By ALEX LYALL

 

Before we look at the good in music news this week, we unfortunately have to look at the unthinkable.

On Monday night, 22 people were killed and many more injured after a bomb exploded at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. It was an outright attack on young people and an outright attack on music.

Concerts should be a place of safety, learning, fun and adventure. That this has been put into doubt is absolutely unacceptable and the thoughts of Tearaway are with everyone affected.

In the great British spirit though, we must Keep Calm and Carry On. We have to keep enjoying music, keep going to shows and keep it a shared experience. Enjoy it with friends, and this week; try enjoy it with strangers.

 

Katy Perry – Swish Swish

 

A trap beat, a poignant message against the haters, and a well-utilised Nicki Minaj verse makes this the best Katy Perry song in years. The song fits in with Perry’s declaration of three independences that define her new album; political, body and psychological.

The song flows brilliantly and benefits from the brazenly insulting lyrics: “You should retire/ You’re ’bout cute as/An old coupon expired. In case you were wondering, it’s probably about Taylor Swift, who both Minaj and Perry have beefed with over the past three years.

I’m admittedly for drama when it sounds this good.

 

Future’s coming

Oh yeaaah. Future’s coming.

The man with the warped voice, the wit and the energy will play at Auckland’s Spark Arena this September. He’s coming in all the way over from Atlanta and his Nobody Safe tour will be the first time New Zealand gets to see (the) Future (of rap music).  Best known for his collaboration with artists like Drake, Rihanna and OutKast; his music is mighty in its own might. Thunderous trap anthems took an emotive turn on this year’s HNDRXX and there appears no sign of him slowing down.

Tickets go on sale this Friday. If you don’t go for the music, go for his hats.

 

Vince Staples – Big Fish

He’s still an underground hero but on Big Fish Vince Staples attempts to leap out of the pond. The ominous sounds found all over 2015’s Summertime ’06 are replaced here with a more animated bass groove and the drum beat here sounds simpler than anything done before. Still, it’s unmistakably Vince Staples with his cheeky, yet focused rhyme front and centre.

Big Fish also gets points for having a streaming-water sound effect right throughout. Commitment to the theme right there.

 

Liam Payne – Strip That Down

It’s all happening now.

In this month alone, we’ve had debut solo material from three of the four 1D lads. While Harry has gone for a definitively more rock sound, Liam has gone the other way for a loose R n’ B number. Although this could be seen as a lazy comparison, I’ll say it anyway: this sounds very Justin Timberlake. Not just in the swagger of it, but his voice actually sounds almost identical. Timberlake proved to be the unexpected solo success story of the decade though, so that’s certainly not a bad thing. Watch this space; I think Liam will be the biggest of the four.

 

Amber Coffman – Nobody Knows

Dirty Projectors have always written great songs, but personally I’ve never been able to get past the off and stiff voice of David Longstreth. Amber Coffman saved the day in that band and has done so for other groups too. Her presence gave popularity and personality to Major Lazer when Get Free became a sensation in 2012. She’s taken more from the latter than the former with Nobody Knows, a track which pulses in its Caribbean-esque keys section and shaky beat. Then from Dirty Projectors she’s carried on her soulful set of lounges.

Funnily enough, she’s only just now making her solo endeavour. In June, Coffman will debut her debut album City of No Reply and will put one of the most interesting voices in music centre-stage. That’s where it’s always belonged.

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