Hard News by Russell Brown

25

Friday Music: Songs of Ennui

It's five whole years since Street Chant released their debut album Means. The record's smart, crunchy guitar pop songs took them from being the young band who seemed to be playing somewhere in Auckland every weekend to memorably winning the Critics Choice prize – beating the all-stars-aligned Naked and Famous on the night – and touring internationally with the Lemonheads.

But the difficult second album seemed to be inordinately difficult to finish. Apart from an EP of alleged out-takes, there has been nothing. In the meantime, Emily Littler established a prolific solo thing as Emily Edrosa and they lost a drummer. Well, the album has a name, Hauora, and a release date in November. But most of all, this week there's a first taste. And it's great.

Like 'Stoned Again' from Means, it's about being a bit stranded. Emily says:

'Pedestrian Support League' is a song loosely about Auckland life. Coming back from being on tour a lot and moving back into a crummy flat in Grey Lynn I felt an extreme sense of ennui amongst my peers and especially in myself.

A few years ago I had felt excitement for the future and now I was paranoid my flatmates were stealing all my margarine. The chorus "enrol to vote and so it goes, everyone dresses like us nowadays" expresses the amusement and dissatisfaction I felt with my surroundings – amusement because I felt like I was living out some “food for flatties” cookbook cliche, but watching National win another election as well my seemingly endless ability to stagnate brought about an extreme sense of apathy.

Street Chant play The Sherwood in Queenstown tonight, Chick's in Dunedin tomorrow night and the spectaular The Other's Way Festival on K Road next Friday.

Also playing The Other's Way next week: Kody Neilson's Silicon, whose debut album is out today. It hasn't appeared on the wires yet, but you can stream all the tracks via the record company's website.

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New on Audioculture, Gareth Shute's history of the Wine Cellar and Whammy, which reveals the way Wine Cellar founder Rohan Evans was inspired by the squatter bars of Berlin and the neighbourhood Izakaya bars to make a place that he wanted "to look like the bar might’ve always been there. There wasn’t any intention for it to be a music venue. It was just a dive bar, where it’s the people and the things that you’re drinking that are important so it’s always been dark and dingy and recycled."

Turns out I wasn't the only one a bit mystified by Sony NZ's big local signing Maala. It seemed the mystery was strategic, but who exactly was he? Melody Thomas's Music 101 interview with Maala (real name: Evan Sinton) explains a lot.

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Hey! We've got a giveaway! I've got three copies of Yo La Tengo's Stuff Like That There, an album largely composed of an eclectic mix of cover versions of songs originally recorded by Hank Williams, The Cure, Sun Ra and, er, Yo La Tengo. Just click the email link at the bottom, put "Yo La Tengo" in the subject line and I'll draw it tomorrow.

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You know who else is playing The Other's Way? Chelsea Jade. And if you like her music, you'll probably like this dreamy track from Melbourne's MayaVanya, not least because she has a guest vocal on it:

Auckland-born, Peckham-based Chaos in the CBD have a pretty gorgeous new EP of supple, atmospheric house music out now. Stuff like this:

That track is a free download here. And the Midnight in Peckham EP itself is available on Bandcamp in digital and vinyl formats.

Another free download: Team Cat Food take Boycrush's 'Caprice' to the house:

I really liked Electric Wire Hustle's Kimbra collaboration 'Brother Sun' when it dropped a couple of weeks ago, and the EP from which it came, Aeons, is out today. With its swirling electronic strings, the title track is quite a different affair to the single. You can buy the EP for $5.50 on Baboom.

And finally, dancefloor remixes of stone classics are a risky business, more so when the sonic character of the original is so much part of the magic, but I kinda like this accelerated edit of 'Sign of the Times':

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