Angelo King: Kats & Doggs

Angelo King ’s second solo album follows a clear path of self-determination. Recorded by Abraham Kunin and Beau Jefferies the 13 tracks on ‘Kats & Doggs’ feature an all-star line up of Esther Stephens, Junelle and Ash Broke. Jefferies also co-produced, mixed and mastered the album that follows the bracket of alternative hip hop/soul. This album is a personal ode from King, showing him off as a message-driven lyrical genius. Parihaka delivers a strong argument for both Maori and indigenous people globally. Infinity is a soft, sensual track that explores the art of falling in love. Under the delightful and crisp production of Jono Das, Junelle’s voice melts butter. Playfully disguised by its throw away title, Pussy and Friends is a heartfelt, heavier track that speaks of King’s personal experiences. Brotherhood, broken friendships and suicide are all cryptic undertones of this track. The album paints a relevant picture of the NZ media landscape over the past year, King’s lyrics including a current exploration of the TPPA, the flag debate and many other conflicting discussions regarding governmental decisions. “Are you a Kat or are you a Dogg?” • Maggie Tweedie

Damien Binder: A New World

Singer/songwriter Damien Binder left Auckland for Sydney before the release of his third album, 2009’s ‘While the Wind’s At Your Back’. This latest offering was recorded on both sides of the Tasman, including contributions from musical collaborators Wayne Bell, Kylie Whitney, David Hatt, and co-producers Bob Shepheard and Michael Carpenter. Binder has had an accomplished career as a musician (including supporting touring artists such as David Gray and Ani DiFranco), and crafts his music well, drawing exemplary additions from all involved. However ‘A New World’ seems rather mis-named, it feels more like ‘more-of-the-same’, aiming to be easy on the ear and safe rather than taking risks or innovating his established musical routine in any way. Binder’s oft-referenced vocal and stylistic influences of Ryan Adams and Neil Finn come through in his gentle alt-pop / alt-country tinged melodies, and reflective lyrics which wash over the listener, but in that combination don’t impact a lot. It is an album that’s well-written and considered, fine music from an accomplished artist, but ‘A New World’ is all-round too measured and controlled. A degree of getting out of his comfort zone to show a new side of his creativity would seem appropriate next time around.
• Amanda Mills

Aaradhna: A Girl That Likes To Sing

At the 2013 Pacific Music Awards Aaradhna staged the awards’ first ever clean sweep, setting a record with six awards including Best Album for ‘Treble & Reverb’ and best song for the fantastic Wake Up. No surprise then that she received a very enthusiastic welcome at this year’s PMA ceremony at which she performed Brown Girl, title track to her fourth album due in July. These days LA-based, Aaradhna has been in our part of the world to warm up Australian and Aotearoan audiences to the new album, and to break in a new local band. Regular NZM contributor and bassist Chip Matthews is part of that band and between rehearsals, performances and flights the two found a moment to discuss ‘Brown Girl’, the process, the hiccups and (of course!) her exciting new band.

It’s a wintry June night in Melbourne. Aaradhna Patel walks into the departure area, awaiting her flight back to NZ. Behind her are the first two shows of the ‘Introduction To Brown Girl Tour’, a taster of her new material due for release in July, an album that’s simply, perhaps challengingly, titled ‘Brown Girl’.

As we await the call to board the flight, I grabbed the chance to sit down with the Indian/Samoan songstress and discuss that new album, many of the songs from which I’m priviledged to already be familiar with.

Continue reading Aaradhna: A Girl That Likes To Sing

Battle Of The Bands Battling For Cash

The 2016 NZ Battle of the Bands event reaches its climax with a two-night national finals event this weekend, July 22/23 in Auckland.

35 bands, hailing from Whangarei to Wanaka, will somehow take the Kings Arms stage over two nights to determine which will be the 2016 champion. It’s the 21st year of the event and the winners’ prize pool includes the chance to record a single at Roundhead Studios, global radio promotion and a tantalizing musical tour of Europe. Hopefully at least.

BOTB organiser Andrew Featherstone has publicly acknowledged that 2016 has proven a difficult one for the event, with much lower levels of sponsorship funds combining awkwardly with dropping audience numbers and revenues.

As a consequence BOTB have been left looking for ways to raise funds to cover the promised flights to Europe, and earlier this week announced a PledgeMe campaign aimed at raising $10,000.

“Ticket sales from the National Finals are the last income remaining for the event and it’s likely won’t be enough to fully cover the flight costs needed, so we have launched a crowd funding campaign to reach out for some assistance and support.

Regardless of levels of funds raised, we will ensure the winning band gets to Europe, even if we have to borrow money if need be, but any help with donations would be greatly appreciated and be a tremendous help to this cause.” Continue reading Battle Of The Bands Battling For Cash