Klezmer Rebs: Always A Pleasure

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

Seafog: Raise Your Skinny Fist

Port Chalmers’ trio Seafog have been around for about a decade, and in an earlier incarnation were Jetty which featured both Robin Sharma and Martyn Sadler. Joining them in Seafog is guitarist Nigel Waters and the alt-rock trio’s debut is a frequently rhythmic, dense album where the band wear their influences on their sleeves. The title is a reference to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s 2000 album ‘Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven’ (the title track also mentions the band), while sonically Bailterspace, Snapper, Sonic Youth and 3Ds are familiar lynchpins. Lyrically, Sharma touches on personal experiences and universal themes such as the birth of a child, lack of sleep and infidelity, though GBV is a tribute to a favourite band – Guided By Voices. ‘Raise Your Skinny Fist’ was produced by Forbes William at the Ante Room in Port Chalmers and sounds at once intense and intimate, as if the trio are in the room with you. The power of the guitar/drums line up is potent, and even in the quieter moments like Show Me The Way and Broken, there is a hypnotic force that propels them on, while never overpowering the song. When the guitar does come at you in a rhythmic aural assault, as on Clean UFOs, it’s a welcome one. ‘Raise Your Skinny Fist’ is a rush of energy and sound, a fine album where more is revealed with each listen. • Amanda Mills