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Fresher Sounds - The best new music - 25/06/18

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“And a man who must say ‘I am king’ is no true king at all.”

So said A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin in A Storm of Swords. In a world where the politics of the symbol seem so dominant a brief confrontation between French President, Immanuel Macron and a teenager sparked a debate about the importance of “respect”. For Macron clearly “manu” went too far, but it’s hard to say whether he could have foreseen the consequences of this exchange; the footage of which went viral and led the boy in question to be socially ostracised at school.

In any case, these, I would humbly propose, are the tracks that are this week worthy of your respect. Although you are in no way compelled to agree. That, after all, is democracy:

Bad Religion – The Kids Are Alt-Right

Giants of the 80s US hardcore punk scene, Bad Religion return here with a track whose classic rock instrumentation contrasts with sharp political commentary on fascisms new-found appeal amongst the youth. What might be trite and sloganeering is actually insightful, witty and in the bridge brilliantly ironic, with its mocking cry of “We love God/We love our women/We love tradition/We love kin”. It packs a lot into the space of 2 minutes 43 seconds not only in lyrics but also in musical switch ups. The song acts as a recoil in horror at what “meme magic” has been able to achieve and declares what the band magnificently describes as a “post-light alt-right endarkenment order”.

Das Kope – Ready for the Summer

Brazilian musician Das Kope is new on the scene having honed an off-kilter sound in his boxy LA apartment for years prior to the release of these curious results, which in some respects seem to parody the aesthetic of contemporary pop, refracturing it through a warped, psychedelic lens. Its distorted introductory vocals open up to a tasty bass tone, yet there’s something that stops one from fully embracing the disco-like timbre and breaking out the moves – it’s been slowed and stretched so as to be deliberately un-danceable. This gives the song an eerie, uncanny quality that might owe something to vaporwave if it were based on current chart music instead of 80s B-sides. Clearly drawing heavily from the likes of Tame Impala in its indulgent phaser scoops, the track draws to a conclusion by waxing yet more wonky, fading out to fuzz guitar.

Foxing – Slapstick

Foxing are sonically distinct. Combining a post-rock mission with hipster emo leanings and a roster of instruments atypical in the genre (particularly brass) they have succeeded in carving out a niche across their two studio albums to date. This single takes a slightly new direction for the band as brass is swapped out in favour of a fuller, electronic complement. Conor Murphy still employs his signature falsetto but the yelps and shouts of before are smoothed out somewhat in a track that takes a more meditative tone. It’s downtempo, emotional and multi-layered, reaching the depths and subtleties that have gained them so many devoted fans thus far, building on what they’ve achieved.  

Gorillaz – Hollywood feat. Snoop Dogg & Jamie Principle

Gorillaz, seemingly in the same spirit as their contemporaries Death Grips, have been dropping single after single in the run up to their forthcoming album The Now Now. This latest offering sees Damon Albarn collaborate again with the highly prolific rapper, Snoop Dogg with whom he worked on 2010’s Plastic Beach. Much in keeping with the sound already debuted on there other releases this cycle, this track presents a glossy synth funk aesthetic, which is cool but rather superficial. One does also wonder why this is an important topic to cover at the present moment, given the record title’s insistence on immediacy. Perhaps we’ll just have to wait until the end of the week for some critical contextulisation.

The Holydrug Couple – I’ll Only Say This

As one might expect from the band name, Holydrug Couple offer up something that definitely leans towards the psychedelic and prompts comparison with Tame Impala or Mild High Club. The group are based in Chile’s capital, Santiago and will play selected UK dates in November following the release of their upcoming album Hyper Super Mega. ‘I’ll Only Say This’ is a washed out, saturated track whose overarching vibe is that of dreamlike lethargy; it plods along, taking its time before fading slowly off into the distance.

LibraLibra – Tongues

LibraLibra’s ‘Tongues’ defies conventional genre categorisation; it opens with a dark, almost muggy verse with unsettling tribal drums and rainforest noises distant in the mix. Lead vocalist Beth Cannon begins the track in an eerie whisper which soon opens up to raw power just skirting the boundary between awe-inspiring and blood-curdling. Cannon also has rather idiosyncratic annunciation and employs bizarre imagery which render comparisons with Kate Bush not unjustified. She spits plosives and her operatic delivery almost has echoes of Iron Maiden in the melodramatic chorus.

Lotic – Solace

Texan-born, based in Berlin experimental electronica producer Lotic has released several EPs since 2011; ‘Solace’, the latest single from his forthcoming debut album Power due out in July, is a cerebral, haunting listen that holds strong hints of Björk’s influence. Lotic showcases an impressive vocal range that sweeps from melancholic depths to delicate heights underscored by some twinkling synths. Amongst these smoother elements are industrial crashes that brashly invade the heavenly soundscape, turning what might be an expressive, minimalist elegy into an odd mix of discordant noise and a benevolent dream. Above all it’s a song of emotional integrity and one that’s not afraid to use space and breath to convey its message.

Mikaela Davis – Half Right

Mikaela Davis displays her unique brand of folky baroque pop in this stunning new single ‘Half Right’ which prominently features Davis’s first instrument, the harp, which she has been playing since the age of eight. In this cover of Elliot Smith her absolute mastery of the craft shines through in a performance that assured, controlled and dynamic. Davis’s characterful voice and refreshing approach to the harp bathes the ears and will make you wish that there was more of this kind of music around!

Oso Oso – gb/ol h/nf

Also based in New York, Oso Oso are reviving a sound that has sadly been missing these past few years – a full-blooded blend of emo guitar layering that harkens back to old Bloc Party and Biffy Clyro stuff and in the US to Tigers’ Jaw and Brand New. This track is an absolute gem that isn’t in need of overblown production because the music speaks for itself. There is so much going on here in terms of texture and tone, each member exhibiting excellent musicianship. This is combined with melancholic lyrics and some fantastically raw vocal harmonies which evokes a powerful nostalgia for something potently ill-defined.

 

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