30/09/13: Radio Radio - Subway
Although debatable whether it’s a story set on the tube or an ode to a footlong meatball melt, it’s pretty clear that London buzzband Radio Radio’s new track is an absolute cracker. Kicking in with a jangly guitar riff akin to The Rifles, it mixes a sharp combination of tight drums and throbbing bass before leading into a chorus that rocks around more than a Tube train. It’s hugely promising stuff – and although the track may see Louis Mueller infectiously singing ‘Sorry girl, but I can’t see the future’ – we can definitely see that it’s looking blindingly bright for them.
24/07/13: King Krule - Easy Easy
At an age where many are still contemplating whether to finally throw out their embarrassingly vast collection of S Club 7 memorabilia, Archy Marshall is crafting quirky, stripped-back tracks with an eclectic range of influences. His stage moniker may be named after a character from Donkey Kong Country, but his work is far from childish – ‘Easy Easy’ combines the snarl of The Enemy’s Tom Clarke and life as an urbanite with pointed conviction, and substitutes any instruments other than his echoing guitar with raw vocal power. In a time saturated with over-produced music, ‘Easy Easy’ is extremely refreshing, and Marshall’s early success and nomination for BBC’s Sound of 2013 proves that at the end of the day, emotion is King.
13/07/13: Babyshambles - Nothing Comes To Nothing
Babyshambles may be fronted by lovable rogue Pete Doherty, named after booze and used as a side-project when drug-fuelled tension was rife in the Libertine camp, but ‘Nothing Comes To Nothing’ is slicker than La Roux’s fringe – a polished combination of jangly guitars and poetic lyrics (‘You were playing so fine / scooping up the soul of wine’). Its sugary melody mirrors The Cure at their most euphoric, and apart from a snippet of the descending chord trick often used by Babyshambles and The Libertines, everything’s pretty safe and predictable. This does mean the soaring chorus is able to shine through, but it’s lacking the erratic unpredictability which usually goes hand-in-hand with Pete Doherty’s work, and ultimately made his work so refreshing and superior back in The Good Old Days.
10/07/13: Franz Ferdinand - Right Action
2004. Mark Zuckerberg begins his reign of internet tyranny. George Bush is consistently moronic. And Franz Ferdinand kick some serious butt. Fast-forward nine years and the refreshing art-rock of Franz-Ferdinand’s platinum selling debut album seems so far away. Yet in the world of Alex Kapranos, not too much has changed – ‘Right Action’ is still the same blend of dance-rock with irresistible riffs and cryptic lyrics (“How can we leave you, to a Saturday night on a Sunday morning?”) and hints a return to the form of their original material. So whip out your Nokia Brick, call-up your mates, slam on ‘Right Action’ and party likes it’s 2004.
02/07/13: The Vaccines - Melody Calling
Ditching their blend of bratty pop tunes and punky style, Melody Calling sees the band instead channelling the sun-kissed sound of Real Estate. The reverb is back - not as a faux-effect to mask Justin Young's previously dubious vocals - but to add a dreamy quality to the track. The lyrics are a bit so-so (you'd expect more from Young - he's recently penned lyrics for One Direction), but the chiming guitars and chilled nature are both infectious and quintessentially summery. Even fan-favourite Freddie gets to feature a little more prominently with a slick guitar solo - proving that the fourpiece have more depth than the three chords of their debut first suggested.
01/07/13: Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know?
Suck it and See may have the delightfully woozy Brick by Brick and the brutal Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved my Chair, but the moment Do I Wanna Know explodes into action, you realise it's in a different territory. It's as if Alex Turner has bottled the spirit of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the form of one of the most badass riffs the Monkeys have crafted. There's not much else to see here - the riff and the handclap drumbeat are the main ingredients in the mix. But when the riff is that ferociously infectious, there's no need for gimmicks. Even the Sheffield accent returns at times - "Simmer down and pucker up" - and their new heavier, QOTSA sound leaves their confused, last effort to rot.
30/06/13: Bloc Party - Ratchet
After a lukewarm reception to Four and its lead single - the one-dimensional Octopus - Bloc Party have gone guns ablazing for dance-punk stormer Ratchet. It's easy to see why Ratchet could bomb harder than a nuclear warhead - the outrageously tacky lyrics - "Tell your bitch to get off my shit / smoking on that homegrown" and the fact that I'm still convinced that the beat is part of a Dizzee Rascal track - yet somehow, it works. It may be the funky bassline, the caustic guitar delay or the fact that Kele raps some drivel over the Grooviest Beat of the Year. Regardless of how - Ratchet may whiff slightly of mid-career crisis, but it reeks of summer tune.
04/06/13: The View - Standard
It would be unfair to say that The View haven't released some decent songs - Same Jeans is a stomping festival-favourite and Grace is an undoubtedly great anthem. However, you have to take most of their songs pretty lightly - the lyrics are always simplistic and the notorious Three Chord Rule seems to have been done to death. Standard is so light and insubstantial that its three minutes float by (praise the lord) and it begs the equally simple question - WHY?! To put a new track on a Greatest Hits compilation (that is meant to celebrate their career) concerning the oh-so-relevant and interesting topic of fancying your friend's Mum is just as bad a decision as it sounds. It’s not like they even do it ironically - the disastrous chorus consists solely of "Your Mum's alright / (Standard)" and the clichéd emotional sounding bridge/refrain exploited by all their songs can only be taken as seriously as a flamingo sporting a snapback. Even that would've had better lyrics.
24/05/13: Frankie & The Heartstrings - Nothing Our Way
Poor Frankie and his Heartstrings. You'd think that having the name Frankie Francis would make you pretty unstoppable in the music industy. But enter the second album - Frankie's lost his iconic quiff, and half of their fanbase still consists of pizza-gorgers who hummed along to the aptly named "Hunger" in that godawful Dominos Advert. Nothing Our Way documents their dissapointment ("Nothing is Going our Way") in 3 and a half minutes of glossy indie-pop. Frankie Francis' voice is as distinctive and quintisentially Geordie as ever, and although nothing may be going their way they've produced another cracking indie-pop singalong, full of guitar hooks and jumping basslines. PS - I am also at a loss at how I managed to get the word "heartstrings" in two consecutive reviews.
14/05/13: Black Lips - Cruising
Sigh. Nothing tugs at the heartstrings more than a change of character. Take Snoop Lion - A touching transition from urban gangster to Marley reincarnation and now - shock horror - the Black Lips. They may be infamous for their crude onstage antics and adored for their messy garage-rock, but Cruising highlights a New Direction (Another Black Lips song - maybe they prophesised it - ZOMG!!!!) - educational music. Wave goodbye to those rotten driving test revision guides, and say hello to Cruising's great driving tips - "Easy on the gas so the rubbers don't burn" / "Don't go back, don't go too slow" / "When I seen a sign I'm coming to a stop". And a few less common ones - "Signal every single girl". If that weren't enough, Cruising features a road-trip riff before completely changing gear (and tempo) for its barrel-of-fun chorus. It's a fast-paced, frantic garage rock belter, as good as the Lips make 'em. Drive safe, kids.
09/05/13: Editors - A Ton of Love
These days, any old kid with a pinch of charisma can find themselves in front of a microphone, gurgling into mountains of reverb and autotune. And this is what makes Editors so special. In other words - Editors frontman Tom Smith has a belter of a voice, channelling the dark croons of Ian McCulloch, Ian Curtis and that bloke from U2. His band aren't half-alright either - A Ton of Love is a mystical Echo and The Bunnymen inspired track with screeching guitars and a wandering bassline. Okay, so it's reminiscent of Echo and The Bunnymen - but if Editors can write songs that provoke that response, it's a pretty huge compliment indeed.
07/05/13: Vampire Weekend - Ya Hey
Since the dulcet tones of Alvin and his parasitic chipmunks have plagued every audio device they've got their grubby little mits on, Chipmunk remixes (unnervingly high-pitched renditions of songs) have been tragically uncool. Yet dividing indie-popstars Vampire Weekend have pranced onto the scene, added some biblical refrences and actually made the vocal effect socially acceptable, albeit a little iffy. The rest of the song is what Vampire Weekend do best - low key Indie Pop hum-a-longs, with enough sparkle to keep them out of the ordinary and into the slightly eccentric. It even has an anthemic bridge astutely designed for festival singalongs ("Outside the tents / On the festival ground") and a name close enough to Outkast's megahit "Hey Ya" to draw in several hundred uncoordinated typers. They've certainly done their homework.
23/04/13: MGMT - Alien Days
After a three year drought of music, MGMT surprised fans with the Record Store Release of Alien Kids. Unlike the hook-laden hits of Oracular Spectacular, or the Portugal The Man inspired tracks of Congratulations, Alien Days is; frankly - weird. It's a five minute psych haze with no apparent structure, at times undecipherable vocals and synths that sound like they've been directly lifted from the record collections of Mario and Luigi. But it's a grower, and a good one at that. It's of course easy to take the view of most fans, and argue that Alien Days shows the band is maturing, experimentation and new directions are needed, and a return to Oracular Spectacular would be dull and unnecessary. However, take one listen to the euphoric Kids; the anthemic Time to Pretend; or the synth groove of Electric Feel - and maybe a return to those
23/04/13: Lana Del Rey - Young and Beautiful
Continuing the Great Gatsby theme, Young and Beautiful is an epic track with huge impact. In similar fashion to Over the Love it follows her usual formula, and in some ways is similar to Florence and the Machine's track due to both being big sounding tracks with little instrumentation. They are also both similar in the quality of their vocals - both tracks have brought out the best in both artists, wich is certainly saying something, considering that they are two strongest vocalists in pop at the moment.
19/04/13: Florence and the Machine - Over the Love
One of the most greatly anticipated films of this year, The Great Gatsby was sure to be accompanied by a killer soundtrack. The incredible trailer heavily suggested this notion, and the release of Over the Love unequivocally confirms it. Over the Love follows the classic Florence Formula - A mellow introduction led by piano, before slowly building-up to a epic conclusion, aided by percussion. However, this time the music is a little more stripped-back, instead focusing on Florence's beautiful and haunting vocals, which, impossibly, are somehow even stronger than usual. With the soundtrack including tracks from The XX, Jay-Z and Jack White, we can only hope that they meet the skyscraper bar raised by Over the Love.
14/04/13: Miles Kane - Don't Forget Who You Are
Don't Forget... begins with a foot-stomping Dr Feelgood intro before leading into a '70s rock stomp very similar to his previous tracks. Leading into a very upbeat "La La La La" chorus, Don't Forget... is polished, but still a great listen throughout. Miles Kane is becoming a master at creating pop songs with '70s rock sensibilities, and Don't Forget... is no exception. It was reported recently that Noel Gallagher turned down the opportunity to have recorded with Miles on his upcoming album, and with singles like this you can only wonder why...
11/04/13: Tribes - Dancehall
Dancehall is epic. Much like their previously released How the Other Half Live, it is a huge sing-along anthem, that is not only incredibly catchy but also incredibly well crafted, with classic-sounding guitar solos, oscillating piano and huge choruses. The addition of piano to their new tracks adds a new dimension to their compositions, and their new huge American influenced Rock 'N' Roll tracks make the upcoming LP Wish To Scream hugely appetising. The track begins with a succinct but beautiful piano introduction, and then kicks into next gear with a guitar echoing the piano, boasting a beautiful tone similar to that of Smith Western's Max Kakacek. From then on the track builds-up ala How the Other Half Live, and if you're not singing along to the chorus by the end - then you're lying.
10/04/13: Young Dii (Fluent) - Everyday (Beat produced by Sangobeats)
Everyday combines the lyrical swagger of T.I. and A$AP Rocky with an infectious trap beat - one which has been expertly injected with a sultry sample of Romy xx, giving it a chilled vibe. Young Dii spits slick lyrics ("Ain’t going away ‘cause I’m relevant/Chain big but it’s elegant/All gold it’s my element") and it perfectly fits and complements the laid-back and looping beat produced by Sangobeats. Unlike the overly polished and boringly predictable hip-hop often found in mainstream music, the alternative qualities, interesting beat and quick-witted lyrics make it a brilliant track. Everyday's smooth vocals have also drawn comparisons to those of Juicy J's, and played full-blast on a chilled weekend, it would be an especially awesome listen.
09/04/13: Babyshambles - Dr No (Sharks in the Water)
After reports earlier in the year confirmed an in-the-works Babyshambles album, Shambles fans were teased as the band premiered new song "Dr No (Sharks in the Water)" at Parisian venue La Fontania several days ago. Not known what to expect, a first listen revealed that Babyshambles had possibly been once again influenced by guitarist Mike Whitnall's ska background (Previously shown through Shambles song I Wish). Dr No is an infectiously catchy track, kept afloat by the bopping ska/reggae beat. As with much of their back catalogue its pretty erratic - but it’s a fantastic track, and makes predictions for the upcoming album even more hazy - A return to their boisterous, unpredictable rock and roll tracks? Or a reggae reincarnation ala Snoop Dogg/Lion?... BabyLion?!
08/04/13: The Strypes - Blue Collar Jane
With none of the members even 18 yet, The Strypes have exploded onto the music scene, being hailed by music greats from Dave Grohl to Elton John as the next big thing. Although they have been rapidly growing due to their rampant covers of blues classics, Blue Collar Jane is an original song by the band - and is absolutely bloody fantastic. It conveys the rock 'n' roll swagger of the Stones and Dr Feelgood, has a ridiculously cool solo halfway through and a bluesy Keef type riff that fizzes through the track's 3 minutes or so. The fact that they are creating such fantastic classic rock 'n' roll music when none of them are even in adulthood is astonishing - and extremely exciting.
08/04/13: Swim Deep - She Changes the Weather
Swim Deep, one of the leading bands to emerge from the much talked about B-Town scene, have been finding success through their immediate pop tunes such as The Sea and King City. Riding on an immense wave of hype and excitement, they have maintained their rapid-release strategy in the form of She Changes the Weather. Much longer and more thoughtful than their previous tracks, She Changes is an jaw-droppingly beautiful 6 minute journey through teenage romance, that has drawn comparisons to the Stone Roses and is an epic builder of a track, driven by a dreamy piano loop and orchestral synth. Beautifully summery, Swim Deep's tracks are the kind of pop tunes that need to be in the charts and with their growing success and summer album release date - who knows...
07/04/13: Phoenix - Entertainment
Phoenix have always captured alternative music fans across the world through their lightning-fast guitar-driven hooks, and Entertainment is no exception. It features an insanely quick and catchy riff that sounds not too far from Bowie's classic China Girl riff after being injected with a ton of amphetamine. The track's fuzzed-up chorus is huge, and definitely holds the resonance and immensity of their biggest track: 1901. Destined to become a live favourite and (hopefully!) a staple of Phoenix's live sets, Entertainment is a wave of sound that you should definitely jump onto.
07/04/13: Jaldaire - The Apology
Here is something very underground - and pretty damn cool. The Apology finds upcoming and alternative Toronto rapper Jaldaire spitting slick lyrics over a sharp Eastern beat. The track leads into a melodic and melancholy chorus, that is instantly catchy. The genuine nature and fantastic lyrics of the track add to it hugely, and it ends with an awesome guitar/synth solo. Even more impressive is the fact that Jaldaire produced the brilliant beat that drives the track. I'm really glad that I was sent to review this, as its something very different to our other reviews, yet still an awesome track - and one that you should definitely check out!
07/04/13: Deerhunter - Monomania
After a 10 second introduction of pure distortion, Monomania kicks-off as a lo-fi pop song akin to the Black Lips or Wavves. It cruises along with little structure, even at around 1 and a half minutes in as Bradford Cox snarls 'man' there are echoes of record label 4AD's past as you swear you can hear the faint outlines of Pixies' Here Comes Your Man. However, this is drastically displaced from around the 2 minute mark, and from then on until the remaining three minutes of the track are over it is a confused psych-rock stormer, with Cox obsessively repeating "Mono, Monomania". Monomania means to be infatuated with one certain thing, therefore not only being clever through him just repeating that word, but also making the track very memorable and catchy. It builds-up into a fuzz of guitars and distortion until ending with crackling guitars and the engine of a motorbike. Explosive, exciting stuff.
06/04/13: Smith Westerns - Varsity
Quintessentially summer, Varsity is a dreamy pop/rock tune destined to be one of Smith Westerns' biggest hits. Springboarding off the success and critical acclaim of their sophomore effort Dye it Blonde, Varsity takes-off from where they left us and drives it up a notch with more synth and the same beautiful guitar tones. Not only is it stunningly summery but indisputably Smith Westerns - it is a godsend that there are none of the notorious drastic changes in direction that bands try on a third effort - just what Smith Westerns do best - catchy, dreamy and beautiful pop/rock tunes.
06/04/13: Beady Eye - Flick of the Finger
Unexpectedly premiered on Californian radio KCRW radio last night, Flick of the Finger is a driving, orchestral anthem. Starting huge, the track's prospects are exciting - yet it lacks the desired huge chorus that was absent much of the time on Beady Eye's debut. Although it feels like it never takes-off to its full potential, it’s still an excellently aggressive track, with the kind of explosive, orchestral power that a Bond theme generates. The addition of the brass section really pulls the track up a notch, and the style of Liam's vocals definitely add to the song. Definitely a grower.
05/04/13: Crystal Fighters - Wave
The downright notion of mixing traditional Spanish folk with electronic music seems absurd. And yet Crystal Fighters are able to unequivocally pull it off, without any feeling of it being forced. Wave blends these elements which were hugely successful on debut LP Star of Love and creates them into a supremely catchy slice of pop. Even after a first listen Sebastian Pringle's screech of "We're on the same waaaaaaave" will have been embedded into your head. The lyrics are arguably at times a little cheesy - "A universal body/the garden of light" but this is instantly forgiven for the epic and beautiful nature of the track.
04/04/13: British Sea Power - K Hole
K Hole sees Strokesy guitars, a fast-paced drum beat and a synthy bassline, all wrapped up in gallons of fuzz and "Wahhs". Sounding more than a little like their Rough Trade counterparts (and new kids on the block) Palma Violets, K Hole abandons some of the more intelligent lyrics and music that BSP have offered in the past for an absolute belter of a track that's heaps of fun. Not to mention the fact that there's a bloody Polar Bear on the cover of the album, which was released on April Fool's Day. Never have British Sea Power sounded so downright fun.
02/04/13: Primal Scream - Its Alright, Its OK
Channelling the immense psychedelic wall-of-noise which defined their revolutionary LP Screamadelica, Primal Scream have whipped-up a gigantic summer anthem in the shape of Its Alright, Its OK. Borrowing a few bits from their breakthrough hit Movin' On Up, and boasting an immense beat (with the same kind of impact as Sympathy For the Devil's) and a crescendoing layering of noise, it is a fantastic few minutes of psychedelic Stonesy-Rock. Definitely soon to become a modern-classic for the band.
01/04/13: Vampire Weekend - Step
Somehow manipulating Pachelbel's Canon into an indie masterpiece, Step paints a beautiful picture of teenage life in the Big Apple. Although we are treated with the trademark cryptic lyrics of Ezra Koenig and the driving beats that define VW, there is the overall feeling of a more refined, mature VW. It’s destined to become an enormous summer anthem, so grab your shades, whack it on your speakers and pretend to yourself for 4 minutes and 12 seconds that summer isn't still 2 months away. Sigh.
31/03/13: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Under the Earth
A throbbing bassline combined with haunting background vocals drives this four minute stomper. Boasting the resonance and impact of the anthemic Florence and the Machine or the rich sounds of Arcade Fire, the track whizzes by, with the dissapointment of it ending only soothed by a repeat play. Although lacking Nick Zinner's masterful guitar-playing, the pulsating tribal beat and vast synths make-up for it, and just about compensate the godawful upcoming album art.
31/03/13: Peace - Lovesick
Judging from In Love, Peace seem to be extremely accomplished at borrowing bits of music from some of guitar music's most iconic bands. Lovesick is no exception, as it bears an uncanny resemblance to The Cure's "Friday I'm in Love". However, that doesn't take anything away from the chiming guitars and gushing lyrics, nor the huge sing-along chorus. A premature summertime treat.