In the past, when artists wished to release a single it had to be distributed nationwide and carved into wax… now you can record a new song on your iPhone and boom, it’s available worldwide, everywhere. As such, some of the very best tracks released by some of our favourite musicians, which may never make it onto a full release, can slip right by. Here are our favourite songs of the past week packaged to ensure that doesn’t happen…
Sia – Alive
Sia was one of 2014’s breakout artists, despite having written a dozen or so of the biggest hits of the 21st century so far over the course of her career. Despite the glossy studio sheen to her material, she proved strong song writing and a fantastic voice will shine through no matter what; showing hipsters everywhere that chart music doesn’t equal bad. This new track, from her upcoming album This Is Acting, was written with Adele and Tobias Jesso Junior; it’s not as complex as some of the songs off 1000 Forms of Fear but it’s instantly catchy, a jolting piano backing the rise and fall of her ever powerful voice.
Father John Misty: The Memo
Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) is becoming one of the most entertaining figures in music – his latest record I Love You Honeybear was phenomenal, and he recently released two covers of Ryan Adam’s covers of Taylor Swift’s 1989. He had promised though that on this next LP he would move away from the romance and dive deeper into the cynicism… Early demo or a one off release, ‘The Memo’ fulfils that promise entirely: lyrics like “I’m gonna take five young dudes/From white families/Gonna mount em on a billboard/In the middle of the country/I’m gonna tell everybody they sing like angels with whiter teeth/But just between you and me/They’re just like the ones before” elevate this piano, guitar, and synth ballad into biting cultural commentary, and it manages to turn grating cynicism into teary-eyed witticism yet again.
Arcade Fire: Get Right
In conjunction with the release of the band’s feature length debut The Reflektor Tapes Arcade Fire have released a seven inch track featuring a couple of Reflektor outtakes. ‘Get Right’ is the best of them; with a percussion at once reminiscent of The Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and evocative of the twittering of a Haitian beachside at night; the song drives through a funky opening riff and into an epic, electronic breakdown not unlike material from Ben Foster’s A U O R A. The lyrics are typically grandiose and ill-translated to the page: like Florence Welsh, the band are masters of the art turning the sort of unironic, unabashed sentiments that go down like cold porridge in this day and age and pairing them with beauteous instrumentals that make them entirely thrilling, invigorating, and acceptable. After the phenomenal Reflektor, Arcade Fire are confirming with these two slight tracks that they are a band at the peak of their powers – wiping the floor with much of the month’s singles output with a couple of outtakes.
WOKE – The Lavishments of Light Looking
We finish the list with something of a supergroup: bass maestro Thundercat, rap duo Shabazz Palaces, and electronic/jazz producer Flying Lotus, all masters in their own fields, coming together for this upcoming project as WOKE. This track seems to heavily reflect Lotus’ solo work and production credits before, with some chaotic beat switch ups and loose jazz instrumentation; the most illuminating distinction being the feature of a rapped verse from Shabazz Palaces, spitting in their usual esoteric style. This one also features George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic… So for the credits alone this is well worth a listen, and we await the full project of these hip-hop, funk, and jazz masters with bated breath.
Liam Inscoe – Jones
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.