Ones to watch and hear

Wellington musician Eddie Johnston, who performs as Lontalius. Photo supplied.
Wellington musician Eddie Johnston, who performs as Lontalius. Photo supplied.
Another year gone by, another year of undoubtedly great New Zealand music ahead.

Welcome to Suitable Alternative for 2015. Across the next 12 months, I'll do my best to share my enthusiasm for all things local music, from the splendour emanating from right here in Dunedin, to the wealth of national and international touring acts set to hit the city this year.

To kick things off, and while the city is quiet on the gig front, here's a simple list: five suitably alternative Kiwi acts you should watch in 2015.

2015 feels like it should be the year of Lontalius.

Having spent the past five years or so steadily building hype and momentum through low-key covers of top-40 tracks and R&B bangers, as well as his own chilled-out Casio-backed original compositions on a series of gorgeous lo-fi EPs, young Wellington musician Eddie Johnston will release his debut album in the coming months.

Following a collaboration with Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth, Johnston is finally starting to get big notice internationally, being blogged by indie music websites such as Stereogum and Pigeons and Planes.

The album's first two singles are both perfect, Johnston's sleepy, near-mumble of voice carrying a moving sincerity and gravitas, and his songwriting again showing itself just as delicate and beautiful.

With a new album, Successor, set for a March release on his own Canapé King label in conjunction with Pittsburgh-based label Wild Kindness Records, Auckland-via-Dunedin singer-songwriter Anthonie Tonnon will be hoping for a successful year.

According to Tonnon, prose not poetry has influenced the nine forthcoming songs, most of which are written as second-person narratives.

Tonnon hopes the songs feel like a condensed experience of the New Yorker's Reporter at Large column, and he certainly has the stories, whether they're insightful tales of his experience moonlighting with New Zealand's middle class and Ponsonby drug dealers or dumpster diving.

Formerly known as Small Boys, and now taking their name from a local grocery store, this Auckland four-piece makes psychedelic comedown pop.

On singles Bad Soy and Saigon Paris, released in October, and their first under the new moniker, it's all late-night wooze and a jamming looseness from the rhythm section, while guitarist and vocalist Oscar Dowling croons over top, managing to pull off both shakingly fragile and affectedly confident.

Live, the band amplify the intensity towards where garage rock meets psych, sounding like a hippie take on songs from Montreal post-punk band Ought.

The band has been touting the album as ''forthcoming'' for a while now, so hopefully details will emerge soon.

After almost three years of hibernation, Dunedin's own Thundercub have been playing a handful of shows around the country recently, including a standout spot at the recent Chronophonium festival in the Coromandel. Part of the beauty of the trio of guitarist Lee Nicolson, drummer Samdrub Dawa and keyboardist/sampler DJ Champion was their ability to jam and improv around their math-minded electro-rock tracks, so seeing them play now feels just as fresh and unexpected as it did then, a feeling often lacking from other band reunions.

They're always different, yet always the same great band.

The band's limited-capacity reunion show was recorded for future release, and there are also reportedly plans to start work on new studio recordings. It's so good to have them back.

Auckland five-piece Trust Punks featured in my last column of 2014, when I dubbed their recent album Discipline one of my favourites of the year, but having finally seen the band live in Auckland last week, I'm now further convinced these guys are on some next level.

Vocal samples (including a remarkable between-song mix of John Key's infamous ''trotie''), keyboard, and drones are now being incorporated into the already dense three-guitar-lead punk songs, while the band is also just seriously, seriously tight.

As chiming as Women, as angular as Slint, and as angry and psychotic as the thick slabs of ferocity on the first two Iceage albums, for fans of any form of punk, this should be utterly engaging.

Having signed to Australian label Spunk and with a recent feature on, the system should start turning for the band anytime now.

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