Saturday, August 30, 2008

REVIEW: SideKickNick

Kings Arms
Friday 29 August
Words by June Hart
Photos by Charlette Hannah

It doesn't seem quite right to describe SideKickNick's songs as music, as such. It's more an interesting amalgamation of sounds. Quirky beats, childish vocals (think Connan Mockasin), songs ranging from raucous distorted guitar to soft, whimsical flights of fancy. It's a challenge to put his unusual brand of music into words! Somehow it all works, and the live result is a catchy, quirky, and entertaining performance.

SideKickNick is accompanied live by The Technical Difficulties, made up of Murray Fisher (Voom, ex-Goodshirt) on bass, Brendan Morrow and Peter Hobbs on various instruments including keys, guitar and ukelele, and Pluto's Mike Franklin Brown on drums. Leading the cast is Nick Buckton, the brains and creativity (and madness?) behind SideKickNick's debut album, Miscellaneous Adventures.

The album release party was packed out with eager fans and a noticeable number of industry players. Although it's taken 10 years to release the album, it seems the time is right, with Miscellaneous Adventures being released on SonyBMG.

Live, SideKickNick's exuberant music is fleshed out with Nick's wicked sense of humour and complete ease on the stage. The bands relaxed confidence on stage belies the fact that they have only had three gigs so far. SideKickNick takes the audience on a journey through songs about a multitude of random subjects. Utilising strange vocal noises on stage as well as in the album, the performance was eclectic, fascinating, and altogether enjoyable.

REVIEW: The Mots

Kings Arms
Friday 29 August
Words by June Hart
Photos by Charlette Hannah

'Who are The Mots?' I hear you ask. A good question indeed. With some members rather resembling Motocade, one wonders if they have evil twins, and if so, which band has the evil ones? Not being overly familiar with Motocade, it's hard to judge if the name change is signalling a new musical direction, or if it's the slight changes in lineup are responsible.

Brothers Eden (vocals and guitar) and Will Mulholland (drums) are joined by another family member - Jolyon (keys and guitar), and Rob Collins on bass.

The Mots are a tight band, with an obviously wide range of influences. At times this feels like the band are still trying to find their sound, which results in less clarity for the audience. Having said that, the diverse range of styles within their songs also helps to keep things interesting.

A four piece band, they utilise a variety of instruments and harmonies to bring a full sound to the stage. Melodic and upbeat, they had people dancing, including one rather enthusiastic fellow throwing himself at other audience members.

Easy to digest and catchy, The Mots are your typical pop/rock outfit with elements which could take them out of the ordinary if they figure out exactly where they're going.

REVIEW: Bionic Pixie

Kings Arms
Friday 29 August
Words by June Hart
Photos by Charlette Hannah

Bionic Pixie is an appropriately named act. Think Metallica: they play metal music. You know what to expect. Think Bionic Pixie: robot music with a pixie singer.

Opening the evening for Side Kick Nick's album release party, Bionic Pixie is primarily the project of songwriter Zoe Fleury. Part spoken word, part childish tone, part husky growl, Zoe's vocals are the striking characteristic of Bionic Pixie.

Mixing electro-pop, hip hop and funk, Zoe is an energetic performer, constantly dancing (dare I say boogie-ing?) on stage. Accompanied by a drummer on an electronic kit, Zoe also picked up the sticks a couple of times, adding to the beat. There was also a DJ, playing Zoe's backing tracks, all composed by herself.

When she picked up her guitar, it seemed rather a token gesture as she didn't play much, but it added another visual element to the performance. Overall I found the singing a bit monotonous, and it was hard to hear the words.

But Bionic Pixie had people dancing and it was an entertaining beat-driven opening act.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

REVIEW: Band of Horses

Kings Arms
Thursday 31 July
Words by June Hart
Photos by Charlette Hannah

Ben Bridwell

Tyler Ramsey

Creighton Barrett

Ryan Monroe

Blake Mills

Bill Reynolds

If Band of Horses really were a band of horses, I reckon they'd be camargues, wild and beautiful, somehow magical and yet earthy. Band of Horses' ethereal rock manages to stay grounded and oh-so-human, even while taking us to incredible heights of musical ecstasy.

For their first ever New Zealand show, Band of Horses sold out the Kings Arms and rewarded their dedicated fans with a mind-blowingly excellent gig. Fans were begging for the set lists left scattered on the stage, and an encore was called for a long time before the band returned to the stage to play my personal favourite, No One's Gonna Love You.

The South Carolina based six piece band fuse reverb-heavy vocals, delayed guitar riffs, and solid grooving drums and bass to create an emotionally charged and fun live act. These guys really look like they love what they're doing, and the audience loves them even more for it.

The gorgeous melodies, soaring instrumentation, and pure unadulterated energy of Band of Horses really is inspiring. Ben Bridwell's voice haunts me in the best possible way.

Chicago based Kiwi Renee-Louise Carafice opened for Band of Horses with her thoughtful and solemn songs, mostly written while she was institutionalised for depression. Her voice is beautiful and full of texture. Her solo set switched between keyboard and guitar with a sequencer adding extra backing. The sadness can be somewhat hard to listen to, but there is so much humanity and hope that makes it all ok.