Rodeo on Repeat: Foals, Calvin Harris, Peaches, MIA and more…


Foals – “Mountain At My Gate”
If title track ‘What Went Down’ marked Foals’ forthcoming fourth album out as a burly sonic assault, then ‘Mountain At My Gate’ proves it would be silly to even attempt to pigeonhole the Oxford boys right now. Rolling along on a low-slung, Afrobeat-inspired groove, it builds up into sparkling pop crescendos before tearing itself apart in a tumult of cathartic noise. This is Foals in their imperial phase.

MIA – “Swords”
“I’m here to take all,” brags MIA, and only a fool would call her bluff: here, on her first single since 2013 LP ‘Matangi’ and an early taste of her forthcoming fifth album ‘Matadatah’, pop’s most loud-mouthed provocateur is taking aim at anyone silly enough to try and stand in her way. “Loads of guys can’t handle this ride,” she taunts over a clanging and metallic beat that’s as harsh as it is infectious. “They keep us down and we take it in stride.”

The Libertines – “Barbarians”
Debuted live at T In The Park, ‘Barbarians’ is a track of two halves. The verses (one sung by Carl, one by Pete) tread an ominous back alley path, skulking along like the sister track to Babyshambles’ ne’er-do-well favourite ‘Pipedown’, while the chorus breaks out into a romping, major chord sing-along clatter. It’s held together by a thread as all the best Libs tracks are. LP ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ looms tantalisingly close.

Chvrches – “Leave A Trace”
“It’s like our fight song,” says Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry of ‘Leave A Trace’, the first single from new album ‘Every Open Eye’. And she’s not lying, either. Entering in a hurricane of clanging, robotic-like drums and pinging synths, she and her bandmates come out swinging at time-wasting scoundrels. “You took so much for someone so kind,” taunts Mayberry, backed by an electronic wall of noise. Bring on the whole album.

Mac DeMarco – “I’ve Been Waiting For Her”
Mac DeMarco is so well known for his screwball humour (last month, he stumped up a grand prize of 44p for a fan competition), that it’s sometimes easy to forget the earnest moments in his music. ‘I’ve Been Waiting For Her‘ is Mac at his most sincere: a sanguine lament about missing a certain someone, woven around stoned guitars and mid-fi production. Taken from new mini-album ‘Another One’, out August 7, it’s a cracker.

Vitamin – “Giving It Up”
Leeds quartet Vitamin have been together for barely a year, but they’re already sounding impressively confident. Now signed to National Anthem – where Haim started off – they’re serving up a chiming air-puncher with a Foals-y math-rock jitter and a thumping great chorus. Sure, there’s a touch of Bastille’s grand cathedral pop about the whole exercise, but let’s not hold that against them. They won’t worry if it shifts ‘Pompeii’ units.

Swim Deep – “Grand Affection”
Swim Deep’s transformation from baggy to bold continues with a bonkers pop song indicative the off-the-wall approach to songwriting of new album ‘Mothers’, and a band unwilling to merely trot out what’s expected. “Cry grand affection,” frontman Austin Williams sings in perching falsetto over a bubbling synth backdrop. Swim Deep are stepping out of their lane and forging a path entirely of their own. Their bravery deserves recognition.

Roy Wood$ feat Drake – “Drama”
Drake, in the guise of OVO Sound’s label boss, made his Beats 1 radio debut on July 11 and played three exclusives, including a remix of Wizkid’s ‘Ojuelegba’ featuring Skepta and Drake himself. Of the three, only ‘Drama’ by OVO Sound signee Roy Wood$ is an original. It finds young Roy abstractly crooning/rapping lines about a woman having troubles in her life over sparse CMPLX production, before Drizzy bizarrely proclaims that, “Every lost girl I know is over 26”.

Seinabo Sey – “Pretend”
Since the release of 2013 debut single ‘Younger’, we’ve known that 24-year-old Swedish singer Seinabo Sey has an extraordinary voice. However, it’s on ‘Pretend‘ where she truly matches it with a song that could light up the club it cared to wander into. Her latest track pouts and swaggers with the ’80s vibe of Italo disco troupe Black Box, but marries it with the freshness of Disclosure. A summer banger.

Peaches – “Bodyline”
It’s been three years since Peaches’ last EP, and six since the LP ‘I Feel Cream’, but if you’re wondering whether the Canadian has mellowed from her provocative, sexually aggressive roots in the interim, you’ll get your answer within seconds. “I will always follow what is moving through my bodyline/I could never hold on to something that doesn’t stick inside,” she sings over crunching metal guitars and an electronic beat. Whatever could she mean?

Dilly Dally – “Desire”
Hazy production, sludgy guitars and a call-and-response chorus: there’s no escaping how much regrettably named Toronto four-piece Dilly Dally sound like early Pixies. But with ‘Desire‘, the Canadian band show themselves to be so much more than that. Describing the song as being “about a huge sexual release”, singer Katie Monks’ strep-throat yelps drive the track forwards, culminating with a euphoric crescendo of feedback.

Icona Pop – “First Time” 
Ironically the first song the duo ever wrote together, “First Time” does the requisite amount of peaking and dipping. It’s a drum-rolling, grand unveiling of drunken harmonies filtered through a clattering synthesizer. Part of Icona Pop’s fun is their no-frills, teeth-glimmering fun; it’s the easiest thing in the world to imagine Aino and Caroline linking arms, smoking weed, and stumbling in the streets together.

LIZ – “When I Rule the World” 
Mad Decent would-be pop star LIZ debuted “When I Rule the World” in a Samsung ad, a curious choice if not for the involvement of Sophie, the U.K.’s preeminent constructor of post-capitalist jingles. The song itself builds up and out from Sophie’s McDonaldland latticework into the sort of childlike Red Bull rush that the rest of the PC Music crew wish they were constructing on a regular basis. If, as Sophie has said, branded content is the future of the music world, LIZ may well rule it.

Rustie – “Big Catzz” 
It’s about time for new material — not to mention a free download — from Rustie: Glasgow’s foremost (and formerly) maximalist producer hasn’t released anything since his sleek, stunning sophomore album, ‘Green Language’, nearly a year ago. The three-minute track rears up to the gate on a frenetic drum roll, breaking only for his roiling synth beds. Halfway through he lets the hammer drop, bass cutting in and out with just enough static, as if he keeps having to recalibrate his speakers.

Trouble Knows Me – “Trouble Knows Me” 
When not unleashing feral growls and dancing his way to Youtube stardom, Future Islands frontman Samuel T. Herring moonlights as Hemlock Ernst, a dexterous MC with a relaxed flow. Herring sounds almost unrecognisable on this new collaboration with jazz-rap giant Madlib: blanketed in vinyl hiss and shards of Stax-era horn lines, Ernst’s monotone rhymes would make for a welcome guest verse on the next Madvillain record (should it ever come).

Spector – “Stay High”
It’s not often that Spector’s bespectacled frontman Fred Macpherson abandons his plaintive baritone, which makes the novelty of this falsetto-drenched chorus something of a thrill. The London four-piece’s latest single, from forthcoming second album ‘Moth Boys’, is a strutting guitar jam that describes “the ways that we show our love”. Of course, because this is Spector, these ways include “bonding over hating people” and “prescription meds”. Oh, you guys…

Boys Noize and Salva – “Choo Choo” 
This remix of trap queens Scarlet Fever’s dirty 2004 chant-along ‘Peanut Butter’ almost didn’t exist. Though the ticking bomb of a warehouse banger was slated to be on Boys Noize’s Strictly Raw Vol. 1 LP earlier this summer, the Berlin DJ — who rough-houses techno the same way Los Angeles producer Salva does rap —couldn’t clear the vocal sample. The silver lining is that now the track is free, so take a listen and imagine it’s soundtracking a secondary school sporting event.

Calvin Harris feat. Disciples – “How Deep Is Your Love” 
Is this the precipice of a new Calvin Harris album? Is it a one-off, f—k up the summer smash meant to be used and abused before discarding? When it’s this magnificently polished and grimy, who cares? The uncredited vocalist (said to be Norwegian songwriter Ina Wroldsen) coos and wails at alternating speeds as if constantly insistent on attention, much like the melodies themselves. 

Empress Of – “Kitty Kat”
Brooklyn-via-Bronx singer Empress Of, a.k.a. Lorely Rodriguez, recorded her debut album, Me, in a tiny town on a lake in Mexico, but even such a remote place isn’t secure from cat-calling men on the street. In response, she wrote “Kitty Kat,” a fierce conflagration of her flighty yet determined voice and atonal, crunchy synths. “Let me walk away,” she commands, but it’s hard to step away from such a powerful and compulsively listenable song.

Vant – “The Answer”
Vant recently joked on Twitter that they’d “just finished writing the 007 theme tune”, but judging by their latest track they probably haven’t taken too much inspiration from Shirley Bassey. The London-based newcomers sound like The MC5 warring with DFA 1979. Searing guitars and explosive drums abound, and when Mattie Vant screeches “Keep sucking my dick while my friend fucks your mother!” it’s clear they’re not messing about.

Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin’”
If you’re expecting fanfares, big pop choruses and guest rappers, then you’ve got the wrong guy. ‘Pretty Pimpin’’ is another amiable amble through Kurt Vile’s semi-consciousness, in which he’s confronted by a shaggy-haired “clown” in the mirror before realising, oh yeah, that’s me. As ever though, Kurt’s dazed demeanour is deceptive – a song that begins as a scatty, hungover ramble stealthily solidifies into a strident, country-rock anthem.

Hooton Tennis Club – “Powerful Pierre”
While the village of Hooton, near Liverpool, might not exactly be Thrill Canyon, it’s the kind of place that inspires kids to start brilliantly idiosyncratic bands. ‘Powerful Pierre’ is a slice of Pavement-inspired goofiness from one such outfit. Diving into the mysterious, unknowable Pierre character, we learn he’s “genuine but unhappy” while the band splash their US alt-rock influences with big enough dollops of Blur to make even Graham Coxon smile.

Jacuzzi Boys – “Happy Damage”
Be careful when you open up ‘Happy Damage’ (the title track of Jacuzzi Boys’ forthcoming EP): the Miami garage-rock trio have concocted the kind of catchy-as-hell earworm anthem that will have you resorting to trepanning to have it surgically removed by witch doctors. Where their self-titled 2013 debut trod a rickety, lo-fi path, here they aim higher with some brief but charming “ooh-oohs” in the vein of The Dandy Warhols’ ‘Bohemian Like You’. It’s a blast.

Yung – “Burning Bodies”
Probably the darkest creation to come from the Danish quartet thus far, this slow-burning wedge of guitar drone is a mini sonic odyssey in itself. It begins modestly enough – singer Mikkel Holm Silkjær’s shamanic drawl languidly seesawing over a classic jangle sound – but as more meat is thrown on the bones, the track lurches forward into an aggressive beast, before ending with a good old guitar thrashing. A reminder that they’re still the punks they always were.

Summer Moon – “With You Tonight”
The Strokes’ Nikolai Fraiture leads New York underground supergroup Summer Moon, whose first song sounded like it’d been beamed from the future. ‘With You Tonight’, however, sounds more like the quartet have been sitting by azure seas, sipping cocktails from coconut shells. There are hints of New Order to its electro-funk undertones, alongside the sunny, trebly guitars of Men At Work’s ‘Down Under’ – an odd, but brilliant, combination.

Nathaniel Rateliff – “Look It Here”
With the kind of storming soul sonics that bring to mind a bigger, burlier Leon Bridges, former rootsy torch song crooner and member of the extended Mumford & Sons family Nathaniel Rateliff is a man reborn. Heralded by triumphant peals of brass, ‘Look It Here’ repositions one of the past five years’ most underrated vocalists and songwriters as a kind of biker Otis Redding, all joyful R&B declarations and rough-hewn charm.

Corey Bowen – “If Birds Wish To Fly”
Anyone who’s got the balls to rip off the keyboard bit from ‘Reward’ by Teardrop Explodes quite so blatantly as Middlesbrough newcomer Corey Bowen is clearly going places. Aside from that not-so-subtle steal, there’s also a spidery guitar line that’s pure King Gizzard and vocals reminiscent of a sober Pete Doherty on ‘If Birds Wish To Fly’. A hotchpotch then, but a promising one.

SPORTS – “Saturday” 
Everyone’s favourite day of the week gets a precious blast of sugar in this heartfelt indie-pop anthem led by Ohio vocalist Carmen Perry. Produced by Kyle Gilbride (Waxahatchee, Girlpool, Swearin’), “Saturday” doesn’t even surpass a minute and 30 seconds, but that’s all the more reason to align it with a weekend; goodness knows that never lasts long enough either.

YG – “Twist My Fingaz” 
Should you need a break from the moral heft of Kendrick’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ and the icky gloom of Earl’s ‘I Don’t Like Sh—t’, “Twist My Fingaz” is the summer antidote to Cali’s string of spring introspection. Terrace Martin produces, but this is a Dr. Dre-influenced record through and through, complete with heavy bass, whining synthesizers, and braggadocio rhymes. (Ironic, then, that YG claims he’s the “only one who made it out the West without Dre.”) Still, “Twist My Fingaz” is a suitable hold-me-over until the next big West Coast album drops.

Categories: Features, Music