Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: The Sweetest Sound

The first time I recall hearing Sandy Mill's voice is about 15 years ago, on Epsilon Blue's chunky electronic banger 'So Many Times' (later reprised as 'Sweetest Sound'). Who, I wondered, was behind that wild, digitally-distressed refrain?

We're friends these days – moreover, we play out every now now and then as a funky mum 'n' dad DJ duo. And I've heard Sandy on a whole lot more records.

She's the complement to Sean Donnelly's lead vocal in SJD. She was in the chorus for Neil Finn's Out of Silence (and appeared on the live streams to be having the best time of anyone in the room). She sang the backing vocals on Placebo's surprise hit cover of 'Running Up That Hill' and has worked with Boy George and Basement Jaxx, and she can be heard on underground dance classics like No Tenshun's 'Soul Music'. She plays in the New Telepathics next weekend at Splore.

Last year, she finally got the chance to do her own thing – and it's not what you might expect. Her first single, 'Let It Go' is out today, and it's a sort of pop-rock-soul anthem. You could imagine it on the radio, or starting middle New Zealand's party after a few bourbons:

It comes with a couple of remixes that acknowledge her roots in electronic music, one by Misled Convoy (aka Mike Hodgson from Pitch Black):

And one by Aston Maxi (aka Sean James Donnelly):

Sandy played her debut show last night at Golden Dawn, along with quite a band: Dianne Swann, Ben King, Milan Borich and Darryn Harkness. And they played the single with three guitars:

The song comes from her EP A Piece of Me, which is released in April. I'm lucky enough to have an advance copy and it's nothing if not eclectic – 'Giftbox' is like a big Atlantic soul number, and 'Charade' is an epic country-rock tune. The thread connecting it all is Sandy's singing: not just a "big voice", but purposeful, expressive, immensely capable singing.

She calls it "post-punk soul" and clearly, I'm biased, but I think there's something strong going on here. Not all the pieces are in place yet (last night's show was off the back of just two rehearsals) but I think it deserves a big audience. It would be nice to think that local radio will get behind this record.

You can catch Sandy and the band in Helensville on March 18, as part of Music in Parks. Perhaps, as a bonus, they'll play the prowling version of the Eurhythmics' 'Love Is A Stranger' they played last night ...


Julia Deans released a new track, 'Clandestine', today and I'm rather proud of how that came to be.

Late last year, I asked Julia to play at our 2017-roundup Orcon IRL event. She was, of course, awesome – and the final song she played was 'Clandestine', which is on her forthcoming album (out in May) We Light Fire.

Turns out so many people saw the clip and asked her when she was releasing it that she decided to bring it forward. Popular demand!


It's on, boogie people: the details have been announced for a show spun off the wonderful Aotearoa funk and disco compilation Heed the Call.

Heed the Call Live, at the Hollywood Cinema in Avondale on March 23 will feature performances from Mark Williams, Collision, Tina Cross, The Inbetweens and The Totals. Mark hasn't sung these songs here for 40 years, Collision haven't played together since the late 70s. No word yet on who'll be taking Dalvanius's vocal, but 'Voodoo Lady' will be in the house.

There will be a backing band of younger funketeers, which will hopefully include Jeremy Toy. Jeremy was integral to the whole event, until last week when he was the victim of a nasty road accident (he was hit by a moped whose rider lost control) and had both legs broken. It seems touch-and-go, given that he's completely immobile right now, but fingers crossed.

The organisers have promised to dress the place like a suburban disco, with appropriate lighting effects. Tickets go on sale here at Under the Radar on Monday.


Alastair Deverick, aka Boycrush, has a new single featuring his frequent collaborator Chelsea Jade. That's the New Zealand dance Company in the video: 

It's from the forthcoming Boycrush album Desperate Late Night Energy, which is released on June 15.


 New Courtney Barnett!

It's from the forthcoming album Tell Me How You Really Feel, which you can pre-order in various formats, including cassette, with extra goodies.


Andrew Boak's Punk It Up is back one more time to farewell the King's Arms tomorrow night. The lineup includes Proud Scum, The Johnnys, No tag and Flesh D-Vice. The old punks are promising to play loud and go late.



Detroit spinner Black Milk is playing Splore next Friday night. And three days ago, he dropped this FACT mix:

It's a free download and a precursor to his new album, Fever, which is released the day he plays Splore. Track listing and background here.

And a super-cool track from the afro-disco-funk archives: orginally recorded by Gabon's Pierre-Claver Akendengué and re-edited by Petko Turner. Free download. 

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