Tonight, the three finalists for the 2015 NZ On Air Critics' Choice Prize face off at the Kings Arms. The three up-and-coming acts have been selected by a panel for their promising talents, and now they will play their hearts out live to try to win $10,000 from NZ On Air. The show is open to the public - get on down to the Kings Arms at 7.30pm if you want to check them out and congratulate the winner at the end of the night. But before you do that, have a quick read below to find out who they are.
Named after the giant fictional Star Wars planet, it's appropriate that Auckland three-piece band Bespin also sound a bit cool and fuzzy, a little spacey even. They sculpt a sound that's driven by woozy, reverberant melodic basslines, tight, jangly drumming, and dark lyricism, paying homage to the 90s shoe-gaze Creation Records era in the UK, and pulling in ambient soundscape influences.
Made up of Jonathan Lee, Alex Freer, and Joel Beeby, each member has earned their stripes in a number of other local bands - Cut Off Your Hands, Tiny Ruins, and the DHDFD's among them. They've been playing together for a little while, grabbing attention with their opening set at Laneway Festival earlier this year, and they've just released their debut EP Osiris, which was recorded by Lee in his attic, with some help from Djeisan Suskov (of Leisure and Cool Rainbows).
Alistair Deverick didn't really mean to start making dance music, he kind of stumbled into it, but working under the moniker Boycrush, he's transformed the way we think about the genre. A top-notch drummer who's played with a very long list of bands, including Neil Finn, The Shades, Watercolours, Panther and The Zoo, Lawrence Arabia, The Ruby Suns and the Carnivorous Plant Society, Deverick likes to make dance music with live drums, drawing from all sorts of genres, while also spending lots of time huddled over a laptop and humming into a microphone.
He was invited to the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid in 2011, put his first EP Everybody All The Time out in 2012, and released his second EP Girls On Top, which premiered on the Guardian. Vocalists like Chelsea Jade and Madeira make regular appearances on the tracks, but he also sings himself, and enjoys the duality of digital, electronic soundscapes contrasted with very dynamic, emotional, human contributions.
3. New Gum Sarn
Golden, swoony, guitar-driven, classic rock riffs, combined with a yearning vocal quality give this Auckland four-piece a timeless sound that draws from America but is also unmistakably Kiwi. Led by Oscar Dowling, with Sophia Lawler-Dormer on drums, Dave Weir on bass, and Durham Fenwick on guitar, the band was started when Dowling and Fenwick met while travelling around Southeast Asia, and happened to be carrying guitars. They were originally called Small Boys, but last year changed their name to New Gum Sarn, which is the name of an Asian supermarket just off Karangahape Rd, and means new gold mountain, which is what Chinese immigrants called New Zealand when they first came here for the gold rush. It's the perfect name for a band who bring to mind sepia toned photographs, mixing a bit of campfire nostalgia with a healthy dose of cynicism. They released their debut album earlier this year, and have been picked up by Spunk Records in Australia, the label that also looks after Tiny Ruins.