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.
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.
Wellington artist Seralynne created her first “pop star alter ego” when she was 10, and hasn’t looked back since. Her journey through genres and songwriting led her to complete a Bachelor of Contempory Music at SIT, graduating in 2014.
The most important thing for Seralynne is that her albums “represent (her) as an artist, regardless of whether that is the mainstream media norm”. She wears her heart on her sleeve with the What Love Is album, weaving between electronic pop and piano ballads with finesse. The album its self is as diverse in subject matter as it is genre – she explores ieas of giving up dreams, lost love, suicide, and taking ownership over the reality that you were the toxicity in a relationship. It’s a heavy line up of themes, but Seralynne tackles the subject matter with maturity.
There are a few quiet gems buried in the pop gold mine of the What Love Is album. “Ribbons” is a pensive moment where Seralynne reflects on love and her “irrational” behaviour in a relationship. You can hear the waver in her voice as she describes her partner as loving her even when she can’t give them everything. It’s a vulnerable, but brave piece of writing – Seralynne apologises for her mistakes, and thanks this person for staying with her through these challenges.
I enjoyed the creative comination of ethereal piano lines and echoing percussion. “Ribbons” feels like a swaying ballad for the final moments of a big night; it maintains the pop soundscape while providing a moment to reflect. You can listen to “Ribbons” along with the rest of the album on Spotify, and you can keep up with Seralynne on Facebook and Instragram.
Leaving Lennoxare the Nashville based duo with “unreplicable on-stage chemistry”. The pair began their musical journey in Sydney, Australia and toured the country with their folk-pop magic. Leaving Lennox moved to the states to chase their dreams of playing their music all over the world.
Not Ready (To Leave Just Yet)begins with an arpeggiated piano that promises to break hearts. The duo sing the first few lines in harmony, painting a picture of a relationship hanging on by a thread. “Shoes by the door, suitcase on the floor…” The chorus laments being stuck in the same loop of almost leaving, but ultimately forgiving your partner.
The second verse adds movement with guitar and percussion. The sentiment I’m not ready to leave just yet is all too familiar to anyone who’s found themselves stuck in a relationship that’s not right for them. Leaving Lennox communicates this feeling with poetic expertise— the little details paint a picture so real that the stoniest heart becomes sentimental. The addition of a slide guitar adds to the pining nature of the song, and both vocalists perform with conviction.
With all the uncertainty that 2020 has thrown in Leaving Lennox’s direction, they are to be congratulated on their tenacity and innovation. In the place of tours and live gigs they’ve hosted an array of virtual concerts on their social media. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Self proclaimed “pop star for dorks” Geoff Ong has released another single, and it’s insanely catchy. I first heard the track on release day, and the optimistic hook line has been rattling around in my brain ever since. The icing on the Into Into You cake is the fun and professional music video choreographed by Anton Pulefale and Victoria Villapol, and directed by Geoff Ong himself.
The music video starts with Pulefale and Villapol standing back to back in a studio with a light directed at the camera. Ong asks the question “is it weird to think we could have been just strangers passing by in the street?” before wondering about the universe and its plans. It’s a feel good song, all about revelling in the magic of new love.
The dancers capture the mesmerising nature of a new relationship by moving in slow motion together. They snap into an energetic chorus while the movement of the editing aligns with the rhythm section. It’s a carefully considered video, but it still feels charming and genuine; the dancers look like they had a lot of fun filming it.
Tastefully filmed and edited by an artist with countless strings to his bow, Into Into You is infectiously groovy. The next time you need a slice of optimism load up the video and get smiling. Don’t miss Geoff Ong when he next plays live – his shows are outrageously dynamic, and so much fun.
Quirky by Chris Pidsley takes you in with intimate storytelling and beautiful harmony placing you in a warm lounge by a fireplace with a highschool sweetheart. But true to it’s name the song shifts tone quickly into a positive bop with a bouncy chorus. Charming electric piano joins in to accompany the ensemble and fleshes out the piece into a lovely feel good indie-pop track that leaves you beaming.
Based in Tottenham, Chris Pidsley has been working on music he calls indie / bedroom pop for a few years. He’s been played by BBC introducing and is now working on putting out a complete EP.
Due to the current Isolation Quirky was put together in lockdown in Chris’s bedroom, and has notably given the track and organic feel which helps show his personality.
There’s an undeniable charm to this track, and we hope to hear what will come of a fully fleshed out EP!
VÏKÆ is joining the ranks of new artists pulling the rising tide of introspection among younger audiences. With her latest single she self evaluates her own faults when it would be easier to push the blame on to the other. ‘Liar’ explores her struggle with bipolar and the toxic behaviours that come along with it, such as a tendency to lie.
VÏKÆ’s vocals strike similarities with Lana Del Rey evoking a sense of beautiful tragedy fitting for this song dealing with one’s own problematic behaviour. The beat developed by producer Mazbou Q (formerly Unchained XL) is reminiscent of the 90s, smooth and sultry with rich harmonies. The initially sparse track leaves time to soak in the rich soundscape that’s being crafted as it crescendos into a fat catchy chorus.
The single liar has been put to film in VÏKÆ’s music video you can find on Youtube. The video was shot in Melbourne and finishes with VÏKÆ dressed in Ukrainian traditional dress revealing her truest and most authentic identity.
VÏKÆ moved to New Zealand from Ukraine seeking refuge post Chernobyl. We hope she sticks around to keep pushing the New Zealand Music scene up to the next level.