Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: Back There Alone

Sean James Donnelly went back to the well for his new album, Elastic Wasteland.

As a professional composer, producer and musician he has hardly been idle: he's worked with Don McGlashan in The Bellbirds and the Finns in the Pajama Party. He produced the version of 'Not Given Lightly' for this year's breast cancer appeal. But I wonder if in the four years since Dayglo Spectres, the follow-up to Songs From a Dictaphone, he'd lost some confidence in his own work as SJD.

Elastic Wasteland is brilliant: he has played and produced the whole thing himself and it feels as if he's consciously reconnected with his own essence. It's a highly personal record, and a dense one too: he packs a lot in here.

In 'Lena', a love song, the lyrics ("an elemental spark / to a tinder-dry desire") slide into a slow instrumental reverie that just makes me stop what I'm doing when it happens. That in turn gives way to the terse krautrock of 'Jumping Over Fences' and the arch melancholy of 'Song of Baal'. It feels like a record that I'll be unwrapping for some time yet.

Jimmy and I went to a private album preview show on Wednesday night, which was a further revelation. Sean has worked up a one-man show around tracks from the new album and a couple of his greatest hits. It's all loops and samples, but at no point did it feel like he was doing anything other than playing it live ("There's a very fragile controller in the middle of it all," he mused to the crowd at one point.).

And while the album is really an electronic rock record that references everything from Chrome to (as noted by Simon Sweetman) Robert Wyatt, the live show is definitely party enough for festivals. The kids might not get what he's doing when he mixes 'Crimson and Clover' into 'Make Love Ask Questions Later' -- as a kind of note to himself about where the riff came from -- but they'll like what they hear. And that half-finished techno version of 'Superman Is Crying' he played as an encore? Could be a juggernaut.

Also, the hat. Keep the hat, Sean: it makes the music sound even better.

Anyway, you can buy the album on iTunes or at an actual shop, or preview and purchase it here on Bandcamp, for $14 (or more if you care to):

You can also see Sean play at Golden Dawn in Ponsonby next Wednesday. I certainly will be.


Meanwhile Peter McLennan busts out a jaunty re-edit of one of the tracks from DJ Vadim's Fat Freddy's Drop remix EP.

Doc Westie ("the world’s leading purveyor of bogan cockrock disco," it says here) gets all Waitakere on it:

From the same bedroom -- but a different space altogether -- comes this cantering version of a classic:

Try not to bob around in your chair to that.


A bangin' Grace Jones edit:

Typical Bobby Busnach niceness:


Among the band members squeezed onto the stage for Watercolours' set at the first of the Open Late nights for the Auckland Art Gallery's Who Shot Rock? exhibition was Alistair Deverick on drums. He records in his own as Boycrush, and Watercolours' Chelsea Jade was gracious enough to include a version of the Boycrash song she sings on in her own set. It's a gorgeous pop song:

You can download the four-track Boycrush EP at a price of your chossing here on Bandcamp.

Also, I gather Watercolours' win on TheAudience, and consequent $10,000 Making Tracks funding will be bearing fruit soon. I think there are a lot of people out there who really want to pay money for that 'Night Swimmer' song.


As I noted this week, Public Address turned 10 years old on Wednesday. This seems like an appropriate time and place for our shout-out to our indie advertisers over the years:

Warner Music

Lawrence Arabia



Flying Nun

The Label

Totally Wired

Lee Ter Wal

40 Days

It's lovely to have you all around. We deeply appreciate your support and I hope it's worked for you too.


Meanwhile, Jim and I have a busy evening on Saturday: first there's High  Noon with the Eglo Records acts Floating Points, Fatima and Alexander Nut, thanks to the British Council.

And then Tiger Translate 2012, featuring Home Brew, Dudley Benson, the ARC DJs, Chaos in the City, Doc Westie and more.

And they're both sold out. Let that be a lesson to you in future.

And finally, from one of my favourite albums of the year, The Orb featuring Lee Scratch Perry:

The Hard News Music Post is sponsored by:


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