It’s over! No more incessant ramblings about awesome albums/the state of my hearing/ my revulsion at the “Wellington Sound”/angry critiques of bands that should not be allowed near recording equipment! Oh, and much to the delight of a few ‘fans’, no more misplaced apostrophes, made up words or severely miss-spelt ones!
Over the past 25 issues of Salient, with the fine help of the brilliant reviewers Tom Baragwanath, Sophie Barclay, Clodagh O’Connor-McKenna, Daniel Hanson and Lucy Wyatt, the Salient music pages have featured and highlighted a diverse range of acts, reviewed a range of albums and profiled a few of the great shows The VBC has hosted.
If this were an awards ceremony – Salient music pages style – then the categories and winners would be:
Best Atmosphere at a Live Gig: The Evens. Ian MacKaye’s latest project played at Sub Nine earlier in the year. Their unconventional performance philosophy created an intense, intimate evening, which I think most people felt truly privileged to be a part of.
Best Orientation Show: Lindon Puffin. The bitterly sarcastic, immensely talented folk/punk/rockabilly pill-popping Cantabrian wins this, even over such fine competition as Wayne Anderson, Juliet and the Licks and NOFX.
Best Party Involving Polar Fleece: With few contenders, the winner is the June 28 Polar Fleece Party (aka my birthday), where with Salient News Editor Laura McQuillan and my powers combined (with a huge amount of help from Jon McQueen and Dusty McLoughlin) we celebrated the joys of polar fleece, booze and saving polar bears.
Most Likely to Cause Deafness in Future Years: A joint effort for this one, with the prize being shared by Napalm Death and Limp Wrist. Both international bands, playing grindcore and hardcore respectively.
Best Dirty Rock and Roll Show: The King Brothers. The destructive four-piece rock and roll outfit from Japan ripped the San Fran to shreds – I was scared my ears would bleed. Until I saw the King Brothers, Guitar Wolf held this award in my books, but when the King Brothers moved their gear – drum kit and all – down to the floor of the San Fran to play among the audience, and the lead singer/guitar crowd surfing while playing – the award changed hands.
Best Comeback Show: The Lemonheads at the San Fran. ‘90s teen heartthrob Evan Dando took to the stage a little haggard but still pulled out such gems as ‘If I Could Talk I’d Tell You’ much to the delight of his swooning fans (or groupies if it were like ten years earlier).
Most Disappointing Show: NOFX. It still pains me to think about this. Since 15 I pined to see them live, when this was realised in March this year, the whole atmosphere, Fat Mike’s broken leg and arrogant stage manner resulted in me pushing their albums to the back of my collection in bitter resentment.
Best Place to Spend a Tuesday: The San Francisco Bath House. While this results in ‘write-off Wednesday’, it is worth it. The high caliber of bands each month, charming company (cheers to The VBC!) and the enticing drink specials – Tuesday is the new Friday.
Favourite local finds of 2007: Charismatic singer/keyboardist Stephen Jackson, who won over many a heart at the Mad Hatters Party, future poppers Alex the Kid, restrained indie synth-pop of The Deadly Deaths and local punk/ hardcore act Punchbowl.
Lamest Month of the Year: New Zealand Music Month. A whole month dedicated to pushing formulaic, radio friendly, signed artists on mainstream media, and for everyone else to wear the stupid target hoodies.
CD wise, if you took any of our advice on board this year, added to your CD collection will be The Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, which was gold for Tom Baragwanath who found appreciation in its “bitterness and calculated rage.”
M.I.A’s Kala is definitely in both my and Sophie Barclay’s top five of the year. Modest Mouse’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank was a much anticipated spastic, paranoid ramble of a fifth album. Lindon Puffin’s Show Pony, Surf City’s self titled EP, So So Modern’s Friendly Fires, Urban Tramper’s Tokon and the Colours, and Disasteradio’s Visions were some of the best local releases reviewed. Malajube’s crazy mix up of sounds and styles on Trompe-l’Oeil, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ISIS and Iron & Wine’s The Shepard’s Dog were also highlight albums that showed up in the mail and provided great distractions from study.
We also had our fair share of shit CDs to review that resulted in us being more negative than positive about them, which made a fair few enemies I suspect, especially when it was local artists on the receiving end. Apologies to Sophie for landing you with the lame ones, such as Tourettes, which she paid out big time. There was also Tom’s Tweeks review which he set it out as an example of the “composition of average music” – in my opinion one of the best reviews in Salient this year.
My personal experiences with negative reviewing resulted in me being accosted on the balcony of the San Fran early in the year by a guy who looked like he fell off the back of a ute, a great letter in Salient over The Vacants review (did you ever take the advice love?) and an ongoing online fight with ‘Riprah’ over the Phat Moon party review (thanks to Tristan who had my back over that one).
So, with my skin a bit tougher, a pile of sweet CDs to keep me going over summer, and rad concert memories, I’m out of here. Thanks for reading, giving me feedback (especially of the positive variety), a big thanks to the labels for sending CDs, and to the promoters who put on these shows and for hooking us up with tickets. Cheers!