11 May 2018

The Mixtape: NZ Music Month

From RNZ Music, 3:55 pm on 11 May 2018

The slogan for NZ Music month this year is 'Discover New'. The RNZ Music crew (Kirsten Johnstone, Alex Behan, Jana Whitta, Yadana Saw and Tony Stamp) bring this kaupapa to their mixtape, with some brand new exciting finds, and some old favourites too. 

Still from Slice of Heaven video - Herbs and Dave Dobbyn

Still from Slice of Heaven video - Herbs and Dave Dobbyn Photo: 2013 Simon Grigg

Nick Dow - Layers

The title track from this 25 year old's debut album draws you in from the opening chords. Minimal, sparse, deliberate, delicate and masterfully executed.With hints of jazz the arrangement is eerie yet uplifting and his dexterous voice is used to its full effect and while the lyrics look inward, the melody seems to look skyward. A stunning debut record, this guy has a hell of a future. AB

Tāl - Lights (Rāga Kafi)

This is a super-new discovery for me, like I found it this morning. It was an instant favourite, with its close sister harmonies (a la First Aid Kit) lazy harmonies, deep velvet voices and James Blake like space. They are Auckland identical twins Shalina and Shantini Sandran, who are Malaysian/Indian/Pākeha and grew up listening to, and eventually learning to play, Indian classical music. They say this song is about "about finding your faith again when you least expect it."  KJ 

Alexa Casino -  Red

Alexa Casino is a bedroom producer and singer from Wellington, who makes layered and intricate electronic music. When she’s not intimately whispering in our ear, her voice morphs, heavily laden with effects; this is all encompassed by often re-worked yet minimal beats. This song “Red” (Not to be mistaken for her song “Blu”  from her EP Cheer Up Try Hard Tear Up Cry Hard) takes us on an emotional rollercoaster, it starts off sweet and lovely with a minimal beat, and then its turns into this really abrasive angsty section in the middle that really reminds me of Xiu Xiu. 

 "My friend Georgina Conroy filmed the video in her bedroom over a year ago. The song was from a time where I couldn’t shake seeing red everywhere, I was obsessed. One of my favourite colours, there is a special power harnessed by the colour red."

Being - Fold Into the Sea

This is the second official release from Being, the indie-pop project of Auckland singer-songwriter Jasmine Balmer. 'Fold Into The Sea' is a wonderfully evocative title, and Jasmine is unafraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, tipping slightly into melodrama in the cathartic rush of a chorus. She’s dabbling in a similar genepool to Fazerdaze, but Being carves out her own path, her voice buffeted by nimble guitar and drum work while stretching to hit notes of yearning and heartbreak. TS

Hear / see the dark Ghana Chocolate version of Being's song 'Fold Into The Sea' here

Rei - Kia Tau

Wellington now Auckland based artist Rei has just released his Rangatira EP. He’s been bubbling around the traps a bit  - last year he released his second full length album A Place To Stand in which his rhymes were mostly in English. The challenge or wero he set for himself after that was to release a te reo Māori rap album. "Kia tau" means to be settled and chilled. The song is about his musical journey - almost a mantra to himself to keep striving and don’t stress. It's a positive message to reach out for your goals and not to die wondering. YS

Shona Laing - Soviet Snow

One of New Zealand’s most underrated singer songwriters in my opinion, Shona Laing recently blew me away at the Mahinaarangi Tocker tribute night - Love Me As I Am -  where she performed ‘My Love Be Still’, and ‘Picture on My Wall’. Her performance left me hanging and wanting to have a whole show of just Shona Laing (Sorry Mahinaarangi- But I’m sure you’d agree with me!).

'Soviet Snow' is taken from her international break through album South on Pagan Records, through our very own Trevor Reekie, who said the album received huge success in U.S with songs like ‘(Glad I’m) not a Kennedy’ and ‘Soviet Snow’ which had been remixed into dance club hits. Watch Tama Waipara cover it for NZ Music Month on Kiwi FM in 2013. JW

Delaney Davidson - What Am I Doing Wrong 

The master of scuzzed out hobo country has a distinctly 90s rock feel on some of the songs on his latest album Shining Day - I'm thinking of Head Like A Hole, or Darcy Clay, with vocal distortion and a rockabilly swagger. This song, featuring  gun for hire Neil Finn on bass is one of these, but the real star of the show is the screaming, interweaving melodies. It's rough, lo-fi and rock n roll. KJ

Holly Arrowsmith - Farewell

There is something so nostalgic about this song, and I reckon it’s got a bit of acoustic Seattle grunge ballad for me.

'Farewell' seems spacious and wistful. Expect to hear more of this from her crowdfunded album A Dawn I Remember slated for an end of June release. YS 

Dave Dobbyn and Herbs - Slice Of Heaven 

This song really needs no justification to be on any playlist but the reason i’m including it on this is twofold. Firstly, an article came out this week from the Spinoff website examining the content of New Zealand music on commercial radio. While the article was in no means scientific (the author listened to roughly one hour of a lot of stations, not all) one trend became clear: That adult contemporary radio (e.g MORE FM, Classic Hits etc) were by far the poorest performing in terms of local content. I’m sorry but you’re going to have to explain that to me, it’s not like there isn’t an absolute shedload of great tunes. Secondly, Herbs have lost a few bands members in recent months, Arohanui to their families and friends. So, there you go, turn it up and dance like no one’s watching. AB  

Jet Jaguar - Should Be Home Now

Michael Upton has been creating electronic music as Jet Jaguar for two decades now. Over his last two albums he’s left behind the dubwise rhythm section that used to bolster his work, to focus on found sounds and field recordings. There’s no melody in this track, just an inviting tapestry of various hisses and taps that provide a comforting sonic space for the listener to occupy. A single chord can be heard fluttering in the background, but 'Should Be Home Now' is more concerned with fragments of bird song and a thick blanket of aural fog. It’s a gentle, self-contained sound-world to lose yourself in for three minutes. TS


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