Into The East: How To Turn A Blind Eye

Into The East were Invercargill duo Graeme Wooller and Liv McBride – two vocalists, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists whose style orbited around the alt-country/folk axis. ‘How To Turn A Blind Eye’ is their second album, released just as the duo go their separate ways. Combining stomping rhythms, a big alt-country sound, acoustic folk, and lovely harmonies, the album is epic in scope, showcasing Wooller and McBride’s range of talents, as well as those of their band, including Dan Harrison (percussion and drums), Jim Crawford (double bass), and Simon Thompson on guitars. The sparse title song has beautiful harmonies, a bittersweet story, melancholic melody, and slashing guitars to underscore the message. Murder The Night starts off simple, and becomes an anthemic alt-rock song. There are occasionally lags across the 13 tracks, though it all comes into its own when the rhythmic elements kick in. There’s a sonic tension between the acoustic, quieter songs, and the more raucous tracks, which (while mostly alt-country) start to have a rock tendency. This pulls the album in two directions, with no sure view of where the music should be heading. The happy medium of styles is Sand Of Stars, which is texturally and aurally distinctive through a building up of instruments and harmonies. As an ‘au revoir’ to their fans this certainly satisfies, but indicates there was more in this duo than met the eye. • Amanda Mills

Spank: Slap-Up And Noblest EP

Hailing from the Wairarapa but laced with an indie Brit-pop influence, Spank have a re-jigged line up since the 2014 EP ‘In Their Natural Habitat’. With plenty of clean guitar jangle and an abundance of verve this engages from the outset. The band’s point of difference is trumpet-playing vocalist Nikki King, who leads the group with conviction and confidence. The rhythm section’s (drummer David Heath and Pete King on bass) synergy is demonstrated nowhere better than on opener Crowd Mentality, which oozes urgency despite being a mid-tempo pop track. King’s mellow trumpet lines lead in I Quit before the band deliver a manic strum fest. With a wide range of influences imbedded in their sound Spank manage to retain a characteristic element of Kiwi pop which serves them well. Between the horn and guitar melodies there’s also a regular hint of Mexicana, adding a unique flavour to the songs. Recorded in one sitting at Tsunami Sound Studios in Levin, these five tracks are full of energy. • Stu Edwards

Man From Atlanta: Flood Of Tears

Ex-Sushi Lovers Allan Innes-Walker (guitar/vocals) and Ilmar Taimre (bass/keyboards) team up for the fifth time as Man From Atlanta. Opener Sweet Crying Baby buzzes into the eardrums riding atop a wave of distortion, reminiscent of ’80s R.E.M, before mellowing into a southern rock Radiohead.  Nowhere Fast brings us back to Man From Atlanta of old – Old Timey folk tunes with a contemporary sensibility and accessibility.  ‘Flood Of Tears’ closer Shut Me Down seems to be the culmination of Man From Atlanta’s sound to date, pulling together their knack for dramatic, moody textures, unsettling build-ups like something Tom Waits might have cooked up, minus the dumpster diving. Laden with pop hooks and blues guitar freak outs, its five tracks run seamlessly yet cover a vast array of moods, quite the feat for 18 minutes run time. Sadly one does await another track that, never really comes… It all feels a bit too brief, and that’s little to do with the runtime. ‘Flood Of Tears’ constantly feels as though it’s building to something that never quite shows up. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal, the constant drama with no resolution could be a deliberate assessment of our modern culture – but we’re probably just overthinking things. Just as an answer seems within grasp ‘Floods Of Tears’ takes a left turn, which is more often than not a good thing. And although the record begs for repeated listens, one can’t help but shake the thought of what Man From Atlanta could achieve in a 30 minute run time. • Sammy Jay Dawson