Premiere: Tom West Burns Out in Mellow & Brooding Song “Stuck on Repeat”

Tom West © Isabella Cuan
Tom West © Isabella Cuan
Australian singer/songwriter Tom West captures today’s existential dread, doubt, and stress in his unnerved new song “Stuck on Repeat,” a touching rush of indie folk charm.
Stream: “Stuck on Repeat” – Tom West
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We were always on the outside, staring though the windows seeing what it looks like.

While the new year tends to bring with it some sense of hope and possibility for a brighter and better tomorrow, the reality is that January 2020 sees the continued devastating fires blazing through Australia, escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, and so much more turmoil that threatens to keep us up at night. What can a single person do to combat the overwhelming sensation that world is in utter disarray, and we’re watching its glorious downfall like a train wreck in slow motion!?

We feel powerless, despite our agency. We feel hopeless, despite the good going on in our everyday worlds. Australian singer/songwriter Tom West captures today’s existential tension and stress in his unnerved new song “Stuck on Repeat,” a touching rush of indie folk charm.

Stuck On Repeat - Tom WestSunday, some time in May
When the clouds bring in Rain
The cops came again
We were staying up late
Despite the neighbors complaints
Playing Records
We lit, a fire Out Back
I got a bit high
So I passed out Inside
’Til the sun rise

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Stuck on Repeat,” the first in a string of singles preceding Tom West’s forthcoming new album (out in summer 2020). An up-and-coming Australian singer/songwriter with a knack for simple, powerful folk songwriting, Tom West debuted in 2017 and has been an increasing staple of our musical diet ever since.

In premiering West’s song “King Cambyses” in late 2018, Atwood Magazine‘s Francesca Rose praised West’s blend of styles and structures: “The production of “King Cambyses” is therefore a taking of Tom West’s roots and Aussie soundscapes and coating them with the traditions of folk and country. And, with the plentiful use of rhetorical questions, he’s inviting us into it too.

“Stuck on Repeat” is a slow, brooding folk song – the result of dwelling in a dark space for longer than we probably should.

West captures everyday struggles – from jobs, to landlords – while simultaneously combating the looming major issues that never seem to go away. He doesn’t need to mention them each by name; his inability to fall asleep is all we need to hear in order to understand some of the underlying issues at hand. He sings a melancholy, forlorn, and bittersweet chorus:

Why Don’t I know what this is for?
You gotta let me in on the secrets
Whenever I lay down to sleep
I don’t remember my dreams
Why am I so fucking bored?
You gotta give me something to work with
Why can’t I stay up on my feet?
Feels like I’m stuck on repeat
Tom West © Isabella Cuan
Tom West © Isabella Cuan

“It is fairly often that I can find myself wrangling with strong feelings of unfulfillment, powerlessness, and a kind of muted grief about the neverending parade of bad news from both near and far,” Tom West tells Atwood Magazine. “If my perspective, as a thirty-two year old man who has had a relatively privileged upbringing during, perhaps, more promising times, can feel weird, then the situation must feel even more bleak to marginalised or younger people now.In Australia, we have unprecedented levels of unemployment and inequality, unmitigated environmental catastrophes unfolding while we’re living in crappy share house-houses owned by millionaires. Meanwhile, we’re stuck watching ambitious, self-serving, career politicians perform ham-fisted sleight of hand on TV who seem to somehow always get away “Scott free” in the post-truth era. I think this picture looks fairly similar whether you’re in the ‘States, the UK or elsewhere to some degree.”

“With this song I was hoping to reflect a little on existence in this context; for myself, but also equally for anyone else who might be staring up at this situation even more cynically. With all this shit going on, I consider that it is entirely understandable and reasonable to embrace the temptation of nihilism and hedonism to try not to care, to zone out, yet even when we do there’s still men and (fewer) women in suits who don’t like it – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. That’s the core idea for the song, we’re stuck repeating this cycle and realistically powerless to change it.”

“I tried to boil this all down to that simple feeling we all know: You’re studying for a job you’ll never get, there’s smog outside the window, you’re in a moldy rental house with a recalcitrant landlord who can’t even be bothered to come fix the latches, you end up rigging together some string to keep the door shut so that your flat-mate’s cat can’t get into your room to shit in your closet.”

I thought, there might have been more
Than fighting again
With the landlord
These doors never close
The ceiling is cracked
and it’s filling with mold

I can’t live here anymore
I wanna explore

With its cyclical chord structure and slow, steady beat, “Stuck on Repeat” effectively captures the pain of running in circles with no end in sight. Tom West’s song may not be happy, but it’s most certainly cleansing: Dwelling in that doubt and struggle seems to lift it off our own shoulders, and expel it through song. You won’t find any answers to the doldrums in “Stuck on Repeat,” but what you will find is a friendly voice going through the exact same struggles as you, trying to figure things out just like you.

Stream Tom West’s “Stuck on Repeat” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Stream: “Stuck on Repeat” – Tom West
[soundcloud url=”” params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&visual=true&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”300″ iframe=”true” /]

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Stuck On Repeat - Tom West

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? © Isabella Cuan

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Questioning Memories and Continuations of the Past with Tom West’s “King Cambyses”


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