Radio BurgerFuel

The Best In NZ Music 2021

Posted by Lee Densem


As some famous guy (could have been Scribe, or Charles Dickens?) said, ït was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And so 2021 has proven. We had all the freedoms in the world as the world watched on in amazement at 50,000 maskless people at Six60. And then Delta gave NZ (and particularly Auckland) a good old uppercut. The almost universal 'orange' for New Year's has given a bit of hope - sorry Northern Bass :( - but all in all it's been another shitter for musicians and music lovers all over Aotearoa. So, enjoy what you can over summer, get out and see your favourites playing somewhere and enjoy it!

Once again, it's time to raise your doofers. Our offically un-offical list featuring some of our favourite tunes of the year from some legendary Kiwi musicians. It's Radio BurgerFuel's Best In NZ Music 2021.


Here goes again... In no particular order, enjoy our picks from Daffodils, Shapeshifter, Teeks, and Team Dynamite. Go whack the playlist on and enjoy some summer listening.


I know this may be a bit controversial as the song came out in 2020 – but their LP ‘Respect The Process’ dropped in March and it was a banger. So it counts. Team Dynamite picked up a shite load of respect for the mature sounds here (and Te Kaipuoro Hipihope Toa Best Hip Hop Artist at this year’s Aotearoa Music Awards) and we love it too.

PHODISO - 'Talk Too Much'

It finishes with “it’s a vibe”, and that’s exactly what we thought when heard this. We couldn’t get enough so when Phodiso came out with his ‘Act II’ EP we got him in studio for the most wonderful chat. His latest 'Act III' has dropped, and while we love that, this beautiful blend of Aotearoa, Botswana and the UK is where we’ll leave it for the encore.

DEAD FAVOURS - 'Mr Lonely'

I’m pretty sure we referred to them as a supergroup the first time we heard from them back in 2017. They’ve come on in leaps and bounds and played a blistering set in the sun at Homegrown in Te-Whanganui-A-Tara in March. This one’s off their ‘Riffing & Yelling’ EP that was out May. We admit it, we passed it over on first listen, but after hearing a beautiful live version at Anthology Lounge on the release tour we came around quick smart.

Anthonie Tonnon - 'Leave Love Out Of This'

We are lucky enough to have a lot of wonderful musical storytellers in Aotearoa, but Anthonie Tonnon is one of the best. Probably the best dressed too. With Covid nixing his wonderful Rail Land tour concept, we are left with ‘just’ the music. His latest album also titled ‘Leave Love Out Of This’ features tracks, some of which have spent years being played live and refined into the versions we hear today. I heard this for the first time at The Others Way in 2016. What stood out then, was the way this song suddenly bursts into splendid life near the end. The finished product is well worth the wait.

TEEKS - 'Into You'

Beautiful, compelling, soulful, and everything else you’d expect from Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi, or Teeks. Nothing more needs to be said, so just let this wash over you.

MAZBOU Q - 'BEAT UP BULLIED & DUNKED ON (feat. Valle & Scizzorhands)'

Reborn as Mazbou Q, this Nigerian Kiwi has a new lease of life since throwing off his Unchained XL moniker. A prolific writer and hard-working producer, this track is from his LP ‘The Future Was’ which dropped in July. It’s a powerhouse performance, abley backed by Vallé and our very own Scizzorhands. It’s a wonderful track, even though I can’t imagine anyone being able to beat up on Mazbou Q when he’s on court.


A Kiwi transplanted to London, she was supposed to stay there for a year, but three years later was still there. Then Payton came back to NZ “for a few weeks” at the end of last year, and stayed for eight months. The location doesn’t matter, because her music keeps getting better. Her debut album ‘Slack’ is a treat, and this track is one of our favs and will nicely slot in alongside anything from Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus or Madi Diaz.

NOW I'M GOING - 'JQ251 (Yah Yah Yah)

Who names their debut single after a Jetstar flight? That’s the question I wanted to ask James Mac aka Now I’m Going. But this was soon forgotten after the guitar crackled into life and hearing the “yah yah yah” of the title. And just in case you were wondering, yes, you can track JQ251.

DAFFODILS - 'House Across The Street'

I’ve spent a while waiting, but the email finally arrived on 11 November saying “NZ indie rockers Daffodils (finally) release new music”. So, almost a year telling us they were working on it, and two years after their last EP, it happened. And it was worth the wait. Listen, indulge, and enjoy. Daffodils are (finally) back in bloom.


To be fair, this was a toss up between ‘Found In You’ and this track. What probably tipped ‘Ritual’ over the edge is the delightful falsetto from P-Diggggs. With five years between drinks, it’snice to have some fresh Shapey to soundtrack another summer in Aotearoa.

REPAIR, BEN SHAW & PONZ - 'Stay With Me'

Sticking with the DnB, this duo from Auckland are starting to heat up and their second release ‘Stay With Me’ with Ben Shaw and PONZ, shows more glimpses of what to expect. This one is clean and mean and we love it.

NO COMPLY - 'LOVE LETTER (feat. Maurice)

No Comply are here to entertain. And ‘Love Letter’ has all the hallmarks you’d expect, thick beats, quickfire rhymes and a great chorus (thanks to Maurice from DUAL). I’ve always been more a melody, than lyrics person, so join me as I nod along to this.

Listen to our Best In NZ Music 2021 playlist on Spotify below (or find it HERE) to hear some more of our favs, including tracks from Rosegang, SWIDT, French For Rabbits & Summer Thieves. Bring on 2022, may it be full of beats and burgers!