The best of 2014




It’s time to look back and remember some of the highlights on the year just been. Here are some of the best concerts, albums and films I saw/heard in 2014.

The year went by so fast. I was pretty busy with university assignments so didn’t always have time to write reviews. I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads of things that deserve mentioning, but here is what I do remember.



Although it wasn’t technically 2014, it was a year ago that my friend Sam and I flew to Sydney to see The Roots play at the Horden Pavilion. I was disappointed that Questlove hid his glorious afro underneath a beanie, but the show was still awesome. “Captain” Kirk, the guitarist, threw his sweaty towel into the crowd. I caught it and gave it to Sam. He keeps it as a treasured memento to remind him of the gig. We also went to the Broadway show of the Lion King and it was too good for words. I bought a CD of the songs of the show. The Australian cast I saw live were better than the recorded version, but I still listen to the CD more than anything else.

I was fortunate enough to tick three bands off my bucket list this year. I saw Nine Inch Nails in Christchurch co-headlining with Queens of the Stoneage. They were incredible. I even got to chat to Trent Reznor at the airport the following day. It was also great to catch up with school friends in Christchurch that I don’t get to see often.

I finally got to see Biffy Clyro live at the Powerstation. I was buzzing for days afterwards. I managed to get a guitar pick and an annotated copy of the set list as well. I also saw Jimmy Eat World at the same venue. I was considering going to Soundwave in Australia to see these two bands at the beginning of the year but couldn’t afford it, so I was rapt when they each got announced to play in NZ.

The Beards were a comedy band that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice catching up with my friend Jason from Melbourne, who was working as their follically gifted merch guy. Another funny gig was internet sensation and rapper Ur Boy Bangs, with local hardcore band Declaration AD opening. It was pretty hilarious, but surprisingly fun.

Other live acts that stood out this year include post-rock masters Jakob, pop starlet Ellie Goulding, and modern hardcore band La Dispute.

I’m seeing Shihad in a few days and I’m sure that will also be worthy of this list. I’ve seen them at least ten times in the past and they’ve never disappointed. I’m looking forward to seeing them play material from the new album, FVEY

The gigs that I’m looking most forward to in 2015 so far include Frank Turner, Gary Clark Jr, and Foo Fighters.


Albums and EPs

There have been some great new music releases this year. Here’s some that stood out for me, categorised by genre but not in any particular order.


  • Run The Jewels – RTJ2

El-P and Killer Mike stole the show at the hip-hop triple bill at the beginning of the year, and then proceeded to release an even better second album less than a year after their first.

  • Sage Francis – Copper Gone

Sage Francis continues as a veteran wordsmith wizard. Copper Gone in entertaining and thought-provoking, with great music and clever lyrics. His Wellington show was great as well.

Keith Stanfield caught my attention as a talented actor, and proved himself as a capable rapper too. A dark, tormented début EP.


Of course this album was inevitably excellent. Composer Rhian Sheehan helped to add masterful extra touches to help the Napier trio surpass perfection.

The latest release from one of my fave post-rock bands shows a softer side with great results.


A new sound, new direction and new name for Solemn Sun helped them create an alt-rock EP that leaves me eagerly awaiting their next album.

I’ve listened to it at least once every day since it arrived in the post. Sublime electro-prog-rock  arisen from the ashes of Cog.

  • Biffy Clyro – Similarities (B-sides album)

It goes without saying that any release from my fave band will get a mention.


Queens of the Stoneage – … Like Clockwork and Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways were both major disappointments. Both bands are of high calibre and had lots of hype around the new albums, but the music just wasn’t good enough to make me want to listen to the albums more than once.



I only wrote two film reviews this year, but I saw plenty of great movies that deserve a mention

Housebound was by far the stand out film of the year for me. A Kiwi comedy/horror that strikes the perfect balance. The Dark Horse was another NZ film that impressed. Forget The Hobbit, New Zealand can produce some quality films without the need to sell out to Hollywood.

The follow-up to one of my fave movies came out in July. The Raid 2 was just as violent and intense as its predecessor, but with more varied and imaginative fight scenes. The sequel was pretty long, with a more complex plot. Fingers crossed for The Raid 3 in years to come!

The trailer was bad enough to put me off wanting to watch it, but Gone Girl was gripping, albeit unsettling. This was one that surpassed expectations. It also featured a soundtrack written by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, which earns it bonus marks in my book.

2013’s The Wolverine, was abysmal, but the X-Men franchise redeemed themselves with Days Of The Future Past. I was left with plenty of unanswered questions, but it was a clever way to tie in the two timelines.

Another sci-fi that I enjoyed was Snowpiercer, a futuristic dystopian film set on a train that contains the last of earth’s population. It was incredible right until the end, when it lost momentum in the last scene.

I enjoyed Frozen, although as a trainee early childhood teacher went a bit insane because of children singing “Let It Go” non-stop. Lego Movie was fun as well, but Big Hero 6 was my favourite children’s animated film.

The major let down was Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. It was long. It was grand. But it didn’t come together in a satisfying way. I fail to understand why people rated it so highly.

I’ve been blessed to have such a good year. Since launching Will Not Fade earlier this year I’ve had people from all over the world read my reviews. One review featured at I’ve had bands ask me to review their music and I’ve gained media passes to attend events. I really enjoy doing this and I plan to continue what I’m doing.

Please let me know what you think. What did you enjoy reading? Are there bands or films you want to see me write about? Did I inspire you to listen to a new band, or watch another film? Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks for reading. All the best for 2015!


Joseph James

Live Review: Ur Boy Bangs at Zeal Welly

Bangs Wellington Zeal

Ur Boy Bangs (Melbourne)

w/ Declaration AD (Wellington) and FLYBZ (Melbourne)
Zeal Welly
Thursday 27 November 2014

Sudanese born Ajak Chol, best known by his stage name Bangs, moved to Australia in 2003 and took to building his rap career with great gusto.

Bangs achieved internet notoriety in 2009 with his viral hit “Take U To Da Movies”. At the time of writing the YouTube clip has had 9.7 million views. Honda even commissioned Bangs to help them promote their Jazz range of cars. Bangs was also prolific on the social media. He had so many followers on Facebook that he reached the limit and had to create a secondary account.

The reason for this is because his music was so bad. The lyrics didn’t flow, the beats weren’t catchy. His music videos contained plenty of badly green-screened backgrounds like maps of Sudan and Australia, and pictures of cash and sports cars. His attempts at wooing girls by calling them “Shawty” and offering to take them “to da movies”, or chat to them on “the Facebook” were hilarious. So people showed the funny videos to their friends, who in turn show the video to their other friends, and so on.

A rapper who gains worldwide publicity and fame from one song because of how bad it is. Welcome to the internet age.

Since then this has become common practice, things that are bad or unusual going viral. Take Sharknado or Gangnam Style, for instance.

Last time Bangs played in Wellington I decided it wasn’t worth attending. This was mainly because the show started at 10pm, plus there were a number of opening acts, meaning that Bangs probably wouldn’t have even come on until close to midnight. I wasn’t willing to pay $20 and stay up so late on a school night just to see an internet joke in the flesh.

But this time Bangs has announced a last-minute all ages show, two days before playing. This suits me fine because it means I won’t have to stay up so late to watch him.

The joke gets even funnier with the announcement of the opening act: local hardcore band Declaration AD. I was living with Declaration guitarist Kirk Hogson in 2010 and I’m pretty sure it was he who showed me Bang’s video in the first place. Original Declaration bass player Tom White spent a lot of time pestering Bangs over Facebook. I bet he still has a screenshot saved on his computer saying “BStar Bangs likes Declaration AD”. They joked about it at the time, but I don’t think anyone actually expected that they would get to share a stage with Bangs.

Declaration AD were on form, even with their former bass player filling in at last minute’s notice. They’ve just been in the studio putting the finishing touches on their fourth release, so not doubt performing live would be a pleasure after recording in a sterile studio environment. They’re well-known at Zeal so enough of the audience knew what to expect, but it was pretty amusing seeing the shock on the faces of the others present. Imagine young kids showing up to the show expecting to see an internet sensation from five years ago, and instead having four hairy men playing loud hardcore music and shouting at them.

Declaration AD

I would have loved to seen Declaration AD collaborate with one of the rappers, something along the lines of a rap/rock crossover like Aerosmith and Run DMC doing “Walk This Way”.

The turn out was fairly small. Most people present were Zeal volunteers or friends with the boys from Declaration AD. But there were 20 or so others who had shown up to just to see Bangs. I’m surprised at how many young teenagers even remember who Bangs is. If most of the people in the audience are underage, it means they would have been roughly 12 when Bangs was at the peak of his hype.

The second act was another Melbourne based rapper named FLYBZ. FLYBZ was a former child soldier from the African nation of Burundi. He surprised us by being quite good. He worked the crowd and got us dancing and singing along. He even asked one boy from the audience to come onstage and help him by sing the chorus for a song about equality. It was funny how when he decided that a song was finished, FLYBZ would reach over to his laptop and stop the music abruptly, instead of having an outro.

FLYBZ also took over DJ duties and backing vocals for the star of the night, Ur Boi Bangs.

Bangs’ set almost had a linear narrative. He rapped about how his life is hard because he comes from the ghetto. But no matter what you have to keep your mind right. He had a song ready for each point he made. Then he taught us the process for courting a woman. “First you need to meet her somewhere” he told us, before playing “Meet Me On Facebook”. Once you’ve met her you take her shopping. Then you take her “for a deena!” [Dinner]. There was a song about Christmas that interrupted the musical date that Bang’s was taking us on. And of course, he finished with the obligatory “Take U To Da Movies”.

Just like Adam reaching out to the Creator in Michelangelo's famous painting at the Sistine Chapel

Just like Adam reaching out to the Creator in Michelangelo’s famous painting at the Sistine Chapel

Was it worth going? I’ve seen bands that I expected to be bad before for the sake of a joke. Guitar Wolf can barely be classed as musicians, yet I’ve seen them play twice and both times the performances were amazing.

Bangs doesn’t seem to mind the haters. He gave us a speech about it before performing his song “Hi Haters”

“Haters make you famous. If you can’t love your haters you can’t love yourself”

– Ur Boi Bangs

He’s like Tommy Wiseau, the man behind The Room (widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made). His product may be terrible, but it has earned him fame and a cult following so why fight it?

I expected Bangs to suck. I went for one famous song that seemed like a joke. I went to see how everyone would react. I went to see Declaration AD scare children. I went for the nostalgia, because we all thought it would be so exciting to see Bangs when he was all the rage back in 2010.

Bangs surpassed my expectations. It was actually an amazing night. Everybody was having so much fun singing and dancing along and waving their hands in the air. There was crowd surfing and stage diving. I think the Snapchat and Instagram headquarters much have been under extra stress based on the sheer volume of selfies that people in the crowd were taking.

I’m glad the show was cheap. I’m glad that it didn’t run late. And I’m especially glad that I went.


Joseph James