Sounds Out Of Our Heads Into Yours...
The year of Saint John Divine, a belter of an album from SJD crowned with what may be the best live shows ever from Mr Donnelly and audio associates. The five star reviews flowed, vinyl was pressed and flogged, and all was good in the kingdom.
Plotting, planning, producing, percolating procrastinating - we've got a bit of a corker on the way.
Cup of tea and a lie down/Gone Fishing...take your pick.
After the previous year's release epidemic there was only one release on Round Trip Mars this year, and it only needed one. Entirely played, written and produced by Sean Donnelly and delving deep into the synth based music that illuminated his growing years 'Elastic Wasteland' is an album that leaves it all out there, in a truly magical way. Rather unpredictably it ended up winning the 2013 Taite Music Prize and receiving almost universal critical acclaim. Whatever next...
With productivity levels going of the chart (if there was a chart), 2011 was kicked off supremely with the insidious innovations of Scratch 22's 'Distance From View' - a lifetime's listening condensed into a blinding first salvo. The Vietnam War's self-titled album was the first the label has ever taken on in a completely finished form, there isn't a thing we would have changed anyways. It's a classic. After helping launch the career of She's So Rad, next was another devastating new signing Tourettes with his Tiger Belly opus, produced by the Vietnam War's Saan Barratt. Finally Dunedin's Haunted Love chimed in delightfully with their vocal harmony spells and Ed Cake produced synth'n'allsortsofstuff mindebending music on the transcendent Spirit Revival.
Embarking on the sort of foolish venture that hadn't been attempted since the Sideways shenanigans of the early 2000's we round the year off with a 100% exclusives, free digital comp from all corners of the stable. Jefferson Belt's sublime 'Skylurking' and Unitone HiFi's say-no-pro team up with Coco Solid 'Amateur' may have copped the most attention, but a new track from Phelps & Munro, a couple of aliased up smalltown superstars, and the rest…phew!
Heralded by a swarm of funding free, fruit filled videos and a collectable 7” featuring the weapons–grade scorching pairing of 2009’s Most Played Song on NZ Alt Radio, 'The Cupboard’s Bare’ and the RTM camps personal favouritest ‘….Of Everyone Around You’, James Duncan’s ‘Hello–Fi’ album dominated this year. Unitone HiFi and Jefferson Belt rejoined forces for the ‘Sneeze Off/ The Creeping Tings Of The Earth’ split single while The Naked And Famous slipped out the All Of This digital EP which will be their last recording for the label.
A brace of storming 7”s kicked off the busiest year yet, for the hard toiling RTMbots up at the Simplex. Jefferson Belt joined forces with a re–upped Unitone HiFi for the skankworthy ‘Gold Dust/Up To Eleven’ 45. New addition to the family The Naked and Famous chipped in with ‘Serenade/Kill The Little Black Dots’ on wax, before delivering the six–track CD smack of the ‘This Machine’ EP. That was swiftly followed by its shady companion ‘No Light’, before SJD rounded the year out dabbling his neon crayons all over the musical landscape on his 5th shockingly good album, ‘Dayglo Spectres’
SJD’s ‘Songs From A Dictaphone’ was once again warmly received by all and sundry, with songs like ‘Beautiful Haze’ and ‘I Wrote This Song For You’ leading the charge, alongside slow burners like ‘Lucifer’ and ‘Two Bodies’.
Jefferson Belt saves us from a release–free year with his mid December musical meltdown ‘Table Manners’. Don’t panic it’s organic, the fruit and veg vibes of Mr Belt are essential for a good digital diet.
‘Southern Lights’ is remixed and re–released in a ‘Pic‘n’Mix’ version with tweakology from Kid Loco, Phelps & Munro, Mood Unit, SJD himself and others. SJD’s guitarist James Duncan lets off the moody majesty and twisted sweetness of his ‘Mirror Minor’ EP, and to complete the late year frenzy International Observer shoot off a full-length dubwise broadside with the ‘All Played Out’ album.
‘Southern Lights’ from SJD wins universal acclaim from the press with almost total 5/5 star reviews, massive public support and the Tuis in the NZ Music Awards for Best Engineer and Producer.
Phelps & Munro unfurls the magnificent ‘Slowpoke’ album which would find favour in odd pockets of the globe like Norway and Japan, and rabid local fanmanship far and (very) wide.
‘Sideways Too’ is unleashed featuring five new artists and the crème de la crème of the RTM friends and fam. The labels first three albums are released in Australia through Creative Vibes.
SJD’s ‘Lost Soul Music’ heads out the gate, including the singles ‘Tree People’ and ‘A Boy’. Somewhat appropriately it scrapes into the album charts at #50 for one week, the laziest position, though it was no slouch in the end of year ‘Best Of’s. ‘Sideways’ and ‘Space Bar’ released worldwide by Different Drummer with accompanying 12”s.
The Phase 5 ‘Space Bar’ CD and Auckland artists compilation ‘Sideways’ are released simultaneously, garnering 5 star reviews, a multitude of press features and allsorts else.
The inaugural label release from Phase 5, the ‘Space Bar’ 12” picks up international play from the likes of Coldcut, Kid Loco and Thievery Corporation. ‘Box Juice’ and ‘Bag Juice’ ooze Hammond and Cheese all over the stereophonic sandwich.
Round Trip Mars founded (or stumbled upon) by Phase 5 (Angus ‘Mo Delay’ McNaughton and Stinky Jim) primarily, ostensibly and originally to release their own music, that didn’t last long.