Toni Huata: Kahungunu Maranga EP

If you ever get lost, the best advice given to me is to go back to basics and this is where Toni Huata has nailed what is good in music. Sing what you know, blend it in with the right instruments and harmonies, but most importantly, when you sing from your roots your message transcends beyond what you could ever imagine. The warmth of each song lifts any negativity from the air. The title track Kahungunu Maranga is originally credited to have been written by Huata’s grandfather. Odes to tipuna, whanau and iwi. Each song firmly holds the roots of these pillars in the jazz-country-swing styled writing. The EP is different to other albums of Huata’s as she explores tradition in this smaller set as opposed to her often more vast creations. A light refreshing EP that celebrates history and reminds us of how important it is to keep tradition and culture as precious memories and never forget them. • Holly McGeorge

Ny Oh: Lovely And Honest EP

Gorgeous melodies, male/female vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, piano, whistling… it just sounds like a gift from heaven, an Ani de Franco or another Fiona Apple. This second EP from London-based Ny Oh is a stunning taster of her developing songwriting skills and spiraling vocal confidence. Former Tauranga girl Naomi Ludlow is a hopeful optimist, and operates with a charming naivety well illustrated by track titles such as I See Change, Dreamcatcher and Truth. Title track Lovely And Honest seems tailor-made as a soundtrack tune. The balanced sound of this EP likely owes to the production of fellow ex-pat Kiwi singer Jesse Sheehan, who adds his backing vocals and a buoyant sheen to the arrangements, without taking away the natural acoustic singer/songwriter/performer feel, or the authenticity of her songs. The minimal instrumentation is tastefully held back, allowing Ny Oh’s interesting voice to show off its versatility. Only four tracks here, the last I See Change being a hard-hitting spoken word hip hop-styled poem with an elegiac chorus. This is special. • Ania Glowacz

Primacy: Failure & Sacrifice EP

Alongside talent, dedication is what’s required to really get noticed and stand out from the crowd. This five-piece have it in spades. Primacy is Jason McIver on vocals, Will Bloodfarm on drums, Sadeer Kattan on bass, Adrian Brausch and Jared Tobin on guitars. They’ve all come from other outfits to make a strong, heavy rock jam together. There’s a bit of Tool, maybe some Deftones and no getting away from the Alice In Chains vibe, but these guys aren’t copyists – they’re just channelling the best with their quality originals. It’s melodic rock, with great power chords, atmosphere and a metal tinge. Shadeblack is particularly good with its beachy Pink Floyd intro and growly chorus. The recording, by Zorran Mendonsa at his West Auckland HQ, is primo. Mastering was done in Sweden by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Dragonforce) – these guys aren’t compromising on their material or its presentation. Lyrics are mostly by McIver (ex-Heathen Eyes) while the music credits go mainly to Brausch, but there’s ample evidence that the talent here is evenly distributed. • Ania Glowacz