Over all the years I've been involved with making radio programmes some of the most thrilling moments have been when I've had a musician or band just inches away from me performing live, while I've been trying to capture the energy and get it on air. And I also like hearing live music on the radio. Maybe it's the tension of knowing there's no second take and the unknown factor of nor knowing just who is listening that means so many live to air performances positively crackle. In this episode I feature recording of live-to-air performances, some of which I've been involved with, and others that have either been commercially released or I've come across as a radio listener.
On Waiheke Island,my home town, Three Legged Horse, now sadly gone, were a revelation on the local music scene. For years it seemed all you could hear were middle aged guys playing the blues but Three Legged Horse came along and they were something else. They had a grungy, angsty edge courtesy of songwriter Bede Taylor, anchored by the talented playing of Aaron Carpenter and fronted by stellar vocalist Gina Higham. They left behind a stunningly good album, Down, which can be bought at the band's bandcamp page. At Waiheke Radio we were huge fans of the band and they helped us out with fundraisers and the like. We got them in for a live-to-air session for New Zealand music month in 2009 (picture above by Pumicehead) and as well as original material asked them to perform a kiwi cover. Aaron was still listening to the tune on an ipod when he arrived but when the Horse played The Rock and Roll Machine's 'Slave' the performance was electric.
Do you remember cassettes. The other day I stumbled upon a box of them that included a couple of cassettes of live-to-air recordings that I'd taped off the radio in the days before the internet and podcasts. I'd actually completely forgotten that I had taped a live-to-air by Body Bomb, a Dunedin band active in the mid nineties. They were a live favourite of mine who played extremely loud punk rock that pinned you to the back wall. As well as the live track featured on the podcast you can find a Body Bomb track on the website of band leader Victor Billot. The band also featured Tristan Dingemans of HDU but unfortunately the rest of the band members identities elude my memory.
Fatal Jelly Space were a great Auckland band who released one great EP titled Hole on Flying Nun in 1990. They were a staunchly feminist outfit and a ferocious (if not somewhat scary) phenomenon live striking fear into the hearts of many. Around the turn of the century Bob Dylan played the god-awful North Shore Events Centre in Takapuna, Auckland. Ordinarily that wouldn't have grabbed me, but supporting him was none other than Patti Smith. As soon as I heard that I was there. She was better than I can describe here and I went away very happy. On the way back into town to catch the last ferry to Waiheke we saw someone hitching we recognised as coming from the island. We picked her up and got chatting and it turned out this fellow Patti Smith fan was Frankie Fatal of Fatal Jelly Space. So anyway, in 2003 I was putting together a series of live-to-air performances on Waiheke Island radio station, The Beach to mark NZ Music Month. I remembered that late night hitch-hiking encounter and approached Frankie about performing. She agreed, playing a great set of new songs and revisiting one of the tracks from the Hole EP, 'Miseriah'.
Between 200o and 2002 Auckland alternative radio station bFM, long-time champions of NZ music, released a series of three CDs of recordings of live-to-air performances broadcast by the station titled Live and Direct Vol. 1 - 3. Most of the tracks were cherry picked from the station's NZ Music week specials, when they would broadcast dozens of live-to-airs over a week. Vol. 1 featured recordings from 2000, a year before Cassette released their classic Emo EP. Where Emo was all slow, Neil Youngesque country rock, 'Marty Squire', the live song featured on Live and Direct Vol. 1 is a much rockier affair, signposting a direction the band would take on later releases.
Another legendary live-to-air performance on Waiheke Radio came from Tank and Pump, the band that emerged following the end of Three Legged Horse. Frontman and songwriter Bede Taylor gathered an eight piece behemoth around him, unleashing new levels of rock ecstasy upon the island. They pulled out all the stops when they crammed into Waiheke Radio's 3 x 3 m office (pictured above, photo by Pumicehead) and delivered an amazing hour long on-air live performance. They've since kept up their reputation as a phenomenal live outfit, most recently performing with celebrity fan John Hawkesby.
Whether it's on DAT in the back room cupboard of radio stations, or boxes of cassettes in the attic of music fans like me, I get the feeling there are many, many amazing live performances of New Zealand bands floating around out there and I think it's time we dug them out and had another listen.
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This month marks nineteen months of Counting The Beat contributions to an exciting international initiative, the Music Alliance Pact. On a monthly basis music bloggers from around the globe select a track from their own country which is then posted collectively and simultaneously on those blogs - giving each nation's track international exposure. There are now 28 countries participating and interest is growing. This month Counting The Beat is pleased to be contributing 'Seizure' from Thieves excellent self titled EP. If like me you're a fan of ninties Flying Nun I recommend you purchase the EP from Thieves bandcamp page. (Update: Now a free download)
NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Thieves - Seizure
The first wave of iconic NZ label Flying Nun was the jangly indie pop that became known around the world: bands like The Clean and The Chills. The second wave came in the 90s - the music was noisier and darker - and it was some of my favourite music of all time. It's this second wave of Flying Nun that Thieves invoke on their excellent self titled EP. Thieves brooding alternative guitar rock is showcased on the EP's centrepiece, Seizure. They have two EPs available to download from http://thievesss.bandcamp.com
Springlizard - Docks Of The Okinoh
Two guys with acoustic guitars, ancestral melodies and lyrics, and Dreams Of The Wolf, a record with a limited edition of just 297 hand-made copies (you can get a digital version for free, just check their MySpace). Oh, and to Blogpartei readers: Springlizard will be touring Germany next August, so you better check them out!
AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
World's End Press - Golden Child
Not the easiest band name to roll off the tongue, but World’s End Press have done very well with their disco jams meets the Stone Roses sound. The live show is a full-on party set, selling out parties in their hometown, Melbourne. Also check out their previous track, Only The Brave, on their myspace. Their debut album is being produced by fellow Melbournian electronic whiz Qua.
BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Superguidis - Nao Fosse O Bom Humor
Nao Fosse O Bom Humor is the main song of the 3rd album of southern Brazilian band Superguidis, released a few months ago. Its heavy riff and melodic lines remembers some of the best times of Foo Fighters, impression that, live, gets even stronger.
Ghostkeeper - Don't Come Knocking
If The Libertines had grown up somewhere in the Canadian Prairies, Ghostkeeper is probably how they would've sounded. The band's self-titled debut is one of the most creative and exciting things to come out so far this year, and this song has ample evidence of why that is.
CHILE: Super 45
El Sueno De La Casa Propia - Voluntad De Oro
Sample-based artist El Sueno De La Casa Propia (ESDLCP) started his music career molding his own electronic version from Chilean folk music. But in his new album - Historial De Caidas, available July 15th by Chilean net label Pueblo Nuevo - Jose Manuel Cerda (ESDLCP's real name) takes a giant leap by adding elements from r&b and rock music that converge on a dynamic pop album. An essential and long awaited album, introducing a stronger organic sound; a clear improvement from previous works.
DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Kellermensch - Black Dress (Live)
Kellermensch (who incidentally were also this blog's very first MAP contribution) released their awesome debut album last year, which - apart from much praise - earned them invitations to do both an XFM and a BBC Radio 1 Live Session. End July, a revamped version of the debut including four brand new songs will be released in the UK. First - and great - single, Army Ants, is out now, but here’s a live version of Black Dress, recorded November 21, 2009, to give you a sweet taste of the band’s supreme performances.
Junk Riot - Black Widow
Junk Riot is a four-piece garage/indie/experimental band from Tallinn, Estonia. Their sound is built on high-pitched vocals and heavy usage of pitch-shifting/delay effects on guitar. Formed in late 2006, it took about a year to gain reputation as an exciting live band, a fresh breath of air in smoky clubs. By now, Junk Riot is among one of the first Russian-speaking Estonian bands to be fully accepted by the Estonian indie scene.
Kim Curly Band - Passerby
With the alias of Kim Curly, singer Kimmo Numminen delivers a sharp songwriting that combines intimate moments with full band Americana. Passerby, included in the Kim Curly Band debut album, is an uplifting rocker that reminds us of the most traditional Ryan Adams.
Sickcity - Julia
To name a constant insider's tip, SICKCITY is a good choice. This four-piece from Munich does manifold music, from danceable indietronics to waltzrock. Although Julia has some time under its belt, it's still one of my favourite songs. A tripping waltz accompanied by the intense voice of Daniel Shah, reminding of Marilyn Manson.
My Wet Calvin - Laps
My Wet Calvin is an experimental act with a DIY aesthetic that offers unconventional live performances and delivers a blend of shoegaze, pop, noise and intense drumming with shimmering guitars, synths, electronics and fragile vocals. All Great Events convincingly balances the scales of different sounds and textures, without sacrificing anything in terms of musical ideas or melody. Each song sounds like a distinct ray of light and although it's packed into something both surprisingly subversive and cohesive, it's the strength of each of them that makes the whole album stand out. Laps is a thrilling evidence of compelling thoughtful craftsmanship. Just close your eyes and enjoy it. It's even more satisfying.
ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Feldberg - Dreamin
Feldberg was formed in January 2009 by Einar Tonsberg, better known as Eberg, and Rosa Birgitta Isfeld, the singer of the band Sometime. The duo decided to meet every Tuesday night for a couple of months and write some songs together. One of their songs, Don’t Be A Stranger, was used in an ad and later on released as a single. Debut album Don’t Be A Stranger was released by Icelandic label Cod Music last year. The song Dreamin was Song Of The Year at the Icelandic Music Awards 2009.
Mocca - Lucky Me
One may say that this band is the biggest name in the Indonesian Indie-pop scene.
And probably the sweetest voice you could ever hear.
Sunken Foal - Sailing Architrades
Signed to influential electronic label Planet Mu, Dunk aka Sunken Foal's music is a compound of stringed instruments, analogue synthesizers and ambience, matched with a healthy dose of innovative beats. This once off tune hasn't found a home on a release yet, but if you like what you hear, check out his 2008 debut, Fallen Arches.
ISRAEL: Metal Israel
Spawn Of Evil - Screamager (Therapy Cover)
Spawn of Evil is a rambunctious death/thrash Zionist metal band with straight up metal influences mixed with Middle Eastern groove and a sense of humor. This is a cover of Therapy?'s hit Screamager, approved by Therapy? themselves.
Les Mange-Tout - Weak Week
If you are invited for tea, just bring this album by Les Mange-Tout with you. One girl from Genova, one from Le Havre: they sure know how to rock the hell out of a tea party. Folk twee pop with a magnificent attitude for weaved melodies, lovely choruses and nursery rhymes. Just add some glockenspiel and melodica, a double bass and a driver lent from the band The Calorifer Is Very Hot, too many super cute vintage dresses and you're done!
JAPAN: JPOP Lover
Kafuka - Tracer
Check the unreleased track from the underground Electronica, Hyogo, Japan. Kafuka – just like 20th century's famous bohemian novelist - is an indie bedroom musician with ambient taste, playing lo-fi Guitar. Deeply weird, but satisfying post-rock with synthwave jams.
MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
Torreblanca - Parece Navidad
Juan Manuel Torreblanca is a multi-instrumentalist (and illustrator) from Mexico City. His talents on the piano and accordion have been recruited by quite a few in the Mexican scene. His own compositions however are the real deal, as he fronts a full ensemble. Torreblanca counts on a quintet armed with a strong rhythm section and wind instruments. He and his fellow musicians recently released a debut titled Defensa, an astonishing first EP with just four songs composed by great arrangements and confrontative, existentialist lyrics. Parece Navidad is the second and the most complex cut from this promising EP, after the homonymous first single.
Suspicious For The Winter - Empty Streets
Suspicious For The Winter is a project formed from two of Oslo’s freshest indie bands, Casa Murilo and Like Spinning. The two bands joined as Suspicious For The Winter on EardrumsPop's free compilation, Between Two Waves, where all songs are made as collaborations between bands. You can download the full 40 songs compilation on eardrumspop.com or listen on http://soundcloud.com/eardrumspop. Check out the two bands’ music on http://www.myspace.com/casamurilo and http://www.myspace.com/like_spinning
Electro-Z - En Ficcion
Electro-Z was one of those strange flashes that sometimes happen in music. His self-titled album turned 10 years, and is remembered as the glow of innovation that ended with the war of styles in the Peruvian music scene of the last decade. Electro-Z made his sound from the link created between the distortion of rock and the coolness of pop, and found his key in the unification of these genres. En Ficcion is a good example of all these. Although the style seemed unclassifiable at that time, it would be later known as indie.
PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Pop Dell Arte - Ritual Transdisco
We are proud to bring here one of the most important Portuguese alternative bands, celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. Led by Joao Peste, they have been exploring and composing lyrics and sounds that you never heard anywhere. Ritual Transdisco is their first single from the just released new album, Contra Mundum.
ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Butterflies In My Stomach - Another You
Butterflies In My Stomach started as a project in the spring of 2005. They are one of the few bands in the acid jazz/nu-jazz/trip-hop area in Romania. The name comes from the wonderful sensation that takes you by surprise and leaves its traces for a long time.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Kid Canaveral - Good Morning
Kid Canaveral offer a free return ticket to the mainstream indie-pop sound of the 90s, favouring the irrepressible joy of melody ahead of racking up cool points. The frantic chug of Good Morning takes in some typically Scottish themes - drinking and going out - to give a welcome indication of what to expect from KC's forthcoming debut album Shouting At Wildlife, which is released on July 5.
SINGAPORE: I'm Waking Up To...
Elsa X - Baby Steps
On paper, Elsa X is a one-person experimental outfit that combines elements of post rock and electronica, under a pseudonym for a girl who suffers from mental disorders. Actually, it's a project meant to raise awareness on mental illness. The music however was released as a 2 sides EP written by one principal songwriter, Wang Wei Yang, who has deftly combined various emotional undertones based on research by his project mates. The air of bipolar emotions constantly flits through the soundscapes, hopeful and hopeless all at the same time. Elsa X is not real, and the music may not have been conceived from an artist's vision, but in this schizophrenic world, who can truly say what is what?
SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Jambinai - Miro
All trained in traditional Korean music, the three members of Jambinai play piri, geomungo and haegeum, respectively. Currently performing musical experiments in the realm of post-rock, they are working their instruments to create a fresh and natural sound and hope to make their first official release later this summer. Starting out slowly before proceeding into a fascinating display of prowess, Miro is a sonic delicacy not to be missed.
De Montevert - High On You
De Montevert's style is all over the place from indie pop to indie folk to experimental electronica and everything in between. I chose the song High On You because it has the most accessible sound and that indescribable indie pop naivety and purity.
I could honestly go on and on. But I’ll just ask to do yourself a favor and check out her MySpace page, listen to DKT, All Happy Endings, Both Human and/or Galpal.
Solange la Frange - Wakawak
To capture the special energy of a live-show on a record is a complicated undertaking. For the Swiss trio Solange La Frange, it was a piece of cake. The band got famous for their dynamic and powerful live performances and managed to put that atmosphere on a proper record. The special blend of electro and rock would make CSS and Karen O envious, if they knew about Solange La Frange from Vevey, Switzerland.
UNITED STATES: I Guess I'm Floating
Oberhofer - I Could Go
Oberhofer started as the solo, lo-fi bedroom project of Brad Oberhofer in Tacoma, Washington, only to develop into a full band once he moved to eastward to Brooklyn, New York. I Could Go is a great song with catchy percussion, climatic melodies, and wonderful whistling.
To download all 28 songs in one file click here
Posted by Chris at Tuesday, June 15, 2010
A round up of new and recent releases.
BARB is a supergroup of sorts made up of Liam Finn, Lawrence Arabia, Connan Mockasin, Eliza-Jane and Seamus Ebbs. Liam Finn has said "It seemed only natural. We have been involved in each others music for so long... getting up to play at each others shows... touring together when possible, we knew starting a band together would be fun... but we had no idea what it would sound like." What it sounds like, at least on their first released track 'Leo', is an amalgam of the respective members strengths with each member's contribution standing out, without becaming a 'We Are the World' type turn taking affair. Liam Finn's drumming is outstanding. You would expect this group to deliver a multi-layered catchy pop song and they do. I've posted a live version of the song from Liam Finn and Connon Mockasin on the video page.
Folk/Pop duo The Gladeyes (Jade Farley and Gwen Norcliffe) have just released a new song 'The Light' that wouldn't be out of place on their album Psychosis of Love, released late 2009. It's a melancholic guitar pop tune based around the refrain "There's a light shining on you tonight" and lifted above the ordinary by the backing harmonies and a touch of strings.
There's very little to tell about Cat and Sock, an experimental duo buried away in a Wellington studio producing music built with layers of electronica, pop-culture samples and field recordings. The duo's approach is well showcased on 'Winter of 1979', the stand-out track from their self-titled 4 track EP. The track has electronic textures building through the first half of the track overlaid by spoken word half-heard conversation which becomes clear as the textures give way to guitar and the sound of gentle surf. The EP has been released by, and can be bought from, Powertool Records.
Also with an EP out on Powertool are Surf Friends, another duo but this time based around a more traditional vocals, guitar, bass, keys and drums set-up, but given there's only two of them Surf Friends drumming duties are handled by a machine. I'm not 100% convinced about drum machines but I do like their guitar and keyboard sound which move between chugging Flying Nun and shimmering post-punk. As well as the self-titled EP Surf Friends have just released a new single 'Your On my Mind'.
Although Tim Guy has previously worked with Bic Runga, Anika Moa and Anna Coddington I hadn't really paid him much attention. His acoustic pop songs were pleasant and accomplished but didn't strike me as essential. However, Guy has just released his third album Big World and I'm really impressed. His songs are given extra depth with sympathetic use of wurlistzer and keys supplementing the guitar, bass drums line up while my current favourite 'You Bring The Gold' slides along with a slow groove, aided by the drumming of Julien Dyne (who has himself recently released an excellent album) of the Opensouls.
Die! Die! Die! have been around since 2003 and they've been getting better and better as their noisy punky songs develop more groove and swing. Their third album, apparently to be titled Form, will be released mid 2010, the second album album to come out on Flying Nun under Roger Shepherd's renewed stewardship. The first song from it is 'We Built Our Own Oppressors'. The video is posted on the video page.
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