Songs, songs and more songs #57: Austen, Shallou, Yoste, Skylar Grey, Nina Nesbitt

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Life, huh?

Honestly, that’s a two-word phrase that has ricocheted through my mind over and over the last 18 months as one life-interrupting curveball after another has come screaming down the existential pike, adding to the already messily complicated business of living with a host of added things that I just didn’t need.

Quite how you grapple with this armada of less than perfect moments is as individual as the person trying to deal with them but suffice to say there is real value and comfort in listening to artists like the five person profiled here, all of whom have come up hard against the less than ideal aspects of life, found a way to respond to them and committed them to music.

Listening to these songs won’t make everything better nor will it solve all your problems, but it will reassure you that there is way through and out and that you can emerge intact, hopefully with some beautifully affecting music keeping you company into the bargain …

“The Fire” by Austen

Austen (image courtesy official Austen Facebook page (c) @rosepure)

Hailing from Brisbane Australia, Austen is a fresh new atmospheric voice in the world of pop.

Described in her triple j unearthed bio as possessing a “unique band and emotive indie-pop”, Austen’s songs such as “The Fire” reflect her wide love of influences which run from the “vintage of the 60’s as it does towards the futuristism of the 3000’s.”

A song which Acid Stag describes as “a booming single filled with insanely addictive melodies and euphoric instrumentation that depicts a tale of living life on the edge”, “The Fire” is one of those brilliantly catchy and immersive songs that subsumes you in a luscious melody, evocatively resonant vocals and lyrics that get to the heart of the matter.

It is that perfect mix of the highly listenable and the meaningful, a pop song with a brain which the artist says is “about living on the line between volatile and steady, in a sweet spot of intensity. I wanted it to sound otherworldly, as a reflection of that feeling.”

It will happily finds its way into your soul and resolutely refuses to leave and trust me, you’ll be more than okay with this.

“Heartaches” by Shallou

Shallou (image courtesy official Shallou Facebook page)

Shallou is proof positive that a piece of pop doesn’t have to bombastically shout from the rooftops to have real emotional impact.

His gorgeously listenable track “Heartaches” is one of those mid-tempo slices of melodic perfection that does build up a head of steam but nevertheless stays in a relatively chilled lane with Acid Stag noting that it’s “a minimalistic composition that packs a serious punch with its deepened grooves and soothing melodies bringing your mind at ease with its calming manner.”

There is a delightfully upbeat electro influence to proceedings which can’t help with get your feet tapping and your mind engaging with thoughtful lyrics which the Los Angeles-based artist says is “full of longing about experiencing the passions of love during a hard time”, but even with this undeniable danceable element, the song remains one of those beautiful pieces of music that charms rather than crashes through.

If anyone ever says to you that synth-based pop is incapable of being truly richly emotional, then point them to his heartfelt pop gem which wears its proverbial on its sleeve and isn’t afraid to be real and honest while getting you into a groove you won’t really want to leave.

“Sink” by Yoste

Yoste (image courtesy official Yoste Facebook page)

Be still my introspectively meditative heart.

“Sink” by Brisbane artist Yoste is one of those langourous tracks of affecting emotional beauty which wraps itself in and around you, its guitar-drive melody driving you to some brutally truthful ruminations about the way can hurt and wound us and how if that happens to someone you know, it can be tough to know how to respond.

“In ‘Sink’ I try to explore the hurt of someone close. How best to deal with loss of innocence without trivialising it, yet without letting it become the be all and end all.” (Acid Stag)

The song is a joy to listen to even with its heavy subject matter because it is clear Yoste has poured his heart and soul into it which is captured in Acid Stag’s description of this deeply emotive track:

“‘Sink’ achieves an atmospheric feeling across its duration, whilst maintaining a realism with the use of finger plucked guitar and dramatic pianos that intertwine seamlessly that sets the perfect backdrop for Yoste’s passion-fuelled vocals to drive the moving lyricism.” (Acid Stag)

“Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Tears” by Skylar Grey

Skylar Grey (image courtesy official Skylar Grey Facebook page)

Born Holly Brook Haferman in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, Skylar Grey is a singer-songwriter and record producer who pours everything last part of her into her music.

That is poignantly evident in “Cloudy With a Chance of Tears” which comes challenges the idea that you know what someone is feeling, especially when they are perceived as cheerily upbeat.

“I’m not quite the ray of sunshine everybody thinks I am
No, the sky is never clear
It’s always partly cloudy with a chance of tears.

You see me first thing in the morning
Like look what the cat dragged in
And you can tell I’m barely holding on by a thread
Can we just have one cup of coffee ‘fore we dive in?
Just hold me in your arms and tell me I’ll be alright.”

Paired with an arrestingly but emotional impacting melody, “Cloudy With a Chance of Tears” is an affectingly honest song comes paired with one of this clips that captures the atmosphere and feel of the song perfectly and which brings up all the feelings and the desperation we all have to be truly known.

“Life’s a Bitch” (L. A. B.)” by Nina Nesbitt

Nina Nesbitt (image courtesy official Nina Nesbitt Facebook page)

A leap up in intensity and danceability, “Life’s a Bitch” (L. A. B.)” by Nina Nesbitt is a Scottish singer-songwriter who is happy to admit that the business of being alive can be a little less than perfect at times.

And that maybe, just maybe, you might be the one giving it that unpalatably flawed sensibility, with a retro sheen to boot.

“‘Life’s a Bitch’ is an ’80s inspired, post 2020, driving your car through a tunnel at night song. A ‘dancing while crying, and smiling through the tears’ moment. It’s about the unpredictability of life, the ups and downs, being your own worst enemy and your own best friend. The chorus is an empowering mantra for powering through the turbulence of life.”

As the last part of that statement from her media release, via Euphoria Zine, the fact that you’re admitting to a ton of messy unpredictability doesn’t mean there isn’t hope, and you can’t grab some good out of the bad.

You damn well can and this song is your encouragement to do just that.


Coldplay have a new album coming out on 15th October, Music of the Spheres, and one of the first singles from it is a collaboration with South Korean boyband supergroup BTS which is a catchy upbeat slice of imaginatively collaborative pop, which comes not only with a clip but a documentary! Enjoy being in their universe …

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