21 Inspired & Inspirational Kiwi Albums
If it had been a list of 121 it would likely have been easier than identifying just one inspired/inspiring locally produced album for each of the years since NZM was launched in 1988. True there weren’t many real crackers in those first years, but by the mid ’90s we were back on track (in all manner of musical directions), and since 2000, well, things have positively exploded. 21 is really nowhere near enough though, we’ve had to leave way too many valuable albums out. In no particular order then, these albums summarise our voters’ pics.
Powerful and important debut album from the baseline pioneers of NZ hip hop. This was a totally new music and political attitude from a group providing a newly conscious voice for Maori, and the nation’s, youth still reeling in the wake of social changes a global recession.
Searing visceral twin guitar brilliance from Dunedin’s finest. UK-based Select magazine had this to say in its 5 out of 5 review. ‘In an ideal world all pop would be as vibrant and inspirational as this!’, while Spin mag called it ‘… the number one album you didn’t hear in ’92’. That’s how it was. Paved the way for ‘The Venus Trail’ two years later.
Flagged the exciting brilliance of South Auckland’s hitherto underground and signalled the dawning of a proud new era. Came with a matching tour and a new awareness of the possibilities of South Pacific flavoured hip hop, ‘streetsoul’ and RnB.
These Wellington lads rocked like they were born to it but left an all-too-short legacy. ‘Geographica’ was their debut, and only album. Recorded in Melbourne (though never released in Oz) it sold platinum here in NZ before guitarist Aaron Tokona opted out of the band and a new world order was stymied.
The enigmatic genius of Paki had already won over the country with her System Virtue single cleaning up at the 1993 NZ Music Awards, winning her Best Songwriter and Most Promising Female Vocalist among other awards. The video was also the most played local video of 1994. Recorded at manager Nigel Horrocks’ since legendary Karekare home/studio.
Cheating just a bit here cos the LP first appeared a year earlier, with the CD version released the same year NZM arrived. 19 tracks of seminal Chicken shit including Soulcatcher and Do The Headless Chicken illustrating a bold creativity not widely evidenced in those days.
The first attention-grabbing album from these archetypal Kiwi noise rockers who subsequently made the transition to the musical rat race of New York and made it stick for well over a decade. Few such acts have the creative resources to last six albums.
A sumptuous international album made in Karekare, complete with lyrical and musical Kiwiana references. Heralding the arrival home of Neil Finn, our enduring global success story.
Bit of a lottery to pick one album from Shihad as being more inspirational, however the band’s metal-ist, most distortion heavy release was a popular choice. Their second album, ‘Killjoy’ was produced by York St founder Malcolm Welsford and included You Again and Deb’s Night Out.
A dreaded hip hop affair that starts with Chains and ends with Tane Mahuta. Former UHP man Darryl Thompson in creative collaboration with Angus McNaughton, Teremoana, Che, Sir Vere, Manchu, Slave et al.
A great name for a huge album from this fresher, younger and more confident wave of inner city Polynesian musicians that is still washing up hit after hit onto our Pacific shores.
Plenty of genuius in this debut album including the band’s own name. Beautifully-crafted and catchy as hell pop songs that helped others discover their own poppier side.
Her sophomore ‘Beautiful Collision’ remarkably rates top of our all-comer chart records, but ‘Drive’ gets the nod in this list for that single plus Sway, for introducing the delicate strength that defines Bic’s music, and opening the door for more to follow.
MINT CHICKS – ‘CRAZY?YES! DUMB?NO!’ – (FLYING NUN, 2006)Proved they could write consummate pop and still keep pushing the envelope. Went on to win a whole nest of Tuis at the 2007 NZ Music Awards, so helping both acts prove they were current.
The monstrous follow up to ‘2b Spacific’ that cemented Che’s place in our history with the incredible Misty Frequencies and Fade Away. Deservedly took the 2002 Tui for Album of the Year, along with four other awards.
Multi-cultural, multi-talented, multi-directional and multi-platinum. These energetic youngsters put the fun back into funk, youthful excellence back in the frame and Kiwi music into the world market. Four weeks at the top and 41 weeks in the album charts.
The outstanding works of taonga puoro researchers and performance (re-)pioneers Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns re-contextualised by a mix of very current producers and musicians.
Edgy genius presented in its most simplistic form. Only six tracks, but as history was to determine, the bulk of the recorded output from the tragically short life of this quirky pop music icon.
Wicked songs, brilliant arrangements and effortless marketing leading to unprecedented local sales success and international recognition.
The first sign of numerous artists who subsequently came to lead the way in Kiwi electronica, soul, hip hop and production. An unusually good legacy from a label that had big ambitions couldn’t stick around long enough to fulfil many of them.
How many local hip hop albums you know sell like this? Likely forever a Kiwi hip hop reference point, arriving at the height of the genre’s mass appeal. A sales pinnacle and street talk generator for the nation