News Tracks: Prince, Crystal Castles, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club And More

You’re busy people. We know that. We’re busy people too. But that doesn’t stop our lovely writers and radio presenters taking time out to pick out the best of the week’s new music.

So without any further messing around or frivolity; we present, this week’s Tracks.

Crystal Castles – Sad Eyes

From the first listen it became clear that Crystal Castles’ third studio album – ‘(III)’ – is, by far, their most textured album to date. Presenting imminent signs of maturation, not in a sense of settling down and writing top ten hits, but as in experimenting with new techniques and flirting with darker themes. Supplying a sinister ambience, as presented through releases such as ‘Plague’ and ‘Wrath Of God’, complimenting their erratic live performances impeccably.

And now with the introduction of a short music video to accompany ‘Sad Eyes’, frontwoman Alice Glass is seen in a whole new light: and although the track still upholds a rushing tempo and euphoric synth element, it’s perhaps the most tame single that the Toronto duo have ever produced. (Jonathan Hatchman)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Let The Day Begin

There’s no such thing as an inactivity period for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club so if you reckon they’ve been too quiet, expect something huge to happen soon.

We are now witnessing a perfectly plotted new-record plan designed to progressively intrigue every inch of our fuzzy-bass-friendly bodies and if you were not satisfied with the album teaser (6 short films documenting the recording of ‘Specter At The Feast’ that will appear every week until the release) the epic/dark (and a little bit sexy) single ‘Let The Day Begin’ has just been released as a free download.

This track reconstitutes any lost faith in old fashioned effortless Rock & Roll and also sparkles some glitter over their leather jackets with ground shaking drums, and conversational bluesy riffs. But what if I tell you it’s actually a cover? Yes, the song belongs to The Call the band fronted by Michael Been (father of BRMC’s singer Robert Levon Been) who passed away tragically in 2010 at a festival where Black Rebel was performing and has been honoured with this noisier version of the 80’s single. Intriguing? Very much! (Carolina Faruolo)

Prince – Screw Driver

“I’m your driver, you’re my screw,” warbles Prince on his first single of this year, after obtaining a Tom Jones haircut and releasing 2012’s ‘Rock N Roll Love Affair’. Provisionally appearing upon a mysterious YouTube account and soon ending up on the artist’s website, the track in itself doesn’t quite live up to Prince’s wonder years. Namely; between 1984’s release of ‘Purple Rain’ and the singer’s unpronounceable name change, prior to breaking away from Warner Brothers. However, it does uphold a bass-line similar to that on Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump It Up’ and the funk element that purveyed the majority of his earlier work. And let’s face it, a demo version of ‘Screw Driver’ has probably been lurking in Prince’s infamous vault for a good few years, after probably falling short of the final cut for 2006’s ‘3121.’

But either way, it comes as a great relief that Prince is still around to show us how it’s done. And if there’s any scope for a new album, let’s just hope that he ends up releasing it properly this time. (Jonathan Hatchman)

Cocktails - No Blondes (In California)

There’s been an age-old tradition of American rock bands singing about the carefree joys of a Californian beach paradise. Cocktails, however, tackle this subject from a slightly different tangent. ‘No Blondes (In California) by the self-described ‘Slop Pop’ four-piece sounds like the Ramones transported to the west coast and what appears to be an anthem espousing the joys of Californian life is actually a misanthropic lament with front man Patrick Clos’ sneering. “I must be twice your age and I hate the waves” before delivering the pay-off “And who the hell knows how to surf anyway.” As well as the slight lyrical subversion, it’s also a fantastic burst of classically tinged rock ‘n’ roll. (Martyn Young)

Menomena – Toomer

Experimental indie rock band Menomena return with ‘Toomer’, a dreamlike track that balances precariously on the line between melancholic and upbeat. The lyrical crux of the song is the refrain “I’m a cancer, you’re a tumour too,” with all negative connotations drowned in a bubbling cacophony of electronic bleeps, panning synths and parping horns, all of which are pushed along by marching band drums. The vocals are almost Bowie-esque, ebbing and flowing in and out of the track, squeezed in amongst the layers of sound and only occasionally struggling to the surface. At times it feels as if two people are lost in a musical fog and what we hear as vocals, are in fact snippets of dialogue periodically emerging from the ether. ‘Toomer’ is creepy yet beautiful, rhythmic yet experimental, saturated yet spacious – a true reverie of a track. (Tom Watts - @thetomwatts)

Papa - Put Me To Work

You’ve been in a situation where you’ve heard a song you don’t recognise but love, right? Spinning through the FM dial? On the TV? In the car of the dude that just drove by? But the annoying thing is, it sounds like it’s a MASSIVE track. And surely everyone knows it. Well. It’s a pleasure to be among the first few in the UK to grab L.A. duo Papa up. Arcade Fire, The Killers, Editors. Bands for comparison, if you’re not sure whether to press play on the below. All I can say is that their Facebook likes and soundcloud plays have rocketed of late. An anthem in the making. I can see it being one of those next big things. And you’ve heard it early. (Elise Cobain – Alive And Amplified)

Swingin’ Utters - Stuck In A Circle

‘Poorly Formed’ is the forthcoming album from San Francisco based punks Swingin’ Utters, out on 19th February 2013 on Fat Wreck Chords. It is their second LP since they reformed after a seven year hiatus in 2010. ‘Stuck In A Circle’ premiered on the internet 24th January 2013. The song is very different from the first single ‘The Librarians Are Hiding Something’. This really is not a bad thing. The band are extremely talented, and from these two songs alone, the evidence of this fact is blinding. Definately an album to look forward to. (Cilléin McEvoy)

Listen at:

Blue Hawaii - Try To Be

Built upon a foundation of looped acoustic guitar, Blue Hawaii’s ‘Try To Be ‘shimmers into life. Raph Stendall-Preston’s haunting vocals ponder existential angst and lost dreams, whilst Alexander Cowan cuts and pastes the track around her. Ethereal synths come and go, washing over the listener like an incoming tide, whilst vocalisations are chopped and composed into haunting rhythms. “It may as well just be,” reverberates as the song’s chorus, spliced and layered by Cowan and in the process taking on a life on its own – a stuttered mantra morphs into an other-wordly beat for the song, overwhelming the sparse drums. ‘Try To Be’ is the second release from the forthcoming album ‘Untogether ‘and the band manage to convey a real sense of separation in this offering – does the song need the vocals, or the vocals the song? (Tom Watts - @thetomwatts)

Kelly Kemp - Homes & Castles

This song is taken from ‘Darlington Sessions #1’ album which was released on Cats! Aye! Records on the 21st January 2013. It is the first acoustic session from Tim Greaves’ and El Morgan’s new Darlington Road studios and contains three familiar voices of the UK punk rock community; Roo Pescod (Bangers), Giles Bidder (Great Cynics) and Kelly Kemp. The album is short, but extremely sweet and can be streamed/purchased on the Cats! Aye! Records bandcamp. All three have actually been touring this week on ‘The Surivival Tour’ playing songs from the album and performing with Sam Russo, El Morgan & Helen Chambers. There was an exclusive interview with Roo on the latest (17th January) Built to Fail show (on DIY Radio), where he discusses the record and the tour itself, so if you would like to find out some extra details you should take a listen. (Cilléin McEvoy)

Kelly Kemp - Homes & Castles by Roo Pescod, Kelly Kemp & Giles Bidder

Symfonyah – What Do You Want From Me

Symfonyah are from Birmingham. Straight away, that makes them a band to take notice of, ask any music journalist (I dare you). They are dreamers, romantics and pop-enthusiasts, sharing this attitude with Brummie’s Jaws, Peace and Swim Deep. ‘What Do You Want From Me’ stretches itself out and pulls itself back in, all the while retaining its various hooks. It’s easy listening with the right amount of twists and turns to keep your ears from taking it too easy and dozing off. This is a playful introduction to this bedroom project turned band. What do we want from you Symfonyah? More demos like this. (Jack Parker)

Bad Religion - Past Is Dead

‘Past is Dead’ is the second track on the latest album by Californian punk legends Bad Religion. ‘True North’ was released on Epitaph Records on the 22nd January 2013 and is actually their 16th studio album, and probably safe to say will feature in many ‘top albums of the year’ lists, despite still having 11 months to go. It is so hard for me to understand how a band can have a certain sound, and keep it sounding as fresh as it did when the band first started in 1979. The album is definately worth a spin…full of powerful riffs, shredding and solos and driving beats…oh, and of course catchy as heck choruses. (Cilléin McEvoy)

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