Hard News by Russell Brown

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Friday Music: The unusual proposition of SoccerPractise

SoccerPractise play Golden Dawn tonight to mark the release of their eponymous debut album, which is on your favoured streaming service and and will presumably turn up some time today on their presently empty Bandcamp page.

The album is the best exposition yet of the band's unusual proposition: the kohanga-educated daughter of Ponsonby hippies teaming up with three indie-guitar guys and singing in te reo Māori over layered, nimble, mostly electronic tracks that are as much art as dance.

The album includes the single 'Amene', which I've seen them play to quite dramatic effect live.

As an extra bonus, the DJs out in the courtyard this evening are Dubhead and Te Kupu (aka Dean Hapeta, once of Upper Hutt Posse). One would expect that things might get pretty conscious out there.

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This New Year's Eve, as the last, we'll be going down as a family to Wondergarden at Silo Park. The lineup is really impressive, including Unknown Mortal Orchestra, SWIDT, Leisure – and Nadia Reid, whose Preservation made number two on Mojo's albums of the year list this week.

Nadia's toured Europe three times in the past two or three years and I was interested in the way she shapes her innately intimate music to larger venues and, especially, festivals. So she kindly agreed to an email chat about places to play, which follows.

How’s it been adjusting to those different spaces? Do you sing or play differently at a festival versus a tiny bar?

Over these past few years, I feel like I've become better at 'reading' venue spaces. I don't go into a festival gig expecting the intimacy and attention that a venue or theatre will bring. I guess it's all about expectation. Outdoor festivals can be really enjoyable. I think Wondergarden Festival has been carefully curated and is music focused. We just do our thing ...

What are your favourite places? Are they the small or big ones?

Depends. There's a little venue in Cologne that I have played twice now. It's a tiny bar. An old red light district club. We play in the centre of the room and there are booths and poles in there. The lighting is pretty dim but there's this sense that we're in a room full of history and it's kind of spooky. I always think, 'how's the lighting?', does this space feel inclusive and right for my kind of music?'.

I saw your performance on Later With Jools Holland and thought you were singing harder than usual. Were you conscious of that? How do you approach TV performances?

I'm not sure what you mean by 'harder'. Was I terrified? Yes. It was live to air television and there'd been a sort of 'build up' to that moment. Once we began playing it felt like business as usual. I was trying to be in the moment. That show runs like well oiled machine. My make up artist and floor manager had worked there for 20 years. It felt like a family environment. It was such a thrill and I was really proud to have performed on that show.

Often when you tour it’s just you and Sam. Is there an element there of making a virtue of necessity? (I think Anthonie Tonnon has done that really well – reinventing himself as an economically-feasible solo act.)

There's an intimacy with just one person or two guitars. Sam serves my music really well and he's an incredible player. He's also been a huge support on these tours. Touring can be really lonely. We will start adding in people soon as these tours grow. I'm really fortunate to have the support that I do.

So you're playing New Year’s Eve? Have you done that before?

Yes. Last year I played in a forest near Levin on New Year's Eve. It was really special. I get a bit sentimental as the year turns over.

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Last Sunday we staged the last Orcon IRL at The Golden Dawn event for the year – and along with the korero, we were delighted to be able to present Julia Deans playing songs from her forthcoming (but not till next year) album, We Light Fire.

It was a great addition to the day and I think the solo format only underlinedthe strength of the songs and her strength as a singer and guitar player. And nowhere more so than on the album's title track:

There's a YouTube playlist here with the rest of her performance.

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I'm hardly a jazz expert, but I know what I like – and happily, I like enough to be able to guest on Duncan Campbell's 95bFM jazz show from 12-2pm on Sunday.

We've agreed we'll be leaning towards the summery and groovy, and I'm going to find 14 minutes for this track, which never fails to lift my heart:

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Water's new video sees Andrew Moore blend footage from his fondly-remembered Yeah Bo skate video series from the early 1990s with live footage from, like, two weeks ago. It's pretty cool.

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Tunes!

A very much revived Unitone Hi-Fi have fired the first dub shot in their run-up to playing Laneway 2018. It's out today on iTunes and your favoured streaming service (but if you're buying, you really want to spend a single dollar for it at Bandcamp) and it's an instantly-appealing lazy, hazy groove with a trumpet. I believe we can say that summer has begun ...

A great rework of Zapp's 'More Bounce to the Ounce' with a free WAV download for all you DJs ...

Ronnie Hammond takes on James Brown's 'Sex Machine' to very groovy effect (free download):

And ahead of Courtesy's return to Splore next year, a typically taut and agile hour's worth of of techno from the Danish DJ. Click through for a track listing and free download.

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