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June 5, 2018 | by  | in Music |
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NZ Music Month

Another NZ Music Month has come and gone, and as per usual has brought with it much in the way of quality Kiwi music. I’m using this space this week to highlight four homegrown albums which deserve your attention, as much of the best music to come out this year has come from good old Aotearoa.


For Ages is the sophomore release from emo duo Carb on Carb, following up their superb self-titled record from 2015. The duo’s Facebook “about” section sees them describing their sound as sitting “somewhere between the classic 90s emo of The Get Up Kids, and more current counterparts like Camp Cope”. Fans of the latter will find a lot to like about this group, particularly in singer Nicole’s vocal chops and sharp lyricism. For Ages sees Carb on Carb tackling family relationships (“Ma”), race and gender issues in New Zealand (“Man Says”), and positioning New Zealand’s place in the world (on the superbly named “Home Again 2”). The musical performances are every bit as sharp and considered as the lyrics, and in general this is just a sweet album that rewards investment. Give it a hoon!


I had the pleasure of seeing Julia Deans at the back end of May, on the Marlon Williams show at the Hunter Lounge (see last week’s gig review for more on that). I had only heard bits and pieces of the album at that point in time, and had been drawn to single “Clandestine” particularly, for its simple and elegant nature. As is often the case, seeing songs from We Light Fire placed new meaning into the tracks here, and as such probably drove my enjoyment of the album. I remember a heckler at the gig asking her for “Lydia” (the Fur Patrol hit from which many first time listeners will recognise her), and Deans responding with “Chelsea”, the closer on We Light Fire, a song “with a different girl’s name”. One could argue this tune is even better, with its sensitive and personal vocal performance and down-to-earth lyrics serving as a mission statement for the album. Definitely one of my favourite albums so far this year, so check it out!


Wax Chattels’ self-titled debut is a gritty one. The band has, in a variety of interviews, described their sound as “guitarless guitar music”, and it carries a real swagger and a strong sense of identity. Wax Chattels is a visceral and fresh debut, with many highlights. I particularly enjoy “In My Mouth”, where the vocals carry a scathing confidence, while the breakdown in the back third of the song displays phenomenal musicianship and a firm post-punk edge. “Stay Disappointed” is another gem here, and features a relentless groove and a particularly sharp bass. Wax Chattels remind me a lot of groups like Preoccupations (and the offshoot groups that preceded them), and could even draw a comparison to grittier Flying Nun material from the golden era. These songs shine a light on some of the darker facets of New Zealand society, and I feel as if they occupy a unique lane in the New Zealand market. Can’t wait to see where this band goes next.


Birthday Suite is Kody Nielson’s follow up to the fantastic Personal Computer, released under the Silicon pseudonym (and positively reviewed by a wide-eyed, first-year, neck-bearded version of myself for this very magazine in 2015). Nielson’s latest is another in a series of left turns that his music has taken since the conclusion of The Mint Chicks, and is an entirely instrumental record. The track listing is super fun, as each of the tracks are named for a birthday of a friend or family member, even going as far as releasing the advance singles for Birthday Suite on the actual birthdays of the people in question. Nielson creates and covers a vast sonic landscape on Birthday Suite, and fans of krautrock, experimental electronic music, and Frank Zappa will find plenty to like here.

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