The Max Block - S/T 12"

In 1986 Brian Crook formed the Max Block, a four-piece combo with Rebecca Shanahan on drums and backup vocals, Robbie Stowell on bass, Brian on guitar and writing words and music and singing lead vocal and Maryrose Crook (his wife) on keyboard and singing backup. This is their only release. The sound strikes me as pretty unique, it has an interesting primitive quality to it and is far different than the sound you would associate with their later project, The Renderers.


As you may have noticed, I don't update this blog quite as frequently as I used to. If you are wondering why, it's because about two weeks ago I started a new job and I work ridiculously long hours. On top of that, just about every web page under the sun is blocked, so I can't do updates from work, which is what I used to do quite often at my last job.

I have a big checklist of things I want to upload and post, but just don't expect stuff to come up with the same frequency that it did a month ago.


JPS Experience - The Size of Food

Love Songs was a promising, if somewhat inconsistent debut, but New Zealand band Jean-Paul Sartre Experience really came into their own with The Size of Food. From the start, they fit pretty comfortably into the homespun pop tradition of the legendary Flying Nun label as practiced by the likes of the Clean, Straitjacket Fits and, especially, the Chills, but they exhibit a certain eclectic, rough-hewn individuality on this release. To some extent, The Size of Food prefigures the crooked pop Scottish groups like the Beta Band would be making a decade later. Vocalist Dave Yetton sometimes sounds as if he's straining to hit the high notes, but this lends a certain vulnerability to the softer songs, like "Shadows," and a sense of urgency to the harder ones, like "Get My Point." The overall effect is more charming than off-putting, somewhat akin to Big Star-era Alex Chilton or even early Peter Gabriel. As "Dry the Rain" was to the Beta Band's Three EPs, "Elemental" is the star in this particular firmament, the song that best illustrates the group's way with a catchy chorus and shimmering guitar-based bed of sound.

The Dead C - Live At The Otago Arts Festival

A great quality 2001 Live set by the Dead C. This is one long improvised piece that lasts for over an hour. Awesome stuff.

Various Artists - Weird Culture, Weird Custom: New Zealand National Student Radio 1986

WCWC was the first of the compilation lps put out by the fledgling 'National Student Radio' group in 1987. This was an attempt by the managers of the university radio stations through NZ to get some new and exciting acts before the public and also to raise the profile for student radio. So each station ran a competition , and the two most popular acts from each town got
money to record a couple of tracks for the LP. In Christchurch for example it was All Fall Down and the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience - who at that point had recorded only a demo tape ( released to student radio in a can) ..the JPS effort was later repeated on their first album, as they thought the WCWC effort was substandard. ... SO the acts were recorded, the record pressed, and sold through retail outlets. This is a vinyl rip

JPS Experience - Elemental/Flex EP

This EP title track is the choice cut from the album The Size of Food in an extended mix. The group that began in the '80s with a delicate pop sensibility similar to the Bats and the Verlaines transformed their sound into a bigger more sonically dramatic tone closer to Bailter Space or My Bloody Valentine with this release.

Stay tuned for the Size of Food album sometime this week.

The Cakekitchen - Stompin' Through The Boneyard

Now essentially a duo, with Jean-Yves Douet handling the drums and Jefferies handling just about everything else, on their fourth album the Cakekitchen cook up another fine set of the post-punk/indie rock with which they made their name: rock mixed with experimental diversions that's just slightly off kilter. They make no radical reinventions at this point -- even eternal guest performer Galbraith and his violin surfaces again on the part-noise, part-sweet strum "The Mad Clarinet" -- but Jefferies' songs still have fire. "Tell Me Why You Lie" starts things off very promisingly. Brash and just thrashy enough, his very low-key vocals sneak around the three-chord fuzz well. "Even as We Sleep" raises the bar a bit higher by tackling the most recent of rock clich├ęs -- the soft/loud/soft approach -- with more snaky delicacy than most. The quiet parts have a sharp tension and the noisier places maintain more of a wash than a roar, turning into a feedback, waltz-time swing in the song's midsection before concluding as it started. Production throughout is a (likely intentional) mix of the crisp and the boxy. Recording credits are named as cities rather than studios, so it's likely that Jefferies recorded things as he went; as ever he has a wonderful talent for arranging what he and his cohorts come up with. "Bad Bodied Girl" stands out here; while a more straightforward song, the layering of acoustic and electric guitars flows excellently. Jefferies as a performer again more than meets the criterion for interesting, whether considering the raging riff and shades of queasy feedback that carry "Mr. Adrian's Lost in His Last Panic Attack" or the piano/guitar combination that concludes the lengthy "Hole in My Shoe." In sum, another fine album from a remarkably consistent band.

Nocturnal Projections - Never Ends In Power Lines

The Nocturnal Projections are the pre-This Kind of Punishment post-punk band fronted by Peter & Graham Jefferies. This is a CD collection which basically compiles the most essential material from very short lived career. There is some overlap between this and the previous albums posted ("Another Year" and "Worldview) but the versions included here sound much better, other previously unreleased tracks are also included.

The Orange - Fruit Salad Lives

Here is a nice rarity ripped from vinyl. You might remember this group from their song "What's In A Name?" from the Flying Nun Box Set. That song, along with 4 other similarly jangly numbers are featured on this EP, being the band's one and only release. The rip isn't the best quality, I'm not sure if it's the condition of the vinyl, the pressing or my turntable, but the vocals get slightly overdriven at times. Still, the sound is definitely passable and good enough to enjoy. If anyone has a better rip of this album, be sure to let me know.

New Release Spotlight: Pumice - Pebbles

As mentioned before, here is the debut of a new section to the site where I highlight releases that are still in print that I think are well worth your money. I have no reservations in saying that contemporary New Zealand music isn't nearly as good as it was in it's heyday (but really, what is?) but this album, newly released this year really took me by surprise as an exceptionally good album. Pumice is a one man band fronted by Stefan Geoffrey Neville and has been releasing music since the mid to late 90's. It's clear right from the start that he has spent a great deal of time internalizing all of the important aspects of kiwi rock, specifically the warm analog textural goodness of the Xpressway scene. The songs are very interesting not only from a compositional standpoint but they also contain a great amount of sonic detail, not unlike the best work of Alaistair Galbraith. It may be a cliche' statement to make: but this album is quite the rollercoaster ride... it shifts very quickly between various tempos and moods with no real indication of when the changes are going to come for the listener. This collage technique always keeps you engaged and wondering where the album will turn to next. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, this album is very strongly recommended!

Preview MP3: "Northland"
Buy the album at The Soft Abuse Website
Only $11 post paid in the USA and $14 elsewhere

Trash - Mihiwaka

Trash's third LP backs down from the comparitively pop-oriented feel of its predecessor (Gate) and returns to Trash's primary sound -- fuzzy, abrasive, and energetic rock jams, with shouting vocals and a healthy slop-rock influence. Mihikawa, however, presents this with a more experimentally noisy quality than the band's debut, at times betraying the influence of fellow New Zealanders This Kind of Punishment ("The Difference") -- the record is probably the most artistically ambitious in the band's catalog, and frequently outshines the rest of their work.