About timgruar

Music Journalist and Graphics artist. I specialise in writing about New Zealand bands, artists and theatre. I also run a book review site called http://groovebookreport.blogspot.co.nz. I currently write for www.13thfloor.co.nz; write and produce for www.groovefm.co.nz and https://www.booksellers.co.nz. Previously I've written for the Groove Guide, Rip it Up, Telecom's In house Magazine, Salient, Dominion Post, The Evening Post, and various blogs. I am also a graphic artist and design posters for theatre in the Wellington area. Contact me at tim_gruar@yahoo.com

Zeal & Ardor, Valhalla, 26 February 2019

Zeal and Ardour

Photo: Doug Peters – http://www.ambientlight.co.nz

First published at: https://www.ambientlightblog.com/zeal-ardor-wellington-nz-2019/

This was supposed to be Swiss/US band Zeal & Ardor’s first New Zealand gig. There was buzz aplenty and fans had arrived early from all around the country. Then it started to go wrong. Actually, it had started earlier in the day, when the band posted on social media that they’d arrived safely in Wellington. However, their gear hadn’t. It was worse. One of their number couldn’t make it either. I learned later that their bassist, Mia Rafaela Dieu, was sick and had to remain back in Brisbane, where the last show was. Then the remaining band members been delayed at customs in Wellington Airport – and searched due to “traces of substances on their clothes and a laptop”. It was all looking pretty dire.

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Coastella, Kāpiti Coast NZ, 2019



Coastella 2019

Originally published at: https://www.ambientlightblog.com/coastella-kapiti-coast-nz-2019/

Coastella Returns to Kāpiti Coast – Tim Gruar went along to soak up the atmosphere.

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Interview with author Catherine Robertson


“In her exploration of the Kiwi male psyche,” wrote in her review of What You Wish For, Couchdiva, writer for https://groovebookreport.blogspot.com “Robertson shows that it’s not always the strong, silent types that fare the best.” To understand more about the underlying currents of masculinity and identity The CoffeeBar Kid (aka Tim) sits down with best selling author, Catherine Robertson to pick up the conversation left hanging by playwrite Greg McGee (Foreskin’s Lament) when he asked Kiwi blokes “What Are Ya?” and where are you going?


Interview with the band My Baby


Tim Gruar continues his series about artists coming to Womad in March, this time talking to Dutch/Kiwi three piece My Baby – a group that defies the usual trappings of the music industry machinery, preferring to tour, record and produce entirely under their own steam. Nailing down their sound is a bit of a challenge.  They borrow heavily from gospel, blues, soul, voodoo-raves and 60’s psychdelica.  A recent visit to Wellington gave an opportunity to meet up and discuss the band’s origins, music and their upcoming performance at Womad.

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Plum Green – Sound Recordings

Sound Recordings

First published: https://www.ambientlightblog.com/plum-green-sound-recordings/

When I first reviewed folk-goth siren Plum Green back in 2012 I may have been a bit harsh. I compared her performance on her debut to Rushes to Evanescence’s Amy Lee, noting that this was a singer in search of her voice. With this new collection, I can safely say she’s found it.

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J Mascis – Elastic Days

Elastic Days

Originally published: https://www.ambientlightblog.com/j-mascis-elastic-days/

Swapping power chords for fingerpicking and acoustic guitars, Dinosaur Jnr’s frontman J Mascis showcases a very different musical side, with a more gentle contemplative approach that’s streets away from the brash indie rock we’re used to from him. On his third solo album,  the alt-pop slacker specialist seeks to combine his trademark firestorm solos with the articulate and delicate acoustics crafted in his first two releases. Despite leaving the safety of his main gig, his sound is much more confident than he’s ever been. Stripped back, these songs hold together without the need for the usual elaborate distortions and shift the focus back to the infamous drawl and psychedelic abstract lyricism.

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Live Review: Rhian Sheehan – A Quiet Divide – Wellington (Michael Fowler Centre) October 12 2018


First published at: https://grooveradio.blogspot.com/2018/10/live-review-rhian-sheehan-quiet-divide.html

I will confess up front that I’ve always been a champion of Sheehan’s work.  That goes back to the time he gave me a copy of his first album, Paradigm Shift, which he made in his little dingy Newtown flat on a computer and guitars.  I was impressed then and always have been by his experimental approach and continued scientific ‘bent’ to his music.  No doubt commissions with big hitters like NASA (3D Planetarium shows) and creating for exhibits and rollercoaster theme park rides and Weta workshop projects have influenced his compositional viewpoint, as have travel, especially to India a few years back.  And his work has always been revolved around space, and alternatively, more grounded themes like ecology and humankind’s exploitation of our planet.

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