All tracks listed, as well as those reviewed in this weekly segment, can be found on our New Music Friday playlist, here.
Xenia Rubinos - Who Shot Ya?As one of the most eclectic and progressive artists around, Xenia Rubinos’ follow up to her critically acclaimed 2016 album Black Terry Cat has been highly anticipated. Her new record, titled Una Rosa is well worth the five year wait, with the record further expressing Rubinos’s ideas in ways that intersperses culture and history whilst still conveying her personality and evolving her sound. The track Who Shot Ya? was originally debuted as a single last year, however is a standout track on the album as a whole, and is better listened to in the grander scheme of the record. It follows Rubinos’s more abstract storytelling, but in a way that is felt instantly by the reader, partly down to its immediate – although not outrightly told – messaging. Who Shot Ya? Focuses on the issues surrounding minority races in western culture and indeed the world, condemning the members of the police that killed Breonna Taylor, the issues regarding detention of children at the Mexico border, and the fact that those most wealthy live off of soil that was initially stolen. The protest piece sees a backdrop interpolating the likes of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff and verses from poet Josè Marti. The themes of this track are told through the art she is pulling from, and amounts to an incredibly powerful piece of music.
The War On Drugs - Change
Philadelphia-based rock band The War On Drugs have always been in the thick of the modern rock music zeitgeist, but have never been household names. Their most recent record, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, is aiming to subvert that view, attempting to convey the bands most cohesive and abstract Americana record to date. The track Change channels what can be equated to The Smiths-esque guitar jangling alongside punchy drum patterns and a subdued bassline at first, before exploding into chorus sections that sound more distorted and grandiose. Initially, the group look to be pulling from their usual soulful and folky style, but they manage to add layers to it that help to ignite a more contemporary and gritty sound, which is then bolstered by vocalist Adam Granduciel’s sombre and fatalistic lyricism.
Self Esteem - I Do This All The Time
Seemingly from out of nowhere, Self Esteem has enamoured not only critics but the overarching popular music scene with her most recent, second record, titled Prioritise Pleasure. Here, the artist seems to have found her voice and has really come into her own, with an album that is as varied as it is funny, intimate, brave and authoritative. The track I Do It All The Time is probably the track that truly encapsulated the overall feel of the album as a whole, incorporating almost spoken word like passages which echo artists like Arab Strap or even The Streets, but alongside the visceral, immersive and personal stories she tells is a side that is also larger than life, dramatic and ambitious. The strong chorus stating, “Look up / Lean Back / Stay Strong / You didn’t think you would live this long” is as compelling as it is simple, and lends itself to the grand choir-like layering of vocals and string sections. The dichotomy between the tender and intimate verses and the huge crescendo found within its chorus and conclusion is beautiful, and masterfully done.
Black Marble - PreoccupationPaying direct homage to 80’s synthwave pop and post punk electronica sounds and very much going for a New Order inspired outcome, Chris Stewart, otherwise known as Black Marble, attempts to recreate these classic sounds on his newest record Fast Idol. However, he adds his own contemporary, almost gothic spin to rolling synth-heavy tracks, the feel of the record seems best conveyed through Preoccupation, a track that sounds almost like a retro video game soundtrack at first listen, but quickly proves that it has much more to give. The track is bolstered by that driving, pulsating synth for the majority of its runtime, but it is accompanied by a backdrop of more acoustic sounding drum samples that help to give it more warmth and feeling. These elements are joined by intentionally lazy vocals that give an element of darkness, enveloping the listener in a consistent, almost psychedelic soundscape that although simple, never fails to stay engaging. The track is immediate but chilled out, partly down to its more lo-fi production styling. It may not be a banging pop tune, but Preoccupation is certainly an experience that melds the past and future together in an interesting, bouncy, but calming track.
Circuit des Yeux - Sculpting The Exodus
Circuit des Yeux has just released the album -io, an expansive record that incorporates horns, strings and more orchestrated compositions with Haley Fohr’s progressive, complicated and experimental folky sound. The track Sculpting The Exodus is by no means a quiet affair, although it starts out rather small, it quickly expands into a large soundscape that compliments Fohr’s operatic vocal performances perfectly, backdropped by heavy pounding of drums and layers of strings and orchestral heftiness. The song is a single that was released prior to the record, but yet again is one that benefits from listening to within the collection of tracks found on -io, its theatrical nature seamlessly diverging into the accompanying songs expertly. The songs are so heavy in both subject matter and instrumentation that it could be hard to digest the record in full during one sitting. Fohr certainly feels that way, recommending taking a rest after listening to Sculpting The Exodus – if that doesn’t describe the sheer sonic magnitude of the track, nothing will.