The sounds which are rattling round the skulls of the NME staff this week…
MIA – ‘Bad Girls’
After Truffle-gate, Diplo-gate and the coolly received, Sleigh Bells-assisted sonic experimentation of ‘Maya’, MIA put a cap on a bad 2010 with the release of mixtape ‘Vicki Leekx’. It proved to be a saving grace. Sonically taking her back to her organic, Roland MC-505 roots and lyrically facing the imitators and haters with some of the most direct flows she’d ever committed to tape, one of the undoubted stand out tracks was ‘Bad Girls’. With its ‘Paper Planes’-like beat and almost unconscious nod to Daddy Yankee’s dancehall gangbanger ‘Gasolina’, the demo seemed like a perfectly crafted party tune in waiting. But the allusions to car crashes in the lyrics and hook of “Live fast/Die young/Bad girls do it well” struck a deeper chord.
Now, she’s rebooted the track with former Timbaland protégé and Britney/Kanye/Björk collaborator Danja for her forthcoming LP. With his help this is MIA as you’ve never heard her before, taking her pan-global pop smarts and injecting them with a huge growth hormone. The beat shifts with club shaking swagger, while the Eastern synth pattern punches through the speakers. The car allusions are amped up too: “Shift gear/Automatic/Damned if I do/Who is gonna stop me when I’m coming through?” she raps. Damn straight, MIA, damn straight.
DZ Deathrays – ‘No Sleep’
Instantly giving their album the potential to be the most high octane axe-attack of 2012 – and rendering any further DFA 1979 reunions totally inessential – ‘No Sleep’ is over the parapet proof that this duo’s bludgeoning guitar shocks are going to have more pulling power than TOWIE’s Mark Wright in a Wetherspoon pub.
War – ‘Brodermordet’
Iceage sideproject alert! Elias Bender Rønnenfelt and Loke Rahbek, vocalist of abrasive Copenhagen’s Sexdrome, conspire together on an upcoming seven-inch for New York label Sacred Bones. ‘Brodermordet’ – Danish for ‘fratricide’ – finds them getting their Cold Cave on, a vision of ecstatic club music reduced to a abandoned, crumbling ruin. Strangely pretty, though.
Zebra Katz Feat Njena Redd Foxx – ‘Ima Read’
Zebra Katz – aka Brooklynite Ojay Morgan – has got some ideas for Michael Gove’s next education policy speech: “I’ma read that bitch/I’ma take that bitch to college/I’ma give that bitch some knowledge”, he promises ominously over foreboding, minimalist beats. Sound good? No? Whatever – Katz looks set to teach hip-hop a few lessons…
Jack Penate – ‘No One Lied’
Once London’s chirpiest indie-pop scamp, Jack’s in sombre mood on this stripped-down comeback. Where he once tried a little too hard to impress with his relentless Cockney charm, this is a shot of pure heart-on-sleeve emotion.
The Men – ‘Open Your Heart’
Don’t be fooled by the intro. This isn’t a total rip off of Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen In Love…’. Nope, it does just as good a job of nicking the great bits from Nirvana’s ‘About A Girl’ too, splicing the two into the kind of joyful celebration of debilitating heartache that only punk can muster.
Saint Etienne – ‘Tonight’
Seven years absent, Sarah, Bob’n’Pete are back as the self-proclaimed antidote to “landfill pop”. Aiding them in their mission are Xenomania and Richard X, who have made them sound like, er, Saint Etienne. ‘Tonight’ is about how ace it is, waiting to see a band you love come on stage, and it’s pretty ace itself.
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The Cast Of Cheers – ‘Family’
It’s no surprise to learn that Clor’s Luke Smith is producing TCOC’s new album, its lead single pairing Clor’s wonk with Foals’ bark (Smith also tooled ‘Total Life Forever’). On the sticklebrick spike of ‘Family’, the Irish four-piece yelp “my eyes keep moving ever closer to the door”, like their mum’s about to catch them jerkin’ the gherkin.
Arctic Monkeys – ‘On A Mission (Katy B cover)’
Turner and co take on the might of Katy B, transporting ‘On A Mission’ from its grit-Brit foundations into a badlands-inspired rag-around. It wouldn’t sound out of place on a Ennio Morricone soundtrack, which is doubly weird considering they even manage to shoehorn the riff from ’60s standard ‘Shakin’ All Over’ in there at one point.
Nicki Minaj – ‘Stupid Hoe’
Minaj is back and grouchier than Gretchen Weiners on Atkins. Her new single is a mishmash of playground taunts and deranged rants aimed at Lil Kim – at one point, Minaj calls Kim “Baby Bop”, Barney’s dinosaur pal to whom she bares an unfortunate resemblance.
This article originally appeared in the February 4th issue of NME