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Made in Shoreditch

I also contribute a weekly column to Made in Shoreditch magazine called 'Old East End/New East End', where I look at the relationship between the East End of old and new, looking at the changes and the stalwarts in landscape, residents and culture, focussing on one street or district each week. You can find it here.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sacrilege/David Bowie - The Stars are out Tonight

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 'Sacrilege'

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' wonderful new single, pre-released on the internet today, deserves attention. 'Sacrilege' sees the New York band back after four years away and is a fine return for them. Karen O is at her typical part breathy, part screechy best while Nick Zinner's axe mastery seemingly knows no bounds.

This single appears to see the band somewhere nearer their sound on 2006's Show Your Bones, in that Zinner's guitar is more fore-fronted, yet a full return to the garage rock sound of 2003's Fever to Tell is not quite apparent. The straight synth disco of 2009's It's Blitz! hasn't been completely wiped away, but is less noticeable on this track.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Leading in with a simple four note backing, with an almost Madchester drum pattern eventually joining halfway through, O effortlessly undulates between whispers in the first two bars in the verse and then into a distorted scream, the apex of which being "in our bed" in the second two. The song moves naturally into an intertwined chorus between Zinner playing a beautifully intricate guitar line in behind Karen telling us "it's sacrilege" in a high-pitched swoon. The song climaxes in a fade between O's sultry high end and a gospel choir taking over, providing an almost angelic end to a song that threatens to be the work of Lucifer at its birth.

I reckon this could be an extremely big hit for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and rightly so as it is a stunning song. Here's hoping the rest of the forthcoming album matches it.


 David Bowie - 'The Stars are Out Tonight'

Meanwhile, David Bowie released his second single from The Next Day (due for release on March 11th) this morning also.

As one would expect, one should never try to second guess what it might sound like before listening - it's Bowie! - and it doesn't disappoint in this vein. A slight step away from the slower ballad 'Where are We Now', 'The Stars are Out Tonight' is a brilliant mix of Dadaism as pop with a slight nod to the Ziggy Stardust period of his astonishing career.

David Bowie

The song careers its way through seamlessly with "ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh"s and a dramatically wailed refrain line being it's focal points and has an energy about it which takes you through a cascading myriad of sonically pleasing stages. The middle eight descends a touch, just pulling the track's momentum back for a second  cleverly, before it gets moving again, giving it a neat structural design.

The accompanying video is equally intriguing, starring Tilda Swinton and various other androgynes artfully dancing around Bowie - who looks remarkably well for a man his age (especially given his recent illness).

If reports are to be believed, the album is to be awaited with infant excitement, with The Independent's Andy Gill calling it "the greatest comeback in rock 'n' roll history. Surely, if it were ever to be anybody, it would be Bowie who could live up to this kind of hyperbolic statement. I cannot wait.

'The Stars are Out Tonight'