August is an inherently odd month. In London (the city where I am currently reliving Orwell’s Down and Out), August is the tinder date with clearly photo shopped images, masquerading as a “Summer Month” – but whose distorted hips and rainy afternoons are not fooling anyone. In Melbourne, August takes the role of a thirteen-year-old attempting to convince you he is emerging puberty early into the golden months of sun – though is similarly foiled by the immaturity and attitude of its own climate.
August is an identity crisis. August is you up at 3am planning a personality overhaul you’ll never commit to. August is hope for change – whether that hope be naïve, sincere or a mixture of the two. Something that unites the selected tracks in today’s playlist is that they each embody a different element of August’s indecisiveness, anxiety and courage.
P Plates by Ruby Fields
Representing Australia in today’s selection is a new release by up and coming artist Ruby Fields. Stemming from Cronulla’s busking scene, the singer has made a rapid climb in the networks of music fans all across the country. Her newest single, P Plates, embodies the attitude, spirit, energy and pure entertainment value behind her recent successes. There’s a certain reliability to Fields, aided by lyrics that capture the playfulness, chaos and rootlessness of the demographic the young artist is both part of and targeting. Ultimately P Plates is overflowing with personality and cheek that instantly gives you an impression of Fields’ sound and liveliness. It is clear that her budding career is one that all avid followers of Australian talent should be keeping a close eye on in the coming months and beyond.
Take My Leave of You by Olafur Arnalds ft Arnor Dan
Though the track itself has been circulating for a few months, I’m content in allowing the American premiere of Broadchurch’s final episodes (from where Take My Leave of You originates) to instil the level of relevance required to let me cheat my own premise for today’s piece. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Arnalds has composed the music for each season – his arrangements earning as much emotional investment and acclaim as the BAFTA award winning narrative it adorns. Closing the final series is a piece entitled Take My Leave of You that features Arnor Dan, an Icelandic artist, whose haunting vocals marry mystically to Arnalds’ score to produce a song entrenched with emotional turmoil and an overwhelming sense of yearning and completion. Eerie with a hint of despair, the track is quite easily one of the most emotionally immersive songs of the year.
You (EP) by Dodie
Prior to moving to London, I can not exactly say that YouTube blogger and singer Dodie was on my radar. Having released her EP You only a few hours ago which is currently trending across a number of social media platforms, her popularity and presence on London’s music scene is remarkably clear – and having discovered her, myself, literally as this article is being written, I can confirm that the hype is worth it. Where does one even begin to tackle an extended play that is as unique, eccentric, emotionally aware and passionate as You? Each song offers something completely different: from In the Middle’s infectious funk in which she embraces and celebrates her own bisexuality, to 6/10 which captures so eloquently and beautifully the nature of her own anxiety with lyrics that so many will find open entrance points into their own lives. In fact, each and every song offers an array of lyrics that are so artistically sincere and well intentioned. With the six songs that make up You, Dodie not only captures herself – but captures a little bit of all of us. It is only a matter of time before her presence on the international music scene strengthens.
Praying by Kesha
You will be forgiven if you have not quite recovered from the release of new music Kesha a few weeks ago, Praying’s inclusion in today’s article a testament to the fact that I clearly have not. One cannot approach a ballad like Praying without the context of its release being the artists first release following years of legal and emotional hurdles. What is most rewarding about this track is that it is at its core a song of victory. Lyrically, Kesha uses a balance of confidence and vulnerability to assert her strength and survival. Vocally the artist meets each and every hurdle with passion and pitch perfectly clarity – culminating in a piercing whistle note towards the song’s conclusion that resonates in her listener’s spirits so powerfully. It is rare that an artist is as deserving of the praise and support Kesha earns with the release of Praying and its accompanying album Rainbow out now.
What About Us by P!NK
If P!NK releases a new song you can be certain of one thing: that I will listen to nothing else bar that song for the next 24 hours. For those who share a similar sense of awe for the artist whose professional career has spanned an incredibly impressive 22 years, you will share the struggle of enduring the comparatively minuscule but utterly unbearable five-year absence between her last album – 2012’s The Truth About Love – and the upcoming album Beautiful Trauma due to be released this October, having only had a handful of scattered singles and collaborations to fill the void. What About Us is the album’s first release, whose quality can best be illustrated by the fact that it occupied both the number one and number two position on the Australian iTunes charts in its first 24 hours with its explicit and clean edits respectfully. The song certainly packs a punch, leaving aside the aggression of her previous work without sacrificing its spirit. What About Us is every bit the the anthem of hope it sets out to be – asserting that hope, like love, is something strengthened by overcoming and surviving hardships.