The Living End play it straight on their mighty return single
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The Living End – ‘Don't Lose It’
The boys are back in town. The Living End return with one of their most direct rockers in years. It’s a straightforward mash-up of Aussie pub rock and late-90s/early 2000s post-hardcore/pop punk that feels kinda perfect for The Living End at this stage of their career. Of course it sounds like a million bucks, their records always do, but there’s a joyous simplicity here that makes it all feel unpretentious and, frankly, just heaps of fun. No details yet, but you can be sure they’ll have a new record and Australian tour before long.
Annie Hamilton – ‘Fade’
Annie Hamilton opens ‘Fade’ with a precious, slightly weary vocal, but when the music behind her starts to soar, so does she. Double-tracked vocals and a simple earworm of a melody are all that’s required to make this song punch you straight in the chest, though the enormous post rock behind her doesn’t hurt either. This is nourishing, life-affirming music and we cannot wait to hear more.
Black Thought – ‘Twofifteen’
You don’t spend 30 years out the front of one of the best hip hop groups of all time without knowing precisely what is needed in the scene at large.
Black Thought might be something of an elder statesman in the genre now, but listen to ‘Twofifteen’ and tell me that it’s not one of the most vital pieces of hip hop you’ve heard all year. He goes hard on this track, as is his wont, and doesn’t mess with anything too complex production-wise. It’s all about the message, and we’re so lucky that Black Thought continues to preach.
Death Cab For Cutie – ‘Gold Rush’
Given their history, and the huge impact they have had, Death Cab For Cutie are always going to remind us of a certain time. That glorious early 2000s period where the band were practically writing the soundtrack to teenage heartbreak and discovery. While that time has passed, Ben Gibbard’s voice still brings us back there.
The fact they’re still writing songs that echo the era is testament to their trustiness – they might not ever be as big as they once were, but we’ll always be glad to hear from them. Album number nine (!), Thank You For Today, will be out in August.
Freya – ‘Cohabitation’
Death Cab For Cutie’s best days might be behind them, but Freya’s are still ahead of her. After last year’s astounding single ‘Nineteen Hours’, she has now delivered an album, The Fifth, that is as considered and emotionally astute as we could have hoped.
‘Cohabitation’ borrows heavily from the likes of DCFC and their many peers. In sound, a song like ‘Cohabitation’ is like a kind of tribute to that era of indie/emo greatness. But it’s more vital than that. Freya offers us a take on nostalgia and yearning that’s both poetic and deeply relatable. And she knows how to write a hell of a melody.
Emma Louise – ‘Wish You Well’
I’d have loved to be in the room when Emma Louise told everyone that she wanted to pitch down the vocals on her new album. I’d have loved to see the instant reaction from whoever was around. The incredulity. The unsureness as to whether this was a joke. The terror. Because if people weren’t questioning her about this decision then that’s poor communication. What a wild idea.
What a genius idea.
Genius doesn’t have to be complex. If its inspired in the right way, genius can be starkly simple. The kind of alien quality that this vocal manipulation gives Emma Louise’s voice takes it from being a sweet and maudlin ballad to something with such strange emotional resonance that it’s hard to understand exactly how you feel about it at first. That’s what makes it completely brilliant; it’s unavoidable, it forces you to interact with its restrained beauty.
It will be exciting to hear how this plays out on her latest album Lilac Everything; A Project By Emma Louise. We will find out on Friday 14 September.
Nao – ‘Another Lifetime’
I’ll maintain that Nao’s ‘Nostalgia’ was one of the best songs of 2017 and that it was criminally underrated. You can’t compare that song to Nao’s new single ‘Another Lifetime’, they’re too different. The former looked back, this one looks forward – but both do their job brilliantly. This is the kinda future soul that Prince laid the foundation for. At a time where so many artists are doing a similar thing really, really well, it’s fantastic to hear that Nao can still stand out.
Chromeo – ‘Just Friends’ (ft. Amber Mark)
Canadian party masters Chromeo team up with serial collaborator Amber Mark for a slick cut of flawless electro funk that sounds pretty much exactly like everything else Chromeo have ever done. No complaints here. This music won’t change the world but, damn, it should make you feel good. The band will be in Australia next month for Splendour and sideshows. Pack your dancing shoes.
The Tallest Man On Earth – ‘Forever Is A Very Long Time’
Swedish folk hero The Tallest Man On Earth toys with mariachi on stunning new single ‘Forever Is A Very Long Time’. It’s a really clever direction for Kristian Matsson, it is a perfect fit for his beautiful voice and his always deeply poetic lyrics and rhythmic delivery. People are probably always going to compare him to Dylan and the likes, which is surely not a problem, but it’s nice to hear a refreshed sound from this always pleasing artist.
Darren Middleton – ‘Just Let Me Go’
Powderfinger guitarist Darren Middleton has teamed up with Davey Lane for his third solo album Tides and ‘Just Let Me Go’ suggests the two artists are a pretty damn good match. It’s a taut, snappy piece of slick indie rock that pulls together an assortment of luscious sounds – everything here sounds immaculate.
He’s also brought the inimitable Vika and Linda Bull in to help out on this track and seeing as they’ve literally never done anything short of fantastic, it’s no surprise that their subtle touches here elevate the song further. Tides will be out on Friday 21 September.