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Fresher Sounds - The best new music - 26/03/18

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After a week in which the last male northern white rhino in existence passed away and Cambridge Analytica again made the headlines for its algorithm-based electioneering we have to take solace in constant renewal of music.

As university pension disputes drag on and the second semester enters its final few weeks, the latest in new tunes might have some part in getting you through it all.

Aside from the bleakness, here’s the best in releases:

Phum Viphurit – Lover Boy

22-year-old singer-songwriter, Phum Viphurit was born in Thailand and spent his formative years growing up in New Zealand; his latest offering is the wonderfully dry recording, ‘Lover Boy’. It simultaneously oozes cool and unflinching self-awareness: “Darling, I’ve got trust issues”. The casually delivered vocal with a touch of light vibrato complements the slightly detuned tremolo guitar in the instrumentation, indicating wavering vulnerability grounded in rock solid bass grooves and percussion. If stylish, witty, DIY songs are your thing then you won’t want to miss this.

Joel Baker – CMWIF feat. Mahalia

London based songwriter, Joel Baker blends gorgeous jazzy guitar with an adorable visual aesthetic in the new video for his latest release, ‘CMWIF’ in which he shares vocals with singer and actress Mahalia from Birmingham. The grainy homemade footage from the London underground is appropriate to the bittersweet nostalgia running through the lyrics in which Baker pines for the return of a broken relationship – his “meals for two last [him] two days” now and he “checks [his] screen for different reasons”. A quiet triumph, this song is best suited to an evening of reminiscence as a catalyst for optimistic melancholy.

Alexis Taylor – Oh Baby

Outwith his contribution to indie-tronica legends, Hot Chip, Alexis Taylor has been working on solo projects of his own for almost a decade. This track, taken from his forthcoming album Beautiful Thing, is primarily piano driving with crazy swirling synth sounds serving as an unhinged backdrop. Taylor’s characteristic nasally vocals are present here, adding a slightly creepy tone to what might otherwise be something you might have heard from the likes of Hall & Oates in the 1980s. One might justifiably ask whether he should in fact write for someone else as a clearly talented songsmith. Yet again, there is something undeniably unique about the uneasy style that results, not to mention that structurally the song builds and builds towards nowhere.

In any case, this is reason enough to anticipate more music to come from Joe Goddard’s partner-in-crime in future.

The Vaccines – Your Love is My Favourite Band

As far as indie legends go, The Vaccines caught the tail-end of the 2000s guitar band boom and still seem to be riding the wave of their peak hype in 2009. This track seems to be making a tongue-in-cheek reference to this era of indie ascendency in the semi-ironic title. Featuring an emphatic hook on the keys, this song is very radio friendly and will likely garner both Radio 1 and 2 airplay. It is rather inconsequential, but a good tune nonetheless and The Vaccines at their most melodic yet. This well-produced single signals the band’s return, although it’s debatable whether they are “back by popular demand” as they claim in the lyrics!

Polychrome – Final Kiss

Again with this track it feels as though one has taken a wee trip in the TARDIS and this time arrived in 2011, just as M83 were releasing the epic Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming to widespread critical acclaim. The vibe on this is very similar to the breakthrough track ‘Midnight City’, although not really in a haunting, reminiscent way. How to put it? It’s rather a direct homage.

gloo – Act My Age

Very new on the scene, but already with a raft of singles to their name, gloo hail from West Sussex and wield the axe of garage punk to break out of what they see as the “drudgery” of daily life. ‘Act My Age’ oozes teen angst, but perhaps this time the authority figure is not the parent, but society itself. At one minute fifty seconds it’s certainly brief, but it’s packed with Placebo-like guitars and full-bodied snarly vocals.

Let’s Eat Grandma – Falling Into Me

The first thing you notice when listening to Let’s Eat Grandma (after you’ve got over the highly questionable band name) are the childlike vocals with a strong vernacular inflection. These stick out not only for their sonic unorthodoxy, but also, in this track, for their prominence in the mix in relation to the instrumental. The soundbed in question is very pleasant. Toothy synths bite down and morph into interesting directions, helping to create interesting textures and fractured grooves. However, it’s not just the grooves that are fractured, but the whole song structure, which is quite fragmented and thrown-together. Nonetheless, the duo manufacture an interesting vibe, which could mature into future significance.

Spilt Milk Society - Amsterdam

Formed in Birmingham, Spilt Milk Society take the indie chic of the Arcitic Monkeys’ AM and inject it with pop sensibility and theatricality, as this single amply demonstrates. The orgiastic accompanying video shows that their ambition extends beyond projecting an aesthetic swagger and somehow manages to convey introspection amidst the campy antics. Confidently downtempo, the track really opens up towards the end where some synth kicks in and we’re treated to a smattering of brass and an unashamed guitar solo.

Vistas – Calm

New Edinburgh four-piece, Vistas add their song ‘Calm’ to a string of singles released this year and it’s a tight, catchy gem of a track. Dryly recorded and with compact hook after hook, it ought to get much radio play. Above a locked-in rhythm section soar floaty, synth-brass embellishments, but even the bass is allowed moments of melody. Perhaps the track caters a bit too much to the ear-worm-craving listener in its use of cliché millennial “woah-oh-ohs” and “heys”, despite this the band can be praised for their retention of authentic Scottish accents.

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