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UTR's 2023 Favourite Music Moments

UTR's 2023 Favourite Music Moments

UTR Team and Contributors / Thursday 21st December, 2023 1:23PM

Here we are in the end zone of 2023 and keeping with UTR tradition, we've invited this year's contributors to share five of their personal favourite / most notable memories. Huge heartfelt thanks to all the readers, artists, gig-goers, event organisers, contributors and everyone who supported UTR in one way or another over the past twelve months. It feels like a blur of a year that's impossible to sum up, everyone had their own 2023 in music. Dive into the treasure trove of music-related gems below and look forward to our super-stacked End Of Year Playlist.


Sundae Painters - The Sundae Painters

I’ll be honest, my #1 album pick isn’t actually the one I’ve listened to the most this year, and I’m not even sure I have it on vinyl yet, but it’s without a doubt the most important release of 2023 for me: Sundae Painters’ self-titled collection. This album is a precious snapshot of the late Hamish Kilgour, his deep love for art and the dear friends with whom he shared his musical language. I only got to know Hamish properly in the last few years of his life, and although he’d made a few cameos in mine when I was growing up, it wasn’t until his explosive return to Auckland and Christchurch that I got to become his friend. I’ll remember him for his impulsive generosity (I can thank him for many a morning tea back when I worked at Flying Out), his pursuit of party (not always a good thing), and the galaxy-brain Kilgour idiosyncrasies found on Sundae Painters. We miss you Hamish xox.

Saxin’ It Up

I’ll keep this one short because it’s much too unique to me to be on a public listicle. I played the most saxophone I’ve ever played this year! Thank you Power Nap and Finn Johansson for having this squawky amateur play alongside yers, and thank you Sean Martin-Buss for the lessons — it has been validating af. Next year let’s see if I can get good enough to play with the Exploding Rainbow Orchestra or the Saxobros. Please.

Trash Recital - The End…?

2023 is the year we closed the lid on a skip full of random crap and finally said ka kite to our precious baby Trash Recital. When Callum and I dreamed up the idea in early 2021 we truly had no idea if our whacko Ready Steady Cook meets Stomp meets Tiny Desk concept would actually work. It wasn’t until our very first shoot with the fabulous Lips, as suggested to be ideal test subjects by our brilliant audio producer Ruby Walsh, that we understood what Trash Recital actually was: a musical prank show where we distract our talent with a task so impossible that they let their guard down and be themselves. Kind of like Hot Ones but with broken toys and crumbling rubber bands instead of hot sauce — and in our three fruitful years of rubbish accumulation, I’ve truly seen it all. Julia Deans absolutely nailing the Lydia bass line with a tire and a bit of rope, one of The Chills band members realising they’ve had the words to Kaleidoscope World wrong this whole time, DARTZ breaking a shit tonne of glass without a single safety precaution, Delaney Davidson performing a brand new song (that still hasn’t been released?), at least three bands making the joke that this will be their final appearance, and From Scratch OG trash masters Chris O’Connor and Don McGlashan ending the series with a deafening crash bang. I’m gonna to miss Trash Recital a lot, but I am so very proud of what we made and cannot believe we pulled it off. Thank you to every artist who accepted our challenge — we did not intend to break your brains.

Modest Mouse at the Powerstation

When the cyclical melody of Dramamine kicked in on the evening of April 20th, I suddenly realised my position in the crowd was not at all adequate for experiencing a song I listened to approx one thousand times between the ages 13 and 20. I RAN up the Powerstation stairs and elbowed my way to the front middle of the balcony, from where I sang along and cried and felt big teen feeling with everyone else around me for six beautiful Modest Mouse minutes. Then they played the rest of their set without Float On or Little Motel and I haven’t forgiven them for that.

Vera Ellen and the Exploding Rainbow Orchestra

Perhaps my favourite annual Aotearoa music event is the Silver Scrolls. The glamour! The stakes! The free food and wine! I certainly don’t envy the task of collating and curating epic covers of the nominees, but Steph Brown and Fenn Ikner totally monstered the role this year, and are responsible for one of the most moving performances I have ever seen: Vera Ellen and the Exploding Rainbow Orchestra’s rendition of Andy by The Front Lawn, marking Don McGlashan’s induction into the NZ Music Hall Of Fame. Not a dry eye in the arena I reckon, made all the more special by the orchestra’s iconic shimmering rainbow robes, Crystal Choi’s mesmerising melodica, and Joshua Worthington-Church’s stupidly cool passion for doing cool things.


Limp Bizkit at Spark Arena

This show had been build ups for me since my big cousin Dan (shot Dan!) first played me Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water at Nana’s house when I was like eight. I had been arrested the week of the show (Free Palestine) which had unfortunately left me with a real "fucked up cop with a fucked up badge"-type attitude to deal with — Uncle Freddy D and the gang came thru right on time ~ ! The whole band was super tight and real potent effervescent, and legit funny too. Plus, the arena was fully packed with fully on it people on a Sunday night ~ dreamy. So much gut-yelling lyrics in each others faces in the pit, many Durst-adjacent fits, casual swearing at kids on stage, full reckless as positivity. A truly therapeutic experience!

DJ E - Chuquimamani-Condori

E Crampton Chuquimia aka Chuquimamani-Condori, aka DJ K'oa aka DJ Uskullu aka DJ Ocelote aka DJ E ~is carried in a special place in my ears and heart. Their music is emotionally direct, always super generous-feeling in a way that creates a huge sense of space with ultimate intimacy. This DJ E album never fails to make me weep down the motorway - worlds clashing and transmorphing, crumbling and supporting, and unifying inside and out.

Brandn Shiraz - Brandn Shiraz

It did feel like Brandn had a second pakoti rouru on this — like stepping up into his most grown artistry yet. He’s always continued developing in his own route, and on Brandn Shiraz’s self-titled it feels like he’s at his most rooted — his mita bounces off the rocks and logs of the Dirty South Pacific, with real proper intl island flair drilled in. This release has heaps of range, big time rotating favourites on this one, something that I always look forward to with Brandn ~ ! Mean to hear more from the Rise Era cru in there too, always.

Tautoko Gaza - Various Artists

The Tautoko Gaza compilation is from a collection of Aotearoans — brought together to raise money for Medical Aid for Palestine, raise awareness of other timely means of support, and to exorcise frustration in the face of actual genocidal tendencies. There are many useful avenues, to aid in however you may be feeling atm — which is real handy. I really appreciated mHz’s ability to synthesize the sonority of the seething path that is taken to truth thru argumentative debate — I‘ve returned to that one a whole lot for recharging.

Meetings Without Conclusions - Short-Chain

Meetings Without Conclusions (such a good name) from Tāmaki Makaurau’s Short-Chain was prob my most jammed guitar band record of the year. Super punched up n righteous, actually groovy, plus hella catchy (n thoughtful) gang vocals that make u yell reallll good *cheusss*. 'Kill Bees Burn Trees' is a whole feeling I didn’t know I needed in this way this year, and I’m so glad they blessed us with it. Mean studio recording too, really sussed the whole nrg! Makes you wanna go out and see a band! And perf artwork too omg.


The Exploited at San Fran, Wellington

I’ve seen the Exploited play quite a few times during the '90s, as I grew up just outside London where they regularly played. The band just gets better all the time, and Wattie’s banter with the audience is legendary.

Fatboy Slim in Wellington

I had seen Fatboy Slim play an epic show at Glastonbury Festival about 20 years back. The next day, walking though the festival market, we spotted FBS playing the same set at a stall. He was laughing as thousands of punters walked by oblivious, and the ones who recognised him got a cheeky smile and a thumbs up. All these years later, watching him play at Anderson Park in Wellington was so much fun. It was like I had fallen into a wormhole and landed in the carefree '90s again.

Planet of the Dead at Valhalla

As I write this, I am still buzzing after seeing Planet of the Dead reform and play Valhalla last night. Buy their albums and go and see them. You won’t be disappointed.

Napalm Death at Meow

1989, I remember getting home from school, switching on the tv and watching What's That Noise. After a quick tapping of drumstick, the audience's eardrums were obliterated to the one second classic ‘You Suffer’ by Napalm Death. Presenter, Craig Charles (Red Dwarf fame) replies ‘Was that it?” Next day at school, we’re all jumping around doing death grunts to our teachers dismay. This wasn’t my first exposure to ND, but it was a memorable one. 34 Years later, multiple line up changes, and they are still as much fun as ever. During ’Suffer The Children’ the guitar amps blows up, resulting in an unplugged version of the song, followed by vocalist Barney reading some awful books grabbed from the library used as a stage backdrop at Meow. It was beautiful in a way, and showed that after all these years, they still connect with their fans. It’s always nice to hear a bit of ‘Harmony Corruption’ once in a while…

Earth Tongue playing a horror gig in a church

Old St Paul’s in Wellington puts on a horror film night once a year. This year, the film was the original version of Carrie. Everyone dresses up in Halloween costumes, has a few drinks and enjoys the festivities. This year for the film interval, Earth Tongue took to the stages covered in blood, and treated the congregation to an amazing performance. What’s not to like?


Blink auditioning every band in NZ for Camp A Low Hum

I will remember 2023 as the year Blink auditioned every band in NZ (and plenty in Australia too) for the 2024 Camp A Low Hum legacy-sequel event. Not a month went by this year that I didn’t encounter a nervous friend whispering about how Blink was coming to their gig and what are their chances at making the cut? We’ll have to wait and see who got selected (the lineup, as is tradition, remains a mystery), but the buzz is high and Blink’s outrageously thorough curatorial style must be applauded.

One Wayne G - Mac DeMarco

Gotta give it up to my surprise album of the year, Mac DeMarco’s 199 track demo-dump One Wayne G. Comprising a chronological journey through 5 years of unreleased material, there’s a diaristic quality that is immediately appealing. Of course there’s value in the streaming era to suddenly quadruple your catalogue on Spotify. But for Mac DeMarco, the indie face that launched a thousand jangly ships, it’s part of a consistent transparency of practice that will no doubt continue to demystify the musical process.

Naenae Express at The Wine Cellar

A surprise reunion from Aotearoa’s most humble stoner sweethearts easily is my most cherished musical memory from 2023. Naenae Express play songs about friendship and cricket and hanging out, and do so with an earnestness and ease that is soothing in such a necessary way. Plenty of happy tears and hugs at this one.

A Very “Jed Parsons” Christmas - Basement Theatre, 1-4 August

Picture this… it’s August. You’ve got a few days off in the middle of an exhausting national tour with your band. But respected NZ musician Jed Parsons has brought his comedy music Xmas show to Auckland for 5 nights, and you’ve gone on and on about it to your band mates since you saw it in December 2022 so of course you go! And here it is… making it into my musical memories of 2023! Thank you Jed for risking it all to bring your Xmas show to Auckland City.

Hans Pucket at SXSW

Honestly, I didn’t realise that I was achieving a dream of mine until we made it past security at Houston airport. I had set my expectations as low as possible, as Good Things have made quite a habit of Not Happening the past few years. SXSW, without a doubt was one of the wildest musical experiences of my life, and looking back felt like a week of constant epiphanies about what it means to make and perform music.


My photo of the TikTok record going viral

I took a photo of this TikTok vinyl LP sitting at Southbound Records and it went viral on what was formerly known as Twitter (bleeding onto other platforms too). Two weeks of endless comments saying "kms" and / or in Spanish before the world moved on to the next thing. My left hand felt very famous. There was even an official statement from TikTok confirming the physical edition did actually exist. Funnily enough, last time I checked the original record was still available in-store for purchase.

XYZZY - Stardome, Tāmaki Makaurau

An all-engulfing audio-visual experience, I was lucky enough to catch Simon Ward and Jess Johnson's XYZZY at Tāmaki Makaurau's Stardome last weekend. A visionary journey on invisible tracks through labyrinthine macro / micro cosmic mind-scapes, inhabited by mysterious moving figures and churning cute / scary body-horror elements, Ward explained the animations in XYZZY were made partly in response to the superb soundtrack composed by local electronic giants Luke Rowell (Eyeliner, Disasteradio), Stef Animal, Andrew Clarke and Lachlan Anderson. XYZZY demands to be experienced in the flesh, handily it will continue to screen at Stardome up until late January. South Island readers can catch it at Tūhura Otago Museum.

Listening to loads of Dungeon Synth

I listened to loads of Dungeon Synth music (including the Cosy Synth, Dino Synth and even Bog Synth microgenres) thanks to a large amount of second hand albums and tapes materialising in the Real Groovy metal section earlier this year. Call me Johnny Come Lately, I'm now a fan of Quest Master, Diplodocus, Fen Walker, Chaucerian Myth, Kobold, Gnoll, Sequestered Keep, Old Sorcery, Secret Stairways, Tiny Mouse, Kirkwood, and my personal favourite Hole Dweller — whose five cassette tape 2023 collection The Jamwine Saga sonically details the misadventures of a homely Hobbit who reluctantly journeys beyond the Shire (and back again).

Down Under & UnderTheRadar by Daniel Vernon

I had the privilege of working with one of Aotearoa's finest contemporary comics makers Daniel Vernon aka Yeehawtheboys this year, editing the Down Under & UnderTheRadar comics journalism series and fulfilling my Stan Lee fantasies. Always incredibly incisive, Daniel aced all five episodes, but it's the final instalment starring Tāmaki punks Dick Move that crystallised the potential of the project for me — an absolutely scathing reflection on the sodden flatting situation that inspired their new album Wet.

Ticket To Fame - Decisive Pink / brb - Eyeliner

I'm clearly feeling very indecisive this year, it's impossible to whittle down my most listened to albums of 2023 to one personal favourite, so here's two. The collaboration of Angel Deradoorian and Kate NV (who also released the excellent WOW in '23), Decisive Pink's debut has probably been my most played record of the year, plus looks to be a local cult favourite — boundless ideas ping-ponging through immaculate new wavey electronics. Inspired by his time living for an extended period in Hong Kong, Aotearoa electronic artist Eyeliner's brb feels like a career highpoint to these ears (possibly even transcending his 2015 vaporwave classic BUY NOW), each track lovingly crafted with the care and attention of a MIDI-pop master.


Scaring the HoesJPEGMafia / Danny Brown 

Album of the year for me, a fantastic mix of genius sampling, punk and some of the most hilariously clever lyrics, song titles that you can’t ignore (Steppa pig, Where Ya Get Ya Coke From?, Jack Harlow Combo Meal) and the vinyl artwork is top notch. The title track is a highlight for me and is a great mission statement for the whole project.

The Donk Dobbo Experience - Donk Dobbo

Donk Dobbo should have won the Taite, Silver Scroll, Billy T, Queens Honours List, and New Zealander and Bird of The Year. It’s like if you took PCP and sped learned what makes this country so great and then spat it out in under 40 minutes at 3am to a complete stranger in a shed party. I also have a reliable source that tells me Dave Dobbyn has heard this and was entranced. The whole album is a highlight, but to get someone trapped in the Dobbo Donk ket net, I’d recommend 'GIMMIE WHAT U GOT (ERIN SIMPSON DONK)'.

DARTZ 'Steal From the Supermarket' Release Show

The band from Wellington New Zealand held a single release at San Fran earlier this year for our song ‘Steal from the Supermarket’. Entry was one item from the supermarket from a list supplied to us from the local city mission which we would pass on. We expected everyone to bring just one item, but instead the kids turned up with bags upon bags of groceries (some of which may or may not have contained some five-finger-discounts). The generosity we saw that night really was astounding and showcases the strength of the Wellington community.

‘Uce With the Juice’ At Newtown Sports Bar, Wellington, Every Friday Night

“It’s Friday Night!” yells Andrew a.k.a ‘Uce with the Juice’ over a turned-up-too-loud PA in Newtown Sports bar, officially signalling the start of the weekend and 7pm Karaoke. Andrew is kind, funny, has the voice of every uncle you’ve met in a shed across Aotearoa and runs the best pre-game for any weekend in Pōneke. Playing songs directly off of YouTube, pretty much any song is available to sing, and since we updated his browser with AdBlock (to a thunderous applause I will add) there’s no excuse to not get down there. Do yourself a favour: Buy a Lion Brown Tall Boy, sit on the deep couches away from the speakers and start thinking of songs to write down and buckle up for a great evening.

The Mermaidens Music Videos / Album Roll Out

Mermaidens are so fucking cool. The roll out for their independently released self-titled album was insanely impressive, consisting of three excellent music videos (my personal favourite being the '90s inspired 'Sour Lips') a pop-up shop, some of the best local merch and jam-packed shows across the motu, the three piece should be proud of their accomplishment and serve as an inspiration for local independent musicians.


South Locust - Swallow the Rat

This tune kept me checking the 95bFM website to find out who it was.

Don McGlashan - Trash Recital

Final episode from an outstanding series, wrapping up three seasons of challenging bands on their crafts.

Vor-stellen and Jakob at the Tuning Fork

A great dose of noise from some of the top tier rhythm sections and guitar heroes.

Student Radio Network Awards 2023 - UTR receiving the He Tohu Kahurangi (Outstanding Achievement Award)

Chuffed to win a prize from the most prestigious radio network in NZ.

'Buy The Farm' - Half Hexagon

Exceptional song and video.


Album of the year - Keyboard and Voice Improvisations, Age 7 to 8 Months by Tobowen

Toby Bowen’s debut album was a real curveball for me and I have Tash (Citacsy) to thank for alerting me to it. Great minimalist vibes, super immediate production. As someone who has historically taken a while between albums I applaud the fact that Toby is wasting no time by putting this out. I featured my favourite tracks on the 17/03/23 episode of my RNZ show Out Lately: 20230104_00 and 20230104_01.

Song of the year - 'It Must Change' by ANOHNI and the Johnsons

I was scrolling through the songs in my 2023 listened-to list and even seeing this pop up sent my nervous system to a different place. Listening to this song is like looking into the sun, if the sun started off chill but the more you looked at it the more it got like that final scene in The Lighthouse. And on repeat listens it didn’t go back to being chill. I’m Pavlov’d into a fugue state by this song every time now.

Scariest interview prep - Henry Rollins

When I posted on Facebook that I was interviewing Henry Rollins for this very website, I for some reason got, as a reply, a link to that interview where young Henry Rollins tries his best to intimidate some sense into what looks like whatever the early '80s equivalent of a Skibidi Toilet Scooter / iPad Kid is. That made me sweat a bit while I was writing the questions but of course he ended up being lovely and insightful, and we ended up touching on everything from the desperation of the modern American human, to spitting chewed up pieces of deer eye into the crowd, to what he’d wear if he were to take things in a touch more flamboyant direction <3

Fave new subgenre I was exposed to - soundfont remixes

In Utero with the Crash Bandicoot soundfont? Goosebumps Theme with the Doom soundfont? Somebody That I Used To Know AND Korn (Self Titled) but with the Super Mario 64 Soundfont!? Sign me up!

Best Local Initiative - The Exploding Rainbow Orchestra

The Exploding Rainbow Orchestra takes the cake. Completely new songs from the Pantheon of NZ songwriters, backed by a 26 piece orchestra and helmed with metric shit-tonnes of exuberance by Joshua Worthington-Church. And everyone looks like an exploding rainbow.


The Imposter - Ron Gallipoli

One of the two times I left the house this year was to go and see Mr. Gallipoli’s insane musical. Like many on this list, it is an example of something that shouldn’t work but does. The Imposter is an emotional, unsettling drama between a therapist, mother (?) and daughter which subtly morphs into a social satire within an alternate, fascist New Zealand. What Ron has always done so well is stimulate uncomfortable thoughts about humanity and society while tempering the dose with a sick sense of fun — as well as, sometimes… heart. It is this sort of complex thematic ambition that makes his transition to a grander, more narrative-based medium feel so damn organic. I should say that the musicians behind the musical (Hermione Johnson, Frances Duncan, Billie Frances Fee, Chris O’Connor and Grace Williams) also elevated its power to sometimes dizzying levels. Bravo, dark thespians. Take a bow.

Hysterical Love Project - Lashes

I first heard HLP after having my baby and found Brooklyn Mellar’s tender voice to be a balm for my exhaustion. Heavily-modulated guitars and deep, distant drums anchor the angelic and simple melodies, opening up a section of my core memories usually reserved for Harmony Korine and Gregg Araki movies. Lashes' restricted timbral palette focuses the tone, allowing the songwriting to breathe while giving the listener a weird, womb-like security in its disciplined sound world. What else is in my ‘Introspective Listens of 2023’ files, you ask? Why, Maritz by Jonnine Standish and Trip9love by Tirzah, of course.

Wet Exit - Grecco Romank

Grecco Romank bring together a camped up sewer pipe of contradictory, bad taste components and turn them into something you didn’t know you needed, but can’t get anywhere else. I first saw them play up North(ish) in Tomarata at my friend’s house while on mushrooms. I knew that these kids had it, but didn’t think that the world was ready. Thankfully, the world proved me wrong. With Wet Exit, Grecco deliver the promise that Red Tower offered. The silky yet derangedly pompous Scott Walker-styled tracks ‘Bursar and Bone’ and ‘Romance Writer’, sit beside brutal, mugger-soundtracks like ‘Doghead’ and ‘Piss Baby’, offering developed, muscular descendants of ‘Worm Regenerate’ et al. PS I was lucky enough to be asked to play some guitar on ‘Spit it Out’, so do check out my teenage shredding:

Country Justice - i.e. crazy

I am always surprised by how often musicians from Aotearoa will do literally anything to deny their Aotearoa-ness. So I applaud i.e crazy for bravely channelling the cringe and horror of our various colonial legacies to turn them into something terrifying and beautiful. The recontextualised audio snippets, sourced from various Pākehā and Māori media of the last several decades, bend around the artist's voice, creating fleeting impressions of the complicated angles and archetypes of ‘the woman’ in Aotearoa’s cultural memory. While heavy topics are often used as a substitute for good music, this is not the case on Country Justice. There’s an assuredness of sonic intent in both the songwriting and more anti-musical sections of the record, loops that go on for just the right amount of concrete-scraping chaos before falling into melodic sweetness once again. While it’s sad to see that this project has ceased, I’m grateful that we have gotten this classic #kiwisummer triumph that no other country or person could produce.

‘Scorpio’ - James K. feat. Hoodie

Not a local release, but this Madchester shoegaze track just washes against me “like the sea into a pier” or something. It is a gooey synthesis of some of my favourite, seemingly disparate music which, when put together, seems unthinkable that it was ever apart. In ‘Scorpio’, amidst the nostalgic trappings is an unhealthy, obsessive feeling that runs through much of James K’s discography. For some casual transcendence, see ‘Random Girl’ of 2022.


South Locust - Swallow the Rat

This album really landed for me. There’s a wonderful balance between simple space and driving force. Each element interweaves to deliver moments of low-key cathartic guitar music bliss. It’s hard to pick one representative track when the whole record sits so well.

Karate at Primavera Sound

A chance encounter with an intimate twilight set on the waterfront. This performance was the epitome of a three-piece band humbly killing it for an hour. One of those elusive and engrossing moments that you’re always hanging-out for.

On DIY touring

In the dark, winding along Aramoana Rd, windows down. It’s 2am, decompressing after a heavy Pleasure Majenta show. Finding out the ferry is cancelled an hour before we’re meant to be queuing to board. Friends putting us up at theirs for a nap. Sleeping on the floor of the cafe after hustling onto the red-eye sailing. Rolling through Picton at 7:30am. A quick stop in some town that I can't remember the name of. Unexpected moments and joys DIY touring Aotearoa.

'Juanita's my elephant and I am theirs' - funlifebreakupsuite

Aorangi Feilding one mic, one take magic from the shed of a most wonderful and prolific musician (see also: Date With The Knife, Polaroids of Polarbears, S.D.W., Feildings Best Dancers, the list goes on and on). This song is such a beautiful glimpse into one aspect of their musical world. I’m hopeful that more of this project will be shared when the time is right.

King Loser documentary

This is the most hyped that I’ve been for a local documentary since Sheen of Gold. Thank you to everyone that has put the time and energy into bringing this together. Somehow bottling a bit of that chaotic perfect imperfection.


The Giant's Lawn - Wurld Series

OK so this is really hard. So I'm not going to do just one, because turns out there's been heaps of albums released this year and many of them are great. It's no secret that I absolutely love Wurld Series and I think that their album The Giant's Lawn is incredible. There are heaps of favourites to choose from on there (cos there's lots of tracks) but today it would be 'The Giants Lawn II' I just absolutely adore it and I love an emotive outro.

New Blue Sun - André 3000

Also really loving André 3000's New Blue Sun. It's a really beautiful and immersive collection of new age and spiritual jazz music that would totally be at home down at the audio foundation any day of the week. I also really love that because he's got such a huge profile, many people won't have come across stuff that sounds like this before and perhaps it'll lead them down a garden path into artists like Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane and the new age / ambient stuff like Hiroshi Yoshimura. All the titles on this album are great too but the opening track really says it all 'I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A "Rap" Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time'.


The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We - Mitski

One more one more... I'm also loving the new Mitski album The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. I'm really new to Mitski as in this latest album new... (I Shazam-ed the first track off the bFM Breakfast Show) and perhaps because of dyslexia or because I'm a Scorpio I never listened to her perviously as I had her and Netsky mixed up in my head and I thought it was some Rhythm & Alpsy bro tunes lol and woah could I not be more wrong... She's amazing and I've been working my way through the previous albums and absolutely loving it. I'm a real sucker for a great first song on an album and the first song on the latest Mitski is 'Bug Like an Angel', it's one of those songs I listen to and lie down on the lounge floor and absorb every inch of it. It's a short song so it's got huuuuuge repeat listenability (as in once it finishes, hit it again, hit it again / repeat). I love the architecture of the song so so much, it's built around such a simple circular chord pattern and the backing vocals just give me shivers man its so fucking good. Listening to it again now and wow, what a song.

Dreams - deepState

Okay maybe I'll do all albums... deepState Dreams  Jess' new album rules. If you are reading this and haven't checked it out yet, go have a listen. I feel like it came out just at the end of the rainy season and listening back to it now it definitely has a late night, rainy buzz — in the best possible way but don't wait till it rains to give it a spin — it could be equally be early evening sun setting in the forest, bit of magic in the air... you know the stuff ;) Or just whenever you feel it. I played it to my workmates while we were drinking and playing cards and it went down a treat. Just give it a hoon, it's great and I can't wait to hear what she's cooking up next. Hard to pick a fave song honestly cos they're all great but I'll go with 'Won't Let You Down'. Love it when the keys kick in, love the waveyness all round great song.

This Stupid World - Yo La Tengo

Just now I kept going oooooh this one would be great but only to find out it was 2022... 2022 really punched above its weight for albums. Either that or I'm perpetually a year behind myself. Got stuck on daylight savings and went back a year rather than an hour or what ever... I don't know. Yo La Tengo's album This Stupid World was 2023 and I listened to it a lot in the months after its release — all through autumn and winter I guess. They're a very autumn / winter band for me and this is a very Yo La Tengo album, if you like them, you'll love it. They've been making great music for 40 years and it's consistent too. This album has a lot of really nice drawn out droney stuff like the title track and some classic YLT pop moments in the song 'Fallout'. I've just been listening again and I reckon the track 'Brain Capers' is my pick for tonight. It starts off sounding like it's underwater in a bubbly way like I'm the goldfish then it changes into this Snapper A.D.M.-esque psychedelic speed racer.



Tis a long haul of glitter but we're getting there... Got the sad news Ronnie Harris, hard rocking guitarist from Christchurch '70s glam band Odyssey passed away after an illness. In 1973 he started Odyssey as a glam rock band in Otautahi. They recorded a number of songs between 1973 and 1979 that never got released. Fearless when it came to glamming it up, Odyssey camped it up, took to the outfits, glitter, make up , and platforms, in the blokiest of cities. Ronnie and I put the tracks together and his plan was to have the record out on LP in time for Odyssey's 50th in September BUT he requests me not to speak to the other members as he wants to surprise them with the record! Sadly Ronnie passed as we were completing the project and I had to spill the beans with Ronnie's long time mate, and drummer Jeff Stribling who has no idea what Ronnie and I had been working on. "Pure Ronnie!" is his comment. R.I.P. Ronnie. A rocker for life. The Odyssey record will be out next year.

In late May, 95bFM's Dirt Bag radio host Rapley and I banged out some local junk shop glammers. I did the show glammed up (gotta look good for radio!) and stopped en route to get the Rapster and myself a Peanut Slab. The woman in the Glen Eden dairy offers some make up advice. On the back of that radio show, UK glam fanzine Wired Up does a feature on kiwi glam rock! Our most well known glammers Space Waltz got their 1975 album reissued and I got to hear Alastair Riddell in full voice at a Real Groovy performance, sadly not glammed up, but what a voice! He's still got it! Yelled out for my Space Waltz jam 'Scars Of Love', but they hadn't prepped for that one at this showing.

BIRD(man) SOUNDS of ORSTRALIA highlights

A friend once told me Neil Finn explained the difference between the sound of NZ music and Australian music could be traced back to the calls of our respective native birds. Have loved LOADS of OZ rock for some time from Ugly Things to Sharpie rock to '70s punk to '80s power pop to the new bunch of screechers of the last 20 years... so not just one, but three magic moments from OZ, for me in '20 - '23. Just Add Water re-issued OZ proto punks The Coloured Balls god-like Ball Power LP from '73. Let's just say that Lobby Loyde (mystic & guitar legend) is G.O.D! Jump ahead 50 years and Lobby has clearly influenced North Sydney's Children Of Finland Fighting In Norway or as our trans-Tazzy bros like to contract every name, C.O.F.F.I.N for short. Their Australia Stops LP is a ripper maaate (!), particularly 'Cut You Off' & 'Give Me A Bite' which have been the soundtrack to many a Saturday morning pre-brekkie dance off. A lead singing drummer who sounds like the Wolf Creek psycho, and they've been a band since they were 12 year olds. Last time I saw the Hoodoo Gurus was 1987 at the Powerstation, and I screamed for them to play 'Come See Me' by The Pretty Things. Thirty six years later I'm still in love with them, and I'm at the same venue with my gal Jo who is a huge fan as well (I may well be her Stoneage Romeo). This time I screamed myself hoarse (standing in the same place I had 36 years ago!) and requested 'Television Addict' by Dave's first punk band The Victims. Banger after banger after banger and Jo and I danced and pashed and danced.


Lips at Whammy in April (and a couple of others)

Lips have been faves of mine since seeing them at Neck Of The Woods in 2021. I bought the I Don't Know Why I Do Anything LP and wore out the rugs in the lounge with many an interpretative move that record inspired. They've got everything I want in a band! Fun! Vibe! Great look! Danceable! Grit! Let me say again... FUN! Great sound. Steph Brown songs sung by Steph Brown that lifted Jo and I, for the weekend and beyond. Sampling the audience pre-show for 'Have I Never', just genius! Thanks Steph and Lips ! Your Deodorant Doesn't Work! Close seconds — The D4 in rural Helensville was OFF THE HOOK, and S.M.A.K. me, they were ON FYRE!! So much so, I got my gears off to get my boogie on! AND Pop Mechanix opening for the Dance Exponents, singer Andrew Snoid (he who has been in MANY great NZ bands) slayed it on their forty year old songs so good they could have been written yesterday, or tomorrow. ANDDD I've never seen Princess Chelsea live and I should, but I keenly followed their recent US tour (where they seemed to get better and better each night), and devoured the made-on-tour clip for 'We Kick Around' which has become my jam for 2023. Please someone put this onto seven inch! ANDDDD last live shout out... I can't NOT mention The Schizophonics and Guitar Wolf shows, and the litres of sweat they pour out night after night. Never a stinker. And thankfully their deodorant does work!


The collector in me has seen me sifting through 78s in the last year. Dusty, dirty, fragile, but not too delicate to have made a 70+ year journey intact, and perform as it was originally intended to. One must have keen eyesight to read the labels and pick up the foxtrots. Good thing is many of them are on YouTube. I've been spending a lot of time in the lounge of a rest home and started DJing (via YouTube) for the octa and nona-generian residents. What a regular delight to see the room pick up when I slip on (or rather click on) the likes of Edith Piaf, Mario Lanza, Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers' insane dance routines, Glenn Miller, old Bing Crosby, as well as '50s rockers, and I'm not adverse to dropping a little James Brown in as well. My son put Blue Oyster Cult on the other day to dance to 'Godzilla', and I'll even put Vera Lynn on which gets my biggest fan Hazel into full song to perform 'When The Lights Go On Again'. Eighty four year old drummer Gerald brought out his brushes the other day!


In the past I've had a few of my favourite bands perform on K Road, The Rainy Days in what was ye olde public toilets opposite Flying Out, the 5678s performed outside old Iko Iko (now Vixen), Guitar Wolf performed on the awning of what is now the Noise Floor, and the Schizophonics ripped it up outside Vixen a few years back. Well this year I got to be in the band! This was one of the many highlights of the year for us (Ratso) including releasing our debut album. A live LP recorded last year by Graham Bennett at Christchurch Town Hall, doing an all ages release show at Big Fan (glammed up!), and getting to play with the Schizophonics, Boom Boom Kid from Argentina, The Stripp, Blood Bags, Neon Serpent and The Situations, and my old friend Jonathan Gill's band The Mutes From Mars. I've known Jonathan for over 40 years since he was a wee tyke.

Can I just add I'd like to do a shout out to the following... Lucy at Whammy, Ben at Valhalla, Richard at Space Academy, Jones at the Crown and Mark Peterson at Whammy FOH for making their respective venues so easy to put shows into, polar icing Peter at The Powerstation for delivering a world class venue year after year, baritone backline master Peter Grumley at Tone Deaf, Mark Rogers at RNZ for his weekly vibey cwcth that is Nashville Babylon, and Rachel Ashby at 95bFM for killing it day after day in the vacuous void that is morning radio in Auckland, and her b brothers Rapley and Dubhead making the airways buzzzz every Monday evening for 4 hours, ANDDD Dangerous Daryl and Chris at UTR for being always adventurously onto it, gotta say The Mermaidens Top 5 Sour Lollies was a publicity master stroke... all good good people with heart , love your work!


Rat Saw God - Wednesday

Wednesday’s Rat Saw God instantly became my album of the year in April, it is truly all I could ask for in a record... Folk-like storytelling with strong fuzz riffs and thrashing screams contrasted with reflective, wistful songs worthy of diary entries. Rat Saw God has a song for every mood, each painting such a vivid picture of teenagehood in a small town. The country vibes of 'Chosen to Deserve' is a highlight for me, alongside an 8.5-minute single which ends with screams of Mortal Kombat. I am so very excited to see them play at Whammy Bar in the new year.

Hosting Fancy New Band Showcase

In May I hosted the 95bFM Fancy New Band showcase at Whammy Bar. I’ve been hosting the Fancy New Band segment as a part of my radio show for over a year now and absolutely love it. I’ve been so proud of each of the bands that have come up and trusted me to help give them one of their first shots! Hosting the showcase felt like a full-circle moment, going from seeing the artists in the studio with just me and them to seeing them in a full room was lovely. I’d like to give a big shout-out to Ballot Box and Sabreen Islam who played, musically the two acts are very different but so incredible.

Flying Out

Throughout all of 2023, I have been working at my favourite record store — Flying Out! As most music lovers will know, it’s a dream come true; spending each day talking to customers about music and learning so much has been wonderful. I’ve bonded with many people over shared favourites and have been opened up to a bunch of music I otherwise would have never crossed paths with. My taste has been broadened so much through my time in the shop and I’m so thankful for all the people I have met and the music we have discovered together.


I saw Pavement live?!?!?!?!? One of my all-time favourite bands, I have always classified them in the category of artists I’d unfortunately missed out on seeing live such as Joy Division and Sonic Youth (thanks passage of time) but they reunited and toured again and it was a dream come true. Seeing 'Range Life' live, alongside all my other favourite songs was the highlight of the year for me. Sitting and watching them at The Civic was the closest I’ve had to a church experience and I only cried thrice!

Ebony Lamb - Ebony Lamb

My new favourite Aotearoa artist is Ebony Lamb who released her debut album in October. Each time I listen to it I love it even more, her vocals are so unique and each song makes you want to ethereally sway back and forth, transported into Twin Peaks. Her album release show at Whammy was amazing and I picked up my favourite piece of merch for the year: a hat with the embroidered lyric ‘Come Put A Record On’.


Grecco Romank - 'Piss Baby' at The Others Way

I think I’ve been to every Grecco show in Tāmaki Makaurau, but something about this one was exceptionally lit, and felt very special. In particular - ‘Piss Baby’. you could barely hear Billie’s stunning, classically trained demon-angel-baby voice over the heaving crowd, screaming every word and writhing in salacious glee. It was diabolical in the best way, and brought about a sense of elation akin only to the vibes at the Blood Rave in Blade.

The rain at Newtown Festival

It feels a bit naff to add a Dick Move set this to my own list, but what made this a 2023 highlight was less to do with us and more a true testament to the undying spirit of Newtown Fest. 30 mins before our set we were rained out, it was no longer safe to play on our original Wilson Street stage. With the quick thinking of Apa (Creeps Record Parlour), Joel (Eyegum) and the many helping hands hauling the PA, the community managed to pull together a DIY stage outside Platinum Nails. What ensued was unforgettable, there were punters in the rain, on the road and on the roofs having what I can only describe as a mean as time, completely unfazed by the storm. It fucking ruled. Some very cool footage was captured.

The drums at the pro-Palestine march, Sunday 10th December

As the crowd of thousands (attendance was wildly under-reported by our media outlets, I might add) turned onto Forte Street on our way back to Aotea Square, we were met with pounding drums (shout out to Ruby Walsh!). This injected even more life into the protest, we were now singing “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and dancing as we marched. It became a full-blown party of people power.

Robbie Williams

Yes, I was born in 1991 and one of the first albums I bought was Sing When You're Winning, so naturally, I jumped at the chance to see Robbie Williams at Mission Estate in October. This was A SHOW. He played all the bangerz, peppered with extended moments of heartfelt chit chat, and he genuinely seemed to be loving his time with us. This was the first show he had played since the release of his Netflix doco, so it felt like he was sharing a very cathartic experience with us. I’m unashamed to say that his honesty and pure showmanship — and maybe also the very reasonably priced bottles of rosé on ice — had me feeling like Robbie was my friend, and let me tell you, this '90s baby absolutely lapped it up.

Not Your Cupid - Erny Belle (Venus Is Home also applies to this anecdote)

I spent close to 70 hours this year driving back and forth to my hometown, Tairāwhiti. There's a certain part of the drive (SH2 Just before Ōpōtiki, 'Pohutakawa tunnel' IYKYK) where I always very carefully choose my music to really amplify and indulge in my big ol’ emo feelings of longing and gratitude as I head towards the coast. I found myself always reaching for Erny Belle. If you know one thing about me, it’s that I bloody love small town NZ, and Amy’s music captures that essence for me. It’s beautiful, And makes my heart ache for my home.


The Others Way Festival

I stumbled to the left, right, the wrong way, then the others way. Made it! To the best festival for dining on a smorgasbord of excellent venues we have here in central Tāmaki Makaurau. I made sure not to miss my standout alt pups Office Dog. Hearing the brilliant riffs and lyrics of ‘Spiel’ and ‘Antidote’ live have made them my new on-repeat tracks since. Their frontman Kane Strang is mistakenly effortless and hyper-focused in his craft. On the outdoor Galatos stage emerged the pristine pop star Fazerdaze, who even brought the ‘Magic’ with Voom’s Buzz Moller. And of course, I put my phone on airplane mode to immerse myself in the spitfire of Jujulipps and her hip hop rizz.

Something to Give Each Other - Troye Sivan

Growing up alongside Troye Sivan, since his 2016 Blue Neighbourhood show here at Auckland Town Hall, has been an everlasting treat. Although my tastes diverge each year, they always come back to pop music that is undeniably good. Good in a way that makes you want to dance, sing and cry—as cliché as that is. Every listen, there’s more to discover in the production and honest lyrics. His music videos for ‘Rush’, ‘Got Me Started’ and ‘One Of Your Girls’ cemented Troye as a globally relevant and talented artist (in the full sense of being a musician AND performer) for me, who is pushing queer joy, learned self-love and the space for heartbreaking electro-pop.

Ersha Island 二沙岛 and Club Ruby at ASIAN(SOUND)SCAPES festival

Asians in music! The massively upgraded fest was a sonic hotpot brimming full of exceptional Asian talent at Ponsonby Social Club. The Hao-Aickin sisters of Ersha Island 二沙岛 left me transfixed with their virtuoso classical chops, ethereal harmonies and clever storytelling. Dani’s keys and Tee’s violin merged in an intimate conversation that laid bare their cause and closeness to each other. Their punk rock buds Club Ruby brought a sheer, buzzing (ADHD) energy unmatched by those who sell out stadiums. Their musical theatricality and utter enjoyment was infectious as much as refreshing.

Three venues I like

The Hollywood Avondale — the shining glory of the stage arch that greets you makes a show automatically feel special. And with plenty of places to have a chat or smoke, it's best to come with a bunch of people.
The Powerstation — as a very short person, being able to stand on the outer steps of the ground floor or shoot up to the balcony means I can leave my platform kicks at home. But also, the sound system and design here always hits.
Whammy Bar - listeners beware, standing next to the speakers perched right on the edges of the tight but intimate stage is a rite of passage. The underground feel makes moshing all too fun.

'Small Man, Big Tweet' - Dick Move

My fave Whammy Bar warriors never disappoint. With quick-panning cameras, jousting egos and flopping dildos, the courtroom drama video brilliantly captured the clashing masculinity battles often found online. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more enormous than the bold rock and onstage presence of Dick Move.


V - Föllakzoid

I'm totally hooked on techno. Whether it's the pulse-pounding beats from the Stay Up Forever label that had me tearing up the dance floor in London to Tribe of Munt, Malfaiteurs, and similar rigs, or the more stripped-down vibes I soaked in at Berlin soirees – I just can't get enough. So, when I dove into the newest Föllakzoid album, I already knew it was going to be something special. Little did I realise just how much it would capture my heart. V has undeniably claimed the title of my album of the year. In a mere 20 minutes of streaming, I was hooked — no hesitation, I immediately ordered my copy from Flying Nun, grabbing the very last one in stock. This export from Chile is packed with intricate arrangements, dynamic beats, and moments of sheer beauty amidst the sonic chaos, V is a bold and unrelenting journey that, despite its cool demeanour, left me completely spellbound, My standout track is V - II. This is a must-listen for anyone even remotely curious about electronic music.

Discovering Eyegum in Te Whanganui-a-Tara

As my daughter hits her teen years, the Good Lady Wife and I seize the chance for a Wednesday evening date night. In our quest for something fun, we stumbled upon Eyegum, a free gig happening most Wednesdays at San Fran, showcasing some of the best emerging independent acts across Aotearoa. They roll out 2 to 3 acts each time, wrapping it up with a DJ, and let me tell you, the quality is nothing short of fantastic. I've said it before, and I'll say it again — Aotearoa boasts some of the most innovative and talented musicians on the planet. This night is free which is the best value ever. I'd happily pay to witness such talent, and truth be told, I often do when Eyegum alumni move on to paid gigs. The crowd is a friendly bunch, with familiar faces showing up week after week. The first time we went, techno took over after the bands, and from that moment, we knew we had our Wednesday night spot.

The Mighty Marrowspawn

I hit up the Napalm Death show at Meow earlier this year — a mind-blowing, intense experience that left me gloriously bruised and battered. Fast forward to the next Wednesday, and I found myself at the aforementioned Eyegum in San Fran, where Marrowspawn was tearing it up. Oh my word, they were absolutely brilliant, giving Napalm Death a serious run for their money. I went out of my way to tell them just that, and the bass player, all humble, replied, “Wow, we’ll take that!” They dub themselves ‘Te Whanganui-a-Tara Chainsaw Filth,’ and honestly, I can't think of a more fitting description. Who would've guessed that Pōneke could be the future of Grindcore? With Marrowspawn's intensity and passion, the genre is in safe hands. I caught them again recently at Valhalla, my favourite venue in the whole wide world, and the intensity didn't waver. Keep an eye out for their upcoming debut album — I'm curious to see if they can capture the sheer strength of their live performances in a studio release. It's a tall order, but here's hoping they pull it off.

Permission To Land… Again! 20th Anniversary Reissue
- The Darkness

Growing up in the Hutt Valley in the '80s I listened to a lot of classic rock, everyone I knew my age back then did. In fact, there was a period of a few years where that was almost all that I would listen to. It wasn’t really until I started exploring local bands such as Head Like A Hole and Shihad that my tastes started to evolve. I still have a huge fondness for AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin etc. When The Darkness back in 2003 released their debut album Permission to Land it took me back to my youth and all those bands I grew up with. I loved that album so very much and played it more than was probably good for me. However, I had it only as a CD and have always regretted not buying the vinyl release. I have spent time on various websites over the years attempting to find an original pressing, always few and far between and more expensive than I was willing to pay. I was over the moon when I heard they were reissuing the album for their 20th Anniversary this year and even more so they were coming back to Wellington in the new year playing the album in its entirety. To be fair every time I've seen them, they play most of that album. It's that good, so I'm not complaining. Here we have them playing recently with Ed Sheeran. I hear Ed is collaborating with Cradle of Filth next and no I didn't make that up.

Continuing to catch DARTZ unexpectedly

Is there a more Wellington band than DARTZ? My first encounter with them was after attending a mini punk festival in Newtown a year or so ago, where odds and ends were on sale for a good cause. Slightly worse for wear towards the end of the festival, I splurged my last $10 on an Elvis wall hanging / towel thing and strolled happily towards the Moon Bar. UTR photographer extraordinaire, Bruce Mackay, suggested we catch DARTZ playing the tail end of their set. Bruce paid the door fee and entered the venue. Cashless, but armed with my Elvis find, I managed to persuade the kind gentleman at the door, in a passionate and persuasive argument, to accept Elvis as payment. DARTZ were brilliant, from what I caught of them, but ironically, the rest of the night became a bit of a blur. I unexpectedly stumbled upon DARTZ again late last year, this time supporting The Chats — a perfect support match. Earlier this year, while having drinks with work colleagues, they left, and I wasn't ready to call it a night. I decided to spontaneously check out the D4, whom I'd never seen before. Ascending the stairs at San Fran, I walked into, you guessed it, yet another spectacular set by DARTZ. Serendipity, indeed. D4 were pretty damn good too.


Lines of Flight

I’ve never gone to Line of Flight before, in fact it was only my second time in Dunedin, but somehow Peter Porteous crafted a place that felt home for the weekend, a festival that felt like a family reunion for musicians around the country young and old — familiar and strangers. The venues DPAG and Port Chalmers Town Hall, plus local haunts RdC, Buffalo Lodge, and all the studios and flats, musicians and audiences gathered throughout were filled with a warmth that cut through the spring cold snap. Musical highlights were The Dead C and Surface of the Earth.

Everything’s Perpetual - Synthetic Children

Everything’s Perpetual is saturated in stories and the kind of passionate expression that switches the other-worldly sonics innate to electronic music on its head and breathes bloody, fleshy life into the circuit boards. A masterful, genre-spanning journey with an irresistible pull, featuring collaborations with a plethora of collaborations and a remix album, featuring artists from a community that Ce herself has a huge part in facilitating as a founder of Taonui TinyClub, Beatcamp, and programme director at Radio Control. People like Ce remind me of music's potential for self-healing / self-realisation and fill me with hope and excitement for the future.

The Donk Dobbo Experience - Donk Dobbo

An album I firmly believe has earned its place in Aotearoa Music History tenfold.

Watching IG stories of mate’s Flo Wilson & Grace Verweij in Amsterdam being surprised by our mate Jackie’s music being played by the DJ at Dekmantel Festival

I got the sweetest secondhand rush of excitement while on my own musical travels in Germany this year when myself and a few fellow Kiwi musicians crowded around a cellphone in a churchyard to repeatedly listen to Related Article’s label runner Grace Verweij say ‘WTF?’ as a track from their own label’s recent release; Current Bias’ Limbic Freedom drifted through an international crowd at one of the world’s best electronic music festivals. A beautiful moment of awe at how far the sounds from our little slice of sonic paradise can take us.

Phys Ed K-Lone Gig

1. Lee gets a little trophy for his idea to put up those walls to reshape the NOTW dancefloor we don’t know why but it felt so right.
2. So wholesome but simultaneously so sexy? Packed with skater styled boganesque sweeties dancing with silly sensuality and spatial respect to sick tunes — borderline channelling nonbinary baggy clothes club gremlin wet dream vibes tbh.
3. I’m all for the shuffling resurgence on the dancefloors.
4. My first time sober in the club in years, smoked one durrie all night, just peaking on vibes straight off the Phys Ed pill press.

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