By ALEX LYALL

 

In this edition of the Haul, we dance to a Billie Eilish remix and get treated by the return of two of indie-rock’s most powerful. In New Zealand music news, we are introduced to the spaced-out sentiments of Auckland band Ounce and the bare emotions of Wellington duo Whyte and Forrester. 

 

Billie Eilish – Bellyache (Marian Hill remix)

Billie Eilish makes indietronica that’s both punchy and full of sincerity. Marian Hill respects that – but hey, wouldn’t it also be cool if the song had no guitar, but bass drops instead? In saying that, Marian Hill’s remix has a lot of merit too. It’s able to retain the “Wow” factor that made Eilish so appealing in the first place, with a polish that will see the track embraced in all corners.

 

The National – The System only Dreams in Total Darkness

If The National are the band who rep middle-age indie, then the last few years have truly been a mid-life crisis. Matt Berninger has traded his banker hair-do for golden locks and the reserved sound for something more frivolous. This is an identity he has embraced and pushed for during his time between albums, with his band EL VY – a bit of a looser unit.

This has all rubbed off on the music and The System hobbles along with a robotic beat and berserk guitar thrusts. But like the middle-aged man in his midlife crisis, there’s only so much rebelling he can do. The song sticks to The National formula of soft piano, and a harmonious female backing voice to counter the baritone. It’s all the stronger for it. 

 

Grizzly Bear – Three Rings

Grizzly Bear have been in hibernation for five years.

Now that we can get that amazing joke out of the way, let’s look at the music. Three Rings is frighteningly good. This is of course a Grizzly Bear track, which makes that statement redundant. However, the band needs to get some big-time credit for this. It begins much in the way that The National’s does, with that twitchy awkward beat.

That’s the only similarity though. It transforms into a sweeping, bold and rich statement that features some of the band’s most mournful vocals yet. Usually Daniel Rossen has this duty, but here instead roars Ed Droste. He pleads “don’t you be so easy/ don’t you know that I could make you better?/ don’t you ever leave me.” The bass twists around his words. I get chills as I write it; Droste has written yet another classic.

Ounce – Hooch

Auckland band Ounce give us something a wee bit dark, a wee bit off-kilter this New Zealand Music Month. Its rhythm section is simple, but that’s about it. Between the hazy guitar and the extremely muffled vocals, it’s hard to find anything that constitutes breezy listening, but that’s exactly why you listen to it.

 

Dick Whyte & Charlotte Forrester – I Wish I Was A Sparrow

“I wish I was a mountain/ And you were the valley below/ Maybe then you wouldn’t have to leave/ And I wouldn’t have to go.”

Just writing it down makes me want to cry. Damn it, that’s the second song this week. 

 

Click here if you missed last week’s Music Haul with ALEX LYALL!

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