20 Jul 2024

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SKILAA - Album Review: Tiger In The River

04 Jul 2024 // A review by Ben Ruegg

SKILAA’s sound is a unique blend of RnB, alternative, progressive folk, and hip-hop. The band began writing together in late 2017 after meeting through Auckland University’s Jazz programme. Their initial singles Bluffin’ and Way of The World established them as K’Rd’s favourite party-starters and garnered attention across the country. Vocally influenced by traditional Bulgarian harmonies, West African pop, Gospel, RnB, and Chelsea’s Greek-Cypriot heritage, their ethereal vocal arrangements are a standout feature. Their single I Never Knew reached #1 on bFM's Top 10 and was played across Student Radios throughout NZ. With the release of Tiger In The River on July 5, 2024, SKILAA continues to captivate with their distinctive sound and masterful compositions.

Tiger In The River, the debut album by Auckland-based band, is a fantastic showcase of diverse musical influences and impressively good and crazy musicianship. I was lucky enough to listen to this with my headphones soaking up all the goodness of a band who knows what they are doing, and how to do it.

The album kicks off with I Never Knew, featuring great chord progressions, tasty voicing, and wonderful, explorative melodies and harmonies. The mixing is fantastic, making sure the vocals sit perfectly upon the music, which is like a wild trip of jazz and funk influences.

Tracks like Southern Gothic blend rap, funk, soul, building to climactic finish that is reminiscent of Radiohead's The National Anthem. It's awesome and chaotic!

Scratch Me Out highlights Adam's intricate drum groove, combined with soulful vocals, while Money (featuring Guilty Simpson) delivers solid funk and soul with smooth vocals and great lyrics which reflect the current state of music, where it's at and how much money artists actually make. I love it.

The album also offers a John Mayer vibe with Sufficient, where the album takes a slight detour, yet again showcasing the sheer talent of all those involved.

The whole album, from start to finish is worthy of your time and attention. Listen closely to the different sounds and vibes. I can only imagine how this music would translate live, since ultimately, that is where the energy of music lives. And with such incredible musicianship, I would say these songs would be absolutely mind blowing, considering the vocal work and beautiful exotic harmonies.

Overall, this is some of the best playing and performances captured here. Every track is well written, well performed and as I mentioned, exceptionally recorded and mixed.



SKILAA’s sound is equal parts RnB, alternative, progressive folk and hip-hop. It’s something you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know you like it.

The Auckland-based six-piece started writing together in late 2017 after meeting through Auckland University’s Jazz programme. The initial success of their first singles Bluffin and Way of The World have secured them as K’Rd’s favourite party-starters and have allowed them to recently emerge with promise throughout the country, featuring at festivals such as Great Sounds Great and Welcome to Nowhere.

Vocally, there are influences from traditional Bulgarian harmonies, West African pop, Gospel and RnB, and Chelsea’s Greek-Cypriot heritage. Melismatic singing and close harmonies all feed into the ethereal vocal arrangements that SKILAA are known for.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for SKILAA


Tiger In The River
Year: 2024
Type: Album

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