Friday, 29 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 29/09/2017: ABRA, Electric Wizard, Gwen Stefani and more...



New tracks from ABRA, Electric Wizard, Gwen Stefani and more...

THE BEST:

‘Bubblebutt’ – Pink Kink


No, this isn’t a Major Lazer cover. It’s something very different. Set to scuzzy guitars and spooky fairgrounds organs, the Liverpool rockers retaliate against all the lecherous fans that have been ogling their butts at their shows. Even if you find the screechy overt feminism off-putting, there’s something charming in how wacky this song is. Pink Kink have long been touring but have only just started recording material. Let’s hope they record more.

‘Cold war’ – Cautious Clay


Over a skeletal beat, this Brookyln-via-Washington-DC r&b singer lays down some beautifully cryptic lyrics referencing everything from video games to Tinder. Verses meanwhile are punctuated by reverb-drenched choral harmonies. He even teases us with some sax at the end. It’s the most seductive song about the Cold War that I’ve ever heard.

‘Novacane’ – ABRA


Dreamy r&b songstress ABRA is showing off her production talents on this new song made up of cloudy synths and retro 808s. Whilst there are vocals, they’re all digitally tampered with. ABRA's music already sounded futuristic - now it's entered excitingly alien territory.

 ‘See You In Hell’ – Electric Wizard


Doom metal group Electric Wizard throw down some good-old-fashioned sludgy riffs certain to have you scrunching up your face in pleasure (or displeasure if sludgy riffs aren’t your thing). It’s like Black Sabbath turned up a notch – retro video included.

THE WORST:

‘You make it feel like Christmas’ – Gwen Stefani


We’ve barely exited summer, the shops have only just started stocking up Halloween costumes, and Gwen Stefani has decided to drop a Christmas single. Honestly, fuck off. To make matters worse, the song is tripe. 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Review of 'American Dream' by LCD Soundsystem



Do I move my feet or slit my wrists?

Having broken up and then un-broken up, US indie electrorockers LCD Soundsystem are back to piss on your generation by reminding you of your hapless existence whilst simultaneously encouraging you to dance to your downfall.

By ‘your generation’, I mean both the young and the old. All you millennial clubbers who live life aimlessly from weekend to weekend – ‘Tonite’ is your anthem. Meanwhile, all you middle-aged singletons still getting by on one night stands – ‘American Dream’ is your anthem.

The bleak social commentary is delivered by James Murphy in second person as if he is the ugly voice of truth in your head. Some of it hits home hard: ‘you hate the idea that you’re wasting your youth, but you stood in the background until you got older’. Yeah, I know I’m the best blogger in the world and an astronaut and a brain surgeon, but do you really have to remind me that I could have become a Hollywood actor too if I really had tried when I was young.

Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy was supposed to be a similarly cynical summary of the times we live in, but as witty as it was it didn’t come across nearly as poignantly due to its third person narcissist position as if he weren’t a part of the world he were describing.

Not only that, but Father John Misty chose dreary pianos and dull folksy guitars to grumble over. Not like LCD Soundsystem, whose soundtrack to the fall of man is set to relentlessly groovy New Wave. From the funky bass and cowbell of ‘Other Voices’ to the pulsing synth and vocoders of ‘tonite’, American Dream revolves around hypnotic New-Order-like instrumentals that seem to suggest the only way to get through the murk is to keep on dancing. Occasionally, the dark lyrics are matched with a gloomier palette of sounds such as the menacing tribal drums of ‘How Do You Sleep?’ or the throbbing funereal chords of Bowie tribute ‘Black Screen’, but these dirges are still set to uptempo rhythms nonetheless. Depression’s never been so danceable.

LCD Soundsystem have long been able to turn minimalism into something epic and here they seem to have fine-tuned it to perfection. Fuelled by doom, this is usually the kind of music I hate. But Murphy and co make it so relatable and so infectious that you can’t help but get hooked. 

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 22 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 22/09/2017: Bjork, Rapsody, Iglooghost and more...


New tracks from Bjork, Rapsody, Iglooghost and more...

THE BEST:

‘Power’ – Rapsody ft. Kendrick Lamar & Lance SkIIwalker


Is there a week that goes by in which Kendrick isn’t dropping a guest verse? This time he’s spitting Patois-infused bars alongside North Carolina emcee Rapsody – some of you may know her from her incredible feature on Kendrick’s 2015 TPAB track ‘Complexion’. Rapsody herself is phenomenal rapper with an old-skool flow that’s nice a break from all the female trap rappers. The funky beat is also extremely satisfying.

‘Teen Dream Woman’ – Bad French


This strange duo claim to be from Paris, Australia. Geography was never my strong point at school, but I’m pretty sure that’s not where Paris is. ‘Teen Dream Woman’ sees singer Daniel Forsyth singing seductively over spacey lounge bar electropop. Some chick starts speaking French towards the end of the track and there’s some freaky interpretative dancing in the video to top it off. What more could you possibly ask for?

‘English Weather’ - Fick as Fieves


‘English Weather’ is the perfect song to celebrate the spectacularly shite September we’ve been having. But honestly, I’m not interested in the lyrics - have you heard the riffs? It’s like Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ just collided with an Arctic Monkeys track. Plus, there’s a cool part where the guitar sounds like a harmonica. It’s bluesy indie at its best. 

‘Whatever Forever’ – Sego


Bored of doing the same things over and over again? LA rock group Sego’s ‘Whatever Forever’ perfectly captures this sense of cyclic ennui accompanied by a restlessly looping riff. It’s both frustrated and apathetic, which is basically my permanent emotional state.

 ‘White Gum’ – Iglooghost


This hectic EDM mindfuck from Iglooghost is likely to be too much for some people. It’s a trap-garage-glitch hybrid that refuses to sit still for a split-second, throwing pitch-shifted sped-up rapping, digital percussion blasts, melodised clangs and all manner of other noises at the listener. You’ll either be mesmerised by it, or it will give you an anxiety attack.

THE WORST:

‘The Gate’ - Bjork


Hookless warbling over unmelodic directionless electronica is a step too far even for a pretentious blogger like myself. The video is pretty captivating though – it’s a healthy alternative to LSD. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 16/09/2017: Giraffage, Silver Liz, Cosmo Calling and more…



New music from Giraffage, Silver Liz, Cosmo Calling and more…

THE BEST:

'Him' - Silver Liz



This new single from shoegazey Chicago duo Silver Liz is barely two minutes. Some shoegaze songs have intros that are longer than that. But two minutes is all Silver Liz need to piece together an epic build-up. Tremulous chords follow an unpredictable chord pattern whilst Carrie’s ghostly voice hangs in the background. These then break away for a huge climax of howling guitars.

'Like Lightning' – Cosmo Calling



This is some highly danceable indie rock. Danceable, but without a synthesizer in sight. The bouncy vocal harmonisation and slick guitars that this Manchester-based band play with are enough to make you want to get up on your feet and spill your beer everywhere. Using synths to build grooves is for amateurs. Fuck synths (he says before featuring two EDM singles).

'One Life' – SHVRDZ (ft. Aerborn)



This Brisbane producer/singer pairing recorded and mixed this hypnotic EDM banger in the space of two days with nothing but a laptop and a mic. The shrill wubs caught me off guard – the beginning is so melodic that I wasn’t expecting such a stupendously filthy drop.

‘Maybes’ – Giraffage ft. Japanese Breakfast


The bizarrely-named Californian producer Giraffage has teamed up with equally-bizarrely-named indie songstress Japanese Breakfast. The dreamy opening chords drew me in and are probably the best bit, although the distant vocals and twinkling synths that follow are definitely pretty too.

THE WORST:

‘Wit it’ – Lanze


SOMEBODY GIVE THIS DUDE AN INHALER. This Cincinnati rapper sounds exhausted and after a minute of listening to him I feel exhausted too. That said, his asthma attack flow is creative and I can see all the mumble rap fans bumpin’ this in the whip in months to come.

‘90s Kids’ – Shamir


Shamir’s written some groovy tunes in the past and upon hearing the Windows 95 startup sound I was pretty psyched for something cute and nostalgic, but sadly this song ends up just being a corny millennial whinge-fest that irritates even a 90s kid like myself.  

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review of 'Villains' by Queens Of The Stone Age



QOTSA’s new album is badly-produced Bowie-worship.

Okay, that description’s a tad harsh. ‘Bowie-worship’ makes it sound like I don’t enjoy the fact that Josh Homme now sounds like Bowie, when in fact that’s one of the highlights of this record. As for ‘badly-produced’, well, I have a feeling Mark Ronson didn’t just so happen to fuck up the mastering by spilling coffee on the mixing board. The production is intentionally supposed to sound this tinny and some listeners don’t seem to mind it. But for me, it’s a real barrier.

Villains follows much in the same vein as the rockers’ last album Like Clockwork…, which saw the band trading in catchy crowd-pleasing guitar anthems for meditative gloomy dirges. The lyrics continue to be as dark, lingering on topics of death but with a touch of humour behind them. They’re some of Homme’s most inventive to date – the singer even going so far as to invent his own words on numerous occasions to get his point across such as ‘macaberet’ and ‘screwicide’.

Homme’s lyrics aren’t the only aspect that’s more creative. Instrumentally, these songs are also kookier, as exemplified from the start with opener ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’, which begins with sci-fi synths and a hammering drum like some mutated version of the Flash Gordon soundtrack, before erupting into a stomping guitar groove. ‘Head Like A Haunted House’ meanwhile is a Dead-Kennedys-like punk jam, whilst ‘Hideaway’ rides a Bowie-esque synth sporting a spacey ‘Ashes to Ashes’ feel (there’s Bowie vibes all over this album).

Of course, the band have also decided to get creative with the production, which is where my praises for this record end. The second track ‘The Way You Used To’ feels like it could have been an upbeat dance-worthy rock gem if it wasn’t over-compressed to sound as flat as a toad on a motorway. And then there’s the end of ‘Un-Reborn Again’, which sees all the instruments coming into the mix for what could have been an epic crescendo if Mark Ronson hadn’t dampened it by turning down the volume knob.

This is the producer who gave us ‘Uptown Funk’, so there’s no reason the production should sound this flaccid other than Mark wanting it to sound like that. Josh Homme and crew must have decided they liked it too. And some fans and critics don’t seem to be phased. To me, it may as well be a tasty spicy dish with a jar of cream dumped in – it’s got no kick. It’s a hypercar with a speed limiter on it. It’s Floyd Mayweather with no arms. It’s a decaffeinated espresso shot. It’s sex in the dark. 

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 8 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 08/09/2017: Death From Above, Kaytranada, St. Vincent and more...



THE BEST:

'What You Gonna Do' - Nemi



What you gonna do? Preferably hit that play button - because this song's quite something. Its a moody electro-pop song of sorts with an almost avant-garde beat and wispy vocals that will make you think you're being possessed. It's fucking weird and totally my thing.

‘My Body’ – Saunas



My Hawaiian t-shirt is on. As is my hula dress. I don’t care if summer’s over. From the opening tropical percussion, I knew this single from Nashville indie pop act Saunas was going to be fun. CORRECTION: it’s ‘beach-wave’ not indie pop. Get it right, Alasdair.

 ‘Holy Books’ – Death From Above


I don’t go for no holy books/ Those ancient rhymes, they ain’t got no hooks’. Fuzzy-guitar loving duo Death From Above certainly aren’t the first rock band to bash religion, but they’re still able to give it their own spin with a marvellously witty chorus. The riffs meanwhile make me want chop logs with my bare hands.

‘2017 07 04’ – Kaytranada



The Canadian-Haitian producer just released three untitled beats on Soundcloud and they’re all pretty damn sexy. This one is my personal fave. Aside from the slinky bassline and glistening chords, it’s got a nice rough edge to it. The king of smooth production has sandblasted his sound and it still bangs.

 ‘Los Ageless’ – St. Vincent


St. Vincent has gone full-on pop. This latest groovy number didn’t really hook me for the first minute (staring at a butt can be distracting), but then that lavish chorus came in and reeled me in. It’s a vast improvement from her previous single ‘New York’. Annie has also released the tracklist for her new album and not all the song titles are inspired by US cities. I have a feeling it will all be devoid of distorted guitars, but if it’s more pop jams of this calibre I don’t mind.

THE WORST:

 ‘Goofy’ – Lil Durk ft. Future & Jeezy


I’m gonna pretend Future’s warbling about the Disney character, because no way is ‘goofy’ the new street slang term.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Review of 'Everything Now' by Arcade Fire



Arcade Fire get groovier and goofier on their new record.

The long-time fans don’t like it. But I’m not a long-time fan. The band’s early indie stuff – the anthemic guitars and woo chants – always struck me as a little toothless and dreary (sorry). It was only on their last LP Reflektor that the group converted me by slipping on their dancing shoes and embracing disco. Almost half the songs were two minutes too long, but they made up for it with satisfyingly sexy grooves.

On Everything Now, they’ve trimmed down the songs. They’ve also gotten groovier and goofier. The Pitchfork-loving purist indie kids have been turning their nose up at it - what’s Win Butler doing singing ‘I’ll be your Peter Pan’ over half-distorted reggae? I can understand why they don't dig it, but for me it's a huge improvement. From the Bowie-esque inflections and shining piano riff of ‘Everything Now’ to the hypnotic synthline and Abba-like chorus of ‘Put Your Money On Me’, these are some of Arcade Fire’s most infectious and colourful tunes to date.

I’ll agree, some of the political messages are a little ham-fisted. ‘Creature Comfort’ begins bleakly and bluntly with the lines ‘Some boys hate themselves spending their lives resenting their fathers/ some girls hate their bodies, stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback’ – something you’d expect from an emo band, certainly not accompanied by danceable electronica. The lyrical content of ‘Infinite Content’ meanwhile is ironically very limited.

Fortunately, these lyrics don’t distract from the album’s sense of fun. Even if Win is singing about suicidal teens over upbeat synthesizers, it doesn’t feel like he’s preaching at us or making light of the subject – it just feels slightly jarring at worst. Judging from the way people are talking about this album's lyrics, you'd think they'd just listened to the new Lil Yachty album. Trust me, that isn't the case - it's probably just too poppy for the indie kids. There aren't enough dreary guitars and woo chants for them. 

TRACK TASTER:

Friday, 1 September 2017

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 01/09/2017: Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean, Caro and more…



THE BEST:

 ‘Eyes on the Ground’ – Caro


This groovy off-kilter rock song comes courtesy of Leeds trio Caro. I was already satisfied with the skittish guitars and vocal earworms and then that section at 1:06 came along and gave me an out of body experience. I have a feeling this band have an album on the way, so I’m keeping my ear (and my eyes) to the ground.

‘Exclusivity’ – Leonie Sherif


Over a frenetic instrumental layered in synths and 808s, UK alt R&B singer Leonie Sherif lays some infectious and breathy vocal harmonies. The result is like listening to Destiny’s Child over futuristic production.

‘Houses’ – The Duke Spirit


Longing vocals and psychedelic guitar twangs make up this beautifully haunting song from London rockers The Duke Spirit. There’s a sense of nostalgia to it, but it’s a nostalgia for an experience I never had. The random retro footage of people dancing helps.

‘Provider’ – Frank Ocean


Is you a natural blondie like Goku?’ I don’t know what Frank is harking on about but he sure makes it sound good.

THE WORST:

‘Look What You Made Me Do’ – Taylor Swift


The chorus is catchy but only because the melody's stolen from ‘I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt’ (which is all I think about when listening to this now). And this whole new bad bitch act from Taylor is about as easy to swallow as Katy Perry’s recent wake-up-sheeple phase.

 ‘Masturbation’ - Princess Vitarah


This monstrosity of a song is enough to put anyone off masturbating for life.