Song Crush this week has songs about self-empowerment and drowning in sorrow, in equal measure. Host Kirsten Johnstone is joined by Jana Whitta, Elliott Childs and RNZ producer Rob Kelly.
Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens - Gone
I’m not at all au fait with Charli XCX, but I immediately clicked on this track because it features Christine and the Queens, whose album Chris was one of my top albums of 2018.
'Gone' is the third single from her forthcoming album Charli due for release in September and it features a string of incredible collaborations with some heavy hitters, including Troye Sivan, Lizzo and Haim. Charli has said: “This song is about breaking down but it’s also about breaking free. It feels like one big external scream. Both this song and video are a huge release of energy for me. When I hear it and when I dance to it I feel truly euphoric and alive, like I’m pushing out all the bad feelings from my brain. It’s like I’m channeling all my anger and frustration (and sometimes sadness) into dancing it all away.”
Check out their breathtaking chemistry in the video. JW
Carla Dal Forno - Took A Long Time
Originally from Melbourne but based in London, Carla Dal Forno produces opaque, ethereal pop music with an interesting mix of influences. Taken from her forthcoming second album Look Up Sharp, ‘Took A Long Time’ has synth sounds that will ring bells for fans of Netflix’s Stranger Things season 3 but the “bass at the front” mix of this song feels more Killing Joke than Jean Michel Jarre. Dal Forno’s soft vocals also bring to mind 80’s avant-garde pop acts like Anna Domino or Berntholler. But while the influences are noticeable, Dal Forno manages to avoid leaning too heavily on them. “Took A long Time” is a layered and skillfully produced song that creates a real sense of atmosphere as soon as it starts. EC
Erin Durant - Rising Sun
Erin Durant’s new album Islands kicks off with 'Rising Sun'. It starts off optimistic and resilient but slowly falls apart across its almost six minute duration. By the end Durant is mourning for the futures lost and asking to be held. Beautiful instrumentation and a lyrical approach reminiscent of Fleabag’s fourth wall breaks make it a song that is designed to make you feel lost, but in good company.
Islands is Durant’s second full album and is strikingly different to her mainly bedroom produced first album Blueberry Mountain. Rich orchestration and a willingness to allow space to blossom inside songs give the album a flavour of longing and loss with an aftertaste of hope.
If you want to know more about Durant’s piano you can find all you need here. RK
K.Flay - This Baby Don't Cry
K. Flay is the opposite of all the quiet folk music I’ve been ingesting lately. She’s part Beastie Boy, part Breeder, mashed up with some Peaches, and all attitude, handclaps and a big middle finger. K. Flay is over caring what you think of her anyway.
This isn’t a particularly original sound, but try this after ‘My Sharona’, or Devo’s ‘Whip It’ on your party playlist, or just chuck it on on your way to work like I did and start strutting and arm flicking down the street. KJ
Mannequin Pussy - DRUNK II
Mannequin Pussy Is a four piece punk band from Philadelphia, started by school friends - singer Marisa Dabice and drummer Athanasios Paul, and as you can probably guess from their name, they are not shy of being confrontational.
What I love about this song 'Drunk II' (Not to be mistaken with Drunk I), is it it's raw honest emotion. Marissa said in an interview that she took an autobiographical approach with it, and wrote it whilst in a bad state, post break up, thinking drinking might offer some her reprieve. I think we’re all guilty of making that mistake...Being drunk, pretending you’re okay, and accidentally calling your ex. In the outro the hangover has set in as she repeats the line: “I push you down / I drink to drown / I am alone ”- Ouch. JW
Tom Young - Waiting For A Smile To Form
Tom Young is the quiet one in Auckland yacht rock quintet Leisure (who have just released their second album). While some of the others in that group are out producing big pop and electro hits for younger acts, Tom is writing soft, personal, strummed guitar songs with a smattering of strings and piano.
He’s faced his fair share of tragedy in his life, and this song, about waiting for the anti-depressants to kick in, drifts with a gorgeous undulating vocal melody, and a piano based accompaniment that builds toward the end, as life starts to look rosier. KJ