William Sutton: “Bang Bang” is close to a return to form for Green Day following their disappointing trio of 2012 albums, Uno!, Dos! and Tre!. A searing pop punk number driven by thundering drums and bass, this track is, like much of their recent back catalogue, politically charged, as it addresses the prevalence of mass shootings in the US and how this interacts with an ever growing dominance of social media. Whilst “Bang Bang” is a good track and much better than most of their output since the release of American Idiot in 2004, the track struggles with the feeling that this is a band in their fourth decade and we have heard it all before and often heard it done better. Nonetheless it is a welcome return from the band and provides positive signs ahead of the release of Revolution Rock in October. [7/10]
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New York’s Hollis Brown is masterful in their approach to American roots music, with the band drawing from rock ‘n’ roll, soul, country, and a bit of blues. Hollis Brown inhabits these musical forms with a surprising degree of naturalness given their youth and they look to become a seminal figure in the thriving and growing Americana scene. The band’s latest release, Cluster of Pearls, released last Record Store Day and now they have a brand new single to share, the uber soulful, deeply moving “Don’t Want to Miss You”, which channels some Otis Redding and Gram Parsons, as well as the heartbreak from a painful breakup.
Eric Krasno has been a prolific musician over the past 20 years, co-founding both Soulive and Lettuce, while playing, producing and songwriting for a host of the music world’s leading lights, such as Tedeschi Trucks, Talib Kweli, Norah Jones and more. Stepping out on his own has allowed the virtuosic guitar master to quite literally find his own voice as he takes the mic for the first time revealing an affecting, gentle, bluesy soul man. On his latest single, “Jezebel”, Krasno lays out a mellow soul/blues vibe with some slinky, masterful guitar playing and a tale of love gone wrong.
Chicago’s post-punk darlings Radar Eyes are back with more jangly, percussive, hard-charging music as their latest album Radiant Remains nears its September 2nd release date. “Midnight Drive” will thrill fans of the Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Joy Division. The band may call the Windy City home, but ‘80s British rock remains their greatest inspiration and the beautiful thing is that Radar Eyes’s music feels completely organic and possessed of kinetic energy. In other words, this isn’t tribute music to a bygone era; “Midnight Drive” is thoroughly of the present.
Tanner Smith: Two nocturnal 1990s icons team up for a spare, cinematic ballad that offers no surprises. “The Spoils” is immaculately constructed, featuring an understated, plaintive vocal performance from Hope Sandoval (who fronts the spectral Mazzy Star) and rich granular details that come from years of making records. The song’s beautiful, string-laden chorus feels like a sad, distant, and dying callback to the group’s incredible Blue Lines classic “Unfinished Sympathy”. But where “Unfinished Sympathy” captured the ambiguous rush of love, “The Spoils” details its fall into the abyss. “The Spoils” classicist leanings prove that Massive Attack don’t need to chase fads in order to create stirring and uniquely powerful music. [8/10]