Now this is music #105: Loma, Django Django, Jesse Saint John, Becky & The Birds, Bonsai Mammal


Do not be one of the great banal unwashed.

That should be the creed for every last one of us, but as we know all too well from the swelling ranks of conservative, unthinking herds around us, not everyone wants to push that envelope, avant that garde and sit rather messily on the bleeding edge.

Happily for those of us who do, and have the Band-Aids to prove it, there are artists like these five who speak universal truths both profound and fun and yet package them in ways that are quirkily, interestingly different; accessible yes, but not weighted with the stultifying heaviness of everything that’s gone before.

Want to look at the world a little differently than before? These are your songs …


“Relay Runner” by Loma


Loma (image courtesy official Loma Facebook page)


The genesis of certain songs is amazing.

Coldplay’s luminously-evocative track song “Clocks” was the product of last-minute writing for the A Rush of Blood to the Head album, and so it is with “Relay Runner” from Loma, a new US-based band made of Jonathan Meiburg (Shearwater), and Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski (Cross Record), which came about in the most happenstance-ish of circumstances, according to Meiburg:

“‘Relay Runner’ was the happiest accident on the record. We discovered it when we wired up a tremolo pedal the wrong way, and got this funny, stuttering loop – and then we built a whole song around that sound. The last thing we did in the mix was erase the loop, which had gone from inspiring the song to ruining it! But it made sense that what was left underneath was a song about how to escape from a sealed room.” (Subpop)

However the song came about, it’s a delightfully idiosyncratic, melodically-rich song that bounces along with giddy abandon and a sense of its own pleasing uniqueness, testament to the fact that the most amazing things come from the most unexpected of sources.



“Surface to Air” (ft. Self Esteem) by Django Django


Django Django (image courtesy official Django Django Facebook page)


I remember the moment I fell in love with UK-band Django Django with crystal-clear clarity.

It was way back in the heady days of 2012 when “Default”, the lead single from their debut album, Django Django, roared onto Australia airwaves and pleasingly ate song charts alive, and established David Maclean, Vincent Neff, Jimmy Dixon and Tommy Grace as an inventive group well worth watching and yes, listening to. A LOT.

“Surface to Air” may not be quite as catchy as the happily-ubiquitous “Default” but only by a little, its engaging bright and jaunty vibe, augment by emotionally-playful vocals by Self Esteem (a.k.a Rebecca Taylor of Sheffield duo Slow Club recalling everything that’s appealing about a band who always find interesting ways to musically address the great issues of life.

In this case, it’s those crossroad moments which can take place anywhere:

“The song’s about two people trying to suss where they are with each other and figuring what the future holds for them both. I always imagined them sitting in a car at the top of a hill at dusk with a large expansive sky in front of them. I love that the video has a dusty, twilight quality near the end, which is how I saw it in my head originally.” (Fader)



“Move” by Jesse Saint John


Jesse Saint John (image courtesy official Jesse Saint John Facebook page)


Described rather winningly by OUT as “blonde L.A. wild child with a taste for bombast and badassery” – who wouldn’t love to be described thus? It’s got it all and then some – Jesse St John is an artist who, we can tell from just one song, is gifted with a vibrant visual aesthetic, a head for catchy melodies, a knack for conjuring up pithily fun yet meaningful lyrics and a innate sense of how to bring it all together in one irresistibly catchy package.

He’s a joy to watch and listen to, one of those utterly distinctive personalities looks and sounds like no one but himself and his debut single “Move” is proof positive that he is joyously and out-of-the-box uniquely one-of-a-kind.

As he explains to OUT, the song straddles that clever place between mainstream and most decidedly, idiosyncratically not, meaning he is in the zone accessible while pushing anyone listening to take a great big step out of it too.

“Coming from the perspective of a pop writer, I think “Move” is the perfect balance of that alt-dance world and a pop sensibility, and it’s the best introduction for my sound as an artist.”



“Holding On” by Becky and the Birds


Becky and the Birds (image courtesy official Becky and the Birds Facebook page)


Sweden is one those countries that musically just keeps giving and giving and giving.

The latest of a gloriously long line of case-in-points is Becky and the Birds, aka Thea Gustafsson, who has delivered up in “Holding On”, her debut single (it sounds like it comes from an artist far more advanced in their career), one of those so deliciously, joyously wonderful that you strain to hear a single thing wrong with it.

It is well nigh the perfect pop package as The Line of Best Fit rather beautifully elucidates:

“From the start, delicate vocals ease you, while pitched-up hooks provide a dreamy foundation to a soothing start. Before, without warning, your reverie is taken to new heights, breaking away from the soft intro and seamlessly into a chorus that boasts levels of epic euphoria. The initially-bare, raw verse is flipped on its head, with layered production and vocals turning ‘Holding On’ into the perfect soundtrack for a montage of your greatest achievements.”



“For You” by Bonsai Mammal


Bonsai Mammal (image courtesy official Bonsai Mammal Facebook page)


Quite apart from loving this band’s name so much I would very much like to linguistically marry it, Bonsai Mammal, the side project of San Diego songwriter and renowned producer Jimmy Harry (P!nk, Kylie Minogue, Diplo + more), is the purveyor of some fine, fine music.

Take “For You”, which as We Are: The Guard articulates “is a tropical-flavored slice of electronic pop that’s fit to bursting with vitamin D, with the Auto-Tuned vocals of an uncredited singer meeting a spread of deep house-indebted acoustics, before giving way to a drop that’s nothing short of festival-ready.”

It’s that good.

It sounds like a heady peace of happy, hands-in-your-air pop that manages to sound warm and fun even with all the electronica bells-and-whistles and autotune which can often sound strangely dehumanised.

Not in this case where it adds a wondrously rich and human lustre to a song that already has plenty of pretty much everything going for it, and that manages to sound cleverly cutting-edge while pleasingly accessible in its musical aspirations.




When it comes to music, and pretty much any creative endeavour really, there are no limits on what can be achieved and how.

Cases in point – these two pieces of music created using LEGO (Andrew Huang) and bagpipes … while bungee jumping (Roddy Garden)! FUN!




But wait there’s more! This time it’s The Buggles performing “Video Killed the Radio Star” at the Prince’s Trust Concert at the Wembley Arena in 2004, captured, reveals Laughing Squid, in glorious early HD video …



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