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.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra announces NZ Tour

03:07am 20 Aug 2015


Well, here's some good news - Unknown Mortal Orchestra (aka UMO) will play four New Zealand shows in December of this year. Starting at Auckland's Powerstation (December 12) and working down through Wellington's Bodega (December 14), Allen St in Christchurch (December 15) to finish up at Chicks Hotel in Dunedin (December 16) it just might be the last great show you see this year.Multi-Love

Well, I'm excited. Unknown Mortal Orchestra has been worth seeing in the past - occasionally brilliant in fact. But now there's the latest album, so good I wrote about not just once but twice, proclaiming it the band's masterpiece; their masterwork.

Well I reckon that's the case, it's easily one of the best albums of the year.

For these four NZ shows UMO will be joined by Kiwi three-piece, Las Tetas. Tickets for the shows will be available from Monday, August 24, from 9am. The Auckland show's tickets will be available via Powerstation. So click that link to check out the info. And for the Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin shows you'll be able to visit UnderTheRadar to buy tickets (so, again, click that link for all the information).

Gig of the year potentially? What do you reckon? And if not, then what's the last great gig you plan on seeing in 2015?

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The Simon & Garfunkel anger

08:59am 19 Aug 2015


There's a very good interview with Art Garfunkel in the new issue of MOJO. I don't read the music magazines all that often these days. Not as I did. But from time to time I like to pick one, read as much of it as I can. This latest issue of the MOJO magazine is very good - well, it's been good to me. Lots of stories I'm interested in. Some good writing.

Art Garfunkel is working on an autobiography. I'd read that. He's infuriating. Intense. And he has that most horrific of bad habits, lapsing into third-person, discussing himself as Art and Artie, as Art Garfunkel. But he is bright. And passionate. And there's a body of work. And the other reason I'd read it is because I am fascinated by his anger towards Paul Simon; by their relationship. 'Old' Friends

I love Simon & Garfunkel. I love a lot of their music. I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't, or couldn't. But hey, that's me. I love a lot of Paul Simon's solo music - and I'm not that fussed with Artie's solo records. But that doesn't mean I haven't collected them up.

A few years ago now, more than a decade ago actually, I saw a very good Art Garfunkel solo show. I wasn't expecting it could be that good - killer band, great setlist and Mr Garfunkel was in good voice. Better - far better - than when I saw the Simon & Garfunkel reunion a few years later.

This interview in MOJO address the voice concerns. Talks about his film career, the solo records and the Simon & Garfunkel catalogue and reunions.

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Right This Blog! (again) 2015

09:31am 18 Aug 2015


A couple of times a year I open this up to you - I ask you to not only write this blog but it's your chance to correct it; to write about what you think should have been covered, to write it as you see it - it is your chance, then, to Right This Blog!

We've done it once for the year already and now it's time for expressions of interest for the second, final round for the year.

You might want to write the definitive account of why Devilskin reserves a chance, you might be able to write kinder things than me about the new TrinityRoots album or you might want to just take this blog down a different path, head out on a stroll in a new direction.

Sure, sure, you can see it as a week off for me, but I'll still be editing, posting the guest blogs. I do this as much in the interests of fairness, and a chance for anyone to put across what's on their mind in more than just a comment-sized expression. A change of voice.Push The Button

Your favourite album has probably never been mentioned - since it belongs to you and not me. Your best gig, the worst gig you saw, the experience you had road-tripping with Midnight Oil or Dillinger Escape Plan or Fur Patrol or Metallica on the stereo perhaps...your conversion to the world of files and clicks and drags over beer-stained LP covers and broken CD cases...your time in that great band that never made it, or simply watching that great band you were sure more people should know about.

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That time you couldn't stay at the gig

11:58am 17 Aug 2015


It's a bit rich, as far as complaints go - "I had to leave this one free gig so I could go to another free gig". But I was thinking about this just the other day, reminiscing about how the one time I would have most loved to see Lawrence Arabia it was cut short by having to see The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

I liked the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble on record, but live it was a clusterf**k of  "like us on Facebook" shoutouts and big parping, brassy jams. It wasn't what I wanted on a Sunday night. What I wanted on that particular Sunday night was to see James Milne play his fantastic new album, The Sparrow, live with a full string-section. Live in the Opera House with a great band. That's what I wanted.

But it was a clash of schedules. I saw just a few songs by the Lawrence Arabia band and then had to bail. 

I've seen Milne in a variety of context and will continue to see him whenever I can - anytime he's in the town where I live and I'm available to get there I will go. I like his music and I like that each time, presentation-wise, it's just a little different. But the gig I really wanted to see was that Sparrow album-launch one. I still think, now and then, about what a bummer that was. I could tell - with just the hint of the gig that I saw - that it was going to be a special one. Not something that would ever be repeated. The Sparrow - live

But, as I say, in the scheme of things - it's not all that bad. I've missed a few gigs over the years, been denied entry, or not had the money to get along, but in most cases those were decisions I've made, or had made for me.

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The Phantom Billstickers Café Reader

10:55am 14 Aug 2015


Those forward-thinking folk over at Phantom Billstickers came up with the idea, a while back, to make up something called The Café Reader; not your usual free flyer, something of an alternative literary journal.Vol.1

But the clue is in the title - it is about offering up something for you to read over your coffee; pick it up and take it with you.

The magazine has evolved over its half-dozen entries so far and even though I was very proud to have some work in the first three issues - that just couldn't kill the momentum of this arts journal. It's gone from strength to strength and though you could narrowly explain it as having poems and short stories it also features artwork, interviews, travel writing and non-fiction narratives including memoir-snippets.

Before Dave McArtney's posthumous memoir was released the Phantom Billstickers Café Reader posted an exclusive extract.

And music is a huge focus - music, music writing, the creative pursuits of musicians.  Some of New Zealand's great outsider-artists and writers have been involved in this ongoing project. Some of our best writers.

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