Welcome to Music 101’s ones to watch!
We’ve selected 10 acts we think you should have your eyes on going into 2021
(in no particular order)
Phoebe Rings is made up of members Crystal Choi, Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent, Benjamin Locke and Alex Freer (a.k.a. A.C. Freazy).
Songwriter and frontperson Crystal studied at Auckland Jazz school and is familiar with the music scene from her experience touring with the likes of Princess Chelsea, Jonathan Bree and Chelsea Jade as a keys player.
Her experience in the realm of jazz and indie music adds to the unique and fresh sound of Phoebe Rings. They have just released one single ‘Cheshire’, but by the sounds of it we'll be hearing more from the band this year.
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There’s a Tuesday
Christchurch indie dream pop band There's a Tuesday consists of Nat Hutton and Minnie Robberds on guitars and vocals, with Angus Murray on bass and Joel Becker on drums.
Nat and Minnie’s sublime harmonies and gorgeous songwriting won them the solo/duo division of the Smokefree Rockquest in 2019, which gave them the opportunity to work with Six60 bass guitarist Chris Mac. Together, they released their debut single 'Piñata Head', which reached number 13 on the NZ Singles Chart.
Their youthful charm and undeniable talent for catchy indie tunes will surely see them reach even greater heights in 2021, they’re already selling out shows around the country.
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If you ever wondered what happened to South London kids who grew up on a steady diet of Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and MTV, Greentea Peng is your answer.
The R&B neo-soul performer invokes the spirit of the early 90s Rebirth of Cool/ Talkin’ Loud hip hop jazz sensibilities with her effortless Millennial insta-swagger. Think street fashion, ethnic jewellery and striking collection of tattoos that includes an Om symbol between her eyebrows.
Greentea Peng’s sound is just as evocative as her style. Over the meditative piano riffs and noodling rhythms you’ll hear a bump of dancehall and wisps of tropicalia, beautifully melded together by her warm and husky tones.
She came to prominence after a 2019 performance of ‘Downers’ on the YouTube channel COLORS, and since then Greentea Peng has featured on many up-and-coming artist lists, even placing fourth on this year’s BBC Sound of.
With a debut album due this year there’s a lot more Greentea Peng coming our way.
Is it prog? Is it psych? Is it shimmering 80s pop, or some meaty 90s power chords? It’s all of that for Wellington three-piece Transistor.
The band have built a loyal live audience since their first release 2015’s ‘The Sun’ - a sprawling psych-garage number. Their latest work sees the hypnotic, trippy vocals of Lochie Noble washing over driving synth beats that wouldn’t be remiss in the next season of Stranger Things.
If Tame Impala, Joy Division and Pink Floyd got put in a test tube you’d quite possibly end up with Transistor.
This quartet (not to be confused with our own Chaii), have already released a few albums, Pink and Punk, but their third - Wink - is coming out on Sub Pop Records in 2021, which is sure to grow the fan base outside their native Japan.
They bring an infectiously joyful vibe to the many genres they dabble in (everything from rock to pop to hip hop), and define themselves as "Neo-Kawaii" while writing songs about things like body hair. We want to be mates with them.
The Weather Station
Canadian Tamara Lindeman started her career as an actress, and now makes music that’s getting reviewed through the roof, by outlets including our own. Her latest album Ignorance is full of big feelings and big songs, a celebration of Lindeman’s incredible songwriting and emotive voice.
The Weather Station started as a folk outfit, but Lindeman’s ambitions have swelled over the years and the music has swelled to match them. Ignorance sounds more like modern chamber pop, with lush string arrangements and a full band matching the scope of her beautiful, battle-scarred vision.
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A debut album co-produced by Geoff Barrow from Portishead and a guest spot on a Sleaford Mods track were enough to grab attention, but this UK artist had already been playing in bands for years. Her solo career began when she sold her guitar amp, bought a laptop, and began doing everything herself.
Her real name is Tor Maries - she somewhat hilariously got her stage name at a Mods show she attended solo, when some drunk dude shoved her and called her ‘Billy Nomates’. Her songs are delivered in a plainspoken speaking voice and occasional bursts of singing, over stripped down, melancholic beats.
As protest music and punk continue to morph into new forms, Billy Nomates has shown she’s one of the most exciting new voices on the scene.
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Shiraz & LSJ
Emerging from Auckland’s Grow Room creative space, this duo (Shiraz raps and Light Skin John produces) have gone on to release numerous singles and albums off their own back, creating real grass roots buzz in the process.
LSJ’s production is constantly evolving, ranging from cheeky guitar funk on ‘Dwayne’ to the reggaeton-tinged propulsion of ‘Risky’ (the group call it #Polybeat). Shiraz meanwhile just put in an appearance on David Dallas’ 24 Bars series at the invitation of Dirty (from Eno & Dirty), who calls him “the most underrated rapper in the country”.
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LEAO is a musical project by Auckland-born Samoan musician David Feauai-Afaese. His music is influenced by the traditional Samoan-pop staples The Samoan Surfriders and Punialava'a and The Five Stars, with contemporary rock 'n' roll thrown in. It's inspired by themes of rediscovery, reconnection, and feeling like an outsider to one's own culture.
Some say that if Flying nun set up an office in Samoa, LEAO would be the first artist to sign and release an album. LEAO has tinges of that jangly dark rock and roll, but with dreamy traditional Samoan music influences.
Singer/ songwriter/ producer Muroki is on the rise: his talents have already caught the attention of local pop super star Benee, who signed him to her label Olive in 2020.
Another notable fan: none other than Sir Elton John! The rock icon was introduced to Muroki’s music by Benee and Six60 frontman Matiu Walters on an episode of Rocket Hour Radio dedicated to New Zealand music.
Very few would argue Raglan’s place as the epicentre of NZ laid-back, good time surf vibes. So it will be of little surprise that Muroki hails from the Waikato town.
His music is as cool, delicious, satisfying and sweet as a double scoop ice cream from his hometown dairy. The woozy wah-wah guitar riffs accompany his soulful voice like a well planted chocolate Flake.
Take a look at his music video for Light Me Up and you’d actually think you’d dropped into an eternal youthful summer – and he’s pretty handy on the skateboard too!