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Totally Unicorn tour, New Zealand recommendations, New Tropical Strength, Beyonce goes country

Jeb Taylor

This week Totally Unicorn are across to New Zealand for a bunch of shows including the excellent Camp A Low Hum Festival. We’ve now released three full length’s from this band across nearly a decade via Farmer & The Owl and although I may be a bit biased, I think they are one of the most interesting heavy bands in the country and I don’t think it can be disputed that they are one of the best live bands in the country. If you’re in New Zealand, the dates are below, and you should make an effort to go and see them.

Their tour in New Zealand got me thinking of some other New Zealand recommendations. Back in 2019 I did a Record Stores Of The World tour and you can read that here, it is a bit dated though. Real Groovy, a great record store in Auckland has moved locations and looks even bigger than before, while the legendary Flying Nun records has since opened store fronts on Wellington and Auckland. Flying Nun is one of my favourite ever record labels and I thought I’d highlight five of my favourite tunes from the catalogue below. Kicking it off is incredible track from Look Blue, Go Purple titled ‘Cactus Cat’. Maybe one of the lesser-known artists on the label but an absolute must listen to.

Next up is the amazing song ‘Not Given Lightly’ from Chris Knox. Chis had previously played in bands Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs before releasing his solo album ‘Seizure’. Buried in the middle of the album is this tune, one of the greatest ever tracks to come out of the country.

A few years back I was at South By South West in Austin, Texas and The Chills were playing, I never ever thought I’d see The Chills play live but I got the opportunity to (my pic for the show is this week's feature image). There are a bunch of tunes from their catalogue that I could have featured but ‘Heavenly Pop Hit’ is just dream pop perfection for me.

Another of the iconic Flying Nun bands is The Clean, I highly recommend tracking down a copy of their anthology that collects all their earlier works, but they have some great later albums available as well.

Garageland were sort of in the next wave of Flying Nun bands and they released a great record in the mid nineties that contained this really interesting and quirky indie rock tune ‘Fingerpops’.

This Friday Tropical Strength drop another single from their forthcoming second album, it’s called 'Turnstiles' and is a very delicate psych/folk/pop tune. You can pre save it here. It will be released in collaboration with Farmer & The Owl and Silhouette, a fresh label collective set up between Russell Webster and James Kates (both in Shining Bird along with many other projects) to help release a bunch of their friends and their own projects. They’ll be also curating a seasonal live event with the first one happening next month at the Servo in Port Kembla featuring Shining Bird, Dropping Honey & Alara Livingstone.

I don’t really think that anyone expected Beyonce to be releasing a country record in 2024, but it looks like that is what is coming up, this first single rules.

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