I’m writing this from Madrid, and the current temperature is 38°C. I’m sure my room is hotter than that.
And from my friends and family in the UK, I hear it’s a toasty 26°C. Which, I’m sure, is very hard for you all. And so, in this slightly bumper week for music (because holy shit, when Annie Mac comes back from maternity leave, does she ever come back with the bangers), here’s 12 of the coolest songs to help in sweating away the Summer sun.
Sälen – So Rude
Buried beneath the hype of Wolf Alice’s ‘Yuk Foo’ on Monday, ‘So Rude’ is a small delight of a pop song. Combining fairly plinky drums and twinkly xylophone notes for percussion, with rich and scratchy power chords help make this latest offering from the bedroom pop London trio a real gem; uncompromising lyrics with detached delivery “A smart and capable woman acts like a total psychopath/Over someone who’s probably a loser…/Maybe I could stomach you/But then you make me gag” is really the cherry on top.
Everything Everything – Can’t Do
Back have come one of the best British pop acts, the always left-of-centre Everything Everything, and new track ‘Can’t Do’ is a doozy. In short, it’s a thrill to hear the Mancunian tones of Jonathan Higgs, swinging between crisp high chorus notes and his lower parrot-like delivery in verses; it’s a thrill to hear the drums’ funky rhythms; it’s a thrill to hear that their signature synths haven’t lost any of their colour in a pop landscape flooded with imitators at best. This track can do what you want, in short.
The Horrors – Machine
What starts with slightly distanced mechanised drums all on their lonesome builds (as you do) to a disorienting, seemingly bottomless cacophony of beastly power chords and basslines, leads to a a howling lead guitar topping the whole thing off in the bridge to brilliant effect. A sublime return from the Rock veterans, this is can’t-miss music.
The Clientele – Lunar Days
Actual dreams are often bafflingly weird experiences, so consider me reluctant to call ‘Lunar Days’ dreamy – The Clientele’s new single is so delightfully gentle, head-in-the-clouds musically, yet lyrically introspective. Different melodic instruments come to the forefront across the track, but the chilled percussion almost never shifts – what begins in fairground synths turns to bassier notes, brings in classical strings, what sounds like a harp, and eventually settles on the soothing drumbeat to carry us to the song’s close.
TORRES – Skim
Sometimes, there’s just no outdoing a killer guitar riff. ‘Skim’ begins with stripped back percussion and heavy, vivid synths, and TORRES’ softly interrogative voice. Then she breaks out the distorted, longing call of her guitar, and ‘Skim’ leaps from good to utterly unmissable. It’s
sensual, patient, and hugely cathartic.
Cathedrals – With You
Take cosmically *Whoosh!* synths and sprinkle a little grounded acoustic guitar picking, and on ‘With You’ you’ve found probably the most enticing song opening on this list. And whilst the building that emerges from these foundations is a little more structurally standard than you might hope, the colour and grandiosity in the guitars and drums as it climaxes is completely entrancing.
XY&O – One More Night (Lemonade)
The opening to XY&O’s second EP Powder Rooms
, this combines unconventionally drawn-out introduction and instrumental, hungry lead vocals, and a charming lead guitar breakdown into a sweet and lightly sexy mixture, ideal for summer heatwaves.
Sextile – One Of These
From far and away the best named artists in this week’s Fresher Sounds, this Underground post-punk trio of the L.A. scene have got a special blend of the aggressive and the introverted. The synths are pulsating, the drumming’s especially reminiscent of the inescapable beats in 80s pop songs, but the guitars are all over the place in distortions and mix placement; meanwhile frontman Brady Keehn’s vocals echo throughout the track, yet just out of earshot in their moody, longing tones.
L.A Witch – Untitled
Due to this track’s production so effectively obscuring the vocals, it’s actually appropriate that it go as ‘Untitled’, though I won’t be able to muster a guess as to why. With a pounding bass drum kick and the soothingly upbeat country rhythms at odds with the smoke-hazed production and detached voice, it almost seems like ‘Untitled’ wears its lack of identity extremely proudly; until the bridge when the guitars and drums kick loose into something much closer to early Led Zepplin. A band highly worth watching.
Keep Shelly In Athens – Leave In Silence
First single from this Greek ambient bedroom-pop duo’s third full-length LP Philokalia
, ‘Leave In Silence’ is about as tranquilizing as this music gets, in the best possible way. The swirly synths are the equivalent of two Macbooks smoking a joint and having a conversation – everything seems to make sense, but it’s certainly harder to follow than it would be without the smoke in the air – and the occasional brass notes in the background of the track are unbelievably warming. It’s a meandering journey, however it’s just the journey you want to get lost on, repeatedly.
Jim Lauderdale – You Came To Get Me
In this week’s list, there are a lot of weird, mixed-up, and confrontational genre treats; by stark contrast the biggest surprise in ‘You Came To Get Me’ from veteran Singer-Songwriter Jim Lauderdale is how delightful this Radio 2 country-soul throwback is. The sincerity is won on the sleeve, the tempo is steadily mid-range, and the lyrics are the result of reducing pop love songs’ down to their bones in directness, but the horns are simply gorgeous, and the guitar solo is sticky sweet. It will
leave you with a huge smile on your face.
Chlöe Howl – Magnetic
If what you need is a really solid pop song, without too many surprises but scratches that Jess Glynne, Becky Hill shaped rash you’ve picked up from their chart-agitating hits… you’re going to love the new single by Chlöe Howl. It’s a groovy, body-swayable love song about those relationships where you know you should really know better, however resisting is the thing you are least capable of doing. Solid lyricism and Howl’s sublimely direct delivery, plus the shimmery arrangements in the chorus elevate the song far above its intended audience.