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.
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.
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.
Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer Villette is back with a bang on her new single ‘Curious’ – the first track from her upcoming EP. The single immediately grabs you with a brisk beat and chorusy guitars straight out of a Mac Demarco track. The song develops into an upbeat R’n’B groove with hints of disco and funk that could’ve come straight outta Michael Jackson’s catalogue.
‘Curious’ is an ode “to the girl that’s on a mission but enjoying the journey,” explains Villette. “It’s a tale of enjoying the ups and downs of life and venturing further down forbidden paths”. Produced by Ben Malone and co-written with Max Gunn and Jono Boyle, ‘Curious’ signals “a new chapter” in Villette’s journey. She describes her upcoming EP as “upbeat and exciting”, a diversion from her usual smokey slow jams of the past. “The writing style and content is reflective of where I’m at in life as well, and that is mirrored in the whole EP,” Villette says.
Villette’s release of curious has been coupled with an official music video, which is filled to the brim with nostalgia, kiwi summer, and infectious good vibes. Don’t miss it! Watch below.
Born and raised in New Zealand, Villette has cultivated her sound through experience singing, producing, DJing and songwriting. Her music has taken her on tour across NZ, Australia and the USA with her last mixtape “Drip Crimson“. Earlier works had her putting together a one of a kind 360 Music Video, Money, which took her visual performance to a whole other level.
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.
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.