New To Me – New To You – Tiny Ruins

Name a band from New Zealand, go on I challenge you. Can’t think of any? I can’t say I blame you entirely, as English speaking nations go, New Zealand certainly seems to create less than many others; even Australia gave us Nick Cave!

Name a band from New Zealand, go on I challenge you. Can’t think of any? I can’t say I blame you entirely, as English speaking nations go, New Zealand certainly seems to create less than many others; even Australia gave us Nick Cave!

Well despite lacking the heritage of say, Canada, or the United Kingdom, there are actually some great things that have come out of New Zealand over the years, and no, not just Flight Of The Concords and Crowded House!

For starters, one for the musical theatre fans; Richard O’Brien, writer of The Rocky Horror Picture show is a kiwi! Ok, so it’s pretty much the only example of a prominent event in the history of New Zealand’s musical theatre, and it was first shown in London but come on, that’s not bad!

Though, to get back on track (this is an alternative music blog after all), there are actually a couple of decent bands from New Zealand. They do a rather great line in full blown rock and/or roll music. The Datsuns may have been a touch too indebted to AC/DC to float everyone’s boat, but Harmonic Generator is probably the greatest song ever written about a guitar pedal! The D4 made a similarly rawkus sound to The Datsuns with a bit less theatrics and slightly more tunes.

Lately NZ seems to be specialising in slightly quirky, female, pop-singers with the teenage sensation Lorde and Kimbra (aka that girl from the Gotye song that was everywhere the other year) both garnering a lot of attention and actually being quite good. Certainly they are a lot less dull than most of the singer songwriters the UK seems to be producing lately (see Adele, Ed Sheeran and Tom Odell if you’re unsure)

So maybe it’s time New Zealand were put onto the musical map, certainly if there’s as many interesting bands as Tiny Ruins hiding out there it could be worth checking.

TINY RUINS

Who?
Originally the solo project of Hollie Fullbrook, the line up has expanded to a trio. The wonderfully named Cass Basil plays the bass, and the line up is completed by drummer Alexander Freer.

What?
Intimate folk songs. They’re largely built around Hollie’s acoustic guitar and vocal, though fleshed out with double bass, and some superb brush work on the drums.

Where?
Well you might have guessed this one already but they’re from New Zealand, Auckland to be considerably more precise. They’ve spent an awful lot time touring the world lately, however they returned home to record their album in a wonderfully interesting sounding studio, The Lab in Auckland with an engineer called Tom Healy, who I can find absolutely nothing about anywhere.

When?
Formed in 2009, although their first record Some Were Meant For The Sea didn’t appear until 2011. The band confusingly then released the Haunts EP, a collection of material that was older than the album in 2011. Both came out on Australian label Spunk Records, but for their forthcoming second album they’ve signed up to Bella Union, which is always a good idea. Said album is entitled Brightly Painted One and is out on the 5th of May.

Why?
The early material recalls the intimate and heart-wrenchingly honest approach of Alela Diane, which is always brilliant. Most exciting of all though is the first snippet of the new album. “Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergardens” taking the same songwriting style but fleshing it out spectacularly with perfectly judged instrumentation. There’s a touch of Alessi’s Ark in the vocal stylings, while the song writing recalls a more accessible Trembling Bells. The press release notes the band “document the movement and stasis of life” which while a touch pretentious is actually a rather wonderful summary, there’s a real sense of movement to the bands playing.

Why Not?
Sometimes the lyrics run the risk of stumbling from honest tales into mundane observations, and the songs occasionally veer towards nice rather than brilliant. If you were being harsh previous releases have been a touch one paced, however on the evidence of what we’ve heard so far, Brightly Painted One is all set to be a stunning release, and in a year when folk seems to be slipping back out of fashion shows there’s plenty of life in the genre yet.

Tiny Ruins debut release for Bella Union, Brightly Painted One, is out May 5th. The band play an extensive tour of the UK throughout April & May, including dates with fellow New Zealander Neil Finn! They also play End Of The Road festival (hoorah)

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