Nik Jarvie-Waldrom is the lead singer of The Good Words. The band recently released its Shadow Play EP. The next gig for The Good Words is Friday, November 9 at The Southern Cross, Wellington, from 10pm. Here are five albums she’s loving right now…
1 – Ghostface Killah, Apollo Kids: There was a time when I thought Wu-Tang Clan and Cypress Hill were the same band. As a lover of hip hop this is pretty shameful, but I don’t care. Music usually makes its way to me through friends’ recommendations, or I cave in and investigate when heaps of people on the internet seem to be into something (warning – this can be a very unreliable method of music discovery) so I’m used to arriving at awesome things a lot later than the early adopters. I’m going through a Wu-Tang discovery phase at the moment, and a delightful spin off of this is learning about the brilliance of Ghostface Killah. Apollo Kids is not a new album (released in 2010) but it’s new to me and I am digging it hard. There is a sense of whimsy amongst the talk of cutting off people’s fingers and sending them to their mothers. I like a man who raps about drinking jasmine tea with Mandela mere moments after spouting some bad-ass gangsta shit. Some gorgeous old-school soul melodies are sampled too. Apollo Kids is solid. Get into it.
2 – Polica, Give You the Ghost: I usually avoid bands with vocals that are heavily treated, but I make an exception for Polica’s singer Channy Leaneagh. You can hear that her voice could stand on its own and the machine-like layers are not intended to hide anything – rather they are a part of the band’s whole sound. The rhythm of this album is relentless. Perhaps due to the band’s two drummers, who are sometimes delicously together and other times interestingly flammy. I am more impressed by Polica than I have been by any music in a while. This may just be a right now thing, but then this is supposed to be about albums I’m digging now – so there you have it. Lay Your Cards Out and Wandering Star are standout tracks.
3 – Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself: Andrew Bird is another musician I’m only just learning about, but woah – what a man. This album is the first of his I’ve had the pleasure of hearing from beginning to end, and I’m becoming rather obsessed. Break It Yourself doesn’t ask much from the listener aside from the willingness to follow along. Bird’s songwriting reminds me a little of The Smiths, in how he manages to make light of tragic situations without really passing judgement. He shows us sorrow but doesn’t require us to carry its weight. The music itself is a joy. Bright strings, shuffling rhythms, layered harmonies. I can’t pick out my favourite tracks. It’s all phenomenal – and that is not a word I use carelessly. I do always smile when I hear Near Death Experience Experience, which recommends dancing like a cancer survivor.
4 – Tedeschi Trucks Band, Revelator: The Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks partnership is making me question whether perhaps I truly do like blues rock. They wail. She with her voice and he on his guitar. If you want to know whether you like this album just listen to the first track – Come See About Me. It’s pretty representative of the band’s sound. Midnight In Harlem is also a gorgeous example of the warmth of Tedeschi’s voice and tastefulness of Trucks’ playing. The Tedeschi Trucks Band make accessible music, which might sound like a simple enough thing to do, but they bring a bit of grit and guts to it. If your dad thinks all modern music is noisy crap, introduce him to the Tedeschi Trucks Band. I predict I’ll grow tired of this album in time, as it gets a bit samey toward the end, but for now it’s bringing some satisfying groove.
5 – Bad Blocks, South City Sushi Cop: Bad Blocks by South City Sushi Cop is a good time. It’s lush electronic dance music laced with wide vocal melodies and beats that make it hard to stay still. Bad Blocks is the duo’s debut EP and I’m really excited to hear whatever comes next. Dan Neeve’s choice to sing in his own unaffected and clearly New Zealand-accented voice is a bold one, and it pays off. His earthy tone and catchy hooks sit nicely in a wash of layered lasers, ambient chimes and shifting rhythms. There is something cheeky and sneaky about this music that catches me off guard. I use this EP as an energy injection when I’m feeling lazy or want to dance like I’m at a robot disco in a rainforest.