Round-up: Tracks: James Blake, AlunaGeorge & more

DIY writers pick out the biggest and best new songs from the last seven days.

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.

South London’s favourite sensitive electronic peddler Jamesy B returns with ‘Timeless’ (and a finished album!). Run the Jewels have teamed up with DJ Shadow, and in another genius collaboration, AlunaGeorge have been busy with Flume. In other words, it’s all kicking off. For everything else out this week head over to the DIY Listening Hub, or hit play on our Essential Playlist.

James Blake - Timeless

If titles are anything to go by, James Blake’s hitting a confident stride. ‘Modern Soul’ - an apt marker for his music - arrived a couple of months back. Now he’s dubbing his latest work ‘Timeless’. Someone’s been skipping portions of humble pie. With ‘Radio Silence’ complete, Blake (always prone to the odd fib) is claiming the record consists of eighteen tracks. This gives him license to try everything in the space of a full-length, in effect.

‘Timeless’ might be the most old school shade of Blake for some time, harking back to the ‘CMYK’ days, all stop-start samples and siren-like pulses. Unlike the old days, he’s using his voice as a texture, looping the words “you know you slide out when you slide in, with graceful shadows” against thick, concrete slabs. It’s a collision of two worlds - past and present. In fact, this might explain where the song actually gets its title from. (Jamie Milton)

AlunaGeorge - I Remember (ft. Flume)

After sending their fans on slightly convoluted musical treasure hunt this week, involving lots of ‘unlocking’ and other such gimmicks, the title track to AlunaGeorge’s second album - shaping up fast into a record of wall-to-wall pop gold so far - is out there. Off the bat, it’s got a few strong ticks playing in its favour. A video featuring an apartment with a certain piece of neon decor taken straight from The Sims? Check. The dab hand of Flume helping out an ever-invisible George on production duty? You betcha. So far, so bangin’.

Pulsing with wubbing bursts of synth - sparse flickers tossed over the top like percussive confetti - ‘I Remember’ hungers after that first spark, and initial jolt of chemistry with tenacious focus. “I wanna feel like it’s the first night, I wanna meet you for the first time,” sings Aluna, “I remember the sound, of your heart racing, when you do bad things to me.” Saucy stuff. (El Hunt)

DJ Shadow - Nobody Speak (ft. Run the Jewels)

El-P and DJ Shadow have been pals for twenty years, so really, it was only a matter of time before a darkness drenched hook-up. Squelching brass licks, and twanging Blues riffs that tumble down the scales into Run the Jewels’ customary comic darkness. Within bars, El’s referring to himself as a “bag of dicks,” and threatening to “punch a baby bear in his shit,” and Killer Mike is just as whip-smart. Making digs at Donald Trump’s incredibly uncomfortable comments about his own family members, and advising everyone in his path to flee and start “pumping their bunions, ‘Nobody Speak’ is a carefully paced, impact-precision onslaught of misleadingly puerile, deceptively unsavoury images.

Dreaming of blazing up a cheeky doobie with the cartoon cast of Snoopy, and flaming-throwing “function to Funyuns” (an onion-flavored corn snack, fyi) in the same breath, there’s an underlying violence – and ever-present political agenda – to Run the Jewels and DJ Shadow’s latest. El-P raps about shooting a baby duck dead for the crime of quacking, with a gun bought from Ruger. “Nobody speak, nobody get choked,” warns the chorus, ominously. Run the Jewels’ violence here might be comic, and overblown slapstick, but they’re characteristically digging at a true American reality. In a country where a toupee-wearing hate-mongerer has a shot at presidency, and police brutality takes away black lives every day for crimes like walking through the wrong neighbourhood with a pocket full of jelly beans, ‘Nobody Speak’ is anything but a joke. (El Hunt)

Fear of Men - Trauma

‘Island’, the first single from Fear of Men’s new album ‘Fall Forever’, showed the band adapting their gloom-pop recipe and plunging it further into darkness. This change largely came through Jessica Weiss’ lyrics, which are as pummelling and affective on the album’s second preview, ‘Trauma’, a track that’s catchy and unsettling in equal measure.

Where Daniel Falvey’s guitars resembled those of Johnny Marr on debut album ‘Loom’, here they feel cold and cutting, adding bite to Weiss’ words. ‘Trauma’ feels like it has the backing of the crashing, untamed Brighton seas it was created next to, with the addition of more electronics giving the sound an all-encompassing darkness the song’s subject matter deserves and thrives on. (Will Richards)

Yung - Uncombed Hair

“Another life, flushed down the drain,” yowls Mikkel Holm Silkjær with sulking angst on Yung’s latest, “I can’t change anything anyway”. Veering between lethargic resignation and sudden, spontneous reaction, ‘Uncombed Hair’ is - like its namesake - carefully unkempt, and meticulously messy in all the right places. The momentum surges right up to the razor-wire but never quite topples, Silkjær’s sawtoothed vocal snagging and catching on sharp-edged fuzz.

It’s a tension that Yung have perfected; grey, Brutalist concrete smacking headlong into disarmingly sugary melodies; youthful romance playing a tug of war with shadowey, often dark subject matter. Don’t let the mellowed guitar noodles and parading bass lines fool. Whispering voices, missing links, darkened rooms, and “uncertain moves” hide around every corner of ‘Uncombed Hair’. (El Hunt)

Gillbanks - Childhood

“I don’t know where I belong” murmurs Sam Gillbanks, disorientated and laced with a kick as his band whirl around him, a sea of woozy perplexity and unmitigated noise.

This is the expansive sound of Gillbanks, the London trio with a fondness for trailing different paths while creating a serene cut of clarity. Once finished, you wonder how they managed to find their way back.

‘Childhood’ is their sharpest yet, Sam delivering one minute with vehemence and next with careless whisper - “So long friends of my childhood / I never meant to run away // but I was never given / the choice anyway.” It’s all wrapped in constantly developing hooks and lucid atmospherics - edge of the seat one moment, floating in the next. If they keep delivering like this, Gillbanks could be something special. (Ross Jones)

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