NEW INDIE MUSIC - WEEK 5
Weezer reinventing themselves as The World's Greatest Wedding Band wasn't the career arc that I was expecting to lend my support to in 2019. That said, I loved every minute of The Teal Album and if you didn't, well, you're obviously a joyless husk of a human being. Anyways, like Rivers Cuomo and company covering “Scrubs” wasn't enough to process for one week, I have a lot more for you to get through in the latest edition of We Are: The Guard's New Indie Music. Just insert your soon-to-be-outmoded AirPods (sorry!), as it's time to check out the following songs from Vampire Weekend, MXMS, The Killers, Des Rocs, Foals, and plenty of others.
VAMPIRE WEEKEND – HARMONY HALL
It's been six years, but Vampire Weekend return at long last with the glorious “Harmony Hall.” Like the first signs of snowdrops at the end of the garden, “Harmony Hall” is a delicate reminder of brighter days ahead, with the mixture of baroque pull-off guitars and George Michael-esque pianos evoking the approach of spring, while a come-of-age Ezra Koenig sounds as sublime as ever as he sheds new lyrical light on a Vampire Weekend song of old: “I don't wanna live like this, but I don't wanna die.”
MXMS – GRAVEDIGGER
In October, MXMS released the boldly foreboding banger “Gravedigger,” and this week, the funeral pop due return with the suitably ominous video. Directed by Israel Anthem, the clip places MXMS frontwoman Ariel Levitan in the middle of what appears to be a burial site of her own creation, with the singer pictured devouring a grapefruit in a vivid show of violent self-empowerment as a cavalcade of what we can only assume are her victims dances in animal costumes behind her. Watch at your own risk.
EVI JAI – MR GREEN
A good song is a good song, no matter how old it is. Case in point: Evi Jai's “Mr Green,” a track that was originally released in 2017 but is only featuring on We Are: The Guard now. And while the team and I may be late to the party on this one, it really doesn't matter since “Mr Green” is both timely and timeless, with the smoky 60s production and brassy vocals sitting Evi somewhere between Ronnie Spector and Lana Del Rey.
THE KILLERS – LAND OF THE FREE
Did someone say “Bruce Springsteen SNL parody?!” Okay, so maybe I'm in an extra cynical mood today, but there's something about The Killers rebranding themselves as Woke™ that kind of feels like the musical equivalent of that tone-deaf Pepsi-Kendall Jenner commercial. That said, the video that accompanies this song is a moving must-watch, with director Spike Lee having traveled to the Mexico-United States border in order to film the touching clip.
DES ROCS – OUTTA MY MIND
Des Rocs says that his aim in life is to “bring rock and roll back to the people” and it's most definitely mission accomplished on his latest single. The New York City guitarist and vocalist has swagger and attitude (and, yes, riffs!) for days on the kick-ass “Outta My Mind,” a song that proves once and for all that rock and roll is very much alive and well.
JAMES BLAKE – LULLABY FOR MY INSOMNIAC
Everything about James Blake's new album Assume Form is big, swooning, and beautiful, right down to the final song on the LP, “Lullaby for My Insomniac.” As James explains, he wrote the track to quite literally help his lover, The Good Place actor Jameela Jamil, to drift off at night, with the British crooner's voice multiplying to form a devastating cathedral-sized choir that could soothe even the most restless of hearts.
SPIRAL STAIRS – HYP-NO-TIZED
Ahead of the release of We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized in March, Spiral Stairs, aka Pavement's Scott Kannberg, has shared “Hyp-No-Tized.” It's a triumphantly rip-roaring rocker that sounds nothing like the recent solo work of Scott's ex-bandmate Stephen Malkmus, with the song instead beckoning listeners to the dance floor with its bombastic blend of horns and call-and-response gang vocals that could have walked straight out of The Blues Brothers.
UPSAHL – DRUGS
UPSAHL isn't here for your vapid bullshit. “I just came here to the party for the drugs/I'm not tryna make a friend or fall in love/So just stop the faking/Not for here for nameless faces/Pointless talking, conversations/I just came here for the drugs,” sings the Phoenix artist on “Drugs,” a savage-as-hell bop that UPSAHL explains is less about illicit substances and more about “fake people who feel the need to prove themselves to everyone by flexing on their new car, Gucci belt, or who they know.” She continues: “The word 'drugs' is just a metaphor for genuine people.”
FOALS – EXITS
Four years on from What Went Down, Foals are back and sounding bigger and better than ever on “Exits.” Taken from the British band's forthcoming two-part album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, it's a six-and-a-half-minute State of the Union Address that finds Yannis Philippakis emoting on everything from climate change to the threat of surveillance, with Foals transmuting that sense of post-millennial dread that people are feeling in 2019 into an urgently lurching piece of paranoid-pop brilliance.
GIRL IN RED – WATCH YOU SLEEP.
There's something exquisitely intimate about the music of girl in red and her latest single is no exception. Listen as the Norwegian singer-songwriter studies her dozing lover under the light of the morning sun with almost microscopic intensity on “watch your sleep.,” a gauzy, cottony aubade that deserves pride of place on your Valentine's Day playlist.
Until next week, don't forget to follow We Are: The Guard's Best Indie Daily! on Spotify for lots more! x
Jess Grant is a frustrated writer hailing from London, England. When she isn't tasked with disentangling her thoughts from her brain and putting them on paper, Jess can generally be found listening to The Beatles, or cooking vegetarian food.