Tracks Lana Del Rey, Merchandise, & More

The DIY writers pick their favourite songs of the last seven days.

We’ve changed the way Tracks does its hair, dear readers; a sort of makeover. Oh, you noticed? How very kind of you! We might be looking sleek and salon-fresh, but rest assured, the drill here is still the same. Our lovely gaggle of DIY writers have scoured the internet for the latest new songs, and the cream of the crop is below.

Lana Del Rey – Shades of Cool

For a while it was fashionable to criticise Lana Del Rey as much as it was in vogue to praise her. Her second promotional single from ‘Ultraviolence’, ‘Shades of Cool’, has a Bond-like composition and cements her durability in pop. The song has a bluesy-jazz feel, similar to the irrefutably exquisite ‘Million Dollar Man’ from her first album, ‘Born To Die’. Lana called her second album “almost un-listenable”, which is not hard to believe considering the epic deliverance of the unexpected in ‘Shades of Cool’. When the guitar solo reaches its height we expect Lana to bawl her chorus over the chords in a Bush-like tirade; instead she opts for jazzy riffs that echo the impact of the guitar and give the track an understated finish. Lana’s talent lies in her ability to write pop songs that shift, unpredictably, between soft and rough edges; between a delicate, drowsy vocal and a strong, heavy instrument. (Ashley Allen)

Merchandise – Little Killer

Tampa-based post-punks Merchandise were one of last summer’s Bands To Watch, and with glimmering, echoey guitar melodies delivered through space, and dense vocal distortion that could submerge The Shard, this was for good reason. The band’s Record Store Day release, ‘Figuring Out’ was aptly titled because it marked a shift towards a honed, tautened take on the fuzz-drenched sonics of ‘Children of Desire’ and ‘Totale Nite’; sonics that it would be fair enough to say we know and love. ‘Little Killer’ continues along this cleaner trajectory, as if the band have gorged themselves on fish fingers and custard (incidentally a feast that DIY approves of highly) and regenerated in more futuristic form. The idea of wanting a band to stay the same forever is about as preposterous as getting a deceased pet made into taxidermy, and besides, when Merchandise are sounding this great, what’s wrong with a bit of evolution?

Woods – Tambourine Light

The members of Woods are a busy bunch, as well as constantly bringing their experiments and glistening folk music to life, Jeremy Earl runs their record label Woodsist and Jarvis Taveniere works with a number of great bands in his Rear House studios. Somehow though, they still manage to find time to prolifically release Woods music, with their latest single ‘Tambourine Light’ rekindling the super combo of Woodsist and Captured Tracks (We wonder if they have a catchphrase like “To me, to you”). Similarly to the material on ‘With Light and With Love’ this new single evokes the vibe of a sun-dabbled West Coast in the 60’s, further proving that Woods are only capable of producing songs that sparkle with warmth. (Samuel Cornforth)

Slow Club – Suffering You Suffering Me

Appearing online on Tuesday, the latest cut from Slow Club’s impending third album is a belter of atrack, a slice of Northern Soul which sounds as if it has come straight from Wigan Casino circa 1975. Whereas Rebecca’s voice has previously been restrained, here it is set free in all its sultriness, her vocals soaring. Her voice would be nothing without the rest of the band however, and how times have changed since Rebecca and Charles used a chair as a percussion instrument. With a brass section, Slow Club sound incredible; a far cry from the low-fi indie rock of ‘Yeah, so?’. This is Slow Club Version 2.0, suited and booted and full of heart and soul, and with tracks like these, the new album is shaping up to be a timeless classic. (Joe Sweeting)

Mykki Blanco – She Gutta

Mykki Blanco and shuddering, bluster-beats go together like Portuguese police officers and homophobia – although one pairing is obviously more progressive and inspiring than the other. In keeping with this amorous conjugation of beat and bars, ‘She Gutta’ is a suitably gritty platform for Mykki Blanco’s ravenous flow, and Jeremiah Meece has stepped in on production to provide this tenaciously brackish spookfest for Mykki to start slewing over. Before the slewing starts though, you should grieve for the beat because Mykki absolutely kills it. The bars are delivered within a flow that feels like an audible stab wound every time it pulls up to admire itself; it’s intimidatingly brilliant. Even the alluring hook - “y’all wanna be damned… So come fuck with me” – is an entirely menacing thought, because evidently from this track… Mykki Blanco is unfuckwittable. (Nathan Butler)

Radio Radio – Leave Me Alone

Continuing a rapid evolution towards a more punky and punchy sound, new track ‘Leave Me Alone’ has shaken-off any excess baggage to leave two minutes of blistering guitar music. The Libertines-inspired distorted-guitars and rougher edges are clear to see; but it’s real success lies in its injection with the catchiness found on previous tracks from the band. It’s sure as hell the leanest and meanest their sound has been, though, highlighting a more streamlined style that fits like a steel-studded leather glove; and with two more tracks from the West Point Studios sessions to come, leaving them alone now would be a catastrophic mistake. (Kyle MacNeill)

Bloom – Daydream

If this debut track from Winchester/ London outfit Bloom is anything to go by, they’re surely ones to keep close tabs on for the latter half of 2014. A dream -washed voyage through guitar pop, ‘Daydream’ opens with a gently repetitive, off-kilter guitar line which forms a steady backdrop throughout the track. Echoing the smooth, trickling harmonies and lax vocals of bands like Real Estate and Beach Fossils but shot through with the kind of bright, piercing guitar sounds associated with Brooklyn’s DIIV, the track builds to a momentous chorus before the chaotic outro blends progressively heavy, grating chords with bright, fluttering strings; lending their sound to a kind of dream-pop meets shoegaze meets psych-rock crossover. Top that off with a whole load of reverb and you’ve got Bloom – probably the best band ever to have washed up out of Winchester. (Laura Eley)

Alex Calder – Strange Dreams

Mac DeMarco’s recent video for ‘Passing Out Pieces’ opened with him shooting former bandmate Alex Calder. Thankfully it wasn’t real though (the wonders a bit of ketchup can do) and since then Alex has shared his excellent new album ‘Strange Dreams’. The title track is the Canadian at his dreamy best, as he revels an otherworldly quality that inhabits Ariel Pink and Connan Mockasin’s recordings, whilst his smoky guitars fizzle and jangle along buoyantly. Just like his buddy and attempted murderer, Alex Calder is a master of weird and off-kilter pop. (Samuel Cornforth)


Tags: Alex Calder, Lana Del Rey, Merchandise, Mykki Blanco, Slow Club, Woods, Listen, Features, Tracks

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