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Listening Post: 31st January 2016

Between bubblewrap and the never-ending torrent of new music, it’s tough to keep up with what you should be listening to. Luckily, we’ve collected the very best tracks from the past seven days (you can picture us using a butterfly net if you *really* want) and displayed them in one handy location. Sit back, turn the volume up and delve into this Week’s Strongest tracks.

Drive North

SWMRS know a thing or two about escape and debut album ‘Drive North’ is their getaway vehicle. Following on from the wistful observational of ‘Miley’ and the trial by fire ‘Figuring It Out’ comes a track with single-minded determination.

‘Drive North’ sways from side to side with threatening menace as the bullet-point vocals snarl an in-depth list of why Los Angeles sucks. As the weight of their argument grows, so does their determination to tear it all apart. Two minutes into the track and SWMRS are on their knees, screaming at the sky. We end with the shotgun instruction to “drive north” hammered out over and over, as the band smash the room, destroy the recordings and yell “fuck you” at anyone left listening.

It’s brash, bratty and teeters on the edge of self-destruction but SWMRS take that venom and make it gold. On the surface “Drive North” is simply a vessel for West-Coast frustrations but there are bigger horizons at play here. The track isn’t geographically restricted, instead it see the band offering vicious encouragement to escape the shadows of whatever is hanging over you.

This is SWMRS pulling up outside. Get in the car, buckle up, don’t look back and let’s drive north.

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British Theatre

British Theatre’s Mike Vennart and Gambler have been making music together for a bloody long time yet with ‘Newman’, they still find new spaces to explore. Busy but never overcrowded, you can almost hear the band seeing just how far they can go, whether it’s the erratic chiming breakdowns or the arching vocal promise.

Jagged, twitching and daring, the pair take their collected comfort and electrify it.

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This lot don’t mess around, do they?

There’s been a keen sense of intrigue around PUP ever since they started dropping hints on social media that they were cooking something up. When we spoke to them back in November, they were keeping their cards pretty close to their chest regarding the new album. Now though, with the release of ‘DVP’, their first newly released song in almost two years, we know all we need to at this point: That this next PUP record is shaping up to be bloody brilliant.

Now, while this might disqualify this as a true ‘First Take’, it should be noted that PUP have been playing ‘DVP’ live for a while now – since 2014, in fact – and, if their set at The Fest back in November is anything to go by, it’s been going down a treat. The reason for that lies in it’s familiarity. PUP’s 2013 self-titled record was about as perfect as a debut can hope to be and ‘DVP’ would fit in pretty comfortably on that and while this isn’t a statement to make lightly, it’d place itself as one of the best tracks on that album, too.

On that record, PUP placed themselves at the top of the pile when it comes to catchy, uptempo punk and this track sees them cementing that spot. The tremolo picked lead line that opens the track is an instant hook, one used to devastating effect both as a guitar line and even more so as vocal melody over following the two and a half minutes. The only thing that could this particular set of ‘woah-ohs’ any better would be hearing a huge crowd signing along to them and since huge crowds are undoubtedly PUP’s destiny, we’re in for a treat.

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Sell My Head

Fuzzy and up-tempo, the latest track from Tancred cuts sugary sweet vocals and bouncing refrain with an unsettling narrative. Buoyant and aggressive without being overbearing, ‘Sell My Head’ cuts a swathe under strong presence and a stronger sense of self.

Black Peaks
Set In Stone

You knew Black Peaks write big rock songs, right? Good. We’re all on the same page.

‘Set In Stone’ is only the fourth track the band have ever released (which seems crazy but we’ve checked using a little industry secret called Google) but it already shows the band refining, polishing and expanding their soaring craft.

Starting with a shimmer of crooning melody, it doesn’t take long for the band to explode. Again and again, their four-sided assault sweeps and surprises with an intelligent colour. This is a band that know exactly where the pressure points are and charge accordingly. For all the stifling noise and grand movements, ‘Set In Stone’ cherishes that opening moment of calm, carrying it through the track and allowing it – and the listener- room to breathe.

It’s this ability to take a step back that sees Black Peaks driving forward. They know the riffs are crushing, the vocals are devastating and that everything comes together with a refined poise so there’s never a temptation to show off. Indulgence-free yet balancing big shapes, ‘Set In Stone’ sees Black Peaks at their most flexible.