Top 5 pays homage to New Zealand


May, nationally designated as masturbation month here in the U.S., is recognized in The Land of the Long White Cloud as New Zealand Music Month. All month long all those Kiwi kids so far south of the equator are boycotting their Panic at the Disco, Katy Perry and all the other American garbage that has managed to sneak into their borders. In honor of their patriotism, I decided to compile Top Five New Zealand Songs from New Zealand artists. I mean, after all, The Land of the Long White Cloud could only translate into American as one thing: Great Pop Music. Oh, and sorry- but I deliberately left the Flight of the Conchords guys out of it – mainly because they are make-believe. In no particular order, we have:

  1. “Big Soft Punch” by the Clean

The Clean is usually the first band people think of when they think of seminal New Zealand musical magic. This one flutters open with organs crinkling with well-clean guitar riffs repeated. “They’re waiting for the big soft punch/And they don’t even know why” leaves you with that good sense of “Whaa…?” leaving it open to apply to whatever your current situation may entail. Are you about to dump someone? Sure, this one is appropriate. A bunch of kids just knocked out several Cuervo shots and are about to be annihilated? Yep. This very versatile tune injects you with a full-fledged case of the feel-goods in a most legal way – something we can all appreciate.

  1. “Her Hairagami Set” by the Brunettes

From the duo’s Sub Pop debut, “Structure and Cosmetics,” this ditty carries a creepin’ ‘round sort of vibe with ebbing rounds of soft percussion and warbling, gauze-wrapped vocals. The lyrics are compiled of a literal laundry list of exotic hair edifices made possible through a bit of plastic purchased via paid programming. It leaves you sort of wondering if you shouldn’t stick that beret in your own coif before leaving your house.

  1. “Eyebath” by Pumice

Psych-rock with a hefty ladleful of noisy fuzz comes hand-delivered on Pumice’s opening track on their 2007 release, “Pebbles.” Lots of snare drum and jaunty guitar propel this instrumental into an electric wormhole of sound. Stefan Neville, the czar behind the group’s creative direction, crafts this song in a way that winds up a listener – hard – like a toy car destined to eventually vroom off the kitchen table.

  1. “I Love My Leather Jacket” by the Chills

OK, an ode to something as textbook hardcore as a leather jacket combined with a wispier version of Jarvis Cocker-esque vocals – got that? Add in some strange- yet aptly-placed keyboard space crinkles and consider the fact that founding member and lead singer Martin Phillipps sometimes looks a lot like Kevin Nealon in the pixilated helluva video for the song. Sold?

  1. “Cactus Cat” by Look Blue Go Purple

Five fluffy-haired, overly accessorized Kiwi cuties sing about a feline particularly fond of prickly succulents. The vocal work is certainly comparable to the Vaselines, but the rest of the upbeat and simple instrumentation is trademark of the Auckland-based label Flying Nun, which LBGP and others including N.Z. gods the Clean were on. These ladies nailed the true core of girl power with this ballad light years before those plat-formed Brits knew what twee-pop was. Come to think of it, they still might not know.