20 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (19/5/2014)
The first single from La Roux’s second album, five years on from the debut and now firmly Elly Jackson’s solo project, is a masterclass in subtlety. It’s a five-and-a-half-minute cosmic slow burner-turned-disco-tinged supernova where she pleads for a soft touch at the end of a relationship, hoping to learn from it, but her caveat demonstrates a self-assurance that most people never manage to achieve: “You’re not my life, but I want you in it”.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Saturated by the spirit of a bloodthirsty Tarantino, the Brighton trio’s new single is a two-sided beast. The first half – all rumbling guitars and driving bass – is frontman Kristian Bell realising all his inner-Cobain dreams, sounding at once battle-hardened and bruised. Things change halfway through, when the band slow things right down and summon the ghost of Dick Dale – all cascading surf-guitar riffs and doomy hisses from Bell.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
As we await the monstrosity that will inevitably be the “contemporised” new Michael Jackson album comprising offcuts of vocals he never wanted you to hear, one of music’s most inventive figures is reminding us of better times. Prodigious musical polymath Beck has offered his own playful rendition of one of MJ’s greatest hits for a performance on US telly show Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The highlight is a cheeky “hee hee” midway through.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
For the first time since bursting out of Louisiana 15 years ago with New Orleans crew Hot Boys, Lil Wayne finds himself with it all to prove on upcoming album ‘Tha Carter V’. New single ‘Believe Me’ claws back some credibility after 2013 misfire ‘I Am Not A Human Being II’. Featuring a guest spot from Drake, Wayne’s rhymes pivot around a melancholy keyboard loop not a million miles away from Drizzy’s ‘Started From The Bottom’. Whether or not it’ll prove a similar international smash, only time will tell.
Al Horner, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Nicki Minaj continues her quest to make us forget ‘Starships’ ever happened with another hard-edged slice of rap realness. Sizzurp advocate Soulja Boy joins her on the beat, over which she namechecks Will Smith, the racism ban imposed on LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling and her new album ‘The Pink Print’. If it’s a continuation of her good recent form, it could be a game-changing record for both Minaj and the hip-hop world.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Danse macabre: it’s always been the twisted philosophy underpinning Katie Stelmanis’ brooding work as Austra, and ‘Habitat’, the title track from her new EP, is no different. Here, love, life and death are intertwined, all brittle beats and icy glitches as Stelmanis breathily intones, “//I want you, I need you//”. As she knows, if the darkness is gathering, there’s no merit in moping around with an end-is-nigh placard – far better to greet it by cutting some morbid shapes.
Ben Hewitt, writer
Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe have been fusing pirate-radio vibes and chart-friendly dance grooves since the mid-’90s. It hasn’t sounded as relevant as this for, well, let’s just say a while. Call it the Disclosure effect. Indeed, if you didn’t know otherwise, you could easily mistake the hands-in-the-air synths, skippety beats and retro female vocal on ’Unicorn’ for the work of the Lawrence brothers. That’s meant as a compliment, you understand.
Chris Cottingham, writer
You know that dreamlike feeling when you wake up, thankful to be in your own bed, with your valuables mercifully still in your pockets, and somehow, impossibly, despite the terrible things you did last night, you actually feel fine? The sunlight streams through the window and you thank God you’re alive. Well, the good news is that this is the song playing in your head. The bad news is that you have six minutes until the hangover hits.
Kevin EG Perry, writer
Lone is the nom de plume of Matt Cutler, whose love for Manchester’s most vibrant musical sector is hardly a secret. You’ll find him in one of the area’s clubs most weekends, and in the context of new album ‘Reality Testing’ it represents a microcosm of his colourful influences. An erratic house piano takes the lead on a track awash with warm synths and samples of children’s laugher; it’s a nostalgic glance at the golden era of Manchester’s dance scene as seen through the eyes of one of its devotees.
James Balmont, writer
‘They Come In Gold’ is the lead single from ‘Lese Majesty’, the second album from experimental Seattle hip-hop collective Shabazz Palaces. Lead rapper Ishmael Butler conjures visceral images of sunken ships, sepulchres, ghosts and blood-encrusted dope over a stoned beat created out of treated female vocals and illuminated by a warm jazz riff. Cosmic stuff – it’s exciting to have them back.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
When they’re not singing backup for Conor Oberst or making Patti Smith weep tears of joy, the Söderberg sisters are modestly getting on with crafting their unnervingly pretty folk pop, laced with harmonies that are nothing less than enchanted. ‘Cedar Lane’ is the latest offering from their third album, ‘Stay Gold’, and is a sunny shuffle through the back catalogue of Sandy Denny with the Omaha Symphony’s effusive orchestration. Gorgeous.
Leonie Cooper, writer
American person Julianna Barwick has recently made a beer with the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware. The booze they came up with is an IPA called Rosabi, which is also the name of an EP Barwick has made to be sold in 1,000 six-pack cases of the drink. The EP will feature sounds of the brewing process, but they’re hidden away among high-pitched choristers and deathly-low strings on the heavenly ambience of ‘Meet You At Midnight’.
Tom Howard, Assistant Editor
London-based producer Josh Quirke is Young Turks’ latest signing. The lead track from his debut EP ‘Acid Beth’ is a distressing and exhilarating introduction. Alternating between eerie and atmospheric field recordings and an onslaught of hyper-fast kicks and splintered samples, its effect is like opening and closing the windows on a plane mid-flight. Reportedly inspired by the “industrial machines” that soundtrack Quirke’s daily life, this is the first glimpse of a frighteningly versatile new electronic talent.
Ben Homewood, writer
Centered around a bass motif that pinches the first half of the ‘Paperback Writer’ riff and wonks it up a little, Eugene McGuinness’ ‘Godiva’ is neither an ode to the topless horserider or the posh chocolate brand. Instead, it’s as ’60s-indebted and unsubtly sexed-up as anything Miles Kane has been responsible for lately. The swaggering guitars and lyrics about the “//chaos of elation//” suggest Eugene’s feeling a bit randy, too.
Lisa Wright, writer
On their debut track ‘7AM’, Birmingham ladies Ekkah mined tropical sounds to accompany their up-all-night hedonism. Second time round they’re opting for something more sultry, borrowing Jessie Ware’s minimal dance-pop template and filling it in with Becky Wilson’s alluring sighs about a lover who doesn’t “//have the time to figure it out for me//”. But hey, that’s OK because she doesn’t “//have the time to give you apologies//” anyway. Cool, crisp and winningly self-assured.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
Canadian singer Allie X comes on like a corrupted Mouseketeer gone wrong: a sickly-sweet and girlish voice dripping syrupy poison in your ear and making Miley Cyrus seem as dangerous as Katie Melua. On ‘Bitch’, she turns quaint domesticity into a Stepford Wives-like power-game with blaring synths, stuck in an old-fashioned relationship where she’s marooned at home making the dinner while her beau “//brings home the bacon//”. Weird, warped and queasy as fuck, in the best way possible.
Ben Hewitt, writer
Like recent single ‘There Is No Other Time’, ‘Show Me A Miracle’ is another example of Klaxons’ renewed focus. If they lost their way with 2010’s fuggy ‘Surfing The Void’, this is them gunning (gunning, yes, not gurning) for primetime radio play with a slick track so unapologetically dance-pop it could be the new Avicii single. Perfectly listenable, but it’s got all the chaos of your local book club. Still, there’s an album to come.
Greg Cochrane, Editor, NME.COM
With an intro that sounds as if it’s about to burst into a seriously wonky version of Sam & Dave’s ‘Soul Man’ but goes for equally lopsided new-wave pop instead, Movie’s debut single is a sit-up-and-listen delight from the off. The south London trio met when they were 10 – they aren’t much older now, to be honest – and play with the taut funkiness and jerky joy of a junior Franz Ferdinand.
Matthew Horton, writer
Leeds’ most absurd and brilliant sweaty metal lunatics return with this thudding behemoth of a rock song. The NIN-like industrial intro, languid but headbanging Black Sabbath riff and howling Deftones-y chorus all suggest that the muckabout scruffiness of early songs – remember ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’? – is pretty much totally eradicated. Apart from the title, Pulled Apart By Horses are now a //serious// rock band.
JJ Dunning, writer
The Brooklyn-based punk rockers release their third album, ‘Sunbathing Animal’, on June 2. Taken from it, this new song doesn’t quite see them return to the scratchiness of their 2012 cassette-only debut, ‘American Specialties’, but there is a slight sheen here that wasn’t present on second album ‘Light Up Gold’, exemplified by the electronic effects 90 seconds in. That’s not to say they’ve abandoned their signature sound in favour of something glossier – far from it – but they’ve somehow improved it.
Andy Welch, writer