New Zealand has had the attention of worldwide music lovers for decades – with movements like the punk-inspired Dunedin Sound of the 80s, the huge and rightly justified success of Crowded House, and the Dub groove explosion with bands like Salmonella Dub and Fat Freddy’s Drop in the 90s, this little Land of the Long White Cloud has been holding its own for decades. But indie music is now the most exciting scene here, with Auckland at the epicentre of it all (you’ll see what I mean).
Aldous Harding – Auckland
Aldous Harding‘s beautiful folk arrangements combine comforting acoustic rhythms with heartfelt strings and a tonally lilting voice that is sure to make you feel the feels. She evokes country life and times past and is sure to appeal to fans of 60s folk icon Joni Mitchell.
Broods – Auckland
You know when you hear the first notes of a song unheard and everything else becomes suddenly inaudible? Any draft dissipates from around you and anything within sight becomes unseen as the sound swirls around undisturbed in your mind? I felt a little like that when I first heard Bridges by Auckland brother/sister duo Broods. That they followed it up with electro pop single Mother & Father only meant I now keep an ear out for anything these guys create.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Auckland
Fronted by Ruban Nielson from Auckland, this energetic band released their third album Multi-Love in early 2015. Unknown Mortal Orchestra are based in Portland Oregan and are touring extensively, including a whole host of Australian summer shows taking in Fairgrounds Festival and Meredith Music Festival.
Tiny Ruins – Auckland
The timeless vocals of Tiny Ruins AKA Hollie Fullbrook are so delicate and warm they will transport you to winter fires and a slow rambling road. She’s great live too!
The Pheonix Foundation – Wellington
The Phoenix Foundation formed all the way back in 1994 while still students at Wellington High School. Six albums and four EPs later, they have toured with the likes of the Finn brothers, and have provided the original score to two New Zealand films Eagle vs Shark and Boy. And their music is so goddamn infectious.
Connan Mockasin – Te Awanga
This oddly wonderful New Zealand artist has toured with the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg and even Radiohead on their Australian tour. Connan Mockasin also recently had a pash with Mac Demarco onstage at this years Laneway Festival in Sydney!
Opossom – Auckland
Opossom‘s frontman Kody Nielson is the brother of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson which seems like a little too much awesomeness for one family if you ask me. 2012 saw them release the incredible swinging 60s-style Electric Hawaii album. They’ve been quiet since 2013, but I for one am hoping for a return.
The Ruby Suns – Auckland
The Ruby Suns have been kicking around this North Island harbour city since 2004 (see how many great bands there are from Auckland?!) when Californian Ryan McPhun moved there. In 2007 they signed to Sub Pop and have toured with The Shins.
Holly Arrowsmith – Queenstown
On a chilly winter eve in Queenstown, my mate Phil and I were kicking back for some sundown lakeside warming ciders. Holly Arrowsmith was playing some lovely lullabies in the corner, and I’ve been listening to her ever since. This folk songstress was born in Santa Fe, but raised in the mountains of New Zealand.
Street Chant – Auckland
The punkish indie vibes of Street Chant are backed up by hilarious song titles and lyrics. When you’re done with this rockin’ ditty check out There is No Depression in New Zealand to see what I mean…
The Vietnam War – Auckland
With an Americana country vibe, these Auckland rockers will certainly entertain the troops and will have you wanting to swill some whiskey and visit dirty dive bars. The Vietnam War‘s 2011 self-titled album is a cracker.
Lawrence Arabia – Auckland
Certainly the name alone has piqued the interested of you wild spinners, but Lawrence Arabia AKA James Milne has been making great tunes since 2006 in his “little country that always punches far above its weight”.
Lorde – Takapuna
The undisputed Queen of the New Zealand scene these days is of course Lorde. Born in the northern North Island town of Takapuna, but raised in Davenport, Auckland, Lorde has become an international phenomenon. That someone so young (she’s still only 18) has such a strong sense of identity and confidence as a performer is admirable. She is electric live. She collaborates with NZ producer and Grammy Award-winning songwriter Joel Little, who deserves a mention here as well.
And finally if you want to hear many of these artists and more, plus hear interviews and reports from New Zealand, take a listen to my Wanderlust New Zealand Special on Bondi Beach Radio.