There have been a lot of singles released recently. Here are a few notable ones.
Courtney Barnett – “Nameless, Faceless”
Australian folk-rock (indie-rock? Who knows or cares) singer/songwriter, Courtney Barnett, ventures back into solo work after her 2017 collaboration with Kurt Vile, entitled Lotta Sea Lice. There are many familiarities with this single, namely the sardonic, sarcastic, almost lazy and apathetic lyrical style, in concordance with easy-to-listen to finger-picked electric guitar and fast-paced verses, but the intro and choruses are something entirely different to the vast majority of Barnett’s oeuvre.
Barnett releases a little more bite than usual. Instead of describing the intricacies of the subrubs of Preston, she releases commentaries such as “I wanna walk through the park in the dark/ Men are scared that women will laugh at them…/Women are scared that men will kill them.” This level of social commentary is something that Barnett has never really been that direct with before, and it is very refreshing to see her address larger societal issues, beyond her kitchen sink realism.
Nameless, Faceless releases in anticipation for her May 18 album, Tell Me How You Really Feel.
Muse – “Thought Contagion”
Now, here’s a tricky one. Muse’s latest single, in anticipation for their TBA album, is on first glance, a horrid one. For familiar fans, it seems to harken more to the delectable, but hollow, electronic influences on The Resistance and the worst parts of glam rock that Muse dedicated large portions to on The Second Law and Drones. There’s the wobbly synth that seems awfully close to a theremin, the Stewart Copeland quick hi-hat hits, and the operatic backing vocals that don’t actually have any lyrics to sing to, just grandiose “Oh”s. Matt Bellamy, primary songwriter, also continues with his odd obsession with government suspicion and brainwashing. I suppose that’s to be expected though, as that’s all he’s been writing about since 2009.
However, on repeat listenings, which become more frequent day-by-day, it’s just a fun song. The nearest Muse songs consist of Madness, Dig Down, Mercy, and Panic Station. It’s easy to say Thought Contagion usurps them all and the glam rock influences, while excessively glitzy, help bring Muse back to their anthemic attitude. Expect to hear this song sometime during the Olympics.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “American Guilt”
U.M.O returns with their first new material of 2018 and boy, is it a banger. The New Zealand band turns its knobs up to 11 on this single, introducing a new type of sonic aggression into their more mellow traditionally electronic indie rock. With American Guilt, they fall out of the early 2010’s Australian psych-rock scene, at least for me, and carve out something more individual and independent of any scene or genre. While American Guilt is still reminiscent of something like Tame Impala’s 2012 song Elephant, it has a much rawer, meatier, visceral sound. Combine this lucid distortion with lyrics like “even the Nazi’s like him” (who could that be?), there’s a fundamental electricity to this record that makes it irresistible.
American Guilt releases in anticipation for U.M.O’s April album entitled Sex & Food.
Albert Hammond, Jr – “Far Away Truths”
Far Away Truths is the Strokes song I’ve wanted since 2011. Albert Hammond Jr, guitarist for the Strokes and son of the original Albert from the Hollies, taps into his inner Is This It soul for a just a great, young, fun song about rebellion, unrequited romance, and the fleeting nature of life.
The guitars are clean and immediately catchy. The drums have that distinct 2001-2003 flavor of simplicity, yet still have an intrinsic sense of angst. However, that’s not to say the song is a just a resuscitation of a passed era. No, the song is immediately modern, with great vocal filtering and fantastic production, and heralds a great era of success for this former second-fiddle.
Far Away Truths releases in anticipation of AHJ’s upcoming 2018 release, Francis Trouble.
By: Jackson Wright