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The Shifting Sands

Zoe / Run

    After touring the US West Coast supporting David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights, Mike McLeod booked time at Manny’s Estudio International in East L.A. “Far less glamorous than it sounds” says Mike. Joining the sessions was guest guitarist Steven Schayer, an LA-based musician who’d played in The Chills’ early 90’s Soft Bomb era, and he brought a different flavour, complementing The Shifting Sands’ independent DIY no. 8 wire approach. Producer Manny Nieto, who's worked with Steve Albini, The Breeders and Los Lobos, recorded the band on a Neotek console to 2” tape, mixing to ¼", then the songs were mastered back home by Tex Houston. The 7” vinyl format completes the analogue approach Whereas previous albums featured fuzzy guitars and synthesisers, this session involved fewer layers, but greater harmonic breadth. Tom added 8 string bass and Mike used a guitar tuned down an octave. While there are fewer layers of harmonic distortion - a characteristic component of the Shifting Sands sound - there's still plenty of harmonic complexity, only done differently. These songs reflect a special moment in time, in the sweltering heat of L.A., while the band were far from their busy normal lives and able to spend time fully-focused on making music, in a vastly different environment to their base at Chicks Hotel, Port Chalmers, in their home town of Dunedin.

    The Granite Shore

    Suspended Second

      First and foremost, the second Granite Shore album is a pop record, albeit an angry one. When writing began in spring 2016, it dealt largely with anxiety. “Suddenly,” says Nick Halliwell, “we were overtaken by what felt like a national self-harming anxiety episode, which then went global.” Halliwell admits expecting the subject would be all over the arts by the time the record came out, yet little has materialised a year on. “I’m not sure this is my responsibility/But no-one’s stepping forward as far as I can see” goes one lyric. “A pop record is the obvious format for in-depth socio-political analysis so I allowed my lifelong love of ABBA free rein,” he remarks mischievously, “pop’s far more interesting than rock nowadays.”

      Enlisting cult singer John Howard’s voice of a (recording) angel was another step outside the Indie Ghetto. The album employs a number of metaphors. “I considered picking up where the [2015 debut] Once More From The Top narrative left off, but resisted the temptation”, Halliwell adds, “I wanted to focus on hooks, trimming off any fat...” The best pop is all about economy, hence unambiguous songs like Where does the Sadness come from?, Outside, looking in and Buyer beware sit alongside more expansive material like The Performance of a Lifetime, which conflates Brexit with the deaths of two Princes. 


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