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SXSW music preview: Australia and New Zealand

Joe Gross
Ghost Wave is among several bands breaking right now whose sound evokes the ’90s.

Ghost Wave (Aukland N.Z.). For a certain strain of punk and indie rock nerd, few things are as magical as the words “New Zealand.”

Ever since the Flying Nun label, well, took flight (sorry) in 1981, New Zealand has seemed to some of us like an absolutely magical place. Bands such as the Clean, the Bats, the Verlaines and the amazingly named Look Blue Go Purple passports us to a secret world full of sheep and fields and campfires around which folks sing Velvet Underground covers as if they were old folk ditties.

Ghost Wave sound firmly in this tradition, full of sunny melodies driven by distorted chordings and general good cheer that could become melancholic any second. Last August, the Aukland trio released a self-titled, seven-song EP.

Indeed, you shut your eyes and ignore the fact that none of the members look quite old enough to drive, and this thing might as well have a Flying Nun catalog number.

Some might find all of it a bit too retro. Frankly, the sounds of the Bush-into-Clinton era are in the air, Ghost Wave is breaking (ouch) the same year that ’90s sounding bands such as Parquet Courts and (Expletive) Jeans. It would surprise nobody to see these kids hanging around the audience at any of the Chelsea Light Moving or Foxygen shows.

But any sort of music that can straddle that line between heartache and sunlight will always have a place at rock’s table. There’s nothing wrong with being part of a tradition when its a good as the one these guys are in. We wish them well. (10:15 p.m. Thursday at Holy Mountain Backyard)

Six60 (Dunedin, New Zealand). Big, slick-sounding commercial, post-R&B rock music, the kind that the U.S. used to make in its sleep. (midnight Wednesday at Avenue on Congress Rooftop)

Flume (Sydney, Australia). Hypnotic electronic music from Harley Streten, doing business as Flume that dazzles with counter-intuitive arrangements; also, the kid is all of 20 years old. (Midnight Wednesday at Red 7, 1 a.m. Thursday at Latitude 30, 11 p.m. Saturday at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop)

Vance Joy (Melbourne, Australia). A singer-songwriter straight outta Melbourne, acoustic craft that proceeds with a well-meaning, plain-spoken vibe; KGSR types will love him. (9 p.m. Wednesday at Stephen F.’s Bar)

The Beards (Adelaide, Australia). Even if your patience with bead culture/fetishization is waning rapidly, you kind of have to smile at the song “You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man”; yes, all of their songs are about beards. (4 p.m. Friday at City Hall Plaza, 8 p.m. Saturday at Maggie Mae’s)

Die!Die!Die! (Remuera, New Zealand). Punk rock the way they used to make it — poppy and pogo-worthy in equal measure with noisey breakdowns for days. ONETWOTHREEFOUR! (1 a.m. Thursday at B.D. Riley’s)