Nick Dow is back, and immediately sending shivers down my spine. Isolated, is an eerie and ethereal piece that belongs in an abandoned ruin of a concert hall. The sound builds on echoing arpeggios with a rough falsetto that soars through the spacious soundscape reminiscent of Radiohead. This is one of the simpler songs Nick has released steering away from earlier complex works, but I believe the beauty of this song comes from it fully utilised stripped back arrangement, a delicate touch on the keys, and flawless harmonic progression. The song appears to be topical with 2020’s isolating lock downs worldwide, striking a chord with many of us pent up inside isolated from the world around us.
Isolated is the first we’ve heard from multi-instrumentalist Nick Dow since his well received debut album “Layers” quoted as being “about as good as debut albums get” which charted in NZ and set Nick off playing shows around NZ. Nick has built up a reputation around Auckland as a formidable musician, with talent as a vocalist, pianist and violin player, playing for musicians such as TEEKS.
Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer Villette is back with a bang on her new single ‘Curious’ – the first track from her upcoming EP. The single immediately grabs you with a brisk beat and chorusy guitars straight out of a Mac Demarco track. The song develops into an upbeat R’n’B groove with hints of disco and funk that could’ve come straight outta Michael Jackson’s catalogue.
‘Curious’ is an ode “to the girl that’s on a mission but enjoying the journey,” explains Villette. “It’s a tale of enjoying the ups and downs of life and venturing further down forbidden paths”. Produced by Ben Malone and co-written with Max Gunn and Jono Boyle, ‘Curious’ signals “a new chapter” in Villette’s journey. She describes her upcoming EP as “upbeat and exciting”, a diversion from her usual smokey slow jams of the past. “The writing style and content is reflective of where I’m at in life as well, and that is mirrored in the whole EP,” Villette says.
Villette’s release of curious has been coupled with an official music video, which is filled to the brim with nostalgia, kiwi summer, and infectious good vibes. Don’t miss it! Watch below.
Born and raised in New Zealand, Villette has cultivated her sound through experience singing, producing, DJing and songwriting. Her music has taken her on tour across NZ, Australia and the USA with her last mixtape “Drip Crimson“. Earlier works had her putting together a one of a kind 360 Music Video, Money, which took her visual performance to a whole other level.
Born in Ukraine and seeking refuge in New Zealand post Chernobyl, VÏKÆ is no stranger to adversity. Finelines is her second 2020 single soaked in beautiful tragedy. In this song VÏKÆ “explores the way in which human interaction has changed because of party culture and how this can have an adverse effect on mental health”. The song touches on a similar message to Kendrik Lamar’s “Swimming Pools”, with a bleak but poetic story touching on how good mind altering substances can feel, but ultimately that overuse is “dancing with the demons”.
With a voice reminiscent of Lana Del Rey and Sia, VÏKÆ evokes the similar feeling of a message spoken by a tragic hero. Finelines is co-written by and produced by Abigal Knudson (aka Missy) who provides rich and eerie production. The chorus percussion bounces around your head like a strobe giving you the delirious feeling in a club that the song describes.
VÏKÆ’s music brings to light “struggles with bipolar, addiction and poor judgement”. She describes her art as “brassy to purposefully make the psyche uncomfortable”. In an attempt to steer clear of coming across “disingenuous”, her “unique DIY approach” to making music, costuming and directing and editing her own music videos allows her to have “complete autonomy” of the authenticity of her artistry and music.
Vikae will be going on tour with Prins later in the year playing in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and Ohakune.
Chris Pidsley has dropped a couple of tasty indie-rock tracks recently which we can’t get out of our heads! Cinnamon & Berryhead show Chris Pidsley’s increasing talent as a song writer and mastery of creating a relaxed, happy soundscape. Cinnamon has an intro that’ll be sampled into a chill-hop track any day now. The track moves into classic up-beat indie rock vibe with retro synths, chorused guitars and lazy vocals. Chris uses rhythmic flourishes and tasteful layering to keep us listening throughout the track. The track is about “the excitement and emotions you feel when you kiss someone for the first time.” Berryhead is the sleepy b-side to Cinnamon. The song is a beautiful lullaby reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez, Cavetown or Syd Matters that would sit perfect on the “Life is Strange” Soundtrack. Chris has beautiful strings and synths to accompany his multi-tracked vocals the combines into a beautiful elixir that washes over the senses to put you at ease. Chris wrote Berryhead “…whilst on holiday in Torquay. On a walk to Berryhead I saw a bench dedicated to a couple who said that spot was their favourite spot in the world. I based the lyrics on this idea of a couple growing old there and the beauty they saw in each other as well as the location.” Berryhead might be my personal favourite track from Chris Pidsley so far.
Fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic in London hospitals hasn’t stopped MYRY from adding another beautifully melancholic piano track to her repertoire.
Stuck in a Loop is a stripped back inner dialogue accompanied by MYRY’s warm piano and WULF‘s soft vocals. The song is gentle but builds with a quiet strength that stretches and swells until you’re swept up in swathes of synths bringing the song into a rich climax. The music sounds like a beautiful blend of Regina Spektor and Lydia Cole, combining the charm of a singer-songwriter and a piano with a sophisticated soundscape of synths.
MYRY has built a reputation for herself with the success of her Debut Single Ghosts, called a “Headphone moment” by BBC introducing. Record of the Day said her “voice [was] as captivating as Freya Ridings or Birdy“, but MYRY’s success began earlier than this. As a teenager MYRY was a Youtube success garnering millions of views from various covers, including everyone’s favourite song with a cup, “When I’m Gone“.
Hints of an upcoming EP from MYRY have been mentioned, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
Hannah invites us into a hazy drunken discussion about becoming disillusioned with a worldview proposed by common media. Various creatives from their own bubbles brought together their own visual takes on the song, creating an eclectic video montage of diverse expression. Hannah talks of just managing to scrape by, but reluctantly acknowledges that we should keep on trying.
We found Hannah in London prior to lockdown with the ‘Loud Women’ collective where she wow’d an audience with a heavy and raw performance. Taking influence from a variety of artists including Nick Cave, Alison Mosshart, Debbie Harry, The Carpenters, Sonic Youth, The Watersons and Queens of the Stone Age, Hannah produces music that is quite special, and delightfully off kilter.
Max Earnshaw’s latest single Stay has an infectious feel good groove that has you bopping and toe tapping right in your seat. The track is chocka with tight grooves from reknown Adam Tobeck, juicy guitar tones from Christo Karadjov, James, Fistonich and Max Earnshaw himself, all wrapped masterfully together by a Luan Meaker Mix. Max brings the same fun and positivity to his tracks that you’d expect from Jet or Franz Ferdinand. We can’t wait to hear this track live when Aunty Cindy lets us play again!
Weightless Without by Bridges is a song made to be played in a stadium. The track is big, the drums are booming, the listener is lost in a sea of guitars and BVs. It’s an epic track that deserves a seat in the climax of a film.
Following her well received debut single Sister, Weightless Without is the second single from Kiwi artists Bridges. Bridges has built a solid reputation in Auckland city playing in spaces such as Movespace, and playing on the air at RNZ. Bridges started out in Christchurch known as Rachel Hamilton performing as an acoustic singer songwriter, but made the move to Auckland to study and redefine her sound as an indie-pop artist.
RNZ premiered the cinematic lyric video below for Weightless Without on the 28th of May.
Down Down from Screams From the Sun is one of the most fresh tracks we’ve reviewed at Kiwi’s Listen. Unable to be held back by the pandemic, they recorded this pop-rock banger in isolation. The duo blends “emo feels” and “80s Hollywood Blockbuster” into what we hear as a darker Twenty One Pilots. The soundscape is quite electronic and alt-pop reminiscent of groups such as Everything Everything and Linkin Park’s ‘A Thousand Suns’. However this group undeniably has the energy of 2000s emo rock groups driving it. A heavy distorted sliding synth unapologetically supports the chorus line “Down Down”, but really helps provide the key hook to the track making use of the empty space around it.
The Duo Mimi and Francis originally met in 2017 when busking, they paired their skills and spent a year writing and busking around London, getting established with venues and unsigned festivals. Screams From the Sun has successfully got themselves on Rolling Stone France and even played with Jared Leto during a performance outside the BBC Radio1 in 2018.
Reminiscing is warm and nostalgic, within the opening seconds you’re picturing a home movie of your child mishaps. But Sophie is looking back on a slightly different tale.
This song looks back on a time where Sophie chased a partner to Chile to live as a stay at home partner to walk the dog and do groceries. The complication was that she didn’t speak Spanish. The song is not a predictable dramatic tale of an ex-lover, rather it takes a grounded look at regular issues that arise even in this distinct situation. Sophie reflects with a mature view, considering what there is to learn from the experience.
The track is a smooth jam with great use of empty space. Melodies shift effortlessly between the bass and keys giving varying texture. The easy listening sound is captured beautifully, a performance of this track would sit perfectly in a cafe or Sofar Sounds. Reminiscing’s tone has fondness and a touch of humour, it seems Sophie’s coming from a place where things are now fine, and we’re viewing this through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia.
Originally from Scotland, Sophie Gibson is a singer/songwriter who is now based in Auckland, New Zealand. Singing songs of “heart break, heart mending and downright just complaining”. We’re glad she shared this interesting gem with us! Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.