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Listen Up: Profiling 'on the up' NZ bands

By Lucy Wormald (she/her)

O and the Mo

A friend of mine always uses the term ‘sex on a plate’ to describe the experience of listening to lush vocals. Well friends, brace yourselves, because O and the Mo are here serving up all-you-can-eat buffets of indulgent honeyed vocals and romantic guitar melodies. Their debut album In Transit is a dream of soothing swells and twinkling synths. Frontwoman, Olivia Gallagher, whispers and lilts about finding calmness in a fast-paced world. If you catch me standing in the corner of 4th floor library with my headphones in, swaying in bliss, you know what’s up.

Press play on: Pistachio Moon / Peaches / Thicker Skin

Listen to them: When you need your mum to stroke your head but she’s too far away.

nicholas Franchise

nicholas Franchise’s latest album Return on Investment sees the Wellington band take a delicious turn towards early 2000s house music, all the while keeping their signature breezy groove. The album is a playful reflection on a shitty year. Four-to-the-floor beats, a satisfying driving bass and looped guitar riffs in the up-tempo 'Getup' reminds us to keep the energy up when the wheels fall off. Listening to the album not only serves as a shot of nonchalant positivity but rich vocal tones and teasing guitar twangs make you feel a lot spunkier than you actually appear to the human eye. It’s a great combo.

Press play on: Going Places / Felt the Same / Just For Once Now

Listen to them: If it's twilight hour and you are riding your bike really fast and everything smells good or you want to feel sexy AND cool while cleaning your room.


Honestly just go listen. Words here will not do LEAO, the project of David Feauai-Afaese, justice. The music is all sorts of jangly post-punk beauty that centres around embodying fa’asamoa within a space of self-authenticity. LEAO’s music combines South Pacific tradition, taking cues from pop staples like the Five Stars, with a haze of lo-fi hypnagogic pop to deliver a mesmerising tonality.

Press play on: Siva Masina / Pua Maliu

Listen to them: When you’re feeling drowsy-but-happy after a big weekend or a long hike.

Phoebe Rings

If you want to feel glittery while you’re dancing in the mirror, listen to 'Chesire' by Tāmaki band Phoebe Rings. I am a sucker for dream pop and this has immediately landed in my top five songs for feeling woozy and starry-eyed to. Debuting during 2020, COVID-19 did not stop the band, led by Crystal Choi’s hypnotic voice, from making their mark. Playing at Outsider Sounds Fest in February, they found themselves opening for The Beths by July. Choi’s voice swoops and coasts through spacy synths and hushed percussion. It’s the magic of Kate Bush with the sure-ness of Mitski and leaves you yearning for something, anything.

Listen to them: When you need a solid session of day- dreaming out the window or when you need confidence to wear a new hair accessory.


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