Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: Down at the Crystal Palace

The electricity gods have been angry today, so I'll get straight to the point: Lawrence Arabia is playing at Mt Eden's Crystal Palace theatre this evening, with a string section – and a (solo) SJD in support. There's no way this ain't gonna be great. It's also your last chance to see them before they head off for dates in the UK and France.

And I have a double pass to give away. Just click the email link at the bottom of this post and mail me with "Lawrence Arabia" as the subject line. I'll do a draw at 4pm today, which will leave all the non-winners time to buy a ticket here.


Moana Maniapoto has written a wonderful column remembering Dalvanius Prime. And the comments are really good too. With Tearepa Kahi's Poi E: The Story of Our Song poised for general release, it seems we're paying some overdue atention to a proper legend.

Here's Dalvanius and the Fascinations from 1977. Awww yeah.


Shaft have released their first track in decade and it's everything you'd expect and hope for – just madly, madly tuneful. I was singing along to the chorus the first time I played it.

They're playing with Minisnap, Nakey and others tonight at the Darkroom in Christchurch.

I've been following trippy West Auckland hip hop crew Third3ye for a while now and I think they've gone up a level with their new album 3P. It's conscious and funky like this:

The whole album's only $6 on Bandcamp

Shayne Carter and Don McGlashan are reprising their Auckland Arts Festival team-up and hitting the road for a tour together in October. Their new website – donandshayne.com – has the info, including the news that a live-in-studio CD, recorded at The Lab the day of their arts festival show, will be exclusively on sale at the gigs.

Impressive electronic producer-artist Peach Milk launches her EP Finally tonight at Whammy. Under the Radar has the exclusive on the Soundcloud stream, along with an interview.


Turns out, there's a lost William Burroughs album and it's seeing the light of day now, nearly 20 years after he died. It's Burroughs reading from The Naked Lunch, backed by Bill Frisell and others. You can listen to and read about here.

And if you like that, you'll probably be interested in staring at this one-of-a-kind Sun Ra record that for sale on eBay at the moment.


Thanks to Stuart Page for the heads-up on this YouTube channel of conncerts from New Jersey's Capitol Theatre from 1973 to 1987. Let's be clear: some of them are in very murky black and white and rather a lot of them are Grateful Dead shows – but there are some gems, including Prince, Parliament, Elvis Costello and this 1984 show by REM, which opens with a country-stye cover of 'Pale Blue Eyes':



Aussie two-steppers Cup & String have a new EP out, but I'll do that when it's available more widely and not just on Traxsource. But for now, they've made their remix of the Nightcrawlers 90s club hit 'Push the Feeling On' a free download. I like this.


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


The Unitary Plan and grown-up conversations

News media and interest groups have, of course, been immersed in the contents of the Independent Hearings Panel recommendations on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan since their publication yesterday. But perhaps we should also take a moment to consider the meaning of the panel's report. Because it really does change things.

Right up until yesterday, it has been possible to characterise the desire to plan for intensification and provide for growth, as the work of fools, knaves, loons, vandals, nameless planners and Len Brown. Opponents of the Unitary Plan will doubtless continue to wilfully misrepresent the implications of the Unitary Plan, but their job is harder now. The kind of insult salad aspirant Auckland councillor Bill Ralston dished up in March doesn't really work any more.

The imprimateur of a quasi-judicial body has shifted debate on the plan to a different place, not least because the IHP has gone further  than the council itself. Effectively, some grown-ups have looked at it all and come to a conclusion. As flawed as it was in some ways, the government's 2010 super-city legislation laid the ground for that by requiring the oversight of an independent panel rather than council-appointed commissioners.

That doesn't mean the debate is over. The IHP's removal of mana whenua protections will be controversial (it's remarkable how some councillors and commentators seem to believe heritage protections are something only middle-class wote folks get) and there are many other points of contention. But I honestly think the coversation must be more sensible now, whether that suits some people or not.


DNC 2016: Beyond weird, most of the way to scary

Where to even start? As the Democratic Convention gets underway in Philadelphia, crowds of disaffected Sanders delegates – motivated by a dump of Democratic National Committee emails which seem very likely to have been taken in a hack overseen by Russian intelligence agencies who may well be working in the interests of the Trump campaign – seem set on disrupting the event, even though their guy is begging them not to.

In truth, while the emails are awkward for the DNC, they reflect what was a fairly public enmity between the Sanders campaign and the Democratic Party machine at the time they were written. And they do not show that the primary election was "rigged" or that the Sanders campaign was "sabotaged".

Although Pew Research finds that Democratic voters who supported Sanders during the primary now overwhelmingly say they will vote for Clinton, it will be the crowds inside and outside the convention hall who believe Taylor Swift – sorry, Hillary Clinton – is the devil will get all the oxygen.

This is going to be an interesting four days. Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michelle Obama are lined up to speak. Lord knows where it goes. Would a group hug be out of order?


Friday Music: Back on the K

One of the best things that happened on Karangahape Road last year was Flying Out's The Others Way Festival. The multi-venue event showed that it was possible to present a diverse lineup for a range of demographics and sell the thing out.

It was notable that the early showtimes and adherence to the schedule drew out a lot of people who maybe don't go to that many gigs and it seemed to mesh perfectly with K Road's peculiar sense of community.

Flying Out has announced that it's back on Friday, September 2, and there's an earlybird offer on tickets. Notably, the Las Vegas and the old Samoa House have been added as venues. One day, they'll get to close K Road itself, but this looks great.

Also, Auckland City Limits is back on Saturday, March 11, 2017.


The longlist for the Apra Silver Scrolls is out, and while it's perhaps not quite as jammed with hits as last year's, it's a notably varied list, from Dave Dobbyn's 'Harmony House' and David Dalla's protest song 'Don't Rate That' to Shayne Carter's imposing, gothic 'We Will Rise Again'. It's really nice to see Street Chant's 'Pedestrian Support League' in there.


Speaking of Shayne P Carter, Flying Nun has announced the September 9 release date of the "piano album", Offsider:

And the associated tour dates:

  • Thursday 18th August, The Tuning Fork, Auckland
Friday 19th August, Bar Bodega, Wellington

  • Friday 26th August, Blue Smoke, Christchurch

  • Saturday 27th August, The Cook, Dunedin


Unknown Mortal Orchestra's first track in a while, 'First World Problems', is their most funky, nimble tune yet. And now there's a video, in which interpretive dance serves as a fucking-and-fighting metaphor. Well, I think that's what it's about ...

Also fresh: Tourettes has a great video for another taster from his forthcoming album. Whammy Bar stands in for the Big Apple. Very short and proper mad.


British reggae writer and photographer Dave Hendley passed away this week. He wasn't well known outside reggae business, but if you have a Trojan Records compilation, he may have been the compiler. Here, he wrote about his love for reggae and, more particularly, for the "liberated raw graphics" of Jamaican cover art showcased in sleeves like this:

American Photo magazine showcased some of his pictures of reggae legends at work in JA (thanks for the tip, Dubhead), along with his stories about getting them:

“Probably the most pictures I ever took of anyone, in one of those brief encounters where you take pictures for three or four minutes, was Gregory Isaacs. It took me a month to pluck up the courage to photograph him. He had a bad reputation—he was a very sweet singer, but he was also an out-and-out hoodlum. I think it was a Saturday morning, and we were flying out that night, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to get a picture of Gregory Isaacs.’ He was my favorite singer at the time. I saw him down on the North Parade, I said “Gregory, can I take your picture.” He just dropped into a crouched position, he was wearing these very heavy shades, and he just looked completely menacing. I did eight frames, four frames with the glasses off, four with the glasses on—quite nervous, hands shaking.”


At Audioculture, Murray Cammick has the richly-illustrated story of The Datsuns, from their apprenticeship opening for every international band band that came to Hamilton to – almost instantly, it seemed at the time – the cover of NME. It's really worth a read.

Also new on Audioculture: Gareth Shute profiles DJ DLT, from the beginnings of Upper Hutt Posse on. I still remember booking them during my brief spell as a dance party maestro. They were much harder than any of the Auckland rap crews – and DLT did his stuff with but one turntable. He recalls that in the story:

“At some point during the recording of the album, we borrowed a mixer. It was hard core because I had to learn it on the fly, while recording it. I didn't have a mixer at home to practise on or anything like that. In 1989, when we moved to Auckland, we got lots of gigs so I did eventually get a better set-up, but it was still only one turntable. All the photos from back in the day, you can see that I've only got one turntable and a mixer.”

Here's one from 1990 with the newly luxurious two-turntable set-up:


Simon Grigg has digitised a long-lost video of the Screaming Meemees playing at the Brown Trout Festival in Dannevirke in in 1983. As you might expect, the North Shore boys didn't go down well with everyone in the crowd and the set was cut short when a bottle from the crowd struck Tony Drumm. But it lasted long enough for the band to play a couple of songs that were never recorded:


One of the diversions at the horrorshow that has been the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week has been the interludes with the house band, which have not been the wall-to-wall country-rock you might expect. I've been telling people how they played David Bowie's 'Station to Station' on day one and people don't entirely believe me – so here it is. And yeah, they murdered it:



The Golden Pony are back with another loping, funky house tune. Free download:

If you read the news, you'll know that Turkey's got some problems right now. But there's always disco. Beam Me Up Disco just presented this great mix from Istanbul's Mercan Senel:

She has a bunch of wiggy re-takes on Turkish disco classics. Check this:

And finally, staying with the disco groove, Patrick Cowley's classic 1979 remix of Lipps, Inc's 'Funkytown' is on free download at HearThis. It's a reshare-to-download deal and you might as well grab it now!


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant


RNC 2016: A literal shitshow

There is a norovirus outbreak at the Republican National Congress. To be fair, uncontrollable vomiting and loss of bowel control would be a reasonable response to the contents of the convention's first day. You may find some irony in the fact that norovirus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route.

"This is insane," I tweeted yesterday as I watched three people get up and tell their stories under the banner 'Victims of Illegal Immigrants', but it was in keeping with the constant tone of fear and hatred that underscored the day's theme of Make America Safe Again.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who Trump would appoint as Secretary of Defense, demanded military readiness for "multiple" conflicts. He dragged the term "New American Century" out of some fetid necon cellar, he warned darkly that America's enemies had "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and he repeatedly led a chant calling for Trump's political opponent, Hillary Clinton, to be locked up. That's an undeniably unnerving thing to hear a prospective leader of a country's armed forces to say.

But the US news media overlooked all this savagery in favour of wall-to-wall commentary on Melania Trump's plagiarism. The Trump campaign obliged by denying, in the face of all evidence, that there had in fact been any plagiarism at all. It got to the point where they were quoting My Little Pony to justify it. They insisted, bizarrely, that the controversy was Hillary Clinton's fault.

As Josh Marshall notes, this reaction of denial and attack is characteristic of Trump and, by extension, his campaign. Marshall also says this:

In substantive terms, the much bigger story from last night was a hastily thrown together program focused on violence, bloodshed and betrayal by political enemies. We've become so inured to Trump's brand of incitement that it's barely gotten any notice that Trump had three parents whose children had been killed by illegal/undocumented immigrants tell their stories and whip up outrage and fear about the brown menace to the South. These were either brutal murders or killings with extreme negligence. The pain these parents experience is unfathomable. 

But whatever you think about undocumented immigrants there's no evidence they are more violent or more prone to murder than others in American society. One could just as easily get three people whose children had been killed by African-Americans or Jews, people whose pain and anguish would be no less harrowing. This isn't illustration; it's incitement. When Trump first did this in California a couple months ago people were aghast. Now it's normal.

Day two of the conference seems to offer a similar mix to day one of the chilling and the preposterous. Yesterday, we heard speeches from several reality TV stars and a fading sitcom legend. Today, there's a golder, a soap opera star, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the manager of Trump's winery.

Again, it will probably be a matter of can't-bear-to-watch-but-can't-look-away. I've embedded the live stream below. Let's all hold hands and wonder what the hell is going on. Together.