Song of the Week – Written In The Water

Written in the Water – Gin Wigmore

Yippee!! Gin Wigmore is back with a vengeance!!

This sassy, distinctive and mighty talented Kiwi is one hell of a song writer and her latest track Written in the Water is yet another example of this.

The track is so snappy and upbeat you want to click your fingers along to it and do some ridiculous 1920s style jive. With a tap tap tap on the piano, a deep blast on the saxophone, many trumpets blaring and a drum beat that’s hard to keep up with – the song builds up layer upon layer. As it progresses the repetition helps to pick up the tempo for the electric chorus. Gin’s famously unique voice powers over the top of this big-band style track and shines.

Written In The Water features on Gin Wigmore’s new album Blood and Bone which is due out on the 26th.

She’ll tour New Zealand the following week:

Auckland – Wednesday 1st July, King’s Arms

Wellington – Friday 3rd July, Bodega

Christchurch – Saturday 4th July, CPSA

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Concert Review: Pokey LaFarge

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Last night Pokey LaFarge and his wonderful band transported me through the ages. He turned a dark and dingy little pubinto a glowing musical oasis with his old-time sounding songs that had the power to enforce a smile on ones face and start a foot-tap it’s impossible to stop. I checked out the singer-songwriter in an intimate gig at Bodega in Wellington and LaFarge was so good, he even made it worth missing half of the Cricket World Cup final.

The St. Louis musician burst on stage with his band kicking things off in a lively fashion with a couple of tracks from his new album Something In The Water. Both Knocking The Dust Off The Rust Belt Tonight and Underground went down a treat among an audience of big fans, everyone was whooping and moving from the get go.

Straight off the bat Pokey was cracking hilarious jokes and feeding off every comment from an audience member with silly gags that went down a treat. His banter provided a lovely base for the fun and bouncy songs we were set to hear.

The set Pokey LaFarge, real name Andrew Heissler, played last night was a wonderful mix of old and new, slow and upbeat. The well-known foot-stomping tunes like Central Time and Close The Door were show highlights with a real blues and country sound shining through. Every word was echoed as Pokey lead the crowd in an impressively in tune and in time singalong. New album tracks Something In The Water, Goodbye, Barcelona and The Spark showcased his latest direction wonderfully and stood up next to the old favourites. In these tracks he displayed different tones in his voice and mixed up the tempo in a vibrant manner.

Pokey LaFarge’s band deserves a lot of credit for managing to steal everyone’s attention from the compelling front man on regular occasions. Pokey is a star, that’s easy to tell, but what a crew of musicians he has to back him up! The amazing artists who are all true heroes in their instruments, regularly moved me to a mouth-drop, wide-open moment.

Adam Hoskins is a force on the guitar picking the most beautiful solos like he could do it with his eyes closed. Not only that but his low-humming backing vocals gave much needed oomph to some of the songs. Ryan Koenig is the best harmonica player I’ve ever seen on stage, he blew me away every time he lifted it to his lips. Add into the mix his amazing washboard, complete with a silver desk bell and playing gloves, and he’s a force to be reckoned with. Joey Glynn’s work on the double bass kept a stylish rhythm. But it doesn’t stop there, TJ Muller on trumpet made me feel like I was living in the 1920s with his blaring solos played with incredible accuracy and Chloe Feoranzo added to that effect with her stunning work on the clarinet and saxophone.

Lets Get Lost, which was sung in a lovely duet with sexy-voiced Feoranzo who finally stepped out of the corner she was hidden in for most of the show, and Far Away gave us a dose of LaFarge’s softer songs without losing the energy he’d built during the feistier offerings.

But by far the highlight of the night was when Pokey LaFarge burst back onstage for an encore. Gone was the rhine-stone bowtie; donned was a Black Caps shirt (buttoned right up) and a batting helmet. The crowd, who had been checking their phones for cricket scores throughout the gig, was enthralled. It was hilarious watching him bound across the stage, swinging a cricket bat and trying to sing into the microphone without getting the helmet caught on it. What a fantastic and thought-out touch.

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Pokey and his crew wrapped things up with a grand version of La La Blues, thankfully featuring another brilliant harmonica solo from Koenig. It was the ultimate way to finish what was an incredible concert.

Pokey LaFarge promised onstage three times that he’d be back in Wellington again next year. I’ll be there and I highly recommend you are too.

Boy and Bear Brings Bodega to Life

Boy and Bear live at Bodega, Wellington.
Boy and Bear live at Bodega, Wellington.

Last night I headed along to Bodega to check out Australian indie rock-folk band Boy and Bear. These boys took over the place as soon as they walked on stage, they were charming performers with a stunning grasp on how to make good music and the crowd was sucked right in.

Boy and Bear plays a wonderful mix of sounds with perfection. The first section of their performance really showcased their rock sound. Tracks like Bridges and Rabbit Song had the dingy Bodega reverberating with a newfound energy. With impressive bass lines, intensive drum beats and twanging electric guitar the songs came alive on stage and for I second I forgot about the folk influence I usually associate with the group.

But that was soon fixed with tracks like Milk and Sticks and Harlequin Dream. In songs such as this, front man Dave Hosking shone. He was a confident performer, something I didn’t expect after reading an article that said he gets nervous on stage. His interaction with the audience was so refreshingly modest it made me smile the whole way through and I wished I was one of the lucky few right near the front of stage. He laughed about how close the crowd was to him as he talked to them in breaks between songs and even use ones phone to take a video of the band on stage during a song.

The group seemed ever so humble, they were obviously happy to be getting such a great response and it was really cool to see them acknowledge that without the arrogance we get from many artists these days.

The other element to their show was the softer more vocal focused songs. I had plenty of ‘close your eyes and soak it in’ moments during songs like A Moment’s Grace and Lordy May. The banjo came out, the tempo was slowed down and the group sang exquisitely. When all five of them sing together it has a chilling effect. The different tones in each of their voices compliment each other perfectly. It’s a real joy to hear five men sing in unison and Boy and Bear do it unbelievably well. When teamed up with their rock and folk influenced tracks and captivating lyrics it creates such a compelling sound.

Their magic is made even better thanks to electric guitarist Killian Gavin. What are already great songs become brilliant songs thanks to his fresh riffs and jaw-dropping blues-influence. Three Headed Woman took on a new life as Gavin busted out a grungy and energetic solo. When layered with harmonies it was truly glorious.

The lead single off their latest album Harlequin Dream was an obvious crowd favourite. As the band cranked into Southern Sun there wasn’t a face in the room without a smile on it. Everyone was clapping, dancing and singing along to the catchy folk tune.

But the real climax of the show came right in the middle of their set when they played their well-known cover of Crowded House anthem Fall At Your Feet. It was sung beautifully with a magnificent use of silence, pace and rhythm. Hosking’s vocals shone on their own only to be backed up with a spine-tingling quality when the others harmonized with him in the chorus. The song would’ve been an easy highlight of the concert on its own but the band managed to go one better when they unexpectedly but smoothly mashed it up with Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. They did it so elegantly that I think half the people in the crowd didn’t even realise the song had changed for an entire verse. It was genius.

Boy and Bear went out with a bang finishing with one of their first hits Feeding Line before taking on the softer track Big Man. It was the perfect finish to a fantastic gig to have a fast-paced rock song followed by a slowed-down more “sentimental” song as Hosking described it. Big Man was performed with a real passion which spread right across the crowd, it was a magic moment to finish on.

This band is yet to really crack the Kiwi music scene but I am confident in saying they aren’t far off. They’ve got all the star qualities and they know how to use them. A superb gig from Boy and Bear.

Song of the week – Southern Sun

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Southern Sun – Boy and Bear

A couple of weeks ago I agreed to buy tickets to a concert with a friend, I’d never heard of the band before but the Aussie group came highly recommended. Now, after some serious listening, I’m ever so grateful that I get to see this group live. The band is of course Boy and Bear, the indie folk-rock group hailing from Sydney.

Southern Sun is the song that’s really taken my fancy during my investigation, it’s a stunning track with all the trademarks of an indie hit. The intro is a tease that’s so different from what’s to come. It’s a slowed down, echoey melody with a sound similar to Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal. It’s attention grabbing without a doubt and for that reason it leads perfectly into the main sound of the track which has a bouncy, toe-tap-inducing quality that we’ve all come to love in this popular indie-folk sound conquering music charts today. The tune has elements of Crowded House (in fact, they actually recorded a cover of Fall at Your Feet for an album dedicated to the Finn brothers – check it out, it’s awesome) and Mumford and Sons, with a perfect combination of catchy lyrics and an effective layer of instruments.

It starts with a simple, upbeat accoustic guitar strum, but it’s not long before a grungy reptitive electric guitar hook comes across on top of the riff, adding a groovy quality. Next comes quality backing vocals which add a crowd pleasing ‘aaaaaaaah’ singalong through the chorus and pick things up a notch. Singer Dave Hosking has a fantastic sound, he dominates each verse with his distinctive, gravelly vocals and is complimented perfectly by the band behind him.

Southern Sun is a tremendous song, I’m amazed it hasn’t been picked up for airplay here in NZ. So simple yet effective. It’s the first single from their album Harlequin Dream which was released a year ago and quickly climbed into 7th place on Triple J’s Top 10 albums of 2013 poll. Rightly so, this is a fantastic band with a long way to go in their career. I can’t wait to see them play Bodega in Wellington next month.