Bunch Of Fives: Moodbay | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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North-East electro-pop duo, Moodbay, storm back into our lives with their latest single, Like Nobody Else. The track, which has been receiving plenty of attention from BBC Introducing, is an eighties inspired summer smash, complete with a commanding chorus and driving synth hook that you will be singing and humming under your facemask in Aldi long after listening to it. 

To let us know about the songs that have shaped their sound, the pair give us a right auld bunch of fives….

Radiohead – Reckoner
The song is the seventh track on ‘In Rainbows’, which has to be our favourite Radiohead album. It fuses together so many elements – amazing songwriting and instrumentation, both electronic and classical composition, incredible Johnny Greenwood textures and sound design, as well as intricate groove. We love the complex drum-work underpinning ‘Reckoner’, and how the song steadily evolves into entangled layers of melody and texture, stretching into that stunning string outro. It’s a lesson in how simplicity is the foundation of complexity. And Thom Yorke’s voice is just so mesmeric. “Because we separate like ripples on a blank shore” is also one of our favourite lines of any Radiohead song.

Radiohead are the single biggest influence for us as songwriters and musicians. Alfie especially, who is a Radiohead nerd, meaning he knows their music right from the early days through to today and can name track numbers on albums etc from memory. Radiohead are emotional with their music whilst also paying attention to detail – that fusion of raw expression with beautiful form is what we strive to achieve with our own music.

Portishead – Only You
Anna is pretty much in love with Beth Gibbons. The way she is just so HER; unapologetically doing her own thing, crouching over the mic dressed head to toe in black, so damn sexy. We like to think we have that similar connection going on as Geoff Barrow and Gibbons do. Music is so random in that it can just flow between certain people easily, and the writing just feels so natural.

‘Only You’ was released in 1998, and was accompanied by an amazing video directed by Chris Cunningham, who has also worked with Aphex Twin, Björk, and Placebo. It features Gibbons floating in air, with a young boy. The people were shot in a tank of water and then digitally inserted into an alleyway of a street scene. Like all of Portishead’s work, this song is full of angst in the vocal, accompanied by laid-back hip-hop groove and elements of jazz. We love how Portishead’s music is so timeless, probably because they never fit into the Britpop scene they were born into. They completely cultivated their own identity, and refused to fit the mould. 

The Weeknd – Starboy
This is just a full-stop massive song with incredible production. ‘Starboy’ appears on The Weeknd’s third studio album of the same name. It also features French electronic duo Daft Punk, who we have a lot of admiration for. Daft Punk are renowned for their sensibility towards groove and uncanny ability to write awesome hooks, and we love the magic they add to a song like this. The Weeknd’s tone and voice are also just so heavenly on the ears. 

We like how The Weeknd brings in analogue modular synths into a pop context, with hip-hop influences. There are always great melodies, fantastic vocal production and heavy raw analogue sub basslines all held together by great songwriting. It’s a sexy song with so much bite and attitude, and the simple refrain ‘I’m a motherf*cking Starboy’ is great in its simplicity. We also love how the classic 808 and 909 drum sounds together with that dirty synth bassline add a real sense of drama to this song. 

Alfie Picks: The Beatles – Yesterday
‘Yesterday’ influenced me to constantly search for the most beautiful, innovative and resonating melodies in my songwriting. Composing music in general, is in some ways different to the art of composing melodies because crafting melody is an unstructured process that doesn’t require knowledge of chords or scales whatsoever.  There exists a tiny slice of melodies which are timeless and stunning in a huge sea of bad, boring, tame, average, familiar and uninspiring possible other melodies. 

When I learnt that Yesterday was composed while Paul was asleep dreaming, it shook me because I was always perplexed at how it was ever made. If you actually carefully go through the melody with the chords in hand, it is quite spectacular to think that a conscious brain could invent extraordinary melodic patterns over such ordinary chords. Anyway, although I don’t feel like I’ve ever been able to recreate such a moment of genius, this song has nonetheless made me acutely aware of the importance of shaping good melody. 

Anna Picks: Christine & The Queens – Tilted
This song is contemporary, fun and catchy but also timeless, with real semantic depth. Christine & The Queen’s lyrics are always so poetic. I love how there’s a French version as well as an English one. I speak French and lived in Paris myself, which is where this artist (real name Héloïse Letissier ) is from. I became smitten with her when I first saw the performance of this song on the Jools Holland show on TV. Absolutely epic synth bass and counter melodies going on. The dance that accompanies this when it’s performed live is also so damn raw and beautiful. I also love the fact that Chris shows how pop music can still be powerful, at a time when this genre is saturated with fast-fashion style songs, throwaways that simply follow a trend. The beauty of ‘Tilted’ is just that – it’s pop and has enjoyed enormous commercial success, but it’s got that long standing hold over the listener because it’s such a well written song with real feeling behind it.

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