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
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