SideKickNick
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SideKickNick

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“Miscellaneous Adventures is the work of SideKickNick, stage name for Nick Buckton, Auckland based TV and film post production engineer by day, Voom bassist by night, whose project came together in short spurts around the edges of his other endeavours. And apart from a few drum fills and a bit of guitar, the album has been very much a solo project… his debut album is so full of personality and vigour and idiosyncrasy and sheer creativity that I almost don’t believe my own hyperbole. Imagine a cartoon character from the Ween book, cut out and made emotionally volatile and absolutely believable, imbue him with classic sixties pop elements, trace of Pixies-like power pop and naïve isolationist New Zealand music art and you might get the idea. Full of rock and pop clichés disinterred and reinterpreted, Miscellaneous Adventures is a record that might seem shambolic and home-recorded but is full of perfect pop twists and ready-cooked choruses. Sheer brilliance.” - Gary Steel


Nine years in the making, this debut solo album by former Tokey Tone Nick Buckton is a cracker. Pressing “play” teleports you to a quirky alt-pop universe that’s chocka with burnished sixties melodies, dreamy love ballads, bedroom-studio psychedelia and bracing 3Ds-style guitar abuse. In places, you feel as though you’ve woken up to find yourself living inside a cartoon, but the album is lifted above mere day-glo whimsy by Buckton’s plangent melodies and moving lyrics. - Grant Smithies


This is seriously clever music, to which the description "quirky" might give some vague notion as to its sense. Certainly Sidekick Nick knows how to deliver a highly original and intelligent collection of songs. Here there is an incredible array of timbres-instrumental and vocal, electronic and organic-deployed with the effectiveness and accuracy of precision-guided munitions and, similarly, in structure the music jumps from song to song-and sometimes bar to bar- in mood, tempo and dynamics. It's quite a startling listen, and by half way through you a simply compelled to keep listening if only to see what happens next.? Lyrically, too, the words fall over each other in that wonderful it-almost-makes-sense way that Beck has with his lyrics.? The trick in all of this is how to retain some sort of unity through the chaos and this is where Nick's musical ability shines through. Final track Don't Give Your Dreams Away seems like the final concession to convention, but don't be fooled - Jeff Neems


Climb aboard on the ground floor and fall in love before Side Kick Nick reaches the top. Future lazy reports will reference this act as a Kiwi Flaming Lips – but don’t buy into that. With psychedelic tunes, off-beat tangents and wonderfully disorientating instrumentation you’re picked up, swirled into a dance and deposited at the end of this album much happier and richer for the experience. I worry that Side Kick Nick will be categorised and forced into market competition with the likes of Beck – but that’s a competition that shouldn’t be registered. With less esoterically pretentious lyrics than the now tired old Scientologist, Side Kick Nick will have you dancing and singing along to songs that you will love and understand if not immediately, pretty soon. ‘Amputee Acrobat’ offers a definitive moment – Don’t miss it. Simultaneously exciting and reassuring, the opening track ‘Something in Your Eye’ lets us know we’ll be going somewhere worthwhile if we follow. This is an album that will sit well next to the BetaBand’s 3EPs, but slightly better because we know we can look forward to more dispatches from SKN’s further adventures.
4.5 Stars
- Andrew Shaw


Two things here: for some reason I keep pronouncing this nom de disque by Auckland singer/songwriter/pop-rock Nick Buckton as an Australian might ("Soid Keek Neek"). And that I am pleasantly surprised it has come out on a major label.

From the deliberately naive/childlike cover art (Rebecca Hart) through the anti-playlist pop within, this one looks and sounds like it might have been more at home on a label like Lil Chief (The Ruby Suns) or Flying Nun (Phoenix Foundation). o first up, hats off to A&R man Malcolm Black (if that be his title) who has taken this one to the Big Guys at Sony BMG.

Many years ago in a discussion at the back of the bar while watching the Brunettes (I think?) Neil Finn said to me what he liked about them was their angularity (or some such word) and that it had always been a distinctive feature of New Zealand music.

He was right, of course: from Split Enz through the early Headless Chickens to the Tokey Tones, Phoenix Foundation and so on that has been true -- and Buckton who is SideKickNick is firmly in that sidestreet tradition.

His songs are cute and eccentric, understated and folksy, referenced in the classic elements of pop history (Brian Wilson, the Monkees, lo-fi folk rock) and he isn't averse to dropping in Miles Davis muted trumpet or a hanging piano figure (apropos of nothing) as an effective punctuation mark. Or racking up fuzz guitars in the manner of Flying Nun bands.

There is also a pleasingly "unfinished" quality here which is also a prevalent signature of the most interesting New Zealand pop-rock, as if the song was there for the taking but everyone wanted to move on to something else. It means the listener fills in the emotional and melodic gaps, a nice and rare thing -- and something which the likes of Chris Knox have consistently allowed for.

Because of that SideKickNick will not be to everyone's liking -- and some of the songs are challengingly diverse within the same short time-frame -- but this debut suggests that Buckton might just want to consider that this, and not the day job, is what he should be doing in this short life.

And if he travels with this you can guess what the Australians will call him.
- Graham Reid


Who would have thought that a total mix-mash flip-flop collaboration of every notion, instrument, tone and mood could come together and actually work? Not only work, but fucking blow your mind. Auckland based SideKickNick AKA: Nick Buckton is the new shit. His album Miscellaneous Adventures is exactly that, an adventure. It comprises a wide range of genres and I assure you it has something for everyone. If it doesn’t you’re one sad soul. His work sounds like melodramatic Pakeha pop, with a dash of indie rock, a twist of folk and a whole five cups of fun. Each song encompasses this framework and takes you for a ride. SideKickNick sings about girls, dingy rides, eyeballs, food and cups of tea – there’s something we can all relate to in one way or another. He has some classic 60s pop elements thrown in all over the place, and it’s fun, polite, obnoxious, loud, and raucous.

There’s something about ‘something in your eyes’ that makes you melt, picture your best summer memory and forget about everything else. The perfect album for your New Year road trip. I can’t think of anything better than driving up/down New Zealand’s coast, windows down and this song pumping through your veins. ‘Got A’ gets you up on your feet; it’s easy like Sunday morning but crazy like Saturday night. How? I’m not too sure, Nick’s just a genius. Plain and simple. His song ‘Coffeehousechronicles’ is beautiful, and nothing less. Lie down with this song, watch the clouds go by and dream. A real natural high. ‘Amputee Acrobat’ and ‘Hello My Friend’ are both sweet mash ups of bells, drums, harps, guitars and everything in between. It’s a perfect example of how he’s managed to scavenge bits and bobs from all over the place to produce something magical. I might be going too far if I was to compare it to some of T S Eliot’s poetry, but you get the idea.

I cannot compare it too much, because frankly not many have ventured before him to attempt such a risk – in saying that maybe it’s the start of a new era. One can only hope. Overall the only thing I could compare this album to is a lucky dip where everyone’s a winner (which we all love). Put the album on shuffle and you never know what you’re gonna get, but you will be happy.

Listen to him play at the Redbull Studio, 3.30 pm 21 August. You won’t be let down. Also he’s playing 29 August at The King’s Arms if you’re up in Auckland. I want to go, I really do. If his onstage performance is anything close to the enjoyment one gets out of listening to his album, it’ll be well worth the trip up.
- Ashleigh Barrowman


Discography

'Miscellaneous Adventures'- released by SonyMusic NZ August 25th 2008.

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Bio

SIDEKICKNICK is a character who has been moonlighting on the edge of music town for too long and his appropriately titled Miscellaneous Adventures album has been nine years in the making. But now that it is here, the thing is a goddamn revelation with its nods to the likes of the 3Ds, Flaming Lips, Brian Wilson and Beck. Critical chaps have been falling all over it. Here’s a joyous cartwheel by the usually acerbic Gary Steel – “his debut album is so full of personality and vigour and idiosyncrasy and sheer creativity that I almost don’t believe my own hyperbole” – and while Grant Smithies will regularly cream himself over just about any musical pie with enough weed mixed in its dough, when the man says that “In places, you feel as though you’ve woken up to find yourself living inside a cartoon” we actually imagined ourselves a podgy little Smithies shaped cartoon figure that freaked the crap out of us. F**k you Sidekicknick, don’t freak us all out like that! Did we say after all that that Sidekicknick and his fun-filled, heartfelt album is one of our favourite musical discoveries of the year? Cos it damn well is, kids.