New Releases August 09

Batrider originated in Wellington but are now based in London, following a stint in Melbourne. They've just released their second album Why We Can't Be Together. It's got a lot of good things going for it - it's strident and raucous, without being too much of either and it reminds me of all those early nineties female fronted grunge bands I liked so much, like L7, Babes in Toyland and Hole. There's also something about the sound of the whole album, it stretches and shifts. Imagine a music box that's been dropped, or got water in it. Afterwards it still plays the tunes but they sound a bit ... wonky. There are a few Batrider clips on the video page.

There's a new site selling downloads of a small but carefully selected range of local music called Sellmates. They also have a few free downloads and they've made some out-of-print limited releases available again. Amongst those are the early EPs from synth/guitar indie band So So Modern, some of which like 0000 EP originally only came out in a release of 100 mail order copies. It's nice to have this music available and affordable. Until this site came along the only other way to get your hands on them was to buy a Japanese only compilation which sold for around $50. Check out So So Modern on the video page and interviewed on National Radio (stream).

Street Chant's three members together bring their respective enthusiasm for alternative guitar bands, experimental noise and country to their music but it's the former that wins out in their loud, catchy as hell, guitar pop. They've recently released 'Scream Walk', a great primer for an album due in October. There's some nice live in the studio videos of Street Chant recorded in the Red Bull Studio - while you're there check out what is an extensive repository of live performances by local acts.

A couple of months ago I featured Urbantramper on the Music Alliance Pact. I described them as producing introspective pop songs that reflect an endearing, naive angst about their place in the world and wrote of their experimentation with making music available through creative commons licensing and pay-what-you-want pricing. It must be working to at least a small degree because after that I got reports back from overseas about people buying their last album Tokon And the Colours. The band have now released a new song 'Olympic Theme 2012' on their website,

Only one band could write a song about TV journalist John Campbell pressuring the Prime Minister to change the law to allow people to adopt pandas - and that band is Bear Cat. They've been singing about pandas, and I've been singing their praises, since 2007. Bear Cat have finally recorded an album of their extremely silly, infectious and endearing songs, Xiong Mao (Chinese for Bear Cat or Panda), which will come out in September.

Liam Finn and his musical partner Eliza-Jane Barnes appear to be workaholics. They've been touring the United States almost solidly for two years promoting Finn's first solo album I'll Be Lightning. That tour included live performances on America's National Public Radio (listen to that here) and the David Letterman show (you can hear the pair talk about that with Kim Hill on National Radio here - mp3 and see the performance on the video page). Liam participated in the recording of the second 7 World's Collide project with his father Neil in January and he has just released an EP with Eliza Jane titled Champagne in Seashells. As if that's not enough both have just recorded an album with Connon Mockasin and Lawrence Arabia called Having A Baby. The four are about to tour NZ and hope to release the album in the new year.

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