Who? Katy Carr
Label: Deluce recordings
Tell me more: Carr transports herself back to Wartime England, where she takes on the characters of many women of the era who played such pivotal roles during such arduous and fearful times, from the entertainers like Marlene Dietrich to coquettes and women who worked in munitions factories.
The Lowdown: Carr weaves a string of evocative tales of life in the ’40s. This is a very European record; the sound of English folk, with occasional French vocals and a truly Teutonic song, the brilliant Berliner Ring, which bears similarities in essence to Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree.
Carr is certainly full of ideas and she isn’t afraid of subjects like the death of a loved one. With her backing band The Aviatiors (cruelly uncredited) has produced a mystical, ethereal record. In addition, the Art Deco-influenced artwork which has Carr dressed in wartime clothing, from glam-wear to factory apparel, fits the mood.
With so many female artists following a very tired formula (hello Katie Melua) it’s highly refreshing to see a woman go against the grain, in terms of music, writing and concept.
Trivia: Carr is a qualified pilot having served with the RAF.
Label: Creative NZ
Tell me more: Deirdre Newall, Erin Morton, Lynn Vare are delgirl, playing, between them, ukelele, trumpet, bodhran, and banjo.
The lowdown: Gothic hymnals and “spaghetti western theme music” are among the ingredients of an album that is like few others. All songs are individually written and that individuality is clear. They each have a story, for example, Morton’s Dying Seal, about the discovery of an animal on a beach that may or may not be about to meet its maker. Or Vare’s song “for the lonely”, Waiting. For all the singular writing input, they sound exceptionally cohesive and you can detect three people working assiduously (in a studio somewhere in the hills) and with a common purpose.
Trivia: To uncover the origins of the group’s name, look at the names of the protagonists.
Who? The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Title: The Phenomenal Handclap Band
Label: Tummy Touch records
Tell me more: Using the term melting pot for bands dipping into a variety of genres has become a bit of a cliché. But with contributions from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and TV on the Radio and delving deep into their love of Blondie, ESG and Can this debut can be described as truly pan-global.
The lowdown: Disco, not disco. The late 70s in the late zeros. Prog rock into the early days of new York hip-hop; the Go! Team shags the Tom Tom Club; a trip around the world in an hour; an orchestra on the streets; the next thing Lady Gaga will rip off … It ain’t what you do … it’s the way that you do it. And the Phenomenal Handclap Band do it extremely well indeed.
Trivia: There’s nine band members doing the clapping.
Who? The Clonius
Title: Between the Dots
Tell me more: Debut album from The Clonius aka Paul Mohavedi, an Austrian based in America (a relative of Arnie perhaps?).
The lowdown: The Clonius do something quite good, but they do something that’s been done many times before, by numerous people. A so-called “beat navigator”, Mohavedi blends soul, jazz, downbeat, breakbeat, sampling … electronic music for the laidback. It’s great at a cafe on a Sydney beach, or a Sunday barbie with the lads and lasses. It serves a purpose but floats by on the stereo and track 10 isn’t much of a progression from the opener.
Who? Matt Joe Gow and the Dead Leaves
Title: The Messenger
Label: Liberation Music
Tell me more: New Zealand artist now living in Melbourne.
The lowdown: The lovely Maria at Liberation was certain Porky would like this album, although the site summary does say country music and heavy metal may get less preference than other styles. But Porky is an open-minded kinda pig so let’s rock and roll. It’s earthy, intriguing and good value: Given the earthy nature of the songs I would imagine Gow and co would listen to Cash and Parsons on the tour bus, and have Taylor Swift at the bottom of the shoebox. Come To Mama, She Say kicks along at a thigh-slapping rate; while The Light possesses oodles of harmonica, organ, and electric guitars.
Title: The Tenth March
Tell me more: Gearloose is basically Christchurch musician Steven King. He’s also recorded a self-titled album (that’s the cover above).
The lowdown: I’ve always felt they do things differently in New Zealand’s South Island, and thank goodness for that. Dunedin is renowned for its student scene, Christchurch has it’s distinctive bands and if you dare venture to Gore you’ll hear Country music, Kiwi style. The six tracks on this EP were recorded after King fell for a very good female friend he’d known for two years. Ah well, we all know what happened next and King tells the tale of woe with sensitivity and that ol’ ‘live and learn’ attitude. His voice isn’t especially strong but he can tell a great tale with the soundscape of folkish harmonies, guitars and synthesizers. The album’s just as good.