Noisey Blog

POPSounds 008: He Was A Beatnik

By Ilirjana Alushaj


I’m Australian, so I probably shouldn’t say this: I really like music from New Zealand. This tiny little island has been producing a continuous stream of great acts, all innovative and often a little quirky. Spend a little time and check the discography of Flying Nun Records—you’ll find the Verlaines, Heavenly,and, for me, an obvious favorite: the Clean.

Maybe NZ is sort of like Australia—the distance helps to push artists to do their own thing. Being so far from the influence of US and UK pop-meisters. Then again, who’s to say that it’s not simpler. Maybe there’s just magic in their homegrown kiwi fruit. Whatever it is, I always pay a little more attention when I hear a band is from the other down under.

Take a look at Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I interviewed front man Ruban Neilson for a ‘zine back in school. It was for his previous band, a pop group called the Mint Chicks. They were okay, but I much prefer his current incarnation. UMO feels like a series of fuzzy, smoked-out songs. The sonic ideas slide from psych-rock to pop. It’s all simple and catchy, the way pop songs should be.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - "Little Blu House" by fatpossum

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - How Can U Luv Me by abeano

Leno Lovecraft is another. He’s based in Paris, and I found out about the project on a recent trip. Leno is crafting some serious future sex disco. Way more polished than UMO and maybe a little more influenced by Parisian dance history, I can’t help but imagine disco balls and Lycra-clad babes when I hear these songs. The sound is predominantly Italo-disco and synth-pop, but you can hear some funk and glam-rock sneak their way into these fantasy mixes.

05 Princess 1 by Maman_Records

NZ is way cooler than Frodo from Lord Of The Rings would have you believe. Well, the music at least.

Previously – The K-Pop Group