As the icon goes solo, we ask him to take on Manics, Radiohead, Ariana Grande + more
Andrew Trendell

14:29 13th May 2016

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Once the frontman of the chart-topping alt-rock legends Mansun, now returning with a newfound drive and ambitious sound with his first solo material, the world of a music is a better place with Paul Draper back in it. To celebrate, we asked him to review the biggest new tracks of the week. 

Gearing up the the release of his debut solo release, EP One, on 10 June, the record features everything from 'revenge rock' to shimmering pop via some cinematic soundscapes. It's every bit as eclectic as you've come to expect from him, so we thought we'd through the full spectrum of new music at him - taking on everyone from Manic Street Preachers and Radiohead to James Blake via Ariana Grande, De Le Soul, Dua Lipa and more. 

Manic Street Preachers - 'Together Stronger (C'mon Wales)'
"The Manics and Wales in Euro 2016, what can’t you not like about this? I played football with Gary Speed as a teenager and sort of welled up when James DB sang about him in this song, Gary Speed stood head and shoulders above every lad in our town, Deeside, as a footie player when we were kids so this song took me by surprise, the Manics can touch people with their directness, still.

"I grew up in North Wales and supported the Manics at many a blistering gig, then sat at the side of the stage in awe. This is sort of light hearted and really sad at the same time for me, literally the Manics are the only band that can do this, how do they do it? They touch people in a way very few artists can do, even with a footie song, maybe you have to be Welsh or have a Welsh connection to understand. God bless you MSP, the greatest Welsh band ever, and the kindest…" 

James Blake - 'I Need A Forest Fire'
"I loved Limit To Your Love and James Blake's use of synths, and became interested in him a while back. This track has an r n b feel to it and not one of his best songs but still a great artist. Theres a formula evolving amongst 'artists' of laid-back pads over 808s and layered vocals, it sort of straddles genres, but isn't that was 'art' is? James Blake is certainly a wold class artist but I like other songs of his better."

Radiohead - 'Daydreaming'
"Not immediate, like a lot of their latter stuff, but a great piano riff in parts, nice synth textures as is the modern world of music, worth listening to a few times to find the fragile elements in it all, meanders a bit once it gets going, the end sounds like the start of '1999' by Prince, really, but they are of the highest quality and do it consistently track after track."

Red Hot Chili Peppers - 'Dark Necessities'
"Always loved the Chilli Peppers since I heard 'Give It Away' at the rock disco at our local club as a teenager, and they were a big influence on me and one of the reasons I love and play rock music. This is a great record, classic Chilis but with a different twist with pianos and a denser arrangement that make it fresh enough that its not the same old. Excellent stuff still."

De La Soul - 'Trainwreck'
"Wow, when I saw this it brought me straight back to 3 Feet High and Rising, what an original twist on hip hop when it came out, my mates and I loved that record. No new ground covered here, a bit of classic De La Soul but I'll always have a soft spot for them as they were part of my clubbing past. A few classic De La Soul touches and a James Brown sample, what more could you ask for! Not an obvious single, not the best they've done, but Ill always love their style."

Speedy Ortiz - 'Death Note'
"It has Death in the title, 8 bars in I know why, and reminds me a bit of Gary Numan and Veruca Salt, with a touch of Garbage? I love all those things and this record is beautifully out of its time. Keep going on the songwriting and these guys might have something, big audience for this stuff, even me occasionally..."

Ariana Grande - 'Into You'
"Pretty good for contemporary pop in this genre but not outstanding, I'm no expert on this genre, but has a few little moments, lots of stuff this polished out there, not my particular thing, unless its Hideaway by Kiesza, now thats amazing pop at its best, I wonder if we'll regret music getting this precise and computerised in the future."

Grace Lightman - 'Faultless'
"I love the snare drum. A Kate Bush-esque chord change, and a hint in the voice? This has a foot in power balladry, which is no bad thing, I actually had a tingle down my spine at one point in this record the chord change and melody were that good in the verse. There’s loads I like about this, if its real, you just got yourself a new fan Grace, this is ace. This and the Chili Peppers are doing it for me during this listening session, make more stuff this good and you’ll be huge. THIS ARTIST IS UNSIGNED."

Dua Lipa - 'Hotter Than Hell'
"I don't know too much about this genre of music, sounds very familiar, it might be a popular formula, and I struggle to see beyond that. Why don't the BPI put a threshold on Auto Tuning vocals, and anything above the threshold doest get through, a bit like, err, Auto Tune!! Big hook dropped over the beatz though. Im not qualified to comment on this really as it might be amazing but Im not the audience this is aimed at."

Elki - 'Sirens'
"Crazy…. no, fuck me is that a real drum kit? Interesting.... sort of like it. Hmmm, I like the bit where she goes ridiculously high, promising, if I keep listening I think I might get addicted to that bit, thats the bit, just that bit can sell millions, I thought I didn’t like this that much but I keep playing THAT BIT back, this record could, just might, be fucking massive. SOLD! Elki, have you got a good radio plugger? This is as they say, a slam dunker in the right hands, I hope this is No.1 in America and I reviewed it first, sort of reaffirms your belief in pops validity. Massive."

Skepta - 'Man'
"I'm more into his videos! My engineer worked with him for a day and said he was a top bloke. I like him as a lyricist and producer and he's current and creative, I like old school songs personally but respect this guy a lot, he has a credibility in this arena thats hard to achieve for us Brits, file this under 'artist', talented lad!"

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