Listening Post: 24th 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.
By now, you’ll have heard enough of Muncie Girls’ debut album to start counting down the days to its release (as of today, we make it 39). From the clenched fist stomp of ‘Gone With The Wind’ to the fuzzy defiance of ‘Gas Mark 4’, the band are gathering expectation and excitement like a runaway snowball hurtling down a very snowy mountainside. Or something.
The band are attracting expectant eyes and ears with nothing more than their music and for very good reason. It’s incredible. With ‘Balloon’, the third track to be released proper from ‘From Caplan To Belsize’, Muncie Girls take all that charming buoyancy and float away with it.
More deliberate and arching than anything the band has put their name to yet, ‘Balloon’ sees Muncie Girls expand on their punk thrash. Instead of looking out at the world around them and wanting change, this time around the group are more insular and hopeful.
“Maybe it’ll happen sometime. Maybe it’ll soon,” offers vocalist Lande Hekt, “All the sun will take away the grey and you’ll float away, like a little red balloon,” she continues, reassuring the audience at the same time as herself.
More poetry than social commentary, the track moves Muncie Girls outside their comfort zone and towards grander horizons. And they relish this new space. However, it’s not all change as their hard-fought voice and whispered hopes of making a difference are proudly embedded into every swelling melody and stylish refrain.
Comfortable enough to toy with texture, ‘Balloons’ never stops dancing on the breeze. Unpredictable, surprising but oh-so natural, it would be all too easy to let the track get away from them but under Muncie Girls’ determined grip, its want for freedom is channeled into something beautiful. You can keep 98 red balloons ‘cos we only want this one.
“I’m a bit too pop for the punk kids but I’m too punk for the pop kids. I don’t know just where I fit in,” starts The Summer Set’s ‘Figure Me Out’.
Ignoring pop-punk, it’s this search for belonging that sparks the fiery admission that is the heart of this track. Part ‘November Rain’, part One Direction, ‘Figure Me Out’ is rebellious and glorious.
The Tony Hawks Pro Skater politics of ‘Buszy’ sees Hacktivist taking on ‘The Man’ over the closure of community projects near their hometown.
On paper, it sounds like the margin doodles of a disgruntled six former but reality is where Hacktivist shine. Throbbing and vicious, the track is a marching call to arms of self-belief and determination and, revealed alongside the details of their debut album, is proof that this really is “just the start” for the band’s attack.
‘Slug’, the first track from Petrol Girls’ ‘Some Thing’ EP, doesn’t hang about. Flying out with a visceral welcome, the track soon settles down into a hushed warning as the band, kicking and screaming, lay out their plans for attack.
Nestled in the beating heart of the track sits a massive hook that is presented and pulled away as Petrol Girls move onto other ideas. Fluid and progressive, ‘Slug’ starts with a purpose and spends the next three and a half minutes expanding on it.
Fiery and aggressive yet with a playful sense of melody, the band knows the world is going to hell. That doesn’t mean they’re letting it take ’em down with it.
The second official cut from Brian Fallon’s solo project is soaked in Americana nostalgia but did we really expect anything else?
Throughout The Gaslight Anthem’s career, Brian has proved time and time again just how brilliant a songwriter he is and, away from the band expectations, ‘Nobody Wins’ allows him to fully exploit that. From the “new waves and old stones” to the choral “hallelujah”, the track is a determined in its single-minded desire. Warm and hinting at a history that it never fully discloses, ‘Nobody Wins’ sees the comfortable return of an old friend.
Iggy Pop. Josh Homme. Matt ‘T-Shirt’ Helders. As supergroups go, this one ticks all the boxes. More than a vanity project or the desire for names up in light, ‘Gardenia’ sees the group come together in wonderfully balanced chemistry.
Searching and wistful, the first track from ‘Post Pop Depression’ is both tentative and utterly compelling. Iggy Pop’s honey soaked vocals are the perfect match for Josh Homme’s soulful guitar flourishes as the pair, forming the nucleus of the band, bounces off one another. It’s this magnetic push and pull that drives ‘Gardenia’ forward into the spotlight.