Alongside talent, dedication is what’s required to really get noticed and stand out from the crowd. This five-piece have it in spades. Primacy is Jason McIver on vocals, Will Bloodfarm on drums, Sadeer Kattan on bass, Adrian Brausch and Jared Tobin on guitars. They’ve all come from other outfits to make a strong, heavy rock jam together. There’s a bit of Tool, maybe some Deftones and no getting away from the Alice In Chains’ vibe, but these guys aren’t copyists – they’re just channelling the best with their quality originals. It’s melodic rock, with great power chords, atmosphere and a metal tinge. Shadeblack is particularly good with its beachy Pink Floyd intro and growly chorus. The recording, by Zorran Mendonsa at his West Auckland HQ, is primo. Mastering was done in Sweden by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Dragonforce) – these guys aren’t compromising on their material or its presentation. Lyrics are mostly by McIver (ex-Heathen Eyes) while the music credits go mainly to Brausch, but there’s ample evidence that the talent here is evenly distributed. • Ania Glowacz
You remember when your mum told you to not judge a book by its cover? Well, the latest album by Wellington band Klezmer Rebs is a bit like that. The cover is not designed for people with dodgy eyesight (like myself), and I had to resort to their Bandcamp page to find track titles and recording information. The music on the fourth album is a mix of traditional and modern klezmer works (from Der Heyser Bulger to Django Reinhardt’s Minor Swing both of which are standouts), and includes a couple of originals written within the seven-member band. The album was produced, engineered, recorded and mixed by Matt Hudson at his studio in Featherston, with strings player David Weinstein co-producing. While a pleasant and nicely-varied listen, ‘Always A Pleasure’ lacks the pathos and excitement of a lively klezmer band, and even feels a little bit routine in some places. Bay Mir Bist Di Shoeyn is famous in many swing versions (Bei Mir Bistu Shein elsewhere), but here, for example, the Rebs’ have taken a rather low energy cabaret approach. For newly interested klezmer listeners this is however a good introduction to the repertoire and sounds, without risking intimidation from some of the more extreme aspects of the genre. • Aleisha Ward
Some publicists just love to over-use the typically meaningless chestnut of ‘eagerly anticipated’ when announcing new EP and album releases, even those from acts of little or no real profile. No doubt the same tag will be attached to the first long playing release from genre-twisting South Auckland band Vallkyrie, but in this case it will hold true. Thinking he was getting in just weeks ahead of the trio’s (since-delayed) debut album, Sam Carswell talked with guitarist Rebel Reid and vocalist Omer Gilroy about the genesis, vision and musical identity of Vallkyrie.
“After we got back from radio school, I dropped Rebel home and then we just didn’t see each other again for another seven years,” is not your typical start to a band’s origin story. Then again, Vallkyrie aren’t your typical band.
Hailing proudly from South Auckland, Rebel Reid (guitar), Omer Gilroy (vocals) and Brandon Haru (drums/samples) make a strong point of being completely different from their surroundings – whether musically, visually or thematically. With a number of recordings, two self-funded videos, performances at Big Gay Out, Music In Parks and a third place at 2015’s Battle of the Bands, the band have received the Toi Tipu Toi Rea grant for emerging Māori artists, from Creative New Zealand. Needless to say, they’re keen to deliver something people haven’t seen before.