New Zealand music in 2021

New Zealand music: Crowded House against a black background

We’re continuing our year in review series by recapping a selection of releases by New Zealand musicians in 2021.

Reb Fountain released a hypnotic new album
The wait is over for Crowded House fans!
French For Rabbits‘ outsider anthem
Adam Hattaway & The Haunters‘ Americana epic
Don’t Start with Banks Arcade

Reb Fountain released a hypnotic new album

Although Reb Fountain is originally from San Francisco, she’s been welcomed into the music scene wholeheartedly. Firstly, it’s been her home for decades. Secondly, she recorded at NZ legend Neil Finn’s studio. And, thirdly, she won three New Zealand Music awards for her DIY record and was nominated for five more for her debut album as a signed artist. This musical momentum culminated in her winning the 2021 Taite Prize. For context, Lorde won that award in 2014.

Reb Fountain is back with her new album, IRIS, on Flying Nun Records.

The wait is over for Crowded House fans!

Speaking of Neil Finn, we couldn’t miss Crowded House off this list, could we? Yes, we know the band formed in Australia (the writers of Four Seasons in One Day HAD to have spent time in Melbourne!!) but Finn is from New Zealand so that’s good enough for us!

Crowded House had to pull their rescheduled UK tour dates at the last moment because UK COVID restrictions weren’t lifted until a few days after was due to start (plus New Zealand travel restrictions remain robust).

They’ll finally get to play songs from their new album Dreamers Are Waiting, as well as all their five-star classics, on the re-rescheduled tour dates set for June 2022. The video for Crowded House’s latest single, Love Isn’t Hard At All, showcases footage of iconic surfer Kelly Slater.

French For Rabbits’ outsider anthem

Dream pop luminaries French for Rabbits focused on pushing the boundaries with lyrics this year. Vocalist and producer Brooke Singer explained: “It’s hopefully like a warming cup of tea, but accompanied by a very serious newspaper….something that makes you calm, but also makes you think.” She describes the band’s single, The Outsider, as “an introvert’s anthem that finds joy in the act of being alone. The song distills the feeling of being an awkward introvert at a party – staring at your phone on the edges of a crowd.”

Adam Hattaway & The Haunters’ Americana epic

Adam Hattaway & The Haunters‘ 22 song double-LP was recorded to four-track tape over just four days in February 2021.

Don’t Start with Banks Arcade

Banks Arcade signed to UNFD this year after impressing with their blend of hard rock, metalcore and electronica. Although the band is based in Melbourne now, they’re from Auckland originally. They’re unabashed and uncompromising about their upward trajectory, paying no mind to haters: “The song is aimed at those who try to tear us down behind closed doors but would never have the guts to front up and say something in person. It also speaks to the fact that most people talking shit the loudest are only doing it because they are threatened by you…We are all trying to do this life thing right and we have to heal from shit, and most of the time people saying negative things are just using that as a way to deal with their own trauma.”

Now that you’re all caught up on New Zealand music, check out our recap of a year in Australia music!