New Releases June 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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