MUSIC NEWS
UTR’s Highlights Of 2014

UTR’s Highlights Of 2014

Wednesday 31st December, 2014 10:00AM

Well, it’s been one heck of a year on the musical front and as we watch it draw to a close we (with the help of a few friends) are reflecting on some of the highlights of the last 12 months that made it a top notch year for music fans. With such a wealth of offerings to choose from, it’s a hard task, but here’s some of the stand-out moments of 2014...


EDITOR’S PICKS
(In no particular order...)

1. Snoop Dogg At The Big Day Out 2014
Backed by a live band and his homies Tha Dogg Pound, Snoopy stole the show from the simultaneously scheduled Pearl Jam with a party set that could only be witnessed through a thick ganja haze.

2. Revelation By The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Back in May, BJM released their fourteenth studio album and we’ve had it on repeat ever since. Recorded at frontman Anton Newcombe’s studio in Berlin it is a beautifully cohesive album that has become a “go to” for all occasions.

3. The Dirtbag Radio 1st Annual Local Music Awards For Bands That Aren't Shit
The Dirtbag boys, Matt Rapley and Sam Ralston, conjured up the idea to hold their own music awards over a drunken conversation, and then pulled it off like pros. Winners were chosen by democratic process and took home bird-flipping trophies, and a good time was had by all (especially Las Tetas who cleaned up and took three awards home). Fingers crossed the awards return in 2015.

4. Nick Cave’s Sold-Out Solo Shows
After the rollercoaster ride of purchasing tickets to one of the four solo shows announced back in June, the early December performances became one of the most anticipated events on the musical calendar. And we weren’t disappointed. A++

5. Princess Chelsea's Video For 'No Church On Sunday'
A lyrically charming atheist theme song, 'No Church On Sunday' was a treat when it dropped from this Lil' Chief signee, and then it was brilliantly followed up with this "retrofuturistic" video directed by Simon Ward. Nodding to arcade game landscapes and 80s neo-gothic fashion, the clip is a beautiful amalgamation of aesthetically pleasing parts that pair well with the ethereal single. 

6. The Laneway 2015 Line-Up
Hoolllyy!!! Mac DeMarco, Future Islands, Perfect Pussy, St Vincent, FKA Twigs, Belle and Sebastian all one one bill and the list goes on. It’s looking to be the most epic Laneway since the event kicked off in Auckland back in 2010. Honorable mention to the organisers of Woodcock festival who despite not having a silo-sized budget have pulled together one heck of a show for Tauranga in March.

7. Tami Neilson Winning The Silver Scroll For ‘Walk’
Tami Neilson’s been flying high since the release of her album Dynamite earlier this year, which was included on The Guardians' top 10 country albums of 2014. Her accolades also include taking home the prestigious Silver Scroll Award (with her co-writer brother) for the swinging lead single ‘Walk (Back To Your Arms)'. The cherry on top was Jonny Mark’s from All Seeing Hand covering the track with assistance from a Gamelan bell orchestra.

8. Blink’s Book About The State Of The New Zealand Music Scene
In a series of short essays Ian Jorgensen articulated a lot of ideas around weak links in the New Zealand music industry and put forward some ideas on how to make them stronger. Agree or disagree with the sentiments and suggestions, the book was a good catalyst for much-needed discussion.

9. Coolies Returning With Punk Is Bread
This six-track EP is the first release from the legendary Coolies since 2011 and brings together Stefan Neville (Pumice), SJ and founding member Tina Pihema for six-tracks of raucous dissonance, which is underpinned by solid rhythms and ingenuous vocals. The downside is it all ends too quickly. However, there was tipped to be an album following, which will hopefully turn up in 2015 with some live shows.

10. Lontalius’ Tear-Jerking Single ‘Light Shines Through Dust’
Wellington-based teen producer Lontalius, aka Eddie Johnson, blew us away with this heartbreaking piece of songwriting. And we weren’t the only ones, the striking song garnered attention from Stereogum and other international music media. Johnson has just finished high school, so we are looking forward to what he will deliver during 2015.



To help us reflect on some of the outstanding musical moments of the year we some pals from around the country to list their own top five local highlights of 2014. Here’s what they reckoned...


CHRIS CUDBY 
MUSIC WRITER / POWER NAP / GOLDEN AXE

1. Mongo Skato - I Don't Give It (1080p)
The best show I saw this year was the Mongo Skato / Eyeliner / Career Girls / Sexxx Haus, which ended with Mongo Skato (aka Thomas E. Richard)'s face, hands, and gear completely covered with his own blood while a packed venue partied hard (he'd nicked his finger trying to unstick a button on his MPC). Mongo Skato's post-footwork / noise / whatever debut totally lives up to that epicness and is my New Zealand pick of the year.

2. Tlaotlon - Spetra (1080p)
Tlaotlon throws down a killer bassline to grasp onto while Fourth Dimensional alien shapes melt through your fingertips via your earlobes.

3. P.H.F. - Cruiser / I Was A Kid
Two chunks of perfect pop that make the wait for P.H.F.'s Grind State album even more infuriating.

4. Stink Magnetic Records Wolf Party Compilation Tour
Stink Magnetic Records are 100% all about cool-as-shit artists keeping it fucken real. Golden Axe were stoked to get to cruise around New Zealand supporting this compilation of kick-ass tunes by one of the finest labels in Kiwi music.

5. Career Girls / Sexxx Haus - Fuck The Paparazzi (Kerosene Comic Book)
An insta-classic that dropped out of nowhere at the beginning of 2K14 and still sounds wicked. Hyper-kinetic, insanely detailed, and super fun.



MICHAEL McCLELLAND
MUSIC WRITER / THE CORNER / TEAM UGLY

1. Civil Union US Tour
While I should disclose that I was the tour manager, I feel I earned my bias through sheer endurance in the five stubbornest weeks of five peoples’ lives: van breakdowns/break-ins, mental shutdowns, backwater nowheres and even a code-red fucking thunderstorm. I remember at the point of bitter defeat, possibly the sixth time I thought we’d have to cancel the tour because of that fucking van, I remember just staring at the night sky and despairing, “the universe wants me dead.” But fuck you nature, we won: not one of the 30-ish shows was missed, and despite the Americans’ bafflement at our giant tour on 150 or so cassettes, all tapes sold out and there was even a galvanising, memorable review.

2. Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing - ‘A Fraud Abroad’
Few countries can claim that their best band has the words ‘Girls’ and ‘Pissing’ in the name, and to the best of my knowledge, New Zealand is the only one that has both words twice. GPOGP were always a tolerable presence in my periphery, but only after their inclusion on a ‘Best of 2013’ list on an international blog did I start to pay attention. ‘A Fraud Abroad’ marked out a new plateau as this country’s biggest sack-o’ weirdos turned their clattery din into something palatable. Beauty-ful, even. As an insider, I can assure you that next year’s album is gonna fuck worlds.

3. Blink’s Book
Only months after Camp A Low Hum found a watery grave, its creator Ian Jorgensen [aka Blink] released a book with a self-explanatory title: The Problem with Music in New Zealand and How to Fix it & Why I Started and Ran Puppies. Being a Blink project, the invitation was there to bring up counter-quibbles, but that seems the healthy point of the exercise. For me, it was enough that he went out on a limb to point out that there is a problem. That the debate made it into a nationally-circulated newspaper is no bad thing either. Rooms, elephants, etc.

4. Tall Dwarfs Reunion Show At The Audio Foundation
Musical siamese twins that they are, Tall Dwarfs duo Alec Bathgate and Chris Knox staged an early afternoon regathering with Stefan Neville on drums, Ary Jansen on the gat, and Jol Mulholland on bass. Anyone who’s seen Chris Knox perform in recent years can’t understate the depth of expression within the languagelessness of a performer like his post-stroke self — that much spoke for itself during one wordless yet wistful point in his Nothing set.

5. King Brothers vs. DHDFDs NZ tour
The tenth year of DHDFDs brought the band full circle, having brought Japan’s King Brothers back to the country where the two bands first met. Around a dozen times throughout New Zealand, (sometimes tiny) crowds witnessed the lunacy of the two weirdest bands in the Pacific as they swapped members and fluids.



EAMONN MARRA
HOST ON RADIO ACTIVE 88.6FM

1. The Albemarle Happening
The Sound and Light Exploration Society (the team behind the amazing DIY Venue The Pyramid Club) put on an amazing going away party for Orchestra of Spheres before their US and Icelandic Tour in a giant abandoned mansion in the centre of town. Artists and musicians took over every one of the twenty or so rooms and filled them with installations and performances. It it was filled with a great community of good natured people, great art, great music in a beautiful old building. It was the best night of the year and in ten years time you will still hear people talking about it.

2. Puppies and Mighty Mighty Closing
People claimed Wellington’s live music scene was going to die when Puppies and Mighty Mighty, the two best venues in the city, announced within weeks of each other they were closing. But instead they spawned a DIY renaissance with various gigs happening in houses, halls, community spaces, practice spaces and everywhere in between. The Eyegum Music Collective deserve a special shout out for their amazing house parties which have been happening across the city almost every week the last couple of months.

3. Kerosene Comic Book Collective
This year’s 4/20 takeover at Puppies showed an incredible maturation of the KCB collective both in sound and attitude. Instead of fake money and marijuana leaves covering the floor like 2013, the artists managed to hold the attention themselves without the novelty factor. They have also teamed up with great visual artists like Oliver Latimer and Dirk Peterson to create a strong aesthetic. KCB artists also released some of the best NZ Music of the year; Career Girls’ EP Going Deep… was a personal favourite release of the year but Skymning, Totems and Thirsty all released amazing stuff.

4. Renee-Louise Carafice Tour and Album Release
Renee-Louise Carafice is one of the most assuring, relatable and beautiful contemporary New Zealand musicians and it was amazing, after years of waiting, to finally see her live. Her album Power Animals was one of my favourite releases of the year.

5. The Return of Shocking Pinks
It’s been nine years since The Shocking Pinks last released new music. In that time Nick Harte has signed to DFA, released a compilation album, various remixes, and changed live bands several times but finally this year he released Guilt Mirrors, the amazing triple LP mixture of noise, angst, electronics, guitars and drums on the New York label Stars and Letters.



MARTYN PEPPERELL
FREELANCE JOURNALIST / RADIO BROADCASTER / DJ

1. The Albemarle Happening
On the 10th of October, Orchestra of Spheres' organised a four level warehouse party in Wellington's historic Ablemarle building on Ghuznee Street. It was a delightfully decadent smorgasbord of live music, DJ culture and gorgeous multimedia art installations. Hacker rave music duo Audiotears blew me away with their cyberpunk dance music.

2. Tuatara Open Late
On the first Thursday of the month, City Gallery in Wellington plays host to Tuatara Open Late, a koha entry evening of art, music, film, books, beer, wine and food. Past highlights have included live performances from Orchestra of Spheres, Dudley Benson, and a duo piece from Riki Gooch and his daughter Maia. It's one of the best regular events running in the capital right now.

3. Groeni
Groeni frontman Alexander Green sings like an angel. When recording or performing with his bandmates, his music takes folk-rock songwriting and reframes it through a shimmering bed of pristine electronics, jittery rhythms and emotional group vocal harmonies. Over 2014, his music was a constant source of joy for me.

4. Kane Strang
Dunedin's Kane Strang is one of the most distinctive and emotionally affecting young singer-songwriters currently active in New Zealand. He sounds like himself and no one else. The psychedelic folk sound of his single 'In Thailand' points towards a busy 2015 for Kane.

5. Misfit Mod’s Electronic Music Practice for Women Workshops
In August this year, Christchurch based vocalist, producer and audio engineer Misfit Mod (Sarah Kelleher, pictured below) organised a series of electronic music production workshops for women at The Auricle. Covering basic recording techniques, equipment, software, writing, ideas, effects and mixing techniques, they were a great step towards addressing the gender imbalance in electronic music. Here's hoping she can tour the concept around the country in 2015.


 

BRIAN FEARY
THE SHEEP TECHNIQUE ON RDU 98.5FM & MELTED ICE CREAM

1. Sylvia-Rose and Tim E.B. – Invite You To Their Honeyworld
Rough around the edges, scuzzier than anything you can throw a hot iron at, a crazy good alt-folk/country album that won’t find favour amongst the winery tour crowd, just how this kind of music should be. I don’t think there’s a dud on the album.

2. Ben Dodd and His Organ – Borgan Dorgan Horgan Oorgan
Ben Dodd’s second album of organ covers of New Zealand modern classics and obscurities. The concept sounds like it should be a novelty album, but it’s too good to be written off as that – I think of it more of a journey into some sort of down-under krautrock wonderland. Highlights include a version of ‘Death And The Maiden’ by The Verlaines transformed into a heartbreaking funeral march and what sounds like Kraftwerk doing ‘Don’t Fight It Marsha, It’s Bigger Than Both Of Us’ by Blam! Blam! Blam!

3. The Winebox Inquiry – Self-Titled EP
William Daymond is probably better known for being the drummer of Terror Of The Deep, a member of the Axemen, a total New Zealand music nerd, or just a totally rad dude. Anyway he wrote and recorded an EP himself and as could be expected, it’s great. Jangly 60s Byrdsy pop boiled through an unconditional love for all things Chris Knox, shaky vocals, great lyrics. Very much what I would call a ‘dope EP’.

I’ve been to too many gigs this year to really single out a favourite so here’s a couple I remember clearly...

4. The Phoenix Foundation at CPSA, Christchurch with Doprah
Maybe it was the free booze at the art opening that I’d been to prior, or maybe it is the fact that The Phoenix Foundation are actually really bloody good, but I think this might’ve been the most fun I’ve had at a gig this year. They played a bunch of new stuff from their upcoming album that I found myself reviewing on the evening, by shouting “that one was quite good!” and “I liked that one better than the last one!” between songs. I thought I was real funny at the time, I probably was just being a dick.

5. The River Jones Album Release with Ipswich, Dead Rats
Probably one of the sicker live acts in Christchurch at the moment, The River Jones played an all-ages release show for their self-titled album at this weird little upstairs venue called The Space with free pizza. I’d just got back from watching T54 and The Hex Waves in Lyttelton that night and it had started pissing down, didn’t stop the gig being dope, album’s good too.



GEMMA SYME
GENERAL BUSYBODY IN CHRISTCHURCH 
(RDU, Boosted, Darkroom, Musician, Artist)

1. Closing Party For Mighty Mighty
A lot of amazing things ended this year ( <3 Puppies and Camp A Low Hum RIP <3 ), but for me the ultimate finale party had to be Mighty Mighty's. I was there for the whole of the final week, and it will seriously be remembered as one of the best parties of all time. After all the party canons, tears, pashes, drinking the beer dry by midnight, hook ups and melt-downs Mighty Mighty is going to be remembered for its debauched amazingness. And fitting that the last song ever played in the space by TV Disko was ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ by Edith Piaff. And yeah, we got staff tattoos. AND WHAT.

2. Blink Writing A Thought-Provoking Book And ACTUALLY Following Through On Things
What's the point of just being a biatch about things, ‘cause when someone actually GOES DEEP and then tries to action on something they have been complaining about then I give them a full round of applause. A MAJOR thanks to Blink for actually trying to motivate and change things in NZ music to make it more prosperous for all. So yeah he doesn't like the way APRA and PPNZ run things? "OH HEY how about this as an alternative idea guys?". Actually working on problems rather than just bitching and being lazy gets an A+ from me.

3. @Peace - ‘Dust’
When this album came out I lost. my. shit. and decided right then and there that this was my pick for favourite song of the year. Watching the band over the year it seems like they have become a little disheartened by a few things (losing the Audience Wild Card NZ On Air funding grant to someone who had like 2000 FB fans when they had approx 30,000 fans through all their social media channels + having no impact on the election results what-so ever when they did a huge push to engage people), but seriously this album is one of the most sophisticated and beautiful records this year. People, listen!

4. Music 101 Specials On New Zealand Labels
The two features on Radio NZ this year that made me really happy were the one about Crystal Magic and 1080p Collection. LOOK EVERYONE. WHAT WE DO IN THE WORLD IS IMPORTANT! Even being from lil' ol' NZ we are killin' it boiiii.

5. The ladieeeees
OK lol I am sorry to have a LADIES category in here, but having worked in a bar all year it's pretty apparent it's DUDE CITY out in musicland. So here's a small list of women who have been KILLIN it in 2014 in music. I've probably forgotten some people so like, feel free to add. Emily Edrosa, Watercolours/Chelsea Jade, French Concession, Aldous Harding, Indi, Luckless, Mermaidens, Lttle Phnx, Waterfalls, Misfit Mod (for her Electronic music classes), Coco Solid, Lorde, Estere, Ladi6, Fantasing (full disclosure - I am in this lol), Mermaidens, Tiny Ruins, Tami Neilson, Renee Louise-Carafice, I.E. Crazy... TELL ME MORE!

Hit me up/bitch me out at @instantfantasy

 

IAN HENDERSON
OWNER OF FISHRIDER RECORDS

1. The Attic Singles Club
The Attic’s do-it-together community is the real beating heart of Dunedin music for a significant sub-set of Dunedin musicians. Throughout 2014 The Attic delivered a singles club series on Bandcamp of idiosyncratic quality. An original new tune ‘A Side’, plus an Attic-selected cover ‘B-side’, all recorded in grainy blown-out detail by Adrian Ng (Trick Mammoth, Mavis Gary).

2. Shunkan - Honey, Milk and Blood
Marina Sakimoto found her way from LA to Invercargill recording an extraordinary EP Honey, Milk & Blood on her laptop under the name Shunkan. UK label Art Is Hard Records released it on cassette. Picked up across UK and US music websites, it also found its way onto bNet stations in NZ and Shunkan was invited to play 95bFM’s new band showcase in Auckland in May. On the way there the band played a memorable first ever show at Chick’s Hotel.

3. Onefest 2014 at Sammys
The lineup included Strange Harvest, Bad Sav, Death & The Maiden, Kane Strang (with band) and Space Bats, Attack! amongst others and the venue was the iconic Sammys in Dunedin, so it was always going to be special. But what transformed it into a stunning multi-media spectacle was a classy light show combined with the projected visual art of Erica Sklenars, thematically linked to each band.

4. Chick’s Hotel
Another beating heart of Dunedin music, not only for live music but also now recording. Pretty much every gig I went to there in 2014 was a highlight. Epic shows by New Zealand bands which come to mind included Bad Sav, Death & The Maiden, The Clean, Doprah, Males, Sam Hunt with David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights, Mermaidens and that Shunkan debut.

5. Peter Gutteridge
The opposite of a highlight, but it cast such a long shadow in 2014 it has to be mentioned. Peter wrote the unlikeliest last chapter of a life story as a musician that saw him move through The Chills, The Clean, The Great Unwashed, The Puddle and on to Snapper. Following the re-emergence of Snapper with a new generation line-up in recent years and a vinyl re-issue of his 1989 Xpressway solo album Pure, Peter inexplicably made his way to New York in August, playing one show. Sadly, he didn’t quite make it back home. Peter’s impact and influence as both a musician and unique human will resonate for a long time.



SEAN NORLING
BLOGGER AT ŌTEPOTI MUSIC

1. The Media Electronics Library
MEL is a homemade musical electronics lending library based in Auckland formed in 2014. It has run synthesizer building workshops and open maker nights this year. Curator Pat Kraus is one of the country's most ingenious artists. Scavengetronica is alive and well in NZ.

2. The Re-release of Peter Gutteridge’s Pure
Twenty five years after it came out on cassette via Xpressway, Peter Gutteridge's Pure was re-released on orange vinyl. Peter sadly passed away this year, but his amazing music will ripple across the multiverse forever.

3. Chick's Hotel, Port Chalmers, Dunedin
Chick's Hotel has had a mad run of shows this year. Notable internationals with a generous helping of new and emerging local talent week in and week out. It's borderline ridiculous. They also have the Magic Bus to transport the audience to and from shows.

4. 2014 Election Songs
General Election anti-government music got going this year with Darren Watson's censored 'Planet Key' and @peace's 'Kill The PM'. Faux rage ensued on both sides and Twitter smelt like political brain farts for ages.

5. Mariah Weighing In On Yeast Spread
Dafuq Mariah Carey come over here and stir up the Marmite vs Vegemite debate? 



And finally, doing things a little differently…

SCOWLIN WOLF
TAURANGA MUSIC SUX

1. Band Most Likely to Give you their Last Ration of Sugar: Black Science
New Zealand has some decent musical humans but none come finer than the bruthas Science. "I once saw Joss literally give the Beatles 'Revolver' shirt off his back to my gimp friend". Gentlemen that their mothers should be proud of, shame their music isn't very good though.

2. You're Past It, Please Retire Award - Shihad
FVEY has to be the leading contender for both worst album of the year and NZ's answer to Metallica’s Saint Anger. Desperately trying and failing to recapture youth and form that left them two decades ago, FVEY is the kind of album that makes other albums feel embarrassed to be a part of their race. Send 'em to the farm.

3. Probably Should Have Gone to See that Band…
If you missed the King Brothers tour of NZ with the DHDFD's then you should be embarrassed for yourself and your family. Just days passed I and the rest of the Tauranga elite saw this fearsome duo in a strip club. It was the bestest. Never has there been a more exciting better suited pairing of bands. And no Op Shop and Midnight Youth in 2011 do not count....

4. The Benny Tipene Trophy - For Excelling in Being a Twat: Benny Tipene
Ya know I always thought Jason Kerrison would be the lifetime achievement winner for this category but within the space of the year he has been bumped right out of the picture by this greasy haired, phoney, soul sucking, musical black hole. When I hear his songs my balls recoil. When I see his videos my retinas bleed.

5. Tauranga Music Sux Band of the Year...
Who could it be with so many acts in serious contention? Super Narco Man? Prophet Motive? Threat.Meet.Protocol? Wheatbags Anonymous? The Flaming Tea Bags? Liberated Squid? Flogging a Dead One Horse Town? Antwars? Hash Collector? Eskimo Pussy? Mk Ultra? All Hail the Fun Killers? Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple? Spork? Oh wait, who am I kidding. It's Tauranga. They all suck....


Last, but not least we took a little look at what UTR readers were checking out in 2014, and here's some of the most-viewed posts...

WHAT YOU WERE CHECKING OUT...

1. Career Girls and Sexxx Haus - 'Intro'
2. Westfest 2015 First Line-Up Announcement
3. Genevieve McGuckin On Rowland S Howard
4. Photos From The Beastwars and Windhand Show In Dunedin
5. Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence Album Review


That pretty much wraps up this wrap-up... here's looking forward to what 2015 will bring!

Happy New Year from UTR!





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