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: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Kojaque, James Blake & More…
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – ‘American Guilt’
Unknown Mortal Orchestra shared their first taster off of their upcoming album Sex & Food, the new Zealand group’s first full length release since 2015’s Multi Love. Judging by the title alone, it should be easy to ascertain that ‘American Guilt’ is a response anthem to the rise of autocratic populism and far-right sentiments in the US. A hyper-masculine punch of a track with a vicious guitar line supplying the backbone, Ruban Nielson seems to be almost parodying the more red-blooded elements of Americana rock. We hear talk of when “meathead stands still/even the Nazis like him”, so it’s not exactly earth shattering social commentary. Regardless, Unknown Mortal Orchestra might just a better Queens of the Stone age than present day Queens of the stone age.
Maija Sofia – ‘Flowers’
The Dublin based singer/songwriter Maija Sofia undeservedly remains one the cities best kept secrets. ‘Flowers’ is another enjoyably easy going, guitar-based pop gem that gently washes over you like the trickling ends of a wave at low tide. Her voice recalls the honky-tonk versatility of Angel Olsen as well as being a timely reminder of the enduring, mezzo-soprano legacy of Dolores O’Riordan. Maija’s vocals unashamedly embrace her lilt and give power to the lovelorn lyrics.
Kojaque – ‘Bubby’s Cream’
Dublin Rapper Kojaque sounds like a resigned, beat poet on his latest effort. He’s a man with something so mundane and personal to say that he’ll take whatever outlet he can get to say it. Jar Jar Jr’s production is velvety, tranquillising the listener and asserting it’s down in the dumps but dreamy atmosphere the second the needle hits the wax. As for Kojaque, he’s fed up of “falling for failures” and longs for something more from someone who’s happy with less: “If I make on the telly would we work out? / And If I gave up the Deli / Start to work out?” he asks in questions he probably already knows the answer to.
James Blake – ‘If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead’
James Blake’s latest single sounds somewhere in between his early, esoteric pop experimentation and Bon Iver’s more recent cyborg-like emotional reaches. The lyrics read a bit like the kind of thing an acid causality would put on a motivational poster but the mood he achieves is still second to none. Blake’s voice is still his most versatile instrument, as its chopped here mercilessly and once again turns music’s most human element into it’s most uncanny one.
Jay Som – ‘O.K., Meet Me Underwater’
Jay Som’s hazy, sweet-natured Everybody Works was one of the best albums of 2017 and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. ‘O.K., Meet Me Underwater’ appears on a new 7” that features tracks that didn’t make the cut on that debut release. Melina Duterte’s endearingly airy vocals hover softly over the jangly guitar lines and create a mood that sounds pleasant, but there’s always an undercurrent of unease there too.
DJ Koze – ‘Seeing Aliens’
DJ Koze has a new album coming out this year entitled Knocks Knocks, so expect an LP that will once again showcase his distinctly, otherworldly production style. Speaking of otherworldly, he’s also dropped ‘Seeing Aliens’, the lead single from the album and it really is the kind of unearthly piece of sonic strangeness that might arrive here via a crash-landed UFO. The operatic 8 minute track oscillates between sinister sound waves and extraterrestrial euphoria to result in a surreal symphony that Aphex Twin and Arca might think up if they ever joined forces.
Justin Timberlake ‘Say Something (Ft. Christ Stapleton)
On his third single, Justin Timberlake’s album title Man of the Woods is finally starting to make sense. The first two tasters of the album were inanely transparent attempts at trying to keep up with contemporary pop trends. First, we had the middling ‘Filthy’ and then the truly awful ‘Supplies’, a song so bad it should actually be studied. Now he’s going a little bit country… sorta. To give it come Nashville cred, ‘Say Something’ features a star of so-called ‘real country’ Chris Stapleton. It’s not bad, but perhaps that’s just because it is just so benign. Featuring hoary handclaps, grade 1 use of a drum machine and so much choral support that it just has to be uplifting, the track is just about inoffensive enough to be played over montages on BBC sports programmes.