Arctic Monkeys – ‘R U Mine?’
In what we’ve come to expect from the playful, elusive Monkeys these days, ‘R U Mine?’ appeared out of nowhere on Monday morning (February 27), introduced by Sex Pistol-turned-Los Angeles radio DJ Steve Jones on KROQ show. Just in case anyone needed affirmation that Alex and co have left their musically obtuse streak eating dust – further affirmation, that is, following the wickedly immediate ‘Suck It And See’ and Helders’ rather less than artful dabblings in desert rudery – well, this is definitely it.
But while their taste for an unpredictable release might be keen as ever, and though the riffs (and the sunglasses) hark back to the Homme-helmed days of ‘Humbug’, this is no return to the dustbowl. In fact, ‘R U Mine?’ merges hooks that nod to the meaty pound of ‘Songs For The Deaf’ – some of the most immediate Alex has ever written (or perhaps half-borrowed) – with the kind of fuzz-box squall he was knocking out circa ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ track ‘Teddy Picker’. The result wriggles like snakes under skin, an itching, thrilling thing. “Satisfaction feels like a distant memory”, he states, and despite Helders chorusing the words back at him in falsetto like some ‘60s girl band ingénue, we can’t help but strenuously disagree with the sentiment…
Alabama Shakes – ‘Heavy Chevy’
This lot must be doing something right, as Russell Crowe turned up to their recent NME Awards Show. And we all know he has impeccable music taste, as his band 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts proved. Ahem. This bracing shot of rock’n’soul, featuring devilish slide guitar, isn’t slated to appear on their debut, so make the most of it now.
Grimes – ‘Song For Ric’
Worship-worthy electronic weirdo Claire Boucher guest-edited blog Gorilla Vs Bear last week, and among the many joys she posted (cat gifs aside) was this collaboration with Majical Cloudz, who guests on her debut, which chirrups and fizzes like flirting Pokémon.
Santigold – ‘Disparate Youth’
Against strutting guitars, playful bass and dawn-bright keyboards Santi’s singing about “a life worth fighting for“. It’s a hymn to kicking against the pricks of conformity, despite the problems that sticking out from the crowd can cause. But when it comes to sticking or twisting, Santigold has always been about the latter.
Smiler ft Lana Del Rey – ‘Spender’
Even before officially turning ‘Hollywood sadcore’, Lizzy Grant had the whole medicated sex kitten thing down pat. Her cover of ‘Big Spender’ on this 2010 track sounds tantalisingly vacant, though the effect is rather ruined when Smiler lumbers in with his proto-bosh backing track…
Willis Earl Beal – ‘Monotony’
There’s a lot of excitement about Willis Earl Beal’s first ever UK dates, taking place this week – making it doubly impressive that Beal’s conjured up all this fervour with little more than a badly recorded acoustic strum and a gently mind-melting voice. It’s a disarmingly simple combination, but never monotonous.
Charli XCX – ‘I’ll Never Know’
Exclusive London Fashion Week track which won’t be on the fast rising 19-year-old’s debut album? Wait, come back! ‘I’ll Never Know’ is actually an understated gem, gliding along a catwalk of choppy steel drums and louche keys. Though we’re still not sure how she got the black and pink rave goth get-up past the LFW fashion police…
Diplo – ‘Express Yourself’
What with writing books and helping Usher stay up to the minute, you might expect young Diplo to have put activities under his own name on the back burner, but no – here he is with his most straightahead banger in ages, aided by Jamaican Dancehall Singer Nicky Da B.
Sun Kil Moon – ‘Sunshine In Chicago’
This twinkling acoustic number from Mark Kozelek’s new SKM album wins a prize for its utterly charming, wry line about the perils of aging: “My band played here a lot in the ’90s when we had lots of female fans/And fuck they all were cute/And now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes”. Them’s the breaks.
Kasabian – ‘Narcotic Farm No II’
Two questions arise from the first new material since ‘Velociraptor!’: 1) Where the fuck is Tom? (Serge sings, Meighan’s not even in the vid.) 2) What drugs are they on? (It was posted in demo form as ‘Preliminary Research Expeditions Into The Spirit World’ last month.) The only certainty? It’s awesome.
This article originally appeared in the March 3rd issue of NME