On Repeat: the place where we round up the most exciting new music releases. Five tracks, all recently released, featuring artists we can’t get enough of right now – so, almost certainly, you’ll find at least one song in this bunch to add to your playlists.
SAHARA BECK – “DON’T OVERTHINK IT”
We’ve haven’t talked about Sahara Beck’s music for a considerable amount of time, that’s not because Beck hasn’t been releasing music, neither is it due to a lack of quality or noteworthiness, it’s because of me, I’m a bad person. Hopefully with this feature, and many more going forward, we’ll start to rectify this oversight.
One considerable distinction between the Sahara Beck of 2016 and Sahara Beck in 2019, is her transformation into pop star. Yes, it’s straight-up, full pelt pop. But with a twist. As it is Sahara Beck we’re talking about, after all. Her alternative-leaning lyrics illustrate a prowess of intelligence, that we’ve found alluring since the start. Latest single, ‘Don’t Overthink It’ measures mindfulness in relationships with an overactive mind (otherthinking, oversharing and obsession weave volatile lines of emotional dissonance). As we all know romantic endeavours can get all too real, all too rapidly, with this song, Beck brings attention to the messy, often unspoken, side of courting. A running commentary of bad decisions, self criticism and heart-over-head rationalisations, tied together in a bow of vibrant musicality and Beck’s ever-present vocal majesty. Genre, style, presentation; these aspects don’t merit what makes a song, good. The artistry behind it, however…
NATALIE MCCOOL – “SOMEONE NUE”
Welcoming a new chapter for Natalie McCool, ‘Someone Nue’ embraces untapped sonic textures and a romantic sense of freedom. A revitalising piece of music in more ways than the song’s subject matter, or the first sapling of a new album campaign, this track reframes McCool’s voice in a beautifully nuanced light. From the ethereal, through-line choral harmonies that open the track to the precipice of her stony, piercing lead vocal which dips in and out of emotive and melodic, and pragmatic and uniform. You can tell McCool is focussed in her music making; every beat, every part, every line hits exact. Although, the song isn’t so focussed that it becomes apparent to a listener’s’ ear on first glance, McCool’s no fool in that respect (having written, produced and recorded the entirety of the track herself). The lyrics, the atmosphere, the hooks, the attention to detail is all there – and it’s so fragrantly masterful that we can’t help but think McCool hasn’t at all peaked. The best is yet to come.
PHIA – “FULL CIRCLE” (FEAT. MELBOURNE INDIE VOICES)
Australian artist Sophia Exiner returns under her more familiar moniker, Phia, with her first new material in two years. Moving back home to Melbourne after spending time working and residing in Berlin, Phia’s music has also experienced a change of scenery. Enriched by Melbourne’s Indie Voices choir and Josh Teicher’s exquisite guitar playing, ‘Full Circle’ is a celebratory number which considers life, childhood hopes/dreams and the full circle nature of it all. There’s something innately warming about Phia’s voice, her tone is so comforting, so genuine, and in a way, unassuming due to her free-spirited nature. It’s easy to feel like you’re being personally serenaded. Even though the track is loaded with musiciality and atmosphere the individual pieces don’t overload the whole – it would’ve been all too easy to luxuriate the mood even more – instilling this knowing restraint is testament to the kind of artist Phia is and the fellow creatives she surrounds herself with. This is Phia expressing herself authentically, incorporating her passions into her craft while enjoying the fulfillment of collaborating with others and drafting her own beautiful stories.
RUNAH – “BEINGS”
RUNAH’s debut album was released earlier this year and received rapturous reception, but rather than rest in the afterglow of a successful moment, the artist has chosen to keep momentum going and head straight into a new phase of creative experimentation. RUNAH invites us to enter the world of ‘Beings’ – a traditional folk creeper that embellishes with trappings of modernity. Electronically abstract, the song weaves writhing ambience like a spooked-out horror movie, the use of space and dramatic pause is also very off-setting, brilliantly executed, offering subtle inflection to the unpredictable structure. The slightly askew, distant backing vocals add another level to the perverse haunt gathering torment each time we near a chorus. The lead vocals are probably the most central piece of the track, and are surprisingly the most straight-forward element (but straight-forward doesn’t mean simple in RUNAH’s world). ‘Beings’ depicts RUNAH at her most visceral, intense and impassioned – it’s a song that animates the Earth as bountiful, caring mother while a looming betrayal threatens to upset the balance. A cautionary tale, let’s heed the significance.
THE HOWL & THE HUM – “HUMAN CONTACT”
York’s The Howl & The Hum mystify the senses, no one song is quite like the next nor does one feel out of place. You can tell that the band have many influences, the alternative rock scene has been foundational, the crucial underpinning of the band isn’t just their songwriting or the way they interpret their influences but their compositional expertise and sonic fluidity. ‘Human Contact’ is a blushing (albeit ominous) endeavour with the dancefloor, talking about isolation and social anxiety in a candid, personal manner yet delivered in a restless state of address. The mood is initially pervasive and dense, low-key variances from a linking of synth, electronic drums and bass set the tone before a buoyant rhythmic pulse is established. The soundscape turns feverous and red-eyed, the whole scene explodes correlating with the lyrics’ atomising impact as the protagonist reacts to the influx of imagery subjected to them in the outside world. It’s a massive undertaking, but once again, The Howl & The Hum show up and exert their unique powers bridging indie, dance and sophistication and create another masterpiece. Bravo, sirs!