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.
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.
Georgia Maria is back with more sharp edged ethereal magic. Age of Reasonbuilds like a storm from bar one. It starts with a gripping fingerpicking line which dissolves into a rhythmic moment matched with the percussion. She then introduces an epic distorted guitar, and that’s just the first five seconds. As always, I was struck by the complexity of Maria’s instrumentation and writing; no decision is a filler as she modulates and shuffles metres with engaging precision.
Maria’s lyrics are once again poetic, and almost prophetic, too. Featuring killer guitar lines, rumbling percussion and eerie vocals her sound could be described as “apocalyptic jam”. The chorus and verses are rich with chaotic drum fills and guitar lines that move with the vocals.
She brings diversity with a brief palm muted section and breathy vocals warning the listener to “beware of where (they) tread”. It feels like a key cinematic scene riddled with foreshadowing. Maria doesn’t pause here for long though; it’s straight back to a driving rhythm section and full noise from the guitar.
Georgia Maria is a name to watch out for— we certainly are doing just that. Keep up with her edgy brilliance on Facebook or Instagram, and listen to Age of Reasonhere.
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.
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.
Born from a late night of drinking oneselves silly, Las Ritas take their name from the fabled lager of choice that evening, Budlight lime-a-ritas. Fittingly so, the group writes about drunken sadness, heartbreak and mania. Their sacred message is coupled with dancey vibes and wavy guitars reminiscent of a Mac Demarco track.
Their latest single Die in Time starts slow with dreamy guitars that build into a groove you can happily bop to with a bottle of cheap beer. The sound is strikingly similar to Kiwi favorites Daffodils who strike a similar sound with their music. Hopefully the two can create an international tour of New Zealand and California!
Die in Time is only one track of a stellar EP by the same name of groovy indie rock bops definitely worth tuning into! Check out Las Ritas on Instagram and Spotify.
Marcus Felix is the Whittier based son-of-an-80s-DJ who’s just released his debut single with u, and it is g r o o v y. The use of lazy synth and nonchalant vocals evoke a feeling of sleepy nostalgia, which makes sense for a tune written about “day to day life” in high school. The tasteful use of kit drives the song, making it an easy roadtrip listen. Reminiscent of Mac Demarco, with u is well produced and its sound is fresh.
Felix’s lyrics are charmingly colloquial. Listening to his single is like sharing a beer in the back of a car while your mate tells you about his new girl. Overall the song is just as endearingly blazé as his social media presence, but that doesn’t stop us from eagerly anticipating his new track Out of Time to be released on February 7th.