Infinite Shuffle

November 6, 2013

181 – Lorde

Filed under: L, New Zealand — assman41 @ 12:14 am

181 – Lorde

It’s tough to decide which is more impressive about Lorde’s full-length debut, Pure Heroine — the music itself or the fact that the singer-songwriter behind Lorde is only 16 years old!

The New Zealand native, whose actual name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, had record labels in a bidding war not long after she entered her teens. At 13, she signed with Universal and a year later she was working with the label’s songwriters.

She put out The Love Club EP in November 2012 and followed that with the single, “Royals,” which hit the top of the charts in New Zealand and also became the first female solo artist to reach No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

The song is definitely the peak of Pure Heroine, but it’s far from the only standout track. Throughout the album, Yelich-O’Connor mixes in a variety of influences. The opener, “Tennis Court”, calls to mind a little bit of M.I.A. But she also invokes artists such as Zola Jesus — with a far less haunting tone — on “400 Lux”, “Ribs”, “Team” and “Buzzcut Season”.

Still in high school — or whatever the Kiwis call it over there — Yelich-O’Connor is a rising star and has only begun to tap her seemingly endless potential. It’ll be fun to see what she can accomplish once she’s able to focus full time on her music.


August 26, 2011

81 – The Phoenix Foundation

Filed under: New Zealand, P — assman41 @ 2:42 pm

With a name like The Phoenix Foundation, it doesn’t matter how good or bad your music is, you’re assured of maintaining at least a moderate level of indie cred.

As it turns out, this four-piece from Wellington, New Zealand, just happens to make some pretty catchy progressive indie-rock.

Formed in 1997 while the core members were still in high school, The Phoenix Foundation take their name from cult-favorite TV show, “MacGyver” – it’s the name of the mysterious organization that employs the title character.

Starting with three members and doubling in size a few years later, the band put out its first full-length album, Horsepower, in 2003. It included such singles as “This Charming Van” and “Let Me Die a Woman”.

Two years later came Pegasus, which went gold in New Zealand. By 2007, with their popularity growing, The Phoenix Foundation had signed with a U.S. label and released Happy Ending. Its big single is “Bright Grey” — which is a very solid song — but my favorite is, by far, “40 Years”.

The Phoenix Foundation – 40 Years

This paved the way for what is easily the band’s best album to date, 2010’s Buffalo. It’s loaded with great songs from all sorts of influences. Some of the top tracks are “Pot” and “Bitte Bitte”. But they pale in comparison to the title track.

The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo

Another great song on the disc is “Orange & Mango”, which displays a totally different version of the band’s sound that can be heard on a few of its songs. It harkens back to the days of ’70s AM radio.

The Phoenix Foundation – Orange & Mango

In addition to the albums and three EP releases, The Phoenix Foundation have provided original soundtracks to two different New Zealand-based movies — 2007’s Eagle Vs. Shark and 2010’s Boy.

It doesn’t seem as if they have ever toured the United States. But if they ever do make their way over here, I’ll be sure to snatch up some tickets.

July 11, 2011

75 – The Naked and Famous

Filed under: N, New Zealand — assman41 @ 7:06 pm

The Naked and Famous might be this year’s Ladyhawke — an electro/indie-pop band from New Zealand that puts out a couple of amazing singles, but just can’t sustain the awesomeness for an entire album.

I first discovered the Kiwi quintet via my boy, Simon, over at Outroversion. (I’ve never actually met Simon, but I bet we’d hit it off smashingly if we ran into each other at a festival Stateside. What do you say, Simon, SXSW 2012?)

Now, it’s been awhile since I listened to Ladyhawke, but, if I recall correctly, I absolutely loved three of their songs and could do without the rest.

As for The Naked and Famous (TNAF), they dropped their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You in December 2010. I’m a big fan of “Young Blood” and “Punching In a Dream” and I’m also digging “No Way”. But as for the rest of the album, I could pretty much take it or leave it.

The Naked and Famous – Young Blood

It’s hard to pick out influences for TNAF, as they don’t necessarily sound like any one or two bands. I will admit that they do a good job of switching up their sound from song to song, but it’s still generally just an amalgamation of electro-pop sounds.

One band that did come to mind on a few tracks was Empire of the Sun.

The Naked and Famous – Punching in a Dream

Clearly, the band has the potential to put out some solid songs. So, I’ll be sure to keep a lookout for any new music it puts out. TNAF is actually gonna be at Lollapalooza this year, but I won’t be in attendance.

The Naked and Famous – No Way

January 3, 2010

10 – Ladyhawke

Filed under: L, New Zealand — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Up to this point, every band or artist I’ve reviewed can lay claim to putting out at least one album that I have absolutely loved from beginning to end — well, except for Bat For Lashes.

That isn’t quite the case with Ladyhawke. Her self-titled debut includes some of my favorite songs from the past year, but it also has a lot of filler I could do without.

Ladyhawke is the stage name of Phillipa “Pip” Brown, a 30-year-old singer/songwriter from New Zealand who looks and sounds like a hybrid of a slew of popular ’80s singers — such as Pat Benatar, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Wilde, Debbie Gibson, Terri Nunn and Dale Bozzio.

And like her predecessors, Ladyhawke produces solid new wave/indie rock tinged with plenty of electronica to keep the hipsters dancing. The problem is that, while her singles are incredibly catchy, she doesn’t quite sustain it for the entirety of the album.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t have a problem with repeated listens to Ladyhawke, but more than likely, I’ll stick to just playing my faves, which include “Back of the Van,” “My Delirium” and “Paris Is Burning.”

Just go to her MySpace page and try not to get hooked on that trio of songs.

Ladyhawke – Back Of The Van

Ladyhawke – My Delerium

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