Kirsten Johnstone, Tony Stamp, and Yadana Saw present their favourite songs of the week, with a special ring-in from John Campbell.
Tiny Ruins - 'Olympic Girls'
I’ll admit to not always having the attention span for Tiny Ruins’ style of contemplative, clever and spacious folk, so the fact that her band (Tom Healey, Cass Basil, and Alex Freer) have become integral to the making of this album, and add many different colours and elements of surprise is a great move in my book.
There’s a newfound freedom and confidence in these songs that comes with having the time and space to think: they took five years to make this, and recorded it in producer Tom Healey’s home studio.
While Hollie has always been a careful and observant lyricist and storyteller, with these songs we’re right in there with her. The production is rich and intimate, backing up the vivid lyrics. KJ
Rosalía - 'De Plata'
Rosalía made many end of year lists in 2018 with her second album El Mal Querer, which married melodramatic flamenco singing with modern R+B production. Since then she’s collaborated with English indie-soul singer James Blake, and is writing with Pharrell Williams. She’s telegenic, sassy, and she can dance - this is millennial flamenco.
She’s a 25-year-old singer from the Spanish region of Catalonia who fell in love with flamenco as a teenager, hearing it on the streets of Barcelona, and subsequently trained for years in the traditional way. After hearing El Mar Querer I dived into her first album, 2017’s Los Angeles, and found a much more orthodox flamenco sound, with all it’s drama and history. YS
Methyl Ethel - 'Trip The Mains'
On their upcoming third album Triage, Methyl Ethel are less a band, more a solo act: Singer Jake Webb is responsible for all the writing and performance. That means a more synthy, 80s-nostalgia type of vibe than before, and an abundance of jumbo hooks. He’s got the type of voice that might irk certain listeners, but it sits perfectly in the semi-triumphant chord progressions of ‘Trip the Mains’, a song that more than anything comes across as super-affable. And that counts. TS
Fatima - 'Attention Span of a Cookie'
Josin - 'Burning (For A New Start)'
Lush synth arpeggios, brittle beats and a mournful vocal - yes, this bears a more-than-passing resemblance to post-Kid A Radiohead. But Korean-German singer/producer Josin fully inhabits the aesthetic on her debut album In the Blank Space, and this slow-burn single has a way of sneaking up on you. When those strings come in it’s spine tingles ahoy. TS
Milk - 'Sugar Glider'
Milk is one of the monikers of Auckland multi-instrumentalist Reuben Winter - he makes electronic music under the name Totems - but this is his guitar music outlet.
This song has so many sounds that attract me - the warmth and warp of electronic duo Boards Of Canada in the opening, but then the pace and crunch of something messy like Mudhoney, and the squealing guitars and ominous sax rumblings (by Yoko Zuna’s JY Lee) make me think of Berlin era instrumental Bowie.
Adison Whitley contributed guitar to this song - he was a hugely talented artist and musician who took his own life a year ago, and the self-titled Milk album is dedicated to him. The lyrics in 'Sugar Glider' relate to a traumatic event that Reuben went through - and though they're obscured, the catharsis in the song is there for all to hear.