14 Feb 2020

Song Crush: Mac Miller, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Use No Hooks

From Song Crush, 3:19 pm on 14 February 2020

Some sad-ass – but gorgeous - songs from the Song Crush team this week, as well as a long lost gem from the post-punk-funk scene in Melbourne, and an up and coming rapper from Dunedin.

Lina_Raül Refree - Cuidei Que Tinha Morrido

Spanish producer and Rosalía collaborator, Raül Refree, interprets modern Portugese fadista Lina Rodrigues' versions of heart-stopping fado classics, once made famous by Portugal's fiercely-loved Amália Rodrigues (who is: a) no relation;  and b) remains Portugal's best selling artist 21 years after her death). What could go wrong? C'mon, so very much could go wrong. 

Instead, the songs on Lina & Refree's first album together are the kind you want to bathe in. Simple, elegant, tasteful in the scope of their experimentation, still filled with utterly wretched yearning - that incredibly rare update to a traditional form that opens it to another generation. Scott Walker-does-Brel comparisons are not unwarranted here. ST

Bonnie “Prince” Billy - I Have Made A Place 

If we were going down in an apocalypse, Louisville Kentucky country-folk artist Bonnie Prince Billy would be passing you a joint and making a dark but profound joke about the end of the world. The shadow of mortality and calamity is dark as always on this new album I Have Made A Place, but there is also some dystopian optimism, and his voice is like a comforting blanket. 

The (almost) title track swept my heart up in the instrumental bridge, its intertwined, flute, clarinet and plucked guitar lines swooping towards the last lyrics:  “I don’t know why, I was born but, I have made a place.” KJ

Hear Bonnie Prince Billy's song on Spotify here 

Bonnie Prince Billy

Bonnie Prince Billy Photo: Christian Hansen

Mac Miller – Everybody

Use No Hooks - Do the Job

Melbourne's Use No Hooks recorded the agit-funk weirdness of 'Do the Job' in 1983, a year before they disbanded. Never released, save for a Chapter Music compilation in 2007 and a subsequent 12" bootleg, Chapter are now preparing a full album the group's lost recordings, due early March.

 Like all the best post-punk funk, lashings of anti-capitalist sentiment meet with massive serves of art school humour [waves at David Byrne] - but are presented here in a deliciously dry Australian drawl. Backing vocals are factory whistles, while in the lyrics alienated bodies become no different to workers' machines. Or should we all just calm down and have a dance? To this, at least: yes. ST

Half Waif - Ordinary Talk 

Half Waif (Nandi Rose Plunkett) has been a part of New Jersey Indie band Pinegrove and released three solo albums, but I think this single signals a breakthough, with her emotive, powerful voice and clear lyrics. She says of the song: “Recognizing your own ordinariness can be depressing, or it can be a relief. The song is a reassurance that feeling bad – or ‘ill’ – isn’t something that needs to be corrected. There’s a depth of experience that comes from feeling emotions at their extremes. And it is, in fact, this vivid, varied messiness that makes us human and ordinary.” KJ

Wax mustang and Jack Berry -  Sunrise ·