Ever since David Haywood wrote Summer of the L.E.D.s, that great little band from Christchurch has been a favourite around here. We're pleased to have been able to help them reach a few more ears. And I'm delighted to say that they're allowing us to give away a free track from their new album, Still, to you, the Public Address readers.
The track is called 'Tide' and it'll be right here for the next week or so (after that I find we start getting inbound links from spammy MP3 sites). So grab it, stick it on your chosen player and, if you like what you hear, feel free to pop on over to Amplifier to download the whole album at a friendly MP3 price. (It seems physical CDs aren't there at Amplifier yet, but they are already available at Galaxy and Real Groovy in Christchurch and Real Groovy and Slow Boat in Wellington.)
The sound of Still is more expansive than We Are the L.E.D.s, and the vocal duties are shared around more this time, but there's still the familiar, warm, artful electro-fuzz and understated pop. The title track encapsulates a little bleak humour about depression in its "I've got a touch of the Kirwan" refrain. (BTW, that's my voice you hear saying "Don't let depression get the better of you …" at the end of the repackaged John Kirwan TV spot. Have I become the "word in your ear buddy" voice of public health campaigns? I'd be cool with that.)
After half a dozen listens, I'm seriously sold on Still, and mentally comparing it to all kinds of things. I did an interview with Blair Parkes from the band for tomorrow's Public Address Radio, and we confessed he hadn't worked out why people start spewing comparisons when they hear his band. I went for "Kraftwerk vs the B52s" with the last album, the weirdest comparison they got was the Pet Shop Boys, and Blair thinks their most important influence is The Fall.
Something else I'm loving -- and also comparing to all kinds of things -- is Keeper's by Deastro. I've realised that all the blank looks I get when I blather most-favourite-new-artist-in-ages are because the album, composed of 22 year-old Randolph Chabot's bedroom recordings and demos, is an eMusic exclusive. You could do a lot worse than spend some of your free-offer 25 eMusic downloads on this album, because it's brilliant, and you'll be able to say you were totally into Deastro before he was famous.
Chabot strikes me as having the same sublimated pop instincts as a young Trent Reznor but (hurrah!) without the angst. Like a lot of things at the moment, it's as if someone's taken 80s electropop out to the back yard and gotten it nice and dirty. You can hear slightly weedier versions of his Keeper's tracks on his MySpace, and watch him perform live in this YouTube clip and this one. He also makes really cool posters for gigs.
Like Simon Grigg says, you could also do worse than pop over to Peter McLennan's MySpace for a listen to the new Dub Asylum stuff, which range from Price Fatty-style rocksteady revivals to the tricked-out funk of 'My Sneaker Collection Weighs a Ton'. It's music produced by someone who really loves music.
Simon also has a less happy story about the continuing disconnect between the music funding system and local dance producers. You'd think radio (and, ergo, NZ On Air) would be gagging for the new Timmy Schumacher single with the guy from OpShop singing on it, but no, too risky apparently.
I keep wondering if I was too hard on Ladyhawke's gig last week, but no I'm not: Pip Brown was anointed as one of the new wave of female pop artists by The Times last week, alongside the likes of Santogold. She's got great tunes, a nice image and pretty much a scene waiting for her to turn up -- but someone really needs to make it happen musically with her band.
Still, power of the internet and all that. I ran into Mike Hodgson from Pitch Black this week (at the Point Chev Countdown) and he says that paid downloads have really started to work for them. Ingrooves, the San Francisco-based aggregator they use outside New Zealand gets them a direct link off the electronic genre page on every iTunes country store.
They now release digital singles regularly via this route, and in the last six months Pitch Black sold 18,600 individual tracks online, in about 55 countries, from Belgium to Brazil, Latvia to Luxembourg. Mike says allowing the tracks onto subscriber music services, which return quite a low rate, has been a surprise boon. I'm guessing it probably doesn't amount to much more than $10,000 net per six months, but it's passive income that doubles as marketing in multiple territories. Mike's pretty happy with how it's going.
The top artists on Amplifier are now billing five-figure sums too. And increasingly, they don't have conventional record deals. Interesting.
I went to see our older boy in the class production of Twisted yesterday afternoon. The music for the party scenes was Katy Perry's insanely catchy 'I Kissed a Girl' (produced by longtime Saturday Night Live guitarist Dr Luke). The song is controversial both with Perry's former friends in the evangelical rock scene, and with parts of the gay media, who detect a residual homophobia in the lyrics. Meanwhile, Hype machine has gone mad with the remixes. Best just treat it as a pop song, I think. But I can think of a few prominent windbags who'd be horrified at what schoolgirls are singing these days …
And finally, Chris Bourke has republished his 1988 account of Going to Graceland. With pictures.