The purpose of NZ Music Month is to celebrate music from New Zealand, and the people who make it.
And for the 31 days across May that is exactly what is happening. Originally launching back in 2000, because, as they aptly put it, “there was plenty of great music being made but not enough people got to hear it, see it, or have it on their shelves,” the event has grown to a nation-wide celebration across radio, tv, media, and every other facet that music reaches.
As we prepare to reopen and rebuild our glorious music industry, NZ Music Month’s 20-year celebration is even more important than ever before. So this year let’s make some new music discoveries and get excited about some of your favourites from the past.
What better way to dive into NZ Music Month than with a kick-arse playlist, chock full to the brim of hits from Aotearoa’s best – from choice up and comers to absolute classics, they are all here.
So dive in and celebrate everything that makes New Zealand’s music industry great. Happy NZ Music Month.
Aldous Harding burst onto the scene and into our hearts with her goth-folk, self-titled debut album back in 2014, but it was her follow-up Party that saw Harding reach international ears, landing on many a Best of List at the end of 2017 and flying into 2018 by scoring New Zealand’s prestigious Taite Music Prize. Then, in early 2019, she came soaring back in with single ‘The Barrel – the first to be taken from her third album Designer – and it was like she has never left. Curious, beautiful, warm, captivating, and completely Aldous – she will have her army of interpreters wrapped up in her cryptic notions for a long time to come.
With their unique blend of thrash metal and their native language, Te Reo Māori, Alien Weaponry are fighting to keep New Zealand’s tradition, history – and most importantly language – alive. The band was formed a decade ago by brothers Lewis and Henry de Jong, who were 8 and 10 years old at the time. Since then they’ve been taking the world by storm, playing at some of the biggest metal festivals across Europe and bringing their music to stages right around the world.
We were first introduced to Benee with the quiet release of her debut single ‘Tough Guy’ (back when she was known as Bene) towards the end of 2017, but it wasn’t until its follow up –the brilliantly magical balance of R&B groove and alt-pop hooks that is ‘Soaked’ – that she truly burst onto the scene. And since then, she hasn’t looked back. As New Zealand’s breakout act of 2019, Benee has skyrocketed onto mainstream radio, taken over streaming platforms and apps like Tik Tok, and made herself at home on huge festival stages. The best part is, Benee is just getting started.
The future of New Zealand’s indie-rock scene is in safe hands with Auckland trio The Beths. Following the bright pop hooks, pop-punk grit, and indie-rock charm on their debut album Future Me Hates Me – which they gifted us in 2018, the four-piece have given us two super tasty slices of what is to come next in ‘Dying To Believe’ and ‘I’m Not Getting Excited’. Swinging into 2020, they’ll release their second album Jump Rope Gazers in July.
Brother/Sister duo Broods have definitely mastered the fine art of crafting quirky pop bangers – as displayed on their third record, 2019’s Don’t Feed the Pop Monster. Ever since they emerged from Nelson in 2013 with their debut single, and global hit, Bridges they have paved the past for all the downcast dance-pop artists that have landed since. We don’t use it often, but trailblazers is probably a pretty suitable word here.
We are big fans of Auckland four-piece Daffodils. A handful of brilliant singles led to sold-out shows which led to their marvellous EP Boys. If the world of ’80s New Wave is your vibe, think The Cure or The Smiths, then you’re going to want to dive right in this NZ Music Month.
Auckland indie-psych band Daily J are here to serve up the positive vibes we all definitely need right now. The up and coming rockers have been winning over hearts and ears (ours especially) across the last few years with their infectious, sunshine-bright tunes including tunes ‘Black Lagoon’, ‘Left Me Like Summer’, and their recent slice of catchy goodness ‘Skylah’. We couldn’t be more excited about the news that their debut album is coming soon.
With more than four decades in the music industry, there really isn’t much that Dave Dobbyn hasn’t done. From (recent inductees to the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame) Th’Dudes to DD Smash and his extensive solo career, Dobbyn is a true New Zealand music icon.
Our friends across the Tasman might try and claim them, but for the first three years of their existence, Dragon were ours. Which means that, even four decades later, they are still ours.
Fat Freddy’s Drop
Eight band members and a mountain of smooth smooth sounds. A little bit spicy, so darn groovy, and more soul and funk than we deserve. They’ve been delivering the good times for two decades and still, we want more.
An angel. A jazz-infused rock making angel. Fierce, sassy, and endlessly electrifying, we could listen to her 2018 album ‘Ivory’ on repeat for days and we’d be happy.
Razor-sharp, confident, and empowering, JessB has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Recently, she’s been busy collaborating with a stack of artists and releasing fire singles of her own, and we are more than ready for her debut mixtape to land this July.
Endlessly talented and with a mantle chock full of accolades, she’s been the queen of New Zealand art-pop for a decade now.
Inescapable was her self-titled debut and its exquisitely catchy single ‘My Delirium’ when it was released over a decade ago.
The queen, the actual queen. Need we say more?
Dunedin shoegaze rockers who are equal parts sparkling and laid-back. Like what you hear? Marlin’s Dreaming just released their second album Quotidian and it is beaut.
Voice like honey, moves like Jagger, we will never get enough of Marlon Williams and his heartachingly catchy crooning.
New Zealand’s live music scene is in good hands thanks to the next generation of powerhouses, and Miss June are right up there as some of our most promising exports. Their consistently explosive live show has seen them quickly become an act to watch, and much-talked-about shows around the world, a kick-arse debut album, and accolades from everyone including the BBC and New York back up that reputation.
Born in a vacant motel room in a semi light-industrial suburb of the north shore of Auckland, Push Push became a house hold name with their #1 hit Trippin and lead the charge in an unstoppable wave of Kiwi rock bands.
The Naked and Famous
They’ve been crafting synth-pop anthems for over a decade, now with a new, slightly compact lineup, The Naked and Famous are still continuing what they do best. Their fourth album, and first as a duo, Recover is due out this July.
He doesn’t need an introduction, but let’s chat about Neil Finn anyway. From Split Enz to Crowded House, and now Fleetwood Mac – how many hit tunes can Finn attach himself to? A true legend of New Zealand music, there is no doubt about it.
Thirty years down and there aren’t many, if any, New Zealand rock bands who have achieved as much as Shihad has.
They can put their name to some of the biggest shows performed by a domestic artist in New Zealand, Six60 are popstars in the truest sense and the biggest band in the country by far. To say we’re pretty big fans is an understatement.
NZ Music Month takes place right throughout May as a way to celebrate our incredible industry. If you have the means, MusicHelpsLive is calling on New Zealanders to visit www.musichelpslive.co.nz to make a donation or find other ways to support the live music industry.