All the young dudes

So I went to see Grimes last night here in Wellington.  It was a pretty fun gig but it was definitely a very young crowd, full of young sweaty bodies pressed up against each other, rubbing up on each other, even old ladies like me.  At one point Grimes even brought a girl up on stage who looked as if she was about to be crushed by the audience.  It’s been a while since I attended a gig that was full of such excitement and energy… I could actually feel it emanating from the crowd.  I wonder if this increased and palpable energy was because of Grimes’s fame or a connection with her music?  I think the last time I experienced a same kind of energy was at Laneway last year, which was also full of pretty famous bands that people were really excited to see.  I suppose it must be a combination of the two – not only are you able to be in such close physical proximity to some one who’s world famous, but you feel like you have this deeply personal connection to them and their music.

Anyway, I tried to take a few pictures but it was so crowded and hot and sweaty that none of them turned out that awesome.

Here they are:


new zealand music month

It’s New Zealand music month and to celebrate I am encouraging people out there in other countries to enjoy some fine NZ music.

I will admit that upon first moving here, I wasn’t much impressed by anything I heard from local acts.  But as time has gone on, my opinions have changed as I have discovered some sweet jams.

One of my very favourites is Fraser Ross.  Not only is his music amazingly awesome, but he is my former neighbour.  Fraser has recently departed the fair heights of Coromandel Street for the Scottish Highlands in pursuit of love, and I wish him all the best.  I first met Frase at our yearly Christmas neighborhood bbq this past year, and when he told me he had a special lady friend in Scotland I asked him how they met.  With a completely straight face, he told me they met online.  I very innocently believed him.  About 30 seconds later he told me he was just kidding and they met here in Wellington, and 6 months later when I heard he was moving overseas to be with her I was really glad, though of course I’m sad to lose such a wonderfully musical pal & neighbour.  As I know well, long distance relationships aren’t easy, so I’m really happy for him as he makes a go of his musical career closer to his sweetheart!

His new EP is called “To Places” and features some really sweet melodies.

I recommend a listen.

Another local act I adore is called Glass Vaults.  It helps of course that the band is comprised of a trio of handsome gentlemen.  Their musical style is a big hard to describe, though according to their bandcamp site it’s been called “post-ambient” and “glacial pop”.  Whatever name you give it, it’s lovely.

They also make some awesome music videos and are clearly just really talented boys.

I’m a big fan of the fabulous folks from Orchestra of Spheres.

They wear amazing costumes, sound like they’re from outer space, ride bikes, and are awesomely dedicated to supporting experimental music around town.  Also they have really mastered the art of having on-stage personas.  By day they are book editors and music teachers, by night, Orchestra of Spheres turns into:

Baba Rossa – biscuit tin guitar, sexomouse marimba
EtonalE – electric carillon
Jemi Hemi Mandala – drumkit
Mos Iocos – keyboard, gamelan

Another former neighbour of mine plays in the band Phoenix Foundation.  They’re quite popular here in NZ and were even musical guests on a BBC programme.  I think that means they’re famous?  After hearing he was in a “famous” band,  I actually tried to ask my neighbour if he was considered “famous” and if people recognised him in public, and he reluctantly admitted it.  I don’t know why NZers would feel uncomfortable about admitting fame… isn’t being famous the whole point of being a rock star?!?!  I guess it’s just a testament to the very humble down-to-earth nature of most people in the country.

My pal Matt the music librarian at the National Library of New Zealand is in Golden Awesome, a band definitely worth checking out.

Matt, being an excellent librarian, also compiled and posted an album of NZ music on the National Library website, all songs freely available under the creative commons licence.

It’s called the Turnbull Mixtape, after the Turnbull Library, a national institution dedicated to preserving NZ culture.

Aren’t librarians awesome?

There are literally dozens of other bands I would love to describe in this post, but unfortunately due to time constraints only my top 5 have made it.  Others worth checking out in Wellington include:

The Blue Onesies

The Shocking & the Stunning

Jetsam Isles

Sunken Seas

Terror of the Deep

Paper Scissors

French for Rabbits

Newtown Rocksteady

Thought Creature

…and more!

twenty twelve

The year started off with some bad luck (demagnetised debit card, banks closed, no money, a bent rear bicycle wheel and 133 km wind for days), but things seem to be looking brighter.

In particular, I am looking forward to the following events:

Films by Starlight

Wednesday 18 January – Exit Through The Gift Shop

Thursday 19 January – Bill Cunningham New York

Wednesday 25 January – Kaikohe Demolition

Thursday 26 January- Labyrinth

All happening in the Dell at the Botanic Gardens around dusk.

Loads of international acts coming to town!

Sun Araw on 3 February

Not my favourite band ever, but something to do.

Dan Deacon on 4 Febraury

I saw Dan Deacon several years ago in Montreal, and I have to say it was hands down one the funnest shows I have ever been to.  He was basically just playing music off his iPod, and got the entire audience (at Sala Rosa) to have a dance-off.  The full story is that I was almost forced to go and dance in front of the entire audience but thankfully the song ended just as eye contact was made and I narrowly escaped complete embarrassment. I’m certain good times will be had, and only $15!  What a value!

Real Estate 16 March

Pitchfork’s and All Song Considered’s darlings should put on a good show.

Wooden Shjips on 2 April

I like their music.

Camp a Low Hum in February not far from Wellington…

Camping!  Music!

I’m still undecided about Laneway (30 January in Auckland)… I asked my mum to buy me a ticket for Christmas.  We’ll see if she comes through.

Some cool things happening at Fred’s in the upcoming weeks…

The next few weeks look promising.  I’m going to all the above mentioned shows alone, except for CALH, but the loneliness of a girl at a show by herself doesn’t deter me.

Last weekend I went to see Bond Street Bridge and the Broken Heartbreakers at Meow.  The music was amazing, the venue awful.  The acoustics are terrible and the audience wouldn’t shut up!  Bond Street Bridge in particular was so lovely.  I had a chance to have a word with Sam after the show and guess what…. he’s a librarian!  Hence the ode to Sir Francis Drake and other obscure naval history references in his music.  I also asked Rachel from the Broken Heartbreakers to explain the etymology of the band’s name. Is it that they re-break previously broken hearts, or are they heartbreakers who are broken?  It turns out to be the latter.

I also went to see Beirut last week at the Opera House.  It was amazing, though I wish we had been closer!  Also the ushers at the Opera House take their jobs way, way too seriously.

After the show we went to Hawthorn Lounge, a lovely place I highly recommend, especially if you enjoy obscure cocktails in swanky surroundings and barmen with sleeve garters and bowties.    A nice lady gave us 1/2 a bottle of Prosecco and then I decided to head home.  I had to dash back to the Opera House to grab my bicycle… and guess who I saw loading out in the alley?  Not Zach Condon, but the rest of the band.  I wanted to say something, but being a star-struck super fan meant I could only manage “Hey that show was really great” to which I got a warm thank you and then I ran away feeling like an idiot.

It’s shaping up to be a fun-filled summer.  I hope to do more cycling, picnicking, sitting in the sun drinking bloody marys in the afternoon… oh and maybe getting some work done on my coding and analysis.  Right now Nvivo is giving me a headache so I am ignoring it.

I really like this song:

I hope that in 2012 there are more women rapping about “I guess that cunt getting eatin” whilst wearing cut-offs so short the pockets hang out.

2011 in review

Well, it’s the 2nd to last day of 2011 and I have been thinking that it would be a good idea to post my favourite new musical discoveries of 2011 before Pitchfork comes out with their “Best of 2011” list, to see if there is any cross-over.

I must stress that this list is not restricted only to songs released in 2011, but rather songs I discovered in 2011.  So, it’s completely personal and not a remotely objective attempt to summarise this year in music on a general level.

I know what you’re thinking.  “Nicole, this list has a lot of similarities to NPR’s All Songs Considered Listeners’ Picks of 2011 show.”  It’s true.  I don’t claim to be original in any way.  I have to find out about new music like everyone else.  And, it’s easier to let other people with similar taste to mine put the effort into weeding through all the shit and identifying what is actually good.

So, without further ado, here is the list of my 2011 musical discoveries, and, if you want to download the songs, you can do so here.

I suppose for the title of this post to be accurate, I should discuss the rest of 2011, rather than just music that was new to me.

As far as other entertainment, I have really enjoyed discovering the following TV programs as well:

  • Parks & Recreation
  • Game of Thrones
  • Downton Abbey
  • Mildred Pierce
  • The Crimson Petal & the White

And, George R. R. Martin’s fiction.  I wasn’t crazy about Freedom by Jonathan Franzen or A Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Sheytngart, which, to be honest, are probably the only other novels I have read this year.  Oh wait, I also read Alias Grace by Margret Atwood, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and the Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill.  Sadly, that may have been everything, though I think I am forgetting a few.  8 books isn’t epic, but maybe better than some?  Especially considering at one point I had more than 37 books on loan from the VUW library for school related reading.  Honestly, for most of this year the last thing I wanted to do was come home and night and do more reading.  Hence my interest in TV the last 12 months.


I haven’t been posting much because… I have been spending all my free time down at the Les Mills “Extreme” gym here in Wellington, shaking my booty in the Sh’Bam classes.  Normally it’s something like $30 a week to be a member there, but they have a free trial going on until the end of January.  So, I have been trying to take advantage of that as much as possible, since I can’t possibly afford to actually become a member.

My mom first told me about Sh’Bam a few months ago.  The gym near her house in Cary has Les Mills group fitness classes.  When I visited her in September I suggested we try out some of the group classes… we went to a Body Pump class, and a Body Flow class.  She loved them both and has since then become an avid Les Mills group fitness class attendee.  Since she started doing these classes she has lost probably near 15 kgs!  When we talk on Skype she likes to sing the songs and do her Sh’Bam dance moves for me.  Her endorsement was so strong I almost considered a paid membership… until I realised just how expensive it is.  So, I jumped at the chance to try it out when they started offering this free trial.  And now I am totally addicted.  I’m going to have to start selling crystal meth cooked in a camper van to support my Sh’Bam habit!

Have you ever seen a room of 50 women (and 2 or 3 guys) all performing synchronized dance moves with massive huge ear-to-ear smiles on their faces for 45 minutes straight? It’s a surreal experience.

Anyway, the thing I like about Sh’Bam is that it doesn’t take itself seriously – the instructors want it to be fun, and the songs and dance moves are made to be cheesy, and silly sometimes.  I also enjoy all these big pop songs, even though I am loathe to admit it.

Anyway, I compiled a mix of some of the my favourite Sh’Bam tracks, from the ones done here in New Zealand, which come from all the releases; Sh’Bam #1, Sh’Bam #2, and Sh’Bam #3.

You can download the .mp3’s here!

I wasn’t sure about what versions were used in the official releases… but I tried to find songs that sounded similar, from memory.  Also, I’m not exactly sure how Sh’Bam works.  I think some of the instructors make up their own choreography to songs of their choosing, but perhaps they are all choreographed and selected by Les Mills International?  I will try and find out.

Enjoy and find a Sh’Bam class near you to try it out!

bootleg sounds

I don’t know how legit this is, but I used my new audio recorder to record Mirah’s show at Happy  in Wellington on 28 October.

My supervisors suggested I start recording our weekly meetings, so I had been borrowing the school’s “voice memo” recorder.  The administrator at the school was kind of getting sick of my borrowing it every week (even though the school owns like 20!) and giving me a hard time everytime I needed it for like 2 hours.  GG kept telling me to go to Dick Smith’s and buy a cheap one for $100, but I knew I wanted to the Zoom H2 recorder, which was available for about $100 USD in the states, and much better quality than anything at Dick Smith’s.  The Zoom recorder is supposed to be some kinda fancy equipment used for professional recording or something.  Anyway, I know nothing about music gear, but I figured if I had to buy an audio recorder, I might as well get one that I could use for many purposes.  Since I bought it in August, I have only been using it for my weekly meetings with DD & GG.  BORING!  I figured that since I have this alleged “professional” recording device, complete with an instruction manual the size of a Jane Austen novel and several diagrams of ideal placement for recording, I thought I would use it to record a show I was actually really looking forward to – Mirah at Happy in Wellington on October 28th.

This is my first attempt at bootlegging a show, so it’s perhaps not the best quality.  The vocals are a little too quiet and the drums peak out at a couple points, but otherwise, it was a good show.  There was a lot of funny banter regarding New Zealand, and she played to a room of about 30 people, rather than the normal 700+ person shows that she might headline in the states.

There was a really eager young man who kept trying to convince Mirah to stay at his house after the show.  He literally mentioned it it 3 or 4 times in the space of a 5 minute conversation, to which she kept replying “I’m staying at a friend’s house”.  It would have been creepy if he wasn’t so innocent and naive and eager.



The dogs of B.A.
Gone are the days
Bones & skin
It’s not your fault, Ponchartrain
We’re both so sorry
The world is falling
Look up!
While we have the sun
The forest
Cold cold water
Light the match
Mt. St. Helens
The garden
David Bowie “Changes” cover

I would appreciate feedback.

saturday at the children’s cultural center

Saturday I went to see my friend Phouvieng who is normally the Children’s librarian at the National Library.  On Saturday she works at the Children’s Cultural Centre, doing storytelling and helping out with other activities.  I got there a little late, so I missed the story telling, but I did get to sit in on a music lesson, and learn how to play some traditional Lao instruments with the kids.

lao instruments
lao instruments

After that, a bunch of kids performed a choreographed dance for, including this one:

wearing a shirt that says "fuck off wankers".
wearing a shirt that says"fuck off you wankers".

and I hung out with these little girls:

and then ate some pho with congealed blood in it:

sep lae!
sep lae!

before I played table tennis with Phouvieng for a while, and then headed home sometime in the afternoon.  It was a lovely day!