New Music Weekly #52 | Ariana Grande, Mitski and Kurt Vile
New Music Weekly is your one-stop shop for new releases in the world of music each and every week. From the best of the best to some of the rest, Mark Conroy is here to give you the low down on what you might have missed. This week: Ariana Grande, Mitski, Kurt Vile & More…
The Lemon Twigs ‘Fire’
Long island’s The Lemon Twigs have an upcoming concept album entitled Go To School and it sounds like fairly ambitious fare. The record will be a musical with a high-school based drama running through it. ‘Fire’, like its name suggests, appears to be a pitch black aside about a ruthlessly bullied loner who gets revenge via an arson attempt. Enjoyment of the material may depend on how much you buy into the concept but the audacity of using indie rock tropes to create the very kind of music most maligned by those circles is hard not to commend. Throughout its six minutes, the song, sequenced not unlike a Broadway hit, veers from Eagles’ road trip melancholy to British invasion bounce to Rocky Horror euphoria. Some of you are already wincing—I like it—but who knows, maybe one day we’ll see it on the stage.
Roosevelt ‘Forgive’ (Ft. Washed Out)
Roosevelt must have read The Secret, because he’s given us the result of what must have been years of positive visualisation with his latest single. It’s been clear for some time that Ernest Weatherly Greene Jr, AKA Washed Out, has been a major influence. Well, it seems if you make enough lazy Sunday synth-pop then eventually the man who made you start it all will show you up on your track. ‘Forgive’ is like an ocean breeze: the airy, vocal quavers of Green Jr’s voice slip in and out of a song like the ends of a broken wave. The bassline, the funky source of vitality here, sits under the rest of the lavish, laidback production to charge the whole thing with an ever so susceptible electricity.
Kurt Vile ‘Loading Zones’
Oh boy did I miss the freewheeling finger plucking and existential whimsy of Kurt Vile’s solo work. Latest ‘Loading Zone’ is as good as anything on his most recent, already very good album. Every fly by note on the guitar is heard with near pellucid clarity as the twangs meld together to create a bewitching, rhythmic melody. Vile’s sumptuous, swiftly delivered wordplay is just as nimble as his strumming. The video riffs on the singer’s not so dizzying heights of success and his hometown relationship – he’s a wannabe returning hero and moderately famous indie rock musician who, of course, nobody recognises. He sings of his Philadelphia like Springsteen on an ego trip, showing a faux-affinity to the streets, the people and his sordid memories of them both. In reality, we must know no one in in his city cares who he is, and that’s just how Vile likes it.
Whitney Ballan ‘Fucking’
Hailing from Washington state in the US, Whitney Ballan delivers vulnerable heartache by way of searing Indie rock. Her latest, ‘Fucking’, details the kind of lovesick pain that’s the on cusp of bursting out your chest like an alien foetus at the end of the first act. The title is key here, ‘Fucking’ merely suggests an illicit act has taken place (“I don’t get any sleep/ I’ve got visions of you fucking her in my dreams”). Ballan is a paranoid ball of jealous nerves, her insecurities crippling her into a paralysing state of self-doubt. “I think she’s cooler than me”, Ballan sings in resignation “She’s got softer hair than anybody I’ve seen/ Wearing a nose ring and torn up jeans”.
Mitski ‘Remember My Name’
Mitski Miyawaki dropped her fourth and probably best record Be The Cowboy this past week. Once again she details the terrible, anxious frailty of just existing like few of her peers can. The track average is about 2 minutes but almost every one is a crushing, drive-by document of human disconnection. ‘Remember My Name’, one of the more straightforward jolts of rock on the album, goes by in a flash but that doesn’t mean the emotional whiplash won’t linger long after. What Mitski wants here, for the gallons of devotion she gives to another to be reciprocated by just a drop of recognition, sure sounds attainable. The way she sings it however, she might as well be asking for the moon itself. Mitksi will give you the world, all she wants in return is right there in the title.
Ariana Grande ‘breathin’
After a – to put it mildly – difficult interim period between LP’s, pop queen Ariana Grande returns with the tight, triumphant and vulnerable Sweetener. If there was an emotional centrepiece to the record, it might just be ‘breathin’. Grande, armed with that peerless soprano, powers through a head spinning episode of anxiety the only way she knows how. ‘Feel my blood runnin’, swear the sky’s fallin’/How do I know if this shit’s fabricated?’ she admits in worried sounding pre-chorus. Whatever she fears, she’s knows it will never happen, but, you know…what if it does? The synths radiate the space around her voice and the beats of the 404s provide the foundation beneath to raise her spirits. The cover of Sweetener a is topsy-turvy image of Grande – her world is still quite literally turned upside down. She can’t make it right side up just yet, but she can keep “breathin’ and breathin’ and breathin’ and breathin” until that time comes.
Wild Youth ‘GYMSOL’
There is a touch of The 1975 about Dublin’s Wild Youth. Fresh off a well-received support slot for The Script’s summer tour, the band have grown both in confidence and a steady fanbase this past year. ‘GYMSOL’ or ‘Gimme Some Of Your Love’ is sweet, sunlit pop.