Steven Patrick Mugabe – Impeach Morrissey!

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It didn’t begin, it blossomed. It was a sign of positivity, of unity. He was a spokesman. But something went wrong…very wrong. Now an outcast, even the most devoted of fans are turning their backs on him. As Mugabe and Morrissey’s reigns come to an end, we investigate the parallels between the Mancunian miserablist and the Zimbabwean despot…panic on the streets of ‘Babwe?

“Presidents come, Presidents go,” sighs Morrissey on his new album, “and oh, the damage they do.” It’s a swipe at Trump, but it could also be pilfered as a neat summary of Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe. For the 93-year-old despot has caused almost irreparable damage to a once fertile land, turning a thriving nation into the second poorest country in the world.

Four decades after his reign began, his time is now at an end, with his impending impeachment removing him from his role as leader. On the music side of things, maybe an impeachment of Morrissey would not be such a bad idea.

When once you would bristle at the odd questionable remark, you would show leeway when listening. It’s, after all, well established that Morrissey is a twat, but his music was enough to make us forget such frivolity. In fact, when he made a two-fisted comeback in 2004 with the striking You Are The Quarry, we greeted him like an old friend. Now we look at his Twitter and remember why we stopped hanging out with him in the first place.

While Mugabe was given accolades such as an honorary knighthood in 1994. Mozzer, meanwhile, was voted the second greatest living Briton in 2006 (coming as close runner-up to David Attenborough, no less). Several years later, Mugabe has been stripped of his honour while Morrissey would probably lie somewhere in between Jeremy Clarkson’s hairhole and Katie Hopkins’ salacious jaw. Both Mugabe and Morrissey’s reputations lie in tatters, both of their achievements are almost long forgotten and both face 2017 as worthless peons, bygones of an era no one wishes to remember.

Mugabe’s downfall, of course, is long-awaited and for obvious reasons. Morrissey has fallen on his own puffed-up petard. He’s often been forthcoming with a contrary comment, from blasting the “blustery jingoism” of the 2012 London Olympics to calling Brexit “magnificent”, but in 2017 he seems to enjoy being deliberately divisive. The Pope of Mope’s PR company must be pulling their quiffs out as he defends Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, claims a UKIP election was rigged and bestows Berlin the title of “rape capital.”

Yes, the Spacey interview was translated. Yes, maybe he did, deep down, have some kind of relevant point. But why bring it up? Why indulge an interviewer? And this is me giving Morrissey compassion, when in actuality we know that he probably meant every word. He has become a man living in his own bequiffed bubble, and just like Mugabe, has become almost invulnerable to criticism, to anger and rage. Everyone else is wrong, Mugabe and Morrissey are always right.

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Things started so well for both Mugabe and Morrissey. Both came to prominence in the 1980s, and both came as welcome relief to movements that had long grown stale. As racist Rhodesia became independent, Mugabe was a progressive leader, aligning two warring races and promising a brighter future. Morrissey, meanwhile, was a leader for the wistful, a knitted anachronism singing with Wildean wit and kitchen-sink despair. As time lapsed on, though, so did their good points. Mugabe’s stranglehold over Zimbabwe choked it of its economic stability; Morrissey’s post-Smiths output became highly politicised, polemic and polarising.

In 2017, even the most devoted of fans of Morrissey – myself included – are tired of fighting. We’re tired of defending him. We’re tired of saying “just listen to music, not the man.” We want the beloved, deadpan spinster back to make remarks like “I’m a humasexual…interested in humans, though of course, not many.” That comment was made in 2013 and was probably the last humorous thing Mozzer uttered.

As for Mugabe, Zimbabwe may, one day, breathe a much-needed sigh of relief. Robert, it really was nothing.

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Man-free festivals – Segregation that the Gender Deserves

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There has been great progress made in improving the safety, most of all sexually, in festivals across the UK and beyond. More than that, there has been much more awareness – in terms of social media blackouts and, in Glastonbury’s case, the Sisterhood – in creating gender-specific spaces.

However, the issue in Sweden is, at least on a reported scale, spiralling out of control. Bravalla Festival may have hosted some of music’s globe-gobbling anthem makers (this year saw The Killers amongst the headliners), but beneath its commerciality lies sordid tales of sexual violence that stretch back to the beginning of the noughties. Over the past two festivals, a combined total of nine rapes and 34 sexual assaults have taken place. And they are the ones police are aware of.

The shocking numbers have resulted in an announcement from the festival’s organisers cancelling next year’s festivals, blaming the fact “certain men don’t know how to behave.” Even in context, it’s a statement that is not only odd and clunky, but clumsily understated – on the surface, men misbehaving is tantamount to accidentally spilling a beer or smoking a spliff – rape is far, far away from bad behaviour.

The only positive to come out of the situation is Sweden’s first exclusively non-male festival, which will take place instead of Bravalla in 2018. While festivals in the US have previously hosted successful ‘man ban’ festivals, this action throws into raw reality that despite technological advancements and added security at festivals, sexual abuse remains a disgustingly potent, and prolific, risk.

The news of this has, of course, sparked mixed reviews. The traditional war cry of ‘not all men’ has reared its head, as has the victim-blaming boilerplate of ‘segregation’. Yes, this is segregation. But this is a necessary move. If men are, as the statement deemed it, unable to ‘behave’, then a blanket ban is the only way forward. Alcohol or substance abuse can turn even the staunchest ‘not all men’ chanter into an altogether different beast, and by offering only a segmented segregation, surely the purpose of this festival is thwarted? This is a chance to show that men need to take action and behave in an uniform manner – it is not a case of nice guys finishing last.

It is also not about pinning the blame of one gender. Men, of course, are also victims and can be victims of sexual abuse, but this is a reaction of sexual abuse within a specific, and confined, space. The sheer volume of rape that occurred in Sweden alone warrants such a ban; I’m sure if the genders had been switched and it was men who had been subjected to such staggering statistics, we would have a man-only festival.

Whether or not England will follow suit in the future remains to be seen, and hopefully Sweden will also provide bands that have at least one female member in them, but the threat of sexual abuse continues to be all too real prospect.

Has Anyone Actually Listened To The Hunna?

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When it comes to the end of the fiscal year in The Financial Times, there’ll no doubt be a list concerning what businesses have achieved the most economic growth through social media. I’m sure media-savvy concerns like Starbucks and Spotify will creep in the top 10, but surely another outfit that would feature high would be The Hunna.

To say The Hunna have been omnipresent on Facebook would be like saying Harambe is “partially missed”; they’ve utilised social media adverts to a maddening degree, so much so that fans of anyone from DIIV to Dido have been instructed, nay, implored to hit The Hunna up. If you like breathing, you’ll love The Hunna. If you like the feeling of adolescent angst that comes from the uncertainty of post-Brexit Britain, you’ll love The Hunna; it got to the point where you half expected to log into Pornhub and find an advertisement stating “if you enjoy clit lick, you’ll enjoy The Hunna” (maybe they’ve done that, I’m not sure…Pornhub remains as dusty as my weights room).

At first, The Hunna became more famous for their advertisements rather than their actual music. On an episode of The Simpsons, there was a PR hype frenzy circulated around a children’s television show, Gabbo, to the point where the moniker was merely plastered across the press, raising suspicions until it actually became apparent it was just a dummy. A similar thing happened with The Hunna – their adverts and maddeningly erratic clickbait was so potent that one was curious to what The Hunna actually was, or what music they made – could it be jazz fused with Simpsonwave? Loveless with bongos? The sound of Matt Healy being slowly bifurcated and chopped into Van McCann’s turtleneck?

I tried to find feedback, but none was forthcoming. I went onto The Hunna’s Facebook to try and find answers, but aside from finding their relentless campaigning had done some good (they boast a healthy 226,000), I couldn’t find any sufficient answers. Every ‘fan’ of The Hunna confessed that they hadn’t heard a note. “I was told to ‘like’ it,” one said. “I like Adele, so I liked The Hunna,” another chimed. But no one knew whether they were aping Mogwai or Mumbai.

So, I’ve decided to help The Hunna out and actually listen to a record. And, you know something, they’re okay. Just okay. A little polished, a little guilty, but all in all it has the blistering ethos of many modern bands that find pride of place in Kerrang!. I’m not sure I’ll go and watch them, but then again, I do enjoy music played with guitars through amps, so…the chances are I’ll enjoy it.

 

 

Fresher 15 – The Songs That Shaped June

1). Band of Horses ft. J Mascis – ‘In A Drawer’

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Taken from the band’s sublime Why Are You OK? album, Band of Horses weave a sense of wonderful nostalgia on the atmospheric, gentle ‘In A Drawer’. To add to the sense of wistfulness, J Mascis pops up – like the loveable neighbour in a long-cancelled ’90s sitcom – to propel the contemplative chorus.

2). Spring King – ‘Detroit’

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Championed by Zane Lowe (although, to be fair, he has done a fair bit of championing in his time), Manchester’s Spring King are the latest band to firmly fly high the British indie flag. Luckily, ‘Detroit’ is just one of many examples of the band’s ability to rise above the indie landfill, a thumping blast of brawny guitars and drummer Tarek Musa’s delivery.

3). Teenage Fanclub – ‘I’m In Love’

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It almost seems like Teenage Fanclub are becoming cyclical with dog years. Almost. ‘I’m In Love’ is their first single since 2010, but as soon as Norman Blake’s harmony-heavy vocals glide over the Glasgow band’s typically sterling melodies, you realise time doesn’t matter when you craft songs this good.

4). Two Door Cinema Club – ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’

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Speaking of comebacks, it’s been four years since fidgety Northern Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club bought their brand of dancefloor-ready rock. ‘Are We Ready?’ continues the electro bleeps and bloops that dominated 2012’s Beacon, although the pace changes frenetically and fantastically.

5). Car Seat Headrest – ‘1937 Skate Park’

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A recent lawsuit and an incredibly prolific output may have dented Car Seat Headrest’s clout somewhat, but their latest collection, Teens of Denial, is well worth a listen, not least for this woozy, woobly but brilliantly lo-fi song ‘1937 Skate Park’, which somehow blends Wavves with Nada Surf in an unholy, but wholesome, racket.

6). Slotface – ‘Get My Own’

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A name change from Slutface may have censored this Norwegian band a little, but you’ll never censor their music; their new EP, Sponge State, is a vitriolic statement of equality and involvement. ‘Get My Own’ is the spiky opener, all bulging veins and the kind of brio last heard when Britpop MK II was in full swing.

7). Happy Accidents – ‘Leaving Parties Early’

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With a drawling vocal that recalls The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, meshed with the punky energy of Ash and The Subways, London’s Happy Accidents have an innocence and energy that is incredibly endearing. ‘Leaving Parties Early’ is an angular soundtrack to wishing you were at home with Netflix and Neurofen.

8). INHEAVEN – ‘Baby’s Alright’

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Kudos from Julian Casablancas, plus support slots with VANT and The Big Moon, have elevated INHEAVEN to the next indie suitors. On the evidence of ‘Baby’s Alright’, it’s justified – a propulsive post-punk track bathed in Will Sargeant-esque guitar riffery, the chorus is incessantly infectious.

9). Ladyhawke – ‘Wild Things’

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Nee Pip Brown, Ladyhawke has been missing in action since 2012’s underwhelming Anxiety. Still blending articulate rock with heavy electro impulses, the title track from her third LP is a gloriously rousing slice of poppy melancholia. It’s also relentlessly catchy. Marriage suits her.

10). The Parrots – ‘Let’s Do It Again’

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If you want garage rock in its purest form, it looks like the perfect destination is Spain. After Hinds ripped up the rulebook with their brand of lo-fi rock, The Parrots are echoing those statements with similarly sublime garage hooks. ‘Let’s Do It Again’ has a Beatles-esque classicism, drip-dried into a boisterous rage.

11). Descendents – ‘Victim of Me’

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In a month where pop-punk legends Blink 182 began prepping their new album, it only felt right that their fellow peers Descendents made a long-awaited return. Their first music since 2004, Milo’s malcontents rip through their trademark breakneck punk in under two minutes, without missing their ear for rip-roaring melodies.

12). Jamie T – ‘Tinfoil Boy’

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Beginning with a jagged, Radiohead-esque riff, Jamie T’s new single soon dissolves into a frenzied clash of distorted vocals, muffled but morose drums and some gloomy harmonies. His trademark rap bluster is surprisingly missing in action, instead creating something far more ominous and lurking. Bloody thrilling.

13). Blood Orange – ‘Chance’ 

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Dev Hynes has proved something of a musical polymath since first emerging with Test Icicles towards the start of the noughties. ‘Chance’, taken from Blood Orange’s acclaimed album, is a sultry collection of tranquil synths, Hynes’ hushed howl and a brooding bassline.

14). Methyl Ethel – ‘Twilight Driving’ 

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Perth has proven Australia can provide some excellently atmospheric music, from Luke Steele’s The Sleepy Jackson to, of course, Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala. Fans of both will love Methyl Ethel, the project of Jake Webb. ‘Twilight Driving’ has a maudlin groove that’s embellished with some strident horns.

15). Lina Tullgren – ‘Grace’

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A fellow alumnae of Captured Tracks (the home of, among others, DIIV), Lina Tullgren’s new EP Wishlist is an intimate collection of maudlin melodies and Tullgren’s effervescent vocals. Recalling Daniel Johnston and The Mountain Goats – as well as a more traditional Girlpool – ‘Grace’ is a delicate ode to love and time.

 

 

 

 

Twenty Years On – How ‘Homerpalooza’ Captured the Transience of Music and Youth

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Eventually, and sadly, all of us find, or will find, ourselves losing our grip on what’s current and contemporary. We’ll accept Bono for his humanitarian work, we’ll listen to James Blunt because of his computer cracks and the forgiving fitting of Marks & Spencer will slowly engorge our filled-out figures. It happened to Homer Simpson, and even though that episode aired twenty years ago, while the bands and cultures it parodied are no longer current, the underlying message still remains incredibly potent – cool doesn’t stay.

Abe Simpson produces the most telling, and accurate, line in Homerpalooza, an episode that captures a specific moment of pop culture before it rapidly transcended. “I used to be with ‘it’, but then they changed what ‘it’ was,” he scoffs. “It’ll happen to you.” He’s pointing his despondent digit at a young Homer, but really that finger can be placed upon any one of us – down the line, we all become Grandpa and, eventually, Homer; I envision in ten years’ time, when I’m driving my kids to school, I’ll be babbling boisterously about the “good old-fashioned sludge of Peace and Superfood, which paved the way for Catfish & the Bottlemen, which I believe was a kind of hovercraft.”

Homerpalooza serves as a time capsule, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it slice of a part of the ‘90s that seems laughable now. The show recognises this, too, and instead of casting a heartfelt haze over a carefree culture, they instead satirise and gleefully acknowledge that this specific timeframe will be left in a bargain bin, along with copies of Reality Bites and Come On Feel the Lemonheads. In short, the show’s creators had to parody the “it” Abe lambasts, for that “it” was changing far too frequently to accurately homage. By 1996, the real Lollapalooza festival was being headlined by Metallica; by the turn of the millennium, it had died. The fickle aura of youth had breezed by.

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“They changed what it was” is the episode’s motif, and becomes more prevalent now as the bands the show spotlights – Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins and Cypress Hill, to be precise – are no longer the key cultural forces they were (although their influence has had more longevity). Heck, Billy Corgan’s most prominent recent promo work involved an article in a cat fancy magazine and Corgan looking petrified on some sort of children’s fairground ride.

The episode has occasionally been criticised for being too gimmicky and of-its-time, but in truth the show has a strong core before the festival comes in. Homer’s new-found role as the school runner (or driver) throws into sharp focus how his rock and roll beliefs are now dated and formulaic, casting a low thrum over our central character. His bedside confessions to Marge about his superannuated state feel true and troubled, the kind of self-admittance that many people would have had to have faced when they saw vinyl records on sale in Tesco. The Dazed and Confused skit, where Homer tries to board the ‘second-base mobile’, also provides a comical glimpse of a self-anointed cool Homer.

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When the show introduces Homer to a young festival crowd, his hearty but ham-fisted attempts at appearing relevant hit him almost as hard as Peter Frampton’s inflatable pig. However, the episode later provides us with an interesting theory – does Homer actually want to be cool? Or is he just on a frivolous chase of critical clout? For when Homer finally does get acclaim for being the festival’s human cannonball, he soon realises maybe he was content enough being with his family and eating a club sandwich. There have been times where I myself have longed for the acclaim, no matter how fair the weather, for my music or even these blogs. But when I sometimes get that, I realise I’d much rather be a wallflower. The grass isn’t always greener, especially when roadies are gobbing on it.

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While newer episodes of The Simpsons would see flat readings delivered completely straight, here such wooden words embellish the so-so nature of alternative rock (Kim Gordon isn’t likely to be winning an Emmy any time soon, put it that way). Elsewhere, I like how Homer forms a believable friendship with The Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan serving as a credible comic foil), Cypress Hill’s surprisingly tuneful classical rendition of ‘Insane in the Brain’ and Sonic Youth’s theme tune. However, the surprising star turn here has to be Frampton, who’s obviously a really good sport to play such a curmudegonly, crusty version of himself.

Homerpalooza’s longevity stems from, ironically, representing such a disposable, transitory period of cultural history in a satirical way that’ll confuse and irritate future generations, while bewildering the ones that lived through it. They may have changed what ‘it’ was, but they never changed what ‘it’ meant.

 

 

Fresher 15 – The Songs That Shaped April

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1).        The Goon Sax – Boyfriend

Australia’s music scene is certainly in rude health at the moment, and in The Goon Sax, we have a 21st century update on The Go-Betweens – girl drummer, slightly angular, flamboyant frontman, literate pop offerings. It’s all here in ‘Boyfriend’, a Girls-esque lament set to up-tempo tunes and lovely harmonies.

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2).        Misty Miller – Next to You

When Misty Miller first emerged, she was a misty-eyed folk rocker. Now the ukulele is missing, presumed plucked, for she’s dyed her hair and changed her style for the rollicking album The Whole Family Is Worried. ‘Next To You’ is an irresistibly catchy slice of pomp rock.

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3).        Nap Eyes – Stargazer

Part Michael Stipe, part Lloyd Cole, Nigel Chapman’s emotive, crystal-clear vocals radiate through ‘Stargazer’, an almost Americana-esque pluck which invokes some wonderful imagery. The Halifax quartet’s beautifully restrained album Thought Rock Fish Scale is a cracking breakthrough.

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4).        Diet Cig – Dinner Date

Boy-girl duo Diet Cig’s first EP, Overeasy, was five blink-and-you’ll-miss it odes to ‘90s aesthetics, from the scuzzy riffs to the Simpsons references. ‘Dinner Date’ rocks a little harder, but is all the better for it as Alex Luciano blasts “the turkey is tasty, just like the shit that you’re taking.”

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5).        Bob Mould – Hold On

Mould’s latest record, Patch the Sky, continued his purple patch. Full of crystalline melodies and Mould’s trademark tortured howl, ‘Hold On’ slows the pace but is no less powerful, a crunching highway hymn of epic brevity. As ever, the rhythm section of Jason Narducy and Jon Wurster keep it tight.

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6).        The Last Shadow Puppets – Miracle Aligner

Everything You’ve Come To Expect was a winning follow-up, and after that long wait, it contained the same string-drenched sentiments that made TLSP such a big draw back in 2008. ‘Miracle Aligner’ is one of the strongest tracks, a haunting pop ditty as Alex Turner urges us to “go and get ‘em, tiger.”

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7).        Weezer – California Kids

After an undeniably lengthy period stuck in a musical malaise, Weezer have made their best album since The Green Album with, well, The White Album. Opener ‘California Kids’ sets the bar high, beginning with a wistful guitar motif before a typically explosive, catchy chorus.

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8).        Thee MVPs – Edgar

One of the many bands who tore up SXSW this year, punk rockers Thee MVPs’ Edgar is a stuttering, arms-aloft anthem that will sound great in pretty much any Camden haunt. “Give me another hit, me another hit,” they urge, and you know that don’t mean a southpaw.

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9).        Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math

Margaret’s first clutch of songs saw her perfect a grizzled folk warble over minimal acoustic guitars. Now, she’s back with a snarl. ‘Emotions and Math’, taken from her forthcoming record of the same name, is a pumping beat of lo-fi garage rock. Her newfound attitude is refreshing.

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10).      Frankie Cosmos – If I Had a Dog

Frankie Cosmos’ SINGER has previously stated she wrote a lot of songs about her dog, now sadly deceased. Here she puts that bereft feeling into a lovelorn ditty, which serves up as a nice metaphor for loss and love. One of the many great songs from Next Thing.

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11).      Julia Jacklin – Pool Party

Julia Jackin’s haunting voice blew away crowds at SXSW, and it’s well emphasised on ‘Pool Party’, a slow, lilting track that exhumes heartache.

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12).      Travis – Radio Song

While Travis may have a reputation for, well, ‘pleasant’ melodies, ‘Radio Song’ is anything but – a taut, atmospheric sucker punch where Fran Healy is in concerned Bono mode. Musically, though, the song is ominous and full of welcome guitar bombast.

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13).      We Are Scientists – Classic Love

With sixth album Helter Seltzer now out, Brooklyn-based stand-up / indie rock duo We Are Scientists are back. ‘Classic Love’ successfully blends an urgent guitar motif with Keith Murray’s melancholic vocal. “Classic love isn’t good enough anymore,” he sighs on the irresistible chorus.

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14).      Man Made – Raining In Our Hands

Man Made’s TV Broke My Brain EP is gaining a significant amount of plaudits, and it’s no surprise on the evidence of this twisted number, where the vocals recall, oddly, Gene’s Martin Rossiter. The song is equally enthralled to the darker sides of Britpop.

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15).      Band of Horses – Casual Party

After a four-year wait, Ben Bridwell and his folk indie rock troupe are finally back. ‘Casual Party’, the first taste from their forthcoming record Why Are You OK, leans more towards the southern-fried rock of their magnum opus Infinite Arms.

Fresher 15 – The Songs That Shaped March

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1).        Tiny Little Houses – ‘Milo Tin’

Australia has produced some fine artists over the years – Smudge, The Vines and Courtney Barnett, to name a few – and now we can add Tiny Little Houses to that list. A sweetly lo-fi thrum, ‘Milo Tin’ is a wistful lament on youth that sounds like a zestier Galaxie 500.

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2).        Parquet Courts – ‘Berlin Got Blurry’

Parquet Courts have been around for quite a while now, but their upcoming record Human Performance could see the New York punk staples make the leap into the publics conscious. The breezy guitars of ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ are counterpointed with an almost Spaghetti Western-style riff and Andrew Savage’s wry vocals.

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3).        PJ Harvey – ‘The Community of Hope’

With Field Day and Glastonbury slots booked, this year looks another good one for PJ Harvey, following the worldwide adulation of Let England Shake. ‘The Community of Hope’ continues the lo-fi melodies of ‘The Wheel’; it’s a scuzzy rant with an anti-commercialism slant not seen since Talking Heads’ ‘(Nothing But) Flowers’.

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4).        The Dandy Warhols – ‘STYGGO’

Over the years, Courtney Taylor and his gang of loveable recyclers have been ever so frustrating; for every ‘Sad Vacation’ there has been ‘A Loan Tonight’. They seem to have arrested this inconsistency with new album Distortland, though, and ‘STYGGO’ – some things you gotta get over – zips along on a minimalist groove and Taylor’s typically hushed, cynical vocals.

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5).        Sundara Karma – ‘A Young Understanding’

While some new bands are ensuring an unfussy production, Sundara Karma are the big hitters – they want their songs to sound big, brash and brilliant. ‘Young Understanding’ continues their trend for bombast, a pounding call-to-arms built around Oscar Lulu’s anthemic yelps.

Palehound's new album, Dry Food, comes out August 14

6).        Palehound – ‘Molly’

Molly has been a song matter for a number of bands (Sponge, Kings of Leon and The Vaselines, for example), and Boston grunge merchants Palehound aren’t a big fan either. “Ooh, selfish Molly,” decries frontwoman Ellen Kempner on this melodic yet scuzzy blast of Pavement-style sludge.

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7).        Dream Wife – ‘Hey Heartbreaker’

Riot grrrl has a gang of new advocates in the shape of London trio Dream Wife. Taken from their debut EP, ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ is a wonderful stomp of traditional, shouty punk rock, building from a Cribs-style verse into a monster of a chorus. It bodes well for their debut album.

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8).        Nada Surf – ‘Friend Hospital’

American rockers Nada Surf have been remarkably consistent over the years, and new record You Know Who You Are has a number of gems. The best one is ‘Friend Hospital’, a fragile ode to platonic love as Matthew Caws angelically proclaims – “so much better that we’re not together / cos I will not lose you, or be the blues to you.”

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9).        Catfish and the Bottlemen – ‘Soundcheck’

After the globe-gobbling success of The Balcony, the Llandudno troupe have wasted no time in broadening their scope and ambitions. Going for the arena jugular, ‘Soundcheck’ has a slick coat of radio polish and a moody non-sequitur of a bridge. They’re going to become a KoL-style guilty pleasure, but oh well.

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10).      VANT – ‘FLY-BY-ALIEN’

VANT know how to raise a pulse. They’ve put on some barnstorming support slots with the likes of FIDLAR, and their upcoming tour for April should really get the eardrums pleading. ‘FLY-BY-ALIEN’ is exactly what you’d expect from the band by now – a blistering chorus, Mattie Vant’s scorching vocals and florid guitars.

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11).      Skating Polly – ‘Oddie Moore’

Staggeringly, American duo Skating Polly are prepping their fourth album, despite still being fresh-faced adolescents. There’s nothing innocent about their sound, though – ‘Oddie Moore’ is an abrasive, in-your-face diary entry set to the band’s typically wonderful riffs and brooding bass. They should be a national treasure.

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12).      The Posies – ‘Squirrel vs. Snake’

It’s been six long years since The Posies’ last record, and thankfully they’ve quenched that drought with ‘Squirrel vs. Snake’. A suitably twisting, shimmering song full of Reveal-esque embellishments and a lilting acoustic motif, as Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer’s harmonies wash over the chorus, you know all is well within the world.

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13).      Flowers – ‘All At Once’

There’s nothing wrong with a blast of pure bubblegum pop, albeit with a darker underbelly – Nina Persson knew it, Molly Rankin knew it, and now Rachel Kenedy knows it. ‘All At Once’, from the London trio’s record Everybody’s Dying to Meet You, is a shimmering indie ode with gossamer vocals.

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14).      Drowners – ‘Cruel Ways’

Drowners combined Suede-esque beauty with American-style brawn on their debut (the kneejerk ‘Long Hair’ is still a classic), and they’re back with their long-awaited sophomore. ‘Cruel Ways’ is a little poppier around the edges, but it’s no less impressive.

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15).      We Are Scientists – ‘Buckle’

The lads are back. Known for their cerebral quips on and off the stage, Keith Murray and Chris Cain are letting their music talk once again with ‘Buckle’. The first taster from their upcoming fourth album Helter Seltzer, ‘Buckle’ is a breakneck indie rocker with Murray’s howls puncturing the chorus.