A revolving cast of contributors showcase some of the best new music releases from the past week.
Blood Orange - 'Do You See My Skin Through the Flames'
The best music of 2015 can’t be talked about without mention of the events that inspire them. This year we’ve seen a trend of music discussing black identity and issues, and this new track from Blood Orange is a true addition.
The first half is masked by calm synth and wonky bass, but the words offer pieces that do not totally connect until later. The lyrics criticise the appropriation of black culture and the disrespect of Kanye West, a man who can garner massive critical acclaim yet can’t headline Glastonbury without a torrent of unmatched hatred directed at him. A voicemail clip of Talwst, an ethnic Trinidadian-Canadian artist, describes an incident where he was unfairly targeted by French police, and concludes with him telling Dev Hynes he can relate to his own identity struggle.
From there the tone changes dramatically, with Hynes discussing identity over powerful drumming. It’s a change, not just from the first half of the song but also from 2013’s Cupid Delux. Perhaps the situation is now more serious and less distant – thus the lack of Caribbean vibes. More than just being telling, this second half also contains amazing melodies made by mournful vocals.
‘Do You See My Skin Through the Flames?’ is 10 minutes of communication. Dev Hynes has taken the musical communities approach of urgency towards the issues and he’s done so with a variety of music techniques and, most importantly, with heart. – Alex Lyall
Barracks – ‘What You Said’
'What You Said' is the latest single from Bay of Plenty post-hardcore outfit Barracks, off their debut album Ghosts. Tongue-in-cheek music video aside, 'What You Said' delivers a surge of breakneck energy featuring melodic and groovy riffing akin to the likes of bands such as Inhale, Exhale and even in parts, Underoath.
Catchy vocal hooks and consistent tempo changes keep things fresh throughout and really provide you with something you can't help but bump your head along to. The polished production on this track and the album it's from are fantastic. It will be exciting to see them moving forward. – Joshua Thomas
Moses – ‘Opium’
‘Opium’, taken from Moses’ just-released debut EP, is a swirling hazy track which references early 70s art rock with a modern flair. Discordant burrs add unexpected twists, while a leisurely jazzy rhythm gives this song a pleasant drifting ambience. Moses, who are a six-piece, have a musical freshness that’s hypnotic. Comprised of a variety of skilled musicians, the track highlights the dynamic the band have created; merging their distinct talents into a layered, chemistry filled collective. – Elizabeth Beattie
SiR – ‘Right By You’
Even if you’ve never heard of SiR, you’ve probably heard his handiwork. The Inglewood, CA songwriter has worked with the likes of Jill Scott, Melanie Fiona, Robert Glasper, and Bilal, but this July will see him adding the prefix of ‘singer’ to that title with the release of his forthcoming album Seven Sundays. ‘Right By You’, the bittersweet second single off the album, is a thoroughly modern R&B midtempo jam that definitely has a place on your bedroom mix. If the trippy production, airy vocals, and pedigree credits of the first two singles are anything to go by, the album is going to be a strong break from the gate for SiR.
His tone and cadence have echoes of Drake and his ethereal beats recall early material from The Weeknd. So when he sings “I know exactly where this is gonna go / you’re gonna use me / I’m gonna love it”, he could easily be speaking the listener’s mind: You know what you’re in for and it’s damn good. – Sarin Moddle
Demi Lovato – ‘Cool For The Summer’
Every year about this time a new pop banger is released, desperately hoping to become The Summer Anthem. ‘Cool for the Summer’ is Demi Lovato’s attempt at taking that crown, but I think Fetty Wap has already claimed it for 2015.
On ‘Cool for the Summer’, Lovato is more self-assured than we’ve ever heard her, backed up by a thunderous guitar riff and a chorus written for the stadium arenas she now performs in. The song is reminiscent of Teenage Dream-era Katy Perry, from its vocal delivery to its not-so-veiled references to kissing girls. A quick look at the production credits offers an explanation in the form of producer Max Martin, who also writes Perry’s hits.
This Frankenstein of a track has snippets of all of the best pop songs of the last five years, but the lack of originality probably won’t stop it from being played everywhere, or stop me from dancing to it on a Saturday night. – Ellen Falconer
The Chemical Brothers – ‘EML Ritual’
Following the release of two new tracks, The Chemical Brothers are set to release Born in the Echoes, their first studio album since 2010's Further. The latest tease is ‘EML Ritual’, which features the vocal talent of Ali Love, who collaborated with the dance duo in 2007 on their track ‘Do It Again’. ‘EML Ritual’ premiered on BBC Radio 1 earlier in the week and sports a tense and hypnotic momentum-building dance beat. Featuring collaborations with Q-Tip, St. Vincent and Beck, the album looks set to mark the return of The Chemical Brothers in a big way. – Hannah Martin
What's your pick? Tell us about it in the comments section.