NZ Music Month has been an institution for the past 18 years – an excuse for radio stations to force Shihad down our throats and make us swallow warm globules of ‘Stand Up’ by The Feelers until we feel sick. From the target-turntable logo tees at Hallensteins to the ripped-up posters in the Kmart car park, it’s impossible to escape the buzz around the most exciting month of the year.
In reality, there’s a fuckload of incredible, hardworking Kiwi acts that don’t get the exposure or airplay they deserve (at least until Jon Toogood retires or moves to Tirau or something). Often, these acts succeed in spite of, not because of, support from NZ On Air and 97.8 The Edge. Funding for music videos and album recording from Aunty Jacinda seems earmarked for already established acts, with some of the more obscure/underground artists left to flail around in community halls and under the Tauranga Harbour Bridge.
Despite what you may have heard (or more likely may not have heard), the Hamilton music scene is alive and well. Passionate local promoters, sick local venues (The Meteor, Zeal, Nivara Lounge etc.) and people that aren’t too ashamed to dance at the front of a crowd of 10 are all contributing to the revival of Hamilton’s music scene.
I think the best way we can support NZ Music Month is to simply just support NZ musicians - and not the ones on the KFC ads. Check out a new band. Buy their t-shirt. Leave the house to go to a gig even if the new season of 13 Reasons Why just came out on Netflix. By supporting local music, you’re ensuring that one day your children might be able to watch a shitty band play in a bar, too.
If the following artists are anything to go by, all you need is some recording gear, great songs, and a strong work ethic to reach the apex of the NZ music scene (opening for Shihad). Check out these cunts:
Carb on Carb (Auckland)
Without a doubt the hardest working band I am currently aware of, touring our country and the rest of the world so much it makes me feel tired for them. This two-piece plays the kind of emo music that makes you remember how shit it was to be a teenager and how great it was to have friends and not pay rent. Their latest album, For Ages, came out this month. It is fantastic and definitely didn’t make me cry or anything.
I’ve wanked on about these guys before in Nexus, but every time I see them, I like them even more. Dark, broody, heavy shoegaze with catchy hooks and some of the most tortured guitar effects I’ve ever heard. If you get a chance to check them out on their 2018 tour of Hamilton, bring earplugs. They’ve got a demo EP recorded, but are yet to release it out of sheer laziness.
Bridge Burner (Auckland)
The kind of music you embrace the void with. Some of the heaviest, most crushing, evil-sounding black metal you’ll ever have an existential crisis to. Their new release, ‘Null Apostle’, comes out soon, and if their 2015 EP Mantras of Self Loathing is anything to go by, it’s gonna be a dark few weeks.
Super Narco Man (Tauranga)
The best band I’ve ever seen live, straight up. They play a sort of filthy blues/soul/punk/jazz that makes you want to go for a skate and punch your dad. Their new album, Dank Mammoth Deluxe, just came out through MUZAI, so they’re kind of a big deal now. How can a band that sounds so weird be so catchy? How does the bassist scream for so long without passing out? How do they play so many shows?
Holly Arrowsmith (Auckland)
Holly Arrowsmith played in a garage in Matangi a few months back; I was yarning to her in the driveway for a while before she said “well, I better go and play” and I realised who she was. I think that speaks a lot to the music she plays—down to earth, raw, honest folk songs that give an unfiltered look into her life.
Hedge Fund Trader (Hamilton)
Currently on hiatus, while their vocalist is in China, there’s more than enough recorded music to tide you over ‘til they’re playing shows again. Loud, fast, and abrasive, this ‘90s screamo/powerviolence inspired band are one of the coolest bands I’ve seen come out of this city in a while.
Matthew Young (Auckland)
This dude is my fuckin’ idol. He released his dark R&B debut DIVE back in 2015, disappeared on me for a few years, and now is set to release FRUIT this week. Already reaching #1 twice on Australian radio stations, opening for Lorde and playing Laneway a while back, Young is going to blow up any minute now. Also if you’re reading this, I love you.
Aldous Harding (Lyttelton)
Gothic-folk singer Aldous just won the Taite Music Prize, so she isn’t exactly unknown anymore, but she is criminally under-listened to. Party is probably one of my favourite albums of all time. I saw her live at the Arts Festival earlier this year, and she sounded even better than the recording. Also, if you think Lorde has some weird dance moves, go and see Aldous perform. Seriously.
I don’t give a fuck. This band rules. Have you even heard ‘No Ordinary Thing’? ‘Levitate’? Any of the other absolute classics from 2004’s You Are Here? If you can listen to ‘One Day’ on The Breeze and not feel any emotion, you’re probably a psychopath. And no, they aren’t dead—I saw them at Homegrown, and they seemed reasonably alive and healthy.