Round-up Tracks: PJ Harvey, Bat for Lashes, and more

DIY writers pick out the biggest and best new songs from the last seven days.

Good noole, dear readers, and a happy Friday to you all. As usual, its been a busy week of new music, and up to their usual antics, artists have been releasing new songs left right and centre. We’ve picked out the biggest and best new songs to emerge this week, and there’s plenty to get stuck into. PJ Harvey made a punk song about Walmart, Ladyhawke is back and is sounding bigger than ever, and Foals have casually released an off-cut from sessions for ‘What Went Down,’ just like that. In other words, it’s all kicking off. For everything else out this week head over to the DIY Listening Hub, or hit play on our Essential Playlist.

PJ Harvey - The Community of Hope

If there’s anybody who can pull off a song about unwanted Walmart constructions, it’s probably PJ Harvey, being honest. Tenacious, muffled cowbells and stomping-to-the-floor chords lead the way on a track that weaves through a throughly charming landscape. Skipping down the highway to death and destruction, past shit-hole school, and a drug-town filled with zombies, Peej’s latest, ‘The Community of Hope’ is distinctly aware of its own hopelessness; even the artwork is a sarcastically cheerful tambourine. Basically, this is the punkier, supermarket loathing cousin to Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. (El Hunt)

Bat for Lashes - In God’s House

Wedding bells ring for Bat For Lashes on her new album ‘The Bride’. But don’t think for one second Natasha Khan’s taking a traditional route down the aisle. In contrast to the pure ‘I Do’, which announced her fourth album, ‘In God’s House’ turns tradition into something more ominous.

Backed by uptight, stop-start synth notes (the likes of which define Wild Beasts’ similarly anxious ‘Present Tense’ album), Khan sings about the recurring feeling that “something’s wrong.” One minute in, those terse notes give way to a fluttering, open-ended refrain. Hope and optimism make a timely appearance, but it’s only fleeting. Within seconds, Khan is back to remarking on death, left alone. “My baby died on a beach” isn’t exactly the simple, loved-up vow a wedding-themed album might promise. Like the best of Bat For Lashes’ work, she flips convention on its head. (Jamie Milton)

Foals - Rain

Foals’ evolution in recent years has been nothing short of explosive. Beefing up their spindly math-rock was one thing, but to set it all ablaze and fire it from the confetti cannons of arenas across the globe is quite another. With ‘Rain’, though, they’re taking a breather.

Twinkling, soft-touch synths lead the way on Foals’ latest, a world away from the snarling chaos that defined ‘What Went Down’. Yannis sets aside the bravado for something far more forlorn too – a poetic ode to nighttime in the city replacing those easily digestible, shout-along festival hooks of the present day Foals. Fading out as softly as it arrived, ‘Rain’ is a starry-eyed look into a side of the Oxford group that rarely gets an outing anymore, and further proof that they’re one of the most open-to-evolution groups to ever grace Wembley Arena’s hallowed platform. (Tom Connick)

Eagulls - Skipping

Grimy and gut churning, the bassline that drives ‘Skipping’ with could crush bones – in keeping with Eagulls’ previous teasers of new album ‘Ullages’, though, they’re far more interested in shooting straight for the heart.

“All I ever wanted was an answer,” goes George Mitchell’s pained hook, “all I ever got was just a broken record, skipping” – a depiction of an insurmountable emotional obstacle that’s crushing in its everyday simplicity. One of ‘Ullages’’ most ominous moments, the ever-present threat of that rhythm section driving straight into the skull, ‘Skipping’ finds Eagulls on their most haunting form yet. (Tom Connick)

Ladyhawke - Sweet Fascination

Since the jauntily infectious ‘Paris Is Burning’ came out way back in 2008 (which seems like only yesterday, by the way) Ladyhawke has always had massive pop bangers coursing through her blood. None come bigger nor bolder than ‘Sweet Fascination,’ however, and four years on from second album ‘Anxiety’, Ladyhawke has returned. The synths are mighty and turned up to technicolour ten, hitting on a joyful abandon somewhere between Yazoo at their most garish, and CHVRCHES in stadium-bothering mode. Taking apart the poisonous side of limitless infatuation, Ladyhawke is bang back on form with the flick of a single switch. (El Hunt)

Yak - Harbour the Feeling

When Yak’s wheels turn, there’s no stopping them. Oliver Burslem and co. specialise in momentum. A solitary bass riff picks up steam, Burslem’s crookish vocals join the fray, and it builds and builds until there’s nothing but dust. ‘Harbour the Feeling’ is a monster - but every raging, wild bear needs to start life as a cub. Beginning humbly, a panning low note soon gives way to another, the wheels keep turning, and before their four minutes are up, Yak have set the agenda. Debut album ‘Alas Salvation’ is full of these great, all-consuming moments. And it puts forward a case for one of the UK’s most exciting new bands. (Jamie Milton)

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Gamma Knife

The collective heartrate of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is immeasurable by now. They’re a permanent caffeine kick, an electro-shock that persists until everything turns to dust. In the space of eighteen months, they’ve put their name to four albums. And somehow, the last of this berserk prolific spree is the most energised they’ve ever sounded. ‘Nonagon Infinity’ is Usain Bolt compared to their previous effort, the twisted happy-clappy run-around-the-fire folk of ‘Paper Mache Dream Balloon’. High blood pressure? Steer clear.

As evidenced by ‘Gamma Knife’, King Gizzard have retuned their circuits with turbo-charge additions. They’re every Vin Diesel scene from The Fast and the Furious, switched to triple speed. Shameless, showy solos are dragged into the sky by a cult spirit. It’s one stab of ridiculousness after the next. If anyone tells these Aussies to town it down a bit, their response is to evolve into a multi-headed snake monster.

An accompanying video finds the group with their faces painted, shunning swords into the ground in a ritualistic dance, for no apparent reason. Nothing makes sense in the world of King Gizzard, and that’s the entire point. They’re a stream of consciousness, untameable outfit who just happen to be approaching the form of their lives. You can’t take your eyes off them. (Jamie Milton)

Tags: Bat For Lashes, PJ Harvey, Listen, Features

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