On The Radar makes a return this week with a bag so mixed that you probably won’t be able to find your keys by the time Hannah Peel sings us out. Such are the joys of musical times when anyone and everyone can have a say and a play. As always, OTR covers big and small names alike, taking in everything from folk to house to, um, FTSE, who steals the crown in this round for the song that walks the line between unequivocal genius and quite the opposite. By virtue of being able to walk that line at all, ‘Brits Abroad’, of course, falls on the right side of it. Playing it safer but no less successfully are Darwin Deez and The Maccabees with album tantalisers apiece, and also gracing this week’s collection is my new obsession Raury, whose rap at 3:01 of ‘Devil’s Whisper’ is a dead cert for the best of the year.
Maccabees, spin it.
The Maccabees – Something Like Happiness
‘Something Like Happiness’ follows the brilliant ‘Marks To Prove it’ in promoting fourth album Marks To Prove It before it drops at the end of the month, and it does a decent enough job whilst lacking the punch and pace of its predecessor. Marks is looking to be the game-changing album for the five south Londoners, with a more potent sense of vision spanning the two released singles and a renewed vigour to their live sets; the surprise late night slot at The Great Escape in May put a slick stamp back on Britain’s live rock scene. There’s an emotive shamelessness on ‘Something Like Happiness’ which is refreshing as hell from a band who sometimes comes across as over-concerned with ideas in place of emotions, and there’s almost an essence of big-band to the swinging grandeur of the chorus line. Exciting time to be a Maccabees fan.
Raury – Devil’s Whisper
Where do I start. ‘Devil’s Whisper’ is everything you could hope to find: fresh, fun, with meaning and feeling. Acoustic hand-claps and harmonies layered over an industrial synth. A barking dog. The best rap of the last 12 months. All thrown together and artfully frayed at the edges by a nineteen year old. Raury’s name has been floating around for a while, ever since ‘Devil’s’ sister song ‘God’s Whisper’ and six song EP Indigo Child caught attention of the big guns (including Kanye) back in March, but with this latest release he’s undisputedly landed. He’s doing everything that Childish Gambino and Kendrick are doing, and he’s even easier to believe in. He’s been called a troubadour, and it fits. Now all we can do is wait.
Darwin Deez – Time Machine
You generally know what you’re getting with Darwin Deez, and ‘Time Machine’ isn’t really an exception. Chirpy, well-meaning indie pop has seen Darwin Smith and the squad through from ‘Radar Detector’ to ‘Free’, with varying degrees of guitar distortion and a basket of percussion instruments being used to go wild and shake things up. ‘Time Machine’ actually sounds unnervingly like ‘Free’, but it’s hard to gripe about repetition of an entirely pleasant formula that doesn’t claim to be up to much else. Third album Double Down drops in September. Listen to the previous two to see you through to then. Or just listen to them instead altogether.
FTSE – Brits Abroad
FTSE channels the tone of The Streets and the commentary of Scroobius Pip into this barmy, brilliant three minutes of shot and piss-taking. ‘It’s mating season, single out your victim, prove that I am more masculine than him’ is subject to the kind of deadpan delivery that crops up time and time again in our best social commentators, from Will Varley to Sleaford Mods to Billy Bragg to Beans On Toast. Perhaps ‘Brits Abroad’ isn’t the ideal way to introduce FTSE, whose craft also benefits from a plentiful injection of subtlety on actual lead single ‘Blood On My Hands’, that features a Lily Allen-esque vocal spot and some more clever lyricism . ‘Brits’ was released just a few days ago, perhaps as a counterpoint to the polish of its counterpart that debuted on Vevo. Both songs are off of the upcoming debut Joyless dropping in August, leaving time for hype to build around FTSE’s (Sam Manville’s) promising project.
Hannah Peel – Heaven, How Long
Hannah Peel’s impeccable music-box covers of East India Youth caught William Doyle’s eye on YouTube and won her a support slot with the man himself. I had the pleasure of getting to grips with her enigmatic, schizophrenic work at their Deaf Institute show earlier this year, where Peel exhibited much of her upcoming mini album Rebox II, released 24th July. On it she yoyos between tender vocalisations of Doyle’s and others’ material – including an incredible cover of Wild Beasts’ ‘Palace’ – set over stripped-back acoustic compositions, and the kind of industrial, swelling emotronic art that Doyle himself creates. She’s mysterious and talented in the extreme, and as such would benefit from a far neater, more cohesive presentation of her artistry and name – she’s almost too hard to pin down. With better projection, she could be huge.
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