Words by Laura Studarus
We’ll admit it; we’ve got a crush on Lorde. The GRAMMY winner (for “Song of the Year” and “Best Pop Solo Performance”) is the kind of person that we wish we were as teenagers—poised and confident in the knowledge that it gets better. (And that most of “it” doesn’t matter anyway.)
The newly minted pop royal got us wondering — what else is New Zealand hiding? Obviously the country isn’t exactly a well-kept secret. Flight of the Conchords has been cracking us up for years, and The Naked and Famous have been flirting with mainstream success since day one. There’s also Lord of the Rings, a franchise so ubiquitous that most New Zealand residents are probably sick of the association.
To get answers and discover new gems we went on a (digital) fact finding mission. From garage rock, to orchestral pop, to bedroom recorded indie R&B, here are seven bands that we wouldn’t mind seeing more of stateside.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (or UMO to their friends) has already garnered a fair amount of indie buzz. But surely there’s a room on the big stage for their lo-fi psych-pop harmonies. Hey if Nirvana could bring grunge to television, surely UMO can do the same for garage.
Disco didn’t die — it just moved to New Zealand. Yumi Zouma combines the genre’s dance floor grooves with a light pop flourish. If songs from their self-titled debut EP don’t end up in every commercial from here until 2015, it’ll be okay — we’ve already got it slated to soundtrack our entire summer.
Brother/sister duo Broods (Georgia and Caleb Nott) are joined at the hip to Lorde by producer Joel Little. The pair’s first synth single “Bridges” brings to mind a dancier version of London Grammar. Ethereal, slick, moody — who better to take 2014 by storm? Stay tuned: the duo will drop their debut later this year.
Sure Misfit Mod’s (Sarah Ann Kelleher) debut album Islands & Islands is sparse. But her ghostly, homespun R&B has got us thinking of BANKS, or perhaps a scrappy TLC. Quick, someone get Kelleher in a studio with a producer and let her rip! Perhaps Pharrell and/or his hat are available.
THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION
Last year The Phoenix Foundation released Fandango — an album worth of hazy, Quaalude rock. Sure they’re crawling slowly towards mainstream success, but theirs is a much-needed mellowness in these crazy times. More please.
The knee-jerk reaction is to compare Lawrence Arabia to Owen Pallett or Patrick Wolf, but there’s something a bit more old school about the Kiwi’s brand of orchestral pop. Kinda like if AM radio and film score had a baby. A perfect, beautiful baby.
THE RUBY SUNS
Like attracts like, so it’s no surprise that The Ruby Suns are pals with Architecture in Helsinki. The group piles the elements of their angular electropop skyward, finishing them off with a candy-colored sonic sheen.