Round-up: Tracks (The Japanese House, Kero Kero Bonito, Jagwar Ma & More)

All the biggest and best tracks of the week, rounded up and reviewed.

It’s that glorious time yet again dear readers, it’s Friday afternoon! The clocks are ticking their way towards another gilded weekend of desperately hanging onto the final straggling threads of the summertime; brazenly wearing short-shorts in spite of the evenings getting earlier by the day. Luckily enough, a load of our favourite musicians have been busy writing new songs to soundtrack the struggle.

This week alone, Mura Masa’s teamed up with A$AP Rocky, Two Door Cinema Club have unveiled their new album’s title track, and Kero Kero Bonito have written another A+ banger, about a trampoline. That’s just for starters too.

For our verdicts on all of this week’s biggest and most exciting tracks, all you need to do is scroll down. And if you’re itching to check out everything else out this week, step this way for DIY’s Listening Hub, and our Essential Playlist.

The Japanese House - Face Like Thunder

For all its beachside implications and nods to water, there’s always been something inner-city about The Japanese House’s sound. From the sci-fi-esque squelches and bleeps that frame her tenderest moments, to the frightening pace at which her tales unfold, there’s a constant, present day slant on the classic singer-songwriter model, traceable throughout every step so far.

“I sat by myself and I stared at pictures of you on the wall,” she admits on new single ‘Face Like Thunder’, the archetypal image of the heartbroken artist. It’s a modern day malaise, though - the strains of a relationship’s breakdown, put through the wringer of a non-stop schedule, with no time to pause, reflect or communicate.

It’s Amber’s beefed up production that takes the fore on ‘Face Like Thunder’, and pitches it far above her first works. Those months on the road alongside The 1975 clearly paying dividends, the post-bedroom aesthetic of The Japanese House’s early EPs has been shed. Built on those foundations is a monolith of electronica, sprouting dazzling new levels, balconies and gargoyles at every juncture. It’s every bit as overwhelming as that thunder Amber cowers from. (Tom Connick)

Kero Kero Bonito - Trampoline

If Kero Kero Bonito have proven one thing it’s this; with enough pop-chops on your side, it’s quite possible to write an A* banger about any topic going. In the time they’ve been around the South Londoners have covered: flamingos, graduation ceremonies, the merits of cats versus dogs, party invites, forest adventures, and now, trampolines.

Over appropriately buoyant bursts of synthesiser (this is a song about jumping, after all), Sarah Bonito’s feeling a bit under the weather, and then she remembers she’s got an old trampoline lying around in the back garden. Such is the KKB way, she enlists said trampoline to propel herself above the grey clouds, and when the stratospheric heights eventually get a bit lonely, she invites all her mates along to bounce, too. Argos’ health and safety might have something to say regarding numbers, but that’s besides the point. ”Even if you’re falling, that’s ok, there’s a trampoline waiting for you,” she soothes in spoken word, before the juddering Nintendo-effects return. It all sounds a bit like the latest Care Bears motivational cassette tape - which, by the way, is a good thing. (El Hunt)

Two Door Cinema Club - Gameshow

It’s not like they suddenly read a Guardian Comment is Free column and got real mad about the world, but Two Door Cinema Club aren’t holding back in putting forth their opinions these days. Their Twitter feed isn’t just wanton self-promotion. Coupled with the odd “hello Bangkok!” tweet, they go in on Trump, touts - a broad pool of tossers, basically. Our recent cover feature isn’t short of big statements, either.

What’s great about new album ‘Gameshow’ is how these opinionated jabs are mirrored in the record itself. None more so than the title-track, a thudding synth explosion of impassioned, sarcasm-lined cries. Alex Trimble isn’t holding anything back, declaring “I’m a ghost, I’m a gameshow” in the chorus after claiming he’s “a Lynchian dream, made of plasticine.” The target of his wrath is transparent but formidable celebrity culture, where big names are prodded for gossip, treated like mannequins in a pursuit of instant news. There’s more to ‘Gameshow’ than simple distaste, though, and what’s impressive is how un-preachy the whole thing is. Once accused of making shallow, by-the-numbers pop with no real substance, Two Door definitely have something to say this time. (Jamie Milton)

Jagwar Ma - Slipping

Between sweaty 4AM shows and their expansive, house-nodding pop, it’s fairly clear that Jagwar Ma work best when they’re free to roam. ‘Slipping’, a highlight from second album ‘Every Now & Then’, sees them fully losing their grip on consciousness.

Gab Winterfield’s cries of how “time is slipping away” is one thing, but ‘Slipping’’s real draw is how it sounds spacious, despite containing more layers than the average winner of a Bake Off showstopper finale. On the surface, their free-thinking pop sounds like it could be replicated in a flash of inspiration. But there’s so much going on here, enough production knowhow to bowl over the average chancer. ‘Slipping’ is a deep, endless pool of escapist pop.

The Wytches - Crest of Death

The Wytches are releasing their second full-length album ‘All Your Happy Life’ this Friday (30th September), and ‘Crest Of Death’ is its final preview.

In a recent DIY interview with the band, Kristian Bell hinted at a future of even weirder things for the band, and ‘Crest of Death’ is as twisted as they come. Cramming a freight train of aggression and gritty melody into less than two minutes, vocalist Bell is at his most vicious. Following the bewitching ‘C-side’, ‘Crest of Death’ signals even more brutal things from ‘All Your Happy Life’, and is the sign of a band getting more intense as they progress. (Will Richards)

Mura Masa - Love$ick (ft. A$AP Rocky)

Few producers possess the clout to bring in the likes of A$AP Rocky to rap on year-old beats, but then again, there aren’t many writing tracks as honed as ‘Lovesick’. Clashing steel drum patters against gigantic wubs of synthesiser, punctuated by sharply-interjecting stabs of bell, Mura Masa was already in possession of a dangerously infectious foundation. Though there’s a subtle amping up of every element from Alex Crossan, A$AP Rocky’s contributions don’t especially mess with the foundations of the song, or provide any revolutionary new angles.

‘Lovesick’ was originally a track about a fairly empty sexual encounter, repeating the rehearsed lines “Come over here, I need you and I want you,” over its powerhouse beat. A$AP Rocky mainly uses ‘Love$ick’ as a platform to air more specific romantic grievances instead, with a ‘Hotline Bling’ hint of gross possessiveness, it must be said. “Yeah, I heard she got a man, homie / Yeah, he wanna lay the hands on me / But he should see the way she dance on me / Yeah, wishing I ain’t had no pants on me.” There’s no ground being broken here.

That said, for all of A$AP’s slightly gossipy nods towards previous relationships with reality telly stars, this collaboration serves as a major statement of intent on Mura Masa’s part. Readying his debut album as we speak, there’s no doubt he’s gunning for the big leagues, here. Whether he needs A$AP to do that is something that remains to be seen; in fact, he’s probably got all the ingredients in place already. (El Hunt)

Bon Iver - 8 (circle)

With all his early teasers, Justin Vernon looked like he was trying to flip not just Bon Iver on its head with ‘22, A Million’, but the entire universe around him. Warped sounds ruled the roost on the likes of ‘22 (OVER S∞∞N)’, ‘10 D E A T H B R E A S T ⚄ ⚄’ and ‘33 “GOD”’, each of them lifted out of another dimension, chopped, diced and scattered across that signature falsetto, itself pitch-bent and vocodered within an inch of its life.

On ‘8 (circle)’, that experimentation takes a backseat. Sonically closest to the likes of ‘Bon Iver, Bon Iver”s weary storytelling, it leaves the wacko sounds at the door, but even with those insane new production flourishes scrapped, ‘22, A Million’ still houses some of Bon Iver’s finest moments.

“I’m standing in your street now, and I carry his guitar,” Vernon sings, painting himself in simpler shades than before. “I can’t recall it lightly at all, but I know I’m going in,” he continues. He’s back to his old self on ‘8 (circle)’ - forlorn and facing heartbreak, turning to music as a means to heal. (Tom Connick)

Bruno Major - Wouldn’t Mean A Thing

Bruno Major caused more than a little stir with his debut single ‘Wouldn’t Mean A Thing’. The track is a silky smooth introduction, and more than backed up by its follow-up, ‘There’s Little Left’.

For a large part, the track treads the same path as so much blog pop, but Major’s soulful vocal and slowly expanding guitar lines give the track its place, and position him as a very promising act.

The Northampton native is primarily a jazz musician, and ‘There’s Little Left’ glides along with far more warmth and comfort than some of the icier textures produced by similar artists. Only two singles in, Bruno Major hasn’t faltered yet, opening up an extremely exciting path ahead of him. (Will Richard)


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