25 Feb 2015

Weekly Listening: Heems, Blur, Carb On Carb, Calexico and Metz

9:21 am on 25 February 2015

A revolving cast of contributors from the Music 101 and Wireless teams showcase some of the best new music releases from the past week.


Heems Photo: Unknown

Heems feat. Dev Hynes - 'Home'

Heems upcoming album has the typically tongue in cheek title Eat Pray Thug, but this, the second cut to be released from it, seems uncharacteristically earnest. Draped in soft percussion and a squiggly guitar line, it has collaborator Dev Hynes’ (Blood Orange) musical stamp all over it - and in fact Heems doesn’t even feature for the first  minute.

But while Hynes' vocal coos are folded into the background, Heems (once he arrives), is front and centre, telling the story of an unwanted breakup. Peppered with poignant details like “I held you as you wept”, in the end Heems can’t help himself, and ends by undercutting all the sincerity with the amusing couplet “Shawty listen, quit your bitching / be my ‘Remix to Ignition’”. - Tony Stamp

Blur - 'Go Out'

Blur are back. Or rather they're more back than before. The Britpop behemoths reunited in 2009 as a touring entity ignited by the occasional new song - and a sense of unfinished business. But that was over half-a-decade ago and the fire in fans eyes waiting for an eighth album after 2003's Think Tank (which lacked guitarist Graham Coxon on all but one track) had steadily died out. This year looked more likely to yield albums from Damon Albarn's The Good The Bad And The Queen, and Gorillaz projects rather than Blur's first album in 12 years - The Magic Whip.

The first teaser from The Magic Whip  is pop sludger 'Go Out' - probably the weakest track released during this second phase of Blur, but it would stand proudly beside its guitar fuzzed peers on the 1997 American indie influenced Blur album. - Shaun Wilson

Z-Ro – Melting the Crown

You’d be hard pressed to find a Z-Ro album without a generous serving of quintessential ‘One Deep’ anthems with mid-tempo jams that make you want to sit low in the whip and wonder if you’ll ever be as real as Joseph Wayne McVey.

Melting the Crown is no different – the realness comes potent, almost too potent at times, with lyrical content on women being too hairy “down there”, selling lean for child support and the lupus disease which killed Z-Ro’s and Mike D’s mothers.

After a seemingly ghetto-related visit to ER three months ago, it’s no wonder most of Z-Ro’s latest exhumes hate (and not in a fun way).  Still, there are a handful of radio-friendly tracks including the unsurprisingly-titled 'Keep It Real', which waxes on how he associates with those who keep it real. How Rick Ross ended up on that one is a mystery for the ages.

Another key offering is 'Sweet James', a Cory Mo-inspired country rap tune which few but Pimp C (RIP) can pull off. But the stellar jam for me here is 'Too Many Niggaz' with a much-welcomed appearance from Lil Keke heating up what’s basically a funky version of Z-Ro’s 2000 single, 'Nigga from the Hood'. - Sophie Wilson

Carb on Carb - Carb on Carb

Around the time most people were hoovering their dinner last night, Auckland two-piece band Carb on Carb released their self-titled debut album. Sonically, Carb on Carb share similarities with emo peers like Algernon Cadwallader and, thematically, their tracks deal with feminism, friendship and finding peace with your hometown. It’s nice to see a few old favourites like 'Eden Terrors' and 'Smash' re-recorded and thrown into the mix as well.

Their words are sharp, intellectual and always wrapped around a singable melody, and even though the album has been tagged as "emo" on Bandcamp, (which brings up images of lip piercings, questionable hair dye and Jack Skellington), in reality they prove that their debut is reflective, a bit shambolic and, ultimately, a lot of fun. - Zac Arnold

Calexico - 'Falling from the Sky' (feat Ben Bridwell)

Invoking the loneliness of a desert highway, this is the second single to be released off the band's Edge of the Sun LP that's due out in April.  "Where do you fall when you have nowhere to go ...," the chorus is sung over soaring horns, before diving into the strum of the next verse. The driving rhythm is a contrast to the first single off the upcoming album, an electro mariachi number called 'Cumbia de Donde', though the instruments on both tracks sound great on a recording as clear and crisp as a night in the band's native Arizona. - Marcus Stickley

Metz - 'Acetate'

If their latest single 'Acetate' is anything to go by it seems like Metz won't be re-inventing the wheel for their sophomore effort (out May 5 via Sub Pop). But why should they? Distorted and abrasive is a good mantra to hone. On 'Acetate', the drums sound like gunfire, the bass looms and Alex Edkins’ yelps and growls sound clear and focused. It’s not hard to imagine a sea of dudes rhythmically nodding their heads in unison to this. - Zac Arnold

Honourable mentions

HEAVY - 'Shrink'
god bows to math - 'Ardent Pedestrian' 
Sufjan Stevens - 'No Shade In The Shadows Of The Cross'

Did we miss something? Tell us about it in the comments section.