New Music Weekly #8 | Slowdive, alt-J and Kendrick Lamar (Again)

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; alt-J, Slowdive, Kendrick Lamar (again), and more…

Oh Joy ‘So Swell’

Oh Joy are an alt-rock three piece from Dublin who have made waves since opening for Pinegrove in Whelan’s last year. Their excellent new single ‘So swell’ is equal parts soulful, subdued serenade and explosive heart on sleeve appraisal. In the verses, frontman Ollie Moyles describes the hazy stretch of the day when you feel magnetised to the bed with that special someone, while the world turns around you but the moments feel stuck in time. Then, like a wrecking ball through a cardboard wall, the violent fuzz and screeching melody of the primary hook ploughs in as Moyles blares “I did work today” at anyone who’ll listen. Irish track of the week. 

Slowdive ‘Sugar for the Pill’

After the more typical drone of ‘Star Roving’, the shoegaze giants released their second single off their upcoming self-titled, comeback album. This time though, they are in a more meditative space. ‘Sugar for the Pill’ starts off more late period U2 than it does early Slowdive but it eventually eases into more lush sound-waves when the lyrics kick in. At the very least, they are proving they have more than enough reason to still exist as their genre’s renaissance continues to thrive.

alt-J ‘In Cold Blood’

With the formal announcement of alt-J’s third album Relaxer came the release of the record’s second single. We have already ‘3WW’, a pretty, plaintive if slightly overlong escapade into atmospheric art rock. ‘In Cold Blood’ is a considerably livelier affair, sounding like their audition tape to soundtrack the intro for a Bond film. Full of The Doors’ organ work, movie score brass and the band’s own polarising vocalisms it’s probably a little busy for its own good. It is nonetheless a fun, prog mish-mash that proves Relaxer will have its lighter moments. 

Rejjie Snow ‘Flexin’ [Ft. Ebenezer]

Dublin’s most popular rapping export continues to, for the lack of a better term, flex his muscles. His latest sound like a ferocious distress call where he’s the only one not panicking. Rejjie Snow’s north city flow, coupled with the Americanisms he’s picked up along the way, still give him the distinct advantage but now he sounds in complete control amidst a hectic atmosphere. Ebenezer’s vocal refrain is startling, the production is frenetic and our main attraction has matured.

Cashmere Cat ‘9 (After Coachella)’ [Feat. MØ & SOPHIE]

Big-time producer Cashmere Cat makes pop songs, but not as you know it. Even the title of his newest release  ‘9 (After Coachella)’ makes it sound like its going to pander to the most quality intolerant of the EDM festival crowd, but the hitmaker instead sneaks in some surprising, esoteric idiosyncrasies. There are two modes here; conventional trap-pop with auto tuned contributions from and the curiously clanking instrumental work. The two occupy their own spaces until an emotional outro. It’s nothing if not an interesting left turn in a genre that so often punishes non-conformity.

Calvin Harris ‘Heatstroke’ [Feat. Pharell Williams, Young Thug, Ariana Grande]

Speaking of producers that are circumnavigating the traditional pop sound to give us some much needed quality, Calvin Harris has shown that he can, in fact, make lighting strike twice. His sun-drenched ‘Slide’ continues to be a song of the summer contender – even its only March. Now he’s dropped the equally red hot ‘Heatstroke’, with a list of featured artists so illustrious they could make the Grammys blush. Both tracks are throwback funk-driven gems but “Slide” felt like driving through LA as our closest star reaches its peak position in the sky while this track is the sound of riding into a 2017 sunset. 

Mary J Blige ‘Love yourself’ [Ft. Kanye West]

The early noughties, booming brass, the soul stirring sincerity of vocals, the piano, the harp. Mary J.Blige reels back the years and doesn’t care who knows it . And when it’s this good, why should she? This isn’t to say she still can’t make her soul sound smutty. The grit of the rumbling NAS-like production captures the smoking pavements of a New York street.  Her powerful delivery makes you wonder why she’d ever have to remind herself that “you’ve got to love yourself/ before you gotta be with someone else”. The Kanye west verse, which is no phoned in contribution, might be the worst thing about the song.

Wilsen ‘Final’

Wilsen makes deceptively simple, spectral folk that haunts the listener well after the song is played. On ‘Final’, lead singer Tamsin Wilson sounds like she’s right up against your ear, whispering only for you. For much of the five minutes she’s only backed up by the dainty strum work of an acoustic guitar. Her words barely register above a decibel, but the loss she sings about ring loud and true. The album I Go Missing in My Sleep will be out next month.   

Kendrick Lamar ‘Humble’

Doesn’t Drake’s ‘playlist’ feel like an age ago now. For the second week in a row, Kendrick Lamar reigns supreme. Yeah the lines about stretch marks and wanting women “natural like Afro on Richard Pryor” are bit dodgy for more reasons than one, but as far as what rap has said about the female body in the past, it’s quite tame. ‘Humble’ is essentially the victory lap he deserves and if something does drop on April 7th, it’ll be a worthy addition to whatever may appear.    

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