There’s some great tracks and one not so good.
Second week back and our singles column fires up again with spots for Bad Bangs, Weezer, Flying Lotus and What So Not. We’ll let you decide which artists are looked favourably upon and which ones aren’t.
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Bad Bangs – ‘Sweet Thing’
There’s something fascinating about seeing a band like Bad Bangs shape its stylistic identity. The Melbourne foursome aren’t attempting to break new ground within the rock format – ‘Sweet Thing’ is lo-fi in a purposively retro way, making reference to ‘60s garage rock and ‘70s roots rock – but Bad Bangs’ throwback tendency shouldn’t preclude the expression of a unique voice.
And indeed, ‘Sweet Thing’ is Bad Bangs’ strongest release to date, which could be due to the band getting better acquainted with their chosen genre tropes or because of a growth in their songwriting and artistic vision. Perhaps neither inquiry is of particular interest to the band members, but the pleasures of ‘Sweet Thing’ – particularly the capital “R” rock eruption of its second half – bode well for the band’s future.
Weezer – ‘I Need Some of That’
I’m not supposed to love this song, am I? Like, genuinely love it and be still thinking about it many years down the track because of how it changed my perspective and encouraged me to shed my inhibitions and chase my dreams? No, I don’t think so.
Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo most likely coughs up infectious vocal melodies between spoonfuls of cornflakes and he’s got an academic ability to infuse motifs from his favourite genres of yesteryear. Here, it’s a whole lot of power pop and ‘80s glam a la Cheap Trick and Van Halen (the latter is a given seeing as ‘I Need Some of That’ is taken from the band’s upcoming Van Weezer record).
But as for having something to say – something that might make listeners feel they “can be anything [they] want” as the lyrics of ‘I Need Some of That’ describe – Cuomo seems to have abandoned that pursuit many pastel moons ago.
Flying Lotus feat. Thundercat – ‘Black Gold’
Flying Lotus and Thundercat making music for an Afro-centric anime series? Fuck yes. ‘Black Gold’ is the opening theme for the Netflix series Yasuke and it’s a terrific piece of spectral pop music, albeit criminally short at just 90 seconds long.
FlyLo’s spasmodic production impulses can make listening to his music an occasionally tormenting phenomenon. But what each of the LA producer’s six albums affirm is that he not only possesses near-unparalleled versatility, but he’s also a voracious absorber of sounds from all over the stylistic spectrum.
The wild and disorienting tempo switches and electrojazz psych outs of his main gig are benched here in favour of something more measured and melodic. ‘Black Gold’ is all paddy synths, roomy drums and features a positively charmed vocal performance from Thundercat, who’s no stranger to sexifying the sort of smooth sounds your dad might like.
I don’t hate it
What So Not feat. DMA’S – ‘The Change’
Expecting to hate something is a pretty unfair attitude to bring into any first listen, but this collaboration between EDM/bass music dude What So Not and Britpop revivalists DMA’S really isn’t so bad. That said, while ‘The Change’ is pleasantly melodic and propped up by a groove that’s somewhere between Ultra Miami and the Hacienda, it winds up feeling like less than the sum of its parts.
If we’re to find a Cool Britannia analogue for everything DMA’S do, it feels uncontroversial to suggest ‘The Change’ won’t match the cultural impact of Noel Gallagher’s Chemical Brothers collaboration, ‘Let Forever Be’. That’s chiefly due to Tommy O’Dell’s vocals sounding oddly kid-like, despite a number of interesting melodic ideas. But hey, I don’t hate it.
Keen on another fun read? Check out the latest instalment of our indie artists column.