By ALEX LYALL

 

Don’t believe the hype.

The best music over these two weeks hasn’t been Taylor Swift, it hasn’t been Katy Perry – it’s been the smaller things. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile have teamed up to make one of the best songs this year, The National have made their saddest album and Ibeyi are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

A stellar taste to the upcoming Laneway festival with Anderson .Paak and Mac Demarco tops it all off.

 

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Over Everything

Hopefully this collaboration between a Kurt and a Courtney is better than the last.

The two are putting out an album called Lotta Sea Lice in October and Over Everything is the first single to be released off it.

Despite looking so alike, the two are not natural partners in crime. Courtney Barnett’s rapid vocal delivery is fuelled by anxiety and paranoia while Kurt Vile seems like the chilliest dude in the bar.

Here though, their pairing is absolutely world-class. Each verse is injected with striking imagery and important confessions. They’re as good together as they are apart and musically, Barnett’s frantic guitar bodes very well with Vile’s mindful strumming.

The video is amazing too.

 

Laneway 2018 announcement

Maaaaaate – Anderson .Paak and Mac Demarco are playing at Laneway. That’s a pretty good first announcement. Mac has played at Laneway before and his show went exactly as you would think – jokes, tunes and a Maggie Simpson t-shirt.

I also got a selfie with him!

Anderson .Paak meanwhile, I have not seen. But based on the fact that last year’s Malibu is like a funk show from Mars, in the best possible way, it should be good.

Laneway falls on the 29th of January.

 

The National – Sleep Well Beast

Sleep Well Beast is the seventh album from New York-based outfit, The National. It’s one of their best, and easily their saddest. This is a band by the way, who have lyrics like:

“Sorrow found me when I was young/ sorrow waited, sorrow won.”

“Then I’m radio and then I’m television/ I’m afraid of everyone, I’m afraid of everyone.”

“Jo I’ll always think of you/ as the kind of child who knew/ this was never gonna last/ oh Jo you fell so fast.”

That’s some stiff competition. But although it’s another sad album from a sad band, through its experimenting with noises and tempo, Sleep Well Beast is their most distinct. Turtleneck, for example, uses pounding drums and feedback to create something more vicious than they’ve ever done before.

The best part is that it can all be caught live in Auckland next February, with one show announced for the Villa Maria Winery in Manukau.

 

Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

With Cool for the Summer in 2015, Demi Lovato made the best pop song of that year. Unfortunately, she’s never really matched that. That doesn’t change on Tell Me You Love Me, but it is a good attempt all the same. Despite its message essentially being “relationships make you a better person”, it’s a track full of inspiration – from its blaring horns to the power vocals.

It’s one of those songs that you just know will have a music video where people box.

 

Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Do

We don’t need negativity bringing The Weekly Music Haul down, but this is not a good song.

I was hesitant to write about it, but it’s a new Taylor Swift song. This is not a release – it’s an event. It’s not bad because it’s yet another break away from her earnest country-pop days, it’s bad because it’s as boring as it is uncivil. And it’s plenty uncivil: it’s a strong and clear back-off to the haters.

Because of that, it sounds too petty to be any good. 

 

New Music Video: Katy Perry – Swish Swish

To be fair to Taylor Swift, rival Katy Perry has made something even worse.

This video is a horrific mish-mash of bad jokes. A team full of B-list meme celebrities, try and fail with Perry to beat a team coached by the usually-fantastic Terry Crews. The whole thing is weird and seems to mock, rather than celebrate, individuality. 

The Nicki Minaj part is great though, but that’s only because she is.

 

Frank Ocean – Provider

Any week with new Frank Ocean is a good week. For years, the world had the endure years without an Ocean, but thankfully those dark days seem to be over.

Provider is a crisp and emotive piece that hopefully means an album is on the way. It’s a relatively simple song, much more so than anything on Blonde, but is animated by a chorus of synth and strings. It’s mainly peaceful, and sounds as if it would be perfect to go to sleep to.

 

Ibeyi ft. Kamasi Washington – Deathless

Fiercely political, fiercely rhythmic and fiercely featuring in Kamasi Washington – you can’t do much better.

Deathless is the second single released from their upcoming album Ash. Already it has me drumming along and lip-shouting the “whatever happens, whatever happens/ we are deathless” chorus.

Ash is out on September 19.   

 

ALEX LYALL has been obsessed with music since Green Day’s American Idiot. Until then he genuinely thought it was illegal to call anybody that word. Alex studies Law at Canterbury so can confirm that actually, it is perfectly legal to do so. Anyway, here are some more of his articles:

Speak Out: Musicians Urge That Mental Illness Should Not Be Taboo

Top 10 Political Songs by Kiwi Artists

In Review: Pixies Live at Horncastle Arena!

In Review: Ghosts of Electricity – Music to get puppies to sleep

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