20 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (06/08/2014)
“Love’s a fucking bitch”, coos Karen O on this brutal but tender first cut from her forthcoming album of heart-trodden bedroom recordings – the aptly titled ‘Crush Songs’ – made up of tracks she wrote and recorded in 2006 and 2007. “Do I really need another habit like you?” she yowls over a forlorn strum, asking a question that’ll speak to any soul mangled and chewed by a hapless love affair.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
“You think you’re flying/But actually you’re just falling in love/With views from heights you’ll never reach again/Thank God for the ground”. Massachusetts’ Bad History Month are masters of bummed-out profundity, for when life feels as lonely as a diving bell inside which you can hardly stand to be alone with yourself. Jeff Meff recognises sadness’ stabilising qualities over doped guitar that recalls Bill Callahan’s dissonant early works.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Ever wondered what the inside of a can of Sprite sounds like just as you pull the ring? Sophie, on Glasgow dance label Numbers, apparently has. First, there’ll be a release of extremely high-pressured vocals, followed by acerbic tones to refresh the palate, all washed away by a final surge of bubbling bass. Confusingly, SOPHIE (all caps) is a male producer now based in London, and this second release follows the success of 2013’s ‘Bipp’.
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Bloody Knees singer Bradley Griffiths wound up in A&E last year after busting his face open at a show with pals Wolf Alice – an incident that served as inspiration for their latest blistering punk single. “My face has come undone and I’m covered in blood, but at least I’m having fun”, he sings, against a backdrop of whirring riffs and Ramones power chords. With songs like these, Bloody Knees are an absolute riot.
James Bentley, writer
Damon Albarn’s contribution to the soundtrack of new Scarlett Johansson sci-fi flick Lucy is less a terrifying alien affair than a magical spellbinder. Over glockenspiel twinkles and sweeping string sections, Albarn’s inimitable vocal is that of a kindly narrator, navigating you through the musical hinterland. With a musical based on a children’s book due imminently, this bodes well.
Lisa Wright, writer
In the week that Jonny Greenwood revealed he’d emailed new ideas to Thom Yorke, the guitarist treated London’s Roundhouse to new track ‘Skip Loop’, a sparse, unresolved guitar signature framed by spooky strings. Whether it’s a snatch of a film score or a sketch for a new Radiohead song – or something else entirely – who knows? It’s just good to hear him flexing those skinny muscles.
Matthew Horton, writer
These two collaborated last year on ‘Side B (Dope Song)’, the track on rapper Danny Brown’s ‘Old’ that acted as the bridge between the experimental hip hop and electro banger halves of the album by being both of those things. And whaddayouknow: so is ‘Attak’. Glaswegian producer Rustie’s beat is as over-sized and deranged as Brown’s flow, and the result is kinda like a soundtrack to some kind of nightmarish cartoon series that turns everyone who watches it into a paranoid schizophrenic.
Tom Howard, Assistant Editor
“I’m not afraid of love,” sings Shy Girls on this slice of Weeknd-indebted bedroom R&B (produced by Jagwar Ma’s Jono Ma), but I’m not sure I trust him. Firstly, he’s not even a girl – he’s a boy named Dan Vidmar. Second, he doesn’t sound shy. He sounds like MJ before he got messianic. Thirdly, if pop music has taught me anything it’s that when someone sings “I would never fall for you” they’re about three seconds from falling for them.
Kevin EG Perry, writer
‘De Bom Bom’ is the sound of night terrors – a paranoid rampage of twisted hardcore and angry nihilism that further confirms Dublin noise-rock agitators Girl Band as one of the most compelling new bands around. Frontman Dara Kiely cuts a volcanic presence over guitarist Alan Duggan’s frantic noise here, spewing slurred lyrics (“I’M RECKLESS, I’M RECKLESS!”) that erupt into violent screams. Absolutely stunning – though it might make you sleep with the lights on.
Al Horner, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
‘Is What It Is’ is the first single from Brooklyn duo She Keeps Bees’ new album, ‘Eight Houses’. It’s an emotional ride crafted with sighing pauses and loaded lyrics. “Do not surrender,” judders Jessica Larrabee’s bluesy plead, her voice breaking before soothing vocal harmonies from fellow New York neighbour Sharon Van Etten enter stage left. Roll on the next episode.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
New York’s Cymbals Eat Guitars wrote their new album ‘Lose’ as a tribute to collaborator Benjamin High, who passed away several years ago. They’ve put possibly one of the greatest lines ever into latest track ‘Warning’, Joseph D’Agostino growling affectionately “You’re looking mighty ghostly, just like Bowie on ‘Soul Train’” over raw, searing riffs. The album’s out on August 25.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
This ragged cut from Twin Peaks’ excellent second album ‘Wild Onion’ demonstrates exactly why the Chicago kids are one of the most vital new bands around at the moment. Its pacy two minutes perch on the edge of explosion, Cadien Lake James snarling like Saved By The Bell’s answer to Elvis Costello as the song crashes around him. The buzzing glam guitar solo at the end has shades of fellow Windy City tearaways Smith Westerns, too.
Ben Homewood, writer
After previous chart smashes with ‘Ready For Your Love’ and ‘Here For You’, Gorgon City lock their bass-pop crosshairs on the Top 40 with new single ‘Unmissable’, a womp-heavy kiss-off to the summer. “The sun’s going to shine for the last time, let’s make it unmissable”, sings guest vocalist Zak Abel over the top of emotive piano house and the sort of bass that turns waves tidal and good nights into great ones.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
If this teaser of Allah-Las’ upcoming second album sounds like a long-forgotten slice of tremolo-heavy ’60s surf pop, that’s because it is. Originally by The Frantics’ and released in 1960, the former record-shop workers are putting the cover out as a B-side to ‘501-415’. There are no vocals to go with the twanging guitars, but that only leaves more room to imagine the West Coast pool party it’d be the perfect soundtrack for.
Andy Welch, writer
Recent tracks ‘Money’ and ‘World Pleasure’ might have teed up Peace’s forthcoming second album as a bold new adventure into super-shiny pop, but ‘Lost On Me’ is the Birmingham band’s biggest pop moment so far. The song’s jittering disco-funk undercurrent is almost drowned out by its many glittering peaks while Harry Koisser lights up the track when he purrs “I love it when it hits/The lightning on your lips” over brother Sam’s hip-thrusting bassline.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
Simian Mobile Disco have reached the point in their career where they can pretty much do whatever they want. Remember, their breakthrough ‘We Are Your Friends’ (with Justice) is 12 years old now. New album ‘Whorl’ was recorded partly live and partly in the studio. And why not? One of its highlights, ‘Dervish’ is a stuttery, bleepy, ambient-techno boneshaker, hinting at a darker sound to come.
Greg Cochrane, Editor, NME.COM
Avi Buffalo’s debut album set up teen prodigy Avi Zahner-Isenberg as a master of the lilting melody and weird lyric. ‘Memories Of You’ is even weirder and more lilting, with lyrics like “I’m a cheeseball on fire, tell the morning dew” delivered in Kermit tones over sun-drenched harmonies, horns and plonky guitars. It’s like peering in Brian Wilson’s brain at the precise moment his California dream turned sour, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Vancouver’s Tobias Jesso Jr first hit our radar last year with his Lennon-y piano ballad demo of ‘Just A Dream’. He’s back with more of the same now, ahead of a full album due in the coming months. Although it’s a rough recording, with just a gentle piano line and Tobias’ soft vocals, ‘True Love’ is little short of wondrous. It recalls peak-period Elton John in its stark simplicity, with a bit of Ryan Adams and Harry Nilsson chucked in for good measure.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
The first track Ms Banks has released since she parted ways with Interscope is both filthy and full of bravado. “It’s some sex shit, I be wit’ that Betty with that bubble ’n’ them breasts”, she raps with customary charm. “I be lookin’ very jiggle jello ’n them dresses.” The production by Lil Internet, who Banks also used for ‘Yung Rapunxel’, is superb, further whetting appetites for the album that’s fast becoming hip-hop’s ‘Chinese Democracy’.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
Taken from the Dinosaur Jr lynchpin’s forthcoming solo album ‘Tied To A Star’, this is a mellow offering from grunge’s grumpiest godfather. ‘Wide Awake’ is underpinned by Cat Power mastermind Chan Marshall’s chalky vocals; their timbres are so neatly entwined, so heavy with longing, it seems unfeasible that they’re not permanently paired. Mascis’ trademark restless riffing adds a summery touch to the melancholy of the insomniac’s plea.
Hayley Avron, writer