Alt-folk duo Good Habits completed a 40 show tour of Aotearoa moments before the nationwide lock down. With the help of the “warmth and support of new friends”, the duo made the most of their surprise hibernation in Paekakariki, taking the opportunity to introduce the enchanting Going for Broke album to the world. Comprising of singer-cellist Bonnie Schwarz and accordionist Pete Shaw, Good Habits are an innovative and electric breath of fresh air for this blog writer losing her mind in lock-down.
Going for Broke starts with the mesmerising See How The Evening Goes. Appearing to be set in another century, the lyrics step over winding cello and string counter melodies. The accordion adds depth to the sound, and Schwarz’ voice makes the piece feel like fantasy. The melody is tasetfully simple, allowing the intertwining instrumental section space to shine. It’s simultaneously chaotic and peaceful – a combination for which the pair have a genuine gift.
Immediately demonstrating their innate ability to create diverse music, the second track Hitch is a metre-jumping circus tent track. It features the sickest accordion solo out. As “nomadic musicians”, much of Good Habits music is inspired by travel and adventures. Hitch feels like a lightning paced road-trip to the busker’s festival. Providing a moment of serenity is the third track on the album Forget It. Here, the cello almost takes on the role of a harp, lulling the listener into a lullaby mindset.
This serenity doesn’t last for long, as What Else Would We Do demands that you listen. With melodic writing reminiscent of Regina Spektor and a soprano to match, the track is just f u n . I’ve never heard an accordion played like that. The half time moments in the percussion keep What Else Would We Do moving for the full duration. Another favourite is Under My Nose, which launches relentlessly into a dreamy, shimmering accordion and hyperventilating snare sound.
The Going for Broke EP utilises cello to its full potential in a way I haven’t heard for a while. Schwarz writes ribbon-ing lines that genuinely shine in their own right. The haunting You’re Not Alone is a sincere piece of writing with the first verse settled on top of exclusively pizzicato. Going for Broke is wrapped up neatly by the groovy Racing The Hour Hand. The EP ends on a hopeful note.
Wow. If you didn’t get the vibe, I was sort of blown away by this EP. Going for Broke feels genuinely fresh and optimistic – each of the nine tracks brings something special to the collection. Keep up with the masterminds behind Good Habits on Instagram and Facebook.
Following the release of her singles “See Straight” and “Lucky Star, Mikaela Cougar is back with another banger. “I Don’t Wanna Be In Love” channels nostalgic 90s girl band vibes combined with that laid back bucket hat aesthetic we know and love.
In this track Mikaela reflects on passing pages of life as she walks into a new chapter. She found the track “basically wrote itself… like a stream of consciousness.” The artist’s choice of conversational lyrics brings an element of “realness” to the song; like we’re sharing a beer as she externalises her thoughts. The hook line “I don’t wanna be in love because it’s way too hard” is charmingly matter of fact. There’s no need to dress the sentiment up in poetry and metaphors; it stands on its own with intrigue and vulnerability.
I loved the pauses in the first chorus, as Mikaela chose to match the rhythms of the instrument with her rambling lyrics. Moments of silence can be what makes a song, and she utilised these to their full potential. The psychedelic breakdown and Gwen Stefani vocals in the bridge lifted the song to that “effortlessly cool” sound that Mikaela is famous for.
The blending of bitter lyrics with an optimistic soundscape in the chorus were effective in capturing the hindsight that comes with stepping out of a situation. Mikaela has moved on; the negativity of this failed relationship can’t touch her now. Overall, “I Don’t Wanna Be In Love” is another killer track from what is quickly becoming one of my favourite emerging artists. I can’t wait for the 2021 release of the full EP.
Harry Platt is a “disillusioned architect and slightly average singer-songwriter / producer” based in Tamaki Makaurau. Platt releases “electro plunge” music under the “irreverent pseudonym” Hazza Making Noise. Hazza’s sound is distinct, often shining a light on the hypocrisy and self righteousness of humanity. Following his collab with The Countdown Self Checkout Lady (Do You Wish To Print A Receipt?) Hazza has returned with Boomers in Disguise.
Boomers in Disguise is the first track off Hazza’s upcoming EP Vengeful Millennial, and it is every ounce as satirical and punchy as the title suggests. It’s a raucous anti-establishment anthem, driven by catchy riffs, 80s synths and sardonic lyricism. Boomers in Disguise is relentless, sprinting off the starting block with a hectic tempo and shouted chorus vocals.
Hazza challenges the hypocritical tendencies of millenials. Boomers in Disguise critiques the tribalist division between the two generations the media would have us believe are at war. The hook line “blame the baby boomers, blame the government” points towards the inclination our generation has towards self righteousness, when it is very easy to critique a system from afar.
Hazza’s production is famously creative. He experiments with synth timbres and unusual samples, bending genres and seeking new sounds. The strobe-like movement of the chorus vocals between left and right is suitably overwhelming as the piece plunges into chaos. Hazza’s songs are never just songs; they’re a sonic experience. Ultimately a talented instrumentalist and lyricist, Hazza’s writing is both impressive and innovative.
Hazza Making Noise hits the stage with his band of open mic brothers The Ellice Road Boys on October 16th as Casette Nine to celebrate the release of Boomers in Disguise. His power house Dave Grohl vocals and enthralling on stage persona guarantee a high energy and entertaining night. Get in there!
Dynamic and bold, The RVMES are a genre-defying “stir-fry” band of brothers from the big smoke. The four piece waste no time, and in their short two years as a collective they have “caused mayhem” on a 10 day North Island tour, and released a self titled 9 track EP. The RVMES show no sign of stopping with banger after banger under construction and a brand-spanking-new single Big Bam Boom out September 12.
RVMES’ latest track starts with as much of a bang as you’d expect from a track so bold as to go by Big Bam Boom. The lads launch into a scurrying rhythm section and gang vocals to sing the title line, before a stupidly catchy falsetto “ooh”. The vocals lie somewhere between indie-rock and acoustic rap as lead singer Edwin Judd riffs about people watching.
The arrangement is so fun, and so creative. It’s impossible to send praise in one direction in particular, because the band refuses to sit still for a micro second. The rhythm section diversifies with every bar, finding epic moments where drums, bass and guitar can lock together. While the verses themselves are riddled with cool lyrical and instrumental moments, nothing beats the soaring Big Bam Boom chorus. If that’s not enough for ya the band launches into a killer instrumental section at the end enough to have your fitbit asking if you’re okay.
The energy is r e l e n t l e s s l y e l e c t r i c . I’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing Big Bam Boom live, but I can feel the floor rattling with the mosh pit through my headphones. You can hear how much fun The RVMES had recording the beast, and it makes it a riot to listen to it. Keep an eye out for their live gigs on Facebook and Instagram – I might see ya there.
Kindergarten teacher by day and certified badass by night, Jaqualyn Taimana Williams released Knock Things Over today. Williams is passionate about promoting Te Reo Maori in Aotearoa, and has dedicated much of her time to creating valuable resources for parents and teachers to help the language thrive. Knock Things Over tackles a different cause, but is just as rebellious in nature. Described as “defiant rock”, Knock Things Over is an anthem riddled with conflicting advice for Williams’ younger self.
The track begins with five seconds of hurried advice and single guitar strums before dropping into full noise. Enter drums, distorted guitar and bass. The chorus introduces a more mellow vocal line with tight harmony before launching back into more suggestions. The production is so fun on Knock Things Over– I love the garage band punk feel; I can almost see the song being performed as I listen. Of course it wouldn’t be rock without a killer guitar solo, and the track delivers.
The lyrics advise her to “stay still, be quiet, shout out and start a riot”. The contradicting lyrics and hectic feel of the song capture exactly what it is to give advice. Who could possibly say what the right way to live life is, and yet I think we all fantasise about what we’d say to our younger selves if we had the chance. I love the punch of the hook line “knock things over”. It’s not clear exactly what’s meant by the lyric, but I think that’s what draws me to it. For me it’s about making your mark on the world through change, even if to some people the change might feel destructive.
Follow Jaqualyn Taimana Williams on Facebook and Instagram for more world changing music.
Carawei is a mysterious emerging artist based in New Zealand. The internet is almost devoid of information about her, and yet her instagram boasts 1300 followers; a feat independent kiwi artists will recognise as impressive in a country with such small population. Her enigmatic persona is intriguing.
There’s something really eerie about Carawei’s new single Blue. The breathy falsetto combined with the foreboding bass is hair raising, as she asks us whatcha gonna do? The song begins with a winding synth organ that reminds me of an aeroplane taking off.
Carawei takes her time with the ASMR delivery of the goading lyrics. She seems to have all the power in the narrative, and is daring somebody to meet her there. I really enjoyed the creative production on the track – the ringing synths and smooth bass build an immersive soundscape.
I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued to see what happens next with the mystic Carawei.
Goodspace are a low-fi indi rock band with “hints of hiphop and songwriter sensibilities”. They write music to “make you feel present”; an achievement not to be understated in the fast paced modern world.
Braces is an atmospheric piece of writing. It’s a plug your headphones in and think about life kind of a track. Goodspace have done an excellent job of creating something soothing for the anxious moments that riddle us all sometimes. The mellow guitar lines and soft-spoken vocals are perfect for bringing a spiraling mind back to the planet.
The lyrics are simple, but sweet. The opening line “when everyone turns and looks at you, when you don’t even wanna be here at all…” captures the restless feeling of anxiety. They capture these intrusive thoughts with pensive expertise. Goodspace move on to say “I know I’m the same, just in a different way”- it’s comforting to remember that we all feel that way sometimes. Braces is like having someone finally “get it”.
Goodspace are up to all sorts of exciting things in 2020. Keep up with them on Facebook and Instagram.
17 year old Aidan Ripley grew up wrapped in alternative music. He’s always been intrigued by the juxtaposition of an “intense emotional reaction” to the “apathy of the modern world”. Drawing inspiration from epics Gorillaz, Radiohead and Tame Impala, Ripley “amalgamates hyper emotion with complete detachment”. The resulting sound is intriguing and impressive. Ripley made his Spotify debut this year with three singles, each complex and fascinating.
Clown is a sinister and experimental piece of writing. The opening bars reminded me of the brilliant Eels, but the track quickly walks in several different directions. The weird synths and dripping water percussion lock into a groove, and Ripley croons about how “tomorrow cries for yesterday”. The chaotic energy in the track feels perfect for the unhinged nature of 2020. The piece plays around with reverb and repeating synth lines, building an immersive and consuming soundscape. I particularly loved the bassline, which does an awesome job of making Clown feel winding.
All of Clown was improvised as it was recorded, which explains the unpredictable nature of the track. Ripley uses surprise falsetto to unnerve the listener – the melody goes where it shouldn’t. In combination with eerie flute and a trumpet outro, Clown is somewhere between a bad trip and ingenious. I live for the chaos though; I can honestly say the track is wildly different from anything I’ve heard in a while.
Aidan Ripley feels like an act to watch. I’m interested in following the direction of his music – it’s amazing the complexity and maturity he’s found in his sound already. You can follow him too, on Instagram.
Laura-mae from Golden Bay spent her lock-down writing music and live-streaming concerts from her backyard. Boasting a nation-wide tour, a performance on Maori television, taking the stage at Wellington’s garden festival, and the NZ X-factor bootcamp experience, the rising artist is no stranger to mahi. Rug of Numbers is the second of three singles Laura-mae has scheduled for a 2020 release.
One of modern society’s downfalls is its tendency to measure worth in statistics. We’re obsessed with followers, likes and quantity over quality when it comes to connections. Rug of Numbers is an introspective indie pop track about how it feels to be “just another number” to somebody. The track begins with a swelling indie-pop soundscape, setting the scene for its pensive nature.
The instrumental after the first chorus is bright and fun, before moving into the more poetic second verse. Laura-mae muses on feeling like a ghost hiding in a rabbit hole before moving into another chorus with the classic hook line. The bridge takes things down a notch, allowing space to build back up for the final chorus. The song’s energy ebbs and flows with expertise, ultimately creating a charming mid tempo road trip song.
Laura-mae shows no signs of slowing down with another New Zealand wide tour planned for the end of 2020, and a beautiful music video on the way. Keep up to date with her adventurous plans on Facebook and Instagram.
Wellington indie-pop artist Jack Panther released his sophomore single Headlights earlier this year. The “electro-pop anthem” is a response to an “epiphany” about his ex. Jack Panther uses the song to explore the dark feelings of anger and hurt surrounding a particularly challenging breakup. Headlights is accompanied by a moody “video short” that captures the atmosphere of the track.
Headlights is an interesting piece of writing. It goes in guns blazing; late in the narrative, with a driving bass drum and eerie synths. Panther’s voice feels defeated as he talks about “gunning for the headlights”, and how he “should have seen the signs”. The song suddenly drops away for a sparse moment, and begins the slow build back to the chorus line.
There’s an element of tension in each moment of Headlights. You can feel the angst in the writing – Panther has been knocked around by this relationship, and just as there is no resolution for him, there is no real resolution for his listeners. It’s a clever piece of writing; Panther pulls his audience into his head space for a minute. Keep up with Jack Panther on Instagram and Facebook.