couple of years ago Scott H. Biram was involved in a near fatal car wreck on the way home from a gig. A head-on collision with an 18-wheeler resulted in multiple fractures and massive internal injuries but the bluesman survived, and was back on stage a week after his release from the hospital. Apparently his comeback show consisted of Biram on stage in a wheelchair complete with I.V. drip, 2 broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and 1 foot less of his lower intestine. It's a kind of mythical story - pulled back from the edge sort of stuff, that will, if this guy keeps making music the way he does, add another great bluesman story to the pile.

The self proclaimed "Dirty Old One Man Band" fuses together blues, hillbilly and country precariously into a raucous punk rock style fusion with the odd wink towards a not so latent flirtation with metal. Or something like that anyways ... download a couple of free Biram tracks here and start your own damn blog :-)

The full playlist for for Country Mike’s Hauraki Hoedown for Monday July 10th, 2006, can be found here at the Casa de Country Mike.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Famous Five Discover Music

Another two hour BOBcast this week about songs with the word Five in their title, as follows the tracks played.

The Vogues - Five O'Clock World
Fat Freddys Drop - Five Day Night
Mazzy Star - Five String Serenade
Patrick Nuo - Five Days
Stars - First Five Times
Spitalfield - Five Days & Counting
McFly - Five Colours In Her Hair
Soilwork - Figure Number Five
Megadeath - Five Magics
Five By Design - Five More minutes
Blue Rodeo - Five Days In May
Alabama - Five O'Clock 500
Dane Cook - Five Sisters (comedy)
Stranglers - Five Minutes
Less Than jake - Five State Drive
Choking Victim - Five Finger Discount
Cord Lund Band - Five Dollar Bill
Alan Jackson/ Jimmy Buffet - Its Five O'Clock Somewhere
Hoyt Axton - Five Hundred Miles
Prince - Five Women
The Looniz - I Got Five On It
Raffi - Five Frogs (childrens song maybe)
The Doors - Five To One
Taking Back Sunday - No Five With A Bullet
Lost Prophets - Five Is A Four Letter Word
Robert Earle Keene Jr - Five Pound Bass
Lorrie Morgan - Five Minutes
Hollywood Undead - Number Five

So there you go until next week, enjoy your music.

Four On The Floor

The two hour BOBcast and track listing for the week of songs with the word Four in the title is as follows:-

Starsailor - Four to the Floor (Thin White Duke Mix)
Clock DVA - Four Hours
Halfway Home - Four Months Until The Swarm
Bachman Turner Overdrive - Four Wheel Drive (dedicated to all the Waiheke Mums in their big shopping baskets who can't keep left)
Boys To Men - Four Seasons Of Loneliness
Aaliyah - Four Page Letter
Kings Of Leon - Four Kicks
Living Things - On All Fours
Badly Drawn Boy - Four Leaf Clover
Crowded House - Four Seasons In One Day
Athlete - Twenty Four Hours
Metallica - The Four Horsemen
Tom Robinson Band - 2 4 6 8 Motorway
The Junction - In Components Of Four
Bloodhound Gang - 3 Point One Four
Castanets - 3 Days Four Nights
Robert Plant - Let Four Winds Blow
Led Zeppelin - Four Sticks
Dead Poetic - Four Wall Blackmail
O V Wright - 8 Men 4 Women
Nina Simone - Four Women
Abra Moore - Four Leaf Clover
Pretty Willie - Four Walls
Cheyenne Kimball - Four Walls
Avant - Four Minutes

......and there you have it, til next week.