Favorite New & Old Tracks of the Week

Benee (left0 [photo by Imogen Wilson/Supplied]; Tame Impala (right) [photo by Ellen Qbertplaya for BrooklynVegan]

I’ve been back in Melbourne for a visit this week. I always say to people that when you live in London it’s good to get out of the city for at least a day every 3 months or so. London can be so all encompassing, it’s easy to forget the rest of the world is out there.

Well outside of a random 3 hour stint in Guildford, I haven’t been out of London since I moved back. Safe to say this was a much needed break. Place is important – more on that later.

Fittingly for my visit we have an all ANZ FN&OTOW. Honorable mentions for my favorite new track of the week first, as always.

Florence + the Machine announced their new album “Dance Fever” will be out in May, releasing a couple more teasers at the same time. At just under 2 minutes, “Heaven is Here” feels more like an interlude than a proper single – it’s a great 2 minutes though. It sounds like a ceremonial war chant, full of stompy percussion, and shouted back-up vocals. “My Love”, true to the album title, is a full-on dance track – it’s ok, unsurprisingly a bit of an awkward fit. Looking forward to the full LP and more singles in the meantime.

I’m not sure if I love “Driponomics”, a new Soul Glo song featuring Mother Maryrose, or if I think it’s absolute trash. It kinda falls into that weird hole of music that I think I enjoy but I know plays to the basest listening urges of western music (100 gecs are the mayors of this hole). Not sure what to call it, but whatever it is, it’s something – give it a listen.

“Poster Child” is vintage Red Hot Chili Peppers. Funky beat, cheeky performance from Anthony Kiedis. It goes on for a minute, maybe even 2 minutes too long though. Once you’ve heard the first ninety seconds you’ve heard the song. I still like it a lot more than “Black Summer”.

The Weather Station’s new album “How Is It That I Should Look At the Stars” is a big departure from the folk-pop project’s last couple records. Almost the entire album is stripped down to just piano & Tamara Lindemann’s soft voice, with some light accompaniment from strings or woodwinds peppered here and there. The lack of variety is a big risk, and I think it was one worth taking. Full of midtempo ballads, the album moves at the perfect pace to keep from getting bogged down without betraying the intended intimacy of the LP. “Song” and the closer “Loving You” were the highlights, but definitely listen to this one in full.

Favorite New Track of the Week: “Never Ending” by Benee

Benee’s new EP “Lychee” is quietly the most ambitious project she’s released.

 “hey u x”, her debut album from last year, blended plenty of genres with splashes of bedroom pop, hyperpop, hip-hop, and even indie rock. There’s all of that and even more on “Lychee”.

The lazy guitar on single & opening track “Beach Boy” had me hoping for a more guitar centric 2nd album from Benee. There’s plenty of guitar, but that is not “Lychee”. Benee’s vocals are autotuned on the next track “Soft Side” as she croons over house drums. The song with the most prominent guitar “Hurt You, Gus” is actually the lowlight of the EP.

“Marry Myself” is a self-love bop, playful and sunny kind of like “Kool” from her debut, despite polar opposite subject matter. The sleepy “Doesn’t Matter” which I thought was alright when it first came out in November, sounds dull with all the energy on the rest of the tracklist.

The closer “Make You Sick” and “Never Ending”, my favorite track on the EP and of the week are where Benee really throws the kitchen sink at you. “Never Ending” opens with a downtrodden lead guitar line and drumbeat, before Benee starts to sing with echoey effected vocals. There’s a couple Radiohead “Creep”-esque guitar scratches before the chorus drops into a full-on trap beat, eventually leading up the guitars & trap high hats all trying to come together in a outro that almost works.

If you can get past the first 3 minutes of “Make You Sick”, it eventually becomes a satisfyingly closer, with the dance & hyperpop elements of the song taking some time to develop into a good mix.

“Lychee” tries to do a lot across 7 tracks, and in some cases on just one song. It’s a turbulent ride, but I think Benee manages to land the plane

Favorite Old Track of the Week: “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” by Tame Impala

Consciously and subconsciously I go back to music I was listening to a lot during my various stints in Australia whenever I come for a visit. Albums like “Mood Valiant”, in constant rotation most of my time living in Melbourne last year, for example.

There’s not many acts that remind me of living in Australia more than Aussie outfit Tame Impala, and there’s not many albums that remind me of going to high school in the Blue Mountains more than “Currents”.

The classic ‘I listen to really underground stuff, like this band Tame Impala’ meme started thanks to “Currents”, which has always been extra ridiculous to me since it was just about the most mainstream album of 2015 for anyone my age in the mountains. “The Less I Know the Better”, “The Moment”, “Let it Happen” and my favorite old track of the week “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” seemed to be on the playlist for every party I went to in year 10 & 11.

Fast forward 5 years, and sitting at dinner one night my Gran asked me if we’d had a high school reunion yet. I hadn’t even realized enough time had passed for that to be thinkable.

I did my last year of high school back in the States, but regardless the idea of a high school reunion at any of the 3 high schools I attended would be weird to me.

For better or worse, it feels so far in the past that it’s not even that I wouldn’t care to see what all of my former classmates are doing now, beyond the breadcrumbs we leave each other on social media. People interest me, their stories from the last half decade would too.

 But people grow and change, especially people who graduated high school almost five years ago. I’m no exception, and while that’s exactly what I’d find fascinating about someone else, it’s an introspective-nostalgia bomb that I just don’t need. That’s what I write these for I guess.

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