Recommended listening for NZ Music Month

Every May NZ Music month rolls around as if to remind people that little old NZ makes great music. As kiwi’s we should be proud of our local artists all year round as there is so much good talent to be proud of! This blog gets a high percentage of overseas traffic so I hope that this in some way helps showcase a few kiwi albums and artists you may not of heard of (there’s more to us than Split Enz, Shihad, Fat Freddy’s, Dave Dobbyn and Lorde – nothing wrong with any of these btw!). If you’re a kiwi you’ve probably heard of most of these artists or the bands they’ve been involved in, I don’t consider myself to be on the cutting edge of the NZ underground music scene so let your recommendations be known in the comments. However, as very few of the popular radio stations ever play stuff off the albums below, perhaps these will be new for you too.

Here’s a little list of NZ albums that I love, play regularly, and think you should check out if you haven’t heard of them. Plus they are albums that will likely never make a Top 100 NZ Albums list such as this one – only for the most part that these artist’s other work pushes themselves off the chart.

dave-yettonDave Yetton – Blow Out Your Candles (2007)
Best known as the front man for JPS Experience and Stereobus (who are one of the best bands NZ has produced IMHO), Dave Yetton’s debut solo album is a great pop album, and a fantastic recording too. Opening track That Bump Has Fallen Off and Fallen in Love with the Weekend are stand out tracks, and favourite’s of mine for showing off my little tiny Jamo E805’s in the study.


It doesn’t get much more local than this, these guys are based on Auckland’s North Shore (like us). This is an album I literally stumbled upon. At my job that pays the bills we had a work garage sale and Mali Mali was sitting in a pile of CDs between Kiwi Beer Drinking Songs and Titanium – what a find! Gather Round the Gooseclock has been on high rotate at my place and I’ve had plenty of people ask about it. Lead singer Ben Tolich maybe better known as the keyboardist from Avalanche City (you know the guys with the ridiculously catchy single Love, Love, Love) but Gather Round the Gooseclock is a different sound, its stripped back, deeper and musically has greater longevity. Top tracks: All the Shy will Congregate, Good Arvo and Magnetic North.

dimmerDimmer – There My Dear (2006)
Front man Shayne Carter is one of NZ Music’s golden boys and my favourite work of his is what he produced with Dimmer. Dimmer aren’t just one of my favourite NZ bands, they are one of favourite bands period. The debut I Believe You Are A Star (2001) is a masterpiece, sophomore release You’ve Got To Hear The Music (2004) picked up two NZ Music awards including Best Rock Album and then Dimmer went on to produce two more solid albums There My Dear (2006) and Degrees of Existence (2009) – which was our #3 album of 2009 – before Carter called this project quits. All four albums have their own merits, and There My Dear offers a couple of unique moments that I don’t ever get tired of, they’re You’re Only Leaving Hurt and I Won’t Let You Break My Heart. I imagine a lot of Kiwi’s have only listened to one or both of the first two albums, but you’d be missing out on so much goodness from the newer half of Dimmer’s work.

lady alienGareth Thomas Band – Lady Alien (2010)
Gareth Thomas is the keyboardist and second vocalist for NZ band Goodshirt. Goodshirt achieved mainstream success with hits such as Sophie, Blowing Dirt, and Buck it Up. Thomas’ debut solo album Lady Alien was our #1 Album of 2011! (yes, even though it came out late 2010). I still listen to this album regularly, and tracks All This, Don’t Stop, and Out of Fashion have become some of our go to test tracks for evaluating Hifi. Highly recommended, give it a listen.

The-Phoenix-Foundation-BuffaloThe Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo (2010)
I shouldn’t need to introduce The Phoenix Foundation to even our overseas readers, Happy Ending (2007), Buffalo (2010) and Fandango (2013) all have achieved success abroad. Buffalo, their fourth studio album is a more mature listen from their earlier work, with more polish perhaps. Buffalo is an excellent recording as well as being excellent musically. It was our #5 album of 2010 with stand out tracks Flock of Hearts and Wonton still regularly being used for demoing speakers. Dig it out, have another listen if its been a while, put it on shuffle if you must as it would be a shame to only hear the first half.

Southern Lights is my favourite work from SJD (Sean James Donnelly), and the Pic n’ Mix edition includes a 5 track ep featuring two remixes which are perfect for giving your system a test. One even made it to our top bass tracks blog. There’s an overall tone to Southern Lights which is just so pleasing on the ear, it wasn’t as radio friendly or successful as the later Songs from the Dictaphone, but I find myself listening to Southern Lights far more than the later. This is a record I’ll never get tired of.

Jet Jaguar – Think About it Laterjet-jaguar (2003)
This is a great electronic downbeat album with big bass that digs deep! You can buy it in FLAC for $4.50 so stop reading this blog and go ahead and do that already. It was great when it came out, and its one that still gets plenty of airplay at my place. There’s a tonne of free downloads on his site including a 4-track Phoenix Foundation remix ep. Get the free download, and pay the $4.50 for Think About It Later, it’s less that coffee.

So, what NZ Music are you playing of late?