Super is indeed a super suffix for a band .. think of Supergrass and the Furry Animals in particular, acts whose names match the quality of their output. To this ever-expanding list add Superturtle from Auckland, Aotearoa, who have followed up 2010’s About the Sun with Beat Manifesto on Sarangbang records.
Porky wrote back then that he was “knocked to the floor when a burst of guitars hit me. About The Sun lasts an ideal 33 minutes and the longest track is 3:04, the sound of perfect pop songs.”
But Beat Manifesto is more post-punk, less power-pop, although the songs fail to extend beyond an orderly timeframe of up to three and a half minutes. The opener Down Down Down reminds me a little of The Cure with its grim, lost in a forest at nightime, bass but the rest is a curious mixture of late 80s B-52s and Flying Nun. Cause Ya Said So is gloriously direct, Happy Pills has a delicious and bewitching chorus, and there’s no shortage of dreamy hooks and riffs on Lost in the Herd Again.
They’ve also released this on fantastic vinyl, all details here: http://www.sarangbang.co.nz/
As ungainly as their name is, LatinAotearoa gives you a clear clue as to what to expect: South America meets the South Pacific in a potent fusion of latin and localised soul-funk-hip hop. You can’t go wrong with that fusion and with Jennifer Zea’s breathy vocals sung in her native Spanish, Sonido de LatinAotearoa(Rhythmethod) is an album that wouldn’t fail to find plenty of time booming out of the speakers. Venezuelan Zea sounds especially delightful on Aldeia de Ogum, transporting to you Caracas. With such a range of styles, fellow band members Isaac Aeseli and Booby Brazuka permit themselves to delve into their loves and backgrounds – Aeseli is a former trumpeter with Opensouls and a producer, while Brazuka is a DJ in his native Auckland. That’s obvious on the cover of Ladi 6’s Walk Right Up, which sticks to the soul-tinged flavour of the original but Zea has translated the lyrics into Spanish, giving it an extra dimension.
Lastly, I give you Debbie and The Downers the self-titled debut on Rock Bottom records by two (male) ex-members of second-rate rockers Pluto. After listening to those two highly upbeat albums, this is a bit of a comedown. It was predominantly recorded in a home studio in Auckland, and completed in Los Angeles, which clearly has a bit of influence over the duo, who are beefed out by former Goldenhorse member Geoff Maddock.
It feels like an album of yesteryear, as Milan Borich and Tim Arnold push themselves, reaching out to all sides of the square and forcing the listener to second-guess what their ears will be subjected to next. So, we have Citrus Ave, the album’s highlight with it’s Leonard Cohen meets the Pet Shop Boys pop sensibilities, and then there’s Digging For Coal that’s reminiscent of the wayward theatrics and slight grunginess of Ariel Pink. Or there’s the monotony of The Cad, a track that starts on the flat surface and sticks to the same pathway. Much of DATD is like that, and even a track called Cunt about a woman “who won’t be coming home” barely tickles Porky’s underbelly. I am heartened to read though that Debbie and co’s second album will be “a more visceral and violent affair.”