Tracks: Blur, Everything Everything & More

DIY writers pick out their favourite new songs from the last seven days.

This week’s been a bit of a Blur, hasn’t it? See what we did there? Yep, good one. Puns aside, it really has been a choc-a-block seven days of new releases. Blur, of course, are back with brand new material - with their first album in 12 years set to follow it - and there’s new music out from Everything Everything and Palma Violets as well. The DIY writers have had a natter, had a jostle, and chosen their favourite new tracks from this week. Scroll down to read all about them. and as for everything else out in the wonderful world of music, head to the DIY Listening Hub, or have a listen to our Essential Playlist.

Blur - Go On

Hearing Blur talk about their new album ‘The Magic Whip’, the influence of genius guitarist Graham Coxon is obvious. A five day hardcore recording session in Hong Kong seemed like it would come to nothing before Coxon took it to the band’s long term collaborator Stephen Street and worked it into something worthy of becoming that long awaited comeback album.

It’s that chemistry - the magic, sometimes challenging, invisible line that’s always run between Coxon and frontman Damon Albarn - that bleeds right through ‘Go Out’. The straining feedback, squelching riffs and general ‘guitar stuff’ that so characterises Coxon’s style runs through like a particularly grungy stick of seaside rock. There’s no conventional festival anthem chorus, but instead a vocal hook straight out of Albarn’s Big Book of Britpop Eye Rolls.

Sitting somewhere between their self-titled album and ‘13’, ‘Go Out’ is both experimental and immediate, direct and obtuse, brilliant and most certainly Blur. Welcome back, guys. You’ve still got it. (Stephen Ackroyd)

Everything Everything - Distant Past

‘Did you pack your bag or did somebody pack it for you?’ It’s the sort of question that security always asks at airports, and for some reason the natural human response is always mild panic. Even though everyone involved knows full well that you probably did indeed pack the entire bag yourself, with no help, it throws you. It’s also the question that Everything Everything chose to pose ahead of releasing ‘Distant Past’, the first single from the band’s new, third album ‘Get To Heaven’, which’ll be out in June this year.

Just like those nothing to declare gates and body-searches, ‘Distant Past’ does initially catch you off-guard. It’s heady and pounding like the beginnings of a 3am head-fuzz taking hold in a sweaty European nightclub, and Everything Everything’s sharply pointed elbows are blunted; their angular, tricky to pin-down rhythms in clearer focus. As Higgs put it, talking to his fans, “if you put out a record this year and it’s all smiles, then I think you’re a liar, basically.” Considering that Higgs goes on about bleeding monkey chins and sawing off his own stinky legs on ‘Distant Past’ - given extra sinister welly by robot backing vocalists - it’s safe to say Everything Everything have taken a darker turn, despite the initial euphoric sheen. (El Hunt)

Palma Violets - Danger In The Club

It might’ve been two years since Palma Violets released their rip-roaring debut album, but as new track ‘Danger In The Club’ debuted on BBC Radio 1 last night, the four-piece are proving as bold and brash as they ever were. Chiming guitars and dissonant riffs unfurl in the wake of Sam Fryer’s drawling vocals, instantly distinctive against a hazy backdrop of refrains. As the songs chant-a-long chorus drifts into focus you can practically smell the elated intoxication.

“He’s bad to the bone” Fryer and Jesson repeat, sultry and smooth mixing with spirited and sharp. Rousing and rambunctious, the final chorus draws in a soaring harmonica solo before meandering away into quiet. ‘Danger In The Club’ is inebriation, distilled. Boisterous, clamorous, and addictively confident, it’s a perfectly appetising first taste of the bands forthcoming second album, set for release on 4th May. (Jessica Goodman)

Sufjan Stevens - No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross

Trying to predict what will come next from Sufjan Stevens is a thankless and near impossible task due to his insatiable appetite for reinvention. From reimagining traditional Christmas songs on ‘Songs for Christmas’ to high-concept art on ‘Age of Adz’ Stevens has pushed his own personal envelope in every conceivable direction. It will perhaps as a comforting surprise that on ‘No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross’ - the first release from his upcoming album ‘Carrie & Lowell’ - that Stevens has stripped everything right back to himself and a guitar.

The whispering, haunting vocals and delicate acoustic guitar represent him at his absolute best. Stevens said himself, speaking to Pitchfork earlier this week; “this is not my art project – this is my life”. With this sense of humanity obvious on ‘No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross,’ it feels as though we are being allowed a privileged, intimate view into the inner world of Stevens as he struggles with the death of his mother (for whom the album is in part named). In returning to the gentle harmonies that he first made his name with, Stevens has captured an ethereal quality, showing much promise for the rest of ‘Carrie and Lowell’. (Stuart Knapman)

Ghostpoet - Shedding Skin (ft. Melanie De Biasio)

When held up to the pacey groove of first peek ‘Off Peak Dreams’, the title track of Ghostpoet’s upcoming full-length seems almost wearied. Across a droning backdrop, he lays out a tale of the trials of homelessness in London – a city increasingly seen to shun its needy with ‘anti-homeless spikes’ and draconian methods of social control. A telling glimpse into Ghostpoet’s political omnipresence, he remains the modern day narrator of city life, though this time around his organic musical backdrop adds a much-needed soul to proceedings.

Cymbals are choked throughout - “simmer down” comes the tense reminder, echoing its way right through to the track’s hazy conclusion. Heady and thick with frustration, ‘Shedding Skin’ is a perfect glimpse into Ghostpoet’s latest boundary pushing escapades – both of his own musical scope, and of the inspiration his surroundings grant. As Ghostpoet’s third full-length record creeps closer, it seems set to be a defining work of the social and political landscape in which we find ourselves at the mid-point of the decade. (Tom Connick)

Waxahatchee - Under A Rock

There may have been a time when the typical setting for a Waxahatchee listening party was curled up in a ball in bed swaddled in duvet. Not anymore, for on ‘Under A Rock’ Katie Crutchfield seems to shout ‘get up, go outside and skip down that sunny street’. Sure, all the usual raw emotion of Crutchfield’s razor sharp vocals is still there, but there’s an air of optimism and confidence bubbling underneath, fit to burst. That’s not to say this is entirely unchartered territory; Waxahatchee has always been a difficult one to pin down. From stripped back tenderness to full on gritty, angsty garage-rock, she can flit effortlessly between a huge range of moods and emotions.

‘Under A Rock’ sits at the furthest end of the scale yet. Utilising the full extent of Crutchfield’s supporting band plus every ounce of attitude-dripping power at her disposition vocally, it seems for forthcoming third album ‘Ivy Tripp’ Waxahatchee has her chin firmly up and she’s ready to give all she’s got. (Henry Boon)

Passion Pit - Lifted Up (1985)

New England darlings Passion Pit have always been good for a smiley number, their shimmering, upbeat production rarely wavering, even in the face of serious subject matter. Despite frontman Michael Angelakos suggesting this was the first time he’d enjoyed making a record with his band, he’s always been decent enough not to let on, so we’ve been able to just grin and nod along to previous offerings none the wiser. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to synth pop.

Lead single ‘Lifted Up (1985)’ is, as it says on the tin, an uplifting number. Ecstatic yelps, familiar thumping percussion and syncopated synth keys, this is Passion Pit back at their unrestrained best. Lauding the excellent year that features in the title, you might be a little pressed to discern exactly what was so great about 1985 from the lyrics (but to confirm, it’s not a self congratulatory anthem about the year of Angelakos’ birth, which was 1987). Whatever the meaning, it’s full of good feels, so who really cares?! Then there’s the slightly disconcerting and fed-up little boy (also appearing in ‘Where The Sky Hangs’) staring over the back of his chair from the dinner table artwork, which is…nice. (Louis Haines)

Jack Garratt - Chemical

Jack Garratt is always one step ahead. Just when he looks to be pegged into an all-out producer, pop prospect or soul pedaller, he’ll deceive and dash past expectations. ‘Chemical’ matches up with all the hard-cold facts known about the Londoner, his combination of #nasty beats, wob-wob synths and floating falsetto being the biggest draw. But that doesn’t stop Garratt from eyeing up next steps, like the mid-section machine gun, marching drum combo, or the piercing scream his bonkers verses will often burst into. Once that’s taken care of, in steps a serene piano section, sounding like it was recorded through the walls of a bedroom. Just when you’ve played catch-up with Garratt, he’ll set off on another victory lap. (Jamie Milton)

Tags: Blur, Listen

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