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Fresher Sounds - The best new music - 22/01/18

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This week has been a boon for new releases.

We’ve not just had a bumper crop of singles, but also albums and EPs.

Up and coming New York electronica artist, Negative Gemini put out her EP Bad Baby on Friday – worth checking out if you’re into spacey, melancholic synth soundscapes with powerful vocals. Other notable releases include a new Belle & Sebastian EP, How to Solve our Human Problems (Pt. 2), new I Like Fun from They Might Be Giants, a new Tune Yards album I can feel you creep into my private life, a new EP from ShitKid, This Is It and the much-anticipated Hold on To Your Heart from Aberdonians, The XCERTS.

Here's the rundown of the music you should have been listening to this week.

Hockey Dad – I Wanna Be Everybody

This Australian duo have a lo-fi aesthetic and charming, nostalgia-inducing music videos as well as fundamentally good song writing underneath it all. Thus, it’s a little disheartening to see they’ve made something of a departure from this in their latest single. They return with a generic grungy chord progression and the whole track feels like one big chorus. Let's wait until their latest album, Blend Inn is out before we judge though - it might make more sense in context.

Nightmares on Wax – Shape the Future

The track, released in mid January, starts with warm building synth-stings that wail and swirl, creating an atmosphere akin to the opening of an epic Western; this then bizarrely gives way to a Latin vibe with a syncopated bass line. The instrumental is certainly interesting, if a little incoherent compared with the rather vapid nasal vocals on top. 'Shape the Future' is the title track of the artist's new album due out on 26 January.

Franz Ferdinand – Feel the Love Go

Reinvigorated after the triumphant collaboration that was FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks – if you hadn’t heard of them before, please check them out!), the Glasgow group return after five years with a stonker of a single. Sparks helped the band embrace their inner craziness and it shows here on the phat, farting, saw wave synth bass over an unashamed disco beat. The sax solo near the end is amazingly unhinged and the lengthy fade out reveals the darker theme of the narrator’s consciousness of a party gone on too long.

Genghar – Before Sunrise

Psych-tinged indie pop group, Genghar are back with a lush four minutes of perky guitar and pleasant melodic bass making one pine for the glory days of Bombay Bicycle’s debut. Clever pedal work transforms the lead motif out of stringed confines into some kind of shifting organ timbre. Trebly ornaments chirp on the washed out chill vibes, creating an abstract blended landscape.

Moose Blood – It’s Too Much

This one is real rock ballad from the Kentish emo group, Moose Blood, although subtler guitar work is somewhat undermined by overly perky drums. Where the track excels is in it’s vocal harmony, it’s wonderfully noisy and deserves repeated listening for its lyrical content. Fans of anything in the direction of Brand New should definitely check this one out.

Paddy Hanna – Tolouse the Kisser

This dry recording from Dublin-based, Paddy Hanna is reminiscent of the whimsy of early Noah and the Whale. It’s kept thudding along by a persistent muffled kick drum and has a faintly psychedelic feel. The track seems to be in older mode of song-writing than today’s contemporary hits; rather than simply singing over an instrumental, the whole song is geared to showcase Hanna’s rich and characterful voice.

Frankly, I mutate, his latest record, is due out 2 March.

Sugar Candy Mountain – Beachwood Park

Californians, Sugar Candy Mountain deliver a wee psych-pop gem here in their cover of The Zombies' ‘Beachwood Park’. Tremulous drawbar organs bring the bulk of instrumental interest behind reflective, nostalgic and faintly melancholic themed lyrics. Submerged guitars cut in towards the end in what is a warm and satisfying self-contained listen.

Sextile (feat. Sienna) – Current Affair

Oh yes. Right from the off this is an instantly loveable track with its retro sequencer being used to full effect. The 80s new wave vibe is joyful, but the message underneath is more serious, addressing issues of unscrupulous journalism and climate change. Guest vocalist and actor Sienna Scarritt says, "The song is a verbal refusal of getting caught in this current of delusion. It’s a plea to the world to wake up”.

Its percussion is wonderfully robotic, yet despite being artificial, the synths tones are warm and rich in all their analogue glory.

Already with two albums behind them, A Thousand Hands (2015) and Albeit Living (2017), their creative flow shows no signs of drying up.

The Nectars – Heaven

New Jersey punk group, The Nectars demonstrate their boundless energy on their new track ‘Heaven’. It starts with aggressive distorted bass, then come the strident vocals of the charismatic female vocalist, who looks almost Robert Plant-like in this video (and it’s not just the hair). The chorus is rather emo generic, but the verse stands out as something to be excited about with its messy yet tight guitar work, not to mention a superb breakdown towards the close. This band is certainly one to keep on the radar.

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