Song of the Week – I Lie Awake Every Night

I Lie Awake Every Night- James Vincent McMorrow

The creative genius that is James Vincent McMorrow has dropped his latest album We Move and it features a superb selection of tracks.

I’ve been cranking the first single release Rising Water for months and am still yet to tire of it, but in the last two weeks the song I Lie Awake Every Night has taken over as my favourite feature on this album.

McMorrow’s sound has developed a lot over his three albums, he’s obviously been experimenting a lot and working to find his true identity as a musician. This song is the perfect combination of the gentle ballads from Early in the Morning and his grooving electronica experiments in the bonus tracks on Post Tropical like When I Leave.

I Lie Awake Every Night cruises at the beginning and is lovely listening but it’s the chilling falsettos that take over in the bridge that give this song real oomph. His vocals are McMorrow’s real strength and paired with quality production it makes for magic listening.

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Song of the Week – Alaska

Alaska by Maggie Rogers

I’m sitting by the water in the Auckland viaduct watching the sun sparkle on the water and the water ripple beneath the boats. It’s peaceful and beautiful in every  sense of the words but this serenity has been enhanced by another element – the sound of Alaska by Maggie Rogers.
You may remember the video that went viral earlier this year of Pharrell Williams being absolutely blown away by a Uni students music? Well that song we all loved as much as he did, has finally been released.

Alaska by NYU student Maggie Rogers, originally from Maryland, is a mix of folk and the electronica sound. Both of these styles dominate the music industry today yet few songs seamlessly bring together the two sounds like this track. It features a funky yet gentle beat and beautiful lyrics about a walk through the woods, sung to showcase an impressive range by Rogers. There’s a real strength in her voice and its grown by the calm quality she has, her vocals are so controlled it’s a stunning quality.

Chuck your headphones in and have a listen while sitting in an idyllic spot like I am. There’s no better way to start your day. (Especially when you’re about to be stuck inside at a conference all day!)

Song of the Week – Sure Love

Sure Love – Jarryd James

Aussie muso Jarryd James has got me in a trance with his debut album Thirty One. With each listen this piece of work gets better and better. It’s got songs to cater for every mood and a modern and unique sound.

The Brisbane alt-pop artist burst onto the scene this year with his stellar singles Do You Remember and Give Me Something. With the help of Kiwi producer extraordinaire Joel Little he went from zero to hero in no time. Then just last month he made the fantastic decision of collaborating with Julia Stone on Regardless which dominated from the get go. If you don’t know these three songs already, get listening. If you do, Sure Love should be the first track you listen to on Thirty One. It’s a great follow up to these singles and deserves just as good a reaction.

Sure Love reminds me a lot of James Blake’s sound. It’s laid-back but upbeat at the same time with RnB like vocals.

The perfect kind of track to listen to as we head into warmer weather.

Song of the Week – Vertigo

Vertigo – Mini Mansions ft Alex Turner

This week I can’t get enough of this new track Vertigo from Mini Mansions featuring the chilling vocals of Arctic Monkey’s frontman Alex Turner.

Turner gives this fresh sounding alternative rock track an ethereal quality which is rather haunting. It’s quite a contagious sound I’ve found and while Mini Mansions other songs have many good things about them, Turner’s influence makes Vertigo a stand out.

Described as a dark pysch-pop project by Spotify – Mini Mansions is the brainchild of Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman. I would be more inclined to call them alternative rockers with an electronica influence shining through thanks to a lot of synth use.

Vertigo is very catchy – it has a solid bass beat thanks to Shuman, spooky guitar riffs, a singalong invoking chorus and lyrics that keep you guessing.

This is a track any Arctic Monkeys or Queens of the Stone Age fan should like because it has so many elements of their music, but I think Muse and The Killers fans will love it too. It has all the key elements of a classic modern rock song but it sounds new and unique thanks to the alternative elements.

It’ll grow on you with every listen so check it out and let me know what you think!

Song of the Week – Greek Tragedy

The Wombats - Glitterbug Album Cover
The Wombats – Glitterbug Album Cover

The Wombats dropped the second track off their new album last week and I have been absolutely cranking it since. Greek Tragedy is electric. It’s quintessential Wombats. Like every other song they’ve ever written, when you play it you will find it impossible not to groove while listening. In the last five days listening to Greek Tragedy has seen me pull off an impressively subtle set of head banging in the car at the traffic lights, have a full on one-person dance party in my bedroom and instill fear in my boyfriend as he figured out this will be the song I play non-stop for the next few weeks while exclaiming ‘this is my jam!’

One thing that is obvious in this song is that the Brit rockers have grown up a bit. Matthew Murphy’s vocals aren’t shouted as much as in other hits and that’s a welcome change. There’s more to his voice than you would’ve realized in their previous two albums This Modern Glitch and A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation. The whole noise of the band is now more mature, slowed down and produced with that modern electronica sound we’re hearing across all good indie acts today. It’s a fun, summer track that’s well worth a listen.

Watch out for the release of the full album Glitterbug which is expected April 6th.

Song of the Week – Talk Is Cheap

Chet Faker aka Nick Murphy
Chet Faker aka Nick Murphy

Triple J listeners have named their top ten albums for 2014 and Chet Faker’s Built on Glass has cracked the number one spot. He’s even beaten the likes of alt-J to get there. I’m not surprised, it’s such a great record that gets regular playtime on my stereo. For that reason, I decided Talk Is Cheap will be my song of the week.

At first the song by the Aussie musician – real name Nick Murphy – takes me back to summers filled with the dub sounds of Kiwi group Salmonella Dub with the horns blaring. But it’s not long before Murphy’s James Blake like electronica beats emerge giving it some real modern substance. Add to that his echoing vocals and all the elements of the song come together. When slowed down, mashed up and layered over one another the effect is quite magical.

Often electronica songs today lack one thing, good lyrics and a focus on vocals. Talk Is Cheap is special because it avoids this. Murphy’s lyrics actually mean something, they tell a story and aren’t just random burbling’s of whatever sounds good with the beat. The words and the way they’re sung carry the track. His sultry voice adds that little extra, taking it from a head-bopping, foot-tapping song that you’d play in a cafe on a Sunday morning – to the kind of song you want to put on in the middle of the party and groove to. They take it from a tune you’d move slowly to at a concert, not interacting with the crowd around you, keeping your mouth closed – to the kind of song you would be screaming along to, turning to those around you to sing your favourite line, even if that is done in a more mellow mood than you might at a Taylor Swift concert.

Talk Is Cheap is a wonderful song that’s dominating the electronica genre for me currently. Check it out!

Song of the Week – Collapse

VSC

Collapse – Vancouver Sleep Clinic

I was lucky enough last week to get two concerts in one. Vancouver Sleep Clinic opened for Angus and Julia Stone at the Civic in Auckland last week and absolutely blew me away.

No VSC isn’t a band, but is instead a genuis 17 year-old from Brisbane, Tim Bettinson. Taking inspiration from Bon Iver he has managed to create a contemporary electronica sound full of emotion, far more than one would expect from a teenager.

Collapse is the first track from his forthcoming debut EP Winter. It is hauntingly beautiful (especially when turned up really loud). Full of melancholy, the track is a slow and steady song brought together with the use of a synth, keyboard and fantastic drum beat. The tune is written in the classic electronica build-up style, it starts gently, crescendoes into a more vibrant chorus, takes it up a notch further with a  moody bridge, before subsiding into a more muted verse again.

Bettinson’s vocals are the star of the show, he sings in a beautiful Justin Vernon like falsetto, slurring his words much like the Bon Iver genius. That’s not to say he’s like Vernon in every way however, for a start you can actually understand what his lyrics mean, and they’re quite lovely!

“It’s so cold, I’ve come out
Where’s the all I have to show
The knowledge that I’ve never known
The garden that I failed to grow”

See what I mean? Once again, I’m still amazed a 17-year-old boy can write lyrics and music with such a mature quality.

He performs like he’s been doing it for years. In his set on Sunday Bettinson and band had the whole theatre enraptured, a hard ask for an opening act. He performed with a real confidence, played instruments like he was born to do nothing else, gelled with his bandmates impressively and sang gloriously. His music really came to life on stage and I was completely sold.

I think if you check him out, you will be too.