While people are familiar with the likes of Lorde, Flight of the Conchords, and The Naked and Famous and the fabulous label Flying Nun, the New Zealand indie music scene is flourishing. Artists such as The Phoenix Foundation, Nadia Reid, and Salad Boys are making names for themselves overseas. So who will be among the next wave of Kiwi musicians to strike a chord with audiences in North America and Europe?
Last Saturday night at Wellington’s newest live-music venue, Caroline presented three possibilities – Pales, Paperghost, and night pilot. Each artist / band was different, showcasing the diversity of talent in the coolest little capital on the world.
The evening started with night pilot, the project of Hannah Brewer. If you recognize the name, it is because her single “Hotel” caught our attention last month. Joined by her friend and fellow guitarist Callum Lee, night pilot serenaded the audience with her introspective stories and a voice that will melt your heart. Her brooding but beautiful folk-pop is a blend of Alvvays meets Sharon Van Etten and akin to two hidden gems we admire, Grace Joyner and DOE EYE. From her spectacular “Hotel” to the intimate and breathtaking “To Be Young”, night pilot’s short set was engrossing. The young artist is a talent with huge potential. It is now just a matter of getting the word out.
We, at The Revue, don’t cover much in the experimental-pop / electronic realm, but Paperghost‘s sset was pretty amazing. Using an array of instruments and gadgets – violin, synthesizer, guitar, and a couple of small devices – that were looped into his MacBook, Paperghost created songs that were sensual and relaxing yet all the while confounding, which is a good thing. His gig felt like a live art installation at the Guggenheim in New York City, where the complexity of sounds and textures stirred various emotions. Think Thom Yorke’s solo work meets Toro y Moi meets Julianna Barwick, although this description doesn’t do Paperghost justice.
The final band to grace the Caroline stage was Pales, who are not your typical band. Their sound could be best described as experimental alt-folk with oft-kilter arrangements and a brooding yet enchanting style. What stood out, though, was the storytelling, which had a mythical quality that is akin to Radical Face.
Their eight-song set contained songs mostly from their latest album, Don’t Be So Nice (hear it on SoundCloud or purchase it here). The band’s main composition consists of Rose Blake (banjo/vocals), Scott Maynad (guitar/vocals), and Mike Isaacs (synth/keys/vocals). Tonight, however, they were joined by Cory Champion (drums) and James Paul (second guitar), and their additions brought to life the album’s songs and further the mystic and enchantment of their songs.
“Lung” was an interesting opener that was largely instrumental with light vocals, but it provided the perfect opening to the melodic, freak-folk tune “Black Lung”. The two songs set the tone for the rest of the night. “4 Note Dance”, “Nolovomine”, and “Hag and Fiend” maintained the fairy tale-like atmosphere. Pales’ set ended on a high note with their 2013 single, “Bright Parades”, which saw Isaacs take the lead on vocals for the first time. The song was the closest thing to an anthem, and it provided a great ending to a fine evening of terrific music.
Note: Unfortunately, I’m such a poor live music photographer that there aren’t any photos to share.
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