MEET THE TEAM
February 3, 2017
Birmingham's prince of indie, Sam Lambeth, takes a look at the songs that have defined his start to 2017.
THE FLAMING LIPS – The Castle
Back after a lengthy absence, Wayne Coyne and his band of seasoned psychedelic
merchants came back with both bongs blazing. ‘The Castle’ was one of the standout
tracks from new record Oczy Mlody, an ambient lament about a friend’s suicide,
elevated by lush loops and harmonies.
CLOUD NOTHINGS – Internal World
After their 2015 Wavves collaboration No Life for Me, Cloud Nothings have promised
a “poppier” effort for their forthcoming record, due out at the end of this month. It’s a
promise they seem to have stuck to on the evidence of ‘Internal World’, a bullish
rocker with a highly infectious chorus.
THE ORWELLS – Black Francis
After the decadent rock of Disgraceland, The Orwells continue to hone their fried
formula with ‘Black Francis’. Despite the namecheck, it eschews any Pixies-pilfering
screams in favour of their usual brand of sleazy guitar riffs and turbo-charged hooks.
DAVID BOWIE – No Plan
Blackstar may have been his epitaph, but Bowie continues to release songs
posthumously, with the ‘No Plan’ EP dropping earlier this month. Continuing the
expansive sound of his final record, ‘No Plan’ is a downbeat journey through Bowie’s
beliefs and moods.
SLOWDIVE – Star Roving
In an era where music is cyclical, there have been a dozen bands that have
emulated Slowdive’s signature sound. However, one listen to the group’s single ‘Star
Roving’ and it’s soon established there’s nothing quite like the original thing –
powered by echo-riddled melodies, ‘Star Roving’ is a comeback, not a return.
DIET CIG – Tummy Ache
After the sun-drenched shrug of their debut EP, electrifying duo Diet Cig are
prepping their debut album. ‘Tummy Ache’ is the official first taster, a more sombre
and reflective juggernaut that grows and builds as singer Alex Luciano sighs “it’s
hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt.”
THE SHINS – Name for You
Known for their lovingly lop-sided indie rock, The Shins’ add in some lush
embellishments for ‘Name for You’, an idiosyncratic floor filler that sails on the right
side of poppy. Their new album, Heartworms, is their first since 2012’s Port of
MENACE BEACH – Watch Me Boil
January has already spawned a slew of striking records, not least in the form of
Menace Beach’s Lemon Memory. One of the standout tracks is ‘Watch Me Boil’, a
fuzzed-up but forlorn foot-tapper with Yuck-indebted introspection.
ARCADE FIRE – I Give You Power
Still feeling rage and shock over Trump’s triumph, Win Butler and co are back after a
lengthy absence and are more relevant than ever. They continue the murky
electronic edge of Refkletor in ‘I Give You Power’, propelled by Win Butler’s creepy
VANT – DO YOU KNOW ME?
After a slew of successful singles last year, VANT continue to build on the
momentum with ‘DO YOU KNOW ME?’, which continues the group’s knack for early
KoL-esque southern fried rock with Matt Vant’s arms-aloft howl.
MAXIMO PARK – Risk to Exist
Premiered last year at T in the Park, ‘Risk to Exist’ is a hark back to the Billingham
band’s angular rock of A Certain Trigger, while addressing the tumultuous political
climate that exists today. Its lo-fi, but still polished, fuzz bodes well for their sixth
album, due for release in April.
GORILLAZ – Hallelujah Money
Driven by a trip hop beat and some ambient infusions, Gorillaz enlist the honeyed
soul bellow of Benjamin Clementime for ‘Hallelujah Money’, their first release in six
years and shows Damon Albarn has lost none of his musical restlessness.
MIDDLE KIDS – Never Start
Beginning with a maudlin acoustic riff straight from the book of Feist, ‘Never Start’
builds into an irresistible chorus of pounding drums and delicate guitar arpeggios.
Yet another band rife from potential coming from Australia, the band have already
courted a certain Sir Elton John as a fan.
VENTURE LOWS – Brenda
Eccentric trio Venture Lows are releasing the delightfully titled ‘Brenda’ through the
physical form of a matchbox – upon hearing its frenetic indie stomp, it’s certainly a
song worth lighting up to. Recalling the early jolts of Vampire Weekend, it’s a blink-
and-you’ll- miss-it slice of wired-up riffery.
DECLAN MCKENNA – The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home
On his new single, genre-hopping tyke Declan McKenna said “It’s about wanting to
challenge fears and be part of a movement of change, and looking for hope despite
a lot of dark and horrible things happening around the world.” His ethos comes
through in the music, a call-to- arms anthem that stays on the right side of righteous.