Mikaela Cougar is a force to be reckoned with, releasing three killer singles this year alone. Her latest feat is the cosmic Lucky Stars EP, which she hopes will “shoot people through moonbeams, landing them amongst the stars”. Dude. You gotta hear it.
The EP slaps from the get go, starting with nostalgic “grrl rock” single Lucky Stars. The track is moody gold, and it took me straight back to watching 10 Things I Hate About You in the early 2000s. There’s a certain No Doubt energy to the song, but it’s definitely that little bit edgier. It builds through the use of classic palm muting, distortion and layered vocals. It’s a good time.
I Don’t Wanna Be In Love is one of my absolute favourites. It was great to listen to the track again; it impressed me just as much this time. From there it moved into Stupid Love Drunk, which gave me major Lorde vibes. Mikaela’s pop alto shined in this track as her vocals walked the edge of spoken word in the verses. I can picture Stupid Love Drunk being s o m u c h f u n live as the audience yells the words with her. Don’t be fooled by the groovy rhythm section and fun chorus though; the song has secret lyrical substance.
The fourth track See Straight is the single that made me fall in love with Mikaela’s music earlier this year. It was just as eerie and mesmerising this time, and nice to hear it in the context of the rest of the collection. The final track Scared begins a little more sultry than the earlier tracks. It’s cool to see Mikaela experimenting with different sounds and topics. It launches into her iconic “grrrl rock” sound before long. Overall the Lucky Stars EP is a really well balanced set of tracks. Mikaela has managed to develop a distinct and coherent sound while still delivering a diverse set of songs; a feat worthy of recognition.The full Lucky Stars EP will be available to the public this Friday, and Mikaela will take to the stage with her band at Wine Cellar. If her live performance is anywhere near as epic as her discography then the crowd will be in for a super fun night. Get your pre Halloween boogie on, and maybe I’ll see you in there!
Lévyne is an alt-pop gem who’s been flying a little under the radar in Auckland for a while now. She’s released consistently intricate and creative singles such as Pause, and Look at Me which culminated in her Debut EP ‘Being Low‘ which easily differentiated itself amongst the sea of kiwi pop released this year. With Misconceptions coming out last Friday Lévyne is ramping up the excitement for new things to come.
Misconceptions is a scathing review of a heartbreak. It’s “ultimately about a relationship ending with each person having a different side to the story.” The song begins meek but cuts to self assurance and an empowered retrospect. The song “serves as a realisation that it’s not worth spending your time stressing about people that don’t want to understand your perspective.” tells Lévyne “It was quite a liberating song to write – to draw a bit of a line in the sand and express that enough was enough!”
Lévyne teamed up with Daniel Martin and Ølympus to write and record the track before adding Oscar Keys, and Matthew Twyman into the mix to make the magical music video released today!
Lévyne has managed to keep busy despite the lockdowns this year sharing the stage with kiwi heavyweights Daffodils and Foley. This summer she will be taking her music to the crows of Rhythm and Vines
In between lockdowns in Auckland, Lévyne has still managed to play shows, supporting the likes of Daffodils and Foley and now she’s set to play NZ’s biggest New Year’s Eve festival Rhythm & Vine! Don’t sleep on Lévyne, this girl is going places.
It’s easy to disappear into the beautiful soundscape that Lorenzo creates in his acoustic lead follow up to his Single Pharos. The track is slow and lumbering with rich baritone vocals reminiscient of 90s grunge (but the vocalists who could sing more vowels than urrrr). The soundscape is dark and smokey which is a diversion from Lorenzo’s usual performance with his band Close to the Bone. Singer Lorenzo was inspired to tackle his solo project with lockdown and managed to self record the three songs released under Lorenzo Hazelwood in his home studio. These were picked up and worked on with Toby Lloyd from Tiny Triumph Recordings and Mastered by Luke Finlay from Primal Mastering. Lorenzo plans to release more music during the year so make sure to follow him on Facebook,Instagram and Spotify to catch more broody dirges! Hopefully another lockdown isn’t required to draw out more creativity.
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.
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.