Angel Haze – 'Echelon (It's My Way)'
When we interviewed Angel Haze back in May, she told us that she sleeps in a $10,000 Versace dalmatian-print fur coat, and said that it was hard to say who was the most famous person in her phone book – 'They're all really famous!' It's ludicrous – or it would be if she didn't have the music to back up the excess. 'Echelon' is the storming first single from her debut album, 'Dirty Gold', and it's one of the freshest, most immediate hip hop singles we've heard in ages. A retro electro beat (check the SNES-style sound effects on the fade) meets Haze's precise flow, then the whole thing switches up into a celestial chorus with Haze harmonising underneath her own snappy bars. Like she says: 'Alert the fucking masses – let them know it's coming.' Just one hitch: there's still no release date set for 'Dirty Gold'. Even so, if we were Azealia Banks we'd be pretty freaked out right now.
Temple Songs – I Can't Look After You
It'd be easy to confuse this Mancunian band with Temples, the Kettering four-piece who have put out a couple of sparkling psychedelic pop seven-inches on Heavenly Records. In fact, Temple Songs and Temples have actually played on the same bill on at least one occasion, and in a blind test you could definitely be forgiven for mixing the two up. Here are two steps to avoid this psych-pop faux pas. 1) Temples are very young, have big hair and wear retro clothes; Temple Songs are quite young, have fairly normal hair and wear fairly normal clothes. 2. While both bands tap into the jangly, Byrds-y side of ’60s psych, Temple Songs are trashier, fuzzier and way more lo-fi. It's not a big difference, but it's crucial to their sound: 'I Can't Look After You' could almost be something from the lunatic mind of US retro-rock kingpin Ty Segall, and that's no bad thing in our little red book.
Gareth Malone Choir – 'Guillotine'
Gareth Malone is an OBE and the best-known choirmaster in the country, but that isn't enough for him: as part of his ongoing mission to get every single man, woman and child in the British Isles singing at all times, he's put together a choir of 18-to-25-year-olds and is putting out a new album called 'Voices'. This is the first track we've heard from it, and, bizarrely, it's a version of 'Guillotine' by the violent and heavy Californian avant-rap crew Death Grips. That's the only surprising thing here, though: despite some voice manipulation and general production jiggery-pokery, Malone and his group have made something ugly and thrilling into something pretty and… meh. It's hardly 'a new style and sound-world for choirs' – in fact, it's no more avant-garde than some of Benjamin Britten's weirder stuff. That said, it's nice enough to be worth four minutes of your time. What other tracks will Malone's choir take on? Throbbing Gristle? Merzbow? Angerfist? We'll have to wait and see…
Courtney Barnett – 'Avant Gardener'
'I guess the neighbours must think we run a meth lab… We should amend that.' Yep, we know what you mean. This track by Melbourne-based songwriter Courtney Barnett is a mish-mash of folk and Jefferson Airplane-style psychedelic rock, but the point is some really good story telling. The story goes like this: it's a mundane Monday and an unemployed girl tries to half-heartedly try her hand at gardening, but suffers a panic attack before she’s managed to plant the first seeds: 'The paramedic thinks I'm clever 'cause I play guitar… I think she's clever 'cause she stops people dying.' Whilst the words sound like something Jarvis Cocker could have written on a lazy, sunny afternoon, the slow meandering rhythm of the guitar is straight out of ’60s California. Click here to listen.
Los Campesinos! – 'What Death Leaves Behind'
Dear Los Campesinos!,
What happened? You were always the sly, shy, twee, slightly nerdy indie-pop boy in the corner. You even had a song called 'Knee Deep at ATP', for Morrissey's sake! I mean, we knew you had a melodic streak: 'We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives' got stuck in all our heads for about six months back in 2007 – and we could always tell you were aiming for something big, but… wow. We never knew that one day you'd be pumping out the kind of slick, chest-thumping, air-punching, shout-along indie rock that has made Arcade Fire one of the biggest alternative acts in the world. So how did this come about? Did you get a taste for the high life when 'You, Me, Dancing' got used in a beer ad? Or was the departure of founding member Ellen Waddell last year the final straw for the old Campesinos? Actually, don't even bother telling us. Shame we have to wait until October 29 for the album – we're sure it'll be worth it – but 'What Death Leaves Behind' is brilliant. We love it. And thanks for making it available to download for free.
Time Out Music
Wiley – 'Flying'
Wiley wants you to know he's back where he wants to be. Where's that? 'Flying', just in case you weren’t certain after he states the fact 43 times in this new track. We’re just happy the temperamental grime MC has ditched the sugary sweet Euro-pop trash of 'Heatwave' for some dirty, dissonant beats that are infinitely more pleasing. We can’t say the same for his rhymes, where he boasts that he's 'having a laugh' with music now. Let’s just hope he’s not bragging about those joke tracks on his last record, and we can take 'Flying' as a sign of what’s to come from Wiley.
Frightened Rabbit – 'Radio Silence'
One of the finest Scottish indie bands currently working, Frabbit have just revealed this new track from a forthcoming EP called 'Late March, Death March'. Treading just on the right side of weepy, it's as big, melodic and heartfelt as ever but with a crunchy drive behind it (credit to Grant Hutchinson on pounding drums) that recalls Idlewild or even REM. Lovely.
Spiritualized – 'I Am What I Am'
Poor Rory Culkin seems to be having a pretty miserable time of it. Last time we saw him in a film, in 'Scream 4', he got stabbed by Emma Roberts (he deserved it) – and now he's a washed-up, bummed-out, supernaturally suicidal, small-town youngster in the latest Spiritualized video. The song, a collaboration with blues legend Dr John, is from last year's 'Sweet Heart Sweet Light' album. It's brooding and intense, and a new video is the perfect opportunity to revisit it – but you have to feel sorry for poor Rory. Still, it could be worse – at least he isn't having to fend off burglars with improvised traps like his brother Macaulay used to.
Traams – 'Flowers'
If you grew up in Britain in the ’80s or ’90s, you probably remember the sludgy substance known as 'gunge' which used to be used on TV programmes to intimidate children. It seems that Traams, who formed in Chichester a couple of years ago, certainly do: in their latest video, they're splattered with the stuff while their track 'Flowers' clatters along like Devo playing Neu!. It's silly, but it works, and the song's a cracker. Get their album 'Grin' when it comes out on September 16.
Botany – 'Anchor'
From Flowers to Botany, an electronic producer from Texas whose sultry, dreamy constructions sound like they could form an alternative soundtrack to Disney's 'Alice in Wonderland'. 'Anchor' is from 'Lava Diviner', the debut album by Spencer Stephenson, which is released on October 29 – we're hoping for more of the same, but based on the way that this track's glitchy synths unfold and mutate semi-organically across three-odd minutes, he'll keep us guessing all the way through.
Yoko Ono – 'Bad Dancer'
Here's a match that could only have been made in New York: 80 year-old peace and Twitter enthusiast Yoko Ono has been working with the surviving members of Beastie Boys – the first time Mike D and Ad-Rock have collaborated since the death of MCA last year. The result is this eccentric dancefloor tune, which begins with the delirious declaration, ‘When your heart is dancing/Your mind is bouncing!’ and develops into a bizarre romp of gyrating bass and ecstatic ad-libs. True to form, Oko has produced a song that sounds like a psychedelic dancehall take on Tom Tom Club. It's well worth a listen – just err on the open-minded side.
Wolf Alice – 'She'
North London band Wolf Alice take us back to the peak of grunge on this irresistible new song, in which frontwoman Ellie Rowsell’s vocals range from seductive purring to all-out howling. It's an angst-ridden track that thoroughly deserves airplay in your car with the windows down. If agitated drumming and aggressive guitars were your thing in the ’90s, you need this song in your life right now.
Kim Deal – 'Are You Mine?'
Kim ‘Kind of a Big’ Deal is back. After almost three decades playing bass for Pixies, she left the band last month – and has just released this lullaby-like break-up song. Deal’s soft, wistful vocals – ‘Are you mine? Are you my baby?… Let me go where there’s no memory of you’ should soothe your mind, body and soul, as long as you don’t pay attention to the eerie video. We can’t wait to see what’s next from the ever-intriguing real Deal.
Blouse – ‘A Feeling Like This’
Over the last few years, the New York record label Captured Tracks has been casually building up one of the best indie rosters in the world. They’ve put out remarkable records by Dum Dum Girls, DIIV, Mac DeMarco, Widowspeak, The Soft Moon, Beach Fossils, Minks… and Blouse, whose dreamy self-titled debut album was released in 2011. The Portland trio returned this week with a new single, and it's good news. On ‘A Feeling Like This’, Blouse have solidified their seductive post-punk and swapped dream-pop reverb for the direct attack of new wave, but haven't sacrificed one of their main strengths: the lovely, otherworldly headspace that seems to inform Charlie Hilton’s breathy vocals. You can capture this particular track – and a lot more besides – when Blouse’s new album ‘Imperium’ comes out on September 17.
Big Sean – 'Control'
Big Sean has gone from Kanye’s protégé, via stealing the show on Ye’s track ‘Clique’, to become a bona fide rap star who can garner 1.6 million YouTube views in a week. This lengthy offering features a busy, alarm-bell-laden beat akin to early Jay-Z, with Sean opening with a few immensely quotable quips: ‘You write your name with a Sharpie,’ for instance – ‘I write mine in stone.’ But the song’s supernova of soliloquys belongs to collaborator Kendrick Lamar. His tirade against MC competitors, including Big Sean himself, has caused a media storm. Lamar challenges Drake, Wale, Pusha-T, A$AP Rocky and about two dozen others in what could be the catalyst for a new era of hip hop rivalry. Stay tuned for responses.
TV on the Radio – ‘Mercy’
So, Brooklyn art-rockers TV On The Radio are back with a new track, and you know what? It’s pretty good. After the wandering, Flaming Lips-ish eclecticism of their 2011 album ‘Nine Types of Light’, they’ve stripped things back with new track ‘Mercy’, which goes in low and gritty, the crunchy guitars accompanied by beefed up disco drums and a swooping, spacey chorus. It’s immediate, ballsy and probably catchier than anything TOTR have done before, but still full of artsy flourishes and the kind of inventive songwriting that made us love them in the first place.
Cyril Hahn – 'Raw Cut'
Swiss producer Hahn has become one of the most in-demand remixers of the moment thanks to his knack for turning Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey and Haim – amongst many others – into blissed-out, lo-fi gospel-electro, impressing The xx and Diplo, to just two of his many supporters. He’s now started showing the world what he can do by himself, with ‘Raw Cut’ the more impressive of a couple of recently aired tracks. It’s built on a simplistic, catchy bass hook, bouncy tom-tom rhythm and ‘funky’ guitar loop, which sounds cheesy on paper and could almost be a breaks track from the early noughties, but the UK bass leanings, euphoric touches and Hahn’s production finesse turn it into satisfying post-club fodder that drifts through the speakers with ease.
MGMT – ‘Your Life is a Lie’
Well, here’s a track that’ll fit nicely in the ‘David Lynch’ playlist on your iPod. The latest offering from the ever-art house MGMT is an anthem to rival the likes of Bloc Party’s ‘Song for Clay (Disappear Here)’, with its gruellingly distorted guitars and the haunting mantra, ‘Your life is a lie.’ The video juxtaposes kitsch suburban imagery with a postmodern dystopia, flicking from shots of a living room sing-along to a teddy bear severed at the waist, complete with exposed entrails. If you read a lot of Bret Easton Ellis, you’ll like this song.
Julianna Barwick – 'One Half'
If Peter Jackson had wanted someone way cooler than Enya to write floaty, otherworldly music for ‘Lord Of The Rings’, Julianna Barwick would have been a surefire bet. The Louisiana musician is a master at building up huge, beautiful soundscapes, primarily using loops of her own voice. Her latest single, taken from upcoming album ‘Nepenthe’, retains the fascination with layered voices and gentle musical textures, but treads a more direct route than previous ambient material, with distinguishable lyrics and string parts contributing to the sound. Utterly ethereal, and great if you’re looking for headphone music while you roam around a deserted forest, pretending to be a giant.
rROXYMORE – ‘FItNordf’
The title may sound like someone clearing their throat, but don’t let that put you off. This track from Paris-raised Berlin-based producer rROXYMORE (edgy dance producers, take note; please stop this trend for unnecessary capitalisation. NOW!) is a fascinating, off-kilter fiend. It starts off simple enough, with a solid, bubbling beat, but gradually builds into a jittery tapestry of oddball rhythms, unexpected key changes and synths with a life of their own, all of which winds itself around your confused but grateful brain and refuses to sit still for its eight minutes and 22 seconds. You’ll be gagging to dance to it but you won’t quite know how. And that’s a good thing, okay?
Listen to 'FItNordf' here
Filthy Boy – 'That Life'
Here's an exclusive for y'all: the new video from the dark and often hilarious heroes of south London's indie scene, Filthy Boy. Like the twisted videos for their previous run of singles, it's directed by the band themselves led by twin brothers Michael and Paraic Morrissey (who have also directed videos for the brilliant King Krule, also a Peckham resident). 'That Life' – the song – flips between the homeless narrator's present and his past (perfect house, perfect wife, muscles 'like some guy in a gay magazine'), but the video is only the here and now: the subject's drunken and desperate stagger through night-time London, taking in some landmarks on the way and culminating in a half-crazed chant. It's poignant, sure, but somehow it's hard to feel entirely sorry for the guy…
Omar Souleyman – 'Wenu Wenu'
One of the most anticipated albums of the autumn is the new record by Omar Souleyman, the 47-year-old Syrian musician who has been knocking out intense, brain-rattling shaabi – the street sound of the Arab Middle East – since 1994. Thanks to a string of high-profile appearances in recent years, including working with Björk and Damon Albarn, Souleyman has grabbed the attention of us complacent European types, and 'Wenu Wenu' ('Where is she?'), the title track of the new record, shows why. Produced by Kieran Hebden, alias Four Tet, it's an electrifying 7-minute banger which mixes traditional Arabic music with the sounds coming out of the vanguard of dance music. If you can, plug it into the biggest speakers you can find and blast it out into the street: you may get some police attention, but it'll totally be worth it. 'Wenu Wenu' the album is out on October 21. It's going to be a tough wait.
Audio Push – 'Shine'
Since they burst into the hip hop world's consciousness with their single 'Teach Me How to Jerk' back in 2009, Californian duo Audio Push may not have been exactly hogging the limelight. In fact, they've been downright reticent – but if they're spending their time making tracks like this, then we're not complaining. 'Shine' begins with soft R&B vocals and jazz piano riffs, which are quickly interrupted by perfectly placed horns and effortlessly smooth bars. Their next 'project' (hopefully their long-awaited debut album) is called 'Come As You Are', it's due out in September, and with any luck, it'll be just as intriguing as this single.
Big Deal – 'Dream Machines'
Launching off on an ear-worming guitar riff which ties the whole song together, Big Deal's latest single is as pleasant a chunk of dreamy, noisy pop as we've heard in a while. The video's interesting, too: it looks as though Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood have recruited a new rhythm section. It's Huw Webb and Melissa Rigby, formerly of dramatic darkwave band SCUM, and now making synth-pop with Astral Pattern – and who also happen to be a couple. Considering the are-they-aren't-they questions about Costelloe and Underwood, it's possible that the touring line-up of Big Deal is now a pair of pairs. (Let's hope that things don't start going all Fleetwood Mac.) Not only that, but Webb and Rigby even look a tiny bit like the main Big Deal line-up. So, yes, it's all a bit 'Attack of the Clones' – but it's fine, because the song's awesome, and that's what matters.
Lil Silva – 'No Doubt' (feat. Rosie Lowe)
British producer Lil Silva delivers a delicious dose of minimal-maximal house with his latest single, ‘No Doubt’. The mellow track builds up relatively slowly, starting with a stripped electro beat and then adding gospel-inspired vocal layers, including delicate harmonies from London singer Rosie Lowe. Having worked with the likes of Sampha and SBTRKT, Lil Silva is quickly coming to the forefront of the UK underground scene – despite the fact that he apparently lives in the sleepy county town of Bedford. Oh, and among his supporters is the hyped US singer Banks, a previous collaborator of Silva's who's been urging her fans to give this track a listen. We suggest you follow her lead.
Mod Carousel – 'Blurred Lines'
This gender-swapped version of Robin Thicke's kind-of-creepy 'Blurred Lines' video did the rounds early this week, but if you haven't seen it yet then you really should. Mod Carousel are a male burlesque trio from Seattle, who decided to flip Thicke's video – which has been accused of misogyny and perpetuating rape culture for having its male stars fully dressed and surrounded by nearly-naked women – by replacing Thicke, TI and Pharell with women and having the men strip off instead. Not only does it raise interesting and worthwhile questions – how does it feel to see the men being objectified? Is it less valid for a woman to say 'I know you want it' than it is for Robin Thicke to say it? Oh, and what's with the balloons? – but it also means you can listen to what is undeniably a really catchy pop song without wincing at an unreconstructed depiction of the male gaze. Awesome.
Clean Bandit – 'Rihanna'
We love Clean Bandit, the super-classy London group who make sparklingly clean, dance-informed pop music with strings. This new track, 'Rihanna', is on the same EP as the excellent 'Dust Clears', which we featured a few weeks ago. We couldn't help giving the group another shout-out, though, when we saw this simple-but-effective performance video, and heard the track: a thumping piece of minimal chamber R&B which namechecks not only Rihanna but Nirvana too. Let them take you back to 2006 – or 1996, if you prefer.
Holy Ghost! – 'Teenagers in Heat'
Speaking of going back, it doesn't get much more retro than this: the ’90s-tastic new video for Holy Ghost!'s 'Teenagers in Heat'. The song, produced by James Murphy, is a pulsing electro-pop number along the lines of When In Rome's 'The Promise', full of analogue synths and electronic drum flurries, and the video uses VHS effects, skate stickers and today's conveniently referential fashions to flash back to New York circa ’94. It sure isn't aesthetically progressive, but it's nostalgic enough to bring a tiny lump to the throat of of practically any twenty-or-thirty-something in the western world.
Hyetal – 'Jam the Network'
…and while we're on a nostalgia kick, how about this? The new track and video from Bristol producer Hyetal's second album 'Modern Worship' – produced by CGI artists The Great Nordic Sword Fight – is like the kind of nightmare you'd have after staying up playing Playstation until three in the morning. That's the original Playstation, by the way: the rapidly flashing polygons, too-smooth glides and terrifying, hallucinogenic faces and graphical glitches are the stuff of classic platformers like 'Spyro the Dragon', 'Crash Bandicoot' and 'Croc'. Even the music sounds like a video game soundtrack, albeit with a dreamy, transcendent quality which the PS1 would probably have struggled with. Good thing, too – imagine the mental effect on the young generation if computer games had actually looked and sounded like this.
Fat White Family – 'Auto Neutron'
Anyone remember The Metros, Peckham's straggly, sub-Libertine punk 'n' roll group? Well, through a strange alchemical process (via stints as The Saudis, Champagne Holocaust and Meat Divine, and gaining and losing members along the way) they've turned into one of London's most exciting and disturbing young bands. 'Auto Neutron' is the first track on their debut album, 'Champagne Holocaust'. A sparse and slow opiate nightmare of organ, wah guitar and cultlike chanting, it's about as life-affirming as being dragged through barbed wire – but who said music had to be uplifting? Turn the lights off, plug in your headphones, set Thomas James's Lynchian video to full screen and press play. You'll feel disgusted, horrified, and thrilled to the bone. You'll want to watch it again. And then you'll probably need to take a shower.
The Weeknd – 'Belong to the World'
What a week it's been for limelight-loather Abel Tesfaye, alias The Weeknd. He delivered his first ever interview, released his fourth video and pissed off Portishead – and that was just on Monday. Geoff Barrow of the Bristol hip hop band took to Twitter to directly accuse the singer of being disrespectful, after Tesfaye sampled Portishead's 2008 song 'Machine Gun' without the band's permission on this new track. Sample wrangling aside, if The Weeknd continues releasing singles like this it won't just be fellow musicians he's upsetting. Loyal fans are bound to feel a little let down by his latest offering. He's replaced his unique, mellow and breathy vocals with a much more commercial sound complete with a catchy chorus, and you can't help but feel depressingly underwhelmed from start to finish. Consider this The Weeknd's 'strike one'.
Friends – 'The Way'
Fresh from producing the new album by original Sugababes MKS and working with Solange Knowles, super-producer and ex-Test Icicle Dev Hynes has produced this stunning new track by the svelte Brooklynites who call themselves Friends. It's a stop-gap between their last album, 'Manifest!', and the forthcoming follow-up (no news yet on whether Hynes will be working on that too), but it's far from a sop thrown to the blogosphere to buy some time. As sultry as anything we've heard from Friends so far, 'The Way' adds stadium-rock guitar and a R&B beat to the band's high-saturation dream-pop. The result is something which sounds a lost hit from '80s FM radio, the kind of track which gets rediscovered 20 years down the line and single-handedly sparks a major musical trend. Hip kids of 2033: we're looking at you.
Yuck – 'Rebirth'
We'll let the kind-of-on-the-nose title of this one slide, because 'Rebirth' is one of the best comeback tracks we've heard in a while. After young Londoners Yuck released their superb self-titled debut album in 2011, things went quiet for a while – and then their frontman, Daniel Blumberg, ran off to make lo-fi alt rock as Hebronix. We're pleased to report that the slimmed-down Yuck are still as noisy and sweet as ever, but even more pleased to be able to say that their new track 'Rebirth' is a hot mess of shoegazing guitars and misty synths. Instead of ripping Pavement-like through noisy slacker-rock riffs, Yuck Mk II seem determined to power on into the kind of churning serenity pegged out into My Bloody Valentine. 'Rebirth', in fact, wouldn't have been entirely out of place on the shoegaze pioneers' own recent comeback release. To summarise: Yum.
The Hics – 'Tangle'
'This is what heaven sounds like,' swoons one fan of The Hics on their YouTube channel – and we have to admit this song certainly does seem to take you to a higher place. The subtle guitar notes and heady bass whisk you up to a sort of R&B Promised Land, where you can just chill on a cloud and let Roxana Dayette's atmospheric vocals put you into a dream. The sextet, previously students at the Pimlico Academy, began putting tracks on their SoundCloud some time last year but 'Tangle' will be their debut single, hitting record shops on Aug 19. Fans of Jessie Ware, James Blake and AlunaGeorge take note: this band could be your new obsession.
Joey Bada$$ - 'Norwegian Breakfast'
Taken from Jonny Shipe’s latest mixtape ‘OIL: 710’, Joey Bada$ demonstrates why he’s the talk of the hip hop world at the minute. Rapping effortlessly over Bagir Ba’s ‘90s-inspired track, complete with soulful horns and an addictive bass, Joey proves that modern day hip hop is still capable of transporting us back to a better time: a simpler time, when Nelly was just the name of an elephant.
Shangaan Electro – ‘Kulungwani’
What’s that, you’ve made a bangin’ new dance track at 140 BPM? Yawn. Move over to the slow lane and then get some shangaan in your life. Shangaan is a frenetic South African street dance that’s attracting crazy-loads of buzz at the moment (funnily enough, we flagged them up as a recent clubbing pick), thanks largely to the ace Shangaan Electro collective (featuring South African producers Nozinja and Tshetsha Boys), who blend the hyper-speed – but somehow still gentle – rhythms and vocals with keyboard marimba bass. Sound-wise, ‘Kulungwani’ is the perfect intro to shangaan, and the video above contains just a taste of the incredible, physics-defying dancing which sits at the centre of the scene.
Ariel Pink and Jorge Elbrecht – ‘Hang on to Life’
Pretty much anything that neon-haired poster boy for the alt/dream-pop scene Ariel Pink does is going to be well worth a listen (his sublime 2010 ‘Before Today’ album especially), and his latest song, a collaboration with Jorge Elbrecht of New York haze-pop act Violens, is no exception. ‘Hang on to Life’ grabs the sunnier sides of both artists’ musical personas and runs with them, through a field of brightly coloured flowers, before joyously twirling round and then going to grab a malt and hang out at the diner with your buds. As ever with Pink, there are hints of heartbreak, but overall it’s a beautifully summery pop trip – complete with those unmistakable vocal hooks – that evokes nostalgia in an intelligent and very appealing way. Countless derivative psych bands of the moment take note.
Nothankyou – ‘Know Yourself’
'We met on Myspace.’ How many times have we heard that phrase from collaborating musicians? Well, here’s another example, but don’t worry, it’s got far more longevity than Myspace itself. Nothankyou is experimental pop multi-instrumentalist Tom Vek and Olga Bell from US alt-indie rockers Dirty Projectors, two thoroughly quirky musicians who’ve combined to produce this delightful crossover electro track. A bubbling synthesised bassline hits you immediately, before ‘Know Yourself’ locks into a groove that combines an irresistible cowbell rhythm with wandering female vocals and the kind of leftfield guitar riffs that both Vek and Bell thrive off. More from Nothankyou? Yesplease.
Letherette – ‘After Dawn’ (Bibio Remix)
Garage-referencing house and bass duo Letherette have been making some very enjoyable examples of colourful, accessible dance music recently, collected on their self-titled debut album that was released earlier this year. Their latest release, scheduled for August 26, is the single ‘After Dawn’, a warm, electro-infused track taken from their album. All well and good, but perhaps even more appealing is the remix from experimental electronic folkster Bibio, who gives the track an irresistible genre-hopping makeover, starting off by adding nostalgic, wailing synth-funk and a whiff of French disco, before stripping things back and working the track into something approaching ghostly electronica, finally layering some chunky, distorted beats over the top that flirt with drum and bass and dubstep, before flittering away into the ether before you have time to realise what’s going on.
Ta-ku – ‘I Miss You’
Australian producer Ta-ku may be a relatively undiscovered talent this side of the pond, but that could all be about to change. His debut album ‘Dowhatyoulove’, released in June, showcased his incredible knack for creating original and versatile tracks. On ‘Boom’, he manages to perfectly blend a Nas-inspired hip hop beat with an electric sitar – quite a feat. ‘I Miss You’ is Ta-ku’s latest offering and the track’s true beauty lies within its tranquillity. Keeping things simple with only a couple of vocal layers, gentle drums and a soft bass, this song deserves to be on Sunday BBQ playlists across the country.
Obits – 'Taste the Diff'
Remember when The Strokes were good? Obits are that good, or possibly even better. Also from New York, they're about to release their third album ('Bed & Bugs'), which is the point at which The Strokes had started their ongoing downward spiral. It doesn't look like Obits will be going that way – not if 'Taste the Diff' is anything to go by, anyway. It's a sneering, kick-ass indie-punk storm which probably doesn't have anything to do with Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' range – although it does offer extra value, dying down at the two-and-a-half-minute mark and then launching back into a final 60 seconds of thrashing garage punk. 'Bed & Bugs' is out on Sub Pop on September 9.
Bondax – 'Giving It All'
Channelling the soulful, vocal house of the ’90s and firing on both barrels, this is the latest track from Bondax. Like the Lawrence brothers of Disclosure, Bondax's Adam Kaye and George Townsend have been making high-class dance music together since they were too young to actually go to clubs – they're still shy of 20. Unlike the UK garage-obsessed Lawrences (and despite being signed to Relentless, formerly home of Artful Dodger and So Solid Crew), Bondax are more into juicy 2-step bass grooves and R&B vocals. Watch out for these two: the charts beckon.
Money – 'Hold Me Forever'
If you haven't heard of Money, then it's time to listen up. It's quite possible, though, that you may have heard of them when they were called Books, or Youth, or Kunst, or Méké Menété – they've changed their name several times since they formed in 2010, but they seemed to have settled on Money for the release of their brilliant debut album 'The Shadow of Heaven'. They've gained a reputation as intellectuals, too, as a result of quoting philosophers on their Facebook page and saying that they're more influenced by ideas than by music. Whether you buy into that or not, their drift-and-fade, rise-and-fall approach to songwriting is something special: 'Hold Me Forever' is a butterfly of a song, fragile and beautiful but flying high. And that's even without the video, a beautiful thing directed by actor Cillian Murphy and focussing softly on dancers from the English National Ballet. 'Lovely' is a much-abused word, but this is just that.
Ballet School – 'Heartbeat Overdrive'
Speaking of ballet: here's Ballet School, a British band living in Berlin who have only been together since December, but who are already sounding as tight as you like. 'Heartbeat Overdrive' is their first single for Bella Union, and it's a thing of pulsing glory that sounds like an R&B remix of Kate Bush covering Cocteau Twins. It's just a shame John Hughes isn't around any more to build a film around it. Ballet School play The Shacklewell Arms on August 23 – sign up for a free ticket here.
Fyfe – 'Conversations' (Fryars Remix)
The arena-style applause that London artist Fryars has added to the beginning and end of 'Conversations' – a track by Paul Dixon, now Fyfe and formerly David's Lyre – isn't so much an ironic joke about a new artist as, perhaps, the shape of things to come. Dixon sounds a tiny bit like Justin Timberlake, and although his productions are weird, spacy things, there's an irresistible R&B groove within each one which could propel him into the big leagues. Ben Garrett of Fryars has messed things about further with his remix, vocally speaking, but his addition of a hyperactive rhythm track suggests that Dixon has enough soul and rhythm to sound smooth under any circumstances. Basically, this is one hell of a summer jam. Download it for free from Fyfe's Facebook page.
Pixies – 'Bagboy'
Okay, so it's not quite the two-decade wait that we had for the latest My Bloody Valentine album – but nine years is a long time to wait for Pixies to give us something new. After founding member Kim Deal left the band exactly two weeks ago, it looked like we'd have to wait even longer. But look a little closer at recent interviews with the band, and it starts to seem that Deal – who is currently leading the reformed Breeders – was the main thing standing between Pixies and a new album. Whether that's going to happen or not is still up in the air, but today we got the first Pixies track since their reunion single, 'Bam Thwok' – written and sung by Deal – came out in 2004. Reactions to 'Bagboy' have been mixed, possibly because the electronic introduction means it doesn't even start sounding like Pixies until just under two minutes in, and possibly because it's weird hearing someone else (Jeremy Duns from Massachusetts band Bunnies) singing backing vocals in the style of Deal. We like it, though – and even if you don't, you've got to say it's good to have them back nonetheless, as creepy and noisy as ever they were.
British Sea Power – 'Loving Animals'
Much cuter – though, in typical British Sea Power style, still pretty creepy – is the new video by Brighton's finest psychedelic rock band. We adore the various small fuzzy things growling, miaowing, bleating and jumping around in the 'Loving Animals' video, although if you're afraid of birds it'd probably be best to give this one a miss. The song's great too – a choice cut from their latest album 'Machineries of Joy', it has enough trippy pop energy to have you jumping around like one of those baby goat. We like it a lot, and we're really, really hoping it's not a twisted ode to bestiality.
Hayden Thorpe and Jon Hopkins – 'Goodbye Horses'
First recorded by Q Lazzarus in 1988, 'Goodbye Horses' is an utterly gorgeous track with nasty assocations thanks to the tuck-and-dance scene in 'The Silence of the Lambs'. It doesn't seem like the kind of song that can be covered all that well, despite half-decent stabs by Kele from Bloc Party and Canadian darkwavers Psyche. But here's a minimal piano-and-vocal take that almost touches the original, courtesy of London's very own electronic genius of the moment, Jon Hopkins, and honey-voiced Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts. It'll be issued on limited 12-inch vinyl next month by Mon Amie Records, as the B-side of a 25th anniversary reissue of the Q Lazzarus track – so you'll have one version for ecstatic dancing, and another for floating gently off into space.
Dirty Beaches – I Dream in Neon
This is the latest video from Alex Zhung Hungtai, the man behind hauntology project Dirty Beaches, in collaboration with director Michael Lawrence. 'I Dream in Neon' is one of the standout tracks on Dirty Beaches' latest album 'Drifters/Love Is the Devil' – in our album review, we called it a distant cousin of Iggy Pop's Berlin anthem 'Nightclubbing' – and the video is perfect: shot in Hamburg and Berlin, it's a sort of Iggy-meets-David Lynch ride through the city at night, where the seedy ripped back sides are blurred by garish signs and countless cigarettes. Set it to full screen and get lost.
Sisu – 'Two Thousand Hands'
Supporting Dirty Beaches on his US tour this autumn is Sisu, the synthy shoegaze band led by Sandra Vu when she's not bashing the drums for New York's Dum Dum Girls. And conveniently, Sisu also have a trippy new video this week. 'Two Thousand Hands', off the 'Light Eyes' EP, gets a blurry, kaleidoscopic and mirrored visual treatment, with live band footage interspersed with some pretty disturbing stock footage. 'In the mirror caught me twice,' sings Vu as she reflects across the screen before the whole thing builds to a strobe-lit climax. Twice as nice.
Honeyslide – 'Deep Architecture'
Exclusive track premiere
Here's an exclusive first listen and free download of a new track by London shoegazers Honeyslide. It's called 'Deep Architecture', it's one of the lead tracks on their new ten-inch EP on Critical Heights. Packed with slack, airy vocals and what sounds a bit like Kevin Shields and J Mascis having a guitar-duel, it's a tone-bending, mind-melting, hazy summer storm of a song – perfect, in fact, for London this June.
Honeyslide bring their to the Waiting Room next Wednesday to launch the EP, with support from some super-special secret guests. We recommend you get down there. And bring hearing protection.
Clean Bandit – 'Dust Clears'
If all that guitar distortion is too much for you, here's something a little bit more, er… clean. It's the title track of the new EP by Clean Bandit, a group of musicians from London via Cambridge, and it's the shape of things to come. You see, Clean Bandit are primed to go off in a big way. They have the connections: 'Dust Clears' was co=written with Disclosure collaborator James Napier, and they're signed to Black Butter Records, home of Rudimental and Lulu James. And, after storming singles 'A+E' and 'Mozart's House, this new track is further proof that they're ready to join their peers in the big leagues. 'Dust Clears' is a tricky beast, with three distinct parts: after a minute and a half of sparse, Hot Chip-inflected house, it breaks into a jerky, wonkly garage beat with vocals by Swedish singer Noonie Bao, before exploding into glorious, funky disco-house – with strings on top. Any of those on their own would be great, but all three is a real treat. Oh, and the self-directed video is incredible (food polygons, ponies, magic violin tools, ice-skateboarding…). Watch the charts for these guys.
Washed Out – 'It All Feels Right'
Ernest Greene, the man behind the Washed Out name, was hailed as the 'king of chillwave' when his debut album 'Within and Without' came out two years ago. But times and microgenres have changed, and so has the sound of Ernest Greene. His new track, streamed ahead of his second album 'Paracosm', is as sensual and dreamy as ever, but instead of synth-strafed echoes of the ‘80s, it's the psychedelic ‘60s that loom fuzzily through the Washed Out haze. Fans of Tame Impala or Unknown Mortal Orchestra will approve. Turn off your mind, picture yourself in a boat on a river, turn on, tune in… wait, is that a Mellotron?
Arctic Monkeys – 'Do I Wanna Know?'
Well, do you? Here's the deal: Arctic Monkeys, one of the best British bands of the twenty-first century, have been together for more than a decade, and can still leave most other bands in the dust. Thanks partly to a working relationship on their last two albums with Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age, their music just keeps getting bigger and tighter, and here's the latest stage in that progression: 'Do I Wanna Know?', a towering riff monster with a thumping blues heartbeat, and a big, big brain. Watch the video for some bonus NSFW animation.
Badbadnotgood – 'Hedron'
Arctics have got you tightly wound? Here's something that'll loosen you right up. Toronto's finest electronic post-jazz trio BBNG, who have links to LA's Odd Future brat-rap collective and are enviably young and talented, have made this new track available for free download (in two different formats, audiophiles) from their website. It's a skittering, shifting, rising and falling thing of beauty, dismantled and rebuilt from hip hop, electronica and jazz, and it's got us all excited for their London show in a couple of weeks' time.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay'
It's Friday, and the sun has returned after a week of damp grey misery, so to celebrate here's wonky soul band Unknown Mortal Orchestra (whose record 'II' this week made our list of the best albums so far this year) with a divine take on an Otis Redding classic. Forget whatever Simon Cowell has told you about 'making the song your own': UMO know very well that you can't take 'Sittin'…' away from Otis, so for their take on Marc Riley's BBC Radio 6 show they've done nothing radical with it. Their warm and trippy (and ever so slightly spooky) take just cranks up the reverb and adds some crunchy, vaguely psychedelic guitar slides, to make an ideal soundtrack for wastin' time in the sun.
Museum Of Love – 'Down South'
Suicide, Soft Cell, the Pet Shop Boys, Yazoo… It's an acknowledged Pop Fact that synth-and-vocal duos have made some great records. The latest twosome to try the format out are Museum Of Love, with vocals by Pat Mahoney – formerly drummer in LCD Soundsystem – and machinery by Dennis McNany of The Juan MacLean. Of course, another acknowledged Pop Fact is that drummers should never sing, but if Phil Collins can do it then Pat Mahoney definitely can. He's pretty good, too – a little David Byrne, a lot Bryan Ferry – and it all sounds very sleek and groovy over McNany's retro synths. Actually, the only thing about 'Down South' that we're not too keen on is the album art, which looks like it's been lazily Photoshopped together in five minutes by Marilyn Manson. But who cares? It's the music that matters, and we predict great things – including, inevitably, a sweet James Murphy remix.
Snakadaktal – 'Ghost'
What is a Snakadaktal? It's a cross between a snake and a pterodactyl (obviously), as drawn by the members of this Australian dream pop band during a boring maths class. They don't have to do maths any more, because they've finished school and formed a five-piece dream-pop band, so they're free to channel all that creative energy into lovely tracks like 'Ghost', which is included on their forthcoming debut album 'Sleep in the Water' (August 2). Whereas Snakadaktal once fused legless reptiles with extinct flying ones, nowadays they combine the all-consuming chillout electronica of 'Moon Safari'-era Air with plaintive, minimal balladry in the style of The XX, plus a dash of chillwave. It's great stuff, but here's a word of warning: if you're ordering the album, make sure you don't confuse Snakadaktal with Shakatak.
Fun Adults – 'For Water'
If you were a child in the ‘80s or ‘90s, there'll probably be something hauntingly familiar about the stunning new video for Fun Adults' track 'For Water'. It's a jumpy, flickery animation, full of dancing figures which look like something Henri Matisse might have created if he'd lived 40 years longer and worked for Disney. The song is great, too: clanking and shuffling, rising and falling, packed with vocal harmonies and discordant keyboards, it's a Wild Beasts-meet-Four Tet wet dream.
Nadine Shah – 'To Be a Young Man'
Nadine Shah is starting to scare us. We first wrote about her back in November, and tipped her as one of our 2013 ones to watch, so naturally we were excited to see her new video – but what is seen cannot be unseen. The song is masterful, a stalking, Bad Seed-y alt rock beast that sounds a lot more ambitious than the Newcastle singer-songwriter's early solo piano material. The video, while just as impressive, is probably the creepiest (literally – entomophobes, beware) we've seen all year, even including that Nick Cave video with Ray Winstone and the prostitute. We love Nadine, but now we're worried we're meddling with some deeply, dangerously dark stuff. We've washed our hands, but we still feel dirty. Where will it end? Nads only knows.
Teleman – 'Steam Train Girl'
Back in November we heard the first single from Teleman, 'Cristina': a lovely, organ-led, four-minute gem that tapped into the Syd Barrett/Kevin Ayers vein of pastoral English pop. Now, here's the follow-up: the appropriately chugging 'Steam Train Girl', which brings the glistening electronic elements of 'Cristina' into clearer focus, but steps up the classic pop whimsy too. Think 'Village Green'-era Kinks meet Kraftwerk (with a hint of The Pastels' 'Truck Train Tractor') and you're off to the right start. Full steam ahead!
Jeremy Deller – 'Voodoo Ray'
Is there anything better than steel drums? How about solid-gold acid house classic 'Voodoo Ray' by A Guy Called Gerald? Or how about… both? This unusual take on Gerald Simpson's 1988 single was created by the artist Jeremy Deller, in collaboration with upmarket London record shop The Vinyl Factory, for this year's Venice Bienniale. Deller has form in this sort of thing, having produced the Acid Brass project in the late ’90s, but for the 'English Magic' EP which includes 'Voodoo Ray', he's also gone beyond dance music. Check out the full release, which includes reinterpretations of Ralph Vaughan Williams and David Bowie, on The Vinyl Factory's Soundcloud page.
Cloud Control – 'Dojo Rising'
Australian indie band Cloud Control put out their rather brilliant debut album 'Bliss Release' way back in 2010 and followed through by supporting Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend, but we haven't heard much of them since then. It turns out that's because they've been busy relocating to the UK and recording their second album in rural Kent. Here's a first listen to what came out of those sessions. 'Dojo Rising' is a dreamy, drifting three-way meld of Animal Collective, Fleetwood Mac and MGMT, and suggests that the second Cloud Control album 'Dream Cave' (out in September) should be a worthy successor to 'Bliss Release'.
Hot Chip – 'Dark and Stormy'
Here's a track that really lives up to its title. The latest release from London's boldest synth-pop band is all introspection and minor chords, but it's also irresistibly danceable – a combination that places it squarely in the tradition of New Order or even Visage's 'The Anvil'. 'Dark and Stormy' is an offcut from Hot Chip's latest album 'In Our Heads', and features veteran avant-garde drummer Charles Hayward (of post-punk group This Heat) on percussion. In an offbeat move typical of the group, it's being issued as a ten-inch single with a collaborative Japanese version of 'Look Where We Are' on the B-side. If that floats your boat, it's out on July 22, two days after the band warm up for Kraftwerk at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk.
David Lynch – 'I'm Waiting Here' (feat. Lykke Li)
Having spent more than three decades making some of the creepiest films ever committed to celluloid, and becoming both a cult figure and a major influence on the Hollywood mainstream, David Lynch released his debut solo album 'Crazy Clown Time' in 2011. This week he announced that he's following it up this year with 'The Big Dream', and made this taster track available. 'Crazy Clown Time' had everything from jazz-informed ambient tracks to vocodered lectures on transcendental meditation, but Lynch has described 'The Big Dream' as a 'modern blues album', and by the sound of 'I'm Waiting Here' it's going to be a slightly more traditional affair. There's a direct line between this and Lynch's gorgeous collaborations with Julee Cruise and Angelo Badalamenti in the early ’90s, but this time the director has picked up Lykke Li to sing over a lilting electronic doo-wop. It could well have been Lana Del Rey – whose entire career so far seems to have been an audition for a David Lynch film – but Li beautifully combines Lana's langorous, metallic purr with Cruise's childlike, barely-there whisper. If 'The Big Dream' follows this template it won't be as weirdly fascinating as 'Crazy Clown Time', but it's sure to be a whole lot more likeable.
Crooked Hands – 'The Stream'
It's not quite clear whether Crooked Hands is a solo project or a five-piece band, but either way it seems that frontman and singer-songwriter Christopher Brown is the man in charge. He's got a wistful, aching voice that sounds like Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold one minute, and like Billy Corgan the next – which works perfectly, because 'The Stream' flows terrifically from dense, finger-picked acoustic guitar lines and resonant stabs of piano to huge, distorted riffs and explosive drums. It's thoroughly stadium-ready and should blow your socks off, which makes it even more incredible that – and you might want to sit down for this bit – 'The Stream' is only Crooked Hands' second single. Time will tell, but it's just possible that Mumfords-style success is on the horizon…
Fuck Buttons – 'The Red Wing'
Cult noise maniacs Fuck Buttons originally formed to make a one-off film soundtrack and have stayed resolutely outside the mainstream ever since – partly because of their name, of course, but mostly because their brand of distorted, euphoric electronic madness is hardly Top 40 material. So it was a bit of a surprise when two of their tracks boomed out to a worldwide audience of 900 million peopel during the opening ceremony of last summer's London Olympics. Thankfully, their new material doesn't show any signs of compromising to anyone who heard their name for the first time last July. If anything, in fact, 'The Red Wing' – which is the first track (or rather snippet) from the Bristolian duo's third album 'Slow Focus' – takes their sound to new heights, with a scorching groove and fidgety samples that'll rush into your ears and give your brain a good scrubbing. We can't wait for the full version –hopefully it'll last a good ten minutes or so.
Drenge – 'Backwaters'
Drenge is what would have happened if The Black Keys had grown up in rural Derbyshire rather than suburban Ohio. Their hometown (it's more of a village really) is Castleton, outside Sheffield, and judging by the video for their new single 'Backwaters' it's the kind of place where the only things for bored teenagers to do are drink, fight, kiss, and smash and burn things. The brothers' surname is Loveless, so by playing blues-rock they've missed out on an incredible opportunity to form a My Bloody Valentine tribute act. But it's okay, because 'Backwaters' is a big old stomp with stoner rock riffs, listless vocals, and lyrics which could be about any small town from Essex to Oregon –although the line about riding the last bus to the end of the line should resonate with anyone who's ever lived a few stops too far away from the centre of town.
Pins – 'Stay True'
A few years ago there was an all-female London band making lo-fi music with ’80s indie pop influences, called Pens. They're not to be confused with this lot: an all-female Manchester band making lo-fi music with ’80s indie pop influences, called Pins. As well as a totally different vowel in their name, Pins set themselves apart with their ambition – judging by their new single 'Stay True', that is. It's a scratchy, chiming, churning track that strives for epic heights with some eerie chants and a rigid bassline, and while it's not perfect, it does suggest that Pins could have a bright future as underground heroes.
Young Fathers – 'Mr Martyr'
Edinburgh isn't known as a hotbed of urban music – its most famous musical export, after all, is still The Proclaimers – but if there's one group who might change that, it's Young Fathers. Their new single 'Mr Martry' provides two reasons. Firstly, some stunning musical innovation: everyone from Meat Loaf to Lady Gaga has used the iconic drum beat from The Ronettes' 'Be My Baby', but when was the last time you heard it on a hip hop track? And listen out for the plaintive, fuzzy and superbly moody dub-soul groove which kicks in just after the two minute mark. And then there's the second reason that 'Mr Martyr' marks out the Scottish rap trio: their languid, murky flow. Watch out, Proclaimers: Young Fathers are on their way to making Edinburgh the Atlanta of Scotland.
Prince and 3rdEyeGirl – 'Fixurlifeup'
Warning: this is very, very silly. But if you're not expecting that from Prince by now, then you may need a sense-of-humour transplant. And just because Prince – leading his new all-female band 3rdEyeGirl – is eye-boning the camera and wearing a pair of sunglasses made out of… wait, is that gauze? Anyway, it may be ludicrous but it's also damn funky and contains the brilliant lyric 'another brick in the misogynistic wall of noise'. It's also the most interesting thing we've heard from Prince in a while, and he even seems to have re-embraced the internet after saying it was 'completely over' in 2010. Presumably his next album won't be distributed, like 2007's 'Planet Earth', exclusively on the front cover of the Mail on Sunday.
Fair Ohs – 'Green Apple Milk'
What's the opposite of an incredibly hench man giving birth to a baby? A big hairy guy having money thrown at him, duh. Those tropi-punks Fair Ohs returned two months ago with single 'Ya Mustafa' (and a video of aforementioned muscle), and now, a week before the release of their second album 'Jungle Cats', they've put out a disturbing accompaniment to 'Green Apple Milk'. Blaring brass parts set the song up for a mournful instrumental breakdown that'll have you peering through fingers at the sorry state the masked feller has got himself into. It's an uncomfortable end compared to the joyous outcomes protagonists have had in their previous vignettes. And all he wanted was an ice cream ferkrissakes!
Bloody Knees – '100 Days'
Bloody Knees are a bunch of snotty punk kids from Cambridge who make riotous pop-hardcore. They sound like they've got a thing for the morbid themes and 'whoah-oh' vocal parts of the Misfits, as well as SoCa skate-punk from the ’90s, and '100 Days' – the second track of a limited edition EP issued only on tape, natch – is a big, toothless, sickly grin of a song. It makes us want to punch a wall and vomit in a field, and there's not much music around right now that can make that sort of thing sound hella fun. If you've still got a cassette player, the 'Bloody Knees' EP is out on June 17 and you can buy it here.
Jagwar Ma – 'Man I Need'
Step right up for a mind-expanding musical tour of ’90s dance! As we move seamlessly from something like The Chemical Brothers' 'Private Psychedelic Reel' to an echo of 'Screamadelica', and on to the Haçienda and even a brief visit to The Boo Radleys – all underpinned by an inescapable backbeat shuffle – you'll be treated to some awesome trippy visuals that work pretty well on the small screen, but would be even better projected onto a twenty-foot wall at a warehouse rave for full effect. It's all the work of Jagwar Ma, the Australian dance duo whose debut album 'Howlin’' is out on June 10. And if this isn't quite enough for you, there's a ten-minute version on Soundcloud. 'Ave it!
Ai Weiwei – 'Dumbass'
Hey, look – some Chinese heavy metal band have named themselves after dissident artist Ai Weiwei and made a music video for their new song 'Dumbass' that uses a lookalike to reenact scenes from Ai's notorious arrest in 2011! Wait, what you do mean that's actually Ai Weiwei in the video? Next you'll be telling me he actually wrote and sang the song too. He did? Boy, is my face red. Apparently the lyrics to this track – which are rather rude if you understand Chinese – rail against Chinese state control in the severest of terms, making 'Dumbass' such a brave gesture that it doesn't matter quite so much that it's, well, not all that good. If you do like it, though, Ai is due to release a whole album of this sort of thing later this year, called 'The Divine Comedy'. And if you can't wait that long for an unexpected heavy metal album by a prominent non-musical figure on the international culture scene, then Christopher Lee's 'Charlemagne: The Omens of Death' is out on Monday. We're not even kidding.
Temples – 'Colours to Life'
Some people think that James Bagshaw, the frontman of Temples, looks like Marc Bolan. What he actually looks like is one of those creepy, addled middle-aged men who hang out in Soho nightclubs and think they look like Marc Bolan. But so what if he may have slept in that sheepskin coat at least once? Obviously we're not going to judge his band on appearances – not when we've got a jangling psych-pop future classic like 'Colours to Life' – and some pretty, retro visuals – to distract us from Bagshaw's disconcertingly nest-like barnet. So far Temples have ridden a wave of hype without releasing all that much music, but thankfully 'Colours to Life' is a step up from their first single 'Shelter Song'. That debut release was a Fabergé egg of a track: yes, it was lovely, sparkling and obsessively detailed, but what could you actually do with it? 'Colours to Life' is just as impressive, but it's not just a retromaniacal exercise but a lysergic rush, something you can really get into, maaan. You dig?
Mount Kimbie – 'You Took Your Time' (feat. King Krule)
We've known that a King Krule kollaboration was coming ever since Peckham electro-wizards Mount Kimbie announced their second album 'Cold Spring Fault Less Youth' back in March. And yeah, we were pretty excited. But we weren't expecting anything quite this stunning. Across the duo's fizzing, ambient R&B track, King Krule – that's Archie Marshall, a south Londoner who makes his own foggy, rock 'n' roll-influenced bass music – intones a chilling, leering vocal part that hovers just on the edge of full-on rap. It's so menacing, in fact, that you'd never guess he's a skinny ginger teenager with a thing for check shirts. And – more good news – there's one more Krule-featuring track on Mount Kimbie's new album, which is shaping up to be one of the year's highlights. Whatever you do, don't miss it.
Fryars – 'Can't Stop Loving You'
Remember the heady days of 2009? Gordon Brown was in Downing Street, Lady Gaga was a rising star, and Ben Garrett released his debut album as frYars. Well, times have changed and so has the way Garrett capitalises his one-man alt pop project. He's about to finally follow up 'Dark Young Hearts' with a new album called 'Power', and this week he teased us with this rehearsal footage for a new song called 'Can't Stop Loving You'. It's pretty timeless, and that's not just because of the classy black-and-white filter. Full of classic guitar ploinks and bends and John Lennon-y piano chords, and with a solid chorus that – with a few minor tweaks – could have come out of a transistor radio, Walkman or boombox any time since about 1968, 'Can't Stop Loving You' suggests that 'Power' is going to be something rather special. The only trouble is there's no release date yet, so keep your ears open…
Solange – 'Looks Good With Trouble' (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
Typical – you hear the new Mount Kimbie track and think you've found the week's best guest appearance, and then Kendrick Lamar comes on and makes it impossible to choose. Let's recap: Solange is Beyoncé's talented little sister, and she's been making some gorgeous, '80s-indebted synth-soul and R&B with producer Dev Hynes, the man behind Lightspeed Champion and Blood Orange. Got it? Right. Well she's just dropped this velvety, slightly Sade-ish track, and it's all very nice, but it's only when Kendrick drops in for a stark guest verse that things really take off. Describing the isolation of touring and the flip-side of hip hop party culture, the Compton-born rapper depicts himself sleepless, stuck on a tour bus, searching for a wi-fi signal with 'James Mason on repeat'. Brilliant, melancholy stuff that – alongside Mount Kimbie and King Krule – goes to show that as long you get the right cooks, you can make a damn good broth.
Petite Noir – 'Noirse'
In our 'ones to watch' feature at the beginning of the year, we tipped Petite Noir – or Yannick Ilunga, as he's known when he isn't making electronic tropi-pop – as a man who was going to achieve great things in 2013. He's clearly not the kind to let us down, since 'Noirse' (the latest single by the South African) is a lovely thing of yearning that'll appeal to indie kids and dance heads alike. And it looks like he's enjoying life in London too: anyone who lives in Finsbury Park can spot their local bowling alley in the 'Noirse' video.
Girls Names – ‘Hypnotic Regression’
In their latest video, Belfast post-punk band Girls Names invite you to undergo a spot of hypnosis. You'll see things you thought you'd forgotten: a girl with a moustache, the same writhing on astroturf, the same girl in a bath, and brushing her hair, and reflected in a mirror staring straight at you. Who is she? And why does she have such a thing for owls? Don't ask us. We're just busy enjoying the band's latest single – a clever, dark, reverb-heavy motorik clatter that drives deeper and deeper into your brain with every delayed guitar chord.
MØ – ‘Pilgrim’
Danish singer Karen Marie Ørsted, aka MØ, is the owner of one seductive set of pipes. So much so, we’re willing to bet they’ll end up rivalling Lana Del Rey’s. On her debut single ‘Pilgrim’ – which is remixed by Ms Mr on the B-side – she delivers a delectable falsetto over a collection of off-kilter beats, xylophone plinks, heady blasts of brass and handclaps. Fans of Grimes will surely approve. Catch the sultry songstress at Cargo on Tue May 14.
Sulk – ‘The Big Blue’
They've got Charlatans bowl-cuts and Graham Coxon breton tops, their photoshoots come with mandatory Gallagher-style vacant pouts, their name is (possibly) derived from a 1994 Radiohead song and – yes – they sound an awful lot like The Stone Roses. So it's just as well that Sulk can back it all up with some truly solid songwriting. It's a skill they honed in a past life (with a different rhythm section) as The Ruling Class – a fact which their Wikipedia page, weirdly, doesn't mention – and it's still serving them well. Sulk's debut album, 'Graceless', came out last month, and 'The Big Blue' is one of the standout tracks: big drums, a huge chorus, and great guitar lines by Tomas Kubowicz which raise the spirits of two Jo(h)n(ny)s: Squire of the Roses, and Greenwood of the pre-electronic Radiohead. And those lyrics? She's not a waterfall – she's a big, blue ocean.
John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’
This is John Newman's first single, but when he starts singing you'll probably recognise the voice straight away. That's because he's already had a Number One hit on the UK Top 40: he sang for Rudimental on ‘Feel The Love’, as well as the follow-up ‘Not Giving In’, so he's no stranger to radio play. Which is good, because with ‘Love Me Again’ he could be on track for another, this time off his own bat. With shimmering strings and honking saxes, and a super-dry backbeat, there's plenty of classic soul touches to match the video: a star-crossed retelling of Romeo and Juliet in a Northern Soul club, with some classic Wigan Casino-style moves on display. But it's not just an exercise in retro – it's a 24-carat chart-buster too. When the weather picks up again, expect to hear it blaring out of a whole lot of cars.
Newman plays a live show in London – his first headline date – on July 11. If you fancy going, you'll need to sign up over at his website before tickets go on sale on Wed May 15.
David Bowie – ‘The Next Day’
Warning: gore, nudity, and other potentially offensive stuff.
The Bowie comeback rolls on, and so does the Duke's canny media strategy. Pissing off the Catholic Church has been good for business since long before Madonna made it with a black Jesus in 'Like a Prayer'. For the title track off his new album, Bowie's done it in style, recruiting Gary Oldman to play a horny, violent priest and Marion Cotillard as a stigmata'ed prostitute. Dave himself plays Jesus, of course. If you don't find it hideously offensive, it's all very entertaining. And perhaps the best bit is the very end. 'Thank you, Gary. Thank you, Marion. Thank you, everybody,' says Bowie – in a voice straight out of 'Jackanory' – and disappears back to Bowie heaven with a burst of light and a single bell. Classy.
Bibio – 'À tout à l'heure'
That's French for 'laters', but don't let the language fool you: Bibio's music is as English as they come, falling into the same strain of experimental electronic pop as Brian Eno, Aphex Twin and (most recently) East India Youth. 'À tout à l'heure' – funky and bassy, but nothing that John Martyn wouldn't have recognised as a proper song – has had a pastoral, psychedelic video treatment to promote the release of Bibio's new album 'Silver Wilkinson' on Warp Records. Most of the grainy footage is from 8mm film shot by Bibio over the last 13 years, and he's written some interesting stuff about the video concept on his blog. In exchange for your email address, you can grab the track for free from Warp's site too.
Wild Swim – 'Another Night'
If you like Wild Beasts, then you'll almost certainly love Wild Swim. They're from Oxford, and they've got the same blend of soaring, soulful vocals – it's always nice when someone in an indie band really sings, isn't it? – with dreamy instrumentation that occasionally does something totally unexpected. This is their new single, out on May 6, and it's an eccentrically gorgeous track that's still surprising after five or six listens.
Baths – 'Miasma Sky'
May 28 – when Baths's second album 'Obsidian' drops – seems a long way away. His debut, 'Cerulean', came out in 2010 and was full of glitchy, skittering electronic pop, like Flying Lotus if he was more into Prince and Deerhoof than free jazz. 'Miasma Sky', the first track off 'Obsidian', is something different: more straightforward, more dancefloor-ready, but still marked by a strange beauty, the occasional jagged edge, and Will Weisenfeld's sublime, high voice. He may be from suburban LA, but we can guarantee that 'Miasma Sky' is perfect for the London sun.
Kelis – 'Jerk Ribs'
Her milkshake used to bring all the boys to the yard, and it's been rumoured for a while that she has a cookbook in the works – and now Kelis has branched out into Caribbean catering. This storming, horny, finger-lickin' good stomp marks a big comeback for the R&B star, who hasn't had much success (apart from a couple of collaborations with Skream and Calvin Harris) since she scored a handful of enormous hits a decade ago. If 'Jerk Ribs' is anything to go by, it sounds like TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek (who produced this song and the rest of her new album 'Food') is just the man she needed to get her fired up again. Don't be surprised if you end up bouncing hard to this track at Notting Hill Carnival in August. You can download it over at Pitchfork.
Daughter – 'Get Lucky'
Since 'Get Lucky'-mania struck in mid-April, there have been many artists who have put their own spin on the feet-itching first single off Daft Punk's new album. London band Daughter might be the strangest – after all, their minimal, drifting brand of gothic shoegaze is about as far as you can get from the badass, rock-solid funk grooves of Daft Punk's collaboration with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers. It would be like if Slowdive had covered Michael Jackson, or something. But (weirdly) it works a treat. With a big, distant cloud of super-reverbed guitar and a barely-there rhythm track, Daughter's take on the song is pinned down by Elena Tonra's intimate, almost anguished vocal. It transforms the euphoric hedonism of the original into a paranoid desperation that approaches Morrissey's on The Smiths' 'How Soon Is Now?' – as though, unless Elena gets lucky tonight, horrible things will happen.
The XX – 'Together'
They may not be a jazz-age swing band, but in some ways The XX are the ideal choice to soundtrack 'The Great Gatsby'. Half their lyrics sound like F. Scott Fitzgerald lines anyway, and with their sparse beats and guitar lines they sound as though, like Jay Gatsby himself, they're hovering on the edge of the party, isolated by the lives of others going on around them. This is their contribution to the music for Baz Luhrmann's new film version of the novel, and it's sublime. Structured around a repeating synthesizer that ticks like a green light flashing across dark water, 'Together' towards its end also rolls out the dramatic strings that crept onto The XX's most recent album 'Coexist'. Remember the first time you heard Radiohead's 'Talk Show Host' in Luhrmann's 'Romeo + Juliet'? Don't be surprised if this gives you the same shivers.
Jon Hopkins – 'Open Eye Signal'
Jon Hopkins may have been born in south-west London, but the video for his intense new single is set far, far away in the California desert. Director Aoife McArdle has taken Hopkins's moody and thoroughly atmospheric house track and used to soundtrack the journey of a lone skateboarder as he travels out through the suburbs, past industrial estates, picket fences and vineyards and through the sunblasted landscape. Where has he come from? Where is he going? And why? Only one thing's for sure: you can't do that on Wimbledon Common.
Archie Bronson Outfit – 'I Was A Dead Duck'
This is the second release on Dan Carey's new Speedy Wunderground record label, which isn't quite like other labels. The Speedy Wunderground manifesto specifies that each track be recorded by Carey in one day – live, in the dark, with smoke and lasers, with minimal overdubs and no lunch break – and mixed the next, then issued as a run of 250 seven-inch singles 'as soon as humanly possible'. Oh, and every record has to feature the Swarmatron analogue synthesizer. It's a pretty harsh work ethic – Archie Bronson Outfit got hungry and had to bend the rules and go for lunch – but it's had incredible results so far: the first single was Steve Mason and Emilia Torrini's excellent 'I Go Out' back in February. ABO's contribution is a worthy follow-up, twisting the band's old mutant blues guitar clatter into something more krautrockish, with a great break-down-and-build-up midway through. And – what do you know? – the Swarmatron sounds great. Grab one of those 250 seven-inches from May 6.
Vessels – 'Attica'
There must be something trippy in the water in Leeds. Only a month or so after we were hit right between the ears by a towering psychedelic masterpiece called 'Pearl Mystic', by Hookworms, along came their fellow Leodensians Vessels with this awesome slab of blistering, far-out post-rock, which smashes together churning guitars and bass, techno-informed synths and the occasional slash of U2-meets-My Bloody Valentine guitar. They're admirably untrendy-looking, and they sound fantastic. Long may Yorkshire's psychedelic underground continue.
Jessie Ware – 'Love Thy Will Be Done'
Martika's much-maligned 1991 single gets a fresh lick of paint courtesy of one of the world's finest new soul singers: Brixton's Jessie Ware. Prince produced (and co-wrote) the original, and while we don't know who's put together the backing track on this one, they seem to have done a slightly better job than the purple one: it pops and pulses in a way the watery original didn't, without sacrificing its smooth gospel vibes. But the star of the show, as always, is Ware's gorgeous, breathy vocal, which sounds like it should be soundtracking the best sex scene ever filmed.
Bwani Junction – 'Civil Wars'
One of our favourite new bands is Filthy Boy, and we're also very keen on Vampire Weekend, so it was a nice surprised to find out that there's a Scottish band making indie music that's pitched perfectly between those two points. Edinburgh boys Bwani Junction have in fact already been around for a few years and played a few festival dates, but they've caught our attention with their new EP 'Civil War' (April 29). This is the anthemic title track. If it leaves you wanting more, here (until the album comes out) is the group's cover version of Psy's 'Gentleman' in the style of Mumford And Sons.
Daft Punk – 'Get Lucky' (feat. Pharrell Williams)
So, here it is: the new and funky-as-hell Daft Punk track, released in full after weeks of fake versions and false alarms. It has it all, really: a pumping house-disco bassline, a masterfully foot-itching funk guitar line from Nile Rodgers, some silky vocal moves by Pharrell and those damned Parisian dance-bots punching vocodered hooks all over the shop. It even has a bit where the bass cuts out then slams back in, followed by some sleek Studio 54 strings – perfection. If this doesn't get you moving, book yourself a check-up.
Azealia Banks – 'Yung Rapunxel'
Remember when Nicki Minaj tried to get all scary at last year's Grammy's, and it all went a bit wrong and ended up looking a bit like a lame tribute to 'The Phantom of the Opera'? Well, when Azealia Banks wants to get scary, she gets really damn scary. Like, red-and-yellow-eyed-owls-flying-out-of-the-screen scary. Tiny-mouths-instead-of-eyes scary. Smashing-bottles-on-riot-police-in-an-apocalyptic-mist scary. And that's without mentioning the hand with an eye on it. Or the mechanical bull. Luckily, though, it's not all about the video – 'Yung Rapunxel' is a cracking new track from the young New York MC, with an industrial edge and spades of dark rave synths. In fact, it sounds like she's swapped a musical diet of ballroom-scene house for a new obsession with The Prodigy. It all bodes well for Banks's much-delayed debut album, which is due, er, any day now.
Gold Panda – 'Brazil'
It's coming up for two and a half years since Derwin Schlecker (or Powers, depending on who you believe) released his excellent debut album 'Lucky Shiner' as Gold Panda. Now, at last, he's on the cusp of releasing a follow-up, called 'Half of Where You Live', and this is the first taste we've got of what's on it: a shining, shimmering, drifting but dancefloor-ready piece of electronic bliss called 'Brazil'. What with its dreamy, otherworldly vibe, it sounds like Gold Panda might be referring less to the South American country and more to the Terry Gilliam film. Crank this one up so you can listen out for the sublime bass melodies.
Savages – 'Shut Up'
With a good chunk of the world now plugged into 24-hour social media, it's strange that there hasn't been much music made to address the theme of information overload. Savages, one of London's very finest young bands, have seized that theme with both hands. They've banned phones at their gigs; they've embraced the principles of musical purity, sincerity and passion in an age of ironic distancing and reference points; and, in a spoken introduction their latest video, they've waged war on the 'constant distraction' of the internet age's 'many stimulations'. 'You are distracted,' they say. 'You are available.' Yes, that's you – you there, gawping at your computer screen with your iPad in one hand and your phone in the other and your shortened attention span. Our advice: do as they say. Close all your other browser windows. Press play. Listen. Watch. And, for just over five minutes, shut up.
BONUS TRACK: Melt Yourself Down – 'Fix My Life'
Warning: strobe-heavy video!
Melt Yourself Down is a London-based coming-together of free-thinking musicians from some of the capital's leading groups, including Acoustic Ladyland, Heliocentrics, Zun Zun Egui and Hello Skinny. 'Fix My Life', which was their first physical release, is a scalp-frazzling chunk of psychedelic funk with a suitably eye-watering video that we ran on the Mixtape back in February. Now MYD are about to release their blisteringly weird and wonderful self-titled debut album, and we thought we'd run 'Fix My Life' one more time. If you don't want your mind expanded, look away now.
Thousand Island is a new self-contained music venue and late, late night club, in what used to be Upstairs at The Garage on Highbury Corner. Following a recent refurb, The Garage – a live music venue that’s been hosting major gigs since 1993 – is now hosting up-and-coming artists, as well as club nights in its intimate, upstairs space (with added mirrorballs on the ceiling). And it's within easy reach of Highbury & Islington station for when you need to stagger home on the night tube.