Playlist Reviews: Week 5-6

1 PAWS - Tongues PAWS teases their sophomore album Youth Culture Forever with their first single ‘Tongues’. Catchy hooks, reverb, pop punk vibes - this is PAWS at their best. Philip Budny

2 Beck - Blackbird Chain An instant highlight of Beck’s newest LP Morning Phase, his first in 6 years and his most at ease (as well as confident) since 2002’s Sea Change, ‘Blackbird Chain’ is an extremely pleasant and poetic piece of Byrds-esque acoustic pop, evoking his native southern California with its bright production and expansive studio feel (think Dennis Wilson at Abbey Road). Delicately-arranged strings, an ever-present but never-obtrusive slide guitar and an interestingly shifting rhythm are important elements on what might be Beck’s most mature work to date. Emmett Cruddas

3 Horrors - I See You This new Horrors track continues the direction of Skying, with a psychedelic electronically tinged sound. ‘I See You’ is a dreamy haze of a song, with reverb soaked guitars from My Bloody Valentine and layers and layers of synths. If you were a fan of Horrors before, this track should get you extremely excited for their upcoming album. Patrick Cartlidge

4 Meursault - Tugboat  Galaxie 500’s proto-shoegaze single ‘Tugboat’ has become somewhat of a standard for indie bands of a certain inclination over the past few years. Following Joanna Gruesome’s remarkable cover last year, local heroes Meursault have upped the Low-esque minimalism of the original here, with Neil Pennycook’s emotive vocals – sorry – steering the track. This offcut from the sessions for fan-funded (and largely covers-based) new album The Organ Grinder’s Monkey showcases the delicacies of Meursault’s sound in a straightforward four-piece context, losing none of the many pleasures of listening to the band’s own material. EC

5 Cloud Nothings - Psychic Trauma Beginning with an introduction akin to Interpol in their peak, and erupting into fast-paced, lo-fi indie rock, this track will create the anticipation Cloud Nothings’ fourth studio album Here and Nowhere Else (released in April) deserves. Charles Thomas Lang

6 Coldplay - Midnight While the last Coldplay album continued their trajectory into being a immensely popular stadium-rock act, this new song shows an entirely different sound from the band. It’s clear that Coldplay have been listening to Bon Iver as Chris Martin’s vocals closely resemble Justin Vernon’s in this surprise new single. The track is also entirely electronic, the only instrument in this song is a heavily treated guitar. People who aren’t fans of Coldplay might be really surprised by this song. ‘Midnight’ is quite a big sonic departure for the band however it is not known if this sound will be continued on the album or if the other tracks will be a concession to mass appeal, in the vein of their last few albums. PC

7 Fat White Family - Touch The Leather Jake Bugg’s backing band get their first Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds CD. Having released their debut LP ‘Champagne Holocaust’ (nice), these grimy (authentically, I’m assured) Londoners will be sure to cash in on generously fond memories of last year’s Palma Violets record and the ‘weird’ bits of the second Libertines LP, despite the fact that Jez and Super Hans may have ghostwritten the lyrics. EC

8 Damon Albarn - Lonely Press Play After eight albums with Blur and four with Gorillaz, as well as having collaborated with anyone musically credible under the sun, Damon Albarn is finally getting around to releasing his first solo album. This, the first single from Everyday Robots, sees Albarn experiment with a semi-minimalist use of percussion, topped by his ever-chilling vocals. It’s nice to see somebody create music for enjoyment, and if this is what a solo Damon Albarn produces, let’s hope he never stops. CTL

9 Rick Ross - Sanctified Arguably one of the best things that Rick Ross has ever done was his verse on Kanye West’s ‘Devil In a New Dress’. Here he reunites with Kanye in Sanctified, a song from his new album Mastermind. As well as featuring, Kanye also produces the track and shows his love for classic soul has endured despite releasing his more abrasive Yeezus. West’s verse also takes some inspriation from Migos and Future in terms of flow. Rick Ross’ verse is competent but doesn’t really impress as much as Kanye and Big Sean turns up just to do the hook. The production really raises up the song though, perhaps being Kanye’s best beat for another rapper since Numbers On the Boards. PC

10 Wonder Villains - Marshall This Northern Irish quartet show a lot of promise with new single ‘Marshall’. With a nice vocal line, an invigorating baggy intro taking cues from Leisure-era Blur and a commendably unironic deployment of a keytar, Wonder Villains show how honesty and unashamed poppiness are still failsafe ingredients to a successful single. EC

11 Slow Club - Tears Of Joy beautiful vocal harmonies, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. I cry erritiem PB

12 Kevin Drew – Good Sex The Broken Social Scene co-frontman’s second album Darlings figures the Canadian songwriter in a humorous mode, with the catchy repetitions of ‘Good Sex’ combining his characteristically frank lyricism with a glossy New Wave arrangement not a million miles away from Forgiveness Rock Record, serving as a lovely bed for his reliably delicate croon. EC

13 Treasure - Wonkakobo This is just amazing. Born in Accra, Kwabena Otchere’s bilingual (rapping in English and Twi) debut single ‘Wonkakobo’ is as triumphant and vibrant as it gets. Taking cues from Rich Homie Quan’s anthemic dancehall-isms and some of French Montana’s more hard-worn flows, Treasure here is clearly cementing himself as an essential and original voice in an already overstuffed Atlanta scene. The beat here is pretty special too, with fellow native Ghanaian Gafacci laying down an ever-changing and absurdly catchy trappy instrumental. EC

14 Hamilton Leithauser - Alexandra In a week of remarkable singles from contemporary indie bands’ frontmen, The Walkmen’s singer Hamilton Leithauser might have the strongest of the bunch. ‘Alexandra’ is our first taste of Black Hours, due in May and boasting an all-star cast of Pitchfork-approved supporting players including members of Fleet Foxes, The Shins and old pals The Walkmen themselves. This track may be the catchiest thing Leithauser’s done since ‘The Rat’, boasting a structure and energy not dissimilar to Vampire Weekend’s ‘Diane Young’ but with a voice still more stunning than pretty much anyone in today’s indie rock landscape. EC

15 De Lux - A Stranger Love Coming out of seemingly nowhere, this cover of ‘Stranger Love’ takes an entirely different approach to the original. While the Classixx version had dreamy production featuring cooed vocals and reverb soaked bells, this cover is inspired by LCD Soundsystem. It features an incredibly funky and infectious bassline, a fantastic dance beat and an amazing new take on the chorus that sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on any Talking Heads song. One of the grooviest dance tracks of this year, I defy anyone listening to it not to dance. PC

16 Circa Waves - Stuck in My Teeth This is pure indie-schmindie. Jangly guitars, a catchy chorus, and an outstanding post-chorus breakdown even Julian Casablancas would be proud of. Alex Turner is right, you know: guitar music isn’t dead. Circa Waves are going to be massive. CTL CTL

17 Perfect Pussy - Interference Fits Although this track from the upcoming Perfect Pussy album still has a feedback heavy lo-fi production, it’s notably quiter than their previous releases. It’s one of their only songs in which you can actually hear the lyrics (at times). The guitars are still as harsh and abrasive as ever though and microphone feedback still permeates the entire song. This track comes highly recommended to any noise-rock fans and it makes me just as excited as ever to hear this entire album. PC

18 Darius - Hot Hands Angelic vocals and stunningly-colourful house vibes. Last year saw the rise of the likes of Chris Malinchak and Duke Dumont, and Scottish producer Darius may well follow in their footsteps. CTL

19 Catfish and the Bottlemen - Kathleen The second track on the playlist that evidences The Strokes’ massive influence on guitar music. Welsh four-piece Catfish and the Bottlemen have been touring the country for the last 18 months trying to convince people how good they are, and that is exactly what they’ve done. If this track doesn’t win you over, nothing will. CTL

20 Saint Pepsi - Mr Wonderful This cut from the Gin City, the new Saint Pepsi EP, is a gorgeous piece of chillwave-tinged trap. Mr. Wonderful marks a different sound for Saint Pepsi as his last album, Hit Vibes, was a sample heavy house album in the vein of Discovery-era Daft Punk. The bubbly synths, incredible beats and the incredibly catchy hook with an Aretha Franklin sample make this one of my favorite electronic songs of this year. If you enjoy this track, Gin City comes highly recommended. PC

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