Words by Amanda Ratcliffe
What do Anika Moa, Weta and Fat Freddy’s Drop all have in common? Would you be surprised if I said rock? Probably, but I’m not making it up, people… I could never tell a lie like that to your sweet innocent faces.
The band is Cairo Knife Fight which was lovingly developed by Mr Nick Gaffaney of Goldenhorse, Dimmer and Hollie Smith fame – not to forget a couple of the others listed above. Add into the mix Mr Aaron Tokona of Weta, and you’ve got one of New Zealand’s most unique and bangin’ live acts.
Why so unique, and why so bangin’? Imagine the drummer getting centre stage for a change. Doing his thing up the front, all while producing outstanding vocals that even Brandon Flowers would be envious of. That’s Cairo Knife Fight, and this is the now duo’s self-titled debut EP.
Long-time listeners will be aware of Iron – their first album, which was released in 2009. It was brought to our ears with a couple of other members who have since gone on to focus on other projects, leaving Gaffaney and Tokona to experiment with the unexpected. Their new EP comes with a sound and show that is as Jem would say, truly truly truly outrageous.
Describing their sound as “rock with beats and bass”, Big Face is just that. With nearly a two minute guitar-heavy intro, I was expecting some raw and grotty vocals – which is kinda’ nice when it’s done right. But much to the delight of my delicate Saturday morning ears, Gaffaney turns it around with devilishly sweet vocals surely inspired by Matthew Bellamey of Muse.
Believing that “the music is as important as the melody and lyrics”, it’s obvious that these lads aren’t just saying that to keep ‘the people’ happy. This Is Love is the perfect example of such a statement with a precise mix of danceable beats and vocals that had the band noticed by Them Crooked Vultures earlier in the year - gaining them an opening spot at their NZ shows.
Now, if you’re a fan of Dimmer, you’ll most likely enjoy All I Ever Wanted, which boasts that familiar rock sound from Aotearoa. The track is both easy to listen to with lyrics that are completely honest like “All I ever wanted was you, but you made it so hard”.
Last track on the 25 minute long disc is The Happy Couple, which feels a little more experimental at the beginning before getting down and dirty with that typical Cairo Knife Fight sound that is gaining more and more popularity by the day.
I imagine long-time fans of these guys, will be well impressed with such a ‘follow-up’ (if you can call it that) to their debut album released last year, and newbies will be both shocked and amazed that they’ve not heard of them sooner. Give it a whack.
Cairo Knife Fight began as a solo recording project for Nick Gaffaney.
It developed during the down time from Gaffaney’s day job as drummer for some of New Zealand’s most successful artists including Fat Freddy’s Drop, Anika Moa, Goldenhorse, Dimmer and Hollie Smith. Some two years on from the first jam sessions, Cairo Knife Fight is one of the country’s most unique live acts.
With their debut album ‘Iron’ to be released in July this year, New Zealand is catching on that this is a formidable mix of talents and creative energies.