20 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (2/7/2014)
Ever doubted Grimes' ability to make it in the big league? This surprise new track, originally written for Rihanna, finds Claire Boucher reuniting with Blood Diamonds and has all the ingredients to shoot her right into music's upper echelons without surrendering any of her quirks. Oriental motifs entangle with EDM jitters as Boucher asks, "Can I go with you?" The only question left is: why the fuck did RiRi say no to this banger?
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
"Jungle? It's alright", says one raver to another at the start of this bona fide anthem from Jamie xx. "I prefer hard house, man". He isn't namechecking his new labelmates, Jungle, of course. He's showcasing his love for British club culture, past, present and future. The past? Acid techno beats in line with Plastikman's mid-'90s finest. The present? Noir-ish dubstep warmed by exotic marimba. The future? Well, if Jamie xx isn't it...
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Thought you knew Lucy Rose? The shy, melodically-blessed chanteuse who rose to prominence singing deft, light backing vocals for Bombay Bicycle Club before striking out on her own a couple of years ago? Think again. 'Cover Up' is a million times more evolutionary than her previous material, with chopped-up beats and a vocal that's closer to Björk than Laura Marling the order of the day. The first taster of her forthcoming album, it's a bold, intriguing new direction.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
The second track taken from Disclosure accomplice Lxury’s outstanding debut EP might be his brightest yet. ‘Raid’ is a pristine example of everything there is to love about Andy Smith’s sublime sonic experimentation – convoluted dance melodies and booming toms bounce in from every angle in this cosmic medley, layered together in a flowering phantasm of fast-paced electronics. Who needs synaesthesia when you’ve got music as colourful as this?
James Balmont, writer
“For me, it feels like my true debut, because it is the first time I have felt so open and liberated,” says Zola Jesus, aka Nika Danilova, of her fourth UK album ‘Taiga’. It’s a freedom that comes through on the lead track from the record. Nika sounds more uninhibited than ever as she belts out lines about “dark, dark days” over rippling synths and glistening pop hooks. Her finest, most ambitious moment yet.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
James Ford and Jas Shaw’s fourth album, ‘Whorl’, due in September, was recorded on the fly using the bare minimum of equipment – think a jam session with synths. But the result is a record that’s full of life and energy. ‘Tangents’ starts with a kick drum padding along before bubbly synths slide in and strings build to an almost unbearable climax, then it all fades away again. There are ghosts in SMD’s machines and they’ve got soul.
Chris Cottingham, writer
Nope, 'Get Lost' isn't about what you'd say to your siblings before you discovered the visceral joy of a well-timed 'Fuck Off'. This is 'Get Lost' in the sense of abandoning all maps (yes, even Google Maps) and losing yourself to adventure in the big bad IRL. This being Icona Pop, it's a surging anthem that sounds like summer in a three-minute banger. Not quite as good as 'I Love It', you say? Get lost.
Kevin EG Perry, writer
In which the Scottish producer returns in typically sledgehammer style. 'Raptor' is our first taste of new album 'Green Language', the long-awaited follow up to 2011 debut 'Glass Swords', and it hurtles out of the blocks. Car alarm synths roll over the top of a beat that could launch a rocket to Mars as Rustie kicks down the door and announces his return in emphatic fashion.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Berlin trio Ballet School made a right show-off of a single with last year's 'Heartbeat Overdrive' and this taster from their dangerously opulent debut album due later this summer is along the same lines. That means machine-gun drums, Chvrches synths, spidery Cocteau Twins guitar and improbable vocal acrobatics from Rosie Blair – a 21st century Kate Bush with the range of Mariah Carey. A shag-pile carpet of a song.
Matthew Horton, writer
The first single from ‘LP1’, the debut album of the British dancer-turned-singer and beatmaker is a soaring piece of electronic pop. Matching the nighttime intimacy of Young Turks labelmates The xx with the brooding, atmospheric grace of trip-hop stalwarts Massive Attack, it's a lesson in contrast. Chilling falsetto vocal shrieks meet immaculately produced synth crescendos, graceful yet menacing, ethereal with a punch. Expect more brilliance to come.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
The Shins' James Mercer owes Zach Braff a great deal since the //Scrubs// star's directorial debut Garden State made them the meet-cute band of choice a decade ago. This track goes one better and was written especially for Braff's Kickstarter-funded //Wish I Was Here//. The song might not be revolutionary in The Shins' career – Mercer's peerless voice against a minor-key backdrop, lyrics about working through problems in a relationship – but it is every bit as stirring as you might expect. Mercer should consider the debt repaid.
Andy Welch, writer
It might be the fuzz-rocker's equivalent of Status Quo writing a song called 'Look Ma! Four Chords!' or Babyshambles premiering 'Getting To The End Of The Song Without Falling Asleep From Heroin', but DZ's 'Less Out Of Sync' might well refer to being more in tune with the cultural stampede rather than any onrush of professionalism. Certainly the second single from new album 'Black Rat' strives for – and achieves – a future-thinking hardcore vitality we could all do with getting in step with.
Mark Beaumont, writer
“I get so bored,” sang Saam from dirgy London two-piece Playlounge on ‘Seahorse’ from last August’s ‘Thrash Magic’ EP. The cure was to release a load of new music, including a debut album, ‘Pilot’, in April and now a four-track split EP with Sheffield’s Nai Harvest. The pick is Playlounge’s ‘Handclap Cinema’, a track that starts as a slacker-pop anthem tinged with sentimentality, then flattens into a Velvets-like wall of almost-feeding-back guitar. Ennui, man.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
Seattle duo Shabazz Palaces have described new album ‘Lese Majesty’ as a “a seven-suite, 18-track treasure trove of interplanetary transmissions and new black wave”. What this means is a shit hot rap record with a load of spinny and ambient jazz-funk production and bigger tunes than Palaceer Lazaro and Tendai Maraire have previously ever managed. ‘#CAKE’ is one of the best, a jagged and stilted thing with lyrics that contain the sort of wisdom you cannot teach: “I’m having my cake and… I’m eating cake.”
Tom Howard, Assistant Editor
The Montreal-based band on Arbutus Records – home to loads of ground-breaking artists including Majical Cloudz and Sean Nicholas Savage – have been quiet since 2012's 'Tender Opposites'. That was until they unveiled new single ‘Change Of Heart’ last month. This track is the flipside and it's tender indie–folk with a melancholic current. Imagine Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Games' crossed with The Cranberries couched in a dreamy haze. Bring on the new album.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Cut out the fat, renew the attack: that seems to be the mission statement for Brighton trio Esben & The Witch on their third album, which was recorded with master of abrasive noise Steve Albini. And it’s worked, too. ‘Blood Teachings’ is a living, breathing beast twisting this way and that, all raw fuzz and shrieks reminiscent of PJ Harvey circa ‘Rid Of Me’ that detonates into a ragged climax after seven-odd minutes of creepy tension.
Ben Hewitt, writer
Madrid's coolest new duo leave us charmed by 'Bamboo', a scrappy song made up of equal parts The Black Lips and The Velvet Underground yet bearing a carnival vibe. Ana Garcia Perrote and Carlotta Cosials’ ramshackle vocals and loose-fitting rhythms combine to create a nonchalant anthem for those hunting out the good times and the late-night party atmosphere is tangible as they dance in the streets of Spain in the video, like Spain's early World Cup exit never happened.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Though indebted to ’90s slackerisms, 2011’s ‘Lenses Alien’ set up Staten Island's Cymbals Eat Guitars as a far more eclectic prospect than mere Malkmus hero-worshippers. On ‘Chambers’, taken from forthcoming cheerily-titled LP ‘LOSE’, this approach expands. Starting off like they’ve just discovered the pure pop ’80s joys of Aztec Camera, it then breaks into singer Joseph D’Agastino’s pained, nasal yowl before turning into a mass of soaring, indie guitar anthemics. WIN.
Lisa Wright, writer
UK hip-hop rarely comes more sophisticated than Hawk House, whose new ‘A Handshake To The Brain’ EP sees the London trio reach for fiercely experimental territory. Breathy and understated, ‘Chill Pill’ does exactly as it promises: enveloping you in a thick kush-cloud haze with its celestial synths, warped beats and hypnotic, new age-y rhymes (“If you’re not really ready then you can end up in pieces/Your peace of mind turns to sediment”) like a broodier Digable Planets. Svelte, smart and sublime.
Al Horner, Assistant Reviews Editor, NME.COM
Teenage siblings Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz are Ibeyi – the Yoruba word for 'twins'. 'Oya' is their debut release on XL Recordings and fuses together the wafting vocals of Enya, a Brighton beach drum circle after kicking-out time at the pub, woozy psych-step beats and pulsing West African rhythms in one taut, hard-edged, hypnotic package. You're unlikely to hear anything as startlingly original all year.
Leonie Cooper, writer
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