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coverpic flag New Zealand - Full Moon 250 - 01/12/17

Ghost Wave
Radio Norfolk
Flying Nun Records

Radio Norfolk is New Zealand's Ghost Wave's second long player, two years after the band launched their debut album, Ages (Arch Hill Recordings). Radio Norfolk has been laying around the LK HQ for a while, as it was released 4 months ago. Sorry for that. Better late than never, though.

The space-psych-shoegaze-indie-rock sounds and songs of Ghost Wave are quite appealing. The duo is tripping back to the 60s, but they have also learned something from the psychedelic and groovy dance vibes of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Ghost Wave are songwriters Matt Paul (on vocals, guitar, keys and organs) and Eammon Logan (on drums and percussion), a.k.a. Dr Billy & Malcolm S. (or: Dr Billy & EMSL), are the loose fit pop heads creating the cosmic grooves found on Radio Norfolk. The twosome claim to be inspired by 'skate vids, Persian rugs and the music of Little Richard', and they say that you could 'simply characterize Ghost Wave by jangly guitars underpinned by motor-style rhythms and a unique melodic sensibility.' Seems like a pair of jokers, right. Nevertheless, they have come up with some neat and catchy pop hooks here and there. For the right amount of pop glitter and star dust they've brought in Sonic Boom (of Spacemen 3 fame) to master their record.

To tease possible listeners the label claims that 'The Ghost Wave sound finds itself somewhere between the Flying Nun bands of the 80s, the British explosion of the 1960s and the wayfaring dubs of Lee "Scratch" Perry...' Well, here are hints of 60s pop sike and 80s jangly indie rock, as well as some more oddball electric and electronic twists in-between. Ghost Wave list a lot of bands among their influences: The Byrds, Stooges, MC5, The Seeds, and the Velvet Underground, but also Lee Perry, Otis Redding, James Brown and John Coltrane. Plus Baby Huey, King Tubby, Gil Scott-Heron, Theo Parrish, and Sun Ra, as well as also Moodymann, Suicide, Spacemen 3, and Ariel Pink. Quite a schizophrenic mixture, for sure. And, yes, that's just what they sound like: A wild mixture. At times, they can sound like contemporary bands like The Besnard Lakes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, or even a more introvert Foxygen. They can sound marvellously sweet and psychedelic, for in the next moment to sound like a soul-filled shoegaze band diving into some Madchester rave party. The Auckland twosome sounds like a real creative couple, but they seem to wander off in too many directions. They do have some cool songs here, but the album is a bit too long. Scrapping a couple of songs and trimming a few tracks would've given a much stronger album. Some of the best tracks count "Whosdointhetalkin", the krauty "All U Do Is Kill", the poppy "Slow Cone Descent", and the sweet and chilling "Julia Knows". Not to forget the groovy and exotic single "Blues Signal '79", which is their very special 'countdown to the meltdown'. Radio Norfolk presents some flaming grooves, but it's not an album on fire.

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