20 tracks on repeat at NME this week, featuring St Vincent, Wolf Alice and Bee Eyes
No-one writes about domesticity like Annie Clark. The characters on 2011’s ‘Strange Mercy’ were barbiturate-riddled housewives trapped behind white picket fences, and on this, from her fourth LP, those fences are battle lines and the meds are swapped for endorphins, both in the song’s opening line – “Oh what an ordinary day/Take out the garbage, masturbate” – and its Chic-meets-Fripp riff.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
A soul-soaked, moist-eyed eulogy to The Fast And The Furious movie star Paul Walker, who died in a horrific car accident recently, by the actor’s friend and Wu-Tang Clan linchpin RZA. It’s just a sketchy demo at this stage, so no ‘Candle In
The Wind’ saccharine sweetness here, but Will Wells’ sweet falsetto, the understated piano and the lyrics about what a top bloke Walker was will inevitably choke you up.
Kate Hutchinson, writer
The Bristol-based producer and record store employee defines his music as “downer pop”, which is as accurate a description as any. On first listen, ‘Night In…’ is a misty piece of slacker-folk in the vein of Kurt Vile. Spend a little bit
more time with the song, though, and you’ll find warped and glitchy lo-fi sounds that resemble Atlas Sound or Sparklehorse.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
Whirring into life with Menace Beach’s signature fuzzed-up squall, ‘Fortune Teller’ is another melodic cacophony from the Leeds band. Ryan Needham and Liza Webster’s vocals hug each other for comfort, as a perfect pop song attempts to crawl out from under the duvet. The track slows under the weight of its own finely honed lethargy, drifting into a haze of guitars that are a heady blend of sunshine and dirt.
Hayley Avron, writer
‘What You Need’ was one of the first tracks Abel Tesfaye uploaded as The Weeknd before becoming a word-of-mouth hit. When he headlined the O2 Arena last month, he brought 25-year-old internet catnip Jillian Banks (aka Banks) along. This cover could be considered a thank you, or an attempt to steal Tesfaye’s thunder. She turns his nympho R&B into an exercise in control, showing off her vocal range and hinting at a future beyond the blogosphere.
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Sure, this track was written for an HP ad and composed in two days in front of a live audience on YouTube, but its dark sound is in no way commercial. A loose and spontaneous collision of stoned trap beats and Mensa’s rasped witticisms (“Mushroom cloud, blowing up in this room, kaboom!”), its two and a half minutes are as good as you’d expect from two of hip-hop’s fastest rising stars.
Al Horner, writer
Split into three parts that run to 10 minutes in total and boasting the grossest song title of the year, ‘Wet Hot Beef’ is further proof that Fat White Family don’t do radio-friendly. Part one is seven minutes of mostly instrumental Addams Family lurching, part two clatters by on a disjointed garage racket and the acoustic part three is subtitled ‘Now That I’m Taking Myself Seriously As An Artist’. Further mind games from the south Londoners.
Lisa Wright, writer
Bee Eyes are a three-piece fronted by the seemingly eye-obsessed Idris Vicuña, aka recent Radar
star Eyedress. Where his solo project is more concerned with the electronic and expansive,
this pursuit is wonky lounge-pop – think Mac DeMarco dozing around in a smart smoking jacket. The trio confidently describe themselves as “the best band in the Philippines”. In lieu of further research, I’ll have to take their word for it.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
The Philadelphia band once fronted by Kurt Vile and still led by co-founder Adam Granduciel are prepping the release of third album ‘Lost In The Dream’. First taster ‘Red Eyes’ is Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ with The Boss’s charming brutishness sucked out of it. The music drifts rather than demands, and the lyrics are contemplative rather than furious. A classic sound updated for different times.
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
The excavation of grunge has seen a few revivalists come and go in recent years. But now it seems there’s a whole uprising of plaid-wearing chancers (Radkey and Royal Blood to name just two) gathered on the back of a flatbed lorry and armed with gardening tools ready to take 2014 hostage. Add London trio Lyger to that gnarly gang – debut track ‘Stroke’ is fuel-injected, rough’n’tumble rock at its buzziest.
Greg Cochrane, Editor, NME.COM
Nast is the star rapper on ‘Trillmatic’, a track that throws back to the ’90s with a funky bassline, bopping beat and a guest spot from Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man. The song references both Nas’ seminal debut ‘Illmatic’ and some Snoop Dogg lyrics and basks in its gloriously old-school sound. A welcome break from the A$AP Mob’s trademark trap snooze-a-thons.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
EMA’s 2011 debut ‘Past Life Martyred Saints’ found her obsessed with sparse tunes about the death throes of throttled relationships. But if ‘Satellites’ is anything to go by, new album ‘The Future’s Void’ will contain more otherworldly transmissions. Here, over a bracing and bitty sci-fi beat, she’s battling against a dystopian world of 24-hour surveillance and suspicion as she shrieks: “I can see them/Two, three, four FIVE THOUSAND”.
Ben Hewitt, writer
When Bruce Yates isn’t larking about in Los Porcos with a bunch of ex-Wu Lyfers, he’s trying to get his own band Famy off the ground. This first new track for the best part of two years is lovely, spiritual campfire folk, shimmering with jangly guitars, swishing percussion and an almost choral falsetto backing Yates up. Think early Animal Collective, Oxford psych-poppers Fixers or ancient Manc mystics James. This is a bit of a treasure.
Matthew Horton, writer
Created after the Birmingham band got bored in rehearsals for their debut album sessions, this Foo Fighters cover is as different from Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Shiflett’s thrashing as possible. Sparse vocals intertwine with the kind of guitar and synth lines that Swim Deep would come out with if they were addicted to downers, while the gloomy atmospherics bring to mind everyone from Interpol to Wu Lyf.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
The stature of J Dilla, a man who made beats for A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde and Common, has grown hugely since he died in 2006, aged just 32. Joey Bada$$, whose own music is influenced by that era in hip-hop, claims Dilla is his favourite producer. And he excels on ‘Two Lips’ – a previously unreleased beat now available on seven-inch in aid of The J Dilla Foundation, which offers music lessons and instruments to underprivileged kids.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
Toro Y Moi man Chaz Bundick first used the name Sides Of Chaz to crawl out of the chillwave pigeonhole on an EP in 2010. These days the dude’s got enough monikers (see also: Les Sins) to suggest a personality disorder. Unlike earlier recordings as SOC, ‘Sweet Tea’ comes with hi-fi gloss. This side of Chaz will take you on a psychedelic pootle through a ‘Sgt Pepper’s…’ wonderland.
Hazel Sheffield, writer
Ahead of the release of their self-titled and self-produced fourth album, Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter fire out ‘The Perfect Mess’, a mooching and mean metal missive handcrafted while the pair spent time recording in Kreuzberg, Berlin. “It don’t mean shit to me”, sneers Carter above the demon fuzz and demolition-site drums. But the return of this
always-dynamic duo means the world to me.
Leonie Cooper, writer
Thirty-year-old LA musician Pat Grossi says he recently stumbled across the instrumental of one of his favourite 2Pac tracks. It took him back to his teenage years spent sitting on the school bus listening to hip-hop, so he wrote some lyrics to float over the top of it in which he compares falling in love to baseball. These strange words sung in Grossi’s distinctive falsetto are a perfect fit.
Andy Welch, writer
An avalanche of glittering riffs melts into the background as frontwoman Ellie Rowsell emerges in the space left behind. “Don’t you wanna take time to get to know me?/We could build a perfect world”, she coos before building the intensity by repeatedly crying “I could only love you more” as the landslide guitars return. Performed in session for NME recently, this unreleased cut from the north London group is another sign of their quality.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
They’ve already given us Disclosure, Sam Smith and Jessie Ware, and now PMR Records are showing off another jewel in their crown with Javeon’s latest slice of club-influenced pop. Like his labelmates, the Bristol producer adds sheen to an underground sound and is heard here lamenting a faltering relationship while showing off his confident voice. Could he follow his labelmates into the charts? Seems likely.
David Renshaw, News Reporter