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Bars: Catch-up with some of the most feel-good tracks of the past week, September 24

Let The Weeknd, NxWorries, How to Dress Well, Jenny Hval and Jubilee ease the shitiness of the last seven days

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I’m not gonna lie people, the last week has been a total bummer. Trump was getting syrupy in front of the camera with his new pal Jimmy Fallon, Bill Leak published another grossly archaic and offensive cartoon, the US government still refused to pardon whistle-blower [and human being of the century] Edward Snowden and, above all, I’m still hanging out for Danny Brown’s new joint. What a sad state of affairs. But something struck me about this week; there was also a bout of feel-good new music released this week. It’s as though the music world planned some simultaneous counter-attack on the arseholes of western media and planet earth. Funny how music can be, not only an escape from the banality of everyday life, but also the perfect sonic representation of a middle finger. This last week might’ve come up short for big-name releases, but dig deep enough and you’re sure to find a horde of tracks ready to put those endorphins into hyperdrive. Here’s a handful of feel-good tracks to give the blues of the past week the Dodo treatment.

  • Words: Vincent Dwyer

01. How to Dress Well - 'Can't You Tell'

What How to Dress Well’s name lacks in short-term snappiness he certainly makes up for with an angelic set of pipes. How to Dress Well is the stage name of Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Tom Krell, and ‘Can’t You Tell’ is the lead single from Krell’s latest LP, Care. For anyone familiar with this trailblazer, Krell’s previous work has employed a smorgasbord of aesthetics; drone, ambient and trip-hop just to name a few. ‘Can’t You Tell’ is 100% pop, and is thus sure to knock the patterned socks off Krell’s most elitist fanboys. Bouncy drum beats coupled with a funky bass line makes for one of Krell’s most accessible tracks to date. But wait, you haven’t heard the chorus yet. The only thing that could actually make these glorious vocals better is a ridiculously catchy chorus, and with ‘Can’t You Tell’ you’re definitely in for one.


02. Jenny Hval - 'Period Piece'

If musicians had resumes, then Jenny Hval’s would land expert songstress CEO in a heartbeat. Hval is a little-known Norwegian singer-songwriter who trades in the notoriously tricky stylings of avant-garde. She was also once the lead singer of a Norwegian black metal band, and cut her teeth studying the arts at University of Melbourne, during which she was the lead singer of two local bands. This wealth of experience shows in her ability to make nuanced and articulate music. ‘Period Piece’ is Hval’s contribution to the 2016 Adult Swim Singles, which so far has featured new music from the likes of Earl Sweatshirt. It’s a short and sweet number; straight-to-the-point and full of sonic gusto. Hval’s music isn’t particularly reliant on hooks, which actually works. On ‘Period Piece’ the airy vocals, layered over differing ranges of Hval’s voice, captures your attention and helps you glide effortlessly from the stresses of the working week and into a blissful respite.


03. Jubilee - 'Wine Up' [feat. Hoodcelebrityy]

It’s a ballsy move when you try to equate the differing styles of ’80s Miami pop with ’90s Brooklyn hip-hop. In fact, you’re likely to get slapped for even picturing such an outrageous combination. But Jess Gentile doesn’t give in to such shitbag elitism. The Brooklyn DJ, aka Jubilee, mixes styles and genres like it’s no one’s business, then proceeds to make music that hits you so hard in the face that it may as well be your business. Jubilee hooks up with resident badass, Hoodcelebrityy, to mould a fucking dancefloor-filler in every sense on ‘Wine Up’. The old Roland TR-808 gets a decent workout here, slapping away over the top of Hoodcelebrityy’s rapid fire bars. There’s also a hint of dream pop here, with some glittery, Beach House-esque keys seeping into the mix.  ‘Wine Up’ is like listening to Azealia Banks rapping after dropping pills at a ’90s warehouse rave and realising that she’s still going through an immense Duran Duran phase.


04. NxWorries - 'Lyk Dis'

Note: ACCLAIM has already touched on this song earlier this week, but some songs are so good they deserve double recognition.

Goddamn. I could die now and still be at complete peace knowing I experienced ‘Lyk Dis’, the latest from the dynamic duo of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge. Honestly, I’m never comfortable discussing a song when I feel like I wouldn’t be doing it justice. .Paak’s sumptuous crooning sends the soulful production into an overfill of masculine confidence, without the Malibu singer coming off like a self-absorbed douche. His vocals are buttery, as usual. Knxwledge’s production is expert, as usual. I’m sorry devoted reader, there’s not much more I can add to this analysis other than a whole-hearted suggestion to allow NxWorries to smooth-talk your intuition into a state of nirvana.

05. The Weeknd - 'Starboy' [feat. Daft Punk]

Abel Tesfaye is still coming to terms with the shit-storm he curated with ‘Can’t Feel My Face’. So how’s he holding up, you ask? Rubbing shoulders with Daft Punk, apparently. The Weeknd already boasts a notoriously hypnotic voice, but production still doesn’t seem to be as big a strong suit. So, logically, you recruit the most celebrated electronic duo of all time to give you a helping hand. ‘Starboy’ mightn’t challenge musical tastes so much as it affords you the penance of being a pop glutton. It’s the kind of track you’ll indulge in leading up to substance-fuelled evening in a hotel penthouse, when you’re cruising down the M1 in a silver Merc. This is probably the image Tesfaye and Daft Punk had in mind moulding this track. The robotic vocal samples looping around Tesfaye’s chorus speaks as vintage Daft Punk, so it becomes hard to decide who’s driving ‘Starboy’. Daft Punk may be the feature but the convergence of their funk-heavy production and Tesfaye’s affinity for soul makes for a pop-heavy escape which could’ve easily made the cut on Random Access Memories. If you’re having third-year withdrawals from the funk frenzy of that record, then look no further.