CD Reviews


Ralph Stanley & Ralph Stanley II - Side By Side

Hank Williams, Jr. might sing about family traditions in Country Music, but make no mistake about it - the world of Bluegrass is full of historic lore when it comes to families, as well. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Stanley family tree. Of course, the Stanley name became known due to the groundbreaking recordings by Carter and Ralph Stanley. But since the former's passing in 1966, his younger sibling has more than done...

The Band of Heathens - Sunday Morning Record

“The further into life you get, the more you realize that life isn’t black and white, and that there are millions of shades of grey in between,” says Ed Jurdi, member of Americana-leaning The Band Of Heathens. On the Austin band’s fourth and latest studio project, “Sunday Morning Record,” they explore just these kinds of subtleties, in perhaps their most understated effort to date. Their 2011 “Top Hat Crown And The Clapmaster’s Son” album garnered my review that...

Seagull – Ocean From Above

It’s haunting, it’s mystical, it’s slightly depressing, it’s basically like being in a Brannan filtered Instagram image of an uninhabited forest. Melbourne band, SEAGULL, make that dark, ominous kind of indie-folk that encourages emotional epiphanies. Their most recent album Ocean From Above (2013) was produced by front-man Chris Bolton and is executed with raw, apocalyptic beauty. Enter opening song Ruby, whose thought-provoking lyrics gives you hope...

Echo Arcadia - Beauty in the Average Life

Echo Arcadia is the Edinburgh, Scotland based alternative indie septet of Leigh Moyes (Lead Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar), Vonny Moyes (Lead Guitar / Vocals), Euan Mushet (Bass), Dan Ciesielski (Drums), Kev Tierney (Guitar / Vocals /Trumpet), Pete Nicholson (Keys / Vocals) and Andrew Gray (Violin / Vocals). One music critic called them: Mature without being boring; intelligent without a hint of pretentiousness; pop without the pap: Echo Arcadia’s tasty portions of ...

Lunaire – Dreams and Inbetweens

Dreams and Inbetweens is the first full length album and fourth release in as many years from Lunaire, a Melbourne based post-rock outfit with their minds and music blissfully in the clouds. This offering sees the continuation of their dreamy, gliding sound that will leave you in a trance somewhere amongst the inbetweens. The self-described shoegazers have looked down to see their feet firmly in their comfort zone, but it’s immediately apparent that they’ve found the...

Trick Mammoth – Floristry Review

We’ve only been doing Happy NZ for a few weeks now, but it seems to me that all I can find from across the Tasman are bands made up of pretty brunettes and tragic eyes. Take the newest full length LP from Dunedin pop trio Trick Mammoth for example. Floristry‘s cover depicts a band beneath a broken bouquet, their tight trousers and vintage shoes peeking out from underneath. More like NewTweeland, Amirite?

Legendary Artists Push The Envelope On Latest Albums

Paul Rodgers revisits his early love of soul via the glorious "The Royal Sessions," while Zombies singer Colin Blunstone and Big Head Todd & the Monsters push the boundaries of their respective styles forward with persuasiveness and force. Artist: Paul Rodgers. Album: The Royal Sessions. You might like if you enjoy: Otis Redding, Bad Company, Albert King. Tell me more: Paul Rodgers, the famed rock singer who fronted Free, Bad Company, the Firm and even Queen for...

Jimmy Tait - Golden

Behind the alias are five Australians, two intriguing albums and a haunting sound. If you were expecting to read an in depth analysis about a one-man band, playing guitar at the local pub, then I will sadly disappoint. No one in this five-piece band goes by the name Jimmy. It is in fact a pseudonym – pertaining to lead singer, Sarah Retallick’s late grandfather. Through this pseudonym, Retallick pays homage to her late grandfather while making obvious to audiences that she...

Team Cat Food - Domesticated

Band names can be confusing. Sometimes, they’re spot on, like in the case of deathgrind bands Pig Destroyer and Circle of Dead Children. Upon discovering these guys within the depths of the Internet, I immediately knew I didn’t want to listen to either of them. After berating myself for being so supremely shallow, I hit play on their Bandcamp pages, and quickly realised that initial instincts were completely trustworthy. So, when I came across NZ band Team Cat Food, I was intrigued.

Diana Rozz - Numbskull

So often female musicians get stuck inside twee, acoustic, folky pigeonholes a la Frankie magazine. Or maybe they’re the leather clad, full-fringed, heavily kohled eyed sex goddess of sorts. Not that there is anything wrong with either of these musical styles, it just makes me sad when women (or record labels) feel like they gotta be one or the other. One of my favourite bloody things to do is to watch girls rockin’, doing their thing without any pretence or contrived “femme” awareness.

Matt Baxter and Jake Sampson - Haunted

One of the earthiest collaborations last year was the coming together of Matt Baxter and Jake Sampson on “Haunted” – a ten-track CD of delta-style blues, released on Auburn Sky Records. All the songs are written and produced by Baxter, who is loose on his dobro, and are sung by Sampson, who has a handsome vibrato and smooth tone reminiscent of Darius Rucker, and plays acoustic bass to boot. The duo opens with “Someday” and its rough backwoods-and-swamp stylings...

The All Seeing Hand - Mechatronics

I’ve heard that Wellington was quite the hub for experimental music in the late 80s and early 90s, and if that’s the case, then I understand why these guys call it home. The All Seeing Hand are a Wellington based experimental band, led by producer Alphabethead. Their sophomore album, Mechatronics, was released in October last year through Muzai. Defying genre stereotyping, this ten-track album takes you on a ride, manipulating the noise spectrum from track to track.

FM 359 - Truth, Love and Liberty

FM 359 is the side project of Street Dogs members Mike McColgan, Johnny Rioux, and ex-Dropkick Murphys /Continental member Rick Barton. Street Dogs are punk rock’s champion of the everyman and tireless road warriors. Though they resolved to take a break from a relentless touring schedule, the music didn’t stop flowing. “Truth, Love and Liberty” is the result. The opener, Some Folks is a radio friendly workingman’s anthem and sets the tone for 10 tracks that defy...

Babaganouj – Shitty Christmas

Over Happy’s Christmas break, the final days of 2013 saw the rise of some truly great Christmas albums overseas – Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red, Susan Boyle’s Home for Christmas and Bad Religion’s Christmas Songs just to name a few. Closer to home, the silly season saw Brisbane twee/indie band Babaganouj release a cute little five chord number called Shitty Christmas and even though it’s probably the time to forget how crappy your Christmas was, their new single...

Connan Mockasin – Caramel

Apparently Connan Mockasin is already super famous. Call me ignorant, and I’ll agree. I have basically limited to zero knowledge of New Zealand’s music scene*. After stumbling upon Mockasin’s track, Do I Make You Feel Shy?, via New Zealand’s bFM (their version of FBi), I embarked upon my usual internet trawling for more info. Oh, hello, he has 36, 000 Facebook likes. Anyway, popularity doesn’t detract from talent, especially in Mockasin’s case.
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