Yes, you have indeed made it through another week. Though the coronavirus pandemic, and its profound effects on daily life around the world, have largely continued unabated, there are still small comforts to be found that help keep us all going.
One of the biggest of those comforts is music, which - if you're reading this right now - we're going to assume you turn to and lean on in times of great strife and stress, such as this.
It's a good thing then, that this week has seen phenomenal new songs from rock stars new (The 1975 and Plini) and old (Bob Dylan.) Incredibly, this week even saw "The Greatest Rock & Roll Band In The World," The Rolling Stones, emerge from extended creative hibernation with their first new, original track in eight years.
So dive in! Keep an open mind, and you might find something you love.
Plini - birds/surfers
You might recall us covering Plini’s experiments in transforming photographs into melodies, and now the Aussie shred whiz has released a full-length track, inspired by shots of surfers and birds.
birds/surfers contains one of Plini’s most heartfelt performances yet committed to record, conjuring some seriously expansive, ethereal tones from his signature Neural DSP plugin. This is the sound of progressive guitar playing in 2020. (MAB)
The Rolling Stones - Living In A Ghost Town
Though they've never excelled in heat-of-the-moment social commentary, it would be a mistake to say that The Rolling Stones are strict traditionalists, never plugging into the world around them for inspiration. Having first cooked up the song last year, The Greatest Rock & Roll Band In The World decided to revisit, and flesh out Living In A Ghost Town - their first original since 2012 - for obvious reasons.
Though it won't rank among the best entries in their discography, Living In A Ghost Town is incredibly comforting. In a world that's been turned upside down, hearing Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood trade attitude-packed riffs, Charlie Watts lay down an absolutely perfect beat and the ageless Mick Jagger croon and yelp is so perfectly familiar. Nearly 60 years on, let the Stones always be there to soothe our nerves! (JM)
The 1975 - If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)
The 1975, arguably the biggest name in modern synth-pop, yesterday unveiled their new single If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know). Sticking with the tried-and-tested formula of Matt Healy’s candid lyrics over anthemic chorus sections, all underpinned by warm synth tones and rhythmically funk-inspired clean guitar lines, the Manchester quartet deliver what is sure to be yet another hit.
While not exactly a masterclass in virtuoso six-string playing, the place in which the guitar sits in every 1975 mix - present, but purely to support the track’s arrangement - is something to admire every time. (SR)
Joe Bonamassa - A Conversation with Alice
JoBo gets his swagger on with this foot-stomping slice from his forthcoming Abbey Road-recorded solo album.
A Conversation with Alice nods to the Eagles and Aerosmith with its fat AOR riffs, while those wailing Les Paul bends showcase Bonamassa at his most restrained and melodic, all of which bodes well for that as-yet-untitled record when it lands later this year. (MAB)
The Ghost Inside - Aftermath
Nearly five years after a devastating fatal tour bus crash, LA metalcore titans The Ghost Inside return with Aftermath, a raw and emotionally triumphant detailing of their journey to recovery following the accident. The track comes as the first single from the band’s upcoming self-titled album.
With the melodically heavy guitar parts the quintet has come to be known for, and a visceral lyrical message:- “triumph over tragedy” - it’s safe to say that Aftermath is one of the most impactful metalcore tracks we’ve heard in a while. (SR)
Bob Dylan - I Contain Multitudes
Having not released a new, original song in eight years, Bob Dylan seemingly felt the need last month to re-surface with something bold. And what a statement he made with the titanic, astonishing 17-minute Murder Most Foul - a beautiful elegy to President John F. Kennedy, counterculture, American music and even his own legend.
Though the follow-up single, I Contain Multitudes, doesn’t move mountains in the same way, it doesn’t need to. Humorous, self-referential and bitter, Dylan is at his lyrical best. Anchored by reserved, aching pedal steel cries, evocative classical fingerpicking and supple blues riffing, the song also shows Dylan’s mastery as a seasoned bandleader. Whatever Dylan has cooking with these two new singles, he hasn't sounded this in command of his vision, and his audience, in decades. (JM)
Embr - Your Burden
With its drop-tuned humbucking intro, Embr might lull you into a false sense of doom-metal security, but as Your Burden attests, there’s more to these Birmingham, AL metallers than pure sonic annihilation.
Singer Crystal Bigelow takes the thundering distortion to a higher plain with a soaring vocal performance, even as the track’s lows descend into speaker-rumbling territory. (MAB)
Søndag - Trendsetter
These up-and-coming Italian hard-rockers take aim at social media with this arena-worthy single, which teams filthy basslines with smart guitar harmonies to colossal effect - fans of Muse and Royal Blood will lap up that stomach-lurching chorus pre-bend and fat octave sound. Ones to watch. (MAB)
Marishi Ten - Never Look Back
The LA-based Marishi Ten last week unveiled their latest track Never Look Back. Fuelled by solid (occasionally harmonized) riffs and melodic vocals, and with a production quality that sits with the big leagues, this one’s a must-listen. (SR)