Saturday, February 11, 2017


When I was looking through the music of New Zealand, I came across a couple of bands/musicians that I either didn’t know or forgot were from New Zealand. I have been sick the past couple of days so I didn’t get the chance to really go through a lot of the genres. 

Let’s start at the beginning with Maori music. Their music tends to be microtonal, most likely stemmed from their roots from other areas of Polynesia and Southeast Asia. Their melody lines generally don’t have much range, which left the Europeans sort of blasé about their musical traditions. The traditional instruments the Maori use are called Taonga puoro. These include a variety of flutes, percussion instruments, and wooden trumpets made out of bones, wood, stone, and shells. During the 20th century, the Maori merged many of their styles with European styles. However, several of their traditions, like the song and dance tradition of kapa haka, resurged during this time. Kapa haka is typically used to showcase their culture and includes choral singing, swinging of poi, and sometimes use of weapons dancing.

Pop music was first around during the late 1940s but really didn’t have its first real push until the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the bands I listened to include Crowded House, which has members from both New Zealand and Australia. The songs I listened to had a really strong 1990s indie rock band style. I liked what I heard. They won a lot of awards, and actually as a band, they have performed since the mid-1980s all the way up to a few years ago. Last year, they were entered into the ARIA Hall of Fame. 

Dave Dobbyn is another musician I’d actually put in the indie folk rock style. He’s another musician who’s been performing forever – since 1979 at least (in other words, my entire life). I listened to his album Available Light, which was mostly him singing to acoustic piano with other instruments added in there. You know me: as a pianist, I’m a sucker for acoustic piano in music. 

Don McGlashan also falls into this indie folk rock as well. I think his style has a little more modern country feel to it at times, but then again, other songs have more blues influence.

Bic Runga is a female folk-rock singer who performs to acoustic guitar. I really like her style. She reminds me a little of a cross between Norah Jones and Carla Bruni in a way. Her song “Sway” is probably one of her more well-known pieces.

I didn’t come around to Lorde at first, but my daughter told me to listen to the song “Royals” when it first came out, and then I listened to the whole album. There’s just something in the catchiness of her melody lines and her lyrics. And I have respect for someone to jump into the music scene so young and do so well. I’ve heard hints that she’s coming out with her second album this year, which I really look forward to listening to.  

OK, the biggest surprise to find out who is Kiwi is the band OMC. The name alone didn’t mean anything to me at first, but their song “How Bizarre” certainly did. That song was one of those 1990s songs that seems to pop up in those “Remember 1990s Music?” reviews. And I don’t know how many times we used to sing the chorus in reference to a ton of topics. The rest of the album seems to be in that same style.

One pop singer I came across is Kimbra. Some of her songs were hit-or-miss for me, but I realized that where I knew her name from most was from her collaboration with Gotye on the song “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

Switching gears, I listened to the electro-pop music of Tiki Taane. I listened to the album In the World of Light. I really enjoyed what I listened to here. It was almost like a cross between trance music and pop music – and I loved it! The whole album was good, in my opinion.

I’d also put Salmonella Dub in the same category, although their music is different. I think “dub” is the optimal word here. But it’s definitely chill. It’s the type of music you can put on and listen to if you needed to relax or get some work done. 

Shapeshifter is far more ethereal and trance-like. I’d say their style is more like that of Tiki Taane. I could put this on and write or get work done. As a trance fan, they certainly carry some trance elements in their music, which is probably why I enjoy it. Obviously, purists are gonna complain. (Of course, they would.)

Several years ago, my sister introduced me to a group called Te Vaka. They're based in New Zealand but the group consists of members from all over the South Pacific. They're a little more on the traditional side of music, but definitely worth a listen. They recently were included in the Moana soundtrack (I've yet to see this movie, but I've heard it's good.) 

I just wish I had time to delve into their hard rock scene or hip-hop scene. It’s amazing how a small cold can knock me on my butt so fast. Sometimes you just gotta known when to add sleep to your schedule. If you have some recommendations, please send them along.

Up next: the food

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