Songs, songs and more songs #50: BSÍ, OhEm, Chemical Brothers, Kele, Lauren Aquilina + find out How to Eurovision with Ukraine …

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Good times or bad, we all need music.

Lots and lots of meaningful, thoughtful, heartfelt music, the kind that can make sense of the world around us and make even the worst of things not feel so quite impenetrable or hard to understand.

These five artists have clearly thought hard about their art, marrying clever, insightful, and sometimes fun, lyrics with eminently catchy music that will seize your heart even as the lyrics permeate your soul.

“Vesturbæjar Beach” by BSÍ

BSÍ (image courtesy official BSÍ Facebook page)

Icelanders BSÍ – Sigurlaug Thorarensen aka Silla (drums and vocals) and Julius Rothlaender (bass and synths) were originally started says Reykjavík Grapevine, says the pair, as a “kind of a joke” with their name standing for “Brussell Sprouts International”, a play on a slogan that Silla’s brother had on a sweater when they were kids.

Picking their name because it was “short and sharp”, the band are happily unconventional, an idiosyncratic approach which is reflected in their music which move from what The Line of Best Fit called “pure aggression” (“Dónakallalagið”) to “misty nostalgia” (“25Lue”) and now the bright sunny surfer vibes of “Vesturbæjar Beach”.

Filled to the boppy brim with a delightful sense of buoyant musical and vocal charm, described by The Line of Best Fit as “Twangy guitars drift around a rapidly pulsating drumbeat that refuses to relent, while Silla Thorarensen’s dreamy vocals conjure up feelings of youthful summer abandon.”

And that’s not by accident as Thorensen explains:

“‘… originally, [it] wasn’t about anything in particular. But thinking about it; the song was written in summer, recorded in summer, and is now being released on the first day of summer in the Icelandic calendar, and even the music video is about some kind of summer… I guess the song is about summer then?'” (The Line of Best Fit)

But wait, there’s more with Rothlander noting that the song “is highly influenced by the impressionist jazz style that originated in the southern neighbourhoods of Prague in the 1950s” and was “inspired by the love life of Silla’s great-great-grand-aunt, Heather who he claims ‘was the first person to introduce veganism to the Icelandic population.'” (The Line of Best Fit)

Whatever its origins, it’s a brilliantly fun song to listen to that can’t help but life your spirits, rather handy as the pandemic grinds on and spirit-sappingly on …

“Impatient” by OhEm

OhEm (Image courtesy official OhEm Facebook page)

Hailing from London, England, singer/songwriter/producer OhEm (the stage moniker of Emma O’Gorman) has no desire to be a simpering pop starlet.

“I want to write songs that are direct and honest instead of sweet and nice and how society says a woman should act.”

“Impatient” fits that goal perfectly, a deliciously perfect slice of upbeat pop that uses refreshingly direct lyrics and take charge atmosphere to rewrite the rules of “take me home from the club” songs.

She acknowledges that the guy she’s met is a nice guy but that’s relevant right now since there are other matters on her mind.

“‘Impatient’ is just that, ‘[it’s] about being blunt and telling it like it is. I feel like we have to listen to men talk about whatever they want and pretend we’re interested so often that it becomes second nature.'” (both quotes courtesy The Line of Best Fit)

“The Darkness That You Fear” by The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers (image courtesy the official The Chemical Brothers Facebook page)

The Chemical Brothers are, rather deservedly, rather legendary.

Active since the heady days of 1989, the English electronic music duo, have soundtracked our lives brilliantly with a raft of memorable songs such as “Hey Boy Hey Girl”, “Block Rockin’ Beats” and “Galvanize” and now they have one more song to add to this luminously long list, “The Darkness That You Fear”.

The first song from the duo since 2019’s No Geography album, “The Darkness That You Fear” comes with a gloriously trippy clip and a more optimistic tone that you might expect from a pandemic-birthed track.

“Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers says of the new song, ”The Darkness That You Fear’ is a hopeful piece of music. When we found the combination of the different voices worked set to the flow of the music it made us feel optimistic, like it was something we wanted to share.” (The Line of Best Fit)

With my home city of Sydney currently in the grip of another COVID outbreak and a lockdown in all but name enacted, this is the song I, and I suspect a great many other people, need right now.

“Nineveh” by Kele

Kele (image courtesy official Kele Facebook page)

Moving on can be exciting but it always comes with a bittersweet edge.

Simply because to go somewhere new, you have to leave somewhere old or existing behind and that often comes with as much sadness and regret as excitement and expectation.

Lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Bloc Party, Kele pours his heart and soul into his music, living each and every word and note to a wholly affecting degree that is much about feeling something deep in your soul as listening.

His new song “Nineveh”, drawn from just-released album Waves Pt. 1, fits very much in that moving mold, with the artist have this to say about this gorgeous song with a lot of ruminative things to say.

“With all the time spent at home last year I spent a lot of time thinking about the people that are no longer in my life, people that I have left behind. This song is an ode to that idea – the realisation that, however hard it is, sometimes you have to move on. Although there is much written about the sadness of relationships ending (be they romantic or platonic relationships), there can be something quite empowering about saying ‘enough is enough’ and drawing a line in the sand. I wanted to try and express that somehow in the music. There is an undoubtable sadness in the first half of “Nineveh” but that sadness is turned into pure exhilaration in the second half of the song, like a proverbial weight being lifted from one’s neck. It ends in a place of optimism.” (The Line of Best Fit)

“The Knife” by Lauren Aquilina

Lauren Aquilina (image courtesy official Lauren Aquilina Facebook page)

Maltese-English singer-somgwriter Lauren Aquilina released her debut album Isn’t It Strange? on 26 August 2016 and has spent the time releasing some really cool and memorable pop.

But perahps forget what you knew about the artist with Aquilina described her latest release “The Knife” as “the song that introduces people to a brand new side of me.”

Filled with recriminatory lyrics about betrayal and a palpable lack of trust, the track is all growling guitar and ruefully emotiva vocals that fit the tone of the message to a tee.

It also packs quite a nostalgic punch to brilliantly catchy effect as one on one observes:

“If you’re a fan of old-school Avril and Alanis, then you’re going to absolutely adore this.”

Trust me, you will with “The Knife” all kinds of declarative angst that is, and once this is one on one, “one of the best pop songs of the year thus far.”


So, just how do you Eurovision? Let Ukraine show you in this mini-doc, appropriately entitled How to Eurovision: Ukraine

Have you ever longed for someone to do a bluegrass of The Knack’s 1979 hit “My Sharona”? Consider your hope fulfilled with this enormously funky version


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