Tag Archives: New Zealand

The Ruby Suns – Christopher (2013)

The Ruby Suns - Christopher (2013)

The Ruby Suns are nominally an indie-pop band from New Zealand and this is their fourth album.

To me, it sounds like an 80s electropop revival rather than indie-pop. The music is really retro, but all brought together with a modern club sound; it reminds me of all sorts of stuff from the 80s, such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Tears For Fears, etc. But the club sound is just too much for me.

There is some really interesting music behind the main direction, but I just can’t get past the cliched club sound and I just don’t like it, at all.

Spotify link: The Ruby Suns – Christopher
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Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II (2013)

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II (2013)

Unknown Mortal Orchestra come from New Zealand and the USA, formed in the wake of guitarist Ruban Nielsen’s previous noiseniks, The Mint Chicks.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra are far less in your face than The Mint Chicks; more “refined”, as it were; less noisy. Production values are high and the sound has a certain classic charm to it. More than once on this album I am reminded of late Beatles (1967-1968; Sgt Peppers and the White Album), especially with regards to the guitar, on tracks such as Get Away From The Sun, One At A Time, Monki, Faded In The Morning. In fact, I would go further to say that there is a certain 60s British psychedelia sound throughout; I hear shades of The Kinks, The Small Faces and Mannfred Mann, along with some more contemporary sounds, such as the indie blues of Gomez on So Good At Being In Trouble.

This is a great album, especially if laid-back psychedelic indie is your thing. I think it may require a few listens to really get into; but it totally feels worth it.

Favourite tracks: Get Away From The Sun, So Good At Being In Trouble, Monki

Spotify link: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
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Mark de Clive-Lowe & the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra – Take the Space Trane (2013)

Mark de Clive-Lowe & the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra - Take the Space Trane (2013)

Mark de Clive-Lowe is a producer/composer from New Zealand. Before today, I hadn’t heard of him, so I did little background listening and honestly, before this album, it isn’t really my thing: pop/R’n’B, high production values, but little of interest. However, here he teams up with the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra for a dip into some nu-jazz.

From the start, it is evident that there is some sort of anachronistic juxtaposition; the title alludes to both Duke Ellington’s Take the “A” Train and John “Trane” Coltrane, so when we start listening and hear funky breakbeats mixed with Bop horns, it is something we know that shouldn’t necessarily work. But work it does and this is treat!

The beats and bass are straight out of club-land and the horns are straight out of Birdland!

From upbeat opener Relax… Unwind, to the swing/breakbeat-combination Blues for Six, which seems to take Tuxedo Junction as it’s blueprint, through rhythm and blues freakout, Caravan, through the more electronic influenced Money – Don’t Let it Catch Ya, to the amazing closer, title track, Take the Space Trane, in which the electronics take more of a lead, this album is a tour de force.

So often with electronic fusion Jazz, the actual Jazz itself takes a back seat to the electronics and is dull, repetitive and tepid; too much nu- and not enough -jazz, if you know what i mean. On Take the Space Trane, this is not the case, the balance is perfect, the players are inspired. The electronics actually feel a proper part of the ensemble, they augment the Jazz rather than detract from it: a few breakbeats here and there, a sprinkling of synth and even a couple of subtle cheeky bassdrops/turntable slowdowns.

This is how nu-jazz should be. A fantastic album!

Favourite tracks: Relax… Unwind, Money – Don’t Let it Catch Ya, Take the Space Trane.

Spotify link: Mark de Clive-Lowe & the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra – Take the Space Trane
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