20 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (12/2/14)
Brighton indie-gloom merchants Fear Of Men are finally ready to gift us their debut album, offering up a merging of opening tracks ‘Alta’ and ‘Waterfall’ as a tantalising taste of what’s to come. It’s the second part which impresses the most, a perfect mix of cold, dark sonics and effortless melodic gold. “Take me to the waterfall” sings Jessica Weiss, as Joy Division-esque drum fills rattle around her ears and this indie pop gem explodes.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Diiv recently performed this cover of Bob Dylan’s classic at the final gig held at Brooklyn venue 285 Kent before its doors closed for good. At the show, Zachary Cole Smith and his bandmates transformed the song from its folk-rock origins into an almost unrecognizable psychedelic rush. With thick, strobing guitar layers and howls from Smith of “how does it feel?”, a fresh sense of urgency is injected into a very modern makeover.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
There’s a bit more bite to Sweden’s Little Dragon this time around as they get ready to drop fourth album ‘Nabuma Rubberband’. From the off, ‘Klapp Klapp’ hits a manic beat – think Northern Soul meets ‘I Am The Resurrection’ – with Yukimi Nagano slinking around a pure acid bassline, leering, “You want it, don’t you?/I know you want it”. By the time you reach the fluttery Kraftwerkian synths of the final seconds, you’ll admit that, yes, you probably do.
Matthew Horton, writer
There’s always been a schizophrenic tension to Conor O’Brien’s work as psych-folk warbler Villagers. Now, it seems the voices in his head have wanted him to make Muse’s ‘Resistance’ all along. ‘Occupy’ is all future glam stomp beats, handclaps and intergalactic synthetic sizzle, albeit with an acoustic guitar involved somewhere. ”In this infinite space, dear, I can hardly feel time,” Conor trills as the song prepares for its jump to warp speed revelation.
Mark Beaumont, writer
The righteous babes behind Rookie – a kick-ass website for teenage girls, or anyone with a heart and brain – wrote this new feminist anthem for 2014, a wicked call to arms about mansplaining [Google it], Tumblr and taking control, starring (among others) Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, MNDR, Kimya Dawson, Tegan & Sara and – hold me – Carrie Brownstein on “pizza freestyle”: “We want the whole damn thing, you can’t just leave us with the crust!” PREACH.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Dena is one of those impossibly cool musicians who could only really exist in Berlin. Originally from Bulgaria, here she teams up with Kings of Convenience’s Erlend Øye for an irresistible slice of hipster pop that is so trendy that if you turn it right the way up you can actually hear the sound of dot-com companies and gentrifying coffee shops moving in. Get down to it while the rent’s still affordable, ya dig?
Kevin EG Perry, writer
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Bradley Griffiths, frontman of Bloody Knees, works in a hospital, perhaps the source of the fixation with gore in his band’s work and name. ‘Bones’, a new track taken from a forthcoming split 7-inch with Brighton’s Birdskulls, is a warning to stay away from hard surfaces and sharp edges when listening to this Cambridge punk crew’s helter-skelter, harum-scarum joy thrash. You may well end up joining him there as a result of involuntary headbanging.
Emily Mackay, writer
The Oxford four-piece and super-producer Paul Epworth’s protégés return after last single ‘Psylla’ with this sleepy jungle-jam. It’s a saucy love anthem that bravely puts one condiment to the fore: “You just want to know those peanut butter vibes,” croons singer Dave Bayley. With slinky drum pads and hazy, aquatic bleeps, ‘Gooey’ is an addictive listen that suggests fine things for the group’s debut album.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Old school friends Rachel and Ed have only existed for around a year as GAPS, but the Brighton-based duo have already established a singular sonic world of their own over the handful of tracks to their name. The B-side to their recent 7-inch ‘I Know It’s You,’ ‘Inside Your Head’ is a similarly breathy (and breathtaking) swell of sparse percussive glottal stops and tidal washes of sampled sound, achieving spine-tingling status thanks to Rachel’s ghosting vocal.
Simon Jay Catling, writer
Major Lazer release a new five-track EP ‘Apocalypse Soon’ on February 25 and ‘Aerosol Can’ is the first offering from it. It sounds like it could have ended up on MIA’s ‘Matangi’. Diplo, Jillionaire and Walshey Fire sling beats at collaborator Pharrell, who responds by pulling some wild lines out of his massive hat. “Aerosol can, monkey outside, shooting all night,” he rattles, securing another winning guest spot in the process.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ might be a presumptuous title for a record but spend four-and-a-half raucous minutes with this ode to growing old and “hating being young” and it seems pretty fitting. The Men’s punkier edges have been rounded off, sounding glossier than ever before and belying the fact the Brooklyn band’s fifth record is their first to have been done in a proper studio. Based on this, though, a little polish suits them.
Andy Welch, writer
Trio of brothers Radkey never went to school. Back in St Joseph, Missouri they were home-taught by their father and ‘Feed My Brain’ is all about their indefatigable hunger for knowledge. It may also be some kind of rock ‘n’ roll thank you to their Dad, who fixed them with the worldly desire to get the hell out of their no-hopers hometown. Either way, it rocks like the Ramones via early The Offspring. Feed our ears.
Greg Cochrane, Editor, NME.COM
Jamie xx and Four Tet collide in this spacey jam, patching together skittering breakbeats and subdued bass to create the sound of the walk home in the half light of dawn after a heavy night in the clubs. Dialled down in the back, you can just about hear Jamie’s The xx bandmate Romy Madley Croft adding her own contribution to the track as she whispers about seeing the sun go down – or come up – with you.
Hazel Sheffield, writer
It seems more than appropriate for Yuck to put out ‘Athena’ just after dream-pop denizens Slowdive announce their reformation. A swirling, overtly sensual four minutes of strung out guitars and drifting vocals courtesy of Max Bloom – who’s comfortably taken on the frontman mantle since the departure of Daniel Blumberg – it’s as pretty as it is woozy, with a grunge-esque breakdown adding a welcome shot of grotty guitar roughness alongside the slinky smooth shoegazing.
Leonie Cooper, writer
Having burst into prominence in late 2012, ambitiously reworking R&B classics by the likes of Destiny’s Child and Mariah Carey into ‘90s UK garage-shaded dance floor anthems, Vancouver producer Cyril Hahn delivers a clubland gem all of his own making here. Collaborating with Brit singer Javeon, colossal vocal hooks and agitated keyboard lines make ‘Breaking’ sound like a darker Disclosure track – a house-pop hybrid for after one of the Lawrence brothers’ late night slots.
Al Horner, Assistant Editor, NME.com
“Take your words and put them in my mouth/ Help me say the things that never come out,” coos Woman’s Hour’s Fiona Burgess with the kind of forlorn tones that fans of The xx’s first record will be pining for. Musing on a lost and troubled relationship, ‘Her Ghost’ continues the London quartet’s knack for minimal melancholy. Peer through the misery though, and there’s a sly dancefloor beat there that’s begging for a huge remix.
Lisa Wright, writer
Silly man, silly track name. But whatever, because right here is some typical big talking from Rozay about “diamonds”, things that are “presidential” and “Swiss”, and how “this game is all about your movement” and “ours is oyster perpetual”. Over an enjoyably smooth and chilled soul sample, this is two minutes of hype building for his upcoming album. Conveniently, there’s a reminder in the lyrics about what it’s called and when it’s out: “‘Mastermind’, March 4’”.
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
There’s something almost Dylan-esque about Annie Clark’s portrait of poor, precocious ‘Prince Johnny’. You’re never quite certain if she’s mocking, pitying or secretly enamoured of this well-meaning manchild, who snorts powdered pieces of the Berlin Wall and who hopes against hope to one day become “a real boy”. Following on from ‘Birth In Reverse’ and ‘Digital Witness’, however, there’s far less uncertainty about Clark’s upcoming new album: if our expectations were sky-high before, they’re positively stratospheric now.
Barry Nicolson, writer
The LA-based singer follows up her brilliantly disquieting mixtape ‘Cut 4 Me’ with another piece of glitchy, forward-thinking R&B. Again, Aaliyah and Ciara are the touchstones vocally, but her falsetto harmonies are matched with producer Gifted And Blessed’s pulsating industrial beats that gives it a disorientating punch. Kelela does exactly what great pop music should do – unsettle the mind but comfort the soul. And it’s a thrilling, chilling ride.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
Of all the hats Beck’s worn (hip-hop hat, cowboy hat, crumpled folkie hat), it’s his sad hat that fits best. ‘Waking Light’, from new album ‘Morning Phase’, is weary and melancholy but magisterial and soaring too, bringing to mind the best bits of ‘Mutations’ and ‘Sea Change’ and reminding us why Beck’s music is better recorded and not written down, printed and bound into lavish collectors’ editions, like the preceding ‘Song Reader’.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor