10 Feb 2022

The RNZ Music Watchlist: Ones to Watch 2022

From RNZ Music, 1:14 pm on 10 February 2022

Charlotte Ryan, Tony Stamp, Jana Te Nahu Owen and Yadana Saw give their hot reckons and choice recommendations for the coming year.

Music 101's to watch

Music 101's to watch Photo: RNZ

Wet Leg - 'Wet Dream'

Hailing from the Isle of Wight, Wet Leg are an indie two-piece who refer to themselves as ‘country bumpkins’.

Up until the release of their first song Wet Leg were relatively unknown but within a few weeks the song 'Chaise Longue' was streamed 6.5 million times.

Take a listen to their witty, sexy single ‘Wet Dream’ while we await their debut album due for release later this year. CR

Grawlixes - 'Dalliance'

On their second album Love You To Death, this Whanganui-a-Tara band expanded from a duo to a five-piece, supplementing the voices of Penelope Esplin and Robin Cederman with a rhythm section and violin.

There’s a good amount of New Zealand melancholy on the record and a wide range of buoyant arrangements. Esplin has a knack for a killer one-liner, too. These songs are wistful, yearning, and frequently quite beautiful. TS 

MĀ - 'Hikoi'

Is the performing name of Maarire Brunning-Kouka (Ngāti Potou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Raukawa me Tūhoe)  who, in 2021, quietly released a self-produced album Breakfast with Hades and it is an album I cannot stop recommending.

Maarire is the daughter of the late Nancy Brunning and Hone Kouka and came to music and production through her parent’s involvement in arts and theatre.

On this album you’ll find lush soundscapes, trip-hop, downtempo beats with MĀ’s unhurried and unruffled voice makes for a comforting and immersive listen.

Most recently, MĀ has teamed up with Tamaki Makaurau producer whizz Christoph El Truento, the results of which sound like a homecooked NZ version of St Germain. YS

Arjuna Oakes - 'As I am'

Arjuna Oakes is a Wellington-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who is a striking and assured new talent. 

Performing since he was six years old, Arjuna’s sound is inspired by jazz, soul, folk and world music. His songs often explore social issues through a distinctly personal lens. He has a fresh new voice and shines with integrity and optimism. CR

Samara Alofa - 'B.T.T.G.'

Tamaki Makaurau based Samara Alofa is a producer/musician/songwriter with a background in theatre as a sound artist/composer. Her debut release Earth Punk was independently written, recorded, and mixed by Samara herself, and is a collection dripping with spirit and themes of personal growth.

I saw her live recently and her performance definitely had some 1990s influences that reminded me of Massive Attack at the peak. CR

Aidan Fine - ‘Day By Day’

Born in the United States, raised in South Africa, and currently calling New Zealand home, 21-year-old Aiden Fine is making a name for himself.

He’s part of the cool collective here in Auckland and has been collaborating with Church and AP. 

This song was released in 2020 - but you can hear that he will be making an exciting record that has an impact here soon.  CR

Michael James Keane - 'Ceramic Tide'

Pōneke artist Michael James Keane is set to release new music this year, and it is an album I have been eagerly waiting to hear since his debut album The Cascade in 2018 left a deep impression on me.

Listening to 'Ceramic Tide', the latest single from the forthcoming album Wandering Bull, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know he has been living in the Wairarapa working as a stonemason whilst writing this album. That vignette creates the perfect backdrop for the dark, brooding tones that set Michael James Keane apart from the pack in his own unique musical arena. I think Wandering Bull' will be a refreshing and welcome addition to the diverse Aotearoa musical landscape of 2022. JTNO

Gabriels - 'Blame'

Elton John, patron saint of new music has anointed Gabriels' debut EP Love and Hate in a Different Time as “one of the most seminal records I’ve heard in the past 10 years”.

The Los Angeles-based trio has deep roots in the local gospel community and has promised a full-length project to be released later this year. CR

The Lazy Eyes - 'Fuzz Jam'

If you are a fan of early Tame Impala or King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard you might be interested in this new Australian band called The Lazy Eyes.

The Lazy Eyes are a four-piece psychedelic rock band based in Sydney, Australia who all met at performing arts high school. CR

Soft Plastics - 'My World, Your Girl'

The spirit of indie guitar rock is alive and well in the capital city. The trio of Sophie Scott-Maunder (vocals, bass) Jonathan Shirley (guitar) and Laura Robinson (drums) have picked up the mantle from acts like Fur Patrol.

The emotive vocals of Sophie Scott-Maunder sit wonderfully alongside her bandmates, their releases thus far have retained the organic sparkle of their live set.

Definitely one to have your ears close to as new material is promised for this year. YS

SR Mpofu - 'Haze and Fog'

Following in the footsteps of LA beat producers like J Dilla, Flying Lotus and Samiyam, this Tāmaki Makaurau producer packs his compositions with lush sonic detail. Unidentifiable sounds sit alongside in-the-pocket rhythms, and the overall effect is transportive and soothing.

SR Mpofu’s career is in its earliest stages, and whether he works with vocalists in future or sticks to expansive instrumentals, the level of talent is undeniable. TS

Hurray for the Riff Raff - 'RHODODENDRON'

If Hurray for the Riff Raff's latest single 'RHODODENDRON' is anything to go by, their forthcoming album Life on Earth will be on the highest of rotations for me in 2022. 

Formed by Alynda Segarra in New Orleans, Hurray for the Riff Raff has been releasing albums since 2012, but I think this latest album due out 18th February is the one that is really going to throw them into the spotlight, perhaps the timing is right, or maybe the world has just slowly caught up to them.

Have a listen and watch the very entertaining video for 'RHODODENDRON' and see if you agree... JTNO 

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