and spend my time just sitting in the sun

I’m trying to take my trusty old Nikon F3 with me to as many places as I can again, so that I put my grandparents’ lovely gift to good use. Namely, twenty slick new rolls of my favourite Ilford HP5 black and white film in 400. I think I’ll ask for 800 or even 1600 next time, because I’ve been really missing some good old grain. But the photos which I would like to accompany this post are unfortunately sitting in a roll of undeveloped film next to my tea mug, so it may be months before I have anything to show.

Not wanting to take a biased view, but it’s barely September and my friend’s band, Artisan Guns, have released one of my favourite albums of the year already. I hadn’t been the most active friend as of late, so apart from a tiny sneak preview, I had no idea what to expect when Jonathan and I sat down over a hearty meal from Burger Wisconsin and listened to the album from start to finish. Cutting to the chase, Coral is simply so solidly fantastic that I knew most of the lyrics by their album release gig two Fridays ago (at which some of the aforementioned photos were taken).

From the very first listen, “So You Know” has been my favourite track, and I’m guilty of doing that awful thing where people put a song on repeat because they can’t get over the fact that every song must inevitably end. Considering the fact that it clocks in at under three minutes, I think hitting ‘previous track’ repeatedly is wholly justified; especially once you’ve fallen for the slide guitar intro. Did I mention the subtle overlap of vocal entries? One of the (many) standout components of this band is that not only can Matt, the frontman really sing, so too can Reuben, and sometimes the lads on guitar (Jonathan) and drums (Alex) also chip in on the background vocals in an instrumental-colour sort of way. The ensuing outcome is an album that’s been fine-tuned to sound so… precise.

Whilst I favour certain songs over others, there are definitely none that I skip over when I listen to the album — which is indeed a bad habit of mine, but I’d like to justify it as being reflective of the quality of music at stake. These guys are skilful at crafting bridges that are musically realised in a way which makes the musician in me smile. Often I feel like they successfully avoid what I’d call the “easy” or “obvious” choices for a bridge, yet the transitions out of choruses have been tackled so well that I can’t fathom any alternatives. There is no room left for any wishful thinking by the listener such as, “great song, now if only they had…”, and the like.

One of the other main things that stuck out to me about the album was the strange mood of the “season” which it evoked for me. I’d said to Jonathan at the time that it’s like a really nostalgic-sounding summer, because it didn’t sound sunny or summery. As if it were almost autumn but not quite — and we went on to chortle about how crap the past couple of New Zealand summers have been, as he pointed out, like the opening song — “Rain in Summer”.  More to the point, it truly makes me happy that a friend that I’ve always musically looked up to has been a part of producing something that brings me — and I’m sure many others — great joy and comfort. Even in the sadness-tinged corners of this album, there are glimpses of a contented hopefulness that is a rare find.

And the most important thing of all, you can listen to the album on their page here, and please do share any thoughts if you do! I’ve already stuck this album under the nose of people in Seattle, New York, Malibu, Taipei and Abu Dhabi. So perhaps I am a rather biased friend-and-fan but who cares, I’m supposed to know what I’m talking about! Also, I believe that anyone who has the high-quality files will be able to experience the same tape hiss as I did, on selected tracks. Retro-magic.


  1. Kristi September 3, 2012

    I too am guilty of constantly pressing the replay button when I hear a song I like. I’ve been doing this for the past hour with these two songs on the debut album of Friendly Fire, which I only checked out for the first time today. Amazing stuff.
    Anyway, I’m definitely going to check out the music you posted. It’s extremely late so I’m going to bed now, but I’m going to listen to it tomorrow morning and maybe I’ll write about them on my blog! :D I love discovering and sharing new music.

    • Amanda September 6, 2012

      I used to really dig Friendly Fires a few years ago, but I haven’t heard their second album since it came out yesterday. They’re quite poppish I suppose. Ex Lover used to be a highlight of mine!

  2. Lolo September 4, 2012

    What a great review~ I will definitely check them out!
    I replay songs over and over again when I like them. They become a small obsession. It’s a good thing I use headphones, otherwise people around me would hate me~

  3. Brigitte September 4, 2012

    Thank you for your comment on my blog! I wrote a reply to your comment. :)

    I love it when a band you already know and love comes out with yet another amazing album that does not disappoint. There’s always this moment of … new album, new sound?, will I like the new stuff?, etc. :D You described the music very well, and I’ll definitely get on their myspace to check it out.

    • Amanda September 6, 2012

      Yup! I went and replied again :)
      And thanks, I hope people have acquainted themselves with new music they like because of this post!

  4. Kristi September 6, 2012

    Thank you SO MUCH for your comment. It really helped me out :)

    I do want to perform live, and I’ve always figured that being a sound engineer would not really cut it for me. Anyway I still have another year until I go to college, so I think I’ll figure out exactly how I’ll go about becoming a musician then.

    I purchased the Artisan Guns album and I absolutely LOVE it! It’s amazing. My favorite song on it ATM is Pulled You In. It makes me wonder how much amazing music from other countries I’m missing out on. I really want to find more foreign music (I live in the US). Do you have any suggestions?

    By the way we have super compatibility on It says ‘Music you have in common includes Cults, Artisan Guns, The xx, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Neon Indian.’ :) And I see you’ve listened to The Strokes a lot. They’re my absolute favorite band! Do you have a favorite album by them? Mine is Room on Fire.

    Alright, I’m done geeking out ;) haha

  5. Kristi September 6, 2012

    BTW (and I apologize for spamming your comment section) I wrote about Artisan Guns on my music blog:

    • Amanda September 6, 2012

      haha that’s okay. Check your email!

  6. Becca September 21, 2012

    Anyone is lucky to have a friend/fan like you! Spreading the love ~


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *