Every now and then, I download a few hundred recent singles from one of my favourite pirate sites and scroll through the tracks looking for buried treasures. Here are some goodies I dug out of the latest batch:
Asylums | Catalogue Kids
MY TWO CENTS: These DIY British alt-rockers (who also own their own label) have apparently been around since 2014. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve heard them before. But based on this undeniable appeal of this anthemic number — supposedly a preview of their forthcoming third album, which they recently recorded in Chicago with the irascible but unimpeachable Steve Albini — we’ll all be hearing from them soon. I look forward to it.
Barishi | Blood Aurora
THE PRESS RELEASE: “The album Old Smoke is clear evidence that Barishi’s dark and melodic sound has evolved from 2016’s Blood From a Lion’s Mouth. This full-length from the Vermont metal collective is a sprawling cacophony of earth-shattering grooves and ferocious elegance, redefining contemporary progressive metal.” MY TWO CENTS: This is the the best 10-minute progressive death-metal epic you’ll hear this week. Or most weeks, in all honesty.
Bekah CC | No Change
MY TWO CENTS: You think Euphoria was a dark portrayal of suburban youth culture? Check out this cut from up-and-comer Bekah CC. As an ominously sinister track creeps along with the tension of a horror-movie soundtrack, the deadpan Amherst rapper whispers a sing-song narrative of teenage addiction and jaded self-destruction. “You want something, we can work it out,” she proposes. Yeah, I want you to get some help. Or make an album.
Biga*Ranx | Solid
MY TWO CENTS: If you follow French hip-hop — which I most certainly do not — you may already be familiar with Gabriel Piotrowski, who has been recording for nearly a decade under his far less nerdy rap handle Biga*Ranx. Since this pumping ragga-infused throbber wasn’t on his last album, I’ll presume it will be on his next. If it’s as invigorating and infectious as this, might be worth a shot.
Chuck Prophet | Get Off The Stage
THE PRESS RELEASE: “I’m not a political person per se. But, I hope that people who listen to my music know that I’m not a fan of kids in cages. And reasoned argument doesn’t seem to do much good, so we went with the Charlie Chaplin approach (in The Great Dictator). Big shout out to Kendra Morris for making it such a visual feast.” MY TWO CENTS: I generally keep track of all things from the Yep Roc label, so I’m not sure this droll, Randy Newmanesque political gem from singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet slipped past me. But hey, better late than never. The stop-motion video is a prefect touch.
Church Girls | The Haunt
THE PRESS RELEASE: “The narrator of The Haunt is a contemptuous alcoholic,” says Mariel Beaumont of Church Girls. “I was reading Notes from Underground by Dostoyevsky at the time, and I liked the idea of exploring the self-loathing in excess and isolation.The post-punk aggression of The Haunt combined with Beaumont’s undying ploy to “pour gasoline and burn everything in our wake (in order to rise from the ashes)” foster controlled anger in the name of sapping the noxious and unwelcome return of addiction. The title track’s bruising rhythms and arresting guitar melodies catapult Beaumont’s vocals to the edge of the album’s wry, indelible refrain: “I’m so sick of shoving dirt in a bottomless pit.” MY TWO CENTS: It reminds me a bit of Juliana Hatfield when she’s angry. I like her when she’s angry.
Cornershop | St Marie Under Canon
THE PRESS RELEASE: “As a garden gate to the album, St Marie Under Canon starts the walk sounding upbeat in nature, and gracious in chorus, praising St Marie for all of our battles that she has overseen and adjudicated, ending with the modern day warfare of the public address sound system: amplifier, echo chamber, microphone and speaker. Music through the sound system is the weapon (or should be). Taken from the forthcoming Cornershop LP England is a Garden. MY TWO CENTS: I had no idea these guys were still around. I’m glad to hear they are — and to hear this spry number, which sounds like one of the better songs that Nick Lowe never wrote. Get out your roller skates.
Cosculluela | Un AK
MY TWO CENTS: Another international entry, this time from Puerto Rican singer-songwriter José Fernando Cosculluela Suárez. Based on the title and the few lyrics I can grasp, it sounds like an ode to gun violence, though I could be missing something in the translation. What nobody should miss: The song’s irresistible groove and entertaining video full of sombrero-clad mariachis and wrestling-masked dancers.
David Shaw and The Beat | Nuclear Bomb
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Born and raised in Manchester, David Shaw is based in France. His cultural duality has had a profound influence on his music, and allowed him to create an original identity somewhere between techno and indie — he never wanted to choose between guitars and machines.” MY TWO CENTS: This low-key chugger from his just-released EP Love Songs With a Kick Vol. One splits the diff between pop, new wave, glam and more. I don’t know about the rest of the EP, but this song’s a keeper.
Declan McKenna | Beautiful Faces
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Declan McKenna’s second album Zeros will be released on May 15. McKenna shares: “Beautiful Faces is about young people in the modern world and how intimidating it can be. How scary it is to see so much and feel as though you’re doing so little, so I wanted it to be a big song… Scary big. It very much relates to now, but I wanted to reimagine social media in this future-sphere where it has become even more immersive so that we cannot see where it ends, and we begin. It’s a song about aesthetic beauty – literal beauty- but also the false power we give to people and relinquish from ourselves. It’s purposefully vague because we will project our own anxieties onto it, in the same way that we allow these vapid exchanges with one another to metamorphose into monsters that don’t actually exist, but to us they actually do.” MY TWO CENTS: This young Londoner seems poised for bigness. If he can keep delivering songs like this cross between Ray Davies and David Bowie, he just might get it. And deserve it.