Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: Record Store Day

As readers will know, I have long embraced the internet music revolution. The ability to discover and download new things pretty much as they're being made has reinvented and refreshed my lifelong relationship with popular music. But I still really appreciate and understand the way that the vinyl record revival has become a celebration of that music. It's still special to hold a record in your hands.

In recent years, the focus of that celebration has been the worldwide Record Store Day, which stands for everything that isn't the spiritless space of the iTunes Store. This year, Saturday is Record Store Day and there's plenty to know about it.

Firstly, Record Store Day is again being celebrated at Auckland's Real Groovy Records. For a while, Real Groovy looked like it was going to be another digital casualty. But these days, it does more business in vinyl, new and used, than it does in CDs, and it's over the record bins that the buzz is when you go into the store.

This year's also a bit special because last year, pressings failed on all three of the archive releases Real Groovy planned to launch on Record Store Day. This year, they're good to go with those same releases:

La De Da's,  La De Da's

The Scavengers, The Scavengers

Spelling Mistakes, Feels So Good

But wait, it gets better. There are only 500 copies of each of these pressings and Real Groovy has offered me a copy of each to give away to you, dear readers -- just click the email icon at the bottom of the post and put the name of the album you'd like to win in the subject line of your email.

If you haven't won one by Saturday morning (and if you haven't had an email from me by then, you haven't won), you'll have to buy on the day or take your chances on Tuesday, when remaining stock will be available online.

(Real Groovy's Marty O'Donnell told me he has also made copies available to other stores, so they may be at your local.)

There will also be instore entertainment on Saturday, with a lineup of DJs and performances by by Spelling Mistakes and a performance of their new 7" (see below) by The Phoenix Foundation.

I will personally be spinning some platters in the last slot at 5.30pm -- or as I prefer to think of it, "headlining".


Other archival RSD releases on sale on Saturday include the re-release of the Suburban Reptiles' legendary 'Saturday Night Stay At Home' 7" (including the limited-edition gold vinyl pressing) and the new mixed-by-Dave-Fridmann Phoenix Foundation 7".

TPF premiered the bustling a-side, 'Bob Lennon John Dylan', at the Big Day Out earlier in the year and it's just gone up on YouTube:

Flying Nun, meanwhile, has two Record Store Day specials -- re-releases of two early (and long out-of-print) Nun EPs, the Dunedin Double featuring The Verlaines, the Chills, Sneaky Feelings and the Stones (which I wrote about here on Audioculture) and Shayne Carter's first record, Bored Games' Who Killed Colonel Mustard?

Conch Records in Ponsonby will be hosting a free gig by the Disco Special version of She's So Rad at 1pm on Saturday and -- this is rather notable -- will be putting out around 2000 second-hand records, including the trove sold to them by Nick Dwyer before he flew out for a new life in Japan this week, and records from the eclectic collection of the legendary Clinton Smiley

Wellington's Slowboat Records will host instore performances from Dave Dobbyn, Julia Deans and Louis Baker on Saturday.

And Auckland's Southbound Records has a long list of RSD releases lined up for sale.

Feel free to add news of any other events or releases in the comments below.


The Taite Music Prize was awarded last night -- and if you haven't heard, it went to Lorde's Pure Heroine. There will have been those who felt she didn't need an indie music prize -- including herself (she very graciously donated her prize money and studio time back to the other nominees). But I've been on a Taite judging panel, it's a rigorous process, that's a hugely significant record and I'd quite probably have made the same call.

On the other hand, my heart would have given it to the Phoenix Foundation. Fandango is such a rich, prodigious album and it's been the bridesmaid a few times already. So, y'know, that's my personal prize. 

The highlight of the Taites evening for me was the speech by Kerry Buchanan, the one-time drummer of the Terrorways, to mark the classic indie record prize going to the AK79 compilation. Kerry is an erudite man and I was impressed by the way he put Auckland's nascent punk boom into context with the politics of the time. That dude should write more.

And finally, Jose Barbosa has written a great Audioculture article on the man for whom the Taites are named: journalist and iconoclast Dylan Taite.


It's been a big week for the Herald's Hugh Sundae, who fronted and produced the live streaming coverage of the Taites -- and the night before, oversaw the recording of the latest Sundae Session, at the project's new home at Roundhead Studio. The artist was Grayson Gilmour and the video will go up on the Herald site on May 8. Jackson Perry and I were lucky enough to be invited along to the session and I think I speak for both of us in saying that it will be well worth watching online.

For now, here's a picture:


Coachella weekend has been and gone, and once again it felt exciting to to sit in Auckland New Zealand and watch it unfold live on YouTube. Beck was in relaxed command of the stage, the Pet Shop Boys were totally fab, The Pixies and Daughter were pretty cool and Disclosure brought on Mary J. Blige, who tore the place up.

Arcade Fire bringing on Debbie Harry to sing 'Heart of Glass' and 'Sprawl II' turned out to be a better concept than it was a musical experience, but it was a great concept. I think they must now bring on both Anna and Agnetha for 'Sprawl II' when they play Glastonbury.

And then there were the New Zealanders. Former All Black Adam Thomson was tweeting merrily from the the site (high point: a fist-bump with Anthony Keidis) -- and of course, Lorde and the Naked and Famous played.

Lorde was good, and quite unlike anyone else on the bill, but it seemed she was having to work hard -- she had to play in a desert windstorm (Pharrell pretty much gave up singing on the same stage later on), and most of the time she was was in darkness at the front of the stage. (Peter McLennan explained the bizarre lighting to me -- it was set up for the EDM acts, who stood behind a DJ booth at the back of the stage pretending to play something. They were numerous and almost all shit.)

You're better off watching this full video of her recent set at Lollpalooza Brazil, which is better in every way. Really great, in fact:

It's a testament to Lorde's talent that she's been able to step up to these big stages so quickly -- she was pretty much still an unknown schoolkid a year ago -- but I wonder how long she can carry such a demanding format, where it's all on her. At some point she'll want a bigger show. Or not -- who am I to offer advice? 

The Naked and Famous, by contrast, have been living in LA for two years now, and working away towards a breakthrough. I think their Coachella set may well have been that breakthrough. They were assured and seemed to be revelling in their opportunity. By the time they finished with this flawless performance of 'Young Blood' I think they'd won a lot of friends.

All the non-official video has been taken down from YouTube already, but there's a playlist of mostly second-tier acts (Disclosure, Daughter, the 1975, Empire of the Sun, etc) here on the official Coachella channel.

(Weekend 2 will be shot this time, but will only be available on the US AXS TV, a channel specialising in live events. We could do with one of those.)


Elsewhere, The Audience has an appreciation of the Christchurch folk artist Aldous Harding and an interview with the admirable and amiable Benjii Jackson of MUZAI Records, who explains why he's moving the whole operation to the UK.

Also, a nice new hip hop track from Ride:

NZ Underground Dubs Vol 1, an interesting half-hour mix of spooky New Zealand bass music by people you probably haven't heard of, went up as a free download on Soundcloud this week.

And finally, a rework of a Rare Earth track by the reliable Dutch crew RocknRolla Soundsystem. Raging funk:


The Hard News Music Post is sponsored by:



Feed: Grandpa's Kitchen

A huge dog-leg of a section,  2 Saulbrey Grove, off White's Line West in Woburn, is the largest remaining piece of the old Saulbrey family farm and the site of the magnificent red-brick house built by my grandfaher, Jack Saulbrey. When I used to visit as a child, it had the most extraordinary vegetable garden. 

Grandpa Saulbrey's trade as a brickie was not only manifest in the house. The back garden was dominated by a big raised bed built in brick and a large glasshouse where the vines would be heavy with tomatoes for much of the year. The fencelines were planted and in the far corner of the yard the chooks pecked and squabbled in a pen. 

As I've written before, Grandpa suffered great sadness in his life, losing a wife and a daughter in terrible circumstances. It was when his second wife began to slip away that he occupied himself more and more not just with the garden but with preserving its produce. He pickled all sorts: cucumbers, betroot, the lot. The cupboards were full of jars when he died. My mother disposed of most of them. He was never very fussy about properly sterilising the jars, she says.

He was also infamous for his garlic sauce, which contained a goodly helping of chillis from the garden too. We don't think of his generation (he was born in 1911) as having had much truck with such things, but Jack did. Apparently when he had the garlic sauce on the go you could smell it from the end of the street. (I've transcribed the recipe in his exact words below --- the "Ian" mentioned is my father. I might have a go.)

His dream kitchen wasn't what we'd build today. It was small and quite dark, although the ceiling was high. In place of a table there was a diner-style booth. Proper meals were had in the living room next door.

I remember chickens hanging in the kitchen, and the time he greeted us off the plane and told me he'd made rabbit gumbo for me. I'd never had anything like the gumbo, but it was magic and I loved it. Mum recalls the perpetually unruly pressure cooker and Grandapa's old-fashioned habit of boiling cabbage along with the corned beef and how bad that smelled, but not as bad as the fish-head soup, which no one else ever ate.

But it was the tomatoes more than anything by which I recall him. The powerful, fresh, hoppy smell inside the glasshouse, the ones I'd pick fresh and the ones he'd endlessly bottle and serve. The red of the tomatoes and the bricks and the family's ginger locks all blend now together, into the colour of memory.


Jack Saulbrey's Infamous Garlic Sauce

Half a gallon of vinegar

2lb of treacle

Half an ounce of cloves

Half a teaspoon of ground ginger

Half a pound of sugar

Two and a half ounces of chillis

Half a pound of garlic

Two large onions

2lb of apples

Mince garlic and onions and cover with the other ingredients, stand overnight

Boil one hour or perhaps a little longer

Strain through Ian's underpants and add a small bottle of Worcester sauce (not necessary)

Strain again

Put in empty whisky bottle -- or throw out window. Which is it?

(Good for a hangover -- two gulps and you'll never have another one)


Standing together

For those of us in journalism, the most extraordinary and troubling element of the dispute over spending at and around the Kohanga Reo National Trust has been the treatment of the programme that brought the issues to light, Maori Television's Native Affairs.

When Education minister Hekia Parata held a surprise press conference last month to announce the findings of the EY audit of the trust, Native Affairs was pointedly not notified or provided with the audit. Yesterday, when the hui held at Turangawawae to discuss the kohanga movement's future culminated in a press conference, Native Affairs was denied entry.

I've spoken to Maori who were unhappy with the style of Native Affairs' reports on the trust and its commercial subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga, but I think it's important to note that this hostility towards the journalists began well before these programmes went to air. 

Last year, Native Affairs had to go to the High Court to defeat an injunction brought by the trust that prevented the investigation screening. TKRNT trust board members directly lobbied members of Maori Television's own board, until Maori Television CEO  Jim Mather made it clear that any complaints would have to go through the proper channels. Native Affairs journalists have been placed under pressure in other, less visible, ways.

But it actually goes back further than that. Last August, tangatawhenua.com published a statement from the Mataatua-Tauranga Moana kohanga collective, which was seeking a "whanau-initiated review" of elements of the national trust's operations, including TPO's related-party loans and the level of non-cash compensation to TPO management and directors. It also backed the trust's then-suspended CEO, Titoki Black.

The response was a heavy letter from Chen Palmer on the trust board's behalf declaring that the claims were "false and defamatory" and demanding that the site remove the statement immediately. As a journalist, I can't see this as anything other than legal bullying. To his credit, Potaua Biaisny-Tule the young man owns and operates the site, didn't cave. The wording of the story was reworked to more clearly frame the collective's claims as opinion and you can still read it and part of the defamation letter here on the site.

I'm pretty clear that the kohanga movement is a sphere where history and feelings run deep and that the current problems are for stakeholders to address, not me. It seems that a good start was made on that at Turangawaewae.

But until such time as journalistic scrutiny is not met with intimidation and exclusion, I can only stand in solidarity with my fellow journalists -- much as Tova O'Brien did on 3 News last night when she put questions about the banning of Native Affairs to Tuku Morgan, the hui spokesman. Her questions were angrily dismissed, but I think it's to Tova's credit that she asked them knowing the likely response.

We journalists can be annoying buggers. Sometimes I despair at the work of my peers. But when we're performing our key role in the public sphere, we should have each other's support.


Friday Music: True love works in funny ways

Next Wednesday, the winner of the 2014 Taite Music Prize is announced at a ceremony in Auckland. As always seems to be the case, the list of finalists is all-killer-no-filler:

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II (Rhythmethod)
Beastwars – Blood Becomes Fire (Destroy Records)
Sheep Dog & Wolf – Egospect (Lil’ Chief Records)
The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango (The Phoenix Foundation/Universal)
David Dallas – Falling Into Place (Frequency Media Group/Universal)
@peace – Girl Songs (Frequency Media Group/Universal)
Lorde – Pure Heroine (Universal Music New Zealand)
Jonathan Bree – The Primrose Path (Lil’ Chief Records)

Past Taite judging panels have shown they're not shy about serving up a surprise. But one winner on the night is already known. This year's Independent Music NZ Classic Record is the legendary Ripper Records punk compilation AK79. And I'm delighted to say that you can find out everything you need to know about that album, in both its incarnations, in Simon Grigg's new feature article for Audioculture.

In keeping with the Audioculture style, the article is illustrated with some great photographs, including more from the amazing archive of Sara Leigh Lewis. But it's a Murray Cammick shot from 1978 that really makes me happy. The Scavengers, outside the Windsor Castle in 1978:



I wrote recently that major music companies and other copyright holders seemed to have struck a balance in their approach to Soundcloud between policing and permissiveness, allowing what is an increasingly important channel for them to maintain its vitality. (Lorde, recall, first reached the word via Soundcloud.) Turns out I have have spoken too soon.

There are reports that the UK record industry group the BPI intends to increase the pressure on Soundcloud and, if necessary, flood the site with takedown requests. I'm unsure what they think they're doing here: Souncloud has tightened up considerably in the past year. There are relatively few original master recordings there without permission now and if the BPI intends to crack down on re-edits, remixes and other derivative works, it will be scoring the biggest own goal imaginable.

The DJ Dimitri Paris posted this on his Facebook page this week:

Everyday, there is more of you visiting my Soundcloud page and that of other music people, from small to big.

Finding there a wider variety of music, than what the more mainstream media, have to offer.

Major labels (Universal Music Group, Sony-BMG, Warner-EMI) constantly remove content from Soundcloud, automatically taking tracks down without notice. That content their robots remove, legally belongs to them, even though some real people at their head offices decide they don't care to make it available to you. 

Content that is most times spontaneously reinterpreted and curated by music loving people (edits, mixes, mashups etc) to share with others alike, adding to its value in the process.

Content the "Soundclouders" make no money from, whether streaming it or giving it away to download.

Content from artists whose repertoire is owned by majors, which they don't care to exploit.

Content that you can choose to listen and share, and that at this time cannot be made available in other (legal) way. 

Ultimately content that spreads the music, and legacy of the original artist beyond financial motives. 

While this system is indeed not retributing the original artists, it can benefit both them and the "Soundclouders" by boosting their notoriety, something the majors typically don't make hard cash from. 

So rather than set out to get income for themselves AND the artist by exploiting the music they own, Major labels take the YouTube - If I Can't Have It I'll Break It - approach so that eventually no music can't be heard unless they say so. 


Sigh. Please don't break this thing. Please.


Peter McLennan rounds up the heartbreaking losses from the Kilbirnie self-storage fire.

SJD's first album, 3, is now on Bandcamp, at a price of your choosing. Excellent.

It's probably entirely fanciful, but Prince to play Glastonbury as a supergroup with members of Led Zeppelin has to be the musical rumour of the year.


New on TheAudience: Valere, whose 'IKTL' is a sparse, measured, interesting soul tune. 

In quite a different vein -- that vein being a cool, accomplished indie rock vibe -- Brendan Lott out of Blenheim:

The strange and mysterious Jordan Reyne is back. This is, in her words, "a song made of vocal loops that tells the tale of a mysterious town where people are taken to become something they are not." You can pre-order the EP it's from (the first in a trilogy) at her Bandcamp, where she also explains what her new recordings are about.

I heard great things about Estere's opening set for Erykah Badu this week. If she got you interested, there's plenty like this for download from her Soundcloud:

I mentioned Dimitri from Paris above. He has an amazing playlist of his remixes on Soundcloud, and most of them are available for download. They include this official remix of Danny Hathaway's 'The Ghetto':

Go get!



The Hard News Music Post is sponsored by:



To be expected

"Labour has taken another step to distance itself from the Greens," intoned Guyon Espiner on Morning Report, before he went on to identify "early signs of trouble in a pre-election relationship". Last night One News declared that "[t]raditional alliances between Labour and the Greens are under severe strain."


I completely understand why the Green Party would have confidentially proposed to Labour that the two parties campaign as a formal coalition this year, to the extent of allocating Cabinet posts in advance. I understand equally why Labour would have said, thanks but no thanks.

If it is to have any chance of forming a goverment later this year, Labour will need to win two to three times as many votes as the Greens. It's entitled to seek to maximise its vote, and I don't see it attracting many, if any, more votes through a joint campaign. It would be more likely to help National, which is already terribly keen to depict Labour as in thrall to the looney Greens.

It's also very likely that any possible centre-left government will require the support of New Zealand First. Is Winston Peters more likely to be wooed into a prospective government that includes the Greens, or one in which he is the wedding guest to a formal Labour-Green coalition? I think the answer is clearly the former.

Espiner went on to muse that perhaps the Greens were facing a situation like that in 2005, where they weren't part of a formal coalition. This doesn't seem terribly valid either. In 2005, Labour was faced with two coaliton partners to its right, who could deliver it a governing majority but would not work with the Greens, and the Greens, who (and it was close) were short of being able to deliver a majority on their own.

That won't happen this time, because there is simply no possibility of a centre-left goverment that does not include the Greens. There is no other option. It's almost as unlikely that such a government would not include New Zealand First.  So it doesn't make much sense for Labour to embark on a course that reduces the likelihood of co-operation from New Zealand First.

They might as well declare that they are prepared to work together and get on with their respective campaigns. That is, to do what they were doing last week, when no one seemed to think it was a problem, let alone a crisis.