New Zealand. Where people go barefoot and sheep stop traffic. Where’s kiwi’s are furry fruit, flightless birds and friendly people all at once. Our month travelling around this amazing country was many things (most notably incredibly relaxing and breathtakingly beautiful), however, a journey of musical discovery it was not.

Many of our roadtripping hours were spent scanning the kiwi airwaves in an attempt to find a radio station that would play some decent music (and with a broadcasting radius further than 1 mile out of town…). You might be lured in by a pleasant oldie, let’s say Crowded House’s Four Seasons In One Day (Neil Finn is a bit of a local god). But just when you think you can sit back and enjoy the music, you’ll be punished by Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” (incessant airplay…), or any amount of the souldraining whingerock that we dubbed “tears in your ears”: these artists cover the toecurling spectrum that lies roughly between Creed & Nickelback’s post-grunge and the eye-liner abusing emopop of My Chemical Romance. Oh the horror!

So we switched the holiday soundtrack from radio to our iPods and so I had to change tactics: a foray into New Zealand nightlife for some musical exploration! Well first off, New Zealand nightlife can take some tracking down. We failed miserably in Auckland, finding just 1 pub with some -pretty dreadful- live acts. Were bitterly disappointed in Dunedin (an honest cross-section of the music we came across in different bars: Kylie’s Locomotion, Whitney’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Simon and bloody Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson! On a Saturday night!!). But at least we found a very decent (cover) band called Supermodel in Wellington. They played a mean version of The Strokes’ Last Nite.

Finally, slightly weary, I decided to conclude my quest in the obvious place: the record store. Each record store had a dicey section I know only too well from Ireland: national artists. Being on my new kiwi music quest I was happy to find this section, but then instantly on guard when seeing the likes of “Enchantment of the Maori” and “Best of Kiri Te Kanawa”. Ah yes, their Irish cousins “Mystical chants of the Celts” and “The best of traditional Irish jigs, part VII” instantly sprang to mind. Talking to the guy behind the counter proved infinitely more helpful, and thanks to Anonymous Record Store Guy in Christchurch, I can now present the following finds:

The Checks (from Auckland) – Tired from sleeping

The Mint Chicks (from Auckland) –Walking off a cliff again

The Phoenix Foundation (from Wellington) – Bright grey

Goldenhorse – listen to their latest single Jump into the sun on their myspace page.