|Neil Finn — Dizzy Heights (2014)|
Neil Finn — Dizzy Heights
♦ Pop craftsman whose work in Split Enz, Crowded House, and as a solo act illustrate his irresistible melodies and meticulous lyrical detail.
Birth name: Neil Mullane Finn
♦ OBE (Order of the British Empire)
Born: 27 May 1958, Te Awamutu, New Zealand
♦ Gibson Les Paul
♦ 1963 Fender Stratocaster
♦ Fender Telecaster
♦ Roland JC 160 amp
♦ VOX AC30 amp
Location: Auckland, Roundhead Studio, New Zealand ~ Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Album release: February 10, 2014
Record Label: Lester Records Ltd/KLS
01. Impressions 4:36
02. Dizzy Heights 3:07
03. Flying In The Face Of Love 4:04
04. Divebomber 4:52
05. Better Than TV 3:35
06. Pony Ride 4:45
07. White Lies And Alibis 5:49
08. Recluse 5:27
09. Strangest Friends 3:18
10. In My Blood 3:50
11. Lights Of New York 3:34
♦ Sean Donnelly / Neil Finn / Sharon Finn: Track 3, 6
♦ Elroy Finn / Liam Finn / Neil Finn / Connan Mockasin: Track 10
♦ Neil Finn: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11
♦ Miranda Adams Violin
♦ Robert Ashworth Viola
♦ Neil Baldock Engineer
♦ Mark Bennett Violin
♦ Eliah Sakakushev-von Bismarch Cello
♦ Christine Bowie Viola
♦ Ashley Brown Cello
♦ Greg Calbi Mastering
♦ Matt Chamberlain Drums
♦ Dianna Cochrane Violin
♦ Justine Cormack Violin
♦ Sean Donnelly Composer, Electronic Percussion, Synthesizer, Vocals
♦ Andrew Everding Assistant Engineer
♦ Steve Fallone Mastering Assistant
♦ Elroy Finn Composer, Drums
♦ Liam Finn Composer, Guitar, Vocals
♦ Neil Finn Clarinet, Composer, Cover Image, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Primary Artist, Producer, Synthesizer, Vibraphone, Vocals, Wurlitzer
♦ Sharon Finn Bass, Composer, Vocals
♦ Dave Fridmann Engineer, Mixing, Producer
♦ Mary Friedman Vocals
♦ David Garner Cello
♦ William Hanfling Violin
♦ Katherine Hebley Cello
♦ Gordon Hill Bass
♦ Jason Huss Engineer
♦ Victoria Kelly String Arrangements
♦ Benjamin Knapp Engineer, Whistle (Human)
♦ Connan Mockasin Composer
♦ Will Ricketts Bongos, Shaker
♦ Madeleine Sami Vocals
♦ Jordan Stone Engineer
Album Moods: Reflective Laid–Back/Mellow Autumnal Bittersweet Delicate Elegant Intimate Introspective Literate Melancholy Nocturnal Organic Passionate Poignant Quirky Sophisticated Spacey Sparkling Spooky Stylish Trippy Yearning Sentimental Sweet
Themes: Comfort Introspection Reflection Late Night Mischievous Nighttime Solitude Starry Sky The Creative Side
♦ Produced by Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips), 'Dizzy Heights' is the third solo album by Neil Finn following 1998's Try Whistling This and 2001's One Nil. Finn did not set out on his third solo album with a theme in mind. But by the time he came to call it after another track on the record, "Dizzy Heights", it had become inescapable. "It crept up on me. I started noticing it in lots of places. You start off with a number of different threads and angles and demos, and they dictate the terms of the record. It's only in the course of the process that you maybe get a feeling there's a type of song emerging, or an atmosphere." Neil Finn was 18 when he was invited by his older brother Tim to join the trailblazing art rock band Split Enz. His career since might be measured as a series of bounds, the best–known being Crowded House, which he founded with Paul Hester and Nick Seymour after the breakup of Split Enz in 1984. Four albums, among them Crowded House and Together Alone, brought the group popular and critical acclaim around the world. Along the way, there have been a host of collaborations, including with brother Tim and wife Sharon, and an array of names from Johnny Marr, Ed O'Brien, Eddie Vedder and most of Wilco. And yet Dizzy Heights unmistakably marks a fresh leap. "I didn't want to make it a solo record in a stripped back singer-songwriter sort of way," says Finn. "I had a feeling Dave would be good at adding some odd shapes to the music. Which I always welcome — making things a little more expansive. . . He is good at subverting things, and making things sound a bit messed up and not as obvious, rather than being too tasteful, which is always a temptation".
The Guardian, Thursday 6 February 2014 22.15 GMT; Score: ****
♦ Neil Finn‘s acknowledged mastery of songcraft is matched on his third solo album, his first since 2001, by his inventive production alongside Dave Fridmann, best known ♦ for his work with Tame Impala, Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips.
The string arrangements in particular thrill and surprise, opening track Impressions recalling Isaac Hayes. While he echoes Lennon (the slapback vocal of Better than TV) and McCartney (the title track’s bubbly synths recall Wonderful Christmas Time), his influences are worn lightly.
♦ Dizzy Heights is an apt title for an album airborne with vertiginous harmonies and references to astronauts and flight. Finn’s airy falsetto against the grinding engines and sirens of Divebomber create a queasy weightlessness.
♦ “How I wish that I could come back again,” sings Finn on In My Blood, co–written with fellow New Zealander Connan Mockasin. He has. Dizzy Heights stands alongside Finn’s many career highlights, including his beloved Split Enz and Crowded House hits.
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine; Score: ****
♦ Since 2001's One Nil — which was later reworked into One All — Neil Finn has recorded an album with his brother Tim, reunited Crowded House for two new albums, formed the collective 7 Worlds Collide, launched Pajama Club with his wife Sharon, and released a live record in tandem with Paul Kelly, but despite all this activity there is one thing he's avoided: releasing a collection of his original songs under his own name. Dizzy Heights rectifies that situation and not in a predictable fashion. Collaborating with Dave Fridmann, a producer who made his reputation through his work with neo–psychedelic bands Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips, Finn luxuriates within the fathomless spaciness of Dizzy Heights. Effects and sounds bubble up and fade away and, initially, it's hard not to concentrate on these shifting soundscapes, not because they're foreign to Finn — ever since the initial disbandment of Crowded House he's been increasingly restless and experimental — but because the production is as focused and precise as his songcraft. This is a new development. Usually, whenever Finn indulged in spacy, elastic psychedelia the results were pleasingly hazy, but here every electromagnetic throb and aural shard is in its right place, heightening the overall effect and, occasionally, distracting from the typically finely constructed tunes. Underneath the aural lava lamp, Finn is taking compositional risks, too: the title track is underpinned with smooth soul, "Divebomber" unfurls into an ominous march, and "White Lies and Alibis" has a tension within its structure in addition to its skittering, skeletal production. Finn still turns out strong pop songs as expected — "Flying in the Face of Love," "Pony Ride," and "Recluse" — but the Fridmann production keeps them lively and surprising, which is the key to Dizzy Heights: it is a seamless blend of Finn's longstanding popcraft and latter–day adventure, and it satisfies on both counts.
Artist Biography by Chris Woodstra
♦ Neil Finn has consistently proven his knack for crafting high–quality songs that combine irresistible melodies with meticulous lyrical detail, from his beginnings as the precocious junior member of Split Enz, through his leadership of Crowded House, and, finally, in his distinguished solo career. He has also earned considerable international commercial success, respect from his peers, praise from critics, and a devoted fan base that hangs on his every release.
♦ Born Neil Mullane Finn, on May 27, 1958, in Te Awamutu, New Zealand, Finn cut his musical teeth as a child by performing for family friends, harmonizing with elder brother Tim. Neil took to piano early on, learning his favorite Beatles tunes and eventually writing his own songs, the first of which was putting music to a poem enclosed in a Donovan album. In the early '70s, Finn intently studied emerging singer/songwriters like Elton John, Neil Young, David Bowie, and Cat Stevens, while watching his brother Tim's band, Split Enz, become a force in the Australian music scene. Neil secured a few supporting slots for the Enz as a solo act, mixing his own originals with some well-chosen covers, accompanying himself on piano, guitar, and mandolin. By 1976, he'd formed his own combo, the After Hours, with lyricist/drummer Mark Hough and guitarist Geoff Chunn. Hough departed shortly thereafter, and Alan Brown was recruited for bass duties. The group showed a great deal of promise, but came to a relatively quick end when Phil Judd left Split Enz and brother Tim offered the slot to Neil. Just before his 19th birthday, even though he'd never played electric guitar before, Neil joined Split Enz as lead guitarist.
♦ Neil stayed in the background for the first two albums of his membership — 1977's Dizrhythmia and 1978's Frenzy — but emerged with the infectious "I Got You" for True Colours. The single was an immediate hit, saving the band from obscurity and, most likely, from an imminent breakup. Split Enz enjoyed moderate international success for the next several years until disbanding in 1985. Neil formed an early version of Crowded House the same year, under a variety of names like the Mullanes and the Largest Living Things, with drummer Paul Hester and bassist Nick Seymour (another guitarist, Craig Hooper, was also in the earliest incarnation of the band). Over the next ten years, the combo eclipsed the success of Split Enz, finding both critical acclaim and massive commercial success internationally, including a number two single in the U.S., "Don't Dream It's Over." In 1996, at the height of their success, following a Finn Brothers side project, Neil decided to dissolve the band in favor of a solo career.
He spent most of 1997 writing music and painting in his New Zealand home studio. In 1998, he released his first solo album, the critically acclaimed Try Whistling This. That same year, he contributed a cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" to the animated feature Antz and, in mid–1999, he released the charity single, "Can You Hear Us?," a tribute to New Zealand's rugby team the All Blacks. He rounded out 1999 by mining the Crowded House vaults for a rarities release, Afterglow, and by participating in a Split Enz reunion/millennium concert in New Zealand. Finn wrapped up work on his second solo album in 2000. One Nil was released in March 2001. A live album, 7 Worlds Collide, was issued in February 2002 and a reworked version of One Nil (titled One All) was issued in the U.S. in May 2002. A second Finn Brothers album followed in 2004. Finn reactivated Crowded House, releasing Time on Earth in 2007 and Intriguer in 2010. He returned in 2014 with his third proper solo album, the Dave Fridmann–co–produced, Dizzy Heights. Personal life:
♦ Finn married Sharon Dawn Johnson, on 13 February 1982. The song "I Love You Dawn", available on Afterglow (an album of unreleased Crowded House tracks and B-sides) was penned in her honour. Sharon creates chandeliers in her workshop in Auckland, many of which featured on stage in the 2004 – 05 tours promoting the Everyone Is Here album. She has appeared on backing vocals on various albums such as Crowded House and Alex Lloyd's Watching Angels Mend She also features prominently on the new 7 Worlds Collide project, co–writing (and sharing lead vocal on) the track 'Little By Little' with her husband and sings on the track 'Isolation' on the new Crowded House album, Intriguer.
♦ Finn and wife Sharon formed a band of their own titled 'Pajama Club' after their two sons moved out of the family home and they were left with a lot of free time. They released their self–titled debut album in September 2011.
♦ They have two sons, Liam Mullane Finn (born 1983) (Split Enz's "Our Day" was written about his birth) and Elroy Timothy Finn (born 1989). Both sons are multi–instrumentalists, like their father, and often perform alongside him on tour and in the recording studio. Liam had his own band, Betchadupa, originally based in Auckland, then London before releasing a solo album, I'll Be Lightning in 2008. He also played in Crowded House's touring band lineup in 2007. Elroy Finn is also following in his father and brother's musical footsteps as drummer for the psychobilly band The Tricks and has previously filled in on drums for Cut Off Your Hands. Elroy began touring as Liam's drummer in 2011 to promote Liam's second album 'FOMO'.
Neil Finn solo discography:
♦ 1998 Try Whistling This (Parlophone) #1 NZ, #1 AUS, # US UK
♦ 2000 Sessions at West 54th (Sony)
♦ 2001 One Nil (Parlophone) #1 NZ, 9 AUS
♦ 2001 7 Worlds Collide (Parlophone) #5 NZ
♦ 2009 The Sun Came Out (Sony) #2 NZ
♦ 2013 Goin´ Your Way (EMI) # 5 AUS
♦ 2014 Dizzy Heights (Lester Records Ltd.)
♦ Neil Finn of Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn Brothers and Pajama Club chats with Simon and Brian about his songwriting process and the writing of songs like ‘Fall At Your Feet’, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, ‘Weather With You’, ‘Four Seasons In One Day’, ‘Not The Girl You Think You Are’ and ‘Edible Flowers’. Neil also talks about his work on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and details the production of his forthcoming solo record, due in early 2014. :: http://www.sodajerker.com/episode-44-neil-finn/ // Also: http://www.performing-musician.com/pm/nov09/articles/neilfinn.htm
|Neil Finn — Dizzy Heights (2014)|