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.
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.
Picture Atlantic‘s “Billy Banker” is a song about a vampiric A&R man, chasing after a hapless band in the pursuit of sales, sales, sales. The song’s atmosphere fits this narrative appropriately: nose-thumbing lyrics (“Billy Banker / is a wanker” is the opening line), paranoid guitar, and energetic, sprinting drums and bass. It’s a loud cry against sucking out artistic vision and extracting pure profit, and its frenetic instrumental banking gives that cry nice heft.
Nouvelle Vague are well-known for their bossa nova reinterpretations of ‘80s and ‘90s punk, new wave, and post-punk songs and the French group is back with a new EP, Athol Brose, releasing September 2nd. The EP will include new takes on old classics as well as this remix of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” from their 2004 self-titled album. This airy Dream Koala remix reenvisions the tune as an ethereal, dreamy, bit of ambient chill-out. Very sleek and trippy.