Songs, songs and more songs #24: Coach & Ref, I Break Horses, Jadu Heart, Boys Noize (+ Rico Nasty), AJR + Eurovision 2020 update

Do you feel like life has an unsettlingly otherworldly feel to it at the moment?

COVID-19 has well and truly put the pandemic cat among the pigeons and it’s easy to feel like life is so mixed up that there’s no hope of it resembling normal ever again.

But as these five artists beautifully demonstrate, life has never really been normal; rather it’s an often chaotic mix of highs and lows, the known and the unknown, light and dark and figuring it all can be perplexing at best.

So really business as usual just with a whole lot more uncertainty.

But don’t be alarmed, life has a way of sorting itself out, especially when there is music this good to speed the process along …

“Infinity” by Coach & Ref

Coach & Ref (image courtesy official Coach & Ref Facebook page)

A songwriting duo composed of L.A.-based of Bleu and Ryan Perez-Daple, Coach & Ref have created a song in “iNFiNity” that, part from being near impossible to type quickly as you traipse between upper and lower case lettering, is engagingly, brilliantly, infectiously catchy.

Songwriters as well pop artists, they have invested the song with a vibrant pop sensibility and a real sense of emotional resonance that you don’t get in many ordinary pop songs as We Are: The Guard observes:

“‘iNFiNiTY’ has the bright, bold optimism, sense of fun and play that you hope to find in pop music. It’s got more of an underground sensibility, though. Music by and for music lovers, those who curate their playlists like religious libraries, who live and die by their favorite albums and artists.

The song is bright, frothy, danceable fun that also has its head and heart on straight which means that as your feet get moving, so will every other party making this the sort of rare pop that will happily take you all along for the ride.

“I’ll Be the Death of You” by I Break Horses

I Break Horses (image courtesy official I Break Horses Facebook page)

While you may initially look at the title and artist name and think “Good lord, how dark is this music going to be?”, the truth is that there is an exquisitely melodic electro-pop lushness to the music of I Break Horses that will beguile and lure you in to the point where you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them.

A Swedish indie rock band made up of Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck, I Break Horses, who take their name from the Bill Callahan song of the same name, know their way, like so many other Scandinavian artists, around the pitch perfect marriage of lovely music and darkly thoughtful lyrics.

Taken from their forthcoming Warnings LP, due 8 May (unless COVID-19 intervenes as it has with so many other releases), for which singer-songwriter Maria Lindén re-watched a lot of her favourite films, “I’l Be the Death of You” has been described thus by Consequence of Sound.

The Swedish duo is now sharing a second track in ‘I’ll Be the Death of You’, which lands somewhere between alt-rock and new wave — specifically Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica and early OMD’, per a press statement. The fresh offering also has a noticeable sweeping, big screen quality to it, proving Lindén’s movie marathon definitely made an impression.

“Dead, Again” by Jadu Heart

Jadu Heart (image courtesy official Jadu Heart Facebook page)

Speaking of grim song titles, it’s pretty clear that Jadu Heart, who hail from Bristol in the UK, win this post’s contest for the bleakest of track monikers.

Having said that, this is an exquisitely resonant, lo-fi track that is infused with intense emotional meaning and melodies so ethereally beautiful that you’ll want to return to it again.

So, what’s the deal with the title? Is it attention grabbing or reflective of the song’s lyrical intent?

“‘You sometimes realise that you’re falling into the trappings of normal, everyday life. ‘Dead, Again’ is about acknowledging that if you’re not too careful, you can fall into this zombie-like state of existence, just left trying to feel alive again.'” (CLASH)

Jadu Heart artfully merge together intensely-thoughtful lyricism with music so achingly lovely that you are swept up into this reverentially-gorgeous song, happily and for the duration, coming alive a little bit every time you hear it, which is actually a perfect outcome given the song’s outlook.

“Girl Crush” (ft. Rico Nasty) by Boys Noize

Boys Noize (image courtesy official Boys Noize Facebook page)

Switching things a little bit, Boys Noize aka German DJ and producer Alexander Ridha has teamed up with an artist Stereogum beautifully describes as “festival-wrecking rap energy-bomb Rico Nasty”.

It’s a potent combo that works a treat, investing the darkly percolating track, which zips and blips and trips happily all over the place, in what the music blog muses could be a “blog-house revival”, with a studiously introspective glow.

While Stereogum isn’t completely won over by the track …

“‘Girl Crush’, the new Boys Noize/Rico collab, isn’t really a Rico Nasty song. She doesn’t rap in it. Instead, she purrs about a girl she likes over a pulsing electro beat. It’s not doing a lot for me right now, but I could imagine it going off late at night in a room where everybody is on cocaine.”

… there’s a raw pulsing emotionality to this track which captures you instantly, subsuming you in a song that is all murky, fabulous grandeur and lustful abandonment, a sensibility which the music matches absolutely perfectly.

“BANG!” by AJR

AJR (image courtesy official AJR Facebook page)

There’s an hilarious lie going around the traps that everyone has adulthood figured and that the transition to this state from childhood to adulthood is seamless and everyone has it all figured out.

To which brothers Ryan, Jack and Adam Met (guess where the band’s name came from?), multi-instrumentalists from New York City, will respond will a hearty and pop-honed “You sure about that?”

Their immensely catchy, theatrically-epic but playful track “BANG!” is the result of ruminations on the whole becoming an adult charade.

“We wrote ‘BANG!’ about the weird middle ground between being a kid and becoming an adult; a time when we’re doing all the things adults are supposed to do, but we don’t yet feel grown up,” AJR said in a press release. “The fact is, adulthood is bound to hit us at some point, so the plan we made in the song is to ‘go out with a bang.'” (Billboard)

The engagingly fun song comes complete with a video by Se Oh with the band explaining that the visuals matched the lyrical intent of the song itself by switching things up at every possible point.

“We wanted to approach the ‘Bang!’ visuals with a retro, Wes Anderson style. Much like the song, we wanted to put AJR in this unpredictable new setting, watching these surreal characters dance around us.” (Billboard)

EUROVISION 2020 UPDATE

While COVID-19 means that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled, that doesn’t mean that it disappearing completely from the pop culture landscape as Eurovision.tv explains:

With the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 unfortunately cancelled, we will not see the 3 spectacular live shows we have come to expect on 12, 14 and 16 May. Following the cancellation, the EBU and its Dutch Members NPO, NOS and AVROTROS are excited to confirm they are producing a new show, Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, to air in place of the Grand Final on Saturday 16 May at 21:00 CEST. (

Read more about this exciting new show which will feature all 41 of the entrant songs for the now-cancelled 2020 show as well all of the country representatives performing a past Eurovision hit.

PLUS Eurovision Home Concerts will telecast performances by current and past Eurovision entrants which you can help choose via Eurovision’s social media pages! Get voting!

So, sadly Eurovision 2020 isn’t happening but the songs are still out there and can be listened to and people, you’ll be glad to know, are listening to them. Here’s the top 10 songs the good people of Eurovision-land listened to in March …

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