21 Jul 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

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.
New Telepathics - Single Review: Life On Other Planets
27 Mar 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The New Telepathics are an Auckland based ensemble with quite an extensive recording and performing history-and a history that deserves a thorough exploration. This is a refreshingly independently minded ensemble.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
View All Articles By Trevor Faville

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