Brendan Smyth is the NZ Music Manager at broadcast funding agency, NZ On Air. He has been at NZ On Air since 1989 and before that, he was 10 years doing the music job at the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. So… he’s an old bugger, alright… ! He’s lucky because in his job he gets to hear a lot of music. New music. New Zealand music. That’s pretty much all he listens to. New Zealand music. (And Leonard Cohen). He’s happy about that because there’s lot of New Zealand music that he loves. When he wants to learn a new record, or needs to, or when he falls in love with a new record, he takes it to the car. The Toyota Corolla. Here are five albums – from the Toyota Corolla – that he’s loving right now…
1 – Delaney Davidson & Marlon Williams, Sad But True (The Secret History of Country Music Songwriting Volume 1): I was lucky to be in Christchurch for the Sad But True album launch. In The Wunderbar in battered Lyttelton. A magic moment. Marlon did Leah, which was more magic. Sad But True is on the highest rotate in the Corolla at the moment. I always turn it up to 10 for Bloodletter.
2 – Lydia Col, Me & Moon: I remember Hibernate from a New Recording Artist funding round ages ago. But it was Love & Loss & Love that really got me hooked. I loved the EP and I love Me & Moon. I saw Neil Finn at a Lydia Cole showcase at The Classic in Queen Street and so I’m not alone.
3 – Aaradhna, Treble & Reverb: Tamla Motown was a big part of my music education and so of course I love Treble & Reverb (just as I loved the under-rated Opensouls’ record, Standing In The Rain). I knew Aaradhna as a 17-year old at the top of the charts and it’s wonderful to have her back so emphatically. The Treble & Reverb songs are so bittersweet… and funny. We showcased Aaradhna on her return at Back Beat in July. Just her and a guitarist, a brave call for an industry showcase but she silenced the room and there wasn’t a dry eye.
4 – The Veils, Time Stays, We Go: I’m lucky because sometimes I get a sneak peek. The Veils’ next album is out in April, I think, and I am learning it. Finn Andrews can do no wrong in my book. I bought The Runaway Found because of the car on the cover but I was rapt. The Veils at a Pavement magazine issue launch at Rakinos on High Street was maybe the most moving live show I’ve ever been to. Top 10 certainly. Not a dry eye in my house. Karyn Hay reckons Finn is the Byron of New Zealand music. I love Byron.
5 – Tiny Ruins, Some Were Meant For Sea: I got so entranced by Tiny Ruins that I drove around Wellington looking for the Adelphi Apartments and Carrigafoyle. And found them and photographed them. That’s fan-dom.
(6) – Weta, Geographica: Now… in case you are thinking what a pussy with all this folky country retro arty shit, this is my all-time #1 favourite New Zealand album. One word. Majestic! Gutting that Weta couldn’t sustain it but so good that Aaron lives on in Cairo Knife Fight and A Hori Buzz.
Disclaimer: If you are in a band and you are reading this and thinking “Darn … I don’t stand a chance”, fear not. I don’t have a say in who gets a grant. It’s a panel decision and it’s a majority vote. I don’t have a vote. So … you’re safe! All I would say is please make a record that makes it to my car.
Pssst … www.lorde.co.nz
Okay … I’ll go now …