Things We Love This Week: Courtney Barnett, Jungle, Albert Hammond Jr., Smashing Pumpkins

This week we shared one of the most special, loving days of the calendar. PANCAKE DAY!

Although, if you forgot to buy pancake ingredients and actually just ate your body weight in chocolate like I did, then praise be to you. When I wasn’t snacking, I was listening to some sweet new tunes and keeping an eye on the music news…here are some cool things I discovered.

Courtney Barnett

Oh, she’s a teaser. Although we had her Kurt Vile collaboration, ‘Lotta Sea Lice’, last year, we’re still waiting for more of that charming single-handed Barnett sound. Her last solo record was released back in 2015, so it’s about time we had some new stuff.

On Tuesday, a video hit the internet depicting the musician flitting around the studio, hitting toms, plucking at an acoustic guitar and sat at a piano, playing what appeared to be fresh material. Exciting stuff! Both at the end of the video and on her website she asked fans “Tell Me How You Really Feel”.

Then, in a not particularly surprising twist, we had Nameless Faceless dropped in our laps. It’s the first cut from her upcoming album, which will (shock!) be titled ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’. Start a countdown now – the record is due for release on May 18, and it’s going to be awesome. The track, meanwhile, boldly addresses and explores themes of misogyny and patriarchal structures, paraphrasing Margaret Atwood in the chorus: 

“Men are scared that women will laugh at them / I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them”. She’s not wrong.

Jungle

JUNGLE ARE BACK!

The neo-soul band have announced a new tour to take place throughout America, Europe and here in the UK in May!

Their debut record dropped back in 2014 to positive critical reception, and a place on the Mercury Prize shortlist. Dripping like a magical musical faucet with bangers such as The Heat, Busy Earnin’ and (my personal favourite) Julia, the self titled album got a big thumbs up.

Tickets went on sale on Monday. The announcement of new tour dates came with the hint of new music, too. This is not a drill! Here’s the actual real-life proof.

Albert Hammond Jr – Far Away Truths

This new track by the Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr is the latest cut from his upcoming album, ‘Francis Trouble’, which is scheduled for release on March 9. 

I’m currently halfway through Lizzy Goodman’s revealing time-capsule Meet Me In The Bathroom and duly going through a big Strokes/Interpol/LCD Soundsystem/New York post-punk revival phase. This new track from Hammond Jr., although distinctly his, embodies the Strokes-esque choppy, tight guitar structures that fans have become obsessed with. Although perhaps not as intricate and detailed as some of the tracks on his last solo outing, ‘Momentary Masters’, Far Away Truths is catchy and perfect for the car.

The Smashing Pumpkins’ Reunion Tour

What is going on with this!? Rumours are flying around the office and in the press. No D’Arcy? What’s up with those texts between her and Billy Corgan?

Yesterday the band teased big news with a countdown clock on their website, then at 5pm they announced their Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour for 2018. Reunion Time!

It’s all very mysterious and hazy as to whether Wretzky was officially asked to join in or not – and there must be more beneath the surface story – but three quarters of the classic line up will perform on the upcoming US tour: Corgan, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and guitarist James Iha, alongside Jeff Schroeder.

See you next time!

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Things We Love This Week: Arcade Fire, Teen Creep, MGMT

Oh hi there, it’s me again! Glad to have you back.

Thank heavens January has come to an end. It was dark and dreary and terribly miserable. Hang on a minute, though. Somehow the weather seems to have got even colder, and I’m not at all happy about it. But hey, look at the plus side: it’s not pitch black when I leave work anymore, and there’s definitely a chance of a snow day soon. Let’s celebrate the approach of spring, however far away it feels, with a cup of tea and some merriment. 

Arcade Fire – Ann Ale! (Let’s Go!)

This the most cheerful music around at the moment. Fact. It’s loud, brazen and obnoxiously happy. Be transported to a carnival of song, dance and colour with the foot-tapping, horn-wielding, maraca-shaking song of the week.

Its lyrics translate to “We will dance / We will play / We will pray / We will continue to make the world a better place for all” and this collaboration between Arcade Fire and the Preservation Hall (for Krewe Du Kanaval, which was held on Tuesday) is truly a celebration of the human spirit.

Listen on the Krewe Du Kanaval Website. Obtain dancing shoes with immediate effect.

Teen Creeps – Sidenotes

Teen Creeps are a trio from Belgium, and they’ve just announced their debut album. It’s set to be a blend of ’90s alt rock and hard hitting punk. This week, the band released the record’s first cut, Sidenotes, and an accompanying video. Let’s focus on the video. It is just so fun. He’s not even dancing, really, just flailing around. It’s brilliant.

Teen Creeps described the video as an “entire dance routine that perfectly translates the vibe and energy of the song”  and that’s exactly what it does. I’ll be bringing these moves to a dance floor near you very soon.

MGMT – Me and Michael

While we’re on the subject of bonkers new videos, here’s another that caught the eye of this bonkers lady. 

MGMT’s new album ‘Little Dark Age’ is out today through Columbia, and features the new single Me and Michael, which dropped yesterday. Its video begins with a note stating “An Afghan a day keeps the doctor away” and a drawing of an Afghan hound. Dog lovers will be hooked initially, but ultimately disappointed.

The rest of the video features little to no furry friends. Instead, viewers get squelching raw meat and characters constantly licking their fingers, tied up in the (supposedly fictional) narrative of MGMT stealing the song from a (real) Filipino band called True Faith. They get found out, and their music career ends in tatters. Where do they come up with these things? What happens in their brains? And who the fuck is Michael?

When speaking to BBC 6 Music yesterday, MGMT said of the track: “It’s super meta. We’ve really confused everybody, including ourselves.” I am definitely confused. Maybe that’s the point?

That’s it for Things We Love This Week, dear readers. Over and out.

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Things We Love This Week: Green Man and All Points East

It’s been two long years since the last instalment of Things We Love This Week, but now it’s back with a bang for 2018 with a brand new author. Me! Every Friday we’ll be running through the songs, albums, live shows or videos that caught our eye in the preceding days. Think of it as a one stop shop. Happy Friday, everyone!

Green Man Festival

First off, this week saw a plethora of festival line-up announcements right in time for payday – some good, some… not so. The first that caught my eye was Green ManSet in the stunning Brecon Beacons, it could easily be your new favourite festival. In the past, the line-up has seen the likes of James Blake, Fat White Family, Beirut, Floating Points, the Horrors, Jagwar Ma, Belle and Sebastian and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard take the stage, to just to name a few. The first wave of acts for 2018’s bill dropped yesterday, and it’s set to be another fantastic year.

Proof? See below.

“But Helen, there are so many amazing acts!” I hear you cry. “Which ones shouldn’t I miss?” Here’s where my answer gets complicated. Can I say everyone? Phoebe Bridgers ranks highly. Her debut album, ‘Stranger in the Alps’ dropped in September last year, and, forgive the cliché, it’s a hauntingly beautiful record. The countless reviews about her mesmerising live performances make it sound like an unmissable experience.

Now, picture this. Pint of legendary Welsh cider in hand, you’re sat on the slightly damp grass of the Walled Garden Stage. It’s about to rain, but you don’t mind. Goat Girl, an indie band who signed to Rough Trade before releasing any music whatsoever, are playing. Their hazy, jangly guitars and witty, political lyrics wash away your hangover, and it’s the epitome of contented festival moments. That’s my jam. Public Service Broadcasting are another band you should be seeing this year. The dorky duo (named, incedentally, J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth) weave old radio broadcast samples into catchy synth melodies. It’s like nothing you’ve heard before. 

All Points East Presents: The National

The next thing that grabbed my attention, line-up wise, was the expansion of the National’s All Points East Presents show. 

These darlings of alt-rock, and now, UK chart toppers, headline this day-long sister event of All Points East Festival, accompanied by some very special guests. The list of previously announced acts would have been more than enough. The War on Drugs, Future Islands, and Warpaint? If you’re into American indie-rock, this day alone will make your summer immeasurably better. However, the organisers have expanded the line-up to tip those on the fence over the edge.

Don’t recognise the name Rostam? What about Rostam Batmanglij, the former producer, multi-instrumentalist and co-lyricist from Vampire Weekend? Gone solo under this mononym, his debut ‘Half-Light’ is full of fun and dreamy art-pop. Check out Bike Dream below. 

Fresh from their own headline tour, alongside supporting slots with the National last year, This Is The Kit are another perfect addition to an already faultless line-up. With Bristol-based Kate Stables and her band on the bill, expect an injection of contemporary folk, aesthetically-pleasing harmonies and wholesome melodies into your summer’s day. 

James Blake: If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead

Aside from festival line-ups, a new single by the clever and quirky producer, singer, songwriter and pianist (is there nothing he can’t do?) James Blake has to be included as a last minute adjustment to Things We Love This Week. It’s the first non-collaborative material we’ve had since ‘The Colour in Anything’ back in 2016, and with overlapping vocal samples melting softly in to synths so slick they could drip out of your headphones, it’s classic Blake.

Until next time, kiddos.

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Things We Love This Week: Ceremony, Hop Along

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Hello everyone, a very happy post-Zane/Clarkson Friday to you.

To usher you into the weekend here are some of the things we loved this week, starting with the news that Colleen Green is going to bring the hooks and style of ‘I Want To Grow Up’ to the UK in May.  And remember, please try not to punch people at work.

Ceremony – The Separation and The Understanding

The follow up to ‘Zoo’ was never going to conform to expectations, whatever those might be for Ceremony at this stage. The first songs from ‘The L-Shaped Man’ – out in May on Matador – are all post-punk angles and suggest that rather than screaming in your face, it will settle for fixing you with a piercing stare. Different? Yes. Intense? Fucking hell, yes. Take Ross Farrar’s word for it:

“A lot of the content has to do with loss, and specifically the loss of someone who you care deeply about. There is no way for you to go through something like this artistically and not have really strong emotions of loss and pain. There’s not really any way to hide that.”

Hop Along – Powerful Man

The second song to emerge from ‘Painted Shut’ has only offered more evidence that Hop Along are going to do something really special with the successor to ‘Get Disowned’. Powerful Man wraps a harrowing narrative in a pin sharp melody. It catches you off guard. Premiering the song on The Fader, France Quinlan wrote:

“Once I saw a boy getting beaten up by his father, in daylight in front of a school. My friend was with me, the father saw us both and kept right on hitting him, totally unaffected by our presence. I was 18 and immediately afraid of this man; I didn’t confront him.

“I can’t imagine what it must be like for a little boy, watching someone walk away as his father punches him about the head. I witnessed a frightening part of myself that day: in a time of crisis I was not there for a child, I froze up. That little boy is probably close to 20 now, maybe a little younger.”

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Things We Love This Week: Earl Sweatshirt, Girlpool, Teenage Bottlerocket

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We survived the eclipse! Victory is ours!

Celebrate with these fun things:

Earl Sweatshirt – Grief

He’s pissed off with his label, but Grief suggests that ‘I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Oustide’ doesn’t need the element of surprise on its side. Album is out on Monday.

Girlpool – Ideal World

From the new album, ‘Before The World Was Big’, which is out in June. Another understated gem featuring the duo’s beautiful vocal harmonies.

Teenage Bottlerocket – They Call Me Steve

Very silly. Great fun. ‘Tales From Wyoming’ out at the end of this month.

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Things We Love This Week: Hop Along, Warpaint, Good Riddance

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Photo: Shervin Lainez

Hello everyone, happy Friday the 13th to the lot of you.

Before you pop off to the lake to get hacked to pieces by a hockey mask-wearing fiend, listen to this stuff. See you on the other side.

Hop Along – Waitress

What to they put in the water in Philadelphia? Hop Along are another walking advert for the city’s fertile punk scene, with their angular, fascinatingly weird indie-folk-something hybrid having coalesced into the near perfect ‘Get Disowned’ in 2012. They’re back with ‘Painted Shut’ on Saddle Creek in May. Waitress, which you can stream below, suggests it’ll be pretty special.

Warpaint – I’ll Start Believing

Warpaint are on a roll. I’ll Start Believing is a choppy, intriguing beauty and the latest suggestion that the band’s current series of releases will add up to an impressive whole.

Good Riddance – Dry Season

They’ve been gone for almost a decade, but it doesn’t sound like it. ‘Peace In Our Time’ is out in April and, judging by this first taste, will rip.

Bye, folks. @huw_baines

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Things We Love This Week: Touche Amore x Self Defense Family, Young Guv, Joanna Gruesome, Tobias Jesso Jr

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Hello, people. A frabjous Friday to the lot of you.

In no particular order, here are some things that we loved this week…

Touché Amoré/Self Defense Family – Self Love

A collaborative split 7” from these regular tourmates, fusing the sharp edges of Touché Amoré with Self Defense Family’s experimental sprawl. Patrick Kindlon is in fine touch at the moment and has rarely sounded better – see also Drug Church’s excellent ‘Swell’ EP. Premiered by Vice this week.

Young Guv – Ripe 4 Luv

Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook’s power-pop project. Just really great songs and a timely reminder to listen to the Marvelous Darlings record all day, every day. Streaming via Spin.

Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst

Excitement levels reaching critical. Another absolute winner. ‘Peanut Butter’ is out May 11 and it can’t come soon enough.

Tobias Jesso Jr – Without You

Terribly old fashioned in a surprising, brilliant way. Nobody sounds like this anymore, but it’s reassuring and familiar. Album next week.

Bye. @huw_baines

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Things We Love This Week: Screaming Females, Tenement And Warpaint

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Hello folks. The dress was blue and black, now it’s white and gold. Not sure if my eyes are broken or if someone’s fucking with me. Anyway, here are the things that kept us sane this week…

Screaming Females – Hopeless

‘Rose Mountain’, the new Screaming Females record, landed this week and is worth your time and then some. So too is the video for Hopeless, which was directed by Lance Bangs and features a blood-spattered pickguard. For our review of the album, head here.

Tenement – Morning Mouth

The latest song to emerge from Tenement’s forthcoming tape-7″-odds-and-sods ‘rarities’ collection, ‘Bruised Music Volume One’. Thanks Stereogum.

Warpaint – No Way Out (Redux)

Almost (almost) as badass as the Disco//Very + Keep It Healthy video. It’s going to be exciting to have this new singles series periodically dropped in our laps this year.

Cheers all. @huw_baines

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Things We Love This Week: Kendrick Lamar, Joanna Gruesome And More

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Hello all, and a happy Friday to you. Huw here with another batch of good stuff from the last seven days. Listen away…

Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker The Berry

Following up I, Kendrick returned with The Blacker The Berry, a complex, devastating take on race in America following the death of Trayvon Martin and events in Ferguson, not to mention a technical tour-de-force.

Joanna Gruesome – Last Year

Just as good as we’ve come to expect from this band. ‘Peanut Butter’, their second album, is shaping up to be one of the best of the year.

Pup – Back Against The Wall

Another great video from these eternally scrappy, thoroughly excellent Canadian punks. If you haven’t investigated their self-titled record yet then you are well and truly missing out.

RVIVR – Goodbyes

Perhaps the standout track from the ‘Bicker and Breathe’ EP (which was all pretty great) gets the tour video treatment.

Cheers folks. @huw_baines

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Things We Love This Week: War On Women, Kevin Devine And More

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That’s another week in the history books, folks. It was a bit good. The Replacements announced a UK show, their first in 24 years, American Nightmare did the same and a Smörgåsbord of tasty treats landed in our laps. You can check some of the things that tickled our fancy in the last seven days below.

War on Women – ‘War on Women’

This is out next week through Bridge 9 and it rules. The Baltimore hardcore troupe, regular tourmates of Propagandhi, have delivered on their early promise in a big way, this time in tandem with producer J. Robbins.

Kevin Devine – Inside of Love

A truly lovely Nada Surf cover from the Miracle of 86 man’s forthcoming split series, which is also set to feature Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy. Check it out here via the folks at The A.V Club.

Blacklisted – ‘When People Grow, People Go’

Probably the record I’ve been looking forward to more than any other this year. It’s here. And it’s very good indeed. Stream it over at Alternative Press. Out next week through Deathwish Inc.

The Leisure Society – Tall Black Cabins

A beautiful, mournful song gets a cinematic, mournful video. New album – ‘The Fine Art of Hanging On’ – out on April 13.

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