Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

Idles frontman Joe Talbot (left) [AFP via Getty Images]; Queen in concert (right) [People Disc – HU0463 (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Green Day released a new song this week and I just want to know: Why do 90% of bands turn 40 and forget how to make interesting music (they’re actually pushing 50 now, but things have been rough for a while).

I’m in the minority, but I don’t think that’s what happened with Queen, the band behind my favorite old track of the week- more on that later. And hopefully it doesn’t happen to Idles, the minds behind my favorite new track of the week. As always, honorable mentions for the latter first:

serpentwithfeet released “Deacon’s Grove”, an EP that basically functions as a deluxe edition to “Deacon”, his sophomore album that came out earlier this year. “Down Nuh River”, is here, along with variations on tracks from the original album. The only other new song is “Shoot Ya Shot”, a tender but raunchy ballad that actually sounds a bit more like serpentwithfeet’s debut album “soil”.

The hook is trash, but it’s cool to hear Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Benny the Butcher, and Jadakiss all kinda trying on new posse cut “Murder Music”. Worth a listen for the novelty if nothing else.

Valentine”, Snail Mail’s new album kind of disappointed me. It’s definitely not bad, but singles like “Ben Franklin” and “Madonna” gave the impression this record would be a lot more adventurous than her debut record “Lush”. That wasn’t the case. “Mia” is still a very strong closer to a solid indie record, and “Forever (Sailing)” is Snail Mail doing her best Portishead impression, which oddly works really well.

One of my- and I’d guess a lot of other people’s- most anticipated albums finally dropped today: “An Evening with Silk Sonic”, the first full length release from the pairing of Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak, is here at last after an unexpectedly enigmatic album rollout. Before the LP dropped, we got one last teaser though, the hilarious “Smokin Out the Window”. Previous single “Skate” didn’t hold up to repeated listens for me, but this was very nearly my favorite new track of the week and I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the record.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “Car Crash” by Idles

My actual favorite new track of the week is another final single released last Friday prior to the full project dropping today: “Car Crash” by Idles.

It’s a weird comparison, but this single really reminds me of a Brockhampton song. The booming, abrasive drums; the wailing guitars at the end; the spacey production; Joe Talbot’s growl here isn’t that far off from the infamous ‘Brockhampton flow’ used so much on the “Saturation” trilogy. It totally sounds like “HEAT”.

And that’s not to criticize the band, or cry plagiarism. The instrumental here is a lot more dynamic and analog, despite delivering the same harrowing energy as “HEAT”. I’m just once again super excited to hear Idles trying out such a different sound to what they’ve released on their last 3 records. The band has never been formulaic by any means- each of their past albums sound distinct from one another. They all fall within the same vein of relatively conventional punk & post-punk though. Far from experimental.

“Crawler”, the bands fourth studio album was released today and if the singles are any indication, Idles is ready to start pushing some boundaries without alienating the fan base they’ve built over the last four years. I love talented songwriters trying new things, I love this song, and I hope I love “Crawler”.

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “Cool Cat” by Queen

I’ve recently started hanging out with someone who insists the highest compliment you can give someone is calling them a “cool cat”.

It’s 2021. This person is wrong. Very Wrong. Dead wrong. I cannot stress how wrong this person is.

However… if Freddie Mercury called me a cool cat, whether it was in 2021 or 1982- when this song came out- I’d probably be ok with it. It’s Freddie Mercury.

“Cool Cat” was the pseudo-closer of “Hot Space”, Queen’s much maligned dance/pop album (“Under Pressure” had been out for over a year but was included as the last track of the album). The LP has gone down in history as a horrible left-turn for the legendary rock outfit- I think this is a “humans just hate change” moment. It’s is not on par with the classics that preceded it, but “Hot Space” is better than a lot of records of a similar vein, simply because the incredible talent of the quartet shines through some pedestrian songwriting.

It’s refreshing if anything to hear the typically bombastic, flamboyant Queen doing a lowkey jam song. Freddie’s smooth falsetto is gripping without undermining the breezy energy. The guitar lick and bassline- admittedly a bit by the numbers- bounce off of each other to make for a nice, danceable rhythm. The song is definitely missing an improvisational section or a solo following the bridge- the criminally underrated Brian May once again gets overlooked. John Deacon throws in some slaps here and there to keep things from getting too mechanical though.

If a chunk of Queen’s music is destined to be largely forgotten like any artist’s work usually is, then the records that came after 1982 are probably the ones that should fade from memory. But with this much talent in one band, there are bound to be gems, and “Cool Cat”, at least for me, is one of them.

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