Blog on the Tracks

Writer/reviewer Simon Sweetman covers music for The Dominion Post and North And South. He cares far too much about music, and the list of bands he loves is far longer than the list of groups he has shown no love.

Mick Harvey to play four NZ shows in May

11:22pm 05 May 2015


I wanted to share the news that Mick Harvey is playing a set of shows in New Zealand later this month.

Harvey has played right hand man to both Nick Cave and PJ Harvey, he was a founding member of The Boys Next Door, The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds - and he's quietly, confidently been creating an impressive solo catalogue.

As multi-instrumentalist, producer, collaborator Harvey has been a crucial presence with both PJ and Cave, many Bad Seeds fans still believe that band hasn't been as good since Mick Harvey's departure in 2009. It was the end of a partnership with Nick Cave that stretched back some 35 years.Mick Harvey and The Intoxicated Men - NZ Tour

But Mick Harvey has solo albums too. They're worth hearing - particularly 1997's Pink Elephants. And I loved his most recent, 2013's Four (Acts of Love). He's developed as a writer, but the early albums featured some very cool covers too.

He's also produced albums for Robert Forster, The Cruel Sea, his old pal Rowland S. Howard. (When I interviewed Howard he talked, lovingly, about Mick Harvey. He believed Harvey was the genius behind Nick Cave, the reason all of that music "worked"). He was also back working with PJ Harvey (no relation) for her best album, 2011's Let England Shake.

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Chasing the last drips of fame

06:53am 05 May 2015


On Sunday night I went to see Everclear perform their Sparkle and Clear album in its entirety.

I say Everclear but really I mean Art Alexikas and his latest pick-up/scratch-together band. No big issue there, Art is Everclear - always was. And even if Everclear wasn't ever really art I don't have any huge issue seeing a band with one original member if that member is the voice and writer behind the band's hits.

What was sad about this was that Art-as-Everclear was chasing whatever final fling fame was teasing. 

You wonder when people are going to give up the ghost.

On the same stage a week before I watched Ace Frehley of KISS lead his band through the motions. Actually, Ace's band was going for it. It was Ace that looked bored and out of his depth.

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I'm embarrassed to say, I've never really heard...

11:02am 04 May 2015


Roxy Music.

Maybe I've mentioned this before here. Maybe not. But I don't know all that much about Roxy Music. I've heard them, but never really listened. I arrived at them via Bryan Ferry, I knew of him first. And it was through a Ferry compilation that featured some Roxy Music tracks that I got my first taste. I like the hits. But that's really about all I know.

I own some Roxy Music albums - I know about the great musicians that passed through the band, contributed to that unique sound. But I really can't call myself a fan.

And yet I should. I want to. I know they're good. I've heard enough to like them. And to know that I should spend more time with the records. As yet, I haven't.

One of the great things about music is that you can get to it at any time. As I said here recently I've always loathed that thinking around being there the first time. I love going back to music, finding new things in it. With the passing of time you can find yourself more open to something you dismissed, or ignored, the first time around.

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Discovering Blake Mills

09:11am 01 May 2015


This is the first post for the month of May. It's also the first post on my computer. My new computer. I've been getting to know it the last week or so, I like its keyboard. It has a good feel.

I spend a lot of time with my computer. Occupational hazard. I've learned to work in cramped conditions, in stolen moments, squeezing out a blog post in a few minutes here, or staying up all hours to finally think of something...

Just over a month ago we were burgled. And it was a frightening thing - we were in the house. I lost a lot of music, my phone, my computer and as annoying as all of that was it didn't matter at all when we took a moment to consider how it could have so easily been a lot worse.

For the last six weeks or so I've juggled borrowed computers - been so grateful to friends and family - and I've had to drive to other houses to scratch out a few words here and there.

I have not missed having a phone at all. Evil things.

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Don McGlashan's Lucky Stars tour

09:07am 30 Apr 2015


Don McGlashan announced last week a nationwide tour in support of his brand new album.

This should be a pretty special set of shows. The band features guitarist Tom Rodwell and drummer/percussionist Chris O'Connor. The set - two sets, even - will feature songs by McGlashan.

I'm hoping that means we go back to The Front Lawn and there are four terrific albums from The Mutton Birds too (and, yes, Blam Blam Blam). It's a fine body of work to cherry-pick from. There are now three solo albums too. The first two albums feature some strong material and I remember seeing McGlashan in a bar half a decade ago or so, it was nearly a model setlist. I prefer his version of the Hollie Smith hit, Bathe In The River. Don has a way of selling the song that doesn't rely on faux-gospel. It has an almost country feel to it.Don McGlashan

Since then he's recorded more soundtrack work, toured with Dave Dobbyn but most significantly he's released Lucky Stars, his third solo album. That's the reason for the tour.

And it should be a nice way to get to really know this material.

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