Hard News by Russell Brown


Music: Grey Lynn Taonga

The recent master-tape donation to the Alexander Turnbull library, momentous as it is, isn't the only Flying Nun heritage action going on at the moment.

At a secure location in Grey Lynn, former legendary Toy Love roadie (and Flying Nun Foundation board member) Ian Dalziel is going through the archives of Chris Knox. Chris continues to produce creative works at home (mostly visual art made with the left hand he trained himself to use after his stroke), but he and his family decided it was time to bring some order to the thousands of items he has stored over the years, incuding tapes, original art for sleeves, labels, posters and comics, photographs, correspondence, documentation and more. (Even Chris's Plunket book is there!)

It's not just Flying Nun. The archive includes the likes of the original label art for the Propeller Records sibling, Furtive, which released Tall Dwarfs' first EP, 3 Songs.

The tapes are particularly exciting. They include unreleased demo recordings made by Toy Love at Stebbing Studios, out-takes from various Knox and Tall Dwarfs albums and quite a few live recordings from the Rhumba Bar and other venues. The contents of some of the tapes won't be known until they can be examined by expert archivists.

Although much of the archive will very probably end up with an appropriate institution, it's quite possible that the project will spawn books, music releases and exhibitions. There are also multiple copies of some items, some of which may find their way out into the world, and work by other artists that may belong with them. But those are decisions for Chris and his family to make once the tallying is done.

I visited Ian while he was working for a look at what's emerging. Things like this tape of what was intended to be a Scavengers/The Enemy EP recorded at Mascot in 1978:

It was never released, and isn't likely to be, as The Enemy's drummer Mike Dooley explains:

We didn't much like the recording, which was funded by Radio Hauraki, hence the advert we did for them that they never used. The engineer and producer didn't like The Enemy and were uselessly inept in my view, but took a more favourable view of the Scavs. They also showed themselves as stuffy and shallow old hippies when Chris had an epileptic fit during a mixing session.

Cool. But now I want to hear that Hauraki ad!

Then there's this: the rough calendar for Chris and Doug Hood's epic trip south to record the Dunedin Double, Mainly Spaniards and a Tall Dwarfs record. They had the energy of (relative) youth ...

The comic that came with the first run of Boodle Boodle Boodle:

From 1983, a lively letter from the late Ron Kane:

I got a little thrill seeing this. It's the illustration Chris provided for an episode of a short series of satirical histories I wrote for Rip It Up. It depicts legendary gonzo roadie Ziggy Carcrash (who, Chris correctly intuited, was based on the real-life Fred Kramer).

A miscellany of art by Chris, including posters and comics. And is that a never-used Flying Nun label design?

Out-takes from Tall Dwarfs' Weeville album:

An undated recording of a Toy Love live show, with track notes by Chris. It doesn't seem to be the same recordings released on the Toy Love Live at the Gluepot album several years ago – they came in on cassette tape.

BOBZILLA! In 1982, residents of and visitors to a house in Jessel Street, Ponsonby (including Chris, the Kilgour brothers, Doug Hood, Barbara Ward and others) made a song about the house cat which was released as a Christmas single (XMAS 001). It's one of the stranger and rarer Flying Nun releases and goes for silly money among collectors. This is the master tape:

The contents of the sorting table on the day I visited. Note Chris's childhood musical notation book!

Ian at the sorting table ...

There are larger versions of these pics, and others, at the Flying Nun Foundation Facebook page (please like us when you visit – we're going to be posting interesting stuff on a more or less weekly basis and welcome your input) and you can also check out the FNF website.


This year's Proms season seems to be a particularly diverse and compelling one. Two or three times I've come in from a night out and just blissed out in front of the TV for a while. On Friday night, there was Sharon van Etten covering LCD Soundsystem's 'New, York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down' at part of the New York Tribute evening. Oh my goodness ...

But there are other gems. Like all of Prom 13,  Pioneers of Sound, a tribute to the legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, featuring performances of electronic works by Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire:

The video on the BBC website isn't viewable from here unless you're using a VPN, but there are plenty of clips on the BBC Music YouTube channel – just click here and scroll down till you find what you want. Also, if you have a home theatre system, do yourself a favour and watch it on that.

Other new BBC bounty include 6 Music's All Day Rave, a tribute to the birth of modern dance music, which features A Brief History of the Second Summer of Love with Graeme Park of the Hacienda, a super-tasty live mix of 80s house classics by Marshall Jefferson and more. Including how a Pete 'n' Dud sketch turned into a club classic:


Meanwhile on RNZ, Avantdale Bowling Club came in to do NZ Live with Jesse Mulligan:

And not long after that, the charts came through. Their self-titled album is the top-selling New Zealand album and second only to Ariana Grande's new one in the overall chart. What you consider how hard it is to break through the wall of passive listening that dominates the charts in the streaming age, that's an extraordinary achievement for this kind of record.

Also worth your time: Kiran Dass interviews Christchurch cult hero Roy Montgomery for Music 101.


It looked like The Others Way 2018 had sold out, but they seem to have found a few more tickets, which presumably will not last long. Here's the timetable (I'll post a bigger version in the comments below):

If you miss out, or it's all a bit daunting, don't forget that Julia Deans plays The Tuning Fork the following evening. Tickets for that and dates in Hamilton, Tauranga and Leigh can be had here from Under the Radar.



A while back, some friends of mine booked the rehearsal room in Bond Street (yes, the same place Boodle Boodle Boodle was made) to record some of the songs of their band, The Onedin Line. The plan was maybe to get a couple of tracks out on a 7" single, but it never quite came to pass. But Andrew Moore has put one of the songs earmarked for the single up on Soundcloud. It's a cracking tune:

The mighty Bill Brewster put together a two-hour episode of his podcast in tribute to Aretha Franklin, featuring a selection of her tunes – and those of the artists who sampled her (click through for download and track listing):

And finally, the Germans are back. The latest compilation is keeping with the Kompakt label's cool, minimal style, but there's quite a bit of variety amongst it. Streaming and download links here.



NZ On Air and the bill that does bugger-all

In yesterday's edition of Mike's Minute, the broadcaster's reliably thoughtful and exhaustively cited "Morena!" to the nation, Mike Hosking weighs in behind National MP Melissa Lee's bill to require NZ On Air to report, on a quarterly basis, the ratings of every TV or radio show it funds.

He declares:

NZ on Air is in charge of millions of our dollars, and they fund programmes which look to be getting increasingly eclectic, and watched by fewer and fewer people.  

We don’t know all of it for sure, because NZ on Air only publish the numbers for their 10 most popular shows.  

But given they fund hundreds that's a lot of dross that never really gets under the light of the public scrutiny.

You might think from reading this that the ratings of TV programmes are some secret knowledge that no one can know unless the government lets on. This is not the case. Although NZ On Air's agreement with the ratings company Nielsen allows it to publish only the Top 10 in its own right, thousands of people, the people whose employers have subscriber access to Nielsen ratings, look at them every day. Broadcasters, advertising agencies and independent producers all calibrate their work by the ratings. They know – to a reasonable but still contentious degree of precision – not only how many viewers watched a programme, but what parts they watched, and the age, gender, income and location of the viewers. Even an Opposition MP could access this information with a little effort. Journalists do it all the time.

This is important because the size and character of a viewing audience has a direct bearing on the advertising income that makes commercial broadcasting possible. Indeed, that's the whole point of ratings. They're a research model designed for advertisers.

But NZ On Air uses ratings too: they're a key part of the agency's fairly complex accountability structure, as laid out in its last Statement of Performance Expectations. For instance, NZ On Air commits to the following new measure: 

Over 50% of first run funded prime time (6 pm to 10.30 pm) content for TV achieves average audiences of 100,000 or higher.

The agency should not have too much trouble hitting that benchmark. Its 2017 annual report declares that 91% of its funded prime-time programming for TVNZ 1, TVNZ 2 and TV3 attracted audiences greater than 100,000, and two thirds of that 91% came in over the 200,000 mark. Having targeted "at least 50%" of its funding for prime-time programming, it eventually directed 68% of funding to prime-time programmes.

In short, it does not appear from the numbers that NZ On Air is, as Hosking contends, an out-of-control slush fund for unemployed hipsters making programmes no one watches.

But that's not the only performance measure: there are separate metrics for online, music and radio, and targets for independent research into audience satisfaction. NZ On Air is also committed by law to funding programming for various niche audiences, which can't sensibly be measured simply by counting commercial ratings. Indeed, programmes like the long-running disability TV show Attitude are funded precisely because in a wholly commercial system they would not be made. And NZ On Air regularly cops criticism for funding top-rating programmes that could have gotten up without its help.

It's a perennial balancing act. But take it from me, NZ On Air is always measuring and reporting, by whatever means is appropriate, the results of its funding decisions.

Mike then gets on to what it perhaps the real motivation for his argument: The Spinoff. The Spinoff has, in the past year, become something of a cause celebre for the campaigning Right. Since March, the Taxpayers' Union has published half a dozen press releases slating The Spinoff for doing a commercial content sponsorship with IRD, entering a content sharing agreement with RNZ and, most recently, making a not-very-successful TV show. It has the feel of a pile-on.

One Mike is only too happy to join:

The website, which for reasons no one can really fathom, got $700,000 to indulge themselves in a more visual version of what they do on their website.  

Given they had never made TV before it went pretty much the way you thought it would, straight to the dustbin of TV history. Virtually no one saw it after the handful who watched the first one ran for the hills, or in this case the remote.  

And here is where part of the problem is, the snobbishness that drives NZ on Air.

As regards releasing figures as to the success of their choices, they said, "I don’t know there would be a great deal of appetite for it, because you are sort of inviting the court of public opinion to make decisions about things".

If Mike truly can't fathom the reason it happened,  I can help. It was funded because TV3 made a broadcast committment. That really is the reason any commercial TV broadcast proposal gets funded: a broadcast company is prepared to show it, either because it figures it can make a dollar from screening the programme, or (see: Sunday mornings on TVNZ) there's no money to be made anyway.

The Spinoff TV was funded in the same round that my long-running sequence of media TV shows met its end, and I cannot quibble with that decision. We'd had a good run and NZ On Air needs to foster new content from its limited pool of funding. And The Spinoff, given the way it's managed to consistently grow its online audience and the innovative ways it has done so, was a really obvious choice.

So what went wrong? My guess – and it is just a guess, because I haven't talked to them – is that TV3 sees the slot The Spinoff TV debuted in as a Friday night comedy slot, home to the likes of Jono and Ben and Funny Girls. So the expectation was that The Spinoff team would produce comedy. Now, there's certainly a consistent vein of humour on the original website, but it's not necessarily humour that translates well to the screen. A better representation of The Spinoff might have been more like the podcasts, with Alex and Leonie engaging guests in the studio, rather than constantly (and slightly manically) throwing to video tracks by writers who were still finding (and sometimes not finding) their own comedic feet.

But The Spinoff TV didn't hold its audience and after three short weeks it was demoted to the 10.45pm slot, whereupon its viewership totally fell off a cliff. The fare has actually improved quite a bit in recent weeks, as they get a better handle on what does and doesn't work, but you'd have to guess it's too late and TV3 will regard its experiment as a failure. That's a thing about TV: unless your strategy is to try nothing new, you will occasionally have failures.

In a press release last week, the Taxpayers' Union gleefully characterised Lee's bill as The Spinoff TV Memorial Bill and declared that with its "abysmal viewership ratings", the programme was "just one example of NZ on Air wasting our money on pet projects that no-one wants to watch."

It seems to bear noting that last month, the Taxpayers' Union issued a different press statement complaining that NZ On Air funds programmes such as 7 Days and Jono and Ben that have rated consistently well, on the basis that those shows "do little to add to New Zealand culture, and ought to obtain their funding commercially". It's almost enough to make you doubt the good faith of the Taxpayers' Union.

It also seems lost on those involved that all this crowing comes off the back of the same ratings numbers Lee's bill presumes are being witheld. It is, frankly, a piffling use of Parliament's time to pass a law requiring a minor change to the reporting of information that almost every stakeholder has anyway. It will not "rein in" NZ On Air as Mike Hosking believes. It's the kind of thing that might be the subject of a request from the Minister of Broadcasting to the board.

Previous Broadcasting ministers have not made such a request, and as it happens, the current minister has not either. Her formal Letter of Expectations for 2018-2019, a rather vague document, asks NZ On Air's board to work faithfully with her new quango (whose terms don't seem to have been established yet) and to prepare a "rigorous" and "high-quality" business case in advance of a review of broadcast funding whose terms are not clear either. The only clear operational requests are for more captioning to be funded and for NZ On Air funding acknowledgements to be discontinued on RNZ. It might be a confusing few months.

Lee might have been better advised to drill into transparency issues there rather than pursue a bill that, for all the hand-waving of Hosking and the Taxpayers' Union, actually does bugger-all.


Friday Music: Aretha and the power of song

The times in which the great Aretha Franklin has passed, like the times in which she emerged, require us to consider not only her remarkable contribution to popular music, but what she meant even beyond that.

I'm indebted, then, to Chris Bourke, who this morning shared this Facebook story of a moment in 2005, from the writer and musician Warren Zanes:

Aretha waived her fee to headline the Sam Cooke tribute I produced some years ago. That didn't mean it was cheap. Traveling light wasn't her thing. As she told me later, she did it for Sam. Solomon Burke was on the same show. He said he'd waive his fee also . . . if I could create a moment onstage during which he and Aretha would sing together. Likely he knew as well as I did that such a decision was not mine to make. It was Aretha's. And she hadn't even gotten back to me about which songs she'd be doing. I told her manager about Solomon's wish. No response. When the day of the event came, Aretha closed the show with a pure and beautiful performance. After that, Solomon was going to lead the many performers gathered in an encore of "A Change Is Gonna Come." We'd created a moving throne for Solomon that enabled us to get him on the stage pretty quickly. As he was being wheeled out, Aretha watched from a chair at the side of the stage. To our surprise, she didn't go back to her dressing room. Solomon went into the song. "I was born by the river . . ." It was gorgeous stuff. I watched Aretha watching Solomon. Then, a few lines in, I saw that Aretha had held onto her mic. And for whatever reason, it was still on. This still doesn't make sense. But there it was. With Solomon a verse in, Aretha still hidden at the side of the stage where the audience couldn't see her, she lifted the mic up and started singing with Solomon. For a few seconds, no one, including Solomon, knew where this voice was coming from. I just watched her, stunned. When it

finally registered with Solomon, Aretha stood up, straightened her gown, and walked onto that stage. There were tears running down Solomon Burke's face. It may be the deepest musical moment I've ever witnessed. Solomon called me into his dressing room after the show, holding me to his chest and not letting go, thanking me. But I told him I couldn't take any credit. It was all Aretha. The next night, we did a gospel show, with Aretha opening. She wore a long robe with a golden cross on the back. Her contract said she'd do two songs. She walked onto the stage, kicked her shoes into the audience, and didn't leave until she'd done six of her favorites, like she was talking to God. Rest in Peace, Miss Franklin.

I think it's important to read those words before watching the video of that moment, just to appreciate everything bundled up in this performance of Sam Cooke's keening, epochal liberation song. I had tears rolling down my cheeks watching it.

I think, in this time when small minds and small talents clamour to tell us we must be apart, hearing someone whose gifts were so transcendent telling us better is powerful and valuable.

And then there's the dance. I'm playing some records at a birthday party this weekend – and I've never been happier to be able to say "I've got that on vinyl":


Maybe I'm just all infused with the power of song today. Because that was there too, yesterday evening at the launch of Avantdale Bowling Club's debut album, among friends and family, overlooking K Road.

This really is quite a record: its torrent of thoughts and feelings, the technical virtuosity of Tom Scott's delivery, the way the band's contribution deepens it all. It struck me last night how key JY Jong-Yun Lee's saxophone playing is on the album. It's both a foil to Tom's voice and a voice in its own right. It's actually the first thing you hear on the album, and also opens this excellent new mini-documentary about Tom by Jordan Arts [Update: those first notes on the record are actually played by Ben McNicoll. Both he and JY are on the track and it can be hard because of the way it was produced for even the players to tell what's  whom, but the opening notes are definitely those of Ben (they were joined quite seamlessly into a subsequent part by JY, then back to Ben for the end of the phrase). He says they're "some of my proudest recorded sounds" and fair enough too.]

There was, of course, another star last night: the person 'Quincey's March' is about. Jacinda's not the only one juggling a baby:

Here's the video:

It was also notable, and in keeping with Tom's longtime attention to the creative community around him, that the album launch was also the launch of a small exhibition of related art (by Jacob Yikes) and photography (by Luca Macioce and Tak Soropa). You can pop up the stairs to CorpStudio (86 Pitt Street, above Leo O'Malley menswear) to see those works and buy limited-edition ABV merchandise from midday to 10pm today and tomorrow, and midday to 5pm Sunday. There will also be guest DJ sets.

And you can now buy the album on Bandcamp. (You can also, of course, listen to the album on your streaming service, but it's buying from Bandcamp that really pays an artists's rent.)


Amid what seems to be a rush of great local albums, another singular vision. Dudley Benson's album Zealandia has been eight years in the making and it's an immensely detailed expression of layered thoughts about cultural nationalism, where classical violins hold hands with pop drum machines.

As attached as I am to its themes, I feel like I haven't got down deep enough in it to write more than that by way of review yet – especially when a couple of our best close listeners have done that already. Zealandia has been reviewed twice on RNZ in the past week. First, by Nick Bollinger, who reaches for Lilburn to define what he's hearing:

Put simply, records this rich don’t come along very often. As far as ideas go, Dudley Benson has acknowledged that, as a pakeha, he’s taking a risk exploring issues of colonisation or the Maori spiritual themes that crop up through the record, yet to my ears, none of these discussions could be more timely.

Many years ago, the great New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn said that a musician "must develop an awareness of the place he lives in, not attempting a mere imitation of nature in sounds, but seeking its inner values, the manifestations of beauty and purposes it shows us … and perhaps using it as something against which he can test the validity of his own work."

And then, by William Dart:

Initially one stands back in some sort of awe at the immensity and utter detailing. On my first listen-through, I was imagining a musical equivalent to those extravagant Bavarian castles of King Ludwig, temples of and to the most delicious excess conceivable. Dudley Benson, drawing on everything from the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and the NZ Youth Choir to a host of musicians playing harpsichord, harp, celeste, koto, slide guitar and bagpipes, creates the equivalent of a musical Neuschwandstein Castle, with just the right balance of rococo finery and sonic tukutuku.

The theme of the album is an ambitious one, Zealandia being the great sunken continent on which we’re poised. The title song is kept until last, a great nine-minute outpouring that sums up the historical and environmental concerns of the preceding eleven tracks.

William, too, concludes by settling on Lilburn and the way his influence has been combined with other voices to bring about "a new, vibrant musica tangata". This is music of our time.

You can buy Zealandia on Bandcamp.


It's only two weeks till The Other's Way festival on K Road, and if you don't have a ticket you might want to get one soon, as it's selling quite quickly. There are a bunch of things to like about this year's festival: 

 • An All Ages stage in association with girls Rock Camp Aotearoa. The stage will start late afternoon for all ages ticket holders and then becomes part of the festival after 7.30pm with access still available to under 18s.

• A record 45 acts across 13 K Road venues, plus an after-party with DJ JNett at Neck of the Woods.

• A festival beer by Hallertau! (The indifferent quality of some venues' beverage offerings has been a bit of an issue in the past, so this matters.)

In the lineup, there's fresh (The Beths off the back of their bloody brilliant debut album) and fermented (Bailter Space, Headless Chickens). I know quite a few people excited about those last two, but some of us are also amped about the return of Collision.

The Tokoroa-born funk band, who broke up at the end of the 1970s after a tough time trying to make their way in Australia, was vaulted back into the conversation for the Heed the Call compilation. I had a chat with Collision's trumpet player Mike Booth this week and he happily acknowledged that the huge interest around that compilation is the reason they're back playing together.

Not all the 1970s members will be there on the night – two can't travel and one is no longer with us – but they've found some younger players and Hirra Morgan's daughters will be there on vocals. Will they play Dalvanius's 'Voodoo Lady'? Mike says they want to, but they're working out who can sing that vocal. I have an idea about that ...

Meanwhile, this, from a 1978 live-to-air on a Sydney radio station, just turned up on Soundcloud:

Now, you want a piece of that, don't you?


 Two departures.

The coroner's report on the death of Peter Gutteridge has been published and it's almost unbearably sad reading. If only he'd made it to Dunedin; if only they'd watched him better at the hospital in Auckland; if only it had been different. Sometimes talent is fragile, and a life in music can be hard. (Music-makers, always be aware that that the New Zealand Music Foundation's wellbeing service is there when things seem to be turning to shit. There's someone who'll listen.)

But I think it's appropriate to note  something that's not in the report. Peter did play a gig, his last gig, during that trip to New York. Here's the story:

On September 1st of 2014, Peter Gutteridge played his first ever concert in the United States. He wound up playing by chance. The organizers of the show bumped into him at a Clean reunion, Peter was traveling with a plastic bag full of a few pedals and said that he was hoping to play a concert while in town. It matched up perfectly and he was added to this show at Palisades in Brooklyn. 30 or so minutes before the show started Peter was pacing around back stage when he struck up a conversation with me about a casio keyboard I was trying to fix. We chatted for a while and then he told me that he really needed a drummer and bassist. My friend Erin and I where already playing the show and were open to the idea. We went over a few riffs in the bathroom of the venue before hitting the stage and just got going with it. The set lasted close to 2 hours but it seemed like 15 minutes to me.

And here's one of the songs he played, with Erin Birgy from Mega Bog on drums and Zach Burba from iji on bass:

Penny Reel, who wrote as deeply and affectionately about reggae music as any journalist ever has, passed away this week in London.

I was fortunate enough to meet Penny (aka Pete Simons) when I was writing for Sounds in London in the 1980s. I'd been handed Put On Your Best Dress, a compilation of of the rock steady productions of Mrs Sonia Pottinger at Duke Reid's studio, to review – and directed to Pete, who kindly explained to me what this music was about. It was, he sad, the music everyone got up for at the dances, the music the old people loved. He really set me on the road. And Put On Your Best Dress is still one of my favourite albums ...

 I was far from the only young music journalist to benefit from Pete's kindness over the years. His NME colleague David Swift wrote about him in this comment on a Friday Music post a few months ago, recalling ...

 ... a lovely Jewish Rastafariian (!!) and hardcore Spurs fan. He led me into the depths of the Dalston, East London, ''front line'' in 1986 for a scary Brigadier Jerry gig. The Brigadier was fresh from JA and awesome, but boy, the riled-up youthman crowd was intimidating. I was the only pakeha, well me and Penny were, but I was ''safe, yeah mon'' with him at my side. He was an honorary Rastaman around London. He was mates with Tapper Zukie, and so I just worshipped his good taste.


A couple of notable new videos: a trailer for the forthcoming Connan Mockasin album Jassbusters (an explanation of sorts as to what's going on can be found here):

And a hypnotic new single from SoccerPractise:


And one last thing: if you're downtown in Auckland after work, get yourself along to Marbecks in Queens Arcade, where Emily Fairlight (from Wellington, via the tree-shaded roads of Americana) is playing songs from her album Mother of Gloom at 5.30pm.

She also plays a formal album release show tomorrow night at Anthology Lounge.



 That Aretha song again, this time in a great edit by the Swedish DJ-producer Disco Tech. You can buy it here on Bandcamp.

A 2017 set by New Jersey DJ legend Kerri Chandler. No, it's not new – but what is new is that the man has put 43 tracks (all of them previously unavailable digitally) up for free download. Whoop!

And finally, quite a few DJs have been trying their hand at remixes and edit of Chaka Khan's 'Like Sugar' since it came out. I like this house-styled one by ole mates Rock 'n' Rolla Soundsystem. And it's a free download!



Friday Music: Summer's coming

Signs that summer is on the way are not limited to the recent unnervingly early Spring weather: we're into festival reveal season and there are some things to discuss.

Auckland's New Year's Eve party Wondergarden takes a big step up with its first international artists: Dām Funk, a Nightmares on Wax DJ set, and UK clubbers Kllo, along with Cut Off Your Hands, Australians Fortunes and Tina Turntables, with more to come.

Those first two play the night before at Rhythm and Alps, which in turn shares the likes of LTJ Bukem with Northern Bass, which is headlined by Action Bronson and Shapeshifter.

The chart radio-oriented Bay Dreams has now become two festivals, with a second round in Nelson added to the Mount Maunganui show. Home Brew play both those shows and also turn up later in January at Soundsplash in Raglan.

Splore has made its first lineup announcement, which is almost entirely acts that were here this year or last year (or both, in Courtesy's case) – I'm told there's a big headliner being announced soon.

But there's a show at Tapapakanga Regional Park before that: Donald Glover's mysterious Pharos festival on November 23, 24 and 25. Tickets are only available via the Pharos app – and the Friday and Saturday are already sold out, with just 400 tickets left for Sunday.

Laneway promoter Mark Kneebone confirmed to me that his show will be back for a third year in Albert Park, with the first announcement due mid-next month. He notes that it's the 10th anniversary of Laneway in New Zealand "so it's a bit of a birthday celebration for us". 

And I can reveal that there will be an Auckland City Limits at Western Springs next year – but not next summer. The promoters are instead looking at a date in late November 2019. I think this make sense for them – it gets them in front of the summer rather than being stuck at the end when everyone's spent their money. I'd like to see this festival find its place and this might be it.

What there is at Western Springs this summer is a Fat Freddy's Drop mini-festival on January 19, featuring Norman Jay MBE, Ladi6, Troy Kingi, Silva MC and Logg Cabin alongside Wellington's finest, with more to come. It's part of a summer national tour which includes another big show in Hagley Park. (UK friends note: the Freddies play two nights with Ladi6 in support at the Brixton Academy in November.)


Closer to now, there's quite a lot on. Arch Hill goes wild with tours by Jonathan Bree and Princess Chelsea in November, both of them coming off European dates and both taking in special shows at the Hollywood in Avondale.

The Beths, featured in Rolling Stone this week, tour next month in support of their utterly winning debut album Future Me Hates Me (out now on the streaming services and here on Bandcamp later today when the Americans wake up).

Tiny Ruins has a short tour in November.

And ... Sticky Filth are back!

And finally, if you've like some nice vibes to end your working week, whanau, friends and fans of the late, great Duncan Campbell are all welcomed to the Thirsty Dog Tavern on K Road later today for some righteous music and good company in his memory. There is, fittingly, a DJ lineup:

5 - 6pm: The Jazz Hour with Blind Mango Chutney
6 - 7: Stinky Jim
7 - 7.30: Slowdeck
7.30 - 8: Russ B
8 - 9: Dubhead
9 - 10: Danny Lemon
10 - 11: Benny Staples
11 - 12: Miss Dom & Mark E.


Big week for local music videos. This one for Avantdale Bowling Club's 'Years Gone By' was supposed to go up last Friday, but Tom Scott had an art attack, decided it needed changing at the last moment and sent to back to director Arty Papageorgiou for a recut (while emphasising that Arty had done exactly what he was asked to do in the first place). Thing is, he was right; the darker imagery and the tragicomic ending now do better reflect the song and it the man who wrote it.

The venue is the St James and that's Tom dad Peter on the bass:

Note further that a Tom Scott-curated exhibition launches the Avantdale Bowling Club album from next Friday to next Sunday.

Also, more magic from Princess Chelsea:

And from Tiny Ruins, whose new song 'How Much' is a tantalising taster for her forthcoming third album (love that outro!):


I've long felt that one way to get people along to niche films is to make an event of the whole evening. And that's what's happening around two special screenings of The Man from Mo' Wax. It's the story of James Lavelle, the founder of the Mo' Wax label whose sensibility brought us DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, Air, Innerzone Orchestra, Rob D, Money Mark, Tommy Guerrero and Blackalicious.

Each of the screenings, at the Roxy cinema in Wellington on Saturday September 8 and at the Hollywood in Avondale on Septemer 15, will become a club night after the film shows,  with DJs B.Lo, Marek, Cian and Vee in Wellington and a serious lineup of Manuel Bundy, Stinky Jim, Dylan C and Cian in Auckland.

Strictly limited $25 tickets are here for the Roxy and here for the Hollywood.


Amid the recent (and totally warranted) fanfare around Flying Nun's master tape donation to the Turnbull, it's worth noting that there's archive action elsewhere.

The former members of Alms for Children and This Sporting Life – two basically identical bands from early 80s Auckland – have teamed up with Rob Mayes at Failsafe Records to restore and remaster their original recordings and various live tapes and re-release them on CD, and it's a really nice little project.

The CD cover is an adaptation of the original Alms for Children 7" single on Harry Ratbag's REM Records and comes wrapped in a nice hand-printed cardboard outer.

Inside, there's a good-natured account of the bands' story, which is also an account of the Auckland indie music scene of the time: from everyone starting a band, to no one being able to play a gig without boot-boy violence, to just playing gigs with their mates in Children's Hour and Nocturnal Projections until things "ground to a final halt" and they went their separate ways in 1984. Some of them even got respectable jobs!

They also played tour support for The Fall's famous visit, and, it turns out, had more in common with The Gordons than I recall. 

It's music of its post-punk time, and none the worse for that. AFC's 'Danny Boy' was the hit (it charted!), but my favourite of the songs here remains this one, from the Show Me to the Bellrope EP on Flying Nun:

There's no pretension here – it's just a nicely-produced document of what they did and who they were; a claiming of ownership. More people should do this. You can buy the record in digital or CD form here at Bandcamp (but note that the CD is $4 cheaper direct from the Failsafe website).


While we're remembering, RIP Mike Fomison, a longtime name in the Wellington music community and buddy of The Spines' Jon McCleary, who recalls him in this tale featuring a fight between Mike and his brother Tony, a ruinous drinking session and Sam Hunt; and this one involving a chimney fire. Mike also recorded work by Madeleine Lane.



Auckland's DiCE crew is back, this time with an edit of Odyssey (free download):

From the forthcoming Left Ear label collection, Antipodean Anomalies, a trawl through forgotten catalogues in Australia and New Zealand, this early electronic waiata:

A super-funky Brand New Heavies edit (free download):

Kelis's 'Milkshake' as relentless house banger (free download):

And a half hour of niceness from High Hoops, with a track listing and interview here (free download):


PS: While they're not officially a sponsor of this post, I would like to draw your attention to the Southbound Records banner ad at the top of this page. That thing in the picture is a Spin Clean record washer. I have one, they're affordable and I basically couldn't do without mine. Just sayin'.


Dilemmas: the drug-driving ad that isn't

Public service advisories about drinking and driving – and road safety in general – have been with us for many years. For a long time, they had a common theme: to scare some sense into the public with, if necessary, the most horrifying imagery.

But it turns out that, because they're human and it's been a long day, people mentally switch off from horrifying imagery. So in recent years, we've seen the rise of the advisory you might actually want to watch. The NZTA "ghost chips" ad in 2011, part of the long-running "Legend" campaign, underlined the value of such an approach by effectively becoming part of the culture.

It also emphasised anticipation, agency and "what if?". The more recent "Legends" (guy goes to car, but after the good life he stands to lose flashes through his mind, thinks the better of it) did the same, a bit less successfully. NZTA's new ad, "Dilemmas", officially billed as a continuation of the Legends campaign, does the same thing, but places the agency and the "what if?" with the potential driver's mates.

The story is is that the two guys get set off by an offhand comment about what if their mate, currently tottering away from the party and towards his car, "karks it on the road". The immediate thought is that there'd be no one to get them through Mad Mick's farm to their favourite surfing spot. And then things get surreal.

The truth is that these two guys aren't drunk. Or, rather, they're not just drunk: they're wasted. These aren't the waking dreams of merely drunk people, they're the visions and thoughts of people who've been enjoying the bong (or something else, it doesn't really matter). The ad doesn't need to point out that being drunk and high is a particularly risky state for driving. It says that even when you're absolutely flying you can still think it through and stop your mate doing something really stupid, for everyone's sake.

In that sense, I think it's actually the best drug-driving advisory NZTA has produced, in large part because it's not identifying as a drug-driving ad. We've had a few: Taika Waititi's "Blazed" (gorgeous to look at and wonderfully acted, but a bit too subtle), the hidden-camera series capturing "a real-life drug driving experience" that was rendered completely unreal by the hammy acting of the drivers, the "Shopkeepers" ad, which was pretty much a string of stoner cliches your parents might come up with, the somewhat oblique "High crashes" print campaign – and "Thoughts" the one with the two idiots who crash into a traffic island, which is probably the best of them.

Or rather, it was, until "Dilemmas". I'm not even sure this was what NZTA and its longtime gency Clemenger BBDO were shooting for – officially, it's just another ad targeted at young men in the regions who drive drunk because there's no Uber – but they've hit the mark regardless.