mxmtoon – Tuning Fork: October, 11 2022: Concert Review

mxmtoon (aka Maia) calls her music girly pop. She shouldn’t be so modest. She may be ahead of the game in advancing the Girl Group sound.

Maia was raised in upstate California, where its more rain, mist and forests, rather than naked sunshine. Father is Scots-German and mother is Chinese-English. Not unusual, in that North America is the great melting pot of the Old World. Started experimenting with pop music in the bedroom in her teens, via the internet. Learned ukelele off YouTube. Sang covers and posted them to her friends. She got a following quickly.

Social media is accused of many ills and some are justified. For Millennials and Gen-Xers it has revolutionised popular music in a way that people have quick access to all genres, as well as the tools of how to make it. This has meant that the quality has been enhanced. More people can do it but the bar is high to get breakthrough and recognition.

She studied cello at school. Auditioned for a high school band with it, but they were smitten by her voice when she sang Oasis’ Wonderwall. The last five years have been explosive for her career. Being based in Brooklynn New York currently would have helped consolidate that.

mxmtoon writes about teenage life, its dreams and its difficulties. She makes a point of talking about her bi-sexuality and her affinity with the young LGBTQi community.

It takes a couple of songs to hit her stride with sad disco. A low-key number that floats pleasantly at the start. Then lifts with simple yet surprisingly durable hooks. All grown up/ Twenty-one years old/ Singing on her hairbrush microphone/ Kinda looks like me. Name-drops ABBA and it has that classic Swedish Brill Building sound.


Wells* is Auckland based multi-faceted musician Josh Naley, and we have seen him before at the Tuning Fork. Singer, songwriter and producer. Plays indie pop music with inspired hooks that kick in immediately. Whilst dealing with the familiar preoccupations that this audience has. Late high school and university youth, predominantly female, who have sold out the venue tonight.

Last time he had an air of Morrissey with The Smiths. Tonight, he resembles Ian Brown of The Stone Roses. Carries a certain amount of those influences to these older ears.

Like Exorcist. A great indie pop song with the acute humour of those Mancunian bands of the Eighties. Wondering whether he’ll ever get back together again. My depression/ I skip breakfast/ I think I need an exorcist.

Therapy Summer starts with O’ Hallelujah. Has a good pop tenor with a little of the spirit of Jeff Buckley.

A work in progress is Planet Altering Event. He mentions the recent NASA event firing objects in space. Asteroid Song is a better title. A folk pop singalong with a nice melody. In a vocal style that sounds like 70s James Taylor. Hippie, but good and heartfelt. A great lyric. The only way to fall is apart/ Stay with me tonight.

Finishes on two songs which changes up the rhythm. A Two-Tone beat on Lose my Lines.

Some light toasting pop rap on Depressed. I wear my Sunday dress/ I still feel depressed.

A perfect foil to start the evening.


She looks a little like a girly swot with her old-fashioned dress and big glasses, but she has a remarkable stage presence. That could be the New York brashness. Has the air of a motivational speaker as she openly talks and sings about life experiences. In battling depression, her sexuality and feeling uncomfortable in your body.

The audience love it. There was a long queue inside the Fork for her merch soon after the doors opened.

learn to love you reflects all that. I can go higher than Kilimanjaro/ So don’t try to follow me too high. The crisp drum accents straight out of the Gold Star studios.

This is her first overseas tour and her delight onstage is genuine. She is also promoting her new album rising, of which the above song is a feature.

So too is victim of nostalgia. Written specifically for her father, it’s a super neo-Girl Group sound. A sunny soft pop rap.

Her lyrics are clever. There is a keen intelligence underlying her art and it is one of the secrets to her irresistible appeal.

cliché is a simple strum and has a winning naivete in the style of Jonathan Richman.

fever dream sounds like an amalgam of The Monkees and the Girl Groups.

mxmtoon is a bundle of positive energy on stage. Her work ethic is amazing. Six albums in four years. Fierce girl power, or girly-pop if she says so. Promises to be back to great cheers.

Rev Orange Peel

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