Martyn Pepperell is a freelance journalist, copywriter, creative consultant and DJ. He also hosts two regular music segments on Radio Active 88.6 FM: The Hard Deck (every second Tuesday night from 9-11 pm) and Unofficial Channels (Friday mornings at 8.15am). Martyn is a contributing editor at Vanguard Red. He also writes for Rip It Up, New Zealand Musician, Fishhead and Under The Radar amongst other outlets. In the past his work has appeared in North & South, Idealog, Pulp, Groove Guide, Back2Basics, City Voice, The Press, ATM (UK) and Red Bull Daily Notes (Spain).
On Friday the 30th of November, he will be playing music from 9-11 pm at Pickle Eating House & Bar in Wellington. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – SJD, Elastic Wasteland: SJD (Government Name: Sean James Donnelly) is recognised by many as one of New Zealand’s finest folkloric songwriters. Poetic and concise, his lyrics are always perfectly poised. His melodies sweet, yet never junk food sugary. SJD is also an impressively talented electronic music producer. On Elastic Wasteland, his finds a sublime sweet spot between these two impulses, reminding us they can live together in splendid harmony. Track 3, Empty World is an amazing ode to loss, stretched across what might as well be a distorted southern hip-hop backing bed. Track six, Jumping Over Fences sees him making drum machine heavy vocoder funk his own. These are the sort of things I always wished SJD would do, but never really expected. Desolate yet hopeful, Elastic Wasteland is a master work from a true artisan.
2 – Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city: Subtitled “a short film by Kendrick Lamar”, good kid, m.A.A.d city is a wonderful meditation on growing up one foot on either side of the proverbial railroad tracks in the storied city of Compton. In terms of ideas, technical skill, general creativity and aesthetics, Kendrick Lamar might just be the greatest rapper of his generation. Having run rings around the opposition on his 2011 independent album Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d city sees him working with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath imprint and parent company Interscope. Stunningly, despite major label investment, he still managed to make an impressively dense and introspective work, which somehow still sold 242,000 copies in America in its first week. An embarrassment of riches, good kid, m.A.A.d city reveals more with every listen.
3 – Seu Jorge, The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions: A confession: I own every Wes Anderson movie ever on DVD, and virtually always agree with the music utilized in the soundtracks. Getting Brazilian singer/songwriter Seu Jorge to acoustically cover David Bowie songs for The Life Aquatic was a great idea. Even better was releasing the full sessions as an accompanying album. I think the best thing about it is the way Jorge focused on maintaining the original melodies, as opposed to a direct lyrical translation from English to Portuguese. Bowie put it best in the liner notes, “Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs acoustically in Portuguese I would have never heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.”
4 – Future, Pluto: Pluto is my favourite album of 2012. Inversely, it’s also the record I’m the most likely to completely infuriate people I know in New Zealand by playing. The younger cousin of Organized Noise’s Rico Wade (one of the key producers behind Dungeon Family acts Outkast and Goodie Mob), Future continues the afrofuturistic of the aforementioned ATLlien hip-hop artists, pushing their space funk into a sleek, chrome-plated space. A rapper who spends more time singing than actually rapping, Future makes heavy use of auto-tune to create a mutated otherworldly aesthetic which places more importance on tone, texture and shape than content. As a result, for fans of dusty sample based beats, and dense metaphor heavy New York rap styles, it’s literally hell. For those who can connect with the sonic experimentation, walking on the surface of Pluto with Future is pretty special. Key cuts include, Turn On The Lights, Neva End and Truth Gonna Hurt You, all produced by the mercurial Mike Will Made It.
5 – Reynosa, Cariñito/Caballeras: This isn’t an album. Actually, it’s barely even an EP, just two songs available as a 7″ vinyl single or a digital download folder. Reynosa is a three piece from Portland, Oregon. Rooted in a guitar driven DIY punk rock ethos, they season it with psychedelic Cumbia rhythms and female Spanish language harmonies. Both of the songs on the record have a really cool vibe, one that sits somewhere between ancient futurism meets highway speed soundtrack chase rock. M’Lady’s Records released the 7″. If you like what you hear you should check out the rest of their catalogue, they got a lot of special bands on the roster.