For NZ Music Month, we're asking local musicians to tell us about the New Zealand songs they love the most. Today, Astro Children's Millie Lovelock explains why songs from Opposite Sex, Street Chant, Look Blue Go Purple, Die! Die! Die! and Mermaidens mean so much to her.
Opposite Sex - Vicarious Life
It’s almost impossible for me to pick favourites with Opposite Sex. Every time I see them they play something that worms its way deep inside of me, I always leave their gigs with some gory fragment I can’t quite work out and can’t quite let go of. I remember seeing them play Vicarious Life at the Crown in Dunedin three years ago and being instantly obsessed with the way Lucy Hunter delivers every line, starting with a deliberate stutter then slicing through the rest of the line, icy cold. I can’t count the number of times I have clenched my fists and sung along to this song, identifying with every word to the point of impassioned tears.
Street Chant - Never
It goes without saying that Street Chant are the coolest rock band in New Zealand. When I was still in high school my parents came home gushing about three disinterested punk kids they’d seen one night, and I held out for so long hoping to see them myself. I’m endlessly charmed by how much Street Chant care about their songs, and how little they care about their audience. This track is all perfect, driving bass and guitars and deadpan vocals, condensing so much adult angst into almost five minutes of music that inexplicably feels like my adolescence and my current reality.
Look Blue Go Purple - Cactus Cat
Look Blue Go Purple are the only Dunedin sound band I don’t mind being compared to. Cactus Cat is the perfect pop song, ethereally clear vocals and bubbling guitars, and it’s so, so loving. I love this song because I once sang it at a Circle Jerk covers evening, and because I have a little thorny black cat who I love very much and would write pop songs for if I could.
Die! Die! Die! - Whitehorses
For me, Die! Die! Die! map out certain significant points in my own musical trajectory. They were the first band I ever went to see on my own (I was 14 and had no clue how loud music could be), and one of their Dunedin shows was the most exciting and nerve wracking opening slots Astro Children played in our first year out of high school. I was so nervous about playing with them and all I could think of was that I remembered this one song they’d played at that all ages show so many years before, and I hoped so much that they’d play it again (they did).
The drums remind me of Isaac with all that solid snare smacking and pounding floor tom, and the guitars are so hypnotic I could lose myself in them for days. Whitehorses was formative for me and I always feel excited about playing music when I hear it.
Mermaidens - Bones
(Listen via Under The Radar)
I can hardly believe that Mermaidens are a real band. I’ve never heard such powerful voices, or heard songs that are so rhythmically jarring and yet feel so right. I feel like I’m drowning when I listen to them and I love it. Bones has a special place in my heart for a few reasons, the first being that when I downloaded the Bones EP in 2014, it was the first time I had independently sought out new music in two years. Secondly, I listened to this song hundreds of times in the dead of a Montreal winter, when I was displaced and wallowing. I would run a hot shower and blast it over the running water, just letting the throbbing guitars and freezing, transcendental vocals consume me.