This week has a pretty wild mix of tracks including a new song from a little-known Liverpool group called The Beatles. Other artists featured this week include The Voidz, Lawn Chair, Lisa Ramey, Machinedrum and Frances Willow…
‘Flexorcist’ – The Voidz
Hot take: I thought The Strokes' last album was boring. Julian Casablancas’ side project, The Voidz, has been making much more exciting music for the last few years, and ‘Flexorcist’ may just be their most fun track to date. It features a unique mix of 80s synths, autotuned vocals and some brief guitar shredding. Yes, we’re talking about a Human-League-meets-T-pain-meets-Van-Halen hybrid here. It ought to be a bombastic mess, and yet the song’s patient pacing and Casablanca’s signature subdued crooning keep the song grounded.
‘Lover and a Fighter’ – Lawn Chair
More 80s synths! This time they’re accompanied by tasty chorus-effect-slathered post-punk guitars and some goofy DJ-Otzi-flavoured ‘HOO! HA!’s. The band behind this amusing track is a German-American art-punk group called Lawn Chair. This is another case where the subdued vocals keep the track grounded. At the same time, the vocals manage to be surprisingly catchy – even with the absence of a chorus.
‘Vagabond’ – Lisa Ramey
We’ve had some ‘HOO! HA!’s and now it’s time for some Edwin-Starr-flavoured ‘HUH!’ chants in this rambunctious soul track from New-York-based singer Lisa Ramey. ‘Vagabond’ is a sassy anthem dedicated to a deadbeat ex, featuring plenty of memorable lines: ‘like when you told me you was living on your very own/ so why you mama always picking up your phone’. The production is a unique mix of old and new, containing both old skool soul trumpets and rumbling jungle-flavoured bass. All in all, it's very fun.
‘Capone’ – Machinedrum
Machinedrum has recently dropped a new EP titled 4#TRAX – which logically contains 4 new tracks – and this single ‘Capone’ is one of those tracks. It opens with some warm stuttering chords. For a moment I thought we were witnessing a return to Vapor City era Machinedrum. But then we’re ambushed by a dirty drop that sounds like Optimus Prime falling down a flight of stairs. It’s weird and abrasive, but I’m digging it. In fact, I almost get SOPHIE vibes from it.
‘Anna Banana’ – Frances Willow
I don’t know what I was expecting from a track called ‘Anna Banana’, but it wasn’t this beautiful gem of a song. The track opens with ambient swells and gradually accumulates layers of instrumentation until it reaches a satisfying fuzzy-guitared alt-rock crescendo. The vocals become more passionate as the track progresses, and there are some quirky robotic vocal harmonies throughout that give it a modern edge.
‘Now and Then’ – The Beatles
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about a new Beatles song. Not just any Beatles song, but also reportedly and most likely ‘the last Beatles song’. It features vocals from John Lennon that only now due to recent technology have been possible to salvage and isolate, as well as guitar from George Harrison that was recorded back in 1995. Remaining members Paul and Ringo have worked together to complete the song. I can’t say that I love or hate it, yet it’s clearly an important track – hence why this week’s roundup has a new ‘meh’ category. It’s got some very touching lyrics and John’s vocals sound pretty good. But it also feels so unfittingly overproduced. A lone piano or guitar would have been enough. With its densely layered instrumentation and modern shiny recording quality, it barely sounds like a Beatles song. ‘Free As A Bird’ – a much more interesting and authentic Beatles song – was a much better farewell piece. Nonetheless, this does still feel like a respectful tribute, unlike some posthumous music we’ve heard in recent years.