Off the leash
While many remain afraid to speak out, indie outfit Dogwhine have the government square in their sights on their debut release
"Dogs whine to communicate their physical, mental and emotional states..." At first glance, Dogwhine's artist bio reads like the opening to a freshman's college essay. Then, out of the blue, what initially appears to be a direct quote from the dictionary turns into a sly jab at the absurd prohibition on political gatherings of five or more people imposed by the junta: "Not all whines are created equally. Sometimes dogs gather to whine in group. When they come together more than five, they often get chased or taken away." Like hip-hop firebrands Rap Against Dictatorship who brought us the brilliant anti-junta Prathet Ku Mee (What's My Country Got), this Bangkok five-piece are unapologetically political from the outset.
The band, composed of college buddies with canine-themed monikers (Poodle Bank, Wolf Cann, Bulldog Tottodxx, Doberman Nattawat Chotewijak, Shiba First) made a ripple earlier this year with lead single Leader. Running on austere post-punk and nervy shoegaze energy, the four-minute song pulls no punches: "Leader must come from election/ Can't escape the same problems/ Leader must come from here/ Us." The message, despite the muffled singing, has clearly resonated with many ("Can I sing this instead of the national anthem?" says one comment on YouTube).
Set to crisp guitar riffs, second cut Democrazy sums up the country's skewed version of democracy better than any history textbook ("Democrazy is everybody/ Democrazy is identity/ Democrazy disturbed by tear gas/ Democrazy disturbed by rifles"). The message is further driven home by the title track and the scruffy Apologise For The Monument, which alludes to the Democracy Monument and how we as a country have failed it immeasurably.
Less heavy offerings, if anyone's in need of those, can be found on the jazzy interludes Destroy The State and God. There's also one dedicated to the good old topic of romance (Symphony Song) and one that talks about not living up to your folks' expectations (Unemployment).
Quotable lyrics: "My unemployment life/ OK, that's fine by me/ Sorry mommy, daddy/ I'm less sometimes" (Unemployment).
The verdict: Dog Of God is a collection of protest songs that cuts right to the heart of the matter. A necessary and truly admirable act of bravery, given the current climate of fear and attacks on freedom of expression.
Listen to this: Destroy The State, Leader, Unemployment.
Blue Hawaii / Still I Miss U
"What brings me to this lonely place/ Do I deserve love... I wish it was that easy/ I hold too much hate/ Too much hate towards myself/ And it gets in the way when I try to love somebody else." Blue Hawaii's latest cut Still I Miss U contains some of the most brutally honest lines we've heard from the duo by far. The track, lifted from their just released new record Open Reduction Internal Fixation, deals with heavy topics like break-ups, self-loathing and the inability to move on with somebody new. If that sounds like an absolute downer, rest assured that's not the case. Raphaelle Standell and Alexander Kerby have crafted an uplifting electro-house jam that's very much in line with their previous releases. Goodbye stupid tears, hello dance floor catharsis.
Club Mascot / Lies
Judging from how his lead singles Katherine and Shining Broken Mind are essentially polar opposites, Club Mascot might be selling himself short with the "space pop" tag he uses to refer to his sound. His third offering, Lies, sees the up-and-coming electronic artist stretching even further into orbit, fusing steel-clashing techno beats with swirling synths. The spacey vibe is definitely there, but there's much more at play here: indiscernible vocal samples, bells and keys, and random bleeps and bloops. Despite its occasional clunkiness, there's no denying that Lies is full of brilliant ideas.
Panda Bear / Playing The Long Game
With the release of his sixth LP Buoys and his contribution to Solange's stellar album When I Get Home, artist and producer Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox, has had quite a prolific 2019. To cap it all off just before the year ends, he's given us a brand new song in the shape of Playing The Long Game. The stand-alone single doesn't just mark his first new material since Buoys, it also marks the first time he's experimented with trap music. The result? A wholesome marriage between trap beats, luminous synths, low-bass and cryptic lyrics ("Ladies riding refuse like a rooster's cry/ I'm tickled with a gobble, what you gonna do?/ Vision like a bubble right in front of you").
Mika, Jack Savoretti / Ready To Call This Love
British singer-songwriter Mika teams up with fellow Brit Jack Savoretti on Ready To Call This Love, the latest single off his fifth studio album My Name Is Michael Holbrook. The wistful piano ballad talks about those insecure feelings you get when you're about to fall in love with another person. "But I think you're the same/ And I know that you're scared/ Think too much of the end and we will never start," the two singers duet, taking turns showing off their vocal prowess. There are moments where their voices sound almost identical, but then Savorettti suddenly breaks away from harmonising and channels a bit of his inner Elton John, thus giving the song the oomph it requires.
Petite / Gift
Have you ever had a friend who keeps running back to their ex despite all the red flags? On her new single Gift, inspired by a real-life friend, Thai songstress Petite sings of such a scenario with plenty of added spice. "This is the last time I'm consoling you/ I know you'll go back/ Back to your vicious cycle," she sings alongside finger snaps and what sounds like a music box jingle. After the intro, the jazz-inflected pop production slides into the mix. Holding nothing back, Petite proceeds to give her friend some tough love through choice words and vocal runs, particularly in the rap verse.