One Man Bannister’s live debut of ‘Evolver’, and new Drill/I Have No Idea

One Man Bannister’s live debut of ‘Evolver’
Friday September 6 – early start: 8pm

Thirsty Dog, Karangahape Rd, Auckland
With special guests Feyodor, Sandra Bell and George D. Henderson.
Facebook event page

One Man Bannister – aka Matthew Bannister – and his merry band bring the live ‘Evolver’ experience to Auckland for its performance debut. The album has already picked up rave reviews from Graham Reid, Russell Brown and Tom Cardy, with rumours of more to come, and the live show is keenly anticipated.

“But what makes Evolver so satisfying is this never sounds like a gimmick. From a sublime left field Taxman to a very effective early 90s ‘‘Madchester’’ indie dance remake of Tomorrow Never Knows, Bannister shines.”
Tom Cardy, Dominion Post

On ‘Evolver’ Matthew Bannister (Sneaky Feelings, the Dribbling Darts of Love, the Weather) has reinterpreted what is widely considered the Beatles’ greatest album, ‘Revolver’. Here he channels the songs either in terms of other Beatles songs, their influences, or other artists whom they have influenced. Hence “Tomorrow Never Knows” has an early 90s Madchester indie dance feel, “Yellow Submarine” is cod reggae, “She Said She Said” becomes a folk-rock waltz, “For No One” an upbeat country number and so on.

And although re-interpretations of “classic” albums are fairly common now, this is the first time one artist has covered a whole Beatles album in a way that both remains true to the spirit of the original while also adding a new twist (and shout). Beatles fans and anti-fans alike have shared in their universal praise of his re-workings.

The One Man Bannister live band is Matthew Bannister (vocals, guitar), Nick Johnston (keys), Paul Methven (guitar, vox), Brad Blackie (bass), Eman Comer (drums), Martin Griffiths (cello).

Aware of not wanting to keep everyone up too late, the show starts early, with a rare live performance from Feyodor to start the evening at 8pm. Feyodor is the mellow side project of Ben Barrett, formerly of Joed Out. His ‘Be Fine EP’ received airplay on bFM and was a favourite of an Australian internet radio station, with his two Powertool albums ‘Blind Photos & The Lemon Tuesday’ and ‘Aggressive Pedestrian’ also well-received.

Sandra Bell is one of the leading lights of the New Zealand underground. Her classic album ‘Dreams of Falling’, originally released by Xpressway in Dunedin 1991, then in 1992 on Belgian label Turbulance, is about to be re-released on Vinyl in October 2013 on Straight to Video, a new label run by Kelly Morgan who works for Drag City, Chicago. She has also released a brand new single, ‘Ampelmann’.
Ampelmann on Bandcamp

George D. Henderson is the driving force behind the Puddle, and was a co-founder of Mink. A favourite of some critics, who could see beyond the fragile limitations of their early recordings (their debut mini-album recently included in SPIN magazine’s list of the best Kiwi pop releases alongside The Clean), praise for Henderson’s song writing also often comes from other songwriters.

New Issue of US/NZ Zine/CD ready to be read and heard

Issue 2 of the NZ/US collaborative magazine and CD ‘Drill/I Have No Idea’ is just out! Featuring interviews with and reviews of some of the best of the NZ and LA underground music scenes, this is a must-have for indie music fans of all stripes.

One half Kiwi, one half from the City of Angels, the zine/CD are the offspring of New Zealander Andrew Maitai and Angelino Greg Franco.

The New Zealand section has fast-rising young troubadour Nick Raven gracing the cover, with an interview about what makes him tick. Inside you’ll also find news about Matthew Bannister’s seriously critically-acclaimed ‘Evolver’; Factory Kids’ lovely post-luminous album ‘Cried Off’; Sugarbug; Transcendental Learning Collective; Ghosts of Electricity; poet Michael O’Leary’s inaugural musical foray; Plexuz; an interview with Californian musician Dan West; plus ex-pat New Zealander Michael Canning’s insightful musings on the changes he found within New Zealand as observed on a recent homecoming visit.

Off the wire from Los Angeles, Greg kicks off with an editorial written as he was listening to the Bats on air during their recent US tour. Interviews with/reviews of local bands of note include Tommy Santee Claws; head honcho Greg Franco himself; Arrica Rose; and The World Record (“Andy Creighton is God” – high praise indeed for the band’s songwriter!)

The accompanying CD is a shining selection of bands from both countries. New Zealand acts Nick Raven, One Man Bannister, Sugarbug and Sandra Bell rub shoulders with internationals Factory Kids, Arrica Rose, Rough Church, The Picture and the Frame, The World Record – and many more, as the CD is brimming with 19 new songs.

The CD is only $10 and the magazine is FREE

Inline image 1


Here at Powertool Records HQ we’re jumping out of our skins (or should that be metal casings?) with all of the great releases we currently have – and the very heart-warming words that are being said about them. We’re also celebrating the opening of the new-look UFO at 9 Veronica St, New Lynn.

One Man Bannister ‘Evolver’
This album’s not even old enough to be home alone yet, and already it’s receiving some lovely attention.

Russell Brown on Public Address:
“I’ve always liked a good cover version. The reinterpretation of a song can expand its meaning, or just be fun. Matthew Bannister’s Evolver, a confident retelling of the whole of The Beatles’ best album, Revolver, does both…You can imagine he might have been daunted in taking on his heroes, but on Evolver the opposite is true. He seems relaxed, not intimidated by the material. The songs are thought through in interesting ways, sometimes, as he puts it, “in terms of other Beatles songs, their influences, or other artists whom they have influenced.””

Graham Reid on Elsewhere:
“Here Matthew Bannister (formerly of the Flying Nun band Sneaky Feelings and many other subsequent groups) under his most recent nom-de-disque One Man Bannister undertakes his own interpretations of this remarkable album (see here).

It is quite a stretch for one person — Yellow Submarine to Eleanor Rigby, let alone Tomorrow Never Knows — and made more so when it is just done at home as a labour of love. But, against those formidable odds, this is not just very good indeed but it cuts dead some of those English or American outfits who have done similar things for a giveaway CD on a British magazine…Beatle/Bannister fan or not, you deserve to hear this.”

Matthew Bannister also answers the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here.

PT127:  One Man Bannister
(CD) 2013 Powertool Records

Brother Love
NZ psych-rockers Brother Love this year celebrate 20 years in the rock and roll undergrowth with “20 Years in a Rockin’ Boat”. The supergroup of sorts have just played two uber-rocking shows in Auckland, with Marty Henderson (Axel Grinders, Brother Love), Dwayne Zarakov (aka Patrick Faigan, ex-King Loser, Axel Grinders), John Segovia (Axel Grinders, Shaft, Don McGlashan & the Seven Sisters) and George Henderson (the Puddle) all taking to the stage. Here’s a review courtesy of the 13th Floor website.

Brother Love on Bandcamp

Transcendental Learning Collective: Shift (Powertool Records)
Review by Graham Reid:

Given the pedigree of players on this debut album released a couple of months back – produced by Mike Hodgson from Pitch Black and Tinnitus, it is DJN (meulti-media artist Dan Newnham) of Drone, guitarist Sean O’Reilly of King Loser and others – it’s a surprise it has gone woefully un-reviewed and largely undiscovered.

Perhaps the recent Sheen of Gold doco on the Skeptics (and this NRA track posted From the Vaults) might draw attention to the broad strand of dense electronic/guitar rock which has run through New Zealand music . . . because TLC (ironic acronym?) are part of that lineage. Read more…

Transcendental Learning Collective on Bandcamp

Sugarbug: Flutterbye (Powertool Records)
Review by Graham Reid:

As I understand it, this quietly fascinating collection by a Wellington four-piece is a reissue of songs previously unissued.

To backtrack then: Some of these 10 songs topped the capital’s Radio Active charts in the 90s and others did well on bNet stations. Hardly surprising as they mine that profitable post-Flying Nun ethos (they do the Clean’s Do Your Thing as an eloquent soundswell ballad) but also bring something of their own.

If the chug’n’strum of Bunny’s On the Run recalls some big-bash Nun bands (with a vocal delivered with Keith Richards’ languor), the more menacing and psychedelic Shadows could be the 3D’s on Mogadon and you probably can’t hear Lost in Space without thinking of Sneaky Feelings’ command of a pop song. Sugarbug have that too in their own sweet way.

But for every reference like that, elsewhere they step well away from the obvious templates. As on the weary and slow Big Picture, the alt.pop of Flicker and the lo-range psychedelia of Dusk and Another Time and Place.

On the delightfully dreamy ballad Alien Pod Creature they bring a South Pacific sound to a song that lives up to the strangeness of its title.

Again, the past surprises the present.

Sugarbug on Bandcamp

Gold Medal Famous: Eclectotronica in Wellington
Our wildest avant-garde pop group, Gold Medal Famous, are set to release their new homage to dance music – the “Free Body Culture” EP – later this year, with a new album – “Album of National Significance” – due for release early next year. And they’ve coined a whole new genre name for their sound with this EP – ‘eclectotronica’.

To celebrate in their own riotous live style, they’re playing 2 shows in Wellington:

Gold Medal Famous “The Midnight Creeper Show”. Late, late Saturday night August 18 at Puppies (corner Tory and Vivian Street, Wellington). 1am start free entry.

Slutopia, Gold Medal Famous and Tietz Syndrome “Free Body Culture Celebration”. Free entry. September 14. At Understudy, 80 Cuba Street (corner Cuba and Dixon Streets), Wellington.
Gold Medal Famous on Facebook

Sandra Bell’s new single debuts in Germany – ‘Ampelmann/The Miners’
Sandra Bell began her musical career in Auckland in the late 80s with recording on Industrial Tapes. She has worked with Marie And The Atom, the Kiwi Animal, Peter Jefferies (This Kind of Punishment) and Alastair Galbraith. Sandra has toured the US and Europe, released albums on New Zealand labels Xpressway and Powertool, as well as labels in the US, Belgium and Germany. She relocated to Berlin in 1996 at the encouragement of some German fans and in 1999 she released City Of Sorrows on USA label VHF. Her most recent album was 2008’s White Nights.

With a new album and a US record deal in view, she releases her brand new single ‘Ampelmann/The Miners’. And who is the Ampelmann? He’s the little man shown on pedestrian signals in the former German Democratic Republic. Before German reunification in 1990, the two German states had different little men, with a generic human figure in the West, and the (usually male) Ampelmann wearing a hat in the East.  After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Ampelmann was saved, and gained a bit of cult status, becoming a popular tourist souvenir. Sandra is joined on this song by Dianne Civil (the Vibraslaps).

‘The Miners’ is a poignant song dedicated to the 29 Pike River miners who lost their lives in 2009 (and family members of other lost coalminers)…and to Sandra’s grandfather. She is accompanied by Catherine Parman on banjo.

Ampelmann/The Miners on Bandcamp

Nick Raven is featured on the website of US magazine Ghettoblaster

The debut album Love and Lomography by fast-rising young New Zealand troubadour Nick Raven is due for release in the US on August 27 on Custom Made Music. Evoking a sun-soaked, psychedelic fantasia, Love and Lomography will keep your summer glow shimmering for the rest of the year…

And the beautiful video for ‘Butterfly High’ has just been released – watch it here.

Ghosts of Electricity – rumoured to be touring soon…
We’ll update you; but in the meantime check out their very powerful new EP ‘Don’t Try’.

Hamilton’s Ghosts of Electricity have been humming under the radar for the past few months, but their buzz grows ever louder. The release of this, their third EP ‘Don’t Try’, reinforces the emergence of a band that has taken a measure of this nation’s disquiet and set it to music.
Ghosts of Electricity on Bandcamp

Out soon – the brand new Drill/I Have No Idea NZ/US zine collaboration; Dan West (US) ‘Hot Corners’ album, A.J. Sharma (NZ) ‘You Are A Traveller’ album; Mark Airlie (NZ) ‘Fiona’ single.


One Man Bannister ‘Evolver’

?????????????????One of the best, if not the best, album of all time, according to many, the Beatles’ Revolver, issued in 1966, showcases the Fabs at the height of their powers, riding the rush of Beatlemania into the swoon of 1967’s Summer of Love. While some Beatles albums like Sgt Pepper sustain a mood better, Revolver is unparalleled in terms of sheer songwriting and producing creativity, from avant-garde weirdness to kiddies sing-alongs. But that’s the secret of their success – something for everyone.

Matthew Bannister has been a Beatles fan since he was knee-high to a record player, starting with his parents’ copy of Sgt Pepper which they “bought to play at parties” in the late 60s. The Beatles are the alpha and omega of his musical universe, as you can hear in the music of Sneaky Feelings, the Dribbling Darts of Love, the Weather – all the bands he’s been involved since his early days in Dunedin. “I don’t think there would be a Dunedin Sound without the Beatles,” he says. “Everyone was into the 60s and writing perfect pop songs.”

And now you can hear it on Evolver, his reinterpretation of the Beatles’ greatest album, out now on Auckland’s Powertool Records. The Evolver project started in 2011 after an abortive attempt to re-create the albums with a bunch of Wintec music students. “I started demoing the songs myself, changing things here and there,” reinterpreting the songs either in terms of other Beatles songs, their influences, or other artists whom they have influenced. Hence “Tomorrow Never Knows” has an early 90s Madchester indie dance feel, “Yellow Submarine” is cod reggae, “She Said She Said” becomes a folk-rock waltz, “For No One” an upbeat country number and so on.

Home-recorded, the album has a lo-tech feel, but this also allowed risks to be taken and divergent paths explored. “I took the melody and lyric as given, but everything else was up for grabs. So I changed the musical style and often the chord structures and harmonies, but not the actual tune, which is sacred, to me at least.”

It’s interesting how much the musical landscape has changed in the last few years, especially regarding copyright. It used to be okay to cover a song as long as you credited the author and publisher – these days you’re supposed to apply for a license just to perform a song. Buskers beware. It also means that the album will not be available for digital download – you’ll have to buy a physical copy, just like the old days. And although re-interpretations of “classic” albums are fairly common now, this is the first time one artist has covered a whole Beatles album in a way that both remains true to the spirit of the original while also adding a new twist (and shout).

PT127:  One Man Bannister
(CD) 2013 Powertool Records
Powertool on Facebook

Brother Love “20 Years in a Rockin’ Boat”  Album and release shows

Brother Love 20 Years cover 252 NZ psych-rockers Brother Love this year celebrate 20 years in the rock and roll undergrowth. Formed in Christchurch in 1993 by ex-Axel Grinders Marty Henderson and Dwayne Zarakov (aka Patrick Faigan), the group found early success releasing vinyl on US cottage labels, and were then able to tour the US twice in 1996 and 2000. These releases garnered them an international following which led to, among other things, support slots for Dead Moon and Sebadoh and an appearance on the soundtrack of local feature film “Snakeskin”.

In 1998, the group relocated to Wellington, and the departure of Faigan precipitated a period of widely diverse line-ups, generally promoted live as Brother Love and the Free Association. Recordings made during this era were released on a CD/LP, “Rock’n’Roll Criminal” on German psyche-rock label September Gurls, and on the group’s debut New Zealand label release, “The Sin Aesthetic” in 2003. From 2004, the group was based in Auckland and now resides in Christchurch. Their last album, “The Gospel According to Brother Love”, was released in 2009, followed by ‘The Funhouse EP’ in 2011.

Now Powertool Records celebrates Brother Love’s birthday with “20 Years in a Rockin’ Boat”, a collection spanning their adventurous history and covering their myriad sonic styles. They will be bringing something of an underground supergroup to Auckland to play two very rare shows in Auckland on Friday August 9 at the Lucha Lounge and Saturday August 10 at UFO.

The Brother Love live experience will feature Marty Henderson (Axel Grinders, Brother Love), Dwayne Zarakov (aka Patrick Faigan, ex-King Loser, Axel Grinders), John Segovia (Axel Grinders, Shaft, Don McGlashan & the Seven Sisters) and George Henderson (the Puddle). Whew! Live, the group brings the energy of a classic psychedelic hard-rock power trio, with moody atmospherics and screaming guitars accompanying the songs of love, hate and hope.

20 Years in a Rockin’ Boat release shows

Friday August 9 at Lucha Lounge with support from George Henderson

Saturday August 10 at (the new) UFO (upstairs at 9 Veronica St, New Lynn), with Masses and Jackal

Get your tickets to either show from Under the Radar: for Lucha Lounge here, or UFO here.

PT118: Brother Love
’20 Years in a Rockin’  Boat’
(CD) 2013

Sandra Bell BerlinSandra Bell is currently in Berlin and playing shows, including one on August 1 (as pictured in the poster).

We’re awash with new releases, including 2 different albums from one family, and an electrifying EP from the Ghosts of Electricity.

Sandra Bell on Bandcamp

Powertool Records unleashes the powerful new EP from Ghosts of Electricity.GOE Don't Try
Hamilton’s Ghosts of Electricity have been humming under the radar for the past few months, but their buzz grows ever louder. The release of this, their third EP ‘Don’t Try’, reinforces the emergence of a band that has taken a measure of this nation’s disquiet and set it to music.

Who are the Ghosts?
A sound that’s more a movement. That familiar drunken lurch. Ah, it’s got the bite, that anger, that frustration. A sound born in that total-booze wander home from the pub at Uni, alone again, to a cold flat and a wank. A sound crafted sitting in a car in South Auckland, a drop-out in a labouring job, a shitty service station pie for lunch. A sound honed sitting in front of ten thousand work computers, wasting time on the net before knock-off rolls round. Of weekends hung-over when the neighbour’s lawnmower never turns off. Hear it in Tim Fowler’s gritty frets and brutally romantic growl; Vince Langdon and his roll on the skins; Winston Shadbolt, heavy fucking metal, and fingers that dance on bass.

This is the sound of the real New Zealand, the poetry of a generation of wandering Kiwis, staggering home too, wondering what the hell happened. The Ghosts know. Ah, a group, their sound torsades de pointes, with staggering conviction, with drive. Unafraid to take a swing, unafraid to miss and fall back down on their ass, knowing that that really is this fucking country.

This is the sound of Ghosts of Electricity.

Find them online:
Twitter              @GOEtheband   #GOEtheband
Family Ties: Two albums from one family
It’s not often that we get to release albums from members of the same family, but then not every family is like this one. Talent appears to run in the DNA of cousins Michael and Sean O’Leary – yet they display it in quite different styles.

Sugarbug ‘Flutterbye’

sugarbug 001Powertool Records is pleased as Punch to announce the reissue of Sugarbug’s lovely album ‘Flutterbye’. Normally we’d take on the task of telling you about the band and their music – and we do it most happily, as we really love our artists and their albums.

However we received such a nicely written letter from Sugarbug about the album, and we couldn’t really top it, so we thought we’d let them say it for themselves…

An open letter from Sugarbug.

“Hi/Kia Ora everyone!

Thanks for checking out The Bug. We’re a band from Wellington, New Zealand/Aotearoa. All of our songs are written by Sean O’Leary/Sugarbug except for track ten on the album which was written by iconic N.Z. band The Clean. (Without meaning to blow our own e-flat tenor horn, David Kilgour from The Clean really loved our version).

A quick overview of Sugarbug’s history: We have one album called ‘Flutterbye’ which we received Creative N.Z. funding for. Four of our songs reached number one on Wellington radio station Radio Active: Bunny’s on the Run, Just Another Drop, Lost in Space and Do Your Thing (which was also number one on Dunedin’s Radio One for eleven weeks straight).

‘Lost in Space’ was voted best un-released single in New Zealand by public vote (at the time we didn’t have an album). Several of our songs had significant air-play on New Zealand’s other indie stations. We’ve played two ‘Big Day Outs’ and as well as headlining have also supported the following bands/musos: Pavement, Tanya Donnely, The Clean, Dimmer, Shihad, The Headless Chickens, The 3D’s, H.D.U, The Chills, The Verlaines, Bike, StereoBus, Bailterspace, Garageland, Superette and others.

We’re currently reforming and the next album is pretty much written. We hope that you love our music and that it brings you some sort of positive satisfaction.

Love from The Bug xo
Sugarbug on Bandcamp

Michael O’Leary ‘Fences Fall’: Poetry becomes music
“Stunning tracks energised by O’Leary’s great lines. Take it neat or take it on the road” – Michael Gifkins

Fences Fall 250Michael O’Leary is a New Zealand publisher, poet, novelist, performer, and bookshop proprietor. The songs on Michael O’Leary’s album ‘Fences Fall’ are described as a Kiwi re-invention of the folk traditions and boldly literate rock music associated with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Beatles, Irish folk song, and the seminal sounds of blues and country.

The songs have diverse themes and unforgettable lines. “Did Jesus play his guitar, gently weeping?” is from a doo-wop song that echoes George Harrison. Another song has the poet meeting a woman, from whom he stole a scarf, who tells him her mother has just died: the scarf tightens around the poet’s neck and the revelation “…it openly mocks us/So deceptive and beguiling, and that it shocks us.’  Other tracks refer to lost love, the loading of Jews on the Belsen-bound death express, and, using chanted lines in English and Maori, provides an insight into the poet’s early life when he began a journey from poverty and school failure that eventually led to achievements that include 10 books of poetry and 5 of fiction, and a number of non-fiction works including a doctorate.

Much acclaimed in literary circles, Michael O’Leary is described by Dr. Neilson Wright as “… a powerful writer who never falls into mediocrity and consistently shows a strain of genius.”  A trustee of the Poetry Archive of New Zealand, he also runs the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop (E.S.A.W.) which has published works by Hone Tuwhare, David Eggleton, Elizabeth Smither, Greg O’Brien, John Pule and others.

The music for the songs on ‘Fences Fall’ is by singer-songwriters Helen Dorothy, Kayte Edwards, Niels Gedge, Francis Mills and Al Witham, with instrumental numbers by Gilbert Haisman and Brian Romeril.  It was recorded at Ross McDermott’s Soundsgood studios in Paraparaumu.

Reviews and coments: Fences Fall – Songs from the Lyrics of Michael O’Leary had launches in Auckland, Paekakariki, and Dunedin.

Below are some initial responses to the album.

“After four decades of friendship, I thought Michael O’Leary had exhausted his capacity to surprise me. But Fences Fall is wonderful in ways I didn’t expect. It’s not just that the poignancy of Michael’s lyrics that strikes me afresh when heard from a range of fine voices, the album really works in musical as well as literary terms. O’Leary backed with cello and sousaphone. Who would have thought that would work? But it’s magic!” – Iain Sharp

“Masterful, brilliant!” – Peter Olds

“Stunning tracks energised by O’Leary’s great lines. Take it neat or take it on the road” – Michael Gifkins

Michael O’Leary on Amplifier

About Powertool Records

We have over 100 releases under our toolbelts from the likes of Bill Direen/The Bilders, Vorn, Brother Love, Bored Gordon, Infinite Flying Kick, One Man Bannister/The Changing Same (Matthew Bannister, ex-Sneaky Feelings), Robert Scott (The Bats), Sandra Bell, Surf Friends, Gold Medal Famous and many more. Powertool also distributes selected international releases, including records by Rough Church (Greg Franco), Azalia Snail, The Black Watch, Sparrow (Jason Zumpano) and Lord Bishop – many of whom have also toured here.

You can get most of these records – and lots of other non-Powertool music – from our record  store, Alien: 11 Veronica St, New Lynn, Auckland.

UFO is our venue, with a focus on showcasing great live music – new bands, legends, local and international acts. UFO is situated next door to Alien at 11 Veronica St, New Lynn, Auckland. We have no liquor license, so if you want to drink, it is strictly byo. Indie Club has also relocated to UFO. If you wanna know what’s coming up…. check out the gigs page. We are also hiring UFO as a practise space.We are now taking bookings. Contact: Andrew at

Check out our Catalogue.


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