music / Columns

The Best New Songs Of The Week: Mastodon, Charli XCX, More

March 13, 2017 | Posted by David Hayter

We’re back again with our weekly round-up of the hottest new tracks and this will be a bumper addition as it has been a fantastic seven days for music – so lets not waste time, let’s get to it:

“Nothing, Not Nearly” by Laura Marling [Singer-Songwriter] 

“The only thing I learnt in a year / Where I didn’t smile once, not really/ Is nothing matters more than love, no nothing, no not nothing, no not nearly.” – damn Laura. Marling might have a rep for severity (like most Joni Mitchell acolytes), but what’s remarkable about this heartbreaking single is how easy it all feels. Laura isn’t wrenching or screaming, she’s reconciled herself to the fact that “love waits for no one” and is content to whistle away the night in revelry atop a sumptuous arrangement. Her acoustic guitar has a spindly, almost imperceptible, delicacy that contrasts the groaning strains of electric fuzz immaculately. This might very well be her best work to date.

“New Land” by Avatar [Metal]

So when this song was recommended to me I assumed it was a joke: a crazy music video paying homage to the golden age of cinema that happened to have a song attached. Well, boy was I wrong, the video might be mental, but the music is far more intriguing as these Swedish rockers unfurl a series of rich and immersive grooves interspersed with proggish detours. It’s tempting to point to the Quiet-Loud dynamic, but Avatar are smoother than that and their distinctly pirate-y segues speak to effortless control.

“The Third Of May/Odaigahara” by Fleet Foxes [Folk]

“Fleet Foxes return with an eight-minute marvel that goes from sunny simplicity through the ever-shifting sands of self-doubt as they try to communicate the joy and tension of a 21-year-long songwriting partnership.” Read The Full Review

“Territory” by The Blaze [Hip Hop]

French duo The Blaze weave a beautiful narrative in their video for “Territory” – as family torn rendered apart by sheer distance is reunited in Algiers. Musically, it might be even better, this hauntingly persistent beat has all the creeps and coldness of walking home at 3am in the morning: the concrete of the city surrounds you, your headphones are in, but an air of danger permeates your every step. Calling on the European club tradition and dosing it with antiseptic, The Blaze have created music that is spiritual and vacant simultaneously, to the point that the cry of “there’s no place like my home” proves both inspiring and utterly chilling. The Blaze have ensured that the arduous journey is represented as fully as the triumphant return – but now the hardship is over, we can go, dance and make merry!

“Drugs”/”Dreamer” by Charli XCX feat. ABRA [Pop]

“Charli has always been a party girl (I first saw her at a warehouse party when she was 16), but this is the first time she’s presented a more complex image of narcotics. Rather than raving, XCX is confessing: “It hurts but I can’t stop”. This is a murky love letter to her dealer, but not one written from the position of an equal – she’s a slave being dragged down, not lifted up, by MDMA and cocaine respectively.” Read The Full Review

“Pa’lante” by Hurray For The Riff Raff [Art Pop] 

“I just want to go to work, and get back home and be Something!” – Hurray For The Riff Raff’s cries for meaning a top a harrowing piano line would prove devastating in isolation, but when taken in the context of a woman trying to find, understand, rediscover and own her racial identity, “Pa’lante” proves perfect in its pain. This is heartbreaking stuff that inspires empathy at every turn: “Well lately it’s been mighty hard to see, just searching for my lost humanity”.

Remarkably, Alynda Lee Seggarra could have let it be and have penned one of the great torch songs, but instead the tempo quickens with a Beatles-esque flourish, hope cracks the surface and soon hardens into resolution. She will reclaim. She will march onward. She will be something. Pa’lante!!!.

“Meditations” by Goldlink feat. Jazmine Sullivan and Kaytranada [Rap]

Kaytranada really knows how to cool out. Even the producer’s most alien creations have a soothing undercurrent and here his blend of warped neon synthetics and soft-danceable salsa drums provides the perfect backdrop for Goldlink to spin his tale of romance in the city atop. The rapper can’t quite rival the producer’s effortless grooves or guest vocalists Jazmine Sullivan’s soft-siren sigh of “I want to be more than homies”, but he nevertheless remains an admirable guide to the black arts of seduction.

“Liability” by Lorde [Pop] 

“Lorde is the woman who dances alone, savoring “the only love [she] hasn’t screwed up”. The ferocity of her existence has driven everyone away and, on this beautiful ballad, Lorde sways in solitude, with no one left to wound but herself.” Read The Full Review

“Andromeda” by Mastodon [Metal]

“Following in the footsteps of Once More Around The Sun, this is complex and expertly crafted metal with a psychedelic pop wash (the hook has a sun drenched and shamanistic vibe), but it is far removed from the gargantuan Gordian knots of old. Mastodon appear content ridding riffs, delivering bombastic beatings and asking existential questions with an ear for the arenas.” Read The Full Review

“Answer My Text” by PWR BTTM [Punk Pop]

PWR BTTM have started 2017 with a run of fantastic singles and while “Answer My Text” might not be the best of the bunch, it is by far and away the funniest. This is a dissection of dating in the digital age and, as a veteran of Tindr, OKCupid and the rest, I can definitely remember staring and my phone and wanting to scream: “ANSWER MY TEXT YOU DICK”. PWR BTTM have delivered a slice of cute, nervous, rough around the edges rock music that rings undeniably true.

“Not That Girl” by Girli [Pop]

“Not That Girl” isn’t perfect by any means – the bridge is a let down – but the bravado, the strength of the chorus and the incredible bumping beat more than compensate. Sarcasm oozes from this song’s every pour as Girli proudly embraces the “hot mess” label while ridiculing guys who think she’ll be an easy lay, only to run her down when they are met with rejection.

“Did You See” by J Hus [Grime/Afrobeat]

J Hus blend of Afrobeat melodies and Grime verses remains majestic, there might be a sneaking suspicion that he’s not quite talented enough to stand alone as either the king of the dancehall or as a legit Grime MC, but, honestly, who cares? His hybrid style is an absolutely riot. Hus’ vocal is soft and playful even as he thuggishly postures. Ultimately, “Did You See” is a wonderfully danceable work with a crafty little chorus.

“Baybee” by Jay Som [Indie Pop]

Now this is seriously sumptuous, a kaleidoscopic slip and side of sound that careens towards a pillow-y chorus. The only trouble is, “Baybee” proves so alluring that when Jay Som whispers, “Sweetheart listen, make up your mind”, I feel like I’d prefer to keep thinking it over if it means I get to stay sequestered in this luxurious haze of a middle ground.