Life is bleak right now in lots of ways.
But it hasn’t completely ground to a halt and we are still loving and laughing, living and hoping and trying to figure all the weird and contrary ups and downs of being alive.
These five artists, who admittedly recorded and released their songs before COVID-19 consumed our lives, have taken a good hard long look at life from their particular vantage point and come up with songs that, with melodic and lyrical mastery, reassure us that life might be difficult but there is strength is calling things for what they are and dealing with them head on.
So take a break from the pandemic and remind yourself that, all indications to the contrary, life goes on and will go on long after social isolation and distancing have received well into our collective memories.
“Tequila” by Jax Jones, Martin Solveig, RAYE
Even in music there can be such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, with ensemble songs often feeling they were assembled by a committee, each intent on bringing their unique artistic vision to the fore.
But sometimes these collaborations produce a decidedly catchy gem which is very much the case with “Tequila” which brings together British DJ Jax Jones, French DJ Martin Solveig and British singer Raye for a club-friendly track that first premiered at the Brooklyn nightclub Elsewhere way back in the COVID-19 free days of late April 2019. (Good times, good pandemic-free times.)
As Wikipedia notes, the get-together of talents works because there’s a history of collaboration between the three artists in various configurations.
“While this marks the first time Solveig and Raye collaborated, it is the second time Jones and Raye, as well as Jones and Solveig worked together, on ‘You Don’t Know Me’ and ‘All Day and Night’, respectively.”
It’s a fun track that evokes a night in your nightclub of choice, where the tequila, naturally, is flowing, dancing is being done and everyone is kicking back and enjoying themselves.
Described by Early Bird Music as “characteristically bass-heavy uptempo” and an “infectious” energy, the song is brilliantly danceable, singable and listenable, a fun slice of pop for times that are anything but nightclub merry.
“To Save a Moment” by GAUCI
Australian act GAUCI, comprised of Antonia and David Gauci and Felix Lush, are certainly not short of musical inspiration according to their triple j unearthed bio.
[GAUCI] package inimitable pop smarts inside a tastefully nostalgic exterior, sitting somewhere between the sweeping, 80’s synth-pop of Future Islands and Chromatics, the soaring euphoria of CHVRCHES and the crying-on-the-dancefloor release of Robyn, all underscored by the continental spirit of Phoenix.
It’s a heady brew but it works beautifully, giving rise to atmospherically evocative songs like “To Save a Moment” which may sound sunny and chilled but comes with some fairly emotionally intense lyrics.
“‘To Save A Moment’ is a song about desperation and disintegration, a reflection on how second chances aren’t always worth the worry. It’s that feeling of going round in circles to always end up in the same situation, no matter how hard you try to hold on to the feelings you used to have.” (Acid Stag)
It’s a perfect mix of lyrical introspection and breezy, catchy music that is the brilliantly listenable soundtrack for anyone who’s ever wondered when you are give up trying to save the unsaveable thing.
“Tennis Fan” (feat. Empress Of) by Banoffee
Another collaboration and this time resulting in a magically sublime song from Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Hazel Brown, known professionally as Banoffee, and American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer Empress of.
Both are impressive talents in their own right, each with unique artistic visions and a sense of self, all of which is evident in “Tennis Fan”, track which represents something new for Banoffee, according to Fader.
“‘Tennis Fan’ showcases a shift in style for Banoffee, finding her and Empress Of singing over a crystalline trop-house beat and crunchy synths that are a far cry from last year’s comparatively sleek ‘Muscle Memory’.”
It also comes with a lyrical punch.
“Lyrically, Banoffee is more brutal than ever, advising her former friend to ‘take that lean and Ativan’ so they can make it through an afternoon with their new friends.” (Fader)
It’s another marriage of reasonably chilled if infectiously upbeat music with some interesting social commentary and it works a treat, an ex-friendship anthem for our digital, social media age.
“Come As You Are” by The Naked and Famous
Leaving aside the fact that the title of this New Zealand band The Naked and Famous (Alisa Xayalith on vocals and keyboards) and Thom Powers on vocals and guitars) song brings up all kind of church-centric childhood trauma for me, “Come As You Are” is one of those perfect love songs that doesn’t live in make-believe land but sits exactly where the romantic rubber hits the road.
A song of acceptance and love (there’s no limit to the ways I adore you”; what a mesmerisingly lovely line), it is a giddy testament to what can happen relationship-wise when you just accept someone exactly as they are, says the two members via Shore Fire Media.
“One half of the duo, Alisa Xayalith, said ‘it started out as a song about how everyone comes into a new relationship with history and baggage, and how you shouldn’t let that stop you from making a connection, but ultimately it’s about accepting people for who they really are, and recognizing that everyone deserves love.’ Bandmate Thom Powers adds, ‘We want our fans to know how important inclusivity is to us, Whether you’re in the LGBTQ community or an immigrant or in any other marginalized group, this is a safe space for you.'”
“Come As You Are” manages the impressive feat of being starry-eyed evocative, both musically and lyrically while being grounded and real, proving that gushy, unconditional love is real and not just the stuff of confected romantic comedies.
“Digressions” by Mija and Gammer
Hailing from Los Angeles electronic dance producer Mija has crafted a song of spectacular touching beauty in “Digressions”, a blissful, emotionally-resonant track that combines, in the words of mxdwn, “sweet indie pop and driving electronica”.
It’s a heady mix of the ethereal and the beat-insistent, a plaintive but powerful call for love but at a safe remove, which mxdwn describes this way.
“‘Digressions’ blends in elements of indie pop with soothing strings, Mija’s soothing vocal delivery and keyboards, mixed in with the very quick drum breaks and rhythms taken from drum n bass. This blend of indie pop and drum n bass goes well with the producer’s diverse music style, which has ranged from deep house to ambient.”
Drawn from her current album Desert Trash, “Digressions” is a captivating loud/quiet, soft/hard, upbeat/introspective contrary song that works brilliantly, beguiling you with heartfelt lyrics and a spine-tinglingly lovely melody that gets under your skin and into your heart.
SONGS, SONGS AND MORE SONGS EXTRA!
Let’s face it – pandemics are pretty awful and not a whole lot of fun. But that doesn’t mean that music artists can’t have some fun with them.
The first video is by Australian hip-hop artist Briggs and writer and performer Tim Minchin who have, says The Guardian, gifted us with a very catchy “filmed-at-home song satirising Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s leadership during the bushfire and coronavirus crises.”