Every Record I Own: Groeni – Hinde

Every Record I Own: Groeni – Hinde

This is a 12″ EP from Wellington band Groeni released in the mid 2010s.

It’s a sort of ambient electronic but with complex driving beats, heavily affected vocals, slow moving soft synths.

I hadn’t listened for a couple of years until the other week when I put it on and remembered just how, for a lack of a better term, pleasant it is to listen to. The mix of slow and fast, upbeat and relaxed, complex and simple makes music that both fills up a room like ambient music does but captures your attention.

They were a staple of the live music scene when I was involved and were always really amazing live.

Now 2/3rds of Groeni are behind Good Boy Sandwiches. I’m not sure if they’re making music at all anymore, but they make the best sandwiches in Wellington.

Fave songs: Hedre, but the whole EP works really well together

Every Record I Own: Broadcast – Work and Non Work

Every Record I Own: Broadcast – Work and Non Work

I first discovered this band in late 2021, I was building a playlist called Music for a Dad who was Cool in 1985 which had the intention of getting me to listen to music I liked but rarely listened to, and to discover new music that fit within the same vibe. A few of their tracks came up on various similar artist/suggested songs on Spotify, and whenever those songs came on the playlist I always was happy to hear them.

But it was really when I got a Deluge (synth/groovebox/drum machine/sampler thing) that I really got into them. While the most natural type of music to make on the Deluge is dance/electonic music like house, or hip hop type beats. I was wanting to try to use it to make more song structured music.

I started trying to separate music out into the instrumental layers that it was made out of while listening to see how something like that could be created on something like the Deluge.

Broadcast was a really great band to listen to explore this with. Their songs were built from three or four distinctive layers. Usually built from synths/organs/bass/drums each playing relatively simple loops. Some songs also have live instruments over the top, but they tend to stick to a similar formula. It seemed so achievable!

But they’re deceptively complex. The songs appear spacious despite having a lot happening at once. Tracks come in and out as the song moves forward. It feels like you’re listening to something that is moving together like a machine, not building just continuing, but then suddenly everything resolves together to a point that lurches forward into a new part of the song. They have loops that are more textural, but they also add both a melody and rhythm to the tracks, and get their turn to take centre stage in mid song.

The live drums an exception that sometimes bring quite a dynamism to the music, which somehow also works really well with the otherwise quite robotic sound.

Although English, the singer Trish Keenan has that flat European style of vocals that works so well with this style of music (labelled as indietronica by wikipedia, but I think that doesn’t quite cover it.) She sings in a nonchalant style, that matches the coldness of the synthesisers without feeling totally robotic.

I’m sure people who have a lot more musical skill than me could be able to recreate something like this easily. But the fact it sounds so simple but is not at all is what I love about it.

Although all their main releases are great, this collection of their first singles and EP has been what I’ve come back to the most and bought the record over summer.

Fave songs: Message from Home, Living Room, the World Backwards

Every Record I Own: The Renderizors – Vivid Cloud/Lucky Din

Every Record I Own: The Renderizors – Vivid Cloud/Lucky Din

It’s kind of funny that this is the first Renderers album I’m writing about. As it’s not really a Renderers album, but also really speaks to what I love about the Renderers.

The Renderizors were a collaboration between The Renderers (one of my favourite ever NZ bands) and experimental music makers Sandoz Lab Technicians. They released an album in 2007 called Submarine.

Then in 2013 they released this album under the Renderizors names but without the Sandoz Lab Technicians. I’m sure they were given their blessing. It may have been to acknowledge the more experimental nature of this album, or to separate it from their official releases. Neither Renderizors album is mentioned on the band’s wikipedia page.

It was released by Grapefruit Records as part of their ‘Grapefruit Record Club’ which was a record subscription service. With releases vinyl exclusive and limited to 300 copies (mine is number 125). About half their releases are from New Zealand artists.

No MP3s surfaced online of this, and I had to get a copy of it. The price of subscription or even buying it singularly was out of reach with shipping costs, but I managed to get a copy on discogs sent to some friends who were in the US and they brought them back for me.

While this is experimental, I don’t see it as that far away of the other records The Renderers were releasing around this time. The Renderers have always played between sonic experimentation and quite standard song structure, and while this leans experimental, the song is never lost in noise.

The album is built on a layer of miscellaneous noise from electronics, guitars and samples from the street of Beijing. The noise shifts and moves around until a guitar chord rings out, or rhythms build from the noise. It feels like the songs are climbing out of the rubble. The songs very rarely grow or move beyond the initial idea. The instruments are played so sparingly and softly. The vocals are softer than typical. What does shift is the layer of noise underneath, which at this stage is unclear if it comes from the instruments or from a base layer swells up and down. The more instruments fade away and this layer takes centre stage, getting louder, hums evolve into drones, bleeps and squeaks almost create melody, and it happens again, a new song appears and takes shape.

There’s no clear point where the songs begin or end. The tracks are listed 1a, 1b, 1c (Aside from the last track, Chinese Sea which is more typical Renderers)

Most of the samples were recorded in Beijing in 2008 around the time of a massive earthquake, while Brian and Maryrose Crook were there while Maryrose was on an arts residency. The album was started in an art space in their hometown Christchurch, with their band at the time (which is the version of the Renderers I’ve seen live most and have very fond memories of) shortly before the earthquake brought that building down and the album was finished in Yucca Valley in the US where they moved after the quakes.

Earthquakes are felt throughout this album. The samples of city streets that get buried in noise. I’m sure some of the drones are manipulated samples of sirens. The way I described the record earlier wasn’t in direct reference to the earthquakes, but ended up sounding like it anyway. I really like it when themes in music are felt just as much sonically as they are lyrically.

It never comes across as violent. It’s definitely unsettling and messy at times but always feels natural.

I rate this as one of my favourite things the Renderers have ever done. A couple of songs have appeared on youtube, so you’re able to listen to them now. But the album as a whole can’t be found anywhere online. So you’ll have to visit me to listen to it.

I’ll come back to the Renderers many times.

Fave songs: City of Dust and Light, Light, Chinese Seas

Every Record I Own: Tom Waits – Closing Time

Every Record I Own: Tom Waits – Closing Time

I didn’t grow up around a lot of music. The TV was on most the time in both houses, which stopped music being played and I got the impression that music was an expensive waste of money, because you could get it for free on the radio and TV. My dad talked a lot about Supertramp and Muddy Waters but never owned them on CD (he would occasionally complain that mum took all the records in the divorce, but those records weren’t in mum’s modest record collection). Like most mothers in the early 2000s, Mum got very into Norah Jones, but other than her only ever bought compilation CDs from the discount section. Other than that, my older sister was very into pop music at the end of the 90s and early 2000s. My stepmum really liked John Farnham and had the Natures Best Compilations. I don’t remember my stepdad ever listening to music.

Whenever I said ‘You too’ my stepdad would say ‘U2, they don’t play anymore’ which was a very frustrating joke because at that time U2 were one of the biggest bands on the planet, he just didn’t pay attention to popular culture enough to know that, and had assumed they’d broken up.

There isn’t much music that reminds me of my parents, but this album reminds me of Mum.

Not because she listened to it that much, but because it was one of the two CDs she bought and put on that ever captured my attention. (The other was Ray Charles). Once I got a stereo of my own (thanks to me finding one sitting unused in Granddad’s spare room and basically insisting that I take it away) this CD joined Linkin Park, Good Charlotte and Shihad as one of the few in my collection. I didn’t listen to it anywhere near as often as those ones, but it was still there.

I don’t know what it was about this music that appealed to a 13 year old who otherwise mostly listened to pop punk, but something about it did. And whenever I played it mum would stick her head in my door and say ‘You’re listening to Tom Waits.’ Maybe that’s what I liked about it.

I later got into the 80s/90s era Tom Waits through my friends Henry and Chris who loved him. It took some dedicated effort to enjoy that but eventually I got quite into albums like Swordfishtrombone and Rain Dogs. Around that time I disowned my affection for this album saying that his later stuff was far more interesting.

On a side note, Tom Waits age has always baffled me. I had it in my head that he was a middle aged man when he recorded this album, so thought by the time he was making the weird music in the 80s and 90s he was in his 60s and 70s. Now it’s 30 years later and he is only 73. Looking at the cover of this record there is quite a young man on the front which I have never paid attention to.

I acquired the record when my flatmate Jon(o/ny) moved out of the flat without taking a lot of his things. If you’re reading this Jonny you can have it back if you really want it. Jonny was the first person my age I had talked to about Tom Waits who preferred this era to his later stuff and it allowed me to revisit it and enjoy it myself.

I don’t listen to much Tom Waits anymore, but when I do it’s this album.

Fave Songs: Ol’ 55, Martha

Every Record I Own: Glass Vaults – Sojourn

Every Record I Own: Glass Vaults – Sojourn

The backyard is of the best things about my house. It gets lots of sun but has areas with shade. Has a picnic table. There’s a little courtyard and a lawn. We just mowed the lawns the other day and tidied up so outside is quite nice at the moment especially.

My old flatmate wired up some speakers that sit under the back door awning. They’re nice speakers that point directly to where you sit.

This morning I sat out on the picnic table, drank a coffee and polished my shoes and listened to this record. It was so nice and I thought this moment should be documented.

I think this is the best sitting in the sun and drinking coffee record I own.

I’ll come back to Glass Vaults again.

Fave tracks: Life is the Show, Sojourn, Come and be Beautiful

Every Record I Own: Scorched Earth Policy – Going Thru’ a Hole in the Back of your Head

Every Record I Own: Scorched Earth Policy – Going Thru’ a Hole in the Back of your Head

This record is a compilation of the two EPs released on Flying Nun. There are a few other cassette live recordings but this is the complete studio recordings.

This band sound like they are on the verge of collapse at any moment. They never quite lock in together. The instruments sound like they’re competing with each other. Violins and pianos float in and out but get drowned out. Guitars disintegrate into squeals. The drums give every beat equal weight, which makes everything a bit unpredictable. The floor toms are used near constantly giving the songs a heartbeat backbone. The bass seems like one of the few constants but also seems to urge the rest of the music faster and more chaotic. You have no idea where this could lead and then everything slows down and the song stops.

The lyrics reference violence, but usually indirectly. talking about flesh and throats and accidents. The vocalists sing like they’re narrators in a horror b movie, at times sounding like they’re passive to the violence, and then at other times sounding like they’re the instigators. Andrew Dawson’s very low and Mary Heney’s higher register feel weirdly interchangeable. When they sing together it’s not in harmony, but like they’re chanting.

Nothing about this band should work as well as it does. It’s anxiety inducing hearing everything hanging on by a thread (or not even hanging on). But it’s too messy to describe as tense. And they are one of my favourite bands of all time.

A couple of years ago both Mary Heney and Peter Stapleton died and both affected me quite a lot. Peter Stapleton as a drummer and lyricist was the constant factor in a lot of my favourite music, and continued doing interesting things all through his life. Mary Heney didn’t release much music after this, but I think her presence was what made Scorched Earth Policy.

I only know small amounts of biographical details of this band, so I’m not speaking to that. But musically this feels unsustainable. I understand why this band had to end after 2 EPs. I’ve listened to this twice in a row while writing this post and it feels like I now need complete silence to deal with having listened.

Most of the members went on to make other music that had similarities with this, but nothing quite comes close to the chaos and darkness of Scorched Earth Policy. I’m from Christchurch, and there’s something about this group of musicians and their music that reflects an essential part of Christchurch which I have to come back to in the future when I return to them.

Fave songs: Too Far Gone, Since the Accident, Turn your Eyes Away. Really everything. Nothing bad on here.

Every Record I Own: Mole Männe – Mole Männe

Every Record I Own: Mole Männe – Mole Männe

This is a 12″ EP from a band that I think was from Wellington.

Pretty typical 80s post punk. Lots of use of toms. Songs built up from strong bass lines, John Lyndon-esque (PiL era not Sex Pistols era) shouty vocals. There are two really good songs on this EP and a few ones that are not as good, but still fine. Unfortunately the best song (Search) has the worst lyrics.

They weren’t on Flying Nun, which means they have not been romanticised and canonised like a lot of that stuff. Not that everything on Flying Nun has been canonised, having read the book Needles and Plastic last year there were quite a few records I had never heard of despite having a bit of an obsession with flying nun.

I picked this up at Slowboat once having heard one of the tracks (one of the good ones) on a fan-made compilation of 80s post punk from New Zealand. This is the first time I’ve listened to it in a couple of years, and it’s alright. Not essential but interesting to hear what was happening in Wellington in the 80s.

Every Record I Own: Lucy Dacus – Historian

Every Record I Own: Lucy Dacus – Historian

Soon after this record came out I went through a big Lucy Dacus phase. I was a big fan of some of her first singles which I had discovered when I was doing a weekly radio show in 2016. And then in 2018 I found her first record in a cheap bin at a record store so picked it up.

I was vaguely aware that she had another one out but was too busy enjoying and listening to her first one (I’ll come back to that). And then when her new songs popped up in playlists etc I mostly felt disappointed that they weren’t the same as the ones I knew.

About a year after the album came out some of the songs from it, specifically Night Shift and Addictions had been regularly popping up in my spotify generated playlists. Night Shift became part of my regular rotation. It’s one of those songs you didn’t know you needed to describe a feeling you didn’t know you had.

This blog will come back time and time again to the algorithm and spotify/streaming because it’s something I’m really grappling with at the moment. Because I’m grateful for it for putting these songs in front of me, but I don’t like the way it makes listening so passive.

If I hadn’t already listened to the first Lucy Dacus album and gotten into it, I’m not sure I ever would have clicked through and actually listened to this album. There are dozens of other songs which at some stage I’ve listened to over and over again but have never explored further. And I’m someone who actively searches out new music. It would have been easy for me to instead of clicking through listening to whatever came up after, which I’m sure would have been perfectly good and would have fit well with whatever else was playing around it.

I don’t like that it seems to remove the artist from the songs, putting songs next to each other which have similar vibes. This distills their music into whatever is the most similar to the songs around it and strips away any uniqueness.

But once you explore the artists/albums themselves you start to see how different they all are. I like how her songs always have space. She has a unique cadance to her vocals, which points to a bluesy background but not in a direct way. The songs have a lot of dynamics, but when it gets loud it never seems to get messy.

I saw Lucy Dacus last year which was really amazing. Before that I decided to listen more to her most recent album, which again does a major shift from her previous work. It was exciting to see those songs transformed on the stage. But I’ve always come back to her first two albums when wanting to listen.

Fave songs: Night Shift, Timefighter, Pillar of Truth.

Every Record I Own: Brian Eno and John Cale – Wrong Way Up

Every Record I Own: Brian Eno and John Cale – Wrong Way Up

In late 2021 I went through a John Cale phase, spurred on by his song Dying on the Vine. I went and listened to most of his work post his Velvet Underground years. It’s an incredibly strong catalogue but the song that stuck out to me the most in the playlist I made was Spinning Away by him and Brian Eno. It has become one of my favourite songs of all time. If you listen to one thing from this blog, this is a good thing to pick.

(This also led me down a Brian Eno phase who I’ve never really listened to before, except for Music for Airports via my old flatmate Simon. Hi Simon! Brian Eno will come up here again in the future.)

I went from listening to Spinning Away on repeat to listening to this entire album on repeat. This was all happening around the end of 2021 when my girlfriend Elly and I went on our first road trip and holiday together, so she ended up listening to this album a lot too.

Then in February, Elly gave me this record for my birthday! What a great gift. What a great girlfriend.

I love this album so much. Even on paper two music weirdos who have always pulled whoever they’re playing with in experimental directions and further away from pop, making a straight up pop album together.

It’s an incredibly balanced album instrumentally. It’s full of strings and horns and synths and driven forward by drum machine or bloopy synths. But everything is restrained and it’s rare for any one part to take over. Just adding enough for the songs. The exception is the guitar in songs like Spinning Away and with the exception of the guitar which breaks out front and centre. The guitar is maybe my favourite bit of this album, which I think was played by a session musician because it’s not like anything I’ve heard from either of them before. (checked the liner notes, played by Robert Ahwai. I looked at his discogs page and he played on dozens of other released including George Michael’s album Faith)

Their voices complement each other so well. Neither has a voice that is particularly suited to pop music. They sing confidently within their abilities, which means quite a limited range and very simple melodies, but these are very effective and catchy nonetheless. I must admit that I find their voices difficult to distinguish a lot of the time.

Often when I get super into an album for a few weeks it ends up falling out of rotation and out of my life. It had already done so by the time Elly bought it for me. But now I get to relive that summer and that road trip and remember my birthday and my great girlfriend every time I listen to it. xxx

Fave songs: Spinning Away, One Thing, Lay My Love, Been There Done That.

Every Record I Own: Fetus Productions – Fetalmania

Every Record I Own: Fetus Productions – Fetalmania

I bought this record by searching for Flying Nun on Trademe in my early 20s. This was in the era when records by The Clean and Chills etc were selling for $100+ but you could buy the lesser known ones for $10-$20. (Just checked my email, I paid $18 for this in 2011)

Fetus Productions hadn’t been represented in the Flying Nun compilations I owned, and I don’t think I had heard much online at the time so it was kind of a shot in the dark buying this record, but I’m really glad I did because it rules.

Using drum machines/synths and effected guitars, they fit more in with the Skeptics/Headless Chickens type of sound than the jangle pop that is usually associated with Flying Nun, but are less abrasive than the Skeptics and have more of a cohesive sound than Headless Chickens.

Where as those other bands often used electronic and effected instruments to create a more aggressive and often inhuman sound, Fetus Productions generally used them to elevate and add a complexity to emotions in the songs, with the second side of this record being particularly effective at this.

Relistening just before I post, this is not how the case with some of the songs, especially the very creepy instrumental opening, I’m a Criminal.

It’s kind of surprising that this band hasn’t had as much longevity as some of the other Flying Nun bands of the same era, although if they had I probably would have not been able to afford this record son I’m glad.

Fave Tracks: State to be In, What’s Going On