New & Recent Releases March 08

Another month and another batch of great new releases. Over the last few weeks I have been returning again and again to a stunningly good EP, The Wolves, from Wellington band Secret Knives. The band mix chiming guitars with electronic textures and angsty, but not overwrought, vocals. Without sounding like any of the current crop of American indie bands like Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, Beach House etc. they would sit comfortably in a playlist alongside those bands and match them for quality. For a New Zealand comparison think of maybe a happier Shocking Pinks. There is very little info to be had about the band but the seven track EP has been getting rave reviews on NZ and international blogs. This is one of my favourite NZ releases of the year and is available for FREE download from A Low Hum. Highly recommended.

Also out this month is an eclectic EP, You Have Been Warned from the New Telepathics, the musical vehicle for Darryn Harkness - producer, song writer and multi instrumentalist. Harkness has just recently returned from London and has played a bunch of live shows for the first time in nearly a decade. Both live and on the EP this is not standard fare. Harkness mixes sound improvisation, indie rock, afro-beat and jazz and out of it creates challenging and engaging music. Well worth watching is a live-in-the-studio performance recorded at the Red Bull studios. (I only just discovered this site but there is a whole treasure trove of material here for NZ music fans. I've posted one New Telepathics track on the video page).

Lawence Arabia is James Milne who also heads the Reduction Agents, whose album Dance the Reduction Agents was one of my favourite albums of 2006 and is highly recommended. Although very good I wasn't quite so keen on the self titled Lawrence Arabia album that came out around the same time, maybe it's just that I'm more of a band man, but this new song, 'Beautiful Young Crew', available on his myspace page, has really grabbed me.

Up next are Thousand Suns, who have released an album of easy-going guitar and percussion world-music influenced pop called Fascination. I have to say the bongo drum (I'm sure there must be a more correct musical term) got a bit much over a whole album but taken song by song there are some great laid-back summer tunes here as demonstrated on the song included in this episode - Something Beautiful Exists. You can buy the album and sample more tracks at Amplifier.

Steve Abel has long been a Counting The Beat favourite. His album Little Death won a well deserved Album of The Year in the inaugural Alternatuis. A new album, Flax Happy is due soon and the songs that have surfaced to date are certainly whetting the appetite for another classic. You can download 'Sad Girls' from Steve's website and hear 'Sally' on his myspace.

And a plea, English band House of Love recorded a cover of The Chills 'Pink Frost' which I have not been able to track down anywhere - does anyone have a copy I can get an MP3 of? Contact me at the email link at the top of the page.

Download the Counting The Beat - New Releases March 08



Liam Finn live at SXSW
Every year the New Zealand Music Commission makes a big fuss about the kiwi bands making an appearance at the auspicious South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference in Austin, Texas. I've always been a little cynical about this. The way it's been spun makes it sound like even getting on the bill is a sign of making it when in fact thousands of bands appear and I've yet to hear about an NZ act that made it big as result of making the trip. However, this year I've been following the conference on-line and it does sound like one hell of a good party. My plan now is to find some way of getting someone to pay for me to go to the next one.

There are a host of Counting The Beat favourites in this year's line up and this podcast episode will feature some of them including The Ruby Suns and former Alternatui winners The Mint Chicks. Also included are Rodney Fisher of Goodshirt and, the highlight, a couple of spectacular tracks from Liam Finn recorded live by America's National Public Radio at his show at this year's SXSW (you can hear his whole show here). Not featured is Wing, making an appearance this year as part of the NZ contingent.

Download the Counting The Beat - NZ @ SXSW podcast

Image: Joel Didriksen of


Covering the Beat 2

If you spend a bit of time wandering around the internet reading music blogs (and since you're reading this, I presume you do) you'll find that there are a number of bloggers obsessed with covers. I'm pretty fond of them myself so a while back I decided that I would run an occassional series called Covering The Beat - NZ bands covering NZ bands. The first Covering The Beat featured three bands covering The Chills and is still available to download. This episode casts a wider net although Flying Nun originals still feature.

In 1997 Flying Nun released a tribute album entitled God Save The Clean featuring a diverse range of local and overseas acts covering songs by The Clean. There are a number of stand out tracks but one that received quite a bit of airplay at the time was Head Like A Hole's version of 'Beatnik'.

Also covering a Flying Nun classic are pop-punk outfit Elemeno-P. On their 2005 album Trouble in Paradise they unexpectedly included a pumped up version of The Verlaines' 'Death and The Maiden'. (original classic "rabbit" video on video page)

Now for something completely different. In 2007 Michel Rowland put together a real labour of love. She's Lost is an internet only compilation of dark-alt/industrial/electro/experimental acts covering favourite NZ songs. The whole album is worth a listen but there really is something special about industrial cyberpunk outfit N.U.T.E's take on John Rowles' song about his sister 'Cheryl Moana Marie'. (see John sing it on the video page)

To finish up, from the classic AK79 punk compilation I have The Terrorways' (pictured above) version of 'She's A Mod', originally by Ray Columbus and The Invaders.

Keep posted for more Covering the Beat specials in the future including a very special special, probably in two or three months time.

Download the Counting The Beat - Covering The Beat 2 podcast

Download the Counting The Beat - Covering The Beat: Chills Covers podcast