20 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week (2/4/14)
Parquet Courts’ first piece of new material since signing to Rough Trade earlier this year is being released as sheet music. Learn to play it (or listen to the handy stream they’ve also unveiled) and you’ll find an urgent, one-chord punk chug based on shrill guitar lines zipping in and out of frontman Andrew Savage’s breathless, barked stream-of-consciousness. The sound of one of the most exciting bands around embarking on an electrifying new chapter.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
When Chance The Rapper told us at the beginning of the year that he and James Blake were moving in together in LA and building a home studio, we expected results. Sexy results. There’s no sign of roomie Blake on this surprise, experimental Chance flow, though – just the sound of the best young rapper on the planet taking a simple beat and opening straight up to the world. I guess this is what you call #nofilter.
Kevin EG Perry, writer
‘I’m A Villain’ was recorded sometime in the early-’90s, but it’s being released now as part of the re-released 20th anniversary repackage of Nas’ bar-raising debut ‘Illmatic’. It’s a stone-cold gem produced by Large Professor that showcases Nas’ slick lyrical genius and samples James Brown’s ‘The Payback’ over its boom-bap beats. When Nas raps “my voice is like magic”, it’s hard to disagree.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
So far, the tracks Damon Albarn’s unveiled from his solo debut ‘Everyday Robots’ have been pretty gloomy. Not ‘Mr Tembo’, a joyous few minutes of light-hearted, gospel-tinged pop. It begins with a gently strummed ukulele, too, which might just be enough to reclaim that instrument from the evil clutches of Match.com adverts and whimsical cover versions of rock classics. The titular Mr Tembo, by the way, is an orphaned elephant Albarn met in Tanzania.
Andy Welch, writer
Most of Lockett Pundt’s last album was deleted, by him, on purpose. The Deerhunter guitarist’s second solo effort, ‘Spooky Action At A Distance’, was built by playing along with loops that were then deliberately wiped from the recording. This new fourteen-minute ‘song’ – the first cut from his new cassette-only EP ‘Overnight Motorcycle Music’ – sounds like even more of it might have been CTRL+Xed. There’s hardly anything to ‘Indian Paintbrush’, and it’s so ambient and dream sequence-y it makes the last These New Puritans record sound like a jaunty brass band.
JJ Dunning, writer
Debuting in 2012 but only now following up with an album, Haunted Hearts is the husband-and-wife duo featuring Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee Penny and Crocodiles frontman Brandon Welchez. They claim krautrock was an influence during the recording sessions, explaining the metronomic ticking and phased electronics in the theme tune-like ‘Johnny Jupiter’. More notable is the sense of where the balance of power lies in their relationship – the scale is tipped far more to Penny’s ’80s glam than to Welchez’s fuzzed up garage-rock.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Drizzy recently aired this new song while on tour in the UK, packing arenas with Premier League footballers and screaming girls. ‘Days In The East’ is a ponderous, late-night burner that sounds more like The Weeknd than traditional Drake fare. Produced by the rapper’s latest protégé PARTYNEXTDOOR, the languid piano and pleading vocals suggest that even touring the world with Rihanna by his side still isn’t quite enough to make the Canadian sadboy completely happy. How very Drake.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Whereas early offerings ‘Get Away’ and ‘Good For Me’ set Liverpool quartet Circa Waves up as firm devotees of The Strokes and The Libertines school of early ’00s indie, ‘100 Strangers’ finds them paying homage a little closer to home. Opening on a shimmering, Johnny Marr-esque guitar line, there are hints of The Smiths’ melodic nous but interpreted with the youthful vim of a band who still worship at the altar of ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’.
Lisa Wright, writer
The first taste of the follow-up to Swans’ 2012 LP ‘The Seer’ might just scorch your tongue. Burning heat rips through seven enlightening minutes of twisted funk guitars, Michael Gira’s disturbing growled vocals (“forever hateful, forever beautiful, forever needing, forever reaching”) and pant-browning horn and feedback explosions. The new album ‘To Be Kind’ features St Vincent and Cold Specks and, on this evidence, will be a work of coruscating, existential and beautiful doom.
Ben Homewood, writer
Atlantic signing Sivu’s got an EP out called ‘Can’t Stop Now’ which cements his reputation as a one-man Bombay Bicycle Club. So this cover of Nirvana’s 1993 ‘In Utero’ track ‘Dumb’ comes as something of a surprise. It sees James Page abandon delicate, quivering vocals for a flat drawl set to a synth drone that makes the line “I think I’m dumb, or maybe just happy” sound plain creepy.
Hazel Sheffield, writer
It’s been more than three years since Glasgow’s Phantom Band released ‘The Wants’, their second album of splendid druidic krautrock, but little, thankfully, has changed. This, the first track from next month’s ‘Strange Friend’, builds from an electronic pulse to a kind of motorik acid folk, with Rick Anthony in fine baritone and his band bellowing out “oh oh oh”s like the Merry Men over twinkling synths.
Matthew Horton, writer
The effortless good cheer of Fist City’s spiky, garage-y pop-punk didn’t stop some swivel-eyed fundamentalists dubbing the band “reptilian hermaphrodites”. More fool those cretins though, as the quartet’s rep has rightly mushroomed since. An imminent reissue of their admirably titled 2012 album ‘It’s 1983 Grow Up’ is bolstered by two bonus tracks including ‘Let’s Rip’, which recalls both The Replacements’ scuffed-up, power-pop melodies and The Cure in frontman Kier Griffiths’ excited gasps.
Noel Gardner, writer
The War On Drugs are a band indebted to the works of a post-1960s John Lennon, which explains why they covered the icon’s ‘Mind Games’ at a recent live show. Adam Granduciel’s heartfelt vocals are no less mesmerising than on the group’s own material, and a couple of extra Springsteen-esque guitar solos compliment the piano-led original. The Philadelphian group have well and truly paid their dues to the former Beatle.
James Balmont, writer
The latest instalment in the Canadian punks’ ‘Zodiac’ series of releases (see ‘Year Of The Pig’/’…Rat’/’…Ox’ etc), ‘Year Of The Dragon’ serves as an appetiser ahead of their fourth album ‘Glass Boys’ in June. Like its predecessors, it’s 18-minutes (yeah, frontman Damian Abraham basically has time to make a cup of tea in the middle) of tempestuous hardcore, melodic growling and flight-fingered guitar solos. FU are back, and are still bloody brutal.
Greg Cochrane, Editor, NME.COM
Atlanta, Georgia’s The Silver Palms are releasing their debut single ‘Superstar’ on National Anthem, the label that was behind early releases from the likes of Haim and The Orwells. Like the latter, the quartet deal in rough and ready garage guitars but, unlike Mario Cuomo’s gang, have a bit more of an air of romance about them, swapping booze-induced sleaze for sweeter lines like “I wanna hold you/You’re my superstar”.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
Taken from an upcoming boxset reissue of the Louisville pioneers’ ‘Spiderland’, it’s easy to see why Slint decided to leave this previously unheard offcut off that album. In stark contrast to the cult classic’s smoke and shadows restraint, ‘Pam’ is a frantic five minutes of scalpel-sharp proto-metal guitar riffs delivered at a frighteningly fast pace that puts the ‘mental’ in instrumental. It has shades of the dusky malevolence that made ‘Spiderland’ so special, but with the brakes cut and safety wheels off.
Al Horner, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Blues. Skiffle. Rock’n’roll. The drumming of Meg White. ‘Violent Shiver’ takes inspiration from all of that. But it’s made great by Benjamin Booker’s vocal, which is rough and loud and harsh with that all-American whisky/cigarette/flu type of hoarseness. The guy’s from the great musical city of New Orleans, too, and his proficiency on the guitar hints at someone who’s been playing the instrument for most of his 20-odd years. Simple and effective.
Tom Howard, Assistant Editor
Seemingly written about the perils of having gonorrhea, Mario Cuomo’s ode to a one-night stand gone wrong is also proof that The Orwells are gonna ace it across festival fields this summer. Three chords spread over three minutes of 2002-indebted garage rock, it’s way more fine-tuned than this year’s other great punk hopes, Eagulls and Perfect Pussy. But, crucially, it’s no less fun either. If they can keep the pace up on forthcoming album ‘Disgraceland’, it’s not just 2014 they’ll be owning.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
The proper release of Jamie XX’s ‘Sleep Sound’ (first head on a Pional mix last year) feels appropriate for the supposed start of spring: the sunny steel drums of 2011’s ‘Far Nearer’ have been swapped for deep, gorgeous submersion and a warmly human sense of hesitation, the clipped beat grappling for pace with a ribboning male vocal sample, a hiccupping female voice and teased allusions to house.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
SZA, who’s signed to Top Dawg (home of Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q, both of whom she’s collaborated with), makes music that feels so Californian you forget she’s actually from New Jersey. ‘Childs Play’, from her upcoming debut album, ‘Z’, is slow jam heaven – a super-sparse beat from producer XXYYXX, breathy, deceptively sweet singing, well-placed backing vocals and a Chance The Rapper verse so relaxed it’s like he’s talking to himself. Sunlit and perfectly pitched.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer