DICTAPHONE BLUES: Beneath the Crystal Palace
By Amanda Mills
Dictaphone Blues (vocalist Edward Castelow, bassist Rob Collins, and drummer Myles Allpress) have given their second album an enigmatic title that has a simple explanation. Recorded at Auckland’s Lab Studios, literally beneath the (former) Crystal Palace ballroom, ‘Beneath the Crystal Palace’ is steeped in a strong British ‘classic rock’ tradition, down to the lettering on the packaging. Mixing ’60s psychedelic blues and ’70s glam rock, the album opener Radio Heart assaults like a huge old-school radio hit, with soaring choruses and walls of guitars and vocals, while Cliché (an alt-airplay no.1) takes the ’60s rock sound and filters it through a Britpop lens. A different sound altogether appears on What Happened to our Love, a strange cocktail of power-pop, power chords, doo-wop and ’80s drum beats, all of which work well together. This album is filled with standouts but my pick is the Spector-esque My Girl Anymore, featuring a wall-of-sound chorus complete with harmonies and (synth) strings. With assistance from well known local talent including Princess Chelsea, James Milne, Ryan McPhun and The Unfaithful Ways, Dictaphone Blues have crafted a fine album full of great rock songs, though their influences are obvious and oft referenced. Good thing they do it so well.