18 Sep 2019
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Album Review: Waiuku College - Our Sound

09 Jan 2019 // A review by Trevor Faville

Changes in secondary education point towards project based and /or big picture learning approaches which attempts, among other things, to replicate ‘real world situations and experiences. The idea being that learning would involve many curriculum linking into a project or experience. Music, of course, is always at the forefront of educational innovation, and an example of what such a thing might look like is this release from Waiuku College, who must be something of a well-oiled machine now, following up from last year's strong effort.

It's a cast of many, under the direction and production of Head of Music Ben Ruegg, and the end result is a large serving-21 tracks- covering a range of student experience and influence. Educators take this as a given, but many might find the level of maturity something of a surprise, both in terms of musical sophistication and lyrical content. So even when the work tends toward the generic (Ms. Swift, take a bow, you are everywhere, it seems), which happens at times, those moments are far more workmanlike rather than cringeworthy.

Performances - particularly vocally - are strong, professional and feel like the work of an experienced team. If this group did a Fly My Pretties style touring revue with this material, this would a be a natural and worthwhile follow up project. A consistent factor through this collection is melodic strength, perhaps because of the dominant stylistic influences (Nashville pop-country in particular, but 90’s shoegaze /Britpop is there too-as well as more expected Hip-Hop and Dance). There is plenty of the ‘Big Chorus’ - never easy to do well-and consistently through the songs there is lyrical economy and real melodic craft. Many of these artists give a definite sense that following their output in the future would be rewarding.

This albums length and stylistic variation is either a strength or weakness depending on listener preference, and that is an unavoidable consequence given the context. Certainly, some of the contributors appear more than once - perhaps a separate release is deserved? One keeps coming back to that sense of maturity and honesty that shines through these tracks, making for musical moments of real quality here.

 

Other Reviews By Trevor Faville

Al Fraser, Sam Leamy and Neil Johnstone - Album Review: Panthalassa
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This trio of highly experienced creators (aided by an impressive cast of guest contributors) have created a suite of sonic explorations with quite clear ‘‘abstract and impressionist” intent. The attendant press notes explain in detail the scope, intent and process of this work.
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Tablefox - Single Review: Always Always
05 Sep 2019 // by Trevor Faville
Tablefox have been on a career climb since 2013, steadily building momentum with some notable live gigs and recorded work. Along the way the group has grown from three to five and their sound has evolved in scope and focus as a result.
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Albi & The Wolves - Gig Review: Albi and the Wolves @ Nivara Lounge, Hamilton - 23/08/2019
30 Aug 2019 // by Trevor Faville
There is a group of New Zealand musicians who are really putting in some time around the touring circuit at the moment. It's cliche to describe them as ‘hard working’ - that's glib and a redundancy - but certainly, the work is getting done and it is showing in terms of their successes.
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Single Review: Blue River Baby
06 Jun 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The hard working Wellington based 'electric psychedelic soul and funk rock' ensemble Blue River Baby have released their self-titled and third single as a video. Blue River Baby clearly has the same evolution as Walk of Shame and Black Yard Town.
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New Telepathics - Single Review: Life On Other Planets
27 Mar 2019 // by Trevor Faville
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Blue River Baby - Single Review: Black Yard Town
19 Feb 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The Blue River Baby band have been working and evolving in Wellington for the last two years or so, and this tune is a clear representation of the style and sound that they have developed. Black Yard Town moves through a range of tempo and dynamic changes in a funk/ soul context, with an arrangement that is in one way tight and at the same time fluid.
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Gig Review: Panic! At The Disco @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 16/10/2018
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The backstory of Panic! At the Disco makes for some interesting questions when going to this show.
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10 Jul 2018 // by Trevor Faville
Sometimes it’s good to approach writing a review for a new collection of music by listening to the music first, before reading any of the attendant press, and reviewer info. That way you listen to what you are hearing as opposed to what you are expecting.
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