World Tour – New Zealand & Opinions on Lorde

Lorde

The Sound Opinions World Tour rolls along, making its next stop in beautiful New Zealand. Jim and Greg take a virtual trip to the other side of the world to explore the best of kiwi music, focusing on the influential jangly pop movement known as the Dunedin Sound. Plus, they review the sophomore album from New Zealand’s biggest pop star, Lorde.

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Melodrama Lorde

Melodrama

We’re kicking off our New Zealand stop of the World Tour with a new record review from the island nation’s most well-known artist-Lorde! Lorde first achieved success with her 2013 album Pure Heroine and the memorable single Royals. It’s been four years and her new record Melodrama offers a post-teenage take on young adulthood and overnight fame. Greg notes that Melodrama is at its core a singer-songwriter album, with Lorde writing some of the most innovative songs of the modern pop era. Specifically when it comes to the lyrics, Greg likes the idea that this is her loss of innocence record full of realizations about the world, and he gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees with Greg about the great songwriting and performances from Lorde, which he feels are superior to the over-production on the record by fun.’s Jack Antonoff. While he preferred Pure Heroine, Jim still thinks that Lorde is the real deal and gives Melodrama a Buy It.

New Zealand

The Clean

Lorde is just the biggest name in a long line of important musicians coming out of New Zealand. So this week, Jim and Greg fire up the jet to take the Sound Opinions World Tour to the other side of the world. As a guide, they’re joined by Wellington-based critic Nick Bollinger, host of The Sampler on Radio New Zealand and author of several books including the recent memoir Goneville.

They focus on an influential era in kiwi rock emerging in the early 1980s known as the Dunedin Sound that’s closely associated with the legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun Records. Based around the southern university city Dunedin, the Flying Nun bands drew upon early psychedelia, American garage rock, and The Velvet Underground to create a distinctive jangly guitar-based sound, much of it released on lo-fi 4-track recordings. But while the key bands like The Clean, The Chills, and The Verlaines shared an aesthetic, Nick argues that their musical approaches actually were varied. By the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the Dunedin Sound had fully evolved to incorporate the shoegaze of Bailter Space and even the dance beats of Headless Chickens.

A key part of New Zealand’s culture is its indigenous population. Maori, Samoan, and other indigenous groups make up nearly 20% of the population and have had a major impact on the island nation’s pop music. Nick traces the history of Maori music from the Hendrix-esque guitar styling of The Human Instinct to the reggae boom of the ‘70s to the embrace of hip-hop. He also makes recommendations for great contemporary kiwi artists, including singer-songwriter Aldous Harding, power-poppers Kane Strang, electro-soul artist Electric Wire Hustle, and the eclectic producer Lord Echo.

Greg

Greg recently received the 2017 reissue of Heart of the Congos, the debut album by reggae group The Congos. Initially released in 1977, the album was recorded by legendary Jamaican producer Lee Scratch Perry. Regarded by Greg as the perfect summer record, and one of the greatest reggae albums ever made, it’s no wonder that Greg’s Desert Island Jukebox pick is Children Crying. He loves the song’s restraint, as it focuses on the singers more than the studio effects typically applied by Perry, who Jim describes as the king of triple layered reverb. Perry creates a rural, lo-fi sound by having baritone Watty Burnett bellow into a cardboard tube to mimic the sound of a cow mooing. According to Greg, this psychedelic scenario, combined with the beautiful lead vocals, make it a masterpiece.

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