We asked NME writers for the best new tunes they’ve heard in the last month, and they said:
Arctic Monkeys – ‘Mad Sounds’ (Live YouTube clip)
Thought that living in LA might have sapped them of their spirit? Tainted the songs? Turned them into Scientologists? Think again. ‘Mad Sounds’ is everything that’s great about Arctic Monkeys wrapped up into three of their most melodic minutes yet. I think it’s the most exciting taster of what we can expect from ‘AM’ too – completely different from the likes of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and ‘R U Mine?’. Instead, this one’s all about the heavy, heavy keys, major chords and that brilliant “ooh la la la” outro. It kind of harnesses the same slouched aesthetic Lou Reed strutted about to in ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ – which makes it doubly brilliant.
Tinie Tempah – Trampoline
Putting to rest those fears that Patrick Okogwu would disappear to America – and up his own backside in the process – between now and his debut have been put to rest. On this, the first track taken from second album ‘Demonstration’ Tinie peddles like Chris Froome across a Diplo-curated popping candy beat which rivals ‘Pass Out’ and Labrinth’s ‘Earthquake’ for pure-pop magnetism. To be honest, any track which crowbars references in to “hanky panky”, “Sisqo” and rhymes “tangerine” with “Agness Deyn” is alright by us. A fine return, by a classy act.
The Family Rain – ‘Reason To Die’
On new track ‘Reason To Die’, Bath brothers The Family Rain more than live up to their billing as the country’s most exciting young band. It’s got one of those choruses that will take up permanent rotation on your internal stereo. Already a staple of their scorchingly hot live shows, it’s heavier than AC/DC locked in a steel safe and then thrown off a towerblock and sexier than a Bond girl reading Henry Miller. So not so much a reason to die as a reason to get excited about rock’n’roll again. Play it loud. Get sweaty.
Kevin EG Perry
Franz Ferdinand – ‘Right Action’
Never expected Franz Ferdinand would make one of the best guitar tracks of the year, but the lead track from new album ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ is 50 per cent arch art-pop, 50 per cent Chas and Dave and 100 per cent great. Great story behind the affirmative lyrics too – the words came from a mysterious message on the back of a vintage postcard reading “Come home practically all is nearly forgiven”. Guess ‘Wish You Were Here’ was already taken… Dan Stubbs
The Julie Ruin – ‘Oh Come On’
The Julie Ruin is the new band from punk rock inspirational force Kathleen Hanna – though she first used the name for a solo album she released in 1997. All the same – it’s 10 years since she last put out anything with Le Tigre, and even longer since her days in Bikini Kill, who contributed to the 1991 zine that first coined the term riot grrrl. The message has hardly changed, though: ‘Oh Come On’ rubs propaganda about how women should act – “make it popular but still say it with a pout!” – and how they’ll be victim-blamed for anything that befalls them, whether they complied or not, with Hanna’s own disdain at that warped state of affairs. While the girlband vocal harmonies pleading “oh come on” are all bored coercion, Hanna’s own radio static-warped yowl of the line is more Gob Bluth-style indignation at this awful mess. Add the fact that it sounds as cartoonish and fiery as The B-52s covering Wild Flag, and there’s a rash worth itching.
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Jay Z – ‘Tom Ford’
He might have dropped his hyphen but this month proved that Jay Z is the biggest music mogul on the planet. Taken from the ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ album, a strange mix of some genuinely great tracks and quite a few forgettable ones, ‘Tom Ford’ is the stand out moment. Positioning himself as the dad of hip-hop, Hova states that he is not down with taking the same drugs rappers like Danny Brown and Trinidad Jame$ have made their name rapping about, instead he wears suits which cost more than most of us make in a year. The minimal rattling beat is infectious, Jay Z’s position at the head of the hip-hop table indisputable. Sure, it sounds like MIA’s ‘Bad Girls’, but since when was that a bad thing?
Baby Strange – ‘Friend’
As if it wasn’t already clear Baby Strange are one of the most exciting new bands around after their debut single ‘Pure Evil’, new track ‘Friend’ makes it really bloody obvious. It’s straight up jagged punk that sounds a tiny little bit like The Clash’s ‘English Civil War’ but is more concerned with a battle of lust than one of politics, detailing a loose-moralled girl about town who’ll “kiss anything”. It’s brilliantly simple, completely thrilling and with a subtle undercurrent of impending danger coursing through it. Oh, and it’s probably the best song to ever include lyrics about having your keys nicked too.
Sampha – ‘Without’
London DJ/producer and frequent SBTRKT collaborator Sampha Sisay’s beautifully dulcet croon also has also featured as the backdrop to tracks by Jessie Ware and Drake. He’s now ready for the limelight with his debut solo EP ‘Dual’ which is also released this month. The first track from it – ‘Missing’ is an immaculately executed piece of wonky electronica that skits and splits over his caramel-smooth harmonies. When I interviewed The xx this year they had nothing but praise for him, and just one listen to this will tell you why. We can expect great things in 2013 and beyond.
Earl Sweatshirt – ‘Hive’
It’s been a long time coming, the Earl Sweatshirt album. But as the buzz speeds up around the Odd Future member’s solo debut ‘Doris’ (August 20 – be there or be disowned), he’s slooooooowing riiiiiight dooooown with every song. ‘Hive’ is way stoned, as is standard. But Earl’s flow is remarkable. Over a deliriously lazy bass hump he mumbles his way along lines like “breaking news: death’s less important when the Lakers lose”. The 19-year-old doesn’t really do Kanye-style one-liners though, instead dealing in complex and tangled stories that build to a climax. Hopefully the happy ending will be the first classic album from an OFWGKTA member.
Lana Del Rey – ‘So Legit’
Apparently this demo was recorded years ago when Lizz… *ahem* Lana was struggling to sign to a label. “Stefani you suck, I know you’re selling 20 million/Wish they could have seen you when we booed you off in Williamsburg,” she coos, hitting out at Lady Gaga. It’s almost Shakespearean in its envy – a documentation of human frailty. Gaga and Lana share the same age and sought fame in NYC at the same time. Her major gripe here is that she was more ‘legit’ than Gaga – obviously explains why she then changed her name and developed her own person (like Gaga!) in order to get famous. So legit? It all comes out in the wash in the end…