Aaaaaand it's here. Fat Freddys' third album ‘Blackbird' has finally landed, and has taken a standard four years to arrive. This is the usual fare for theWellington slow cooker soul/dub outfit, who have taken that amount of time between every album (2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, with a live album before this one). So in some ways it's a bit disheartening knowing that once new material finally surfaces, we'll have to wait this amount of time or even longer for another one. Then again, it must be hard managing upwards of 7 musicians with new families and ravenous appetites in the same room, let alone getting the boys to conjure up something worthy of the Freddys canon. The finished product is at first a tiny bit underwhelming, but eventually finds an impressive groove only the Drop can pull off.
Many of these songs have been tested on the road for years. The title track has morphed from bare bones riff reggae to something a bit darker and heavier and less immediate. The same can be said for ‘Never Moving', which has been on the internet as ‘Afrique'- both of these tracks have been performed on the Red Bull Sessions in superior, spontaneous versions. The album version of the latter is a stuttering, Kraftwerkian piece which works on the outfit's love for club music. It's slightly awkward sounding, a part of a groove dirge (Part 3: Shiverman outtakes) that comprises the last third of Blackbird. Their recent album release show inLondon stretched ‘Moving' out to 20 minutes when it feels like a drag already. Those are the lower points out of the way -there are also songs that take flight into sunnier, positive skies.
‘Bones' is one of them. A light, breezy, acoustic infused number that recalls Bill Withers, Shuggie Otis (it was called ‘Shuggasie' in its demo form) and pre B.O.A.T.S. Freddys. An ode to cooking up pork bones, it carries on from the jubilance of 2009's ‘The Nod'. These boys love their food, and it brings out the best in their music. The 7 minutes of Bones fly by - a welcome, organic addition to their repertoire.
‘Silver and Gold' is elongated here from its single version, and it skanks along as one of their funkiest numbers. I still remember hearing that beat live during a Matakana show in early 2012 -it's stunning. In the context of the album, it still bears a powerful presence. The same can be said for current single ‘Clean the House'. It's an organic, soul infused sound that fits in the same vein as ‘Boondigga', with a slightly more melancholy flavour. A much larger presence from guitarist Jetlag Johnson on here too, which is a good thing.
‘Soldier' is something entirely new for the band. It slides and it grooves, riding on the percussive hits of the keys rather than beats in the first half. Joe Dukie, underrated as a lyricist that plays to the bands strengths, croons a tale of love making him feel like a soldier; think in the same vein as (sounds obvious) Sade's ‘Soldier of Love'. I was sceptical of the track at first, but on the third or fourth listen, it clicks. It's the opposite of whatShiverman sounds like, but strangely has the same emotional payoff. It's a quiet yet confident Freddys comfortable in the groove. The welcome addition of the melodica (not since Matterhorn!) makes it an absolute keeper.
There are the others too - ‘Russia' is the obligatory MC Slave moment (not his best moment), but still a brash, lover's rock that plays to their live strengths (and it's much better in that setting). ‘Mother Mother' has an excellent, urgent first half but gets lost soon after the 5 minute mark. ‘Bohannon' is a stomping instrumental groove, harkening back to their Live At The Matterhorn album once again.
Could the album have ended a bit stronger? As an absolute fan, I think so. Again, it's been four years since the last one and maybe I just wanted a bit more than MPC beats fizzling. But maybe it will take four years to fully appreciate, like the previous ‘BW'record did. And maybe they will start playing to their strengths and write an album of songs next time around, instead of extensions of Shiverman. That's where Blackbird's best moments lie. A testing, but ultimately satisfying record that needs repeated listens.
In the mid to late 90's, when grunge began to wither away and MTV strived to find the next easy to access label to attach to new batch of up and coming rock bands, global attention started to shine on the Alt Rock scene.
The I Love The 90s Tour returns to Auckland next year March 23rd at Auckland’s Spark Arena, with a completely off the chain lineup featuring classic Hip Hop crew Naughty by Nature. Vin Rock from the Grammy Award winning rap group speaks fondly of this country and love of our people.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!
Roger Waters is bringing his US + THEM tour to New Zealand this week, performing two shows at Auckland's Spark Arena on Wednesday Jan 24 & Friday Jan 26, before heading to Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium on Tuesday Jan 30.
Central Otago was on song today, when the annual nationwide Summer Concert Tour kicked off in Queenstown with international music artists Colin Hay of Men At Work fame, Alanis Morissette and The Orchestra starring former members of Electric Light Orchestra performing to a 18,000 strong sell-out crowd at the Gibbston Valley Winery Summer Concert.
Anthonie Tonnon is taking his new Extended Player and single to Australia, and to New Zealand towns that missed the first run of dates, or sold out too quickly. He’ll also be appearing at three summer festivals this February.
After a stand of three Auckland concerts that sold out in minutes in January, Connan Mockasin is hitting the road across Aotearoa for the first time in eight years this summer for a select run of headline shows.