Music with Grant Smithies
Just before strapping on his board shorts for a junket to Hawa'ii, Grant Smithies clears his desk of recent new releases, checking out the latest noises emanating from Albuquerque, Kinshasa, Baltimore and Auckland. The fourth LP from globe-trotting American Zach Condon, produced after a difficult four years involving divorce, exhaustion, writer's block and hospitalisation in Perth while touring Australia. Surprisingly upbeat, for all that. The miraculous band Mbongowana Star orbits around Coco Ngambali and Theo Nzonza - two wheelchair-bound singers from Kinshasa, Congo, who came to global attention a few years ago with a band of disabled street musicians called Staff Benda Bilili. But Mbongwana Star are an altogether more adventurous proposition, spiking traditional Congolese rhythms with lashings of post-punk guitars, textural noise and electronic effects, much of it stitched together by Irish hip-hop producer Liam Farrell. Seems like many moons since this great Auckland trio Street Chant's debut album Means was released (actually, only 2010), so it's great to hear this, the first single from their second album Hauora due in November. The fifth studio album from the Baltimore duo of singer Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scully. This by far the best song, albeit a rip-off of My Bloody Valentine.