Are…are we all okay? We made it through another week relatively unscathed, right? Just this week, Zac Goldsmith got dumped by Londoners for the second time in six months, while the Austrian election has yielded a victory for the environmentalist, populist candidate over the far-right party in the country, giving an indication of hope that European states are perhaps maybe potentially possibly hopefully getting tired of extreme candidates like France’s Marine Le Pen. It’s not much, but baby steps and all that.

It’s important to celebrate victories for basic human rights – like the US denying permits for the Dakota Access pipeline as I write this, as well as cheering for any parties in power that want to act upon global warming – but it’s of course important to recognise that this is not even the tip of the melting iceberg of wrong in our world. Point your face in the direction of any news this week and you’ll despair at the revelations emerging about football coaches and allegations of abuse, and you’ll be even sadder if you look at the responses from some quarters (take a bow Eric Bristow, preferably into a tank of piranha), while our society’s divides are as great as our differing opinions of the late Fidel Castro (I liked his first few albums). But it’s fine, because Donald Trump has pissed off the whole of China this week (they invented global warming fyi)  so now we get to play a fun game of wondering what the hell is going to kill us all off first: climate change, World War III, or the endless shitstorm that is Brexit – you decide! May God help us all.

Instead of just presenting a ‘Here’s Some Songs We’re Loving This Week’ that no one will give a toss about, here are some songs that might just carry you through another depressing week on Planet Earth (or ‘Planet Earth II’).

Childish Gambino – Have Some Love

Have a word for your brother // Have some time for one another // Really love one another //It’s so hard to find

Well ain’t that the truth? I hate to be all “2016!” but if there’s one thing this year has taught us, it’s that the hatred and bile that some privileged fucks seem to think is long rid of our world is still incredibly prevalent in our world. While it’s also incredible privileged to subscribe to the adage that, “well, at least music will get better” (and incredibly ignorant of the fact that music in the last decade has been better than the entirety of time before it), tunes like Childish Gambino’s ‘Have Some Love’ seem to take extra poignancy and relevance in these darkened times.

Donald Glover’s latest release under his hip-hop alias has been accused of ‘abandoning rap’, but what these squares should be focusing on is more the embracing of funk, soul, and even some psychedelia through the stretch of its near-four minute existence. Combining acoustic guitars with an irresistible groove, it’s not too outlandish to make comparisons to Parliament/Funkadelic or Sly & the Family Stone’s more experimental efforts, while the gospel-singalong nature of ‘Have Some Love’ makes it apt for singing along by the campfire while strung out of your mind – the only way to be in order to get through what will likely be a miserable 2017.

Matt Maltese – Strange Time

Any song that starts with the lyrics, “Now that we’re doomed, let me show you to your room, where we can implode by the moon,” is just about ripe for the picking as far as this feature’s concerned.

South London’s Matt Maltese has managed the incredible feat of making a song that doubles as both a love letter and a drunk midnight status; Seriously, “Tonight I’ll be drunk and act like a punk (so drunk), and you’ll sit and laugh while I throw up” is what those new Facebook reaction buttons were built for. There isn’t a single one that I wouldn’t use for those words right there.

Channelling the spirit of the dearly departed Leonard Cohen, Maltese’s smooth crooning is perhaps also comparable to Ed Harcourt or Bill Ryder-Jones, and his laid-back style paints vivid images of smoky jazz cafes and early morning cab rides home through the song’s nursery rhyme melodies and classic pop instrumentation. Think Burt Bacharach ft. Herb Alpert if they were onstage at The Bedford in Balham, which is probably the highest and most objectively ludicrous compliment I can pay him.

Syd Arthur – Monsters

Canterbury’s finest prog-jazz rock four-piece (quite the compliment, you’ll agree) are back to infiltrate our tiny little minds with their hallucinogenic ways, the monsters. Though this track has previously appeared on international vinyl editions of latest album ‘Apricity’, Syd Arthur have thankfully pulled their fingers out and released ‘Monsters’ online for all of us to hear and get wigged out to (who the hell buys records anyway, right?)

The endless layers on ‘Monsters’ make for fruitful listening, with distorted vocals blanketed by crashing cymbals and fuzz-driven guitars working against chiming organs and synths in equal measure. While his words are often indistinguishable, frontman Liam Magill’s vibrato is a driving force to a point where you’ll be making up words just so that you can join in and feel included.

Barely clocking in at three minutes, this deep cut perhaps surmises the band’s knack for sounding like Tame Impala fronted by Ryley Walker/White Denim fronted by Morgan Delt/The Early Years fronted by Mac Demarco/somebody stop me; Psychedelic rock doesn’t have to be just noise! Prog doesn’t have to be boring! What a revelation!

Kehlani – Advice

America’s got a lot of things, including crap talent shows. ‘America’s Got Talent’ they claim, well for once they’re bloody right. Having been the standout of also-rans PopLyfe, Kehlani thankfully embraced the freedom of a solo career and has quietly been taking over the world, having released two mixtapes and multiple collaborations with names like ZAYN and Chance the Rapper.

Gearing up for the release of her debut studio album ‘SweetSexySavage’ (a title that begs to be included on your Tinder bio), the empowering single asks, “Cause how is the man of my dreams not a man of his words? // And how is the man for me just a man that makes me hurt?” I don’t know Kehlani, but he sounds like a right shitbag, sack him off.

If the LP is filled with the same cool vocals, R&B percussion and raw emotion, then it’s sure to be an early but justified shout for album of the year, which is entirely the right way to stick it to the ex-lover that jilted you in the first place.

MUNA – I Know A Place

MUNA were a huge inspiration for the existence of Stereo Tonic as a feature, with standout single ‘Loudspeaker’ featuring in one of the first editions. Lucky for you, I, and everyone with even a passing interest in good music, the LA three piece are back with their latest rallying cry, the fantastic ‘I Know A Place’.

Intended as a statement in support of the LGBTQ+ community and safe spaces, there’s resonating lyrics that painfully call back to the Orlando shootings and countless other hatecrimes against that community – “And I can tell when you get nervous you think being yourself means being unworthy // And it’s hard to love with a heart that’s hurting but if you want to go out dancing // I know a place we can go where everyone gonna lay down their weapon” – while the trio’s continuously-perfect pop plays underneath, glistening melodies and all.

So be like MUNA. “Don’t you be afraid of love and affection // Just lay down your weapon.”

Well, there’s your first week sorted. The apocalypse might be well and truly here, but at least we still have the music. For now.

In all seriousness, if shit’s got you down then memes, Facebook shares, and petitions aren’t enough. Actions speak louder than words, and I’ve said a lot of bloody words here, so make sure that the actions are as plentiful. As the world races itself to the finishing line of existence by seeing who can fuck up the furthest, your civil liberties and basic fucking human rights are going to be violated, torn up, and pissed on. Here is a list of organisations (h/t Jezabel) that are fighting and doing vital work to ensure that citizens of our planet are treated fairly, legally, democratically, and humanely. If you are able to, please donate whatever you can afford. If you’re unable to, then please try to spread the word. A lot of those organisations operate internationally, or deal with affairs that will greatly affect international policies for years to come – the time for complacency is over, the time for activism is right now.

Good luck, enjoy these perhaps-insignificant mere moments of pop, rock, and pop-rock brilliance and I’ll see you next week.

About The Author

Mark Riley

Always pick the Fire starter-Pokemon.