News This Week In New Music (15th March 2014)

Neu shuns the sun in Texas to bring you a new music round-up featuring Tirzah and Tuff Love.

As every act under the steaming Texas sun gives everything they’ve got at fancy showcases in SXSW, online tends to give call to quiet quarters in response. Not this time. The past seven days have witnessed exciting new music in spades. Taco-shaped spades. Forget that the biggest new music-centred festival in the world is happening right now. Ignore the fact that yes, a fair few bands making their very first impressions over in Austin, Texas will inevitably end up on these pages. We’ve had music, and we’ve had lots of it. Some of it’s been shoddy, but an awful lot’s been better than that. The UK’s (already divisive) direct answer to 90s pop, JUCE, have truly announced themselves as a big deal this week. Birmingham’s Youth Man kicked up a fuss and then kicked a few inanimate objects too. Curious blog-pop duo MVSCLES showed a stranger, more exploratory side. BOOTS, the producer behind Beyonce’s massive hits, showed he knows his way around giant pop songs when he’s working with artists like Kelela. And Gent Mason gave reason to his relative quiet by sharing his best song to date. Take that, South By.

Here’s the best of what happened this week in new music:

Tirzah - No Romance

With a residency at the Southbank Centre to her name, there’s no doubting Mica Levi’s musical chops. She makes pop songs out of hoover noises too. So there’s that. But it’s strange holding something like this - ‘No Romance’, which don’t be fooled we’re not giving Mica full credit for - next to the tense, terrifying soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin. It’s like trying to sip a Calippo on a stuffy morning commute in the dead end of winter. Tirzah comes centre stage here, in a track that out-muscles last year’s ‘I’m Not Dancing’ in giving jerky, oddball pop a cool-as-hell footing. It’s easy to latch onto this as some kind of summer-ready saviour, but it’s not quite that. It’s not really a dance track in the purest sense either. There’s repetition but half of it sounds like it was composed using N64 MIDI files. It’s not strictly romantic either, as its title points out. But as a whole, it’s all of these things and more; it’s a bunch of barely-there tastes all amounting to one magnificent flavour. Sip it.

JUCE - Call You Out

Attention to detail is a chin-stroking source of fascination when it comes to music videos. Above else anything the experience should be a springboard, a visual frenzy that links up to the song in question. JUCE’s ‘Call You Out’ is that, too. Usually it’s a bit pointless to pore over the details. It’s like getting drunk on a good cocktail and trying to find out the exact ingredients afterwards. But the best part of this debut film is the detail. More specifically, it’s the memorabilia; printed tees; diaries covered in “JUCE” logos; glitter-stamped trademarks of the London trio’s sugary pop. It’s like they’ve been here for ten years already. Number one singles? Been there, done that. They practically announce themselves as the new Spice Girls, do JUCE. Yes, it’s a myth. ‘Call You Out’’s video is a far-fetched story. But is it? Are our retro obsessions leaning us in the direction of another era of candied chart-toppers? Don’t count it out.

Tuff Love

Tuff Love were a curious bunch back in December when they emerged with the gently-paced, cuddle-y ‘Sweet Discontent’. Shortly after that, to see in the year by shunning the internet, we received a note from Johnny Lynch at Fence Records. Words scrawled out on two sides of paper told all about Tuff Love’s “Fuzzed-up grunge pop goodness.” Turns out Johnny sent an awful lot of these notes. But a day’s worth of writing words with an actual pen seemed to do more business than parading in the streets with dodgy burned CDs or sending hapless mailouts to today’s tastemakers. All for the better, too. It’s given us another reminder of Tuff Love’s huge potential, and this week they picked up a Neu profile from Tim Hakki, who called them “your next great US college rock inspired band.”

Tags: Tirzah, Neu

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