UTR Team + Friends and Contributors
/ Friday 24th December, 2021 12:05PM
We’ve made it to the end of 2021, a year infamous for mass gig restrictions due to Delta, Tāmaki Makaurau’s longest Level 4 lockdown and no international touring in Aotearoa. While there’s certainly been tonnes of weirdness for future scholars to unpack (for example: who remembers Ariel Pink being interviewed by Tucker Carlson?), let’s not forget our live music community had a mostly clear run for the first half of the year and is thriving again this summer, and it’s been a strong one for local releases the whole way through. Check out our UTR 2021 End Of Year Playlist HERE for definitive proof.
As per festive season tradition, we’ve invited contributors and friends of the site this year to share five of their personal favourite and most notable memories from the past twelve months, plus a few red hot takes thrown in the mix for extra spice. Congratulations to everyone for powering through — a huge thank you to all the artists, event organisers, contributors, readers and everyone who supported UTR over the past twelve months. See you in 2022!
WRITER & MUSICIAN
The Inaugural Student Radio Network Awards
God, these could have been so dull. I was gearing myself up for a ‘high school production of Grease: The Musical’ level of begrudging support, but ten minutes in and it was impossible not to be overcome by the wholesomeness, community spirit, and sheer grubby, homemade charm of the thing. Special shoutouts to Sports Team’s Minority Report inspired nomination video, the beautiful speeches from Reuben Winter’s mum and gran, Iona and Kaye, and also it was nice to get an award myself (cheers).
bb gurl live at Loud and Proud 2021
It’s hard to explain just how gratifying it is to see a fellow trans girl step out from behind their pirated copy of FL Studio and fully and unabashedly dominate the stage. There’s not many with as sharp a tongue as bb gurl, and none of them have Che’s ear for a hook. Stream TTYL <3 and don’t miss a chance to catch them live. Big things for this one in 2022!
deepState – MMXXI
The first time I heard deepState was through some pretty sketchy in-ears on the 22 bus going down New North Road and I was like “oh chill”. The second time I heard deepState was at midnight in the Wine Cellar on the big speakers after everyone had gone home and I was like “woah shit”. Now it’s gotta be about the hundredth time I’ve heard deepState and I’m still like… “hell yeah”.
Northcote Intermediate Choir and The Society Jazzmen – Creation Jazz
So this totally didn’t come out this year but I found the 7” on Trademe right, and it’s a 1972 soul-jazz interpretation of the biblical creation story, featuring a children’s choir from right around the corner from when I grew up. Why aren’t people doing this anymore? Nathan Haines get your shit together.
Milk III Album Release
Grief can be a totally overwhelming emotion, and I’m extremely grateful to have been able to channel it into this beautiful community event with so many people Reuben loved, and who loved Reuben. I keep trying to write something profound for this next bit about how “music at its core is about community and communication” but I think really the point would be better made if you just stop reading, and go and listen to Reuben’s music.
UTR ASSISTANT EDITOR / SPORTS TEAM
Merk ‘Deep Dive’ Shoot
One completely unsustainable step in the Sports Team music video-making process involves myself and co-creative directer Callum Devlin playing a game of Idea Chicken. No concept is too hard, no location too impractical. That’s how we end up with Mark Perkins and twenty extras on a Karangahape Road rooftop without a single pair of hands not sticky from maple-flavoured syrup. I’d like this to also serve as my official apology to all the volunteers who were promised bottomless pancakes and left with pancakeless tums. And my official thank you to Jed Parsons, James Penwarden, Kalyani Nagarajan and Chelsea Prastiti for the raw batter you collectively consumed.
Patea Māori Club
I’ve been super lucky the last couple of years to be invited to attend the Taite Music Award ceremony, an evening of recognising Aotearoa songwriting excellence and squeezing every last drop from an open bar. Besides the delightful sight of The Beths all dressed in beekeeping attire, I was also deeply moved by Patea Māori Club performing their 1983 te reo single ‘Poi E’, which was deservingly recognised with the IMNZ Classic Record Award. The experience caught me totally off guard and tears were shed.
The Chills Trash Recital
Another Sports Team-adjacent 2021 highlight was the entirety of Trash Recital — everything from hand-selecting the perfect broken bike pump at the dump, to sharing The Beths finale episode to wrap up the season. But the moment that always gets me happened during our afternoon with The Chills, when longtime band member Erica Scally realised the lyric in ‘Kaleidoscope World’ was in fact "If we were floating in a space capsule" and not "If we were going to a space camp school".
Vera Ellen – It’s Your Birthday
Vera Ellen’s music was fairly new to me this year, somehow slipping past my periphery all this time, save for her highly emotional Songs No-One Should Hear EP from July last year. It wasn’t until I helped video-makers Gussie Larkin and Ezra Simons on the video for ‘Public Bodies’ by Girl Friday that I cottoned on to her talent, meaning I was properly paying attention when she started dropping singles from all killer album It’s Your Birthday. Who else is writing music so catchy, so earnest and so badass, while maintaining that level of punk rock aesthetic? No one. Only Vera.
Earlier this year Sports Team were asked to be roving reporters at Flying Nun’s 40th anniversary show at the Auckland Town Hall, capturing moments back stage and filming between acts. Naturally, I spent the better part of a week constructing a Fuzzy costume, bringing to life the nightmare-fuel Flying Nun mascot that had once only existed as a magnet on my parents’ fridge. Thankfully Fuzzy was a hit! An overnight sensation! So much so that I was flown down for the Pōneke anniversary show to take on another night of embodying a horrifying, faceless celebrity and making nightmares come true.
HANS PUCKET / SPORTS TEAM
MVP: Ruby Walsh sound engineering Trash Recital
There were no guarantees that our “make musicians play their songs with rubbish” webshow would actually work, but it would have been an absolute sore mess without Ruby producing the tracks. Ruby is a talented and (extremely) patient producer, presenting a calm front for the artists to follow from. We’d ask “how does it sound, Ruby?” and she’d say “It sounds like someone hitting a glass bottle with a stick” and yet… somehow, it would end up as music. Thank you Trash MVP Ruby Walsh.
Mermgrown Wellington + Mergrown Auckland
Inspired in part by the Australian festival GIZZFEST, Mermgrown is a one day music festival curated (and headlined) by Pōneke indie superstars Mermaidens. The two shows almost felt as opposites; Auckland’s being an underground indie-christmas at Whammy-Backroom and Wine Cellar, while the Wellington show took place on a glorious sunny afternoon at a bowls green in Newtown. They were united by their absurdly great lineup, world class design and an overall feeling of warmth and excitement. I feel strongly that Mermaidens, through their combined forces as a high-functioning indie band, are capable of anything they set their minds to and we should all be deeply afraid. These shows fucking ruled, and I can’t wait for next year.
The Beths – Auckland, New Zealand, 2020
2020 was the year I saw The Beths live maybe 20 times, this set of songs in particular. They’re my friends and I love them, but it was watching The Beths play live that made them my favourite band, and getting to follow them on their October tour last year made me obsessed with each song and band-member in turn. I’m so incredibly proud of the film Sports Team made from this concert, and will always have a deep fondness for this recording. Favourite track: bird talk – Live
Planet Merk (Playlist)
A sonic expansion of musical influences for Merk’s dynamite 2021 album Infinite Youth, Planet Merk sits right on the boundary of groovy and heartbreaking, becoming a kind of “show your working” type experience when paired with the album. Fitting any occasion really, from dinner parties to plane trips, I returned to these songs again and again this year, cementing my love for the curated artist playlist. Highlights include the one two punch of Susumu Yokota’s dazzling ‘blue sky and yellow sunflower’ followed by Oneohtrix Point Never and Alex G’s ‘Babylon’ — listen HERE.
Princess Chelsea – Chabs at Milky Livestream Tāmaki
In May of this year, VHS livestream troubadours Chabs and Milky took their cameras on the road with a wildly ambitious national tour. I loved these shows, and attending in Pōneke got to see the true terror in the James’ eyes as they ran around juggling the needs of hardly functioning AV equipment and top tier NZ Musicians. I was out of town for the Tāmaki show, and tuned in late on my phone to catch Princess Chelsea (and band) absolutely tearing the room apart at Whammy Bar, leaving me stunned in tears when they finished their last song and the stream clicked off. It’s a memory that feels distinctly 2021 to me, so I’ve included it here. It’s on YouTube, just go watch it and we can discuss after.
To The Front Tāmaki Makaurau Fundraiser
Girls Rock Aotearoa’s To The Front Tāmaki Makaurau Fundraiser at the Hollywood Avondale was the first gig we got to see after that very lengthy lockdown, and it felt like a holy experience to be at a gig after all that time being starved of live music. Hearing Hollie Fullbrook’s (Tiny Ruins) shimmering voice and rolling finger style guitar while she played her perfect songs gave me full body goosebumps for literally the entire set. Anna Coddington played 2nd and her songs were so beautiful and personal and relatable and I was just pulled into her world. PolyHill and Samara Alofa did a fantastic set with Half Queen on the beats. Also Rachel from bFM did the best MC’ing of all time hands down. Go donate to Girls Rock!
Phoebe Rings released their debut EP and MAN, I was hanging out for that one! Every time I went to Crystal Choi’s gigs and heard these incredible songs and that beautiful band vibe I just wanted to take it home with me and NOW WE ALL CAN ?
The ‘Spissky’ track is just the dreamiest thing in the whole woooorrld!
Wellington Jazz Festival
I got to play Wellington Jazz Fest in June with Bonita and Leda’s Dream, and it was my birthday that week, and the whole festival felt like a big party and everyone was so happy listening to/playing music with their friends! There were no international acts and whilst I know it’s awesome to have them, tbh it was just magical to be able to celebrate with our Pōneke and Tāmaki Makaurau Jazz scenes together! Watching GRG67 at Rogue and Vagabond just made me sail up to the clouds, it’s just the BEST BAND and our Rog (Roger Manins, the best Tenor player in the southern hemisphere) is the best Rog ;3
Their tune “Crab Empathy” is a literal Auckland jazz scene original standard
AND they just released some new music to boot!!!! EVIL GRG!
Opposite Sex – High Drama
One of me and Callum (Passells)’s fave releases this year has been the High Drama album by Dunedin band Opposite Sex; the track ‘Combine Harvester’ in particular is one of the most fantastically weird catchy and unique rock songs I have ever heard. The stutter lyric in the chorus is INSPIRED. I cannot name a single song like it and the whole album is pure genius — they have a sound that you just CANNOT get anywhere else and I cannot wait to see them play MY GOODNESS TOUCH WOOD FINGERS CROSSED.
Hans Pucket – ‘I Don’t Know What To Get You For Christmas (Do I Really Love You?)’
When Callum laid down his horn parts for Hans Pucket over the last stretch of lockdown, I got a sneak preview of their latest release “I don’t know what to get you for Christmas (do I really love you?)” and we’ve been singing it around the house for the last month, just being so excited for everyone to have their Christmas anxieties completely validated in song (upon its very recent release) by the genius that is Oliver Devlin. No one can write about the real ennui shit like this man. He is a TRUE MASTER of songwriting and always manages to turn those that distressing situations and social anxiety into hilarious and heartfelt hooks that you can sing mantra like to yourself when you’re stressing out about the same shit — he is my hero and Hans Pucket are the best goddamn band! Also LOOK AT THAT VIDEO.
Responsible for last year’s Kiwi Animals: Future/ Primitive Aotearoa compilation, Pōneke’s Strangelove Music had a productive 2021 with superb archival releases from Australia’s Scribble and Sweden’s Sjunne Ferger’s Exit, along with brand new drops from contemporary international artists Psychedelic Digestion Therapy, t-woc and by CCCVVV. Serving up time-defying collections of elegant dream-pop bliss, balearic beatscapes, experimental songcraft and more, compiled with an inquisitive and trustworthy curatorial ear, Strangelove Music vinyl LP releases have been "buy on sight" material for this fan.
Sports Team – UTR Trash Recital
It’s been a total pleasure to work with Sports Team — Annabel Kean (Assistant Editor of this site), Callum Devlin (Hans Pucket, Dateline) with sound engineer / mixer Ruby Walsh (Dateline / Misty & The Slug) — as they created our eleven episode UTR Trash Recital series, which from my 100% unbiased perspective is some of the best local music content produced in 2021. Trash Recital is made by artists with artists, a too rare showcase of the fun conversations that can spark while actually making, as well as a testament to the inventiveness of our musical community. Special thanks to all the amazing guests on the show and bring on Season Two!
Not directly music related, but I spent much of Tāmaki’s endless lockdown months exploring the cinematic delights of Cathode TV, rewiring my brain with an expertly curated selection of underground trash / arthouse / action / horror / documentary / psychedelia / you name it beamed out almost daily online. Which is a bit of a long-winded way of saying I’m now an Oingo Boingo fan after finally being exposed to their 1982 new wave musical opus Forbidden Zone, so it was a thrill to feature Luke Rowell’s (Eyeliner) in-depth interview with legendary band leader and Simpsons theme tune composer Danny Elfman this year on UTR.
A necessary balance to a local musical conversation ruled by Spotify playlist-compatible blandness and radio-friendly tune-smithery for the past few years, the inaugural SRN Awards celebrated the wildly diverse musical energy that fills our student radio airwaves and compels crowds to pack out Aotearoa’s venues every weekend. It feels right that the bulk of this year’s awards went to hugely missed sonic innovator Reuben Samuel Winter aka Milk for his world class album Milk III.
Foodman – Yasuragi Land
I listened to Japanese electronic producer Foodman aka Takahide Higuchi’s 2021 Hyperdub album Yasuragi Land a LOT during Tāmaki’s lockdown and continue to do so. Inspired by "eating at Michinoeki, Japanese motorway service stations and the simple pleasures of regularly visiting the local Sento (Japanese public baths)," the crystalline beat abstractions of Yasuragi Land helped me imagine the ambience of such enticing destinations, heard from the perspective of my tiny little apartment.
UTR ROVING REPORTER / DARTZ
Limp Bizkit live at Lollapalooza 2021
When this dropped on YouTube I was hooked immediately, watched it way too many times, tried to make all my friends watch it — with the timing of the HBO Woodstock 99 documentary that came out around the same time, it sent me deep into a Limp Bizkit phase that I was way too young to have in the early 2000s. The band is absolutely killing it musically, somehow these 20 year old songs feel fresh as hell, and not only did Fred Durst debut his iconic new look, but he’s hilarious all the way through and has completely maxxed out his rock frontman skills stat at this point — watch HERE.
The violin version of ‘Wildest Dreams’ from the Bridgerton sex montage
I watched the first 20 minutes of the first episode of Bridgerton with my girlfriend before I stormed off like a dorky sexist sitcom dad, yelling that I couldn’t get into this hacky tv show for girls. Three days later, I was composing DARTZ’s 2023 hit ‘Earn the Thirst’ in the other room when she yells at me to get back in front of the TV right now, and when I did I witnessed what I can only describe — completely earnestly — as the most powerful music moment of the year. The montage of Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings banging in numerous different positions and locations around their countryside manor, set to an impeccably performed instrumental violin cover of Taylor Swift’s best song, overwhelmed me with all kinds of emotion, like it was so funny and surprising but also conveyed so much passion.
The SIX60 discourse from Jan-April
It was pretty crackup how everyone got so swept up talking about Six60, especially in the lead up to their Eden Park show. Absolutely no one was immune, I know I was completely caught up in it. Its very funny to me that a lot of people aren’t very comfortable with them being such an institution for normie NZers, and that you can get some kind of reaction from absolutely everyone by even mentioning them. I ended up actually listening to a fair bit of Six60 in that early part of the year (they got some bangers IMO) so maybe I’m just nostalgic for those simple summery pre-Delta times. Let’s do it again when they tour in March and April lol.
All the NZ musicians who are grinding on TikTok
Not at all joking, very honestly shoutouts to anyone from NZ who’s on TikTok trying to promo music, seems like it requires a fuckload of drive and work ethic — and even after that you’re still at the mercy of the algorithm – but if you’re doing it you should be proud of yourself for trying and for knowing that you’re hustling in the right place at least. It does make me worry about musical minds getting burnt out, because the world is demanding an entirely different set of skills from them. I know my brain’s far too scrambled as is to even consider making TikTok content regularly, where else are you gonna blow up in 2021? So good on yas, keep it up and TAKE CARE of yourself mentally.
Bo Burnham – Inside
The songs from Inside are my album of the year by far not even kidding, I fucking thrashed this album from the moment it came out. I was gonna say the “I’m a special kind of white guy” drop in ‘Comedy’ was my favourite moment, but after listening again the bit that takes the absolute cake for me is the bridge on ‘White Woman’s Instagram’, I love how he lures you in with the goofy Instagram bop then gets you to feel so much in such a short time.
Bo Burnham · White Woman’s Instagram
Flying Nun 40th Anniversary at Auckland Town Hall – Solid Gold Hell
Flying Nun 40th Anniversary at Auckland Town Hall – Subliminals
Surf Friends – Good Thing
BEASTWARS – 10th Anniversary Tour
Night Lunch – House Full of Shit
UTR CONTRIBUTOR / PUBLIC HENEMY NUMBER ONE
The first SRN awards happened this month, and it honestly made my year. It was always an idea that we floated around at the SRN meetings during my time at Radio One, but never thought it would happen. It’s so cool seeing the legacy of the bNets live on through an awards ceremony that celebrates all the insane talent Aotearoa has to offer, because they absolutely deserve it. I cannot give enough praise to the SRN stations and Naked PR for all the hard work in general and for creating the event, and I hope that it can last long into the future.
Adelaide Cara – How Does This Sound?
One of Otepoti’s finest, Adelaide Cara is a force to be reckoned with. They released their debut album How Does This Sound? earlier this year, and if you haven’t listened to it yet then you’re missing out. Adelaide explores so many different genres from alt rock to baroque pop, and it all just works together so well. The track ‘Eden’ pays homage to my hometown of Dirty Dudz, and actually makes me miss it for once which is incredible. Adelaide is an absolute powerhouse, and I cannot wait to see where they go next.
Leaping Tiger – ‘Gooey’
When Leaping Tiger first released Gooey as a single, it was all that I listened to for a week straight. The beat always fucks me up, and works so well with the vocals on the tracks. There’s so many good lines from the song that it’s hard to pick a stand out lyric, but the line of “I can’t fake it, I think I gotta say he’s just a fucking d-grade version of me” just always hit’s me so hard and I can’t explain why. Soulsleep is an incredible album all together, but I guess my minds soaked up in goo.
Amamelia – WOW! The 2021 Remixes
When you start off an album with a 160 bpm footwork remix by the King of Redwood himself Liam K. Swiggs, you know you’re in for a treat. Amamelia’s debut album WOW! was one of my personal highlights of last year, filled with some insane tracks that make me want to shred up the dance floor. I didn’t think it could get better until WOW! The 2021 Remixes was released earlier this year, featuring a stacked line-up of Imugi 이무기, Eyeliner, DBLDBL x Trapjaw Kelpie and others, that bring their own unique flavour to each track. There’s no other way to describe it other than it just SLAPS.
DARTZ at Newtown Fest
Newtown Fest was fucking sick. After a day of hitting those craft beers hard, Earth Tongue were meant to take the stage until postponed by a power outage. This led to Poneke rascals DARTZ taking the floor (literally), for probably one of their best performances yet. The boys were on point, the crowd was absolutely pumping, and the energy was unbeatable. I mean what more could you want for a Sunday than a whole group of sweaty people screaming about how you can’t beat Wellington on a good day?
LIAM K. SWIGGS
FULLBACK @ THE BIG FRESH COLLECTIVE
YOUNG GHO$T X LIAM K. SWIGGS – ABC (WEL X CHCH)
Always holding a place close to my heart is The Big Fresh Collective’s crown jewel — the annual 160BPM themed Footmahi compilation which is dropped during NZ Music Month. This year’s 2021 entry might have been the best yet with a decentralised bank of hot tracks crafted by some of the finest producers Aotearoa wide featuring some yummy mahi from; Amamelia, TOYOTA, Paploco, DJ Simon Dallow, Jay Knight, Bomb Dylan, Keanu Raves Young Gho$t & more. If you love your local electronic music and haven’t heard this compilation yet then like what the fuck, you gotta check this shit out! NOW!
BFC One Night Stand Gig in Wellington @ Valhalla
Imagine pro wrestling meets breakbeats meets unlimited boxes of Haagens meets a bloody ripping Valhalla crowd and you’ve got yourself what we like to call a Big Fresh Collective One Night Stand. It was an exclusive night of high-intensity Footwork, Juke, Jungle and Techno stylings with a line up consisting of a mixture of 03 heavyweights and Welly legends & to top it all off with some of that classic BFC flavour. The DJs had their own personalised entrances & theme songs as they made their way to the RING through the crowd like an authentic WWF house show in the 90’s! What an absolute ripper of a night for The Big Fresh Collective’s first ever out of town/redwood experience! Seriously, get the tables and chairs ready, put the Haagens in the chiller and look the fuck out for the BFC nationwide One Night Stand tour in 2022 – you’ve heard it here first on UTR!
deepState – MMXXI
We made an amazing new friend here this year @ The Big Fresh in the amazingly talented deepState who took the country by storm with her frothy as debut 7 track EP MMXXI. Out via the good homies @ Sunreturn; Deepstate knocked the country for a tasteful yet powerful six runs back straight back over the bowlers head with her lush, earthy, heartwarming tech/rave vibes found across the seven tracks of MMXXI. My personal favourite release of 2021. Yummy!
Amamelia Release Party In Auckland @ Whammy
Few things: Amamelia is a national treasure — we must protect her at all costs, Sunreturn sure know how to put together a fucking good remix album and on top of that Sunreturn also know how to put on a fucking ripper party! That’s right c**ts it was an absolute night for the ages and I was counting my lucky stars that a humble bedroom DJ from his Mum’s sleepout in Redwood was gracing such a bill! A bloody star studded line up across two rooms; Amamelia, bb gurl, Big Fat Raro, Citacsy, Dbldbl, Go Nuclear, Imugi 이무기, Jack Russell, Tei., Trapjaw Kelpie, Alexa Casino as DJ Snakelegs, Eyeliner beamed live and direct from Hong Kong & yours truly Liam K. Swiggs on the decks too. You couldn’t ask for much more I wouldn’t let ya — NRL First grade level performances by all it was such an amazing night enjoyed by everyone who came along celebrating what was a fucking yummy remix album in itself. Huge highlight for me. Also big love going out to my Warriors behind the bar Taylor & Lucy for sliding me a few extra Red Bull voddies to keep me on my toes like RTS.
Was kinda hoping I’d get in trouble for this one so I could do the 7 O’clock weeknight circuit rounds and talk with Hillary and Kanoa about the shortfalls of living on Studylink also at the same time getting the booster shot up the ass that my music career really needs… Yeah that’s right I dropped an edgy as fuck translucent 7′ Inch EP this year called Shittylink. The songs are called; “Food, Rent, Expenses, Piss” and let me tell you — the struggle is fucking REAL! Please buy my shit LOL <3
PICKLE DARLING / RECORD SHOP EMPLOYEE / TOP MUSICAL MOMENT LIST MAKER
Me releasing an OK second album!
Okay I’ll get myself out of the way first so I can talk about other people! I released my sophomore record Cosmonaut! Bandcamp Daily & Stereogum dug it which was cool, I did my first tour, got a song on the news during the weather, charted in the top 40 at #40! Okay done boasting about my achievements.
Skirts – ‘Great Big Wild Oak’
A bunch of my favourite artists released beautiful records this year, favourites being the new Elbow, Katy Kirby, Another Michael, Wurld Series, Cindy records (and others ofc), but I want to highlight this record in particular! I’ve been such a big fan of Skirts since her first EP ‘Almost Touching’ in 2018 (and her first lathe cut ‘night walks/in love’ in 2017), and I think her new album was worth the wait! The most beautiful DIY folk-tinged record of the year, released on Double Double Whammy, I listened to it when I was feeling sad on tour and it made the long road trips really lovely. Beautiful cover too!! I feel incredibly proud she was on my first album lol.
The May Day 2021 / International Workers Day concert
Maybe a weird local addition to this list but it was a personal highlight! It was a night of music (put on by the Canterbury Socialist Society) and in particular I loved hearing Petit Poisson (Rachael from the band Model Home) play! From memory they played a cover of a Tom Frampton song, which introduced me to his music and sent me down a rabbit hole!
ecotone – all the spaces inbetween vol. 1
A beautiful compilation from a new label that I’ve been following! I always get excited when a new label pops up, and this comp is great! 7 songs, they only made like 25 CDs or something (I got one!) and there is a beautiful song on it called ‘downfall’ by witchbaby which is stunning.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s first official rap verse
And on a Tech N9ne track lol. Wild stuff. I think the funniest thing about it is that for first two lines it’s genuinely great. The “It’s about drive, it’s about power” bit fucking rocks. As a whole it gives me the same feeling as the that classic Celebrity Rehab exit where the guy quotes Rocky and then screams like King Kong. Memeable but also embarrassingly powerful, you’re just like *feeling it*. I love it so much and I love Dwayne Johnson.
DISASTERADIO & EYELINER
Jenniva – Soul Searchin’
The accidental collab with Eyeliner’s “Pinot Noir” being sampled into Jenniva’s “Soul Searchin’” – via a third-party DJ selling the sample uncleared in a beat without disclosing it:
Jenniva · Soul Searchin’
Clear Licorice – American Crew
Clear Licorice aka Wywy Brix releasing a new collection of wonky-donk puzzle music on the full-length cassette album American Crew.
FM Skyline – Illuminations
Fave album of the year: FM Skyline’s Utopian Virtual / Impressionist Vaporwave opus Illuminations with a perfect richness and bittersweet edge to match the spirit of our age:
Power Nap – Out Of The Pit
Power Nap (aka Chris Cudby) asking us all the perennial question for 2021 — what will we find crawling out of the pit? In Out Of The Pit, resulting in a well-deserved #1 spot in the Aotearoa Student Radio Network:
Erika De Casier – ‘Polite’
The impeccably served delicate RnB by new 4AD signing Erika De Casier, especially with the hardcore televisual pastiche in the video for ‘Polite’:
FREELANCE MUSIC JOURNALIST / BROADCASTER / DJ
Arooj Aftab – Vulture Prince (New Amsterdam Records)
Meditations on places, people, relationships, and friendships from days past, set against jazz, Hindustani classical music, folk and even reggae. Vulture Prince is the Pakistan-born, Brooklyn-based composer Arooj Aftab’s third album and it’s one of the most remarkably moving and immersive records of the year. Check out the harp on ‘Inayaat’, like a portal into another realm.
Noa Records’ Te Whanganui-a-Tara Pyramid Club Residency
Although covid restrictions dialed these nights down to an intimate twenty person capacity, they couldn’t dull the intensity of the performances and collaborations. Over several nights, they were a compelling reminder of why Tāmaki Makaurau’s Noa Records are one of the most important and vital music collectives currently operating in Aotearoa. A rare treat for an often challenging year.
Cassandra Jenkins — ‘Hard Drive’ (Ba Da Bing Records)
For me, this was one of the songs of the year. Affecting prose and an elegiac arrangement that encapsulates so much about 2020 and 2021, but hopefully not 2022 (haha). It’s been a hard drive for a lot of us, and while there are common threads, the challenges are often subtly different.
Radio Alhara راديو الحارة
Radio Alhara is a Palestinian internet radio station that broadcasts from Bethlehem and Ramallah. I started listening to them in 2020 and ended up hosting the odd show for the station. It’s such a wellspring of incredible music, meaningful culture and inspirational storytelling from across the Middle East, North Africa and nowadays, even further afield.
AP & Kamahumble – ‘HEKAHORCY’ (YKK)
Were any other Aotearoa music videos more joyful than ‘HEKAHORCY’ this year? The visual styling of this clip was unforgettable, much like AP’s singalong drink-up chorus and Kamahumble’s confidence. It’s always great to see artists from the North and South Island linking up; that’s where the magic happens.
MUSICIAN/ NON-BINARY ICON
I would like to congratulate Joe Locke and myself for doing absolutely nothing this year.
No singles, no albums, no videos and total lack of interest.
Just two little old clown lady’s with a Focusrite interface and a box of some kind of pre-mixed, self loathing, ethanol based, clown drink hell.
Blink 182 ‘Jumper’ tee
I ordered this official merch a couple of months back.
My best friend said:
“you’re really ordering more Blink-182 merch?”
My girlfriend said:
“This is terrible”
It reminded me of the time when I was 11 and wore a South Park t-shirt to school and talked in a Cartman voice and got beaten up.
Blarf – Cease & Desist
Stones Throw records did a limited reissue of this album and I didn’t buy it and then it sold out.
The album artwork is really good, it has a clown on it, a McDonald’s logo on the cover, a Pepsi logo on the back and a Burger King logo on the centre label.
It also has a photo of Michael Jackson with his hair on fire.
My favourite track is “Badass Bullshit Benjamin Buttons Butthole Assassin”.
Milk – Milk III
I don’t know what to say other than I think this album is a flawless one and I’m so thankful that it was able to be shared with everybody.
In my opinion ‘Maple’ is one of the greatest pop / rock songs ever made.
We all miss you all the time, Reuben X
Joe Taylor Sutkowski – Of Wisdom & Folly
My friend Joe Sutkowski looks like Ronald McDonald but if Ronald McDonald was hot and had a fat ass.
This album is really beautiful and heartbreaking.
It’s just amazing that this music came out of a person who talks about nothing but pee pee and poo and often gets diarrhoea by eating candy from France.
I love you Joe you little clown.
LUNAVELA / EX-COLLAPSING CITIES
Jordan Rakei – ‘Family’
This song is sooo good. I love everything about this guy. New Zealand’s finest!
Slightly narcissistic number two, but, releasing ‘six-out-of-ten friend’ and hitting the SRN number one was awesome. Finishing off my debut album has been such a struggle financially and mentally. One thing I’ve learnt is when I get uber negative on music ie sunk-cost fallacy, what’s the point, payola etc is to catch myself and reframe it ie It’s good to be making music again and I’m stoked with all the awesome people who’ve helped me make the best album I’ve ever made. It really is all a learning curve and I can’t wait to kick my social anxiety to the curb and start playing live again and then make album two. I’ve missed playing live, it really is the best part.
Wolf Alice Blue Weekend was my favourite album of 2021:
Number four is tie. I’m stoked that two of my favourite artists are making music again. Kelly, my long time friend, who I grew up with, just put out an album, Proteins of Magic. And, I’m also stoked there is a new Fazerdaze record on the way.
Easy Life – ‘Have A Great Day’
I love everything about this song. The video is cool too:
TASH VAN SCHAARDENBURG
AUDIO FOUNDATION / RADIO STUFF / MUSICIAN(CITACSY)
REI Compact – Breadbath
Breadbath is a haunting and cathartic journey through incredibly beautiful electroacoustic soundscapes. I was bathing in buckets of sounds along the crywank / experimental / ambient music spectrum in 2021 but this album in particular really struck me as for its sensitivity to the times which it has been created in, and I feel that music with this kind of specificity is so valuable and culturally essential. There’s really confronting tracks on this album between comforting and melancholy arrangements — like a call to not avert your eyes or ears to the bleak, muddled times we’re living in, but with a hand on your shoulder to remind you you’re not alone.
Trans artists dominating
Where were our local trans artists in 2021? Fighting their way to the front of the music scene, top of SRN charts, experimenting hard and sounding damn hot doing it. I sent my crush a VSB track then took them to a gig as my girlfriend, I planned out queer rave outfits for BB Gurl merch, cried my eyes out to Charlie OPI and bathed in starlight with Votiv, remixed Amamelia and was transported into medieval fantasy with Gayblade, explored urban forests with Jenny Cauldron and stuck Brown Boy Magik on repeat all day when the spring sun turned up, listened to L V J when I wanted to feel cute, and ripped up my bedroom dancefloor to club-burning tracks by Synthetic Children, Current Bias, Nightmare Honey, Sequentia and Fern. The drop at four minutes in this Synthetic Children track drives me insane.
Listening to Mad Frank’s Summoning EP and cooking breakfast
Listening to this EP almost every day while I cooked all lockdown in Tāmaki Makaurau was one of the sweetest music moments for me this year. This EP strongly reminds me of the kind of Kiwi music that my dad used to play on road trips when I was a kid.
Drug Testing was legalised!
Fr! That happened! Aotearoa became the first country in the world to legalise drug testing. Music festivals and other fun stuff just got a whole lot safer for drug users and their friends, and I’m damn thankful for that! KnowyourstuffNZ are absolute heroes for pushing this law, and risking their livelihoods to thread needles through drug testing loopholes at festivals for years before it was legal. It’s time to start treating drug testing like a condom and catch those cathinones before they’re inside your cavities.
Kraus live at A.R.T.E Festival
Back in July in the depths of the Parisian Tie Factory in Myers Park, a single spotlight shone on Pat Kraus sitting at a desk in the centre of The Audio Foundation gig room, encircled by rows of chairs & frozen spectators barely visible in the darkness. Between the four speakers in each corner of the room the sound began to move, sweeping and surrounding, in a quadraphonic demonstration of synthesizer mastery… We actually had a video of this at work so I uploaded it yesterday just 4 u all xoxo Wear headphones.