Thursday 3 August 2023

BEST AND WORST NEW TRACKS OF THE WEEK 04/08/2023: The Hives, James Blake, Grimes and more…

Nutty rock and glitchy pop are the two main flavours this week. Artists featured include Tantrum Zentrum, The Hives, Lost Cousins, James Blake, 8485 and Grimes.


‘Don’t Be A Fascist’ – Tantrum Zentrum

This is one of the most deranged vocal performances I’ve heard in a post punk song since that deranged  'Pure Misery' track I featured last year. 'Don't Be A Fascist' is a war time love story inspired by Yugoslavian 80s pop hit ‘Fa Fa Fasista’. The band’s vocalist Vaat Dafuq wails, barks and whisper’s his way through the track like he’s performing from a padded cell, and it’s utterly captivating. In fact, I was so locked into the vocals on my first listen that I barely even acknowledged the incredibly fun guitar work going on in the background.

‘The Bomb’ - The Hives

Maybe it’s because I saw Oppenheimer at the weekend, but there’s clearly a theme going on this week.  ‘The Bomb’ is one of two new tracks from Swedish rock band The Hives – a band that I’d completely forgotten existed despite playing the shit out of ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ back in the day.  It’s a pretty erratic song with some very silly lyrics, but overall it’s still the same in-your-face speaker-busting garage rock I loved as a teen. Make sure to also check out barely-one-minute-long accompanying single ‘Trapdoor Solution’.

‘Dreamer’ – Lost Cousins

‘Dreamer’ is a suitably dreamy track with shoegaze-inspired guitars, vocals and synths that wrap you up like a warm blanket. A steady drum beat and driving bassline propel it along (it definitely feels like road trip playlist material, although the music video may have influenced those thoughts). The song was allegedly written at a lakeside cottage and recorded in a mountain top chalet, so it’s not wonder it sounds so bloody beautiful.

‘Loading’ – James Blake

James Blake is planning to release a new album titled Playing Robots Into Heaven later this year, and it’s believed to be a return to his more experimental electronic roots. ‘Loading’ is our second glimpse of the album. The first glimpse was a loopy instrumental titled ‘Big Hammer’, whereas this track features some vocals – although they seem to be heavily manipulated with effects. I’ve always loved when Blake plays with vocal effects and here they feel very apt given the robotic subject matter. The crackle when he sings ‘loading’ is particularly cool, as if his vocals are indeed still loading as he’s singing them.

‘Same Tasks’ – 8485’

It’s kinda funny how we’ve got to a point where AI vocals now sounds like humans, and humans now  sound like robots.  Point in case being 8485, one of the many hyperpop artists currently singing in an auto-tuned pitched-up voice. This track is a lot better than some of the 100-Gecs-lite I’ve heard recently  – that speedy DnB-flavoured beat is so cool and the lyrics about using rituals to overcome depression are deeper than I expected.


‘I Wanna Be Software’ – Grimes

Like the two tracks above, this one is deliberately trying to sound robotic. But the lyrics are so direct and shallow that is feels frustratingly basic in comparison. It’s the same synthetic sex slave fetishism that ‘Barbie Girl’ was going for in the 90s, but done worse. Compared to Grimes' earlier work, this is a massive downgrade.