For the 8 or so people who read this blog on the regular, you’ll likely be aware of my affection for all things Oceanic, primarily New Zealand and Australia. So, with year end lists in mind, I thought I’d offer up my personal takes on the best tunes to come out of the area in 2017. There’s no particular order, just my sixteen favorites of the year.
There’s even a fun little playlist at the bottom for you to enjoy!
Kane Strang‘s debut album for Dead Oceans is really high on my list of things to look forward to this year, and today he’s dropped another video to tease us. This song is a subtle number, built mostly around the building of emotion…and its eventual release. Kane strums the guitar during the verses, then erupts into a shimmering bit of pop for the chorus. Something about the structure here reminds of really early Ben Kweller, just spun slightly in a more modern approach. It’s pop rock for those holding on to being cool…Two Hearts and No Brain will help keep us all cool on June 30th.
Kane Strang was high up on my list of must-see artists at SXSW this year, and I was fortunate enough to catch him a couple of times. He has this ability to take the modern indie stylings of Oceanic pop and combine them with really infectious hooks; I heard a lot of nods to early Weezer in his performance. That being said, this song holds steady during the verses, offering a slight energy pick up, which quickly turns into an airy pop dosage that fades with the closing of the song. I promise you that his new album, Two Hearts and No Brain, will be something to make your musical world a better place; it hits on June 30th via Dead Oceans.
How is it possible we’re already through SXSW hangover week? It seems like only yesterday the ATH crew was hanging at Hotel Vegas, with Lone Star in hand, kicking off the week a couple of Sundays ago with the awesome lineup put together by Nathan and our boy Mr. Laird. As always, we move on, reflect on the fun behind us, and plan for the next great lineup or festival. Such is the beauty of living in the live music capital of the world. To look back on the festival, Nathan, Brian, and myself came up with an arbitrary list of awards with each of us picking our choice for the category.
Hit the jump for our awards, final thoughts and a few related pics from a fun, exciting, and draining week.
There’s a long history of great New Zealand bands that we don’t need to tell you about, but you should be excited that there’s a new export by the name of Kane Strang that should entice your ears. He’ll be releasing his first complete album via Ba Da Bing and Flying Nun, so alone, that should get you listening. For my two cents, the churning guitar riffs layered on top of one another, much like the vocals in parts of the song, definitely create an intoxicating feeling; it’s all matched by the internal harmonies that permeate the tune. Look for Blue Cheese to make an impression on February 26th.
This is one of those singles that came across by recommendation, as I hadn’t actually heard of Kane Strang until now…but it carried whispers of Flying Nun/Ba Da Bing teamwork to bring it to light, so I had to listen. Of course, there’s that circular guitar ring that seems to have been crafted out of New Zealand, but what really perked my ears is the stabbing keyboard noise coming in from the distant background. Apparently the majority of this recording was done while housesitting alone at his parents, giving off a feeling of isolation that was hinted by an earlier collection of demos. Look for Blue Cheese to make it’s way to the US on February 26th via the aforementioned labels.