As the UK further extends its departure from the European Union and the government continues to but heads in a stagnant standstill – just kidding, we're not here to talk politics. Instead, we've done our best to provide a little cheer and collated our favourite new tracks from the week.
On today's playlist we have new material from the much-hyped London jazz outfit The Ezra Collective, preppy-indie icons Vampire Weekend, nostalgic crooner Weyes Blood and more. Find the playlist below along with some words on our standout favourites.
Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
Comparisons with Karen Carpenter aren’t quite unjustified; as she chants, Weyes Blood, Natalie Mering’s pseudonym forces you to simultaneously clasp your heart, whilst gazing through the window into the uncertainty and opportunity of halcyon fantasy.
The inspiration for her fourth full-length comes entirely from the loving retreat of her bedroom, but its thematic scope certainly breaches those confines. Grandiose tales ‘Andromeda’ and ‘Movies’ draw sonically from the itinerary of Saturday night television artists appearances throughout the 70s – the prime source of infatuation with ‘other worldly’ icons of the time. There’s a complex balance of helplessness, inevitability, and dogged romanticism.
Ramping up the 70s power pop aesthetic with lashings of aquatic synthesisers, lap steel, and sweeping chord arrangements, Titanic Rising’s narrative is decidedly candid; Mering’s anxieties, even insecurities come to the fore in her most affecting and foreboding assemblage of thoughts. TC
Town Portal – Of Violence
Copenhagen three-piece Town Portal sit somewhere at the cross section of the protean albeit niche Venn diagram of math-, post- and experimental- rock. In this case though, ‘sit’ is a misnomer; upon first listen of Of Violence, the band’s third full-length record, perhaps ‘tremble’ is only appropriate.
Heavy, intrusive and dissonant without muddling their unique take on melody and cadence, the trio are masterful architects of space, at one moment paving a full wall of sound and the next leaving gaps for individual elements to flourish and spiral into chaos. JB
Ezra Collective – 'What Am I To Do? (feat Loyle Carner)'
April sees the release of two eagerly-awaited albums, from a couple of hugely exciting UK acts. This specific tune is taken from Ezra Collective’s forthcoming debut You Can’t Steal My Joy – the follow up to last year’s 7-track EP Juan Pablo: The Philosopher – but it is characterised as much by the unmistakable vocals Loyle Carner as by the smooth jazzy offerings of the North London outfit.
Less energetic than previous single ‘Quest For Coin’ – which bears all the hallmarks of Ezra Collective’s dance-floor driven, upbeat sound – this closer resembles Jorja Smith collab ‘Reason In Disguise’ (which is also set to feature on the album) as the band take a backseat and allow their guest vocalist to shine.
And as it happens, the guest in this instance is someone for whom jazz-rap has played a huge role. An avowed fan of A Tribe Called Quest, Loyle Carner’s honest and laid-back stylings have undeniably been shaped by the sounds of 90s hip hop. But on previous record Yesterday’s Gone, and what we’ve heard so far from forthcoming follow-up Not Waving, But Drowning, he has avoided being too derivative, adding a personal touch and recognisably British feel to the music he makes. And with the UK’s jazz scene in such good health, spearheaded by the likes of Ezra Collective, there’s no doubt Carner has a role to play in its continued success. JK