Ten songs on repeat in the NME office this week, from Kanye and Loom to Chvrches and Drenge.
Kanye West – ‘New Slaves’
Yeezus says… well really quite a lot actually. From the evidence of this new cut, he’s going further into the heart of darkness explored in his 2010 album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. But this time, he’s fuelled by righteous political anger. Debuted first as a projection onto 66 buildings in cities across the world, and then again with an intense performance on Saturday Night Live, ‘New Slaves’ is dense and dramatic and also damn excellent, as he chants over a sparse, sinister backdrop hewn from a sample of ‘Gyöngyhajú lány’ from ’60s Hungarian psych-rockers Omega (well of course it is). West casts a hypnotic, noxious spell, almost screaming as the pressure rises. In terms of message it makes his statement in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” sound tame. He takes the scandal of the cheap labour generated by America’s private prison system creating a slave class, and whips it up with sex and psychosis into an explosive revenge drama. Although the reference to Bobby Boucher, Adam Sandler’s character in 1998 sports comedy The Waterboy, is pretty odd, Kanye’s back in the room and ‘New Slaves’ just raised the bar even higher. All of this before we’ve even heard the final version, which includes Frank Ocean singing at the end.
Dan Martin, writer
The Orwells – ‘Head’
The band of Great Escape, Chicago’s Orwells give another reminder of just how exciting they are on ‘Head’. “I never wanna see her when I’m sober”, sighs Mario Cuomo, followed by whirring guitars and distant howls that sum up the dizzying confusion of being young and in love.
Rhian Daly, writer
Smith Westerns – ‘3am Spiritual’
Though the title may suggest the Chicago retro-heads have turned in a new track influenced by The KLF’s pumping techno track ‘3am Eternal’, the reality has far more in common with paisley-era Beatles – and suggests that classic pop tunes will win through on forthcoming third album ‘Soft Will’.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Jacques Greene Feat. How To Dress Well – ‘On Your Side’
Turned off because Tom Krell’s shadowy alt-R&B isn’t your thing? Don’t be. This collaboration with Canadian producer Jacques Greene (Thom Yorke is a fan) is dark and moreish, with steely synthesizers and chopped “yeah yeah yeah”s. There’s more to How To Dress Well than a Mariah Carey obsession.
Siân Rowe, Assistant Reviews Editor
Outfit – ‘Want What’s Best’
Liverpool odd-poppers Outfit show off a newly digitised edge to their sound. Coming on like Field Music teaming up with Hot Chip this is geek-rock at its best. Hypnotic and enthralling, the song builds and builds on its own optimistic mantra. Outfit’s glass isn’t half full – it’s over flowing.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Chvrches – ‘Gun’
The Scottish trio’s twinkly pop just gets better, trailing an album that promises to be one of the year’s top when it turns up this autumn. But despite its zappy brightness, ‘Gun’ carries a veiled threat with vocalist Lauren warning “I’m gonna come for you”.
Matthew Horton, Writer
Cass McCombs – ‘Three Men Sitting On A Hollow Log’
After hitting us with two albums in a year in 2011, the American singer-songwriter went quiet. But this split single with veteran cult folkie Michael Hurley has him dipping his toe back in the water with another charming, plaintive strum.
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Alan Woodhouse, Senior Sub-Editor
Daughn Gibson – ‘You Don’t Fade’
The latest track from the Pennsylvanian gloom-crooner’s forthcoming second album is another modern take on ‘Murder Ballads’. His Nick Cave drawl meets wickedly warped electronics over stuttery samples, recalling the dusty bleakness of his former life as a trucker that made most of the stories on 2012 debut ‘All Hell’.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
Loom – ‘Acid King City’
It may have a title straight from the Bobby Gillespie/Jim Reid special edition of magnetic poetry, but this free download comes straight from the oiliest bowels of grunge gut instinct, with all the roiling rancour of Mudhoney or early, nasty Hole. “I wasn’t looking at you… Why would you think that I would?” seethes Tarik Badwan, with the sort
of delicious bile that makes us love their hate.
Emily Mackay, writer
Drenge – ‘Backwaters’
Sinister and sinewy sexiness a-plenty from the brothers Loveless, who continue to trump up the kind of lust-splattered, sludge-heavy romps that Josh Homme would write if he’d swapped the desert for a working men’s club up north. “I’ve never seen blood or milk mixed so divine,” they snarl. Me-bloody-eow.
Ben Hewitt, writer