On Wednesday, the winner of the 2023 APRA Silver Scroll Award will be announced. Here, the five shortlisted nominees – Marlon Williams, Tiny Ruins, The Beths, UMO and Tom Scott – spread the love for each other’s songs.
Liz Stokes of The Beths on ‘Friday Night @ The Liquor Store’ written by Tom Scott & Christopher James, performed by Avantdale Bowling Club
What a goddamn song. Cuts pretty close to the quick. Being in the music industry sometimes feels like being a part of the alcohol industry. Playing in bars, drinking sponsored beer, and being grateful for it. The pictures Tom paints in ‘Friday Night At The Liquor Store’ are so vivid and true to life. The lyrics are insightful, delightful and funny in that way that makes them even more depressing. And on top of it all, it’s such a bop?
It grooves incredibly hard and listening to it makes me feel proud to be from the Tāmaki Makaurau that produced this intersection of amazing artists.
Tom Scott of Avantdale Bowling Club on ‘Layla’ written by Ruban Nielson & Kody Nielson, performed by UMO
OK hold up, I gotta go find out what this song is actually about now… I heard the album but I was too deep in the trance to pay much attention to the lyrics. Why would you even need those when the music is this good? You don’t.
With Ruban, the lyrics feel less like commands and more like clues. There’s no right or wrong answers. It’s more like a sleight of hand trick. Hypnotherapy. The song ends, you wake up and walk out the restaurant smiling, holding your gunshot wound, dancing down the stairs into the car. Not even realising you just signed your autograph on the divorce papers. I still don’t know what this song is about. But those are the hardest ones to write. Lynch shit. Why spoil the magic?
If you can simulate the dream state, while awake, then you’ve clocked it. That’s the closest you’ll ever get to time travel. So I’m not gonna waste my time trying to interpret the dream. I got no idea… only thing I can say for sure is that the man is a genius.
Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra on ‘Don’t Go Back’ written by Marlon Williams and Mark Perkins, performed by Marlon Williams
i like the nocturnal feelings in this song. huge chorus. some skipped beats and movement between whispered crowd vocals and single vocals giving it a nice dynamic. there’s a little story about one of those nights when something unspoken happens when you’re out and i like that kind of thing.
Marlon Williams on ‘The Crab / Waterbaby’ written by Hollie Fullbrook, performed by Tiny Ruins
Ah McCain, she’s done it once more. I love this record. This song in particular has that cosmic “world in a grain of sand” quality, taking up the crab as a fractal fragment and shining a loving light on the whole. Musically, it’s a perfectly formed landscape for Cass [Basil’s] bass to skate on. When Hollie’s voice settles into the double on “I need a ceremony” it feels like the best moments of the late Judee Sill, simultaneously of this world and completely ethereal.
Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins on ‘Expert In A Dying Field’ written by Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair, and Tristan Deck, performed by The Beths
Liz Stokes writes impeccable, punchy, heartfelt bangers, and ’Expert’ is a shining example. It takes the listener through tight, tumbling verses, pushing and pulling higher towards pre-chorus and chorus open spaces. “I can close the door on us, but the room still exists” – what a line! I love the structural integrity. I love the buildup of the outro.
Liz’s songs make me feel nostalgic, hopeful and energised all at once. A brutal evaluation of love and longevity, I also admire how the song leaves it for the listener to invoke other ‘fields’ besides romantic love.
Long live The Beths.