The songs on repeat in the NME office this week, from MIA, Mike Skinner, Eminem and more
Pieter M Van Hattem/NME
20 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week (23/10/2013)
20 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week (23/10/2013)
Circa Waves – Get Away
The debut single from Liverpool’s Circa Waves follows the hype-building demo ‘Young Chasers’, and echoes that song’s throwback to the Strokes-y sounds of the early noughties. “I couldn’t get away if I wanted to/My hands are tied, tied to you”, sings frontman and CW mastermind Kieran Shuddall over frenetic riffs, confirming that all the frothing excitement surrounding this band is justified.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
Wooden Shjips – Back To Land
Back to keep NME’s team of spellcheckers on their toes are these West Coast psych hairies, diligent students of a smoked-out two-chord boogie that sounds pretty much how skunk smells. This, the title track from their forthcoming fourth studio album, is by their standards something of a mellow trip, with acoustic guitar woven through the late-period Velvets chug and one-finger organ drones, but – deep breath, exhaaale – it sure hits the mark.
Louis Pattison, writer
MT – Alpha Romeo
What starts like a Ben Folds Five-style stomper quickly turns into the sort of thing you wish The Strokes still wrote. Its title might get Jeremy Clarkson excited but it’s not an ode to the luxury Italian car brand. “Romeo used to be my call sign/Call me up any day or time”, sings loverman Michael Tomlinson despondently, “but now I’m tired of life”. If there’s one thing that can mend a shattered heart it’s a melody this brilliant.
Andy Welch, writer
Drowners – Luv, Hold Me Down
The Strokes’ influence is also all over this single by New York’s newest hopefuls, which has a ticking beat, seesaw guitar lines and Julian Casablancas-like vocals that trail off into throaty rumbles at the end of lines. Fronted by a male model in a skinny leather jacket, Drowners may have arrived too late to the party that ended last decade, but there’s a place in the hearts of indie disco dwellers for guitar pop like this.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Angel Haze – Black Skinhead Freestyle
If, like me, you think Angel Haze is magic, you’ll dig her plan to sprinkle some of her freestyle fairy dust over 30 tracks for the next 30 days as part of her ’30 Gold Series’. It kicks off with this fearsome version of Kanye West’s ‘Black Skinhead’, which showcases her pin-sharp flow and calls out the rap competition and critics over the original’s galloping tribal beat. Visit SoundCloud to hear the rest.
Kate Hutchinson, writer
Active Child – Evening Ceremony
With its chiming bells and nighttime synths, this track cradles you in its arms with dancing harp and R&B vocals. From the just-released EP ‘Rapor’, it indicates that Active Child has a brighter future beyond having his tracks covered by Ellie Goulding or playing support slots for M83. Forget overpriced Diptyque candles and goose-feathered pillows, ‘Evening Ceremony’ should be your new pre-bedtime ritual.
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Sufjan Stevens – Take Me
Taking a break from cattily but amusingly calling out Miley Cyrus on her grammar in his open letter to the gobby pop star, Sufjan Stevens has posted a (in his words) “repetitive lo-fi pop demo I found under my desk… goes nowhere”. Not true at all. And ‘Take Me’ is a shuddering and warped slice of paranoia that continues in much the same electronic direction as his 2010 album ‘The Age Of Adz’.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Ed Harcourt – The Saddest Orchestra (It Only Plays For You)
Never trust a melancholy piano player. ‘The Saddest Orchestra…’ begins as a gorgeous ballad, but builds under Harcourt’s deft touch to a tempestuous crescendo. It’s as if a malevolent spirit has possessed the man tinkling away on his keys in the corner of the bar. The first track from soon-come mini-album ‘Time of Dust’ is the sound of Harcourt heading into the shadows. Follow him at your peril.
Kevin EG Perry, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Mike Skinner – Know There’s No
Mike Skinner’s recent output as The DOT has been patchy, but this free download uploaded to SoundCloud hints at a return to his ‘Original Pirate Material’ best. A skittering and pitch-shifted beat builds until the song breaks, giving way to an intricately woven piano house line begging to be looped over and over. It seems unlikely we’ll hear him behind the mic any time soon, but this proves Skinner’s still got a bit of production nous.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Tegan & Sara – Shudder To Think
Tegan & Sara’s seventh album ‘Heartthrob’ was their best yet, with the sisters bottling the nervy thrill of teenage crushes across 10 fizzing synthpop hits. This new song from ‘The Dallas Buyers Club OST’ continues its empowering vein – it’s a duet in which Sara sings of the difficulty of making choices and Tegan counters with the notion that life might not always pick you, the pair acting as reassuring buffers amid the song’s sweetly romantic strut.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Chief Keef – Almighty So
Barely 18, Keith Cozart drops his second mixtape in two months, and the track ‘Almighty So’ finds Chief Keef muttering gnomic threats and backhanded boasts (“I just drunk a pint of lean by myself”). His flow is still so teenage he makes Gucci Mane sound like a 1950s newsreader, but the result is weirdly addictive. Keef won’t be able to enjoy its release quite yet, though – he’s now back in jail for parole violation.
Noel Gardner, writer
I Break Horses – Faith
Swedish synthgaze duo Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck have seemingly been studying the Big Book Of Crystal Castles to find inspiration for the first track from their upcoming second album. With Maria’s vocals low and mysterious in the mix and a propulsive techno riff stabbing in the foreground, ‘Faith’ is both menacing and comforting, like a mean-looking bouncer giving you a surprise hug after flinging you out of Berlin’s notorious Berghain club at 6am.
Leonie Cooper, writer
Moko – Honey Cocaine
‘Honey Cocaine’ is an eye-catching song title and south Londoner Moko doesn’t waste it: this taster from her debut EP ‘Black’ is sweet like honey and almost as addictive as… you get the picture. It’s no throwaway, though, as Moko’s strong and soulful vocals dovetail with the chunky electro-R&B production to create a track that recalls Neneh Cherry at her best, but still feels totally fresh and relevant. Classy stuff.
Nick Levine, writer
Mt Wolf – Swarm
London quartet Mt Wolf possess more than enough contemporary finesse to elevate themselves from ’90s trip-hop throwback status. Though hints of the genre rear their head on ‘Swarm’, the track sees the band treading a similar path to 4AD’s Daughter. Singer Kate Sproule’s vocals glide effortlessly atop a layer of acoustic guitars, blanketed in electronic effects. Gently climactic, atmospheric and bordering on anthemic, the power of ‘Swarm’ is in its restraint. Here’s th A side of the release, ‘Midnight Shallows’:
Hayley Avron, writer
Chlöe Howl – Paper Heart
It sounds like Chlöe Howl’s got a new boyfriend, and a possessive, manipulative and soon to be humiliated one at that. On ‘Paper Heart’ the 18-year-old star does some more of the romantic shaming that featured on her debut single ‘No Strings’. Here she sings of being “tucked in the shade of your ego game” and refuses to be “screwed up in your paper heart” over pulsating beats pumped full of stomping ambition. This is defiance you can dance to.
Harriet Gibsone, writer
MIA – YALA
Oh sure, lyrics like “play like Ronaldo, hot like I’m death row” don’t make much sense. But to moan about this is to miss the point. Pop needs MIA because troublemakers make stuff happen. Here she takes a beat from Dutch production crew The Partysquad that’s a little like her own 2005 track ‘URAQT’ given an EDM makeover, and has a pop at the acronym YOLO. What a brilliant human.
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
Thomas Cohen – Honeymoon
When your previous band all but dissolved because of your marriage, it takes balls to name your debut solo track ‘Honeymoon’. But Thomas Cohen – former frontman of SCUM and current husband of Peaches Geldof – has got the musical smarts to back up the statement. Better than anything he produced with his last band, ‘Honeymoon’ is a warm and luscious slice of Scott Walker-style hazy romance that comes with a sax solo and everything.
Lisa Wright, writer
Pional – Invisible/Amenaza
Spanish producer Pional is a key collaborator of John Talabot’s, and was part of Talabot’s live setup that toured with The xx last year. He returns with a renewed sense of subtlety, and this track – the first under his own name in a couple of years – is a buttery electro-disco masterclass. Hi-hats fall back off the beat, which is punctuated by stabs of shimmering synth and cloudy gospel vocals. Good enough to eat.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
Eminem – Rap God
It’s the dark ‘Next Episode’-era Dr Dre pianos and rhymes about President Clinton’s old flame
Monica Lewinsky that make listening to Eminem’s new single feel like waking up back in 2000 again. But, fortunately, the six-minute ruckus of ‘Rap God’ isn’t a total throwback, and the visceral trap beat plus nods to Waka Flocka Flame lend it a modern edge that’ll hopefully bleed into the rest of ‘The Marshall Mathers LP 2’.
Al Horner, writer
Darlia – Chock On Bones
As the rest of Planet Internet have been watching gifs of Miley Cyrus’ backside or Snapchatting about The Great British Bake Off, a posse of incredible new British rock bands have collectivised. Circa Waves, Royal Blood and now Blackpool trio Darlia are all kitted up to stampede all over 2014. After impressing us with swerving debut ‘Queen Of Hearts’, Darlia follow up with ‘Chock On Bones’. It’s just as snotty, just as Nirvana, just as promising.