Congratulations, dear readers, for you’ve made it through the first month of 2019. And while the snow may still be falling wherever you are - DIY HQ is just a bit slushy now, tbh - you can rest safe in the knowledge that we’re finally into February, and the new music machine is whirring at full pelt once again.
While last week was frankly gigantic for returning musicians, the past seven days have seen a few newer artists come to the fore: the ever-enigmatic Black Midi have shared another new offering, Billie Eilish has announced details of her guaranteed-corker of a debut album and our Aussie fave Stella Donnelly is back with another brilliant track.
It’s not all newbies though - some favourites have re-emerged too. Sports Team are, well, being peak Sports Team on their newie ‘M5’. Plus, there’s a new ‘un from The Chemical Brothers to, er, get your weekend off to the start it truly deserves…
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.
Black Midi - Speedway
It’s only taken one single for Black Midi to become the most talked-about new band in the country, shrouded in mystery and shunning convention at every turn. Debut single ‘bmbmbm’ deserved the hype, though, and the band have now announced their signing to Rough Trade with a new EP.
The ‘Speedway’ releases features a title track single and three remixes from Blanck Mass and more, and does nothing to make Black Midi seem a more palatable proposition. It’s all the more exciting for it.
A highlight of the band’s lauded live show, ‘Speedway’ is calmer than ‘bmbmbm’ but no less fiddly or inventive. Intricate, panned percussion and soft guitars worm their way around obtuse spoken word vocals, and it’s a thoroughly unpredictable listen. Between the band’s first two singles, there’s still no real telling what kind of band Black Midi are yet - they even admit themselves that their sound will likely change beyond recognition in the space of the next few years - but from what we’ve got laid in front of us, they’re certainly a very exciting one. (Will Richards)
Stella Donnelly - Lunch
Stella Donnelly’s music is often unafraid to tackle big issues. On her 2017 breakout track ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, she undertook a blunt calling out of sexual assault and victim blaming culture. Then on ‘Old Man’, the most recent track from her upcoming debut album ‘Beware Of The Dogs’ which was written in the middle of the #metoo movement, she tackled “men who had exploited their power for so long actually being held accountable for their actions” with a confident sneer. But things take a turn on ‘Lunch’, her latest preview of her debut album, with things hitting a little more personal and closer to home.
A track that explores the homesickness that comes with travelling and the distance you feel from those around you when you finally return home, ‘Lunch’ is “a song that was only ever meant to be played on a single guitar and sung, [but] turned out to be the most intricate and textured piece of music I’ve ever produced,” according to Stella. Alongside her acoustic guitar, she adds a twinkling piano line and strings, creating a dreamy feel that mirrors the detachment that she feels. “I wrote this about the feeling of displacement I get when I go on tour and come back and nothing feels the same,” she adds. “There’s a disconnect there.” (Rachel Finn)
Sports Team - M5
Speaker phones. Air fresheners. A spoken word section about an Aldershot roundabout. If there was any risk that indie’s premiere twinkle-eyed narrators of British suburbia wouldn’t go all-in on a track literally named after a Midlands motorway, then… well, you clearly don’t know Sports Team at all. It’s utterly ridiculous, but also a big fist-pumping banger - a niche that’s fast becoming entirely their own. (Lisa Wright)
The Chemical Brothers - Got To Keep On
The Chemical Brothers have undergone a resurgence of late. Festival mainstays with their throbbing, gargantuan back catalogue has never really been in doubt, but with the previews of new record ‘No Geography’ - their first in four years - it seems the pair are making confident, brilliant strides forwards in the studio, too.
First preview ‘MAH’ incorporated that oh-so-famous soundbite from ‘Network’ in a fizzing, acid house thumper. New one ‘Got To Keep On’ sees the band straying even further from the idea of mellowing with age: the track circles around a layered vocal demanding “gotta keep on making me high,” before folding out into a thumping, playful house stomp. Tension then gets turned up to apocalyptic levels as a robotic voice repeats “and the rain comes down like tears,” before a wonderful, cathartic release.
Experimenting around the edges of the hard-hitting dance music they made their (massive) name on, ‘Got To Keep’ on indicates that ‘No Geography’ will see the bros moving firmly forwards. Also won’t sound too bad in a field this summer after a few sweeties, will it? (Will Richards)
Billie Eilish - Bury Your Friend
17-year-old Billie Eilish is, if you reduce it down to facts and stats, merely the next in a long line of internet-discovered hype stars. Insanely young (just turned 15) when debut single ‘Ocean Eyes’ was discovered on Soundcloud, and possessed with a strong line in sportswear, she’s like if you distilled the most sellable elements of modern youth into one perma-disaffected poster girl. A figure that should inspire confused sighs in anyone over the age of 24.
And yet there’s something about Eilish that - already - is so much more exciting, so much more advanced and off-kilter than her peers that the announcement of debut LP ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go’ should inspire excitement among any age group.
‘Bury Your Friend’ - the dark, troubled introduction to the album is a case in point. Accompanied by a genuinely chilling video of Eilish being injected with syringes and pushed around by anonymous black-gloved hands, it’s more Alice Glass than Ariana Grande. The track itself meanwhile is as throbbing, sparse and industrial as you’re likely to find from a high profile major label concern - all laced with Billie’s bittersweet coo and the final pay-off: “I wanna end me”. It’s intoxicating and intriguing - aka exactly what you want from a new star. (Lisa Wright)