Cash Savage channels the hurt of last year into powerful art

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‘Better Than That’ is one of the best songs of the week.

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Cash Savage & the Last Drinks – ‘Better Than That’

So much music is written direct from the heart, and no one’s emotional expression is any more or less valid than another’s.

But some songs just hit that little bit harder. They show an artist who is opening up a little bit of themselves that they don’t really want to, but they know they need to.

The marriage equality survey hurt a lot of people in the LGBTQI community deeply, and Cash Savage was one of those people. In ‘Better Than That’, the first single from the forthcoming Cash Savage & The Last Drinks album Good Citizens, she tells us how. And she does it with such strength and vulnerability that it’ll take a cold heart not to appreciate it.

There’s no specifics, there don’t need to be. The discussion around people’s lives was so widespread that its vagueness will allow others in a similar position to share in Savage’s devastation.

I’m done trying to word this so you don’t feel bad,’ she sings in the opening verse.

There's a lot of people out there thinking I'm up for discussion,’ she offers later.

Throughout the song is a simple refrain, ‘Your questions hurt’.

It’s stark, simple and something that everyone should hear, regardless of your politics.

Dr Octagon – ‘Flying Waterbed’

Dr Octagon is the persona Kool Keith established in the mid-90s, but his acclaimed music is as much the handiwork of Dan the Automator and DJ Qbert behind the scenes. The three reconvene for the first time in 12 years for their fourth album Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation and ‘Flying Waterbed’ is an indication of the subdued brilliance they can bring when they tame themselves down a bit.

LUMP – ‘Curse Of The Contemporaries’

Recognise that voice? Of course you do, it’s Laura Marling! She has teamed up with Tuung’s Mike Lindsay for this beautiful exploration into the psychedelic side of sweet and smooth pop music. Marling’s development across six albums and ten years has been a joy to experience and LUMP sounds like it’ll be yet another chapter in an already brilliant tome of work. Their debut album will be out on Friday 1 June.

Westerman – ‘Confirmation’

It’s hard to know whether London’s Westerman is deliberately mining the best of 70s and 80s soft rock for his delivery on ‘Confirmation’, but he’s doing a damn fine job of it. The production is so understatedly off-the-wall that it never would’ve held up on AM radio back then, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t sound bloody stunning now. It’s just really clever, beautiful pop music.

Eels – ‘Today's The Day’

Eels new single ‘Today’s The Day’ would have been a very different song. The lyrics, in which E opines that everything he once thought was wrong, could have come across as super depressing. But, thanks to the super chirpy music he’s set it to, it feels more like an exciting song of reinvention. Yes, he was wrong, but now he’s gonna be right. Everything will be okay. Damn, E. Never change. Huge shout out to Mike ‘The Spoonman’ Mitchell for his brilliant work in the film clip too.

Kimbra – ‘Human’

Kimbra constantly reminds us that she’s one of the most interesting pop artists on the planet and ‘Human’ will take her one step closer to having the entire planet recognising that very fact. The way she takes left-of-centre, complex musical ideas and frames them in a pop context never fails to astound us. Her new record Primal Heart is finally coming out this week and we couldn’t be more ready for it.

No Mono – ‘Tidal Fight’

Tom Iansek (Big Scary, #1 Dads) teams up with Tom Snowden for this new project No Mono. ‘Tidal Fight’ suggests this will be yet another triumph for an artist who’s kicked so many goals over the years, its woozy, gloriously layered production and Snowden’s beautiful, fractured, fragile vocal making this a truly interesting piece of modern atmospheric pop. Their debut record Islands (Part 1) is out next month.

Missy Higgins – ‘Cemetery’

A darker, bolder new cut from Missy Higgins’ forthcoming Solastalgia record, which is out at the end of the month. It’s one of her slickest pop moments yet, and a good example that she can stay relevant years after she first broke out. And, of course, it’s as thoughtful as always.

Harts – ‘21&19’

We’re not sure how long Harts will be Harts, if his recent comments are anything to go by. For now, he’s still around and making solid music and ‘21&19’ is proof of that. If he really does want to get away from the Prince comparisons, he’s going the wrong way about it. This slinky pop-funk sounds exactly like something from the Prince playbook and his voice almost sounds like it’s emulating the great man. That’s not a bad thing – in fact, it’s astounding how well Harts can pull it off – but you gotta own it.

Middle Kids – ‘On My Knees’

Seriously, Middle Kids don’t know how to write a bad song. ‘On My Knees’ is the latest single from the band’s debut album Lost Friends, which is shaping up to be one of the records of the year before its even released. Hannah Joy’s voice is a delight, as always, and the band break out with a little more aggression than you might be used to, but they do it with the kind of utter proficiency that is standard for their work. The album is out next month; get ready.

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