20 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (3/9/2014)
Previously heard on Sam Adoquei’s documentary The Unseen Beauty, ‘Human Sadness’ is the first taste of Julian Casablancas’ new solo album, ‘Tyranny’. Over a foundation that sounds like The Strokes at their most polished, the singer draws out thundering booms, shrill falsetto and discordant noise, stretching it all out into an emotional 11 minutes of ear-battering headfuck.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
Wirral’s finest The Coral recorded psych-folk album ‘Curse Of Love’ eight years ago, but moved on to make fourth album ‘Roots & Echoes’ before finishing it. They’ve been on a break since 2012, concentrating on various solo projects, and while this isn’t the full-blown return fans are waiting for, the song features original guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones’ unmistakable playing against a dark narrative and gently strummed guitars. For now, it’ll do nicely.
Andy Welch, writer
The London three-piece hit us with their third big tune in a row in the shape of ‘Dab Housing’. “If we ignore the heat, can’t keep ourselves off the street” goes the repeated chant, as the band we’re calling the Pet Shop Lads mix hypnotic guitars and soft drums into something New Order might have made if they were young, full of fags and Kronenbourg and living in David Cameron’s Britain.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Named after a Japanese city in which tame deer are viewed as divine and allowed to wander around like swarms of sacred Bambis, ‘Nara’ is part of a three-song cycle on Alt-J’s eagerly awaited second coming. It starts slower and slinkier than previous offerings from ‘This Is All Yours’, with monastic chanting and Quasimodo bells before Joe Newman’s trembling falsetto gathers pace, joining forces with some skygazing xylophone and sizzling synths. Well worth fawning over.
Leonie Cooper, writer
This should come with a health warning. It false-starts with a dirty four-to-the-floor electro beat before a sample of a cuckoo’s call detonates the entire thing to volcanic proportions. The beat is neck-breakingly huge and suggests El-P’s production sorcery and Killer Mike’s imaginative verse power will combine again to make their second album, due in October, a highlight of 2014.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
The ever-prolific Ryan Adams accompanies his forthcoming 14th solo album with ‘1984’, a 10-track seven-inch influenced by hardcore and punk. ‘Change Your Mind’ sets the mood with scrappy but sunny guitars, coming on like a supercharged version of one of his most underrated tracks, ‘So Alive’, while Adams hollers “If I could change your mind/I could make you mine” with increased passion and fury.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
As producer to bands like Menace Beach and Joanna Gruesome, Hookworms talisman MJ is not just one of the most prolific voices in Britain’s alternative music undertow but one of its most outspoken, constantly rallying against music industry sexism and homophobia. On ‘The Impasse’, our first glimpse at the Leeds scowlers’ new album ‘The Hum’, his actual voice is less distinct, buried under thick blankets of drone-psych fuzz, but every bit as infectiously impassioned as his online rants. An eviscerating space-rock anthem, it’s like taking a light-speed joyride in a crash-landing NASA space shuttle.
Al Horner, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Stevie Nicks wrote and demoed ‘Lady’ in the early 1970s, but has now dusted it off and re-recorded it for her forthcoming album, ’24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault’. It’s a contemplative piano ballad whose refrain – “And the time keeps goin’ on by and I wonder what is to become of me” – would have been affecting coming from a bright-eyed singer-songwriter in her early twenties. From a 66-year-old rock legend with a vibrato like aged oak, it’s simply flooring.
Nick Levine, writer
Dublin’s Girl Band clearly have great taste, not just because of their choice of cover here: Kurt Cobain faves Beat Happening. It’s because they turn ‘I Love You’ into something that recalls three of pop’s greatest fuck-ups: Dara Kiely’s vocals sound like a skewiff Brian Wilson, and they channel both My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Slow’ and Blur’s ‘Essex Dogs’ into the same sludgy, inhumane-sounding middle section. It’s a method that works wonders.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
Ignore the name – Casual Sex make impeccably produced post-punk music that lifts its angular playing, space and poise from bands like Orange Juice and Josef K, as well as more recent names such as Franz Ferdinand. ‘A Perfect Storm’ is all snareless drums, delicate reverb and dry vocals, arranged meticulously in the headphones. Straighten that skinny tie and iron your roll-neck: this is the sound of Scotland 1981, minus the creases.
Hazel Sheffield, writer
QT – a new collaboration between PC Music’s AG Cook and Sophie – might sound like an offensive realisation of the modern age’s propensity for irony, a souped-up revival of Lolly, Aqua and Daphne & Celeste. But QT push the hyper-saccharine pop aesthetic to such an extreme that it becomes a sinister comment on consumerism, underlined by its toothachingly addictive chorus.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
London’s Thurlow sisters are launching second album ‘The Other I’ with elan. ‘In The Mirror’ is everything 2:54 have promised – a song that sheds its shoegaze meekness to become a stately, psych-pop mélange of tremolo guitars, syncopated beats and classical-minimalist keyboards. But all that complexity melts away when Colette Thurlow murmurs “I’ll take you away from here”, bringing simple human warmth to a big, clever tune.
Matthew Horton, writer
On the Glaswegian producer’s hook-up with New York rapper Action Bronson, Mohawke’s beat is as fizzy, fluorescent and oversized as ever, with some added minor-key menace that the NYC rapper taps into magnificently as he builds up to his alarmingly brutal final line: “Your fuckin’ pussy smells like old meat”. Could be a one-off, could be on Bronson’s upcoming ‘Mr Wonderful’ album.
Tom Howard, Assistant Editor
This lot clearly like assonance. They also like making an almighty garage-rock racket in the vein of the MC5; ‘Cellophane’ begins with rumbling bass, banshee guitars and a 30-second freakout before the vocals even kick in. The Melbourne-based band are further proof that Australia is leading the way in psych-rock right now, and that Heavenly Records is becoming the UK home for all things shaggy-haired and lava lamp-lit.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
When Circa Waves put out their track ‘Young Chasers’ last year, there was so much buzz around it they had to play their debut gig under an alias. The hype is still fizzing around them and rightly so – this latest offering is another triumph from frontman and chief songwriter Kieran Shuddall – a Strokes-in-their-heyday-indebted indie-pop jangle about a fated romance. Standard stuff it may be, but it’s pristinely executed.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
If you don’t recognise the name, you’ll recognise the vocal. Harnett has lent her soulful tongue to tracks from Disclosure and Rudimental in the past. And, like Sampha, John Newman or Ella Eyre, all the signs suggest she’s likely to carve out her own distinguished solo career. The swaying, monochrome pop of ‘High Wire’ may not blow you away, but it’s a promising first step.
Greg Cochrane, Editor, NME.COM
Recruiting his new BFF, London soul singer Lianne La Havas, for this slice of slinky funk, Prince turns his worldly purple gaze on how to keep romance alive in a world where interaction is mainly Insta-action. His answer? “A kiss on the neck when she doesn’t expect it”. The old charmer. A mid-song monologue about how Prince has been trapped in suspended animation, meanwhile, is the kind of brilliantly batshit stuff only Mr Nelson can pull off.
Lisa Wright, writer
Noise artist Margaret Chardiet, aka Brooklyn’s Pharmakon, wrote her new album ‘Bestial Burden’ after having surgery and contemplating the breaking down of the human body. ‘Body Betrays Itself’ sees Chardiet howling indecipherably over frightening looped drums, discordant horror-movie piano and stabs of buzzing noise. Unsettling and uncomfortable, it’ll make you feel like you’re on the brink of an agonizing hurtle into the afterlife.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
The Bristol-based bedroom producer didn’t learn how to conjure his heavy sound in clubs; he honed his skills by trawling the web, alone. The blogosphere pricked up in 2012 when the gargantuan ‘Au Seve’ and the chart-bothering Jessie Ware collaboration ‘110%’ hit the dancefloor. Now Bashmore is preparing to step into the limelight with a debut album, due in February, and this first single is a stunning meld of beats and soul.
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Kevin Morby’s songs are about death, addiction and love. Last year’s debut solo album ‘Harlem River’ was full of greasy but serene folk-rock, and the former Woods and The Babies bassist is back with the first single from its follow-up, ‘Still Life’, which is out in October. ‘Parade’ is similarly troubled (“If I were to die today…”) but Morby cleverly offsets his subject matter with a glorious melody, soft saxophone and backing vocals.
Ben Homewood, writer