We took Chef Du Plunge out to Te Papa after the vege markets today, and what a day for it. With Matariki on there was a concert party on and a great many kuia and koro out there, for want of a better description, raising hell. Naturally it was in the genteel manner appropriate to the older among us.

The move to the suburbs has been an interesting one, mostly due to the broadened age range we now find ourselves exposed to. The other week I was in line at the supermarket and an old chap in front of me was trying to pay for his bread and milk with his house-keys. Bewildered, and suffering a form of dementia I couldn’t label, he was gruffly and generously helped by the staff. Poor old bloke… just seeing him reminded me of my old kin, their aging, and the losses they suffer as the years advance.

It’s a strange thing the onion skins of age. Because it was through them I could see the childhood of those old women up on stage, the light of their youth shining outward, the fullness of age shattered and fallen as they played out songs they have sung all their lives, their mischievous smiles and movements reflected in an audience who shared the burden of days, the trail of footsteps fallen, innumerable, each laying another measure of mortality, the fecundity of death, to blossom as the joys of a day long since buried, and remembered in this shaking hand, that nod of the head, a familiar tone, a harmony long sustained.

I noted to myself recently that I have a tendency to buy and album and listen the hell out of it. Consequently the music becomes like a scent, and the faintest tones will transport me back to a time and place.

Today’s album is likely what prompted the friend to help make me this mix tape. Back in 1990 I’d started in working in a timber mill, and it was shit. I was working with munters on a big machine that almost took all my fingers off at least once (true), and was saving the meagre wages as hard as possible to get the hell out of dodge.

Meanwhile, I was listening to a crappy old walkman turned up to 11, giving myself the iPod deafness 20 years too early. With this, rocking*, number.

Yup. Crapness.

But I think what it did was start to instil some political consciousness. It had always been there, but this one was another angle on it. And it was better that listening to Metallica…

Now I think of it, there was something of a line from listening to early Midnight Oil, to this, and I therefore feel redeemed.

*not actually rocking

The other day I was discussing the date around which Mount Maunganui finally got FM radio. It turns out it was 1984.

And with that marvel of the modern age we got… Led Zeppelin, loads of Phil Collins, and these guys.

There’s a chance I actually bought this album when I got back from the US, sometime around late ’89 or early ’90.

Either way, looking back. It is both catchy AND bloody awful. That FM brought conformity and more to our small town. Better than endless Meatloaf though.

I think I was introduced to The Cure via The Kiss in ’86? Although the album is lost in the mists of time, it was a big hit at our place. I bought a fair few more Cure albums, but the one that I mostly strongly associated with was this one:

Those haunting eyes on Fat Robbie… so, you know, “haunted”.

Anyhow, I took to listening to this tape in 1988 while on student exhange. My friends there were all New Wavers, and an album like this just made me fit right in.

Sad really.

Oh, favourite song? Fascination Street.

It must have been ’87 when I was first introduced to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Some friends had the video playing, and to a disaffected youth it was awwwwwesome. A lot of Floyd I didn’t really get into, but I loved this tape.

Liking Floyd in the age of  godawful big hair rock, surf rock, and the dregs of the 7os, distinguished me to the degree I wanted, I think.

The last mix tape I found in the tape box I found in the top of the cupboard dates from 1999, conveniently, last millenia!

When I first moved to Melbourne I made the extremely stupid idea of living in a halls of residence, and turned out to be one of the seedy old geezers living in an ocean of freshers. The upside was that the accommodation had cheap bills, and I was on a limited income from a scholarship. The downside was the ocean of freshers continuously running, yelling, puking, running, yelling, puking.

Luckily I was living in a separate dwelling (read: house) with two other “adult students”, and even more luckily there was a raft of other older students in the form of international types in Melbourne to study. A few of us formed a drinking circle that still stays in contact though we’ve long since given up boozing and have settled down to lives of domesticity.

One day while discussing music with a Japanese student she wanted to make me up a tape of “not popular” Japanese music. It turns out that “not popular” translates well into “alternative”. And whaddya know, that’s my favourite kind.

Note the unconventional arrangement of songs on this side of the case liner, with bands on the other side, thusly.

Naturally this made for endless flipping backwards and forwards trying to figure out which track meant which artist.

Ah, what larks.

Actually, Slice of Heaven isn’t on this one.

Back in late 1989 I was mooching about wondering what in the heck to do. I’d been back from the US for awhile, and was at a bit of a dead end.

One day I hitched down to Rotorua to catch up with a mate, an he said, “You need some decent sounds, that’ll help you while you think.”

So we made this tape, full of classic New Zealand tunes.

If you’re interested, you can download some of these bands here.

I think the two Boogadagas songs were Einstein, and PetrolHead.

I’ve been wanting to review this one for a while, but have been put off by the assorted ra-ra cheerleading that’s been happening on the radio. In case you’re the only person in New Zealand who hasn’t heard of the album, it’s a collaboration between a number of notable Wellington musicians, and well worth the cover price.

As I say, I’ve been wanting to talk about it, and have only been finally prompted to because the first song on the album, Hey You (sung by Jess Chambers) happens to be Chef Du Plunge’s favourite song. I pop him up in his wee bouncinette, possibly the best invention in child-care, ever, and sing along flat and out of key. CDP obliges by smiling and saying “aaa-gooo” a lot, with the occasional squeal. And only to this song, which is nice.

The Woolshed Sessions has been on high rotation here at the Dart launching pad since before Christmas, and if I had to review it in only two words? Those words would be ‘perfect diction”. Most of the singers, excepting Age Pryor and his distinctive lisp, seem to have been schooled far, far from dirty, dirty rock and roll, and pronounce all their words very carefully. Problematically, once I realised this I listened to the album just to try hearing someone use bad grammar… But they seem not to, even when one would normally slip a word in to balance out an otherwise questionable rhyme.

This non-criticism aside, the album has the feel of all great retreat albums, such as Rumours (but without the infighting and angst), where the album itself is insular and unpacked out of the feel of the retreat itself. You can feel how the writers have explored their own backgrounds, concerns, and roots to pull together songs that reflect not only the place they’ve recorded, a woolshed converted to bach in Golden Bay, but the effects of that place on their understanding of themselves.

The result is a set of extremely poignant songs huddled among ideas seemingly brought out of Wellington and aired. Consequently you have what I’m assuming is such a song in the form of Waterfall adjacent to Stringing Me Along, the former of which has the feel of the country about it, while the latter is what I can only describe as ‘Parisian’ (actually a few of the songs have that feel, kind of ‘jaunty’).

In a way, the album very much reveals an ethos you can only describe as hippy, examples being Sun Song and I’d Take You With Me with a blend of and bluegrass mixed in with more exotic noises. Such as the nose flutes, which you really should listen for.

(Picture lifted of Age Pryor‘s flickr stream)

Some days at work are just, like this…

But then on the other hand, this is Ian Svenonius reading from The Psychic Soviet.

There you go. Feeling normal by comparison.

Pretty much as soon as this film had kicked off I knew that I recognised the voice of the main guy. I’ve got two albums by The Frames, and have been a fan since listening to Glen Hansard do an interview on 3RRR in Melbourne.

Once is a romance between two musically talented, like-minded down-and-outers in Dublin, Ireland. It starts with their early encounters, and progresses as they hang out together and get to know one another, their families, and their backgrounds.

It’s a charming film, and a must-see if you’re a fan of music. But… be warned. If you suffer any kind of vertigo or motion-sickness in cinemas (as in Cloverfield), then you’d best be careful about the extensive use of handycam.

On the other hand, it’s the low-budget handycam work that makes Once so delightful. Like other dogma-influenced films Once works itself around the characters themselves and forgoes any pretension to special effects. This is a film first and foremost about the development of a love between two well-suited but hamstrung people.

And I’ll leave it there.

Probably the only thing left to say is that the music is very, very like everything else The Frames have produced. So much so that when I got home I put “For the Birds” on, and it was like the film had never ended. Not that that would be a bad thing.

PS. And in fact, some of the songs from Once are on “The Cost”, their 2006 album.

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