Week Eight Playlist Reviews

1 Martha - 1997, Passing in the Hallway Anything that makes you feel nostalgia for secondary school, year 11 and GCSEs is bound to be good right? Durham indie-pop favourites Martha released this in celebration of them being signed to Fortuna Pop. It sounds very similar to label mates The Spook School, just with a North-East accent. Martha are everything good about indie-pop, they’re fun and make you want to bounce around and hug everyone you’ve ever met. ‘1997, Passing in the Hallway’ is a well deserved number one this week, so put it on, remember your best friends from school and feel full of happiness. Rachel Earnshaw

2 The Horrors - So Now You Know
Goth-rockers turned shoegazey psych-ers The Horrors will release their fourth full-length, Luminous, in May via XL Recordings, and ‘So Now You Know’ is the second track we’ve heard from the album. Faris Badwan proves he can croon as well as he can shriek on this slick new single which is bubbly and sing-along-ready. (If you’d asked me in 2008 if I’d ever describe any of The Horrors’ output as ‘bubbly’…) Georgie Malcolm

3 Drake and Soulja Boy - We Made It Demonstrating an unusually savvy attitude to internet rap, Drake recently jumped on this incendiary track buried deep within one of Soulja Boy’s many recent Based God-esque mixtapes. Produced by the wonderfully-named Purp Dogg, a man evidently as proficient with a turnt up horn sample as he is with a double cup, ‘We Made It’ is a hard beat to do justice (see Jay-Z’s sloppy freestyle from this weekend) but following on from the similarly-minded ‘Worst Behaviour’ and ‘Trophies’, this third phase of Drizzy sees him coming through with some of the most confident (justifiably so) and hard-edged flows in the modern rap game, coming from an arena superstar famous for soft and overwrought ballads about passive aggressive texting. As for the Atlanta native doing his best to escape the original hip-hop internet dance craze (take heed, NaeNae exponents), well ‘damn, Soulja Boy stunt on them haters’. Emmett Cruddas

4 Katy Perry and Juicy J - Dark Horse Katy Perry is a few years late to the trap party but Dark Horse is a great combination of typical pop music infused with hip-hop/trap-style production. Like much of Prism the lyrics are a bit ridiculous but it’s the pure pop that we’ve come to expect from Perry. RE

The standout performance on ‘Dark Horse’ is by Dr. Luke, the producer who most likely engineered the entire song — a blend of popular flavors like hip-hop, trap, and Egyptian fetishism — himself. Katy Perry carries the vibe strongly, and sings like shes embodying a pre-teen Artemisia. Juicy J, on the other hand, has gone soft. He tried to “hit it and quit it” but ended up “gettin’ addicteddddddd.” Pity the fool. Ross Devlin

5 The Underachievers - Incandescent Canadian Pitchfork-EDM figurehead Ryan Hemsworth comes with a menacing and glossy instrumental for the Beast Coast duo ahead of debut LP The Cellar Door. Icy synth chimes and a bunch of trappy 808 licks not too far from ‘OG Bobby Johnson’ provide a perfect backdrop for the intense and hallucinatory rhymes of Flatbush denizens AK and Issa Gold (the latter once again seriously carrying the former) – as opposed to the more standard Nas re-hashes (minus depth) and vague dalliances with entry-level MF Doom beats commonly associated with Beast Coast contemporaries Pro Era (#shotsfired). The Brainfeeder signees once again prove themselves as some of the most creative, untempered and self-celebratingly trippy rappers out there after 2013’s two stunning tapes Indigoism and The Lords of Flatbush. EC

6 Jay Electronica - Better Tune In With The Infinite 4 years on from signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Jay Electronica has yet to release his hotly anticipated debut album. This new single, Better In Tune With The Infinite, is his solo release since 2011. Convinced by a fan on twitter, this seemingly random release is an incredible positive and affirming song which samples a Ryuichi Sakamoto contribution to the Babel score. It starts with not one but two speeches and although Jay Electronica delivers a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it single verse before disappearing, it manages to be an incredibly powerful and motivational song. This track certainly does a great job of reminding us why we are still excited for this album, 4 years on. Patrick Cartlidge

7 Deathcats - I Wish It Was Summer As a result the much-loved PAWS, Halfrican, Secret Motorbikes, Pinact, Sharptooth and Baby Strange and many others, Glasgow may well be the most formidable place for astute, engaging and crucially non-obnoxious pop-punk since Southern California in the late 80s. Deathcats are joining the fold with a particularly lovable and melodically insistent approach to indie rock, espousing familiarly non-committal sentiments (see Wavves, Best Coast) with a distinct influence from the well-worn Scottish indie-pop tradition to make for a bold and heartwarming debut EP. EC

8 Fucked Up - Paper The House Once again reaffirming that without Fr. Damien/Pink Eyes’ guttural and often pretty harrowing vocals, Fucked Up would essentially be a Big Star-via-Titus Andronicus power-pop band, the lead single from June’s Glass Boys - due out in June on the home of indie-rock royalty Matador – figures some brilliantly arranged guitar parts over some seriously punchy drums and a killer chorus reminiscent of Guy Picciotto fronting The Replacements, leaving the listener with a massive smile on their face familiar to those who have seen the Canadian punks’ life-affirming live shows. EC

9 Tune-Yards - Water Fountain One-woman whirlwind Merill Garbus, aka tUnE-yArDs, is back with this cracking new track, the first from upcoming 3rd album Nicki Nack, due for release in May. ‘Water Fountain’ is infectious, bouncy, and, at the risk of sounding over the top, has everything you’d want from a summer single; sexy bass, hand claps, and call and response ‘woo-ha!’s. Writing this also reminds me, I wonder if they’ve fixed the water fountain on the third floor of the library yet… GM

10 Disclosure - F For You (Eats Everything Remix Taking the Mary J. Blige vocal cut from Disclosure’s enormously successful debut album, Eats Everything (a pal of Disclosure’s) has crafted a slower and more thoughtful tech-house track that still has plenty of scope for delighting dancefloors. Gleeful chords and killer piano breakdowns improve on what was already a hugely popular track. Gilbert Dowding

11 Black Lips – Smiling Lacking in Arabia Mountain’s Mark Ronson-approved horns or 200 Million Thousand’s gleeful acid-casualty weirdness, the Atlanta flower-punks’ 7th LP Underneath The Rainbow is one of their most straightforward so far, with a pretty characteristic even-handed hits-to-filler ratio and an all-encompassing atmosphere of getting dunk, doing dumb shit and having loads of fun. The Jared Swilley-penned ‘Smiling’ is the album’s highlight by virtue of its endearingly earnest songwriting, with some lovely McCartney-level chord changes deployed with taste and ingenuity and one of the Black Lips’ strongest vocal lines since 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil on this delightful and summery paean to getting arrested. EC

12 Jennifer Lopez feat. French Montana - I Luh Yuh Papi If you count her three best-of compilation albums, J.Lo is currently set to release her 11th album. ‘I Luh Yah Papi’ is the first single to be taken from number 11 and features French Montana (haaan! -ed.). Despite being around for so long, J.Lo sounds fresher than ever and her ability to stay current is fantastic. This track sees her almost rapping and the heavy Latino and hip-hop influences shows she is still, definitely, Jenny from the Block. RE

13 Slava - Better Better, from Slava’s upcoming EP Comma Sutra, is notably different to the sound of his previous album Raw Solutions. Instead of being footwork inspired dance, this song is a full-on house track. It still features distinguishing flourishes that set it apart however such as the extra clicky percussion as well as the strangled vocal snippet. This means that Slava doesn’t loose his distinctive production style and it makes it certainly one of the most enjoyable house tracks I’ve heard for quite a while. PC

14 Serafyn - Take To The Skies Crystalline voices and beautiful harmonies make this a delectable folk-influenced composition evoking the mountainous landscape of Switzerland. Fans of the lower string section in the orchestra will love the plucking presence of a double bass and gliding cello solos marking this song as an irresistibly cute slice of melodious folk pop. Geoffrey Chang

15 Francois and the Atlas Mountains - La Verite An irresistible riff runs throughout this charming song from the French group’s second album and is perhaps the standout song from a record that has fulfilled the early promise shown since the release of their first single, ‘Piscine.’ Although most anglophone listeners won’t be distracted by the lyrics the singers relaxed style adds to the peppy freshness of the melody. GD

16 Brian Reitzell - Last Summer Although the name Brian Reitzell might not be immediately recognisable, his frequent collaborators Sofia Ford Coppola and Kevin Shields are. Starting off as a drummer in classic power-pop band Red Kross, Reitzell went on to compose the soundtracks for TV shows such as Hannibal and films such as Lost in Translation. This new song features him working with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine once again and it’s the first release of his upcoming album Auto Music. Last Summer is an incredibly lush song, with layers and layers of organs and distortion gradually added as the song progresses. Super calm and soothing with an almost drone like quality for the first half, it then becomes more animated in the second half with addition of some drums and some more dynamic synths. This is an intriguing track overall and hopefully there will be more great songs to come from this promising new album. PC

17 Fatima Al-Qadiri - Szechuan Fatima al Qadiri is one of the most exciting new producers in the electronic game, emerging out of a vaporwave C-section with danceable and exotic beats. She’s just released ‘Szechuan’ on Hyperdub, a track that plays with Western conceptualizations of Chinese culture by mixing exotic percussion with drum machine samples and subversive Eastern melodies. RD

18 Porter Robinson - Sea of Voices (RAC Remix) Remix Artist Collective (RAC) regularly conquers Hypemachine charts with imperceptibly uplifting renditions of songs like this one. What’s equally impressive as the remixes themselves, is RAC’s ability to consistently pick out songs with potential for the remix treatment. Here, a blissfully dreamy Porter Robinson (á la Sigur Ros) track gets given a little more drive with its fair share of undulating synths for a more powerful feeling of bubbling optimism. GC

19 Noo-Bap – My Chain Montreal Juke producer Noo-Bap takes on one of Gucci Mane’s most unimpeachable and oft-homaged verses with ‘My Chain’. Standard footwork trappings of hyperactive and unpredictable drums coupled blissed-out synth pad swells and some pretty funny sound effects coalesce to provide a really immersive and imaginative bed for Big GuWop’s proudly lean-addled and one-dimensional flexing. While Noo-Bap’s latest EP is currently on sale on bandcamp for the reasonable sum of $998.98, on the strength of this hot rework it won’t be long before consumers start taking him a bit more seriously. EC

20 The Hold Steady - Spinners An uplifting song from a band renowned for intricate storytelling over muscular, often nostalgic, American hardcore, this song introduces us to a girl from “some prairie town” struggling to find relationships in the big city. The addition of more guitars to replace the 2010 departure of keyboard player Franz Nicolay means their new songs are even more boisterous and you can do much worse than “dress up and spin around” to mimic the song’s protagonist. GD

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