Have you had time to recover from the spectral assault on the senses that was Eurovision yet?
Credit: Adrian Cantu
From stage invasions to tastes of the operatic and least the one foray into metal, this year’s Song Contest was probably all in all tamer than usual in terms of gimmickry. That said, the Israeli winner did dress like an early 90s Björk and cluck like a chicken during her chorus – but for every rule there is an exception.
Anyway, as an antidote to the weekend’s saccharine pomp and reification of trash, here are a few choice picks of the releases that might have passed you by:
Courtney Barnett – Sunday Roast
Pearl of Melbourne, Australia, Courtney Barnett released on Friday the latest in a series of strong singles from her forthcoming sequel to 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. It’s a beautifully melodic track with simple chord progressions picked out with a subtly overdriven Fender Jaguar. Opting for a more tuneful approach as opposed to the rambling vocals found on her earlier material (and which she carried through onto last year’s collaboration with Kurt Vile), the lyrics are nonetheless poignant behind a superficial simplicity. Speaking of, what one can gather from the song’s title, a ritual family occasion, Barnett voices her gratitude for the support she receives from her nearest and dearest who tell her “your presence is present enough”.
This music video is also great dorky fun – and educational!
Delta Sleep – El Pastor
Brighton-based four-piece, Delta Sleep combine calculation with passion in their new math rock-influenced single ‘El Pastor’, which comes with an enticing and colourful video shot mostly on the pier of their native seaside town. Equal parts bellowed anguish and nimble guitar work over the frantic precision of the drums, this American Football-esque track is infused with a pastel-coloured hipster charm that avoids tedious formula. With all the technical ethic of metal music, Delta Sleep turn down the distortion and amplify the indie, making the homespun rock hard.
Eyesore & the Jinx – Gated Community
This debut single from new Liverpool group, Eyesore & the Jinx certainly pulls no punches with its powerful political posturing and punk pathos. Recorded in a slaughterhouse, this track is about borders – those physical and mental, which we enforce arbitrarily, to our detriment. Beginning in a vein melodically indebted to rock and roll, but sonically harshly overdriven, the instrumentation also has elements of surf rock. It’s within the lyrics, however, that the track really comes into its own, rallying against the echo chamber we can create for ourselves with social media in the lines, “There’s a world outside, it’s not for me/That’s why I live in a gated community”. The 8-bit computer game music video also has some none-too-subtle, nevertheless highly potent symbolism going on – in particular a clever shot involving the US President and Russian dolls.
Self-produced and full of passion, Eyesore & the Jinx ought to be on your radar.
Film School – Crushin’
Film School began in the late 90s and released four studio albums across the 2000s; taking a break from 2011, the band re-emerged with a new single last year and with this latest offering could be teasing towards the release of a new album at some point in 2018. Crushin’ rides the wave of a recent resurgence in shoegaze with this lush soundscape of swirling guitars. Perhaps it is a bit lacking in hooks, but it works as a blissed-out vibe with well-crafted production. We should look forward to what the quintet can achieve spread out over an entire LP.
gloo – Holiday
Unlike it’s fellow 90s genre, shoegaze, grunge has never truly had its resurgence in the same way; perhaps all the angst burnt itself up and now we’re left with the ultra-chill of Mac DeMarco in the search of grimy idols. If there were to be torch bearers of such a revival, then hope, unlikely as it sounds, might be found in Sussex. Gloo bring visceral conviction in their riotous tantrum, ‘Holiday’.
Though gritty and abrasive, the group do not abandon pop sensibility and can write a good chorus. It’s in the verse though that the lyrical gem of “need to get over the day to day today” comes out, epitomising their philosophy of railing against the mundane.
Gizmo Varillas – One People
Spanish musician, Gizmo Varillas released his debut album El Dorado in 2017, a record whose optimism stood out in a bleak political climate. His latest single perhaps cultivates this positivity a little more pointedly, sharing a similar theme to that of Eyesore & the Jinks’ with a broadly “anti-nationalist” tone. However, the summery feel is not dragged down by the track’s politics; if anything, it’s elevated. Perhaps the simple beauty of the lyrics is at times a bit simplistic though!
Loux – Cool
Indietronica trio, Loux hail from Leeds and this second single ‘Cool’ lives up to laid back title featuring lowkey instrumentation – the staccato chucks of a politely picked palm-muted guitar with a warm synth bass underneath creating a glossy midtempo groove. This is offset by yelping female vocals which lend passion to what otherwise might be a rather sterile track, even if the compression of seven syllables into six during the chorus is semantically jarring. Despite this, Loux have put together an effective radio-ready pop tune which is fundamentally sonically compelling. It’ll be interesting to see what they can come up with further down the line.
Jonwayne – Last Last Fall
Californian rapper Jonwayne offers up an introspective brand of lo-fi hip-hop injected with a healthy dose of jazz and self-deprecating irony in his latest single ‘Last Last Fall’. A minimalist, sultry aesthetic punctuated by metallic snares and tinny hi-hats with a nonchalant keyboard chord progression serves as the backdrop for his poetics. As the crackle of a dusty record simmers gently away, Jonwayne approaches the subject of love without self-worth with credible candour, as well as adding metatextual touches in the repeated line, “make it laaaaaast.”
Kero Kero Bonito – Time Today
Kero Kero Bonito carved a sonic niche in their use of the most basic Casio keyboard technology to create naïve but also, on some level, uncanny pop delights; no to mention their bilingual Japanese and English lyrics. The band took a slightly more organic direction in their TOTEP EP released in February, swapping their synths for guitars and experimenting with elements of atonal noise. This latest single ‘Time Today’ ditches the Weezer-like pop rock of TOTEP but doesn’t simply recall the gaudy joy of Bonito Generation, instead striking a somewhat melancholy note. Its shuffling beat and innocent vocal delivery cannot detract from its core darkness about the dangers of being too idle, compounded by its brilliantly unhinged music video.