Peter Baillie, when not on duty as a tiny cog in the all-encompassing machine of central government, is a songwriter and musician, plays with a variety of bands and acts as MC and coordinator for music events in Wellington. He is working on his debut album, and
confidently predicts this will be completed before the heat death of the universe. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – Plan B, Ill Manors: Not for Ben Drew the cliched braggadocio of mainstream hip hop. Ill Manors is Plan B’s most ambitious album to date, acting as the soundtrack to the accompanying film. Plan B spits pin-sharp verses as the narrator to the stories of the junkies, gangsters, whores and victims of East London. It’s telling that even his most disturbing songs betray sympathy for these poor souls. Mixing harsh beats and snarled raps with soulful vocal hooks, it’s traumatic, depressing and not in any way easy listening…but brilliant even so.
2 – Various, Don’t Fake The Funk: Yes, yes, I know it’s a compilation. Some albums are best taken in over a rainy evening with a nice single malt. This album lives in my
car, because it turns ANY journey into a joy ride. This is a quality mix by people who really know their funk, covering the 70s and 80s by way of the Commodores, Zapp, Rick James, The Jackson 5…by the time I get to Give Up The Funk by Parliament, I’m unsafe to be on the road. Watch out for a small white car this summer with the windows down, swerving in time to the bass.
3 – Vorn, Down For It: Vorn Colgan is a certifiable musical genius, as well as a friend. I
rate him as the best songwriter living in Wellington today. Prolific as hell, Vorn never rests on his laurels, but builds something new with every album. Down For It takes in fucked up blues, beautiful ballads, dirty funk, pointy pop and haunting psychedelia…and that’s
just the first five tracks. He is the anti-feelers: ignored by the mainstream and totally brilliant. The live shows with his very talented band are a mix of high drama, droll self-mockery, passionate musicianship and musical anarchy. See a show, buy the CD = become a
fan, just like that.
4 – Astronautalis, This Is Our Science: One of the most attractive things someone can do for you is to turn you on to a new artist. Astronautalis sounds like a cliche: middle-class white-boy rapping over blues riffs. In fact, this is a whole new level of imagination, hip-hop historical fiction if you will. Many rappers will pretend to be a gangsta, but not many will
adopt the persona of a fire-and-brimstone preacher from the 1800s. “So I keep singing you these spirituals/and pray it lifts the curse/it keeps me chasing ghosts and dreams/from funerals to birth/in reverse”. Worth multiple listens to unpick the layers of meaning.
5 – PJ Harvey, To Bring You My Love: Like the good Mr Sweetman, I loved Let England Shake the other year, but in terms of Polly’s Big Statement for me, it’s this gem. She delves into a degree of emotion that most songwriters barely scratch…despair,
lust, fatalism, loss, passion. It’s all here, and carved into arrangements that are by turns claustrophobic, glacial, or vast. I foolishly used to believe that women couldn’t play guitar like men – with technique, sure, but not the aggression of penis-substitute plank-spanking. Hearing PJ Harvey attack her instrument was a revelation for me…Long Snake Moan is the sound of a voodoo woman rending her guitar in half. Scary, sexy and beautiful all at once.