This week’s musical treats have delivered thrashy beats, an eleven-minute magnum opus, a nostalgia trip that takes in several decades at once, a lyric video to rival them all, and the best use of saxaphone this side of epic sax guy. Absorb all of this and it’s enough to make the head explode - and that’s just seven days’ worth of music to consider. Thankfully, DIY writers have join forces for a noble cause. They’ve listened to this week’s best songs at length. They’ve lived with them, built up special - and occasionally emotionally unstable - bonds. They’ve then turned their attention to a keyboard, with which they’ve written excitable prose devoted to these very songs. Together, these write-ups amount to Tracks - DIY’s weekly dose of the best new music, as chosen by trusty scribes. Let this be the soundtrack to your weekend.
Superfood - Lily for Your Pad to Rest On
If Fatboy Slim really did try to get musically slim and went on a diet of Superfood – not kale shakes, but the ’90s obsessed B-town group – and then chundered it back out onto a fresh new vinyl, it would probably sound more than a little like ‘Lily For Your Pad To Rest On’. An infectious bass-driven groove is mixed-up with Eastern instrumentation, and all drizzled with some pretty wacky vocals about eating eggs and err… feet. It’s certainly a lot more experimental than the fourpiece’s previous tracks, mainly focusing on naturally flavoured, non-artificial foot-tapping rhythms that have all been whizzed-up into a pretty compact little song. Pre-consumption warning, though: this one ain’t half addictive. (Kyle MacNeill)
Aphex Twin - minipops 67
“Sounds like Skrillex”, “worst dubstep ive ever head”, “i think the aphex twins r pretty good but why is there no drop?” - Trollworthy Youtube comments are rarely enlightening, but those following up the first Aphex Twin material in thirteen years tell a story of their own. First of all, the musical landscape’s changed colossally in between 2001’s ‘Drukqs’ and now, and while the wait for material’s only made Richard D. James’ rep more in-demand, the influence of his work has filtered through to every corner, from bedroom Ableton heads to big-name DJs.
Harsh, industrial tones, robotic vocals and click-clacking beats line the seams. This isn’t the music of someone that’s found peace from his relative silence - his mind is clearly still ticking, swerving its attention towards the great unknown. Music obsessives are happy, the trolls are happy, everyone’s happy - Aphex Twin’s return couldn’t be more assured than this. (Jamie Milton)
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz - Human Sadness
Julian Casablancas isn’t one to brag, but in the drawn-out build-up towards his first record with The Voidz, he made a couple of statements that make perfect sense. One of these was on the lines of: “I’m going to change rock ‘n roll with this”. ‘Human Sadness’ damn well tries. An eleven-minute chugalong of batshit ideas, it’s split into head-spinning parts that, when combined, create easily the weirdest thing the Strokes frontman’s ever put his name to. It’s almost like he’s taken snapshots of his career from 2001 onwards, inverted every blink-and-you-missed-it thought, and compressed these into the sum of his latest track. Reversed guitar solos, vocals that verge between an audible sob, he mixes digital and analog with every intention of pissing all over the rulebook. Somehow, as maddening as it might be, he pulls it off. (Jamie Milton)
Foxygen - Cosmic Vibrations
There’s enough going on in Foxygen’s brilliantly deranged new double-album to convince that yes, these guys aren’t the average bunch. They’re not just living out their rock ’n roll fantasies for the hell of it. There’s method and calculation to every move, but that doesn’t mean they’re not getting swept along on their own wave. On ‘Cosmic Vibrations’, more than ever Jonathan Fado and Sam France give the impression of two lost adventurers, taking off in whichever direction the music dictates.
For starters, France sways between his tradition frazzled falsetto, and a newly-acquired baritone that barely made an appearance on 2013 LP ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic’. The song kicks off with thunderous guitar slides and cartoon-like screams, before settling into a glam’ed up message of defeat. “You can have me, but I’m all used up,” claims the frontman, while at the same time sounding more inspired than ever. A double-album is either a sign of pure self-indulgence or an exciting creative streak - for Foxygen, it looks like they’ve found a happy compromise between the two. (Jamie Milton)
Axes - Junior
Fidgety as ever, Axes announced their return this week with ‘Junior’, a typically frantic burst of hyperactive instrumentalism. The aural equivalent of pouring your ADHD meds down the toilet and then setting fire to the bathroom, ‘Junior’ crams more riffs into just over three minutes than most bands manage in a whole LP, tropical polyrhythms nestling alongside electronica-harking pitch bends. It’s a tactic that shouldn’t work, and yet somehow does – each seemingly disparate entity held together by Axes’ borderline psychic ability to move the track along as one cohesive unit, avoiding the po-faced repetition that often plagues their post-rock contemporaries. This tautness is surely a direct result of their ruthless touring schedule, something alluded to in the song’s equally off-the-wall video. Cutting together live, studio and ‘fucking about in a swimming pool’ footage, the London-via-Essex group’s instruments eventually meet a fittingly fiery end in a woodland blaze. Given the preceding three minutes, it’s a miracle they make it that far. (Tom Connick)
Kindness - This is Not About Us
Initially, listening to Kindness is a similar experience to being invited to a party where every other guest is at the epicentre of cool. It’s intimidating. Sax and swelled-up beats, vocals that are ravaged with lust - plus, Adam Bainbridge packs savvy dance moves in spades. The guest list for new record ‘Otherness’ reads like an A-list of hype acts - Kelela, Dev Hynes et al. - but in ‘This is Not About Us’, a more inclusive, all-inviting centre is revealed. This one isn’t about the guests, either. Bainbridge is in the middle, emoting away on top of bellowed-out piano notes and a ’90s boombox-ready percussive loop. Turns out this isn’t a hyped-up party - this is one guy pouring his heart out in the middle of a lonely night. (Jamie Milton)
Happyness - When You Wake Up
‘When You Wake Up’ wriggles and stretches awkwardly like it’s waking up from a paralysing hangover, one that’s going to last the whole day, ample payment for being such a ridiculous drunk the night before. It’s a bit different for Happyness, a band who were most definitely zany on their debut album of kooky, slightly bizarre indie rock. But this track - taken from their new EP ‘Anything I Do Is Alright’ in advance of their US tour - sees them reining it in and focusing on woozy, headache-calming rhythms and guitar licks that isn’t too far from americana itself. (Tom Walters)
TV on the Radio - Happy Idiot
A good chunk of artists have together concluded that lyric videos can ‘do one’, but TV On the Radio have used theirs for a purpose. In fact, Tunde Adebimpe and co. have always put fancy words first. Booklet sleeves are a must with their records, and they’ve previously penned such ditties as “I will be your accident, if you will be my ambulance.” Take that, Morrissey. ‘Happy Idiot’ continues the big, bold statements (“I don’t wanna stay while the blame’s all mine”), and in terms of a karaoke showdown, this is a head-to-head battle of who can sing the most depressing phrase. Words are backed with scattered images of molten lava being poured from all sides - all of which amounts to the opposite of a by-the-by lyric video. (Jamie Milton)
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The event takes place this July.