This week’s playlist features the return of gothic sonic terrorist Alex Empire, some “crunking techno bleeps” courtesy of Toddla T, and a “jet-black stream of hardcore insanity” from Gallows tour-buddies Trash Talk.
1. Battles – Sanford And Son
No-one’s more up for picking a fight against musical mediocrity than Battles. So when news reached us that the experimental glitch-rock outfit had previewed three new songs at Warp’s 20th anniversary shindig in New York last month and some good soul had unleashed said tracks on to the internet via some dubious recording means, we all raised our hands and cried “Huzzah!”. Taking on a more playful, fleety approach than the mind-raping ‘Atlas’ comes ‘Sanford And Son’, which fizzes in a bubble of over-excitement before melting into a jazz funk medley. Splendid.
2. Sonic Youth – Star Power
It’s weird enough that Sonic Youth are on Gossip Girl, but an extra surprise is that Kim Gordon properly acts in it. No cringing, though: the band’s acoustic version of ‘Star Power’, that eerily pretty track from ‘Evol’, suddenly gives the episode the atmosphere of Twin Peaks.
3. Toddla T – Rebel (Skream Remix)
Barely out of Pampers, Tom Bell, aka Toddla T, again proves himself forward-thinking in his approach to collaborations. Already featuring the dulcet tones of poet Benjamin Zephaniah and the floating falsetto of Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, Skream’s remix expands on those sleek reggae beats and crunking techno bleeps with a feisty aggressiveness.
4. CANT – Ghosts
Reverse psychology is dangerous if left in the wrong hands. Thankfully Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor has a handle on it judging by his new side-project CANT. With debut single ‘Ghosts’, a whimsical Beach Boys-esque dream-pop number, out on his own Terrible Records, it’s clear that Taylor most certainly can.
5. Alec Empire – 1000 Eyes
Well, Mr Empire, little ‘sonic terrorist’ that he is, has come out with a new download-only single. And, surprise surprise, it sounds like the post-Apocalyptic sobbings of a man/cyborg hybrid, but there’s a Lou Reed-y vocal strut and a degree of Gary Numan campness. It’s not what you’d call poppy, but in goth terms it’s as approachable as his good mates The Big Pink.
6. Eagles Of Death Metal – Now I’m A Fool
In which Jesse ‘Boots Electric’ Hughes stops humping everything in sight for a second and displays his sensitive heart to all the ladeez with a quite delicious slowie, which has an almost shy groove, a gorgeous guitar hook, and an uncommonly regretful lyric from the ginger rooster. Everything Eagles do sounds like the Stones of course, but this has the swoony polish of an ‘Angie’ for a welcome change.
7. The Soft Pack – Answer To Yourself
This is like a barrel of laughs with studs on the outside rolling down a canyon towards certain death. “I think I’m gonna die before I see my time”, yelps Matt Lamkin ecstatically, as this hooky song from Hell trips over itself in a last burst of joy. They may well be doomed but The Soft Pack have brought back the death disc, and for that alone they’ll be going to musical heaven.
8. We Fell To Earth – Deaf
Much like Mork & Mindy before them, Wendy Rae and Richard File have something a little special. Introduced by mutual friend Josh Homme and currently on tour with The Big Pink it’d be easy to dismiss this duo as hipster wankers. But their synth-laden pop has a subterranean quality to it that will leave you soaring, while Rae’s sickly sweet and hauntingly harrowing vocal glides with the certain ease of the most lizardy and loungey lounge lizard ever.
9. Trash Talk – Sacramento Is Dead
Crikey. So this is what rage actually sounds like: messy, gory and downright sadistic in its relentlessness. Sacto’s Trash Talk are touring with Gallows next month, and this taster from their forthcoming double album (two discs, 29 songs, 28 minutes) is a jet-black stream of hardcore insanity. Old-school in both sound and approach – Mr Rollins would punch himself in the head in appreciation – ‘Sacramento Is Dead’ simply demands obeisance.
10. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck – IRM
Beck has lent a serious hand to Serge Gainsbourg’s daughter’s new album, and this free download from her website is pretty incredible. Based on the noises she encountered in MRI machines after suffering a brain haemorrhage a couple of years ago, this throbs, clatters and generally terrifies as Gainsbourg coldly intones stuff like “Following the x-ray eye from the cortex to medulla”. It somehow remains catchy though, due to a bassline which sounds like ‘Little Red Book’.