2017 is trying to be the year that fights back. In music, at the very least, we’re on to a winner. Perhaps more than ever it feels like we, the music lovers, are being treated by our idols, so here’s just a sprinkling of what you might want to listen to in our Spring playlist.
1. Alt-J: 3WW
It’s no secret that there is a formula to creating songs that sound like Alt-J songs. With '3WW', the Leeds band have taken their songwriting to a new level. Beautiful production that layers multiple worlds of music unfurls over the course of 5 immersing minutes. This is a grower, and bucks the trend massively.
2. Gorillaz: Let Me Out
The first 5 tracks released from the upcoming Gorillaz album Humanz have received mixed responses, mostly from a sense of unfamiliarity. 'Let Me Out' is the closest we’ve come to vintage Gorillaz; Pusha T is back, and the track manages to combine a memorable simplicity with an insane amount of intricate detail.
3. Joe Innes & The Cavalcade: Moscow
Much like the original movie soundtrack to Once, the music of Joe Innes & The Cavalcade is simple, conversational and totally relatable. The combination of male and female voice also harks back to the sound of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, while the song itself proves just as heartwarming – and for once the use of the word “yeah” in a track feels like it has a purpose. Pure and simple songwriting at its best.
4. Jen Gloeckner: Vine/Firefly (War Dance)
Jen Gloeckner’s world is instantly fascinating, especially to those that enjoy the glitchy dystopia of Radiohead and Gorillaz. On ‘Vine/Firefly (War Dance)’, just some of the sounds you hear include the clanking of chains, what sounds like an Eastern European funeral lament, and Gloeckner battling against her voice being swallowed up by the cavernous world she has created. It’s a full and detailed world that Gloeckner has created, and one that deserves exploring.
5. Fleet Foxes: Third of May / Ōdaigahara
They’re back, and it’s like they never left. Robin Pecknold soars over a bedrock of indie folk and lush harmonies. A while into this 9-minute epic, however, you get what you hope for; after a warm, musical bear hug greets you, you’re taken this way and that, from full blown rock to a capella chords, then all the way down to an almost lo-fi ballad. Mesmerising.
6. Kendrick Lamar: Humble
We don’t know just how much new music Kendrick has stowed under his robe, but this late March single takes an important, “unsexy” message – “Be Humble” – and turns it into a banger. Whether new release Damn is a masterpiece or not, those looking for a wholesome hit to work out to should wander this way.
7. Jens Lekman: How We Met, The Long Version
Probably the most blatant, purple-tinged disco homage you’ll hear all year, Lekman’s comically drawn out story of "how we met", which takes you from when "nothing became something" to that time that "a conga line headed up on land out of the water". As usual, it’s infectious, unashamedly cheesy and just so smart.
8. Ibibio Sound Machine: Give Me A Reason
The harsh command of Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams drives forward this 80’s influenced bruiser, which moves relentlessly at a thousand miles an hour. Brass and guitar licks battle for centre stage, while a smooth combination of electronic beats and African samples fill every space, tick every box. This is one to dance to, if you can keep up.
9. Xiu Xiu: Wondering
Though recent album Forget may have been received with less acclaim than last year’s Plays The Music of Twin Peaks, in ‘Wondering’, Xiu Xiu have brought some of their best attributes together in perhaps one of their more comfortable songs. Guitar distortion beyond your wildest dreams and heavy production in every area work their magic on top of another 80’s anthem.
10. Father John Misty: Pure Comedy
Another humorously long story-telling, ‘Pure Comedy’ takes Josh Tillman’s now trademark balladic style, which musically and sonically has a touch of Elton John to it, and combines it with an acerbic judgment on… well, pretty much the whole of humanity. A big, bold mockery of the human race is pretty much all we should have expected from Father John Misty this year.