24 May 2024

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Strangely Arousing - Single Review: Airplanes

16 Sep 2020 // A review by Steve Shyu

Ska and reggae specialists Strangely Arousing hail from Rotorua, and the five lads have been making plenty of waves in the Aotearoa music scene over half a dozen years. They won SmokeFree Pacifica Beats in 2013, went on to perform at numerous Raggamuffin and Rhythm & Vines festivals, and even toured South Korea and China. Having nailed down a full-length album in 2017, plus a healthy handful of grooved-out singles tucked under belts, the band now have a second single released off their upcoming EP Don’t Panic.

The sounds of this single Airplanes are nicely interwoven and layered, driven by the shuffled syncopation of Oliver Prendergast’s drums, and Shaun Lopez’s plodding, moseying finger-bass rhythms which is typical of reggae songs. The rhythm section, when coupled with the airy, psychedelic keyboards courtesy of Forrest Thorp, creates a hypnotic blend that is highly interesting to listen to. Arguably, Strangely Arousing’s songwriting secret weapons are the twisty and wonderous keyboard riffs. The addition of a light trumpet in the first few verses is also a nice touch, providing a little coy, playful attitude. Near the end of the track, the keyboards crescendo powerfully to a fun, bopping groove, while the guitar tastefully doodles some sly-sounding notes.

The lyrics are told from the viewpoint of a down-on-his-(or her!)-luck beggar, who’s downtrodden and been neglected by the well-off. Bitterly, the beggar claims, "They tried to disown me, tried to cut my natty dread", while dispensing his personal wisdom that "Nothing lasts forever, so enjoy your luxury". With a mixed tone of both desperation and resentment, the writer ultimately is humbled in the knowledge that at least "Money don’t own me". Poverty isn’t an often-chosen topic for many songwriters, so having a deep narrative to ponder makes this little ditty a refreshing listening experience.

The song flows very well, and the passages are beautifully articulated. Production is polished, and the balance of vocals and keyboards is magnificent to listen to. With such a good amount of depth, it’s a small pity that the song clocks in under 3 minutes. Ones feels the atmosphere that’s built up near the end could have been utilised and explored more, even if for another eight bars.

Aurally, in all, Airplanes lays out the perfect summer vibe that Aotearoa’s reggae and roots music is known for. With spring and summer just on the horizon, one can picture with ease this song warming up an open-air gig in a park, or accompanying the smells of a barbecue out in one’s backyard.

Fingers crossed we can all go to a reggae show and have a decent knees-up; follow Strangely Arousing on Facebook or Instagram for any and all updates on upcoming gigs, save them on Spotify and stayed tuned for new music!

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Strangely Arousing

Strangely Arousing are a five-piece progressive reggae/ska band, effortlessly blending other genres and styles of music to create their unique sound, laced with brass, synth, dub, and guitar. Strangely straddles the line between the bizarre you know you love and the weird you don’t know you love yet, like old pros. Whether you come to marinate in dubs and bass, or simply to melt into a puddle on the floor, Strangely Arousing offers a new wave of music inspired by New Zealand’s legendary hip-hop and reggae dub forefathers.

Formed in 2012 and hailing from Rotorua, this talented bunch made a statement with their first foray into the New Zealand music scene by winning the SmokeFree Pacifica Beats in 2013, and went on to win Battle of the Bands in 2014. They have since played at sell-out shows on multiple tours around NZ, and appearances on the main stages of festivals such as Raggamuffin and Rhythm and Vines, alongside their musical heroes such as Damien Marley, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Sticky Fingers. The band has performed internationally in the Middle East, China and South Korea, including headlining the Kiwi ExPats ball in Dubai in November 2018.

Their first EP Extended Play was released in 2014 followed by their studio album Strangely Arousing in 2017. Recorded at Roundhead Studios and debuting at number 3 on the NZ Music Charts, the album was also a finalist for the coveted Taite Music Prize ‘Best Independent Debut’ Award in 2018. The music video for single Groove Shooter made headlines, as it featured the members trying to win over Nazanin ‘Naz’ Khanjani from The Bachelor in a multi-million dollar house. Proudly weaving their M?ori heritage into their music with lyrics in Te Reo, Strangely deliver revelation by vibration.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Strangely Arousing


Strangely Arousing
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Extended Play
Year: 2014
Type: Album

Other Reviews By Steve Shyu

Gig Review: Homegrown 2024 @ Wellington Waterfront - 16/03/2024 Part 2
18 Mar 2024 // by Steve Shyu
With nothing of last night's rainstorm in sight except puddles in the asphalt, the sun warmed the air to counter the day's cold breeze. There was plenty of talk of a cold snap on the way, but I was confident my tee and hoodie combo would suffice.
EP Review: PHNX
11 Mar 2024 // by Steve Shyu
Aotearoa, look out for a rising star on the horizon.Under his stage name PHNX, 18-year-old singer-songwriter and producer Phoenix Simpson has released his self-titled debut EP and it’s a gem.
EP Review: Ben Ruegg
29 Feb 2024 // by Steve Shyu
Ben Ruegg is one of the most hard-working people I personally know. He's a Muzic.
Bevan Mical - Album Review: Division & Difference
12 Dec 2023 // by Steve Shyu
Since 2017 Bevan Mical has been busy. Hailing from the small Waikato town of Turua, he’s now onto his fourth full-length album, this one entitled Division & Difference.
Bulletbelt - Album Review: Burn It Up
28 Sep 2023 // by Steve Shyu
Though nobody can claim they know every Kiwi metal band to have ever existed, to know anything about heavy music in Aotearoa, the name Bulletbelt should at least ring a bell. To say their career thus far has been impressive is an understatement.
Will McClean - Album Review: Don't Forget to Breathe
28 Jul 2023 // by Steve Shyu
Out of the underground hip-hop scene of Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington comes Will McClean, who over the past handful of years has garnered accolades on his recorded music and performances. Having shared stages with Kiwi icons Troy Kingi, Che Fu and Diggy Dupé, Will seems determined to keep the momentum and create new releases.
Album Review: The Heroic Adventures of And$um & Lui Mill
21 Jul 2023 // by Steve Shyu
Following a string of acclaimed singles, Otautahi Christchurch Hip-Hop artists And$um and Lui Mills have released a brand new collaborative album of seven tracks named The Heroic Adventures of And$um & Lui Mill. The two rap artists have been kicking around the Christchurch Hip-Hop scenes for years, and have put together this LP as a result of their longtime friendship.
GZ - EP Review: The Story Behind the Realness
16 Jul 2023 // by Steve Shyu
Purportedly an artist with many pseudonyms, GZ is a rap artist active as a part of the Auckland hip-hop diaspora. Though safe to assume he’s had a considerable presence over the years under multiple stage names, I wasn’t able to unearth much in the way of artist info relating to GZ, except images of the man himself looking like a force to be reckoned with.
View All Articles By Steve Shyu

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Tommy Richman
    Kendrick Lamar
    Billie Eilish
    Post Malone feat. Morgan Wallen
    Billie Eilish
    Sabrina Carpenter
    Billie Eilish
    Billie Eilish
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem