This week we are graced with a host of world dominating artists alongside some up and coming stars. Getting the chance to put rising artists alongside the big names is a wonderful opportunity. Whilst the industry’s big players have already had a host of big hits and thankfully are continuing to produce brilliant tracks, it’s refreshing to see some of music’s newer names rival them with the quality of new singles being produced each week. We hope you enjoy this week’s selection of Tracks of the Week just as much as we did.
Track of the Week: St. Vincent – “Los Ageless”
Following on from the sparkling ballad New York, Annie Clark aka St. Vincent releases the second track to the coming album MASSEDUCATION. Whilst opting for yet another classic city, Los Ageless moves away from the dreamy ballad of the past and towards a digitalised, electro-rock track. Starting with a pulsating synth intro, Los Ageless is an ode to LA’s toughness, acknowledging that the city isn’t perfect whilst focusing more so on the lack of companion with her than the city itself. Clarke toys between anger and confidence, the latter being something that Clarke exudes with. A rattling drum beat eggs to the funky, upbeat nature of the single whilst its euphoric yet seductive chorus just showcases another level to one of music’s most unpredictable stars. A stunning single, Clarke is back to her very best, which is something we can’t wait to see more of.
Elbow & John Grant – “Kindling (Fickle Flame)”
Perhaps two of alternative rock’s most loved and established artists combine this week for a unique collaboration which tugs at the emotional strings of anyone who listens to it. Calm and melodic, just a simple acoustic guitar quietly strums away in the background of Kindling (Fickle Flame) as the angelic two-ing and fro-ing between Grant and Guy Garvey begins. Grant’s vocals come across rich yet firm which balances perfectly with Garvey’s magnificent and melodic tone. There’s a widespread, panoramic beauty to the track which gets enhanced by a slow yet pure string section. Full of emotion, there’s no denying just how stunning the emotional folk rock ballad is.
Foo Fighters – “The Line”
Ahead of next week’s ninth album release, Foo Fighters tease another single from Concrete And Gold. Soaring single The Line carries the classic Foo Fighters fight and confrontation with crashing drums mixing with blistering guitar whilst a slow piano line boosts the bass level of the track. Written as a search for hope in a time where everyone seems to be fighting for their lives, Dave Grohl’s vocals carry an irresistible snarl and once again the band have managed to conjure up an urgent stadium anthem, born to be heard live.
Everything Is Recorded Feat. Sampha, Ibeyi, Wiki and Kamasi Washington – “Mountains of Gold”
Whilst something of an unknown name for the general music fan, Richard Russell aka Everything Is Recorded is perhaps one of the most important people in the music industry, owning the illustrious record label XL recordings. Having debuted his current solo project to critical acclaim earlier on in the year, Russell teams up with the formidable forces of Sampha, Ibeyi, Wiki and Kamasi Washington for Mountains of Gold, a vibrant and rich mix of soul and jazz. Starting with a hushed and pure build up before dropping into a freestyle jazz and soul combination in which dominant piano chords staccato upon Ibeyi’s R&B vocals whilst Sampha’s gorgeous tone in the chorus moves the mix to the more gospe-infused style of soul. With a variety of twists and turns, Wiki’s verses are somewhat of a surprise, sounding almost like something you’d expect to hear from Eminem minus the extreme pace and language. Russell’s use of fading musical elements in and back out again is exemplary and the single is boosted by Kamasi Washington’s closing saxophone freestyle, which adds a further jazz texture to the already multi-layered single. The unpredictability of the single sums up Russell’s vast experience in the music industry, taking elements from across the spectrum and combining artists with great individualistic flair and musical diversity, channeling their energies into one musical venture.
Barns Courtney – “Kicks”
This week sees rising star Barns Courtney return with yet another track from his eagerly anticipated debut album The Attractions of Youth. Powerfully rich and stirring Kicks is dominated with an epic guitar line and huge, signalling vocals. Feeling almost like something you’d expect to hear from a modern Western film, the thumping chorus grabs you immediately before the single progresses to see a chaotic and sprawling guitar solo ignite even more passion on the single. Barns Courtney’s aggressive attitude on his music is infectious and comes off perfectly on Kicks as an ambitiously rousing anthem. It’s a surefire song that highlight’s Courtney as Britain’s next big star, bridging rock and pop whilst retaining an obvious edge that appeals to many left-of-centre listeners. An incredible single, we can’t wait for the album to come at the end of this month.
Bad Sounds – “Hot Head Chippenham”
Influenced by the sounds of 70’s dance music, Bath five piece Bad Sounds grabbed our attention earlier this year and this week sees them return to our Tracks of the Week list with the funky and swaggering Hot Head Chippenham. A playful single with woozy synths, the quintet instantly put you on your feet with a luring chorus that remains upbeat for the sheer joy of the listener. The vocals waver in experimental fashion, sounding more like an eccentric Ray Boy whilst subtle jazz elements weave into the ending of the single. A perfect throwback, Bad Sounds continue their quest for funk domination.
Himalayas – “Sigh on a Hurricane”
Cardiff based indie rock band Himalayas caught our attention earlier on in the year with the hurtling rock single Thank God I’m Not You. This week sees the Welsh band return, with yet another fast paced, sprawling rock track in Sigh on a Hurracane. A heavy and addictive guitar riff carries the punk-esque rock track which is not shy in attitude or spirit. James Goulbourne’s drums inject a deeper urgency whilst Mike Griffiths’ stunning solo towards the end just highlights their ability as a band. A brilliantly chaotic single, Himalayas have the chance to shape the future of UK rock.
Taylor Swift – “…Ready For It?”
Last week saw the surprising return of pop megastar Taylor Swift with the controversial track look What You Made Me Do, a song full of verbal confrontation against a collection of people who had crossed her over the past few years. A week later, Swift releases yet another track, in the energetic, hip hop crossover track …Ready For It? Opening with blasts of dark, pulsating synths, the heavy synth dominated verses switch to a more pop friendly chorus before dropping back into the irresistible opening groove that kicked the track of in the first place. With Swift’s swaggering and fast paced vocals talking of her new relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn, the single confirms her switch to a new sound. It’s refreshing to see that Swift is not playing it safe with the new record and as …Ready For It? darts around in a variety of directions, it could become an anthem for the star in the future such is the female-power approach to the track. What can be agreed though is that it is a more structured track than last week’s comeback single and what come’s in the future will be something we keep a key eye on.
Aquilo – “I Could Fight On A Wall”
Having finished a trip to California, Lancashire duo Aquilo return with a minimalistic and delicate new single, I Could Fight On A Wall. With gorgeous and swirling vocals, the single starts with the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar alongside a light and bouncing piano melody. Further in, brash and accentuated percussion beats provide some rhythm but apart from that, the duo a use slow and progressive approach to the single. Kickstarted by an electrifying guitar line, both instrumental and vocal lines layer on top of each other before ending in heartbreaking fashion. A piece of naturalistic beauty, I Could Fight On A Wall is a sign of brilliant things to come.
Stereophonics – “Caught By The Wind”
Having had something of a resurgence over the last year, Welsh rock legends Stereophonics return after a string of festival headline dates across the UK with a new track. Caught By The Wind sees the rockers return to their classic indie rock style with a simple yet infectious guitar riff and flourishing piano. Kelly Jones’ golden, husky vocals set the track alight, carrying an addictively soothing yet uplifting tone. As the track progresses, the band free up a little and a sprawling guitar gets let loose. Most definitely a singalong anthem for the band, the nostalgic track pushes Stereophonics back up to their creative peak.
Beck – “Up All Night”
Being one of music’s most diverse artists, a new release from Beck can go in multiple directions. This week, however, with the release of Up All Night, the former indie slacker channels himself down a more funky avenue. The shuffling drum beat alongside slick, experimental pop synths does nothing but make a case for the success of his upcoming thirteenth record. A dominating yet simple guitar jive catches your attention from the beginning whilst its dance-friendly chorus could come out of any Top 40 hit. The mixture of modern pop and indie elements on Up All Night gives Beck a welcome makeover and we hope for more carefree yet irresistible music in the future.
Sam Smith – “Too Good At Goodbyes”
Following on from his globally successful debut record In The Lonely Hour, pop megastar Sam Smith releases is first track in two years. A poignant, piano-driven ballad, Too Good At Goodbyes sees Smith’s distinctive falsetto-based vocals tackling the breakdown of various relationships. Starting with predominantly piano, some crisp finger clicking adds a small beat before a chorus infused with backing gospel vocals and gorgeous strings comes in. One of the four tracks on the upcoming album which Smith said is about him, Too Good At Goodbyes focuses on Smith getting used being dumped. There are moments in which Smith’s voice delicately dances over the track whilst other parts are musically reserved for his falsetto to power forward and take the lead. A relaxed, soulful return, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smith dominating the airwaves over the next six months.
The Front Bottoms – “Vacation Town”
New Jersey indie rock duo The Front Bottoms return this week with their second single of 2017 and subsequently the second single from their forthcoming record Going Grey. A purposeful and rolling folk rock styled production, Vacation Town sees the duo’s typically witty personalities combine as they embrace the comfort of ignoring everyday responsibilities whilst on holiday. Carrying a unique vocal edge, Brian Sella’s lyrics have a confrontational spark to them but one which expresses brutal honesty about the troubles that come with growing up. An inspiring and uplifting chorus gets a glimmering shine whilst the fast-paced guitar verses carry a similar weight to Frank Turner’s style of performance. Heartfelt and relatable, The Front Bottoms look to have a renewed sense of purpose for the coming album.
Tove Lo – “Sugar Tits”
Despite the highly successful last album Lady Wood, Tove Lo remains one of pop’s most left of centre singers. She’s known for her exuberant live shows alongside her pro-woman stance and continuing on with her now common theme of sexual gratification, she returns for an entrancing, sexually charged new single with a bouncing piano line and playful vocals which looks back to the disco infused pop from early on in her career. With a catchy chorus in which Tove Lo declares “I’m fully charged / Nipples are hard,” Sugar Tits is an enticing single to start the next phrase of her career as a pop star.
Other Noticeable Tracks
Superorganism – “something for your M.I.N.D.”: London based collective Superorganism re-release their stunning debut single following on from a sample clearance issue. An addictively gooey single with momentary pauses at random intervals in the track, something for your M.I.N.D. takes chilled electronic music to a new level, combining sounds from the likes of Glass Animals and Courtney Barnett to make a sensational debut release.
Richard Walters – “Nothing But Adore You”: Emotive and heartfelt new track from Oxford singer-songwriter Richard Walters, which displays a sense of undeniable vulnerability alongside distorted vocals which mix with the occasional backing harmony. An honest and alternative piano ballad, Nothing But Adore You is an atmospheric piece which conjures up a perfect climax.
L-Vis 1990 Feat. Flohio and Cassive – “Yeah Yeah”: Sparse yet dark track from underground producer L-Vis 1990 which use hard and swaggering verses from London rappers Flohio and Cassive, two of the capital’s most promising stars. With outstanding flow, Flohio seems to be in a class of her own, showing potential to be the next big name in female Grime. The deep underlying bass beat is perfectly minimalistic which allows the verses of the two rappers to stand out so much. A great production showcasing the best of the underground scene.
U2 – “You’re The Best Thing About Me”: Making a surprise return this week, Irish rock legends U2 release a powerful rock throwback which incorporates their romantic style of music with a more modern sound. Carried by a classic riff from The Edge alongside a pulsing bass line, You’re The Best Thing About Me is actually surprisingly good for a U2 track if you can bare Bono’s singing.
ZAYNE Feat. Sia – “Dusk Till Dawn”: Rousing R&B / pop crossover from former One Direction star Zayn Malik and Australian pop star Sia about the formidable journey of two committed lovers. Intimate and intense in parts before launching into a powerful chorus with perfect harmonies.
Joe Hertz Feat. Pip Millett – “Goodbye Kisses”: Chilled, R&B production from Brixton producer Joe Hertz, assisted by the sultry vocals of Pip Millett. Silky smooth and packed with a huge, funk-filled groove, Goodbye Kisses is the track to turn people’s heads towards Hertz and Millett.
Weyes Blood – “A Certain Kind”: Santa Monica singer-songwriter Natalie Mering aka Weyes Blood covers Soft Cell’s 1968 track A Certain Kind which sees her angelic vocals roam melancholically over a bewitching organ melody. Subtle jazz elements hide underneath the single which has an unsettling feeling to it, almost like a St. Vincent-esque wedding march which could darken at any moment. Building to an enchanting crescendo, the single closes with a flourishing extended mix of organ and percussion.
Kelly Clarkson – “Love So Soft”: Swaggering and soulful lead single from the former American Idol winner’s upcoming eighth album which embraces playful seduction alongside funky horns and the occasional falsetto screech.
ILoveMakonnen Feat. Rae Sremmurd – “Love”: Atlanta rapper ILoveMakonnen embraces guitars on his latest single and collaboration with hip hop stars Rae Sremmurd. A rock-tinged single with a fast and fluid flow, it’s another hit produced by the legendary Mike WiLL Made-It.