Chelsea Jade - Visions

There has been some well-deserved career acceleration for Chelsea Jade (who previously performed under the "Watercolours" moniker). She has recently been in New York City performing two CMJ showcases, following this up with participation in the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo (winning selection against 6000 other entries). With two excellent EPs released over the last year ("Portals" and "Beacons"), she is now signed to Universal Music NZ. Chelsea has a strong record in terms of the integration of her music with visuals, and the video for "Visions" is no different. Demonstrating some athleticism (!), Chelsea channels the video for the 1994 Lisa Loeb hit "Stay", but with far more success, working together again with very talented director Alex Gandar. A central theme to the video is "desperately wanting to be anywhere that you aren’t, but nowhere else seems really appealing either "(quote from Under The Radar linked below). It is a striking piece. I have included a Rip It Up link below if you would like to know more about Chelsea. You can buy both her EPs at the links below also. I own all her releases.


Cool it - She's So Rad

From She's So Rad's long-time-coming sophomore album "Tango" (due early 2015 through From The Crate Records), this new single is a little wonder. With great dynamics (often missing from shoegaze), an elegantly lazy hook and a guitar solo/break that somehow reminds me of Boston's "More Than a Feeling" guitar track, the song gets a further visual lift from Dylan Pharazyn's sensual, provocative and funny "hotspringsploitation" video. Dylan also does much of the band's artwork. Jol Mulholland was involved with recording the single at Mt Eden studio The Lab, while the track was produced by band principal Jeremy Toy, and mixed by Tony Hoffer (M83, Supergrass, Silversun Pickups). The back-story to the long lead time on the new album is Jeremy's hospitalization as a result of a cowardly assault. Jeremy remains with some quite serious neural side effects, but somehow he is bravely continuing to deliver soaring pop tunes in his long-time collaboration with partner, Anji Sami, principal writer of this song.  It sounds like "radio" to me if it gets the right promotion/distribution. Here's hoping it gets the oxygen. You can buy the single at the link below. I will be.

Single link:

Band website:

Cool It - She's So Rad

Jonathan Bree - Weird Hardcore

I suspect Jonathan Bree has a higher profile internationally than he does in NZ, but he is by no means a household name anywhere. However Jonathan has been responsible, either directly, or indirectly, for some of the most original, clever and listenable music to come out of New Zealand. He is probably most well-known for his role as a member of the Brunettes (w/ Heather Mansfield) but in my (humble) opinion his most important contribution was through the founding of Lil' Chief Records in the early 2000s. This label has continuously launched some of NZ's best indie bands. And his music is a highlight of that stable. "Weird Hardcore" is the first single off his new album "A Little Night Music". The last album "The Primrose Path" was stunning, and an easy buy for me. There is something of the disembodied "familiar" about Jonathan's music, and this latest single is no different. According to a Lil' Chief blogpost " while writing and recording A Little Night Music – Jonathan inherited a bunch of second hand classical records and began listening to a bunch of ballet scores by Tchaikovsky, orchestral suites by Grieg and Haydn symphonies. With no classical background but always an obvious appreciation for orchestral pop (Serge etc) A Little Night Music is Jonathan’s attempt to write more free-form ‘classical’ inspired compositions but still always with a McCartney-esque bassline. Simon Ward has come up with one of his best videos ever and the package is complete. You can download the single for free at the link below (although please pay if you can). I have also provided a Facebook link, and a link to Lil' Chief Records. Can't wait for the new album.

Jonathan Bree - Weird Hardcore

Tom Lark - Something To Tell You

Now represented by Saiko Management (Lorde, Mt Eden, Thomston), Tom Lark (real name "Shannon Fowler") I think will finally get the traction he deserves. His songs are fun, hooky, but not clich├ęd. A bit like a more available UMO. "Something To Tell You" is a Tom Lark classic. With such a superb production job, I assumed it had been a big-bucks effort, but in fact it is another of his self-produced bedroom efforts, combined with some great mixing by Eric Dubowsky. The track is very radio friendly, and man I do love that break! As for the video? A wonderful French '60s retro movie vibe. Can't help thinking Tom sort of belongs in that era somehow. Directed/edited by Sam Kristofski with photography by Kieran Fowler, art direction by Brant Fraser, and produced by Dan Higgins. This is a masterful song/video combo, therefore it makes the NZMusic4U Honour Roll. Not the first time Tom Lark as been up there. The new EP has been released and is a free download the link below. Lucky us. Thanks Tom!

Tom Lark - Something To Tell You

Spycc - Bad Habit

I am not qualified to comment authoritatively on hip-hop, but I would like to recognize something I enjoy, so I'll have a go. He's been on this blog before, for good reason. Onehunga's Spycc is one of the most satisfying MCs to listen to in NZ today. A superb choice of beats, and honest rhymes with depth. The delivery reminds me sometimes of Kanye West, and maybe Kendrick Lamar at his most straightforward. But Mr Latu is his own, and one of those I think is "most likely to". It's a crowded space, and difficult to cut through, but everything I have heard so far indicates there is the ability and drive to make it. To be honest, he has soared to greater heights on other tracks, but "Bad Habit" is posted on this blog for a reason. It is worthy of being noticed. Visually? It's a simple, effective video, doesn't look cheap, and rounds the offering out nicely. The video was directed by Danny Aumua, produced by One Island Films with photography by Tj Perea. Editing was by Danny Aumua and TamaGotchi (who also produced the track). You can download "Bad Habit" for free at the link below. And go "like" him on Facebook to stay in touch with developments. If you would like to know more, I have included a Martyn Pepperell interview as well (he's picked up the Kendrick Lamar link as well).

Spycc - Bad Habit

Mzwetwo - Suddenly

"Suddenly things have changed". Not really. Elvis is clearly not completely dead. Mzwetwo channels the King in one of the stand-out singles of the year, confirming both his ability, and his "likely to" status. Mzwetwo says the video "deals with themes of love, purity, and frustration". Umm. I like it. The partnership with Sza Hands remains fruitful. Limited resources, but no sign of it. Such a great video/song combo. You can stay in touch with Mzwetwo at the link below...and look out for the "Gallantino 2" EP. And if you like Sza Hands' work, go to the FB page.


Raiza Biza - Flashbacks

From 2013's "Summer" album, this video rendition of "Flashbacks" seems well in character. A moody, jazz-infused ode with horns and woodwind from the massively-talented K*Saba, the song further enhances Raiza Biza's commercial appeal. Smooth production job from choiceVaughan. There aren't many who have the potential to cross over from the beats/hip-hop audience into a more mainstream appeal, but Raiza Biza has many tracks that could do just that. The video was directed by Paul Innes and features talented young actress, model and artist, Theodora Allison. You can download the "Summer" album for free at the link below. (or maybe pay the artist if you are able to!). I have been a Raiza Biza fan for a couple of years now. He doesn't disappoint.

Raiza Biza - Flashbacks (Official Music Video)

Chelsea Jade - Night Swimmer

Close to perfect. This song has been around awhile and I was wondering when it would get an official release. It was this track and that other ethereal stunner "Under" that first got me hooked on Chelsea Jade Metcalf's dream-pop. She has just made the transition from her "Watercolours" moniker to "Chelsea Jade". Both work for me, but I think there is maybe more to it, with Chelsea relaunching her identity more strongly. And wow! What a way to do it. This video's haunting ice block metaphor intersecting such sensuous writing brings a lump to the throat. This isn't just a dream-pop video. This is a full-on work of art. Alexander Gandar (director) has demonstrated talent before, but this collaboration with artist Zainab Hikmet (art direction/sculpture) and Chelsea Jade is a masterpiece. Chelsea's aesthetic acuity and visual performance binds it all together. Best video of the year. Hands down. Go buy the track at the link below. It is the first single off her new EP "Beacons" due out imminently. Can't wait.

Chelsea Jade - Night Swimmer

Suren Unka - Flee ft. Dahnu Graham

One of my favourite tracks off Suren Unka's "El Chupacabra" album released earlier this year, "Flee" featuring Dahnu Graham comes to us via one of the best videos of the year. The video was made by Markus Hofko, a German artist, designer and musician of some note who now lives in New Zealand. The blurb on the press release says the "video hinges on an extreme contrast between states of mental absence and sensation, as performed by actor and stuntman Howard Cyster. His character shifts from a lethargic state into an absurd dream-space of wild-west proportions, a 'hyper roller coaster ride, at least for a couple of minutes". There is some spectacular imagery for sure. Suren, who is also drummer for the Beach Pigs, (and an event photographer!) comes from a talented family, his mother Vasanti Unka having won the NZ Post Children's Book Award for her "Boring Book". The "El Chupacabra" album, which I own, isn't immediate, but rewards repeated listens. You can buy it at the link below. Go to the link!

Suren Unka - Flee ft. Dahnu Graham (Official Music Video)

Streets of Laredo - Slow Train

These guys have been at it in NYC for over two years now. Hard graft and little glamour, apart from their increasingly well-patronised live shows. But a record deal with Dine Alone records and a USA tour coupled with a proper album release...and this band looks like it might just do it. The "Slow Train" video is a great vehicle to show off one of those songs that has always sounded like it had radio potential. A great live song, it made it into recordings with its live edge intact. In fact, the production on the recent releases is a marvel of restraint, not over-done, but allowing an almost perfect transition of an organic rattle, bang and hum to the digital medium. And now they are getting their sound re-heated by a vinyl release of "Volume I & II", the album due out from October 7th. The "Slow Train" video was done on the smell of an old oily rag by Melburnian Oli Sansom. Loving those 70s vibes. Oli's website is linked below. For more information, go to the Streets of Laredo link below. Go and fall in love with this band like I have.

Streets of Laredo - Slow Train (Official Video)