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A WEE BIT LATE in reviewing this, but worth doing so, as you look Anti-Clausforlornly at your Christmas presents and then peer at the credit card balance to inspect the damage.

Enter The Anti-Claus is a collection from the good people at Auckland’s Powertool Records featuring local talent and acts from Germany, England and the States. Given it was never going to be sold alongside One Direction’s Christmas offering at The Warehouse this is an indie fest that’s worth dipping into at any time over the summer/ winter.

All the best Christmas tracks have been by alternative acts with an axe to grind …. Bollocks to Christmas by The Business, There Ain’t No Sanity Clause (The Damned), Christmas No.1 (The Black Arts) and Christmas 1979 (Wild Billy Childish) are some that come to mind.

This antidote to commercial fanaticism contains such delights as Christmas Is Hell by River’s Edge and No Christmas For John Key by Brother Love and Boss Christ in which the Dear Leader of The Flag Confused Republic of Aotearoa is given special treatment by a noisy garage punk tag team.

Some tracks, it has to be said, are far better than others, and special mentions go to two old Porky favourites, Gold Medal Famous and Jordan Reyne for their excellent, individual festive efforts.

Buy from the Powertool website: https://powertoolrecordsdotnet.wordpress.com/

Full tracklisting….

  1. Great Dynamo – Timeshed (Germany)
  2. Mary – Big Boy (New Zealand)
  3. Factory Kids – Father Christmas Still (England)
  4. Doubtful Sounds – All The Angels Sang (New Zealand)
  5. Gold Medal Famous – Red Pill Christmas (New Zealand)
  6. Fatal Elf – I Wanna Be Your Elf (England)
  7. Andrew Deadman – Silent Night (USA)
  8. Jordan Reyne – Song For Winter Soltice (England)
  9. Rough Church – PJ vs The Mouse (USA)
  10. Joed Out – Reindeers (New Zealand)
  11. Anti-Claus – Little Baby Jesus (New Zealand)
  12. Mucus Kids – Satan’s Claws (New Zealand)
  13. Mark Airlie – A Day Like Today (New Zealand)
  14. River’s Edge – Christmas Is Hell (New Zealand)
  15. Brother Love with Boss Christ – No Christmas For John Key (New Zealand
  16. One Man Bannister – Silent Night (New Zealand)
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The Doubtful Sounds: A Stone’s Throw From Happiness (Powertool Records)

 

FIRSTLY, LET’S AVOID ANY CONFUSION, the kind of confusion that can only be created by internet searching. This Doubtful Sounds are the indie band that haven’t forgotten that the 1980s were the finest musical decade since the 1970s; the other act by the same name is a choral group led by Radio New Zealand’s Bryan Crump. Sure, you would never get them mixed up standing side by side, but in netland, who knows. Doubtful

The Sounds have been throwing singles at me for about 18 months now, CDs that I’ve enjoyed and made me hope for an album. Here it is, their second in fact, following 2012’s The Pop Album, which I am hoping they will send this way as part of the bribe for reviewing this. The men behind this motley crew are Matt Carte and James Noble with Rick Barr and Mark Howden helping out.

It begins with the resoundingly poppy Painting By Numbers, all harmonies, Primitives-style guitars, melodies, and a fantastic chorus. The kind of song for a summer barbie on the beach with Miss Guam on your arm. She’s The Bomb is an ideal love song, the eye-catching subject being too good to believe: “She’s a Monet in a perfect room/ She’s the flower and she’s the bloom,” and there’s another 15 lines of similar fawning praise.

He Came From The Hills and Precious Thing are more languid affairs, dreamy and effervescent, landscapes of bountiful beautiful tunes. The latter, in particular, makes me pine for the Soup Dragons and the Pastels (go look ‘em up). The Doubtful Sounds may be a tag team from Auckland and Wellington, rather than Glasgow, but the love of Love and The Byrds transcends national boundaries and long-haul flights with an inadequate menu.

I mentioned The Primitives there, and by golly, they also have an album out, Spin-O-Rama which I will review in the very near future.

 

And to avoid any confusion here are the Doubtful Sounds as conducted by Bryan Crump ..

 

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PORKY HAS an election erection. Bring it on. We will cheer, on September 20, as the bad guys (National, ACT, United Future and the Conservatives), parties that care little for child Election EPpoverty, worker’s rights, the environment or the unemployment rate, battle the forces of good (Greens, Mana, Internet Party, maybe Labour though they’ll always be cunts for introducing Thatcherism in the 80s).

Powertool Records think likewise, and have timely released the Election 2014 EP, which follows the label’s issue of Jordan Reyne’s subtle dig at Prime Minister John Key, on the Crone EP (reviewed in the previous blog), and also the stoush over Darren Watson’s Planet Key – read about that here:(http://everythinggonegreen.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/planet-key.html).

The EP begins and ends with Gold Medal Famous’ diatribe on our glorious leader. 2011’s John Key Is A Dick (“20% of children live in poverty”), is now John Key Is Still A Dick. Crude, yes, schoolboyish funny, aye, but also one of the few real critiques of Team Key in a country that seems to view his/ their attributes as ‘safe pair of hands’ and ‘trustworthy’, while they treat people having to rely on state benefits as vermin, and allow oil companies to destroy the seabeds.

In the update, GMF note that Key can’t recall what side of the fence he was on during the volatile Springbok tour of 1981, and splurges money on the rich man’s championship, The America’s Cup.

George Henderson and Matthew Bannister note how New Zealand is subservient to America, and is happy to have Kim Dotcom extradited; River’s Edge bemoan the influence of the downright greedy, and Glum implore people to show their dissatisfaction at the increasing divide, on Vote Positive!, coincidentally the campaign slogan of the Labour Party.

But while this is all sounds like part of the “left-wing conspiracy theory” which Key has been droning about, the mash-ups of the party posters mock them all, left, right, centre.

And if you wish to read about whether New Zealand has become more unequal in the past decade, read this incisive article from Radio New Zealand http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/insight/audio/20146761/insight-for-24-july-2014-the-big-election-issues

 Election EP 2

 

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VORN ARE SOMETHING of a hidden gem, a pearl only Wellingtonians are aware of and even within the city they’re a pastime you need to seek out.Vorn

Here’s the band’s seventh studio album, More Songs About Girls and the Apocalypse (if that sounds partly familiar, think Talking Heads) and from the teasers heard at the Newtown Festival in March and their gig at Meow! recently, I’m anticipating this could be another unheralded delight from Powertool records.

The opening burst of beautiful quirkiness is Flint and Tinder, which is also their opener at live shows. Built around a call-and-response between Vorn Colgan, singer, songwriter and possessor of groovy red jeans, and the rest of the band, it poses the question of what love actually is.
The War Cry of J. Alfred Prufrock is an attempt to sound like mid-80s hip-hop; Drowning Kittens is, well, the title says it all, as former keyboardist Anna Edgington relates the grim tale of having to dispose of unwanted animals and then there’s the gay disco/ country and western of The Story of My Fucking Life: title of the year, song of the album. And full of wonderful one-liners, such as “I planned to hitch a ride to Hamilton and drink myself to death.” . It stretches to more than seven minutes, finishing on haunting Latin operatics.
As you’re already wondering Colgan’s accomplices are Simon Bayliss on bass, Nick Brown on drums, Ka’isa Beech on keys (and kaossilator!) and violinist Thomas ‘Thomas’ Liggett. They’re a tight unit though on first appearances you wonder how they even got together.
Flint and Tinder is reprised (sort of) in This Is What with a nudge to the Balkans. Meanwhile, The Rules slow things down, as the outfit retreat into a darker corner of the house, where Colgan bemoans that he isn’t quite adjusting to the regulations: “And they call this shit a game/ But what they mean is that it’s something you don’t get paid to do, and you almost always lose.”
There’s pop songs, hip-hop, keyboard-fuelled songs, swearing, rants, and great one-liners. More Songs … is exactly the kind of album I would have expected from Vorn in 2014.

Vorn at the Newtown Festival in March 2014. (Craig Stephen)

Vorn at the Newtown Festival in March 2014. (Craig Stephen)

 

 

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Once upon a time, in the good old days when there were no wars or disease, record labels would slavishly supply reviewers with CDs. Gold Medal FamousThe pig sty would light up when these packages arrived, though most of the items inevitably ended up in the charity shop.

Now, most labels just sent off stuff digitally and it’s no coincidence at all that all you hear on the news now is war and conflict and disease and pestilence and Australian success in cricket.

But those good folk at Powertool Records are doing their bit for world peace, and boy have made a cracking start to the new year, with a clutch of new releases designed to make us all feel happier and more likely to go on an exercise regime.

First out of the envelope is Gold Medal Famous, an avant-garde electro-indie outfit out of Wellington, the 17th most expensive city in the world to live in. Apparently. Porky’s reader (surely readers? – sceptical editor) will be more than familiar with them as we’ve reviewed their past two albums. (100% Pure, Gold Medal Famous)

Free Body Culture is a seven-track mini album of strangeness, bleeps, mutated narration and a sense of freedom and the art of living sensibly. They are, the press release informs me, 21st century subversives. A bold statement indeed.

But they make a decent claim to  this on Meat Lovers’ Pizza, which despite its’ misleading title, revolves around a quote from Prime Minister John Key, said around the time he was allowing for further spying on New Zealanders: “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear.” North Korea’s state news agency was taking notes at that point.

Agitating for a vote against the odious National Party at this year’s election, You’re So Outrageous tackles the affronts against the constitution the ruling junta (surely democratically elected government? – ed) has carried out, by using urgency in parliament to push through bills deemed essential, and thus avoiding public scrutiny. Using a hypnotic dance beat and eerie vocals, Gold Medal Famous prove there’s a way of make a political point in this drab cultural era.

Meanwhile, Out for the Night celebrates the art of the piss-up, in a manner that is reminiscent of the Human League or the Younger Younger 28s (Google them). “It only costs five bucks to get in, the bands come all the way from Hamilton,”

Free Body Culture, named after a German nudist movement, is varied, playful, angry, and esoteric; it is the band’s finest effort yet.

Label mate Matthew Bannister is a man on a mission, If he’s not playing live around New Zealand like a madman he’s recording Changing SameBeatles albums (last year’s Evolver, Evolver) and releasing EPs with his band of merry men, The Changing Same. Make Up My Mind is a brief and delightful four-track recording that continues Bannister’s love of the 1960s, with the influence of a certain Liverpool act much in abundance.

Could Be Anyone is a tale of how life could change if those lottery numbers come in, and Slow Down with its gorgeous strings mingling with pleasing riffs, is a plea to live life another way: “Lay your burden down, let your garden grow, the way to Tinseltown is not the way to go.”

And the harmony-heavy title track is the anthem for all those who can’t make decisions, nor take responsibility for their life: “Which way to go is the devil you know/ This is the way that I feel every day/ Revolving doors, stranded in between floors.”

Meanwhile, Seeds of Orbit, are similarly hooked on the decade of love, but are more Jimi than John. Lead by Mark Petersen who Seeds of Orbitwas for a spell in Straitjacket Fits you know that the amps will be cranked up really high.

Their debut self-titled EP contains the most hallucinogenic cover since 1972, and is five tracks of full-on rock’n’roll meets psychedelia. Make Up of Moments contains the softest of touches they’ll put down but still pounds out a delirious slew of guitar riffs. Oh Long John is two parts Sabbath, one part Deep Purple. Sure it’s all been done before, probably a lot better in fact, but it’s fantastic fun and I imagine they would be immense live.

All recordings available via: http://powertoolrecordsdotnet.wordpress.com/

 

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Given the year-zero feel to the so-called Dunedin Sound and its vanguard, the Flying Nun label, I was surprised to hear Matthew Bannister say without The Beatles, Dunedin would, to this day, be better known for a pretty railway station, a chocolate factory and the Scottish influence (ie hard-drinking) than it’s music.

Maybe I was looking too closely at the post-punk influences. But I can see something now when I listen to One-Man Bannister‘s version of The Fab Four’s I’m Only Sleeping where he gets the Bannisterchance, finally, to sing “Keeping an eye on the world going by, my window, taking my time, lying there staring at the ceiling, waiting for a sneaky feeling,” Yes, indeed, Matthew you, formerly of Dribbling Darts of Pleasure, The Weather and Sneaky Feelings.

And while I harbour doubts at Bannister’s statement about the Scousers’ influence on the Otago music scene of the 1980s (The Cure and New Order may have made more sway), I can listen to One-Man Bannister’s Evolver (Powertool records) and understand the basics behind Sneaky Feelings, one of New Zealand’s most popular bands.

Bannister has gone through the Beatles’ 1966 classic Revolver, song by song, riff by riff, and word by word. But it’s far from some sort of karaoke night at the Dog and Cake recorded on SmartPhone. Bannister adds his own vocal interpretation of each song and, fundamentally, fuels it with a new musical direction.

Love You To gets an extra chord or two; For No One has, gasp, a country tinge (forgive him Father) and Yellow Submarine feels like it was written for a day on a Northland beach, which I am sure Lennon, Macca, Dode and The Other One would have wanted it to sound. Meanwhile, album closer, Tomorrow Never Knows is exactly how I would have wanted the Happy Mondays, World of Twist, and other ‘Madchester’ bands to do this track.

That’s his best take on all the songs, and Bannister certainly makes a very good fist of doing The Beatles (where so many have failed before) but I still have a hankering of giving the original a twirl.

One-Man Bannister’s version of And Your Bird Can Sing features on a Powertools records compilation, I Have No Idea, that includes artists from both New Zealand and California, an initiative that involves US-based Greg Franco, a Mr All-rounder in Los Angeles.

DrillOf the tracks here, Porky is particularly taken by Kiwis Nick Raven, Dan West, Ghosts of Electricity, Sugarbug and Transcendental Learning Collective, and from the States, Rough Church, Tommy Santee Klaws and The World Record are the most illuminating …. The CD also comes with a fanzine – or perhaps it’s the other way round – Drill, with features on the bands, as well as an expose on New Zealand’s poor environmental record, and which is worth getting in itself.

Due to copyright reasons, Evolver can’t be obtained digitally, so buy the album, and the compilation/zine from powertoolrecords.co.nz

Check out our review of Drill cover star Nick Raven and Factory Kids …https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/nick-raven-factory-kids-wilberforces-salad-boys-and-salon-kingsadore/

and also Transcendental Learning Collective:  https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/a-good-workman-credits-his-powertools/

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Those good people at Powertool Records deserve an Outward Bound badge without doing the course for their tireless promotion of all things Kiwi and obscure in this dismal climate for independent record labels.
The latest release out of New Lynn in Auckland is by Transcendental Learning Collective. With that name I guess I won’t be telling you anything new by describing them as guitar-heavy psychedelic noiseniks in the same vein as Suicide, HDU, and perhaps even Spacemen 3. You will have a picture of TLCmultiple guitars, maximum repetition and minimalist vocals. Just what your local DJ, bored of Rihanna and Lady Gaga, is looking for. There’s only five tracks on their debut Shift, and the first one is eight minutes long. There’s a touch of dub as well to alleviate any suggestion it’s one never-ending cacophony of anti-rhythm. I’m pleased to say it’s also quite excellent, and best played in the car with your windows open while stuck in a traffic jam as a boy racer and a National Party voter sidle alongside in the other lanes.

Powertool records labelmates Gold Medal Famous did a tour of New Zealand tunnels with various other acts, one of which had the ‘hilarious’ moniker The Josef Fritzl Family Jamboree, at the enmd of last year to unleash their second album 100% Pure.
It is a curious beast, swinging from electro lo-fi to lo-fi electro, with slices of goth-rock and experimentalism. Its title is a celebration, if you will, of the now infamous tourist slogan that became a liability, basically on account of the fact that claiming New Zealand is pure, clean and green is a fantasy as anyone who has been told they can’t swim in a river because their genitals will swell up will concur.
100% Pure begins promisingly with the near-singalong Never Get Bored and the theremin-driven We Have Contempt For You, but The Buried Life is so tedious and ear-prodding that I’m tempted to book a holiday to Hawera as part of my escape. If there is anything positive to say about this drone it is that it sets up Everyone Hates Boy Racers quite neatly. It’s true, everyone does hate, nay despise, boy racers, even boy racers themselves, partly because they’re having fun. “Slow down you cunts/ I’ll kick you in the nuts,” is an opening line so good I would fully expect Morrissey to steal it. As standouts go this is pretty excellent, but it’s usurped by I See You At The Point, which easily matches anything by Bowie tribute acts like Suede and Moby have done. It’s a strange mix of unlistenable dirges and great pop tracks, and I can’t help but think that band ‘daddy’ Vorn Coglan has done better, and quirkier, stuff on his solo albums.
Gold Medal Famous AND Vorn album reviews here https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/lowdown-on-the-new-32-pure-s-c-u-m/

 

 

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