Category: New Music Reviews

Hajk “Breathe”

This is one big fat pop song. Things start gently, minimally even, and then explode into technicolor once the gigantic and fabulously ascending chorus hits, all fat synths and horn sounds and Sigrid Aase’s soaring voice. It’s all about believing in something  intensely, getting overwhelmed by it, maybe realizing that belief is misguided then just stopping the brain train for a bit, taking a beat, and letting your heart rest ( or as Kate Bush simply put in in her own “Breathing”, out, in, out, in). “Breathe” features on the band’s forthcoming second album and they say while this track serves as a centerpiece, the whole lp will exult the actual spiritual and mental need to breathe and that yes, actual breathing sounds will be woven throughout the entire thing. Gonna be a good one.

Running Red Lights “Calls of Prudence”

An amalgamation of The Flamingos haunting 50’s epic “I Only Have Eyes for You”, a straight up AOR power ballad, and a vintage Stax slow burner ( think the glorious Mable John or Ruby Johnson), “Calls of Prudence” is a stunning, semi-cryptic, and wistful wander through the past, about missing things that maybe you shouldn’t but you just do. And oh yeah, Scarlett Flynn’s vocal is pretty staggering. What a beauty.

Cape Francis “Button Up”

Here’s something weird: this is the second review in a week where there’ll be a reference to a Motels song. Utterly coincidental I swear but yes, also weird. “Button Up” is a world weary pocket anthem where the daily grind of existence wrestles with life long dreams in a slow death match. The whole thing feels like it’s teetering on the precipice, full of tension and the feeling that things are about to tip over the edge at any second…which kinda brought to mind the aforementioned Motels old 1979 cult classic “Total Control”, another song living on that same knife edge. Point is it’s beautiful to the core. Cape Francis is Kevin Olken Henthorn and the album from which this is drawn, “Deep Water” is out in March and if it’s anything like his ridiculously fine full length from 2017 “Falling Into Pieces”, well, then we’re about to be blessed. Know what, have a listen to that below just because…beautiful.


BIB KIDS “100 Degrees”

BIB KIDS walked into Ed Zed’s domain & he’ll never be the same, please allow him to explain…

Anxiety is a feeling with which I’m intimately familiar. This is not necessarily a negative thing, as I honestly doubt I’d be able to function without it. Sometimes though, I’m whipped into a veritable lather of irrational anxiety when I consider that a certain beloved band out there amidst the teeming masses might never have crossed my path at all. (Like the state of being dead, I suppose one could argue that you wouldn’t know what you were missing, but that’s beside the point.)
Last night, on a chance recommendation I heard Auckland’s phenomenal BIB KIDS for the first time, and by god, that anxiety went into overdrive.
The duo’s new single ‘100 degrees’ is a deliciously menacing shock of avant-pop that bristles with energy, compelling the humble listener to rise to its feet in an immediate hangman’s dance.
A trance-y synth swirls in a foreboding vortex around an electronic beat that sounds pleasingly like it’s being played by an actual human as opposed to having merely been programmed by one.
This sets the scene for Tash van Schaardenburg’s magnificently insouciant vocal, slowly ratcheting up the track’s muggy tension with lines like ‘suns down, moons up / forecast says its rain / I feel the weather shifting / I feel my mind gone drifting / let’s talk about locality and this eventuality / when we go home just you and me / we’ll change the seasons in my sheets’.
This is strange, serrated pop at its very best. Stop what you’re doing, buy it now on Bandcamp, and look out for a BIB KIDS EP ‘Gimp Software’, released in March.
Do not miss it. End transmission.


Beauty Queen “Goner”

For the entirety of the 80’s, Madonna made pristinely wonderful pop records, and in some cases absolutely perfect ones ( “Into the Groove”, “Angel”).  “Goner”, the latest offering from Katie Iannitello’s latest project Beauty Queen is as if the bridge in “True Blue” became a whole song. It’s a lo-fi, straight up crying in the bathroom pop song that no matter where you ultimately hear it sounds like it’s emanating from an old car radio. There are distant traces of The Motels 1982 drama pop hit “Take the L” lurking inside of it as well and it’s a totally angelic thing.

MorMor “Pass The Hours”

“Pass the Hours” glides seamlessly across the horizon, anchored by a fat, almost New Order-y bass line, and is lifted skyward by one heavenly ass falsetto on the chorus. It’s all very swoon- worthy. My age’ll show here but I can hear the ghost vibe of brilliant eighties UK soulsters Imagination lurking within this as well which is an undeniably rare and lovely thing.

Brandon Hoogenboom “Habit”

Brandon Hoogenboom’s main gig is as a member of tuneful and sweet band, Set Sail, but he’s now ventured out into the solo universe and sounds ridiculously good doing it. “Habit” is a heavy, string laden futuristic marriage of late sixties Beach Boys and Raspberries front man Eric Carmen’s solo seventies era sound, features some lush harmonizing, and a coda of fat crying guitar and is seriously kind of gorgeous.

Lawrence Rothman “Decade”

The perfect pop entree into Lawrence’s just released and exceptionally fine “I Know I’ve Been Wrong But Can We Talk ?” mini album, “Decade” is a lush locomotive of heartache, about how the past can color the present and resembles an imaginary collaboration between Tears for Fears and Naked Eyes. It manages to be both infectious and wistfully sad and, well, it’s a real beauty.

IV League “Lose Me”

Soundwise “Lose Me” has that alt 80’s kinda vibe, a little March Violets , a little Divinyls, plus, moving forward from those people, a bit of Hole circa “Celebrity Skin”, as in it’s all tuneful guitar line and massive chorus… but it also has a little something extra, namely Bella Venutti’s ridiculous voice. Massive, pleading, and here maybe asking everyone around her to hang in there with her while she figures shit out, it’s a force of nature. And do yourself a favor and check out their glorious pop fuzz fest from earlier this year, “Superstar” below, it’s a tornado.


Rahkii “Zoom”

Whoa. Okay, this is cool for a myriad of reasons. For one, and it’s a big one, it’ll remind you of something definitively great, specifically Erykah Badu in her 90’s “Baduism”era. Also, part of the video takes place in a library ( I secretly wish all videos did) which is, in and of itself, beautiful. “Zoom” is infectious and sweet sass end to end, filled to the gills with soul and style, and all that along with Rahkii’s voice and charismatic presence add up to one of the best soul things to hit this year. I swear, it really is. More please.