Hot Chip, Gossip, Willis Earl Beal
[b]Hot Chip – ‘Flutes'[/b]
For a second there, the title of Hot Chip’s comeback single – from their forthcoming fifth album, ‘In Our Heads’ – kick-started all sorts of special feelings, dreaming as we were of a second smooth revival to follow up 2011’s sax-sleazy summer. Alexis, Joe, Owen, Felix and Al cracking out the pastel slacks, lurid cocktails and floating by on a woodwind breeze… Alas, there’s nary a piccolo, let alone an aerophone to be found here – but as Alexis croons, “[i]I know it’s nothing more than flutes/But something in my heart is loose[/i]” over an ominously inflating womp, it’s clear that this dangerous bout of the flutes has brought on a few tears in the club…
Perhaps influenced by Joe’s work as part of the rave-inclined 2 Bears, ‘Flutes’ is quite possibly – dare we say it – the best thing Hot Chip have released since ‘Over And Over’. It’s quite the dancefloor smorgasbord, clattering around beautifully cheesy, New Order-like percussive clatters, flighty synths designed to tickle warehouse rafters and Hot Chip’s trademark sense of measured euphoria. “[i]One day you might realise that you need to open your eyes[/i]”, Alexis sings over a tumble of bright notes, taking control of the situation that’s left his heart in tatters, wreaked by uncertainty. Here’s a definite though: this sublime return is giving us the horn.
[b]Gossip – ‘Perfect World'[/b]
Now she’s no longer an ubiquitous tabloid figure, it’s all about the music again for Beth Ditto and band. And while the first track to be lifted from Xenomania-produced new album ‘A Joyful Noise’ eschews the rawness of the Gossip’s previous work, the slick, radio-friendly approach only serves to reinforce the overwhelming power of that voice.
[b]Preteen Zenith ft Erykah Badu – ‘Damage Control'[/b]
The Polyphonic Spree’s Tim DeLaughter has always been one hug away from starting his own creepy bliss cult, but his musical output has been consistently life affirming in a good way. His new project is a typically breezy, whimsical beast, toting such sandal-wearing truisms as “you become the boredom you relay” sung over a dreamy, atmospheric backing.
[b]The Hives – ‘Go Right Ahead'[/b]
Five years have passed since they released their last album, but Sweden’s cartoon garage-rockers are still as joyously daft as we remember them, and there’s also more than a whiff of ELO’s 1979 track ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ to their return.
[b]Dexys – ‘Nowhere Is Home'[/b]
Welcome Dexys (sans Midnight Runners), with their first single since 1986. There’s no brass in earshot, so this piano-led smoothie is akin to catching Weller without a designer suit on – but to push the clothing analogy further, this is even more exciting than staring up Kevin Rowland’s dress.
[b]Lotus Plaza – ‘Strangers'[/b]
While his Deerhunter bandmate Bradford Cox is bombarding unsuspecting gig-goers with hour-long versions of ‘My Sharona’, Lockett Pundt – aka Lotus Plaza – has readied second album ‘Spooky Action At A Distance’. This track from it is a blurred but brilliant jangling thing that comes across like a fuzzier Felt.
[b]Death Grips – ‘Lost Boys'[/b]
Whether Death Grips have been watching Kiefer Sutherland’s classic ’80s vampire flick and taking notes isn’t clear – and frankly, when they’re tossing out tracks as oppressive as this, it doesn’t matter, either. Nasty, brutal and unrelentingly brilliant – roll on their new album ‘The Money Store’, out in April…
[b]Willis Earl Beal – ‘Ghost Robot'[/b]
Willis may be XL’s new big hope, but he’s just been exposed as a former X Factor hopeful (appearing on the US version in 2011). Fortunately ole high trousers rejected him, which is just as well as this new ragged raw track would have Syco running back to their evil lair in fear.
Listen to the song here
[b]Ethan Johns – ‘Whip-Poor-Will'[/b]
If you didn’t know, Johns produced the last Laura Marling and Ryan Adams LPs. Now he’s roped both in on backing vocals for his solo venture, ensuring more than eight people take notice. Good thing, too, as it’s a deftly woven folk tale in the Bert Jansch/Meic Stevens mould that deserves the attention you’re now going to give it.
[b]Friends – ‘Va Fan Gor Du'[/b]
Nobody likes a skeezy dude, including Friends’ Samantha Urbani who lays into a curbside sex pest on their latest single. Translated from Swedish as “what the hell are you doing?” she goes in like a well-mannered Minaj, rhyming “[i]Who do you think I am? Some bitch on the street, some piece of meat?[/i]”