Music Music reviews

On my stereo this week: Lorde, Billie Eilish, Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen.

Name two musicians that should have recorded together. It’s a twitter question that I have been thinking about all week. I recently shared some banter with SteveForThe Deaf and thought Bruce Springsteen together with Pearl Jam would be a dream come true. I’m not talking about recording a cover version but a brand new song with Bruce shredding his guitar or charging charge of vocals. While it might seem like a pipe dream, it dawned on me that anything is possible. I say that because never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen would get together recently to collaborate on a song. All I can say is read on for more details here below.

But before you do, another thing that comes to mind about questions being asked on the web is associated around pop sensation Lorde. “What happened to Lorde?” It’s a question the internet went nuts over the last few years. I understand the concern probably stemmed from the fact that she deleted her social media platforms. Trust me she didn’t just disappear. She wasn’t abducted by aliens. She simply finished up her mega Melodrama Tour and decided to take a long break in her native New Zealand (and somewhere in between went to Antarctica) and now she’s back.

Another thing that had been bothering me lately that I would like to clarify was my overall non-committal standpoint to Billie Eilish. Don’t get me wrong I love Bad Guy but that was about it. But watching Billie Eilish’s Apple Original documentary The World’s A Little Blurry gave me a wonderful new insight into her phenomenon rise. Personally, any cynicism I had towards her were recently pushed aside. It’s hard to admit when you are wrong. Eilish is the real deal. A rare talent. I’m even prepared to forgive Eilish for her Bieber obsession. With her new album out recently, from it there is really only one track that has me in a spin.

Anyway, check out the musicians and their songs on my stereo this week. Enjoy!

Lorde – ‘Stoned At The Nail Salon’.

In the four years since Melodrama established Lorde’s status as one of the coolest acts of the 2010s, she finally reemerged on a new promotional cycle in support of her forthcoming album Solar Power. While the details of her forthcoming album are still somewhat scarce (despite Lorde throwing around words like acid or weed in interviews), what we do know is that she definitely worked with producer Jack Antonoff again. From what I can gather Lorde is in a really good place at the moment. She’s happy. She’s all grown up. This isn’t that sixteen year old kid anymore who burst onto the scene with Royals. So if you are tired of anxiety driven pop at the moment, I’m sure the sounds of a New Zealand summer rolling in with little bit of pop alchemy thrown in for good measure will definitely brighten your day with the imminent release of Solar Power.

Meanwhile, Lord’s latest single Stoned at the Nail Salon (although not entirely void of sadness) has been gaining traction this week. It’s a sombre nostalgic but breezy tune which Lorde describes as “sort of a rumination on getting older, settling into domesticity, and questioning if you’ve made the right decisions.” I don’t know about you, but I’m up for folksy song like this from Lorde. To me it certainly sounds like Lorde has mellowed.

Billie Eilish – ‘NDA’.

Billie Eilish’s return with her new album is interesting. While it might not be of Bad Guy standards, it certainly has wonderful moments of subtlety and tact of her Bond effort. She really seems like she’s matured into a very good songwriter on Happier Than Ever. Her fame has certainly seeped into every part of her life. That said, the new album seems like an oddly titled album (but maybe that’s the point) which deals in large parts with fame and its roller coaster effect, especially on our mental health.

At the time of writing, I read a comment online from a young musician I follow in which she said, “The only thing peaking right now is my anxiety.” It seems like sharing feelings like this have increasingly become the norm, well maybe in the music we listen to anyway. I guess that is what makes Eilish so attractive as she tackles both anxiety and the shitstorm of fame on Happier Than Ever. In short, Eilish is scary how dark she is prepared to go to tell her story. Many standouts exemplify how much she has matured from her ‘Duh’ days. On my stereo this week is NDA which details the severe unease of having stalkers and being pursued by the paparazzi. It’s probably the closest thing to Eilish’s trademark sound of the first album. We all know she can sing (No Time To Die) but I quite like that whispery inflected scratchy vocal styling she’s made her own, especially on NDA. 

Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen – ‘Like I Used To’.

It’s true, both Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen collaborated last year on a cover version of the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale, but it’s not the same as an original song. So more recently after some ten years admiring each others work, Van Etten reached out to Olsen (again) with a song idea that she hoped she would like to contribute to. It’s fair to say Olsen loved it, adding lyrics to Van Etten’s cathartic song Like I Used To.

That said, I’ve read recently the energy of the song described as a Springsteen tune something likened to Born To Run. On the other hand, it also brings together this idea of connection between people and a desire to return to the things we have truly missed because of the pandemic. Of course, pandemic anthems seem very much in vogue with so many musicians having cut their teeth on writing songs about it, but Like I Used To truly feels like its the best of the bunch. There is a real spirit to this song, which is largely wistful but still sprinkled with Van Etten and Olsen’s undeniable indie rock flair.

3 comments on “On my stereo this week: Lorde, Billie Eilish, Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen.

  1. I love all three artists you’ve featured here (and only recently learned of Angel Olsen through her gorgeous collaboration with Sharon Van Etten). As you probably saw, both Lorde and Van Etten/Olsen currently have songs in my own personal top 10.

  2. Nice play list. I’m not familiar with Olsen. I like what I’m hearing

  3. I’m not familiar with these artistes, but I’m pleasantly surprised! And Billie Eilish has to be one of the most interesting pop musicians in recent years.

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