News Tracks: Klaxons, St. Vincent, Jamie XX & More

Hello everyone!

It’s been a hell of a week, hasn’t it? From tube strikes to South West tidal waves, there’s been a lot to contend with - everything from fish hitting people’s windows to Londoners having to actually walk places. Don’t fret, though, because the DIY writers have your back. There’s a new Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX collaboration hot off the press, a triumphant return to form from Klaxons, and many more delights below. Hole up out of the storm with supplies of cookies, and enjoy.

Klaxons – There Is No Other Time

Think back to the scrapped album, the sessions in the desert that went skewiff, the pre-Buzzfeed implementation of cats for cover art. Klaxons’ second album was a mixed bag, a follow-up to a Mercury Prize-winning, year-defining triumph that granted, was a little rough around the edges but contained ‘Golden Skans’ for crying out loud. Setting aside any pressure that might still exist from those heady early days, Klaxons are a different outfit now, and by the looks of things they’ve hearts deadset on the charts. Teaming up with Gorgon City is one thing. Emerging with a song as pristine and sparkly and still undeniably Klaxons as ‘There Is No Other Time’ is something else altogether. Sounding a little like the kind of music a modern day Patrick Bateman (from American Psycho) might listen to before wielding an axe, it’s a shiny, ultra-confident pop number that still carries the band’s customary, brilliantly dented backbone. Flaws are there to be picked and prodded at. James Righton still isn’t a particularly great singer. But bloody hell can these guys still pen a tune. After the tarnished hell of their last album, that’s a big reassurance. (Jamie Milton)

St. Vincent - Prince Johnny

When St. Vincent shared ‘Birth In Reverse’ and ‘Digital Witness’, it showed that her collaborative album with David Byrne’s had a big influence on her solo work in the form of elaborate horn arrangements. However, ‘Prince Johnny’ sounds much more like her previous material, leaning towards the laid-back rhythms of ‘Strange Mercy’ and letting her trademark frenetic guitar riffs take a back seat. Instead, droning organs – sounding like the soundtrack to a haunted fairground ride - and tinny percussion accompany Clark’s storytelling. Trying to retrace a sound isn’t always easy but St. Vincent accomplishes it wonderfully here. [Aurora Mitchell]

The Men - Different Days / Another Night

The Men are climbing the ladder from scuzzy rock kings to classic rock masters. For years now they have been prolific, consistent and constantly reinventing themselves. Last years ‘New Moon’ was the tipping point with their most diverse and accessible brand of punk to date and there are no signs of the momentum letting up. The combination of the guys belting out their music with an added horn section and proper studio has yielded frenzied results. True to their nature of not bothering to do things in a conventional way (‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ was written and recorded straight after ‘New Moon’), they have gifted us two tracks in one week from their forthcoming album. ‘Different Days’ has their characteristic pounding guitars and angsty refrains, while ‘Another Night’ channels Springsteen as it opens with buoyant piano chords before stomping horns slam the track on a jazzy journey home - both are laced with the Brooklyn band’s trademark bustling energy and spontaneity that makes these throwbacks sound so vital. Maybe their album title ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ isn’t as tongue and cheek as the Brooklyn group initially envisioned. [Sam Cornforth]

Iggy Azalea – Fancy (ft. Charli XCX)

To quickly summarise the lyrical premise of ‘Fancy’, it’s basically the pre-chorus to ‘Royals’, but without the skepticism. There’s Grey Goose galore, references to Ace and Cris (two other drinks I can never afford), the systematic trashing of hotel rooms, and the worst sin of all - leaving a hefty phone bill behind. With the extra melodic welly of it’s rowdy chorus, ‘Leave It’ has turned from trappy to pop gold. All of Iggy Azalea’s posturing alone could easily become a bit wearisome, but with the clout of Charli XCX it comes across as wonderfully bratty, hopelessly memorable, and ever so slightly sardonic. (El Hunt)

Jamie xx + Four Tet – Seesaw

After remixing Four Tet’s ‘Lion’, it was later announced last year that Jamie xx would be collaborating with Kieran Hebden once more - on a Young Turks hosted radio show a few nights ago, they unveiled ‘Seesaw’. The track lives up to its name, trying to find a balance between the heavily percussive sound of Four Tet and the more xx-orientated side of Jamie xx throughout. It’s beautifully light, with chilling, echoed vocal samples closely resembling that of Romy Madley Croft’s. At one point the beat resembles a helicopter propeller steadily turning - curious stuff. It’s what you would expect from a collaboration of these two minds and it more than fulfils its potential. [Aurora Mitchell]

Kitty – ♥ ♥ 285 ♥ ♥

Kitty (now sans Pryde) has been moving in some interesting directions as of late. Foregoing the more traditional, boom bap type of production on her hazy early releases, she’s moved into a more electronic direction. To say that this direction has been working wonders for her is putting it lightly, as the euphoric ‘Second Life’ felt like a wonderful rebirth for the tumblr born artist. Whether the stupid tags annoy you or not, ‘285’ blends the best of her Yoni Wolf (of Why? fame) inspired rapping with her new found pop tendencies to alarmingly pretty results. Her loving tribute to Brooklyn’s Kent Avenue nightclub ‘285’ is yet another example of how much she’s matured, ridding herself of childlike tumblr-star “get out of my room”-isms. (Joe Price)

Oceaán – To Lose

Following up Oliver Cean’s (aka electro - R&B mastermind Oceaán) soothingly smooth breakthrough ‘Need U’, comes news of a much-anticipated debut EP, to be released on Chess Club Records next month. Labelmates with Jungle and MØ, Cean’s first release ‘To Lose’ has just been uploaded to his Soundcloud page and is more than enough to whet appetites across the blogosphere. Swelling, ominous synths sit behind fleeting processed beats before a James Blake-esque falsetto gently floats into the mix and celestial electronic flutters pulse away under lush, layered vocal samples. The crushing finale – all dramatic drum claps, haunting synths and twisted, electronic purrs – sounds like a more refined version of one of Jai Paul’s bedroom concoctions; minimalist electronic bliss. (Laura Eley)

King avriel – Freedom

Pop stars should be allowed to gyrate in golden thrones and swing on freezing wrecking balls - if that’s how they roll. There’s many valid ways to be a female pop star, and flaunting female sexuality is just one of them. King avriel puts a very clever spin on this idea, by choosing not to look into the camera in a simple subversion. ‘Freedom’s murky R&B gets entangled in your mind in a click, but it’s about escaping oppression. Sat in a Transformers t-shirt, contemplating whether to take a sip of Kool-aid, while CNN’s website intrudes in the background, King avriel subtly spins gender-norms on their head through a network of little visual hints. A clue even lies in her moniker. This is clever, informed, subversive pop music that doesn’t owe anyone anything. (El Hunt)

Curb – So High

Middle England dwellers Curb have been quietly bubbling under the surface of the recent wave of attention crashing all over the musical mecca of Birmingham. This new single however is set to push them to the surface; like Free Willy diving out of the sea. Stripping almost every element to the back of the song, the band let the gigantic chorus take center stage. Plus this lot have more harmonies than a frikkin’ barber shop quartet. (Jack Parker)

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