Friday 7 April 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 07/04/2017: Alt-J, Liana Banks, Sufjan Stevens and more...

This week, I give you horny music courtesy of Alt-J and auto-tune courtesy of Sufjan Stevens.


‘In Cold Blood’ – Alt-J

Few bands can get away with reeling off binary code at the beginning of a song. But Alt-J have always been charmingly nerdy (I still haven’t got over the Yamaha DJ samples on their last album). The fact that the instrumental is also distractingly nuts also helps. There are big fat horns and synthesizer arpeggios, and just when you thought you’d heard it all, the band hit you with a climatic key change.

‘Whispers’ – AbiChan

AbiChan is the new project by Abi Harding. She sings and plays sax – although not at the same time. She also used to be a member of noughties rock band The Zutons. Remember them? Mind you, I wouldn’t entering this song expecting Zutons-esque rock. Abi’s new direction is distinctly soul-flavoured, although seems to uniquely draw soul influences from multiple generations. The twangy guitars and smoky saxophone feel retro, whilst the glossy synths feel current.

‘Marske Woods’ – Dome Hall

This Newcastle-based band are a hard bunch to categorise. They’ve got a saxophone and a keyboard in there, but they’re more indie rock than soul. And their vocalist sounds like Father John Misty. It’s a wonderful broth of rustic flavours they’ve got going on and I’m intrigued to hear more.

‘Ghost’ – Liana Banks

This unsigned New Yorker’s new r&b jam is about hooking up with someone, having a good time and then both ‘ghosting’ one another. For the oldies that don’t understand modern slang, ‘ghosting’ means ignoring and cutting off all communication. Or perhaps she’s literally singing about transforming into a ghost. In any case, this track is brilliantly catchy and surprisingly effective given how simplistic the instrumental is, consisting of a couple chords and the occasional splash of 808s.

'My Lover Cindy' - Marika Hackman

Last time I checked in on this singer-songwriter, she was writing sinister folk songs about drowning. She seems to have taken on a more bouncy alt-rock style since then, but the lyrics are still not exactly sunshine and rainbows, sung from the perspective of a toxic partner whose only interest is to use: 'Cos I'm a greedy pig/ i'm gonna get my fix/ I'm gonna keep my eyes on the prize and suck you dry, I will'.


‘Saturn’ – Sufjan Stevens ft. Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister

Sufjan, what in Hell’s name is this? Leave that auto-tune alone.