20 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (5/3/2014)
Most musicians perform romantic post-mortems, slashing dead heartstrings from a safe distance. Sharon Van Etten is no stranger to that, but on her fourth album, ‘Are We There’, she’s performing open heart surgery on her extant, eight-year relationship. Lead single ‘Taking Chances” glimmering verses give way to a chorus where she’s nakedly open about the sacrifices hidden behind any relationship: no matter how long you’ve been together, there’s always a distance left to run.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Listen up, Robin Thicke, this is how you do seduction. With his chilled croon lilting over subtle bossa nova beats, Sean Nicholas Savage is an equal opportunity sleaze. Out of “all the boys and the girls” he whispers in your ear, you’re the one he pictures as “you come naturally… Someone so beautiful, coming so easily.” Utter filth it may be, but I for one will be trying that line down the Dog & Duck this Friday.
Kevin EG Perry, writer
This is what half of Wu Lyf do these days: pretend to be Spanish and make concept filter-disco records about an Italian-American hustler called Tony ‘DG’ Travolini. Somewhat improbably, it works. ‘Disco Gangster’ frugs along like Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ before warm, cushiony synths erupt into a ludicrous, cock-waving, fuzz guitar solo straight out of The Isley Brothers’ ‘That Lady (Part 1 & 2)’. This fretwankery lasts for two whole minutes but still feels agonisingly short.
Matthew Horton, writer
London imprint PMR really do seem unstoppable. First, Jessie Ware, then Disclosure, followed by Cyril Hahn and Julio Bashmore, and now onto Dornik. Were I to claim that he’s ‘the UK’s answer to Frank Ocean’ that might seem slightly bold, but, on the strength of this new single, potentially accurate. Classy synths and polished vocal licks meet the more aggressive house beats of the Lawrence brothers to produce a smooth slab of pumped-up soul. Delish.
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Scrawny fan footage of Earl Sweatshirt performing a new song might not be the best way to introduce it to the world, but Earl didn’t care – he tweeted a link, then promptly announced that his next album, after last August’s ‘Doris’, will be called ‘Gnossos’. Fans are guessing at a move away from the monotone style he used across ‘Doris’. It’s impossible to say for now but this is promising if you like Earl super-animated and spewing rage.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
The B-side to ‘Touch The Leather’ sounds like it was recorded in the bathroom of a Brixton crack den – which, in all likelihood, it probably was. Underpinned by crumbling Casiotone keys and layered with largely indecipherable lyrics, it’s the sound of Spiritualized in the dole queue – a fuzzy, muddy and quite marvelous slab of chancer-psych. Whether this song will birth a beauteous bottom-bearing video (like ‘Touch The Leather’) however, remains to be seen.
Leonie Cooper, writer
Darlia are without a doubt the best grunge trio ever to come out of Blackpool, and might already, after just a year together, be the seaside town’s best export since Syd Little. Less of a nod to Nirvana than a vigorous headbang in their direction, ‘Candyman’ justifies its three-minute existence with ferocious guitar and a typically sweet melody over the top. As exhilarating as a plummet down the Big One, it’ll outshine the illuminations and outlast a dozen summer seasons.
Andy Welch, writer
Garage-punks The So So Glos have been around since 2007 but have never got the same recognition as their peers The Black Lips and Titus Andronicus. That could all change when they release their fourth album ‘Blowout’ in the UK this May. This title track is a scrappy, mile-a-minute rattle through rickety riffs and howled gang vocals, teetering on the brink of collapse throughout its three-minutes but just about holding it together.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
At the end of last year FKA Twigs went to hang out with 4AD-signed purveyors of smooth R&B grooves the inc. brothers in California. The result is another glitchy slow jam from the London-based singer, but inc’s production bolsters her sultry minimalism, creating something altogether warmer. Moments of soaring electronica meet forlorn vocal falsettos and jittering beats for an intense, but utterly compelling listen.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
Having grown one of the finest beards in pop, Chet Faker is now ready to deliver his debut album, ‘Built On Glass’, in April. ‘Talk Is Cheap’, the Australian’s new single, is symptomatic of Faker’s tasteful bass-driven pop. Like James Blake with added testosterone, Faker’s deep voice booms: “I wanna make you move with confidence/I wanna be with you alone”. You just know he’s not talking about giving dance lessons.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Opening with a very un-Slow Club creeping synth bassline, the first taste of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor’s forthcoming third album soon sees the duo return to more familiar lovestruck territory. “I’m holding you hard and I’m ready to stay/If you gave me your heart, I’m ready for it”, belts Rebecca with all the emotion and power of a soul singer of old over the sort of janglesome pop she and Charles are experts in.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
With the first glimmers of spring finally warming the floodwaters, there seems none-more-fitting a pairing for a seasonally appropriate cover than The Kinks’ classic ode to a dusky London romance and Kettering’s Helios worshippers, Temples. Singer James Bagshaw’s wistful vocal flutters over the group’s acoustic daydreaming as though the song was written for him, while Sam Toms makes the standard ‘drummer plays the tambourine’ acoustic session trick actually benefit the track.
Temples – The Kinks Cover – Session Acoustique… by radioouifm
Lisa Wright, writer
LA soul man Nick Waterhouse hails from the same Orange County school as Ty Segall, but if Ty is the longhair indie dreamboat then Waterhouse is the captain of the chess team. Yet despite his buttoned-down Costello aesthetic he’s the suave end of geek, having already appeared in Vogue, Esquire and a Lexus ad. Now he takes on Segall’s ‘It #3’, turning the erstwhile 13-minute-long garage jam into something so slick and tinkly it should be served cold with a green olive on a cocktail stick.
Hazel Sheffield, writer
This, my friends, is the problem when you try to spruce up the wares of The First Lady Of The Universe: you can meddle with the source ingredients all you like, but it’s hard to improve on Beyoncé, isn’t it? She’s bloody Beyoncé. Haim give it a good go with their take on ‘XO’, though, with its stripped-down slink and slow-jam spaciousness coming on like a straight-up love-letter to Queen Bey.
Ben Hewitt, writer
Fresh on the scorched heels of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Lookin Ass Nigga’ comes another cut from the Young Money crew’s incoming ‘Rise Of An Empire’ compilation, courtesy of three of the imprint’s biggest hitters. “I got this shit locked tighter than a bear hug”, booms Minaj over demented bells before a rasping verse from Lil Wayne. It’s rising Compton force Tyga who carries the most menace here though, barely lifting his flow above a chilling baritone whisper. Brrrrr.
Al Horner, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
It’s Merrill Garbus’ birthday on March 3. And to celebrate, she’ll reverse the present-giving trend by offering a ‘megamix’ of her forthcoming album ‘Nikki Nack’ to the masses. Due out in May, this hectic taster wades through colourful beats, a collage of hip-hop hollering, TV samples and aggressive soul. There’s no clues on the song titles but as album teasers go, it’s clear the next Tune-Yards longplayer will be worth the wait.
Hayley Avron, writer
There’s no doubting Michael Kiwanuka’s talent, but his debut album positioned him as a young fogey, obsessed with Bill Withers, dusty vinyl and authenticity. It caught the ear of another fan of all things ‘real’ – Jack White, who produces this comeback single. A modern update on ‘Father And Son”s message to a young child, the track blends ‘My Sweet Lord’-like strumming with booming double bass and Kiwanuka’s husky vocal to blissful effect.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Coldplay have assumed the role in pop music that The Da Vinci Code did in literature – making intriguing and important ideas instantly accessible to the dumb-as-chips mainstream, advancing culture from the lowest common denominator up. Here, in this Jon Hopkins-produced track, they take on the minimalist falsetto electro-soul of James Blake, The xx and Bon Iver and blow it gently in the face of Fifty Pound Man. Radiohead did this 13 years ago of course, but Chris Martin’s lot have kept the tune in.
Mark Beaumont, writer
Out of the five new works Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood premiered in a Wapping power station in London last week, ‘Loop’ was the stand-out highlight. Greenwood, accompanied by orchestral strings, loops his electric guitar and builds a track that blooms and pulses. It is mournful but electric, disorientating and hypnotic, and, out of all the guitarist’s classical works to date, has clear sonic ties to the Radiohead idiom.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
After years of trying to match The Walkmen’s brilliant albatross hit ‘The Rat’, frontman Hamilton Leithauser has finally racked up the nerve to go it alone. The result is an unexpected one. Far from the gritty howls of his day job, ‘Alexandra’ is an incorrigibly jaunty ode to his ladylove full of sprightly piano trills and the kind of chirpy bounce that wouldn’t be out of place on a Guillemots record. Who would’ve thought?
Lisa Wright, writer