This is my first track roundup of 2023 and, boy, have I got a lot of tracks to catch up on. I apologise for the hiatus. The track roundups are back again, and I’ve decided to do a 12 track special to make up for all the music I’ve missed. Keep sending me your bops and bangers. I’ll get to them eventually! Artists featured in this post include The Murder Capital, Bastien, Eleanor, Holly Henderson, MSPAINT, Shame, Les Ailes, Olvine, TEETH, Skrillex and U2.
‘The Stars Will Leave Their Stage’ – The Murder Capital
This Irish post-punk band first grabbed my attention in 2019 with their intensely suspenseful single ‘Green & Blue’, and for some reason haven’t checked in on them since. It seems that they’ve maintained their brooding atmosphere, but have gotten weirder. Is that glitchy riff a guitar or a synth? Either way, it’s really cool. James Mc Govern’s vocals have also taken on a Julian Casablanca’s swagger that I’m definitely digging. Their new album Gigi’s Recovery could be worth a gander.
‘Green Garden’ – Bastien
This track was released all the way back in November of 2022. I think I accidentally misread it as ‘Bastille’ and skipped over it. Thankfully, I went back and realised my mistake, otherwise I would have never heard this gem. Bastien are a London band with a sound that’s a mix of new wave, jangle pop and psych rock. Their song ‘Green Garden’ is about social anxiety and the fear and excitement that comes with a social event, which is a pretty cool concept. However, it’s the feelgood instrumentation and production that won me over. I love the energy of those bouncy guitars (they’ve got a similar energy to Alice Phoebe Lou’s ‘Dirty Mouth’) and those trumpets slap. Meanwhile, those psychadelic vocal effects at the end serve as an exciting extra quirk. It’s overall a really fun track, and I’ll definitely be checking out the London band’s upcoming EP Stroud Green Stoop.
‘Make Sense’ – Eleanor
Here’s another track from the end of last year that almost got lost amongst the sea of Christmas song submissions and world cup anthem entries. Eleanor is a r&b singer from London, Ontario, and she’s got a fantastic voice. Just wait until the song reaches that chorus: ‘bad things tend to happen in three-ees’. The way she hits those notes is angelic. The dreamy production is gorgeous too and the exasperated lyrics provide a nice contrast. It’s pretty impressive for a debut single.
‘The Planes’ – Holly Henderson
‘The Planes’ is the work of UK baroque pop singer Holly Henderson and comes off of her new album The Walls (out today). It’s loaded with beguiling vocal harmonies that hit all the right notes. I feel like I’m on a plane floating through the clouds while listening to it – especially that hypnotic snaking section at 1:30. Parts of her sound kinda remind me of UK rock band Goat Girl, but with a folksier edge.
‘Delete It’ – MSPAINT ft. Militarie Gun
MSPAINT’s mixture of hardcore punk and retro vaporwave synths is so exqciting and unique. I loved the Mississippi band’s 2022 caustic track ‘Acid’, and I’m enjoying this new stomping single ‘Delete It’ even more. The ‘I-I-I-I just want to feel it’ chorus is so catchy, and I’m loving the extra level of aggression provided by Militarie Gun abrasive vocals. It’s also good to see them doubling down on the digital theme without resorting to vocoders.
‘Six-Pack’ – Shame
London post-punk band Shame are back with wah-wah guitars and a hilarious video featuring Napoleon as a low-poly video game character. I get more of a classic rock vibe from this than any other Shame song I’ve heard thus far, which is an interesting new direction for the band. I can just picture the bassist going absolutely ballistic while playing this (have you seen their bassist live??). Their new album Food For Worms is out later this month.
'Just The Family Inside' - Mat Hunsley
This stripped-back acoustic song from Newcastle singer-songwriter Mat Hunsley has such a spine-tinglingly raw quality to it. The song deals with the disappointment of having to put ones life on hold during the pandemic. It's not a deeply sad song, but Mat puts a lot of emotion into it, and you can really feel the longing as he describes his dreams of travelling to California and to put off his wedding.
‘Ghost Town’ – Les Ailes
Here, we have another ancient track from 2022 that I've only just caught up with. This one comes from Seattle singer-songwriter Les Ailes who I’ve featured a couple times before on the blog. Those melancholy elongated notes are truly mesmerising. Her voice seems to only be getting more emotive.
‘Wonk’ – Olvine
‘Wonk’ comes off of a new EP Brady’s Caravan from Liverpool jazz fusion band Olvine. It juxtaposes dissonant stabs with languid sections of soft keys and sax. If you love ‘Wonk’ make sure to check out the rest of the songs on their EP – the other tracks are a bit more laid back, but the melodies are still gorgeous and the drumming is bananas.
‘EyesHornMouth’ – TEETH
When I saw this band were signed to Nuclear Blast Record, I knew this was going to be heavy. But fuck - I was not expecting it to be this heavy. These breakdowns are downright disgusting. The chugging guitars sound like a body being chewed up in a meat grinder. I haven’t heard a guitar tone that frightening in a while. Hold out for the first breakdown and you’ll see what I mean.
‘Xena’ – Skrillex with Nai Barghouti
Skrillex’s sound design is still so innovative after all these years. This percussion in this track is so playful and crisp. Just like the late and great SOPHIE, I can definitely see how the creatively harsh sounds may just come across as obnoxious to some people. But I get so much more out of this than a formulaic producer like David Guetta.
‘With Or Without You’ – U2 (Re-recorded)
This re-recorded version of ‘With Or Without You’ is totally unnecessary. The band don’t do anything new or interesting with it. In fact, it’s just a blander and weaker version. It’s such a desperate money-grabbing move – they’ve realised they’re not selling out arenas immediately anymore and they can’t write new good music, so they’ve resorted to re-recording old hits.