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.
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.
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.
South For Winter is the otherworldly folk trio comprised of Nick Stone, Dani Cichon and Alex Stradal. Stone and Cichon met as volunteers building greenhouses in the Andes Mountains. Here they wrote Fallen Seeds, the first of many mesmerising pieces they would work on together. Upon moving to Nashville in 2017 they met the missing piece in their sound: classically trained cellist Alex Stradal.
Always You summons the sun in the winter. It begins with a strong acapella sentiment from the pure voice of Cichon. Her signature lyrical style sounds Oh my love when I lose my hold / when my eyes forget their youth / when the wind’s worn down these bones / oh there’s always you. South for Winter’s lyrics often walk the line between poetry and song, and their latest creation is no exception.
Cichon is joined by a bright ukulele and full band arrangement. Stone’s harmonies add colour and depth to the timbre, and the piece sets off on a boundlessly enthusiastic journey. It’s easy to hear the fun the musicians have when they work together. The three stylistic inputs result in a masterful and well balanced soundscape.
Always You is a more optimistic offering than the eerie murder ballads South for Winter is famous for, but there is a distinct familiarity hidden in it. It’s easy to hear the intricate sound of the band when the cello is introduced and the song breaks for a cheeky guitar solo. Perhaps this cotton candy track is exactly what the world is in need of this year. The song promises that despite all the darkness and inevitable passing of time, love will remain.
The band is set to release a full length album this year, and we couldn’t be more excited for more magic. Keep up with their progress on Instagram and Facebook.
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!
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.