Our regular round-up of new songs and singles, this week featuring Kendrick Lamar, Chuck Berry, Gorillaz, Blondie, Zayn and more…
SONG OF THE WEEK
Kendrick Lamar – ‘The Heart Part IV’
Kendrick vs Trump
Coming along sooner than anyone expected, Kendrick Lamar’s new single is closer to the triumphant West-Coast anthems on good kid, m.A.A.d. city than the sparse performances on untitled unmastered or the dark, funk-infused To Pimp a Butterfly. The beat changes up frequently, and Kendrick’s flow is as critic-baiting as ever. His inevitable Trump-take is a rare one that actually adds to the conversation. Wonderful to hear those massive trap hi-hats pop up occasionally, reminding us that for all his artistic ambition, Kendrick can still make a contemporary banger. Whether this accessible, melodic style will carry through to the rest of his upcoming project remains to be seen. Word is, this song won’t actually be on the album. – Mitchell Houlbrooke
Zayn – ‘Still Got Time’ (ft. Partynextdoor)
Sorry dude, I’m just not picking up what you’re putting down. I like your buddy, Partynextdoor, but there’s just something a little off about your whole schtick. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve never gotten over that ‘It’s paradise / And it is a warzone’ shit. I don’t know, but part of me thinks you’re an advertisement with no product to sell. Sexy, but not sexual. Like Ed Sheeran, if Ed Sheeran was super handsome, had cooler friends and less success. – Henry Oliver
Chuck Berry – ‘Big Boys’
Weird timing, but there’s a new Chuck Berry album on the way
When it was announced late in 2016 that Chuck Berry was going to release a new album it seemed scarcely believable. After all, the mooted 2017 release date would place the album 38 years away from his last effort, 1979’s Rock It (representing a gap that dwarfs the infamous 15 years it took Guns N’ Roses to deliver Chinese Democracy). And, before his death, Chuck had stopped touring as hearing loss stifled his ability to perform effectively, seemingly putting his musical career at a close.
Following his sad passing, the first single from that album has dropped, and it kills. Like all the best Chuck Berry music, it plays on all the tropes he invented (the double stop guitar intro, timeless lyrical imagery of American teen life) but spins them into something fresh and fun. It’s not Chuck on guitar here – Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello is given some of those duties – but it sounds almost exactly like a Chuck single from his prime, the only giveaway being the guitars are a little more overdriven than they might have been at his peak, which simply adds to the track’s raw excitement. If the album itself is half this good, it will be a fitting send off for the prime architect of rock n’ roll. – Pete Douglas
Blondie – ‘Long Time’
A comfortable slipper of disco rock
What? A new Blondie song? Written with Dev Hynes? With more-than-incidental nods to ‘Heart of Glass’? Sure! It’s not amazing, but it could be a hell of a lot worse. – HO
Gorillaz – ‘Andromeda ft. D.R.A.M.’
The world’s biggest animated virtual band is back
Back in 2010, the Gorillaz played their “last show ever” at Auckland’s Vector Arena. I was there. My friends know this because I never fucking shut up about it. My bragging rights are about to go out the window now that Gorillaz are very definitely back. Their last release from a few weeks ago was dreadful: ‘Hallelujah Money’ was every bit as bad as its cringey title would suggest. Now it seems as though that song was a momentary blip, quality-wise. Along with two other tracks, ‘Andromeda’ dropped a few days ago and it’s that perfect fusion of R&B, EDM, and Britpop that the Gorillaz alone are qualified to produce. Melancholy synth pads back a vocal melody that will be in your head for days, and the drums are all up in your face where they should be. Resume the hype. – MH
Mary Lattimore – ‘Wawa By The Ocean’
A harpist in the chill out zone
Wawa is a chain of gas station convenience stores on the US East Coast and the Wawa by the ocean is located in the beachside borough of Ship Bottom, New Jersey. The piece of music named after it is ten-and-a-half minutes of subtly looped and delayed harp melodies which sound like they’re being gently washed out to sea on a clear, fine day. Ethereal, moving, highly RIYL Julianna Barwick, Colleen. – Calum Henderson
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The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.