Five acts to watch in 2016

It's New Zealand Music Month, so it seems like a good time to run through some of the acts that seems likely to make a big splash in the local scene this year. There's everything from folk to garage rock to rap/EDM on this list, so hopefully there's something that'll strike your interest, though do feel free to add more recommendations in the comments if you wish.

Aldous Harding

Last year, it was the turn of Marlon Williams to be hyped as the latest, greatest artist out of the Lyttleton folk scene. Though this year it seems likely that the spotlight will return to his partner, Aldous Harding. She has a new album coming out later this year, which seems like it might add a gothic edge to the dark-folk sound of her debut self-titled album. It certainly sounds like there is a bit of PJ Harvey in the delivery of this live recording of new track, 'Horizon,' and the result is creepy and beautiful!

Lawrence Arabia

Lawrence Arabia has released very little new material since his last album, The Sparrow, came out in 2012. However he's been very busy on the live scene - playing at unusual venues such as art galleries and libraries, as well as scoring a silent film for the NZFF last year. Now there are stirrings that his new album is not too far away and a new single has emerged, which has all the playful lyricism we've come to expect from this sharp songwriter. I notice that the Youtube description mentions Flying Nun, which shows more signs of a slow return to prominence of the label over the past few years (they released Princess Chelsea's album, The great cybernetic depression, in the US and UK last year so they may again become synonymous overseas with great music from our shores).

Tiny Ruins

Hollie Fulbrook (the singer/songwriter behind Tiny Ruins) has been very busy since the release of her last full-length album, Brightly Painted One. She's currently touring through the UK and Europe as I write this, but has also been busy on the home front, mainly through her collaborations with an impressive list of highly-respected local musicians. She has toured with Bic Runga, which saw them forming a super-group from their two backing bands and playing a spread of covers and originals. She also contributed vocals to a song by Robert Scott (from The Clean) and recorded a whole EP with former Clean-drummer, Hamish Kilgour - Hurtling through. If that wasn't enough, she started this year by releasing a song that was produced by cult filmmaker, David Lynch (after Lorde recommended her music to him). Who knows what is coming next, but it's sure to be impressive. Here's the Lynch-produced track for you to check out...

Raw Nerves

The Raw Nerves are part of a recent revival of Auckland garage rock that has been instigated by the arrival of a new, vinyl-only record label, 1:12 Records. Others on the roster include: The Conjurors, Roy Irwin, and The Cavemen. Another band on the label, The Situations, will be known to many for acting as the backing band for Wanda Jackson on a recent visit to our shores, as well as working with Shaft and Ray Columbus in previous years. Nick Bollinger spoke at length about 1:12 Records on one of his recent sessions on National Radio and Grant Smithies was equally enthusiastic in his recent review of Roy Irwin - he's about to go overseas to tour from July-December, so no doubt he'll be known as NZ's answer to Kurt Vile by the end of the year (we have Irwin's first album if you want to hear how he got started).

However, my favourite among the label's band is The Raw Nerves, who seem to be bubbly with catchy hooks and gritty guitar sounds. This video also shows you how to make gourmet sausages, so hopefully that adds a bit of value for some viewers too!

Young tapz

The local hip hop scene has been bursting with talent over the last year, with Loui the Zu re-emerging as Mzwetwo and Tom Scott (from Homebrew/@Peace) starting a new group, Average Rap Band, whose focus on tongue twisting verbal dexterity has put his skills into true focus. Arriving hot on their heels has been Raiza Biza, a rapper from Hamilton who burst into the scene in 2014 with the fast-paced release of his first two albums. However the artist we're focusing on today - Young tapz - is even newer to the scene and is already looking to push out front.

Young Tapz works regularly along Mzwetwo as part of the Gallantino crew and their early achievements (along with those of Raiza Biza) led to an article on the Australian Vice website about the sudden emergence of NZ rappers originally born in Africa (and/or the Middle East). Their work is definitely worth searching out if you're interested, though be ready for some serious coarse language! (don't say I didn't warn you...)

So let's rewind the clock back slightly and look at the biggest breakthrough that Young Tapz has managed so far - dropping rhymes for "Buzz" by Aussie group, Hermitude (off their album Dark night sweet light), and thereby ending up in the Top Twenty of the Australian charts! Here's Young Tapz performing alongside Hermititude at the Australian Music Awards last year. He's sure got a lot of swagga for a twenty-year old!

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