Paul Duffus: Wolf Alice get a couple of things very right here. Firstly, the line “You’re a dodgy fucker as well!” is a decent way to end a chorus. Swearing is good and more bands should consider it as a way of adding caffeine to their lyrics. Personally I wouldn’t have ended the line with “as well”, which is weak. After “fucker”, maybe go for a c-bomb to finish things off with a bang. Just stick the second person personal pronoun in before it to make up the syllables, and boom: We have Rock! It doesn’t need to make sense. Secondly, the video is great. You get to see the band getting killed over and over again, which is also something many other bands should consider in their promos. It offers a bit of catharsis if the song is especially bad, which, well, this kind of is. Sort of grungy, poppy, rocky, there’s a kerrannngg from the guitar about 30 seconds in, which you hope is going to signal all kinds of groin-pumping heaviness, but turns out to be only a passing thought. Any awesomeness hinted at by the video and that one moment of axe-gasm never materialises. [5/10]
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Timothy Gabriele: Say what you will about Wham’s “Freedom” and its partial response, George Michael’s “Freedom ‘90”, but both could have only arose as a result of their time. The former, a series of bright stomping synth chords arguing against a woman’s autonomy that they somehow fashioned into a music video crying for democracy to break loose in Communist China (sadly it didn’t work, but it can be argued that China did instead “Make It Big”). The latter, a series of house vamps and slinky R&B riffs whose lyrics seem to be a rejection of music’s reliance on image that Michael somehow fashioned into an iconographic music video full of naked supermodels lip-synching the tune. !!!’s “Freedom! ‘15” could have come about from any number of recent eras. The thing that distinguishes it the most from straight-up West End/late era Prelude disco is some raw distortion. Perhaps the video’s silly but fun combo of web 1.0 and mobile ’15 technology is an attempt to rectify that.
John M. Tryneski: So I admit to never having heard the Lone Bellow before this, but that’s probably a good thing for the band because there was so much here to sucker me into being a fan. The achy pedal steel, the sweetly sad lyrics, the building beat that makes it perfect driving song—it’s got everything I need from a country song. The fact that the song was apparently and ode to songwriter Zach Williams mother-in-law ups the ante even further. And, to top things off, the video is perfectly suited to its material. Shot in Lafayette, Georgia and starring a well-utilized Virginia Madsen, it does an impressive job of capturing small-town isolation. Madsen’s expressiveness also impressively conveys the constant weight of life’s daily grind heard in Williams’ lyrics. Tomorrow I’ll check out the Lone Bellow’s other songs with fingers crossed, but for right now I’m happy to just enjoy this little slice of something wonderful. [8/10]
John M. Tryneski: I finally caught Courtney Barnett live at the Pitchfork Music Festival last month and it changed the way I saw her music. On record she generally sounds like a singer-songwriter at heart with a solid, if unspectacular, backing band. Live, the band comes alive, as does Barnett, with both taking pretty big (and often successful) swings at the fences of squalling rock ‘n’ roll grandeur erected by Cobain and Company. So I was a little disappointed that the “live” music video for “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” was a relatively sedate lip-synced run-through of the song on the London streets that captured none of group’s ragged charm. The song itself is probably the most straightforward rock track on Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit but that’s by no means a problem, given its unshakable hook and universally-relatable chorus. So even while it can’t reach the lofty heights of “Depreston” and the video could be so much more, “Nobody Cares” is still an awfully solid third single from an album with all sorts of legs. [7/10]
Having traded in her conventional singer-songwriter fare for something a little more adventurous, Los Angeles based/Oklahoma raised Sunday Lane has been slowly unveiling her modest makeover this year in anticipation of her upcoming new EP Future Tense(s). Her arrangements now have more variety, embracing electronic sounds more, but her biggest step forward so far is her new single “Go”, which dives headfirst into sparkling electropop. And as it turns out, it’s a perfect fit.
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