I figured I’d do something different this week and cover a bunch of songs that premiered over the last few days. It made for an interesting change to write about about and maybe I’ll do this kind of stuff more often, maybe not. A lot of my views come through search engines, so I doubt posts like this will be seen as much as my album reviews, but I should be branching out a little more.
The Cape Race – Home Truths Manchester-based The Cape Race put out the best EP / mini-album of 2011 in the form of ‘Now, Voyager’, a stunning introduction to one of Britain’s brightest emerging talents and ‘Home Truths’ is the second song to follow their debut release behind last year’s excellent ‘Digging For Gold’. As per usual the band delivers on all fronts. ‘Home Truths’ is a stellar rock song done a little differently, with David Moloney‘s trademark dynamic vocals and the bands equally clever and exuberant instrumentals providing a charismatic shine throughout. Things are toned down before a truly mammoth chorus explodes into life, throwing in swingset vocals and rising melodies. If one thing’s clear it’s that The Cape Race know how to write a good song, and ‘Home Truths’ is another example of the band at their best. Their debut album, which is due later this year, should easily go down as one of 2014’s musical highlights, and if ‘Home Truths’ is anything to go by then it most definitely will be. 
The Used – Cry Last years The Ocean Of The Sky EP was incredibly underwhelming considering the status The Used carry, but thankfully ‘Cry’ marks an exuberant return to form. It’s a clear step away from the schizophrenia of Lies For The Liars and more of a development on Artwork, aiming for a pop style in a sense. There are clear traces of their earlier work, Self Titled in particular, but despite any changes it’s clearly still The Used, with ‘Cry’ marking another change for the band as they mature musically. Bert’s vocals have been dialled back, with fewer rasps and more precision, especially during the calmer verses, whilst the chorus is catchy and satisfyingly ballsy. The final minute is especially solid, bringing in screams and ‘heavier’ instrumentals as McCracken yells out ‘I’m gonna let you bleed for a little bit, I’m gonna make you beg just for making me cry’. Sure, these lyrics may not seem entirely out of place on a Rihanna song but there’s enough here to capture that The Used energy and pair it with a pop mentality. It means they lose a little bit of their bite, but ‘Cry’ is still a solid entry into the bands discography and hopefully new album Imaginary Enemy (due April 1st) contains more of the same. 
Have Mercy – Pete Rose and Babe Ruth Questions have been raised as to where Have Mercy would go following their triumphant debut LP The Earth Pushed Back and the first song from their upcoming split with Daisyhead suggests they’re keeping things emotional whilst improving other aspects of their music. It’s less heartbreak and more headway, and it’s as good as you’d expect. There’s still honest emotion in every second but from a musical perspective the whole thing seems much more refined, packing a punch via the shimmering chorus as the song bursts into vibrant life, with Brian Swindle singing ‘But why am I so happy I could die?’. Have Mercy always manage to elicit a smile just as likely as they are to elicit a sombre sense of nostalgic complacency and ‘Pete Rose and Babe Ruth’ is no different, serving as a stunning continuation for the band that sees them up their game significantly. Have Mercy do it best, and it looks like they’ll continue to do so. 
Chiodos – Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now It’s good to have Craig Owens back. Last LP Illuminaudio may have only slightly suffered from his absence, but his return brings back the vocal melodies and highs that characterised their earlier releases. If you liked Bone Palace Ballet and All’s Well That Ends Well you’ve every reason to be excited for upcoming full-length DEVIL (due April 1st). The song begins with surging guitars and the guttural vocal style of their last release, which serves as a reminder that Chiodos were still pretty excellent without Owens, whilst the following minutes suggests that they’re still pretty great with him as he comes in over the same powerful instrumentals, always climbing. Chiodos sound huge and as Owens sings ‘I can’t wait to be myself again’ I found myself thinking the same of the band, because ‘Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now’ is a solid return, with Chiodos rarely sounding more driven. 
The Hotelier – Life In Drag The Hotelier’s upcoming LP Home, Like No Place There Is is up there as one of my most anticipated releases this year, and the two songs released prior to ‘Life In Drag’ showed why. Whereas ‘The Scope Of All This Rebuilding’ and ‘Your Deep Rest’ were more reminiscent of You Blew It! or Dikembe ‘Life In Drag’ sways more towards the Touche Amore side of the emotional spectrum. Vocalist Christian Holden pushes himself to the limit, straining over harsh instrumentals which soften for a brief reprise halfway through. It’s not what I was expecting, but The Hotelier pulls it off well, although the song isn’t quite as affecting as the others they’ve teased. Still, a band full of surprises is almost always a band worth listening to, and ‘Life In Drag’ is another reason to watch this band very closely this year.