21 Jan 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

Gig Review: Panic! At The Disco @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 16/10/2018
18 Oct 2018 // by Trevor Faville
The backstory of Panic! At the Disco makes for some interesting questions when going to this show.
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Holly Arrowsmith - Album Review: A Dawn I Remember
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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Simon Hirst - Album Review: Feet of God
02 Apr 2018 // by Trevor Faville
This is not quite the first release from Hamilton based artist Simon Hirst. Preceding Feet of God have been two EP’s, Shining in Silver from 2017, and the online-only The Cats Out of the Bag which as well as containing alternative versions of some of the Feet of God tracks, functions as quite an important companion piece.
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Streakers - Single Review: BDSM
05 Mar 2018 // by Trevor Faville
BDSM is a solid first release from New Brighton based three-piece Streakers. For a debut recorded effort, this tune has the focus, clarity, and impact that plainly reflects a fair amount of ‘quality time’, the kind of time spent playing live and allowing a sound to develop.
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Album Review: Waiuku College Music Presents - Our Sound Volume 1
01 Dec 2017 // by Trevor Faville
This collection of songs from students at Waiuku College is an example of a new sensibility in music education, motivated by perceptions of industry realities and recognising the strengths and influences of the students themselves. At its best, this makes for an exciting situation where fresh musical energy and ideas grab hold of traditional knowledge benefiting both.
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A Girl Named Mo - Album Review: Platonic/Romantic (Live At Bats)
05 Jan 2017 // by Trevor Faville
This is the first full outing from the Wellington ‘electronic R’n’B’ combo of Moana Ete, Slade Butler and Marcus Gurtner. Those familiar with the latest Fly My Pretties excursion will recognise the distinctive voice that sings Mud & Stardust, a version of which is presented here in quite a different frame.
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Fly My Pretties - Album Review: String Theory
20 Nov 2016 // by Trevor Faville
Welcome to the 6th recorded excursion from Barnaby Weir's occasional collective who have certainly become something of a fixture for New Zealand music since 2004. Fly My Pretties is an idea that has proved to have real legs, and not one that is showing any signs of losing momentum.
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Avalanche City - Our New Life Above Ground Album Review
07 May 2011 // by Trevor Faville
Avalanche City - Our New Life Above The Ground It’s a great story this… musician Dave Baxter, just like another famous Dave (Grohl), records an entire album by himself, said album goes viral, gets picked up by a Big Record Company, gets top ten hit. That Hit, 'Love Love Love' kicks off the album, and is a clear statement of intent, really, a mid tempo sort-of-acoustic number with a big, catchy, feel-good chorus.
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