Good noole, dear readers, and a happy Friday to you all. As usual, its been a busy week of new music, and up to their usual antics, artists have been releasing new songs left right and centre. We’ve picked out the biggest and best new songs to emerge this week, and there’s plenty to get stuck into. Savages consider to sonic-blast towards their second album ‘Adore Life’ and David Bowie’s back with the sort of boundary-hopping experimentation you’d expect. That’s just for starters. In other words, this week has been chocka. For everything else out this week head over to the DIY Listening Hub, or hit play on our Essential Playlist.
Savages - T.I.W.Y.G
Nobody, anywhere, thought that Savages were holding back on their 2013 debut ‘Silence Yourself’. Following on from previous single ‘The Answer’, though, this new cut ‘T.I.W.Y.G’ suggests that the London group were bottling up a whole lot of explosive energy in reserve. It begs the question: were Savages - whisper it - holding back an extra something on their debut? If the first two limb-splitting tracks from new album ‘Adore Life’ are anything to go by, it seems like that may well have been the case.
‘T.I.W.Y.G’ props Savages up as a band with a ferocious sense of urgency, their frenzied post-punk roaring as singer Jenny Beth laments, “This is what you get when you mess with love.” Savages still have a certain knack at handling tension-and-release, with the track lending you short pockets of breathing space from Gemma Thompson’s stabbing guitar, Fay Milton’s pounding drums and Ayşe Hassan’s violent, unrelenting bass before it plunges you head-first back into a breakneck assembly of striking, lashing noise. This is a volatile triumph. Oh. One last thing. Turn this up. Turn this RIGHT UP. (Lucas Fothergill)
David Bowie - Blackstar
It’s a fool’s game to write off David Bowie, even decades on from when he was at the presumed peak of his powers. His 25th studio album, ‘Blackstar’, can’t be taken with a pinch of salt, and given the expansive route it’s taking (seven songs spanning beyond traditional length) and this year’s experimental jazz track ‘Sue (Or In A Season of Crime)’, Bowie won’t be resting on his laurels.
But even for a musician so glued to the art of transformation, there’s a remarkable journey taking place across his ten-minute single. Uptight percussion and religious references define the opening half, but what follows is a bolt of inspiration. A wild story gives way to a new chapter, and as the “blackstar” rises from the ashes of death, Bowie struts into new form. “Take your passport and shoes / And your sedatives, boo,” he croons over stuttering horn sections. “I’m the great I am,” runs the declaration.
The way ‘Blackstar’ dives between different states isn’t a fancy new feat for Bowie. But try finding another artist taking on this much new territory when they’re 25 albums deep. He’s more unparalleled than ever. (Jamie Milton)
Wolf Alice - Matilda (Alt-J cover)
Just when you thought Wolf Alice couldn’t expand their scope any more, they go and add a bloody string section. ‘My Love Is Cool’ might’ve nimbly evaded genres and pigeon-holing at every turn, but as they rocked up to the Live Lounge once more, Wolfies couldn’t help but add another string (or twelve) to their bows. Taking on their past tour-mates Alt-J in an attempt to harness their “Mercury vibes” ahead of the Prize-giving, it shaves off ‘Matilda’’s discordant edges and gives it a beautiful, swelling new backing. Two of the country’s finest bands, paired up and shining like never before - regardless of tonight’s outcome, everyone’s a winner. (Tom Connick)
Adele - When We Were Young
Is there anything that Adele can’t do? Since reaffirming her chart-topping pedigree with wittily imperious comeback ‘Hello’, she’s at it again. What’s she done this time? Only gone and outdone John Lewis in the Christmas tearjerker stake - and all without a single telescope.
‘When We Were Young’ is a sombre, bittersweet ballad that takes a stroll down the same tear-stained, Kleenex-strewn path as its all-conquering predecessor. Touching on loves lost, passions expired and people frozen in time over crisp piano keys - supplied by the overly-capable fingers of Tobias Jesso Jr - ‘25’’s second cut sees her swap her trademark fury for a compelling nostalgia, hinting at a lighter side to someone renowned for dealing in darkness.
It’s still a bit of a surprise that Adele, as the owner of a much-celebrated set of pipes, still appears to be keeping her gale-force vocals in check. This departure seems to mark a brave new direction for her of the almighty lungs, though, one that doesn’t so much force you to batten down the hatches as sit and absorb its warming, sepia-toned reminiscence. An artist on the cusp of reinvention putting paid to the past, it takes some gall to do away with the work of icons such as Damon Albarn and Phil Collins. Rumour has it, that’s what Adele did for ‘25’. If this morose belter proves anything, it’s that we’re in the presence of a truly spine-tingling songwriter. (Dan Owens)
Formation - Control
When Formation first appeared in a clanging flourish of cowbells and flailing elbows, the DFA comparisons followed thick and fast. It’s an understandable parallel to draw with the twin brother’s earlier cuts like ‘Hangin’ and ‘Young Ones’ - jaggedly, rough-hewn, and urged forward by a playful, percussive drive. ‘Control’ - of all the tracks from Formation’s new ‘Under the Tracks’ EP - makes the clearest stomps in a different direction. The faithful cowbell is pushed aside in favour of a bossa nova undercurrent, and sharp stabs of agogô. Rich horns sound over a brilliant cobble of Latin groove meets house. If there’s one thing clear about Formation, it’s that they vary their shape far beyond the early touchstones. (El Hunt)
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Records & Merch
David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (50th Anniversary) Picture Disc Vinyl