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Weekly Listening: Average Rap Band, PJ Harvey, Mermaidens and more

Wednesday 16th March 2016

A showcase of some of the best new music releases from the past week.


Average Rap Band - El Sol

As explained in this perfect summary, the debut album from Average Rap Band (aka Tom Scott and ex-@Peace comrade Lui Tuiasau), was made at a time of indecision, doubt and little else. To quote: “We wanted anti- avant-garde. We wanted to make a song you could listen to without 7 tramadols. Turns out simple is harder than it sounds.” The project, titled El Sol, (“The Sun”) came this past weekend with barely a tweets warning. The outcome? “Ugly tape hiss shit”, which is a half-truth, to say the least. Maybe start with ‘Fly Casual’, ‘Pool Side’ or, if you think you’re ready, ‘Purple Mink Suit Rap’. There’s also a weird Kody Nielson feature near the end which completely rules. Anyway, if apprehensiveness if your thing, then this one is for you. Like any of us have things truly figured out anyway.

PJ Harvey – ‘The Community of Hope’

PJ Harvey’s forthcoming ninth album, and first in five years - The Hope Six Demolition Project – takes its name from Hope VI, the highly criticised plan to transform the worst public housing areas in the US. That the subject matter has set its focus on conflict and controversy is no surprise – Harvey’s made mention of traveling to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington D.C. with the idea of experiencing everything first hand. And while the unspecific first single ‘The Wheel’ loosely took aim at these injustices, ‘The Community of Hope’, which opens the album, is a little more definitive. “They’re gonna build a Walmart here,” she sings repeatedly to close out the song. You won’t have to dig deep to find the message.

Mermaidens – ‘Undergrowth’

This Friday marks the release of the debut album from Wellington trio Mermaidens, a band befittingly described by a co-worker as “a more bogan Warpaint”. And like some of their other desert-rock kin, the band’s latest single ‘Undergrowth’ makes a point of growing more sinister as it goes the distance. Make sure you’ve got it turned all the way up for the last minute.

Bat For Lashes – ‘In God’s House’

After a quick left turn which saw Natasha Khan focus on her hypnotic and seductive side project Sexwitch, the singer has re-emerged with a new Bat For Lashes single, ‘In God’s House’, lifted from her upcoming album, The Bride. Written as a concept album about a woman who takes a honeymoon trip alone after her fiancé is killed on the way to their wedding, this one is expectantly sombre and haunting. Look out for the record this July.

ZAYN – ‘Like I Would’

According to Apple Music, the song titles from ZAYN’s debut are either spelt in all caps or, even worse, given random capitalisation treatment (‘lUcOzAdE’, ‘BoRdErZ’, ‘dRuNk’). That’s not a good sign. But between the sort-of-corny ‘Pillowtalk’ (no, we won’t be following his formatting preferences) and the stripped-back ‘It’s You’, ‘Like You Would’ might make for a real turning point. Well, maybe. It’s hard not to love ZAYN, no matter how bad the songs are. Put it this way: It’s bound to get a lot of play on The Edge. Whether or not that’s your type of thing is, naturally, up to you. Just be happy that the face tattoo turned out to be fake.

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