Listening Post: Teeks/Perfume Genius/Polish Club/Harry Styles
Our weekly wrap of new music.
The Grapefruit Skies
Here's an idea. New Zealand Music Month has lost its way and original purpose. It's still a great idea but maybe should be more focused on discovery, and promoting largely unknown Kiwi artists who deserve a leg-up. Teeks, whose debut single If Only, a gloriously swaying Motown-styled classic in the making, is a case in point. His debut EP The Grapefruit Skies is one of the most original pieces of work a male New Zealand artist working within the genre of soul has produced. There's an intro and outro to bookend four tracks including the gospel-tinged redemptive Wash Over Me that signal an artist with a genuinely huge future. That's what New Zealand Music Month could be about. The Grapefruit Skies is certainly destined for one of my New Zealand albums of the year.
The fifth album from Seattle singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas, following from 2014's critically acclaimed Too Bright, No Shape is an eclectic brand of indie/alternative rock that is as bright and upbeat as it is mellow and poignant. Hadreas has a way of being intense and dramatic but not so that he's overly sentimental or self indulgent. Slip Away is a booming piece of art rock which highlights the prowess of Hadreas' superb voice. In contrast, the more singer-songwriter-esque Alan is a perfect closer which emphasises the softer side of PG's aesthetic. The overall production on No Shape is spacious and lush, an atmosphere that complements Hadreas' idiosyncratic songwriting.
(Double Trouble/ Universal)
The wheel is not reinvented on the debut LP from this Sydney two-piece, but who needs innovation when this much raw, sweaty fun is on offer? As with previous dynamic duos Black Keys and White Stripes, you're offered a soulful, howling vocalist/ guitarist (David Novak) and a hefty, no-frills drummer (John-Henry Pajak), the sound a punky retread of 60s R'n'B. Both men pledge allegiance to Stax/Motown, their soul moves refracted through a lens of their favourite garage rock bands: The Stooges and The Strokes. The punch-drunk grooves of Beat Up, Come Party and If It Was Me would slay live. Find out for yourself: Polish Club play Auckland and Wellington on June 30 and July 1.
Harry Styles may well prove to be the exception to the rule. Let's face it, aside from the outrageously talented Justin Timberlake and maybe Robbie Williams (sorry Ronan), few individuals who found fame and fortune in largely manufactured poster boy bands have managed to stand on their own two feet as original artists. Harry, though, has style. The former One Directioner's debut solo album has an uniqueness and retro glaze about it that pays, in part, homage to his classic rock influences such as Aerosmith. Stand out tune and first single Sign Of The Times (no, not Prince's original) is a haunting ballad about a mother who dies during childbirth. It's time to take Styles seriously.
- Sunday Star Times