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Essential Listening: This week's best new music


As April drifts into our memories, it’s worth reminding ourselves how another sensational month of exciting and innovative music has made the final stages of lockdown immeasurably easier for all of us. Nights are only getting lighter, and the patio heaters at beer gardens bring in a new sense of normality. For the first time in a long while, everything is beginning to look up once more. The mouth-watering thought of watching your favourite artist in the summer with an ice-cold beverage in hand at a festival no longer seems out of reach and feels in reaching distance.

After a year without live music, normality is on the verge of making a more highly-anticipated comeback than Oasis, or The Smiths could ever dream about. If you’re needing something to stick on the summer playlist while having a well-earned rest this weekend, then we’ve got you covered. There’s no shame in wanting to spin some old classics, but these fresh tracks are perfect additions that will sound blistering through a Bluetooth speaker.

There has been a stream of blissful new sounds throughout the year that have offered a fine way to stay sane and get those dopamine receptors active. As the months have gone on, there’s been more and more titillating releases, with these past seven days being no different.

Even though playing live for an audience is an impossible dream for musicians right now, that hasn’t stopped artists from continuing to offer up fresh and exciting music straight out of the bedroom studio. Some of the new releases to have come out in 2021 have made it an exciting year for music. Through these turbulent times, music has been a constant release for many of us and kept us going. That feeling of discovering a new artist, one you connect with straight away, is hard to replicate.

Whether it is a song by an artist that you’ve never heard of before — or an old favourite that somehow you have allowed to fall off your radar — we’ve got you covered here.

This week’s best new music:

Veps – ‘Ecstasy’

Norway’s newest indie-rock export Veps have released a new video for their single ‘Ecstasy’. The self-directed low-budget video is sublimely silly and eminently rewatchable. Positioned in front of a green screen that alternately shows them in front of a spacey supernova and a blue sky, the band, Laura Dodson (guitar), June K. Urholt (bass), Maja B. Berge (drums) and Helena Olasveengen (keys), smatter each other with cake and goof around for a few minutes. It’s a fun, low stakes, charmingly casual visualiser.

‘Ecstacy’ is the first single from the group’s upcoming EP, Open The Door. Having been a DIY project for most of their short career, Veps recently signed with indie label Kanine Records. They show all the signs of being a critically adored and cult favoured band, and hopefully, upcoming shows will prove that the band is more than just a few killer singles.

The Chemical Brothers – ‘The Darkness You Fear’

The Chemical Brothers returned to bless us with more euphoric dance floor jams, this time in the form of their latest single, ‘The Darkness That You Fear’.

Menacing in its nature, the track bursts into life with exuberant techno beats and soothing, Nico-esque vocal lines. If it’s the darkness that you fear, seek to “see the colours”, as the song helpfully points out. Driving and incredibly danceable, the song transcends its ominous title to embrace a certain luminescence that brings you back into the light.

The Chemical Bros, now a beloved institution of dance and house music who could play the Pyramid Stage until the end of time without a single complaint, bring all aspects of their signature sound to the fore of ‘The Darkness ThatYou Fear’: hard-hitting sampled drums, twinkling keyboard lines, exciting breakdowns and build-ups, that weird wavy “wub-wub” sound that they pioneered before dubstep made it a cliche. If you love The Chemical Brothers, there’s a lot to enjoy in ‘The Darkness That You Fear’.

Sons Of Kemet – ‘To Never Forget The Same’

Sons Of Kemet have shared their luscious new single, ‘To Never Forget The Sauce’. The vibrant effort is the second single from the London jazz collective taken from their upcoming fourth studio album, Black To The Future, which arrives on May 14th through Impulse Records.

Although ‘To Never Forget The Sauce’ is an instrumental track, that doesn’t prevent Sons Of Kemet from delivering a poignant, fire-breathing track that oozes flair and gives you an immediate spring in your step as a listener. The sheer musical talent that Sons Of Kemet have in their arsenal is astounding, as is the way that Shabaka Hutchings expertly orchestrates the band to get them vying in the same marvelling direction.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes ft. IDLES’ Joe Talbot – ‘My Town’

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have made a comeback in devilish style with their new single ‘My Town’, which sees them join forces with IDLES frontman Joe Talbot. The last year has given Carter a chance for contemplation, and ‘My Town’ is a ferocious comeback that is crammed full of ruthless barbarity as two of the greatest contemporary punk frontman square up head-to-head.

Carter says in the press release that ‘My Town’ is a metaphor for our collective mental health falling apart”, and that message is one that they shout down the track at break-neck speed.

There’s a high crossover between lovers of IDLES and devout followers of Carter’s church, so understandably, this collaboration is one that’s going to get tail’s uncontrollably wagging. The duo delivers the heat on ‘My Town’, and with a little helping hand from Talbot, The Rattlesnakes drop a grenade with their comeback single.

Self Esteem – ‘I Do This All The Time’

Self Esteem has returned in powerful style with her new single, ‘I Do This All The Time’. Rebecca Lucy Taylor re-emerged under the experimental-pop guise of Self Esteem in 2017. after spending more than a decade as one-half of the indie-folk duo Slow Club, she began the new chapter of her career, and her latest single continues to see Taylor reinvigorated by the freedom that comes from being a solo artist.

The song combines a soulful chorus, which sees Taylor deliver the pertinent lines: “Look up, lean back, be strong, You didn’t think you’d live this long, Be as one, hold on, steady stand, For as long as you think you can.”

Meanwhile, the verses are spoken in Taylor’s thick South Yorkshire accent, as she says reassuringly: “Be very careful out there, Stop trying to have so many friends, Don’t be intimidated by all the babies they have, Don’t be embarrassed that all you’ve had is fun, Prioritise pleasure.”

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – ‘We’re On Our Way Now’

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds celebrate their tenth anniversary with the brand new track, ‘We’re On Our Way Now’. The new track is soaked in melancholia, and sees a wistful Noel look back upon embarking on a new adventure. After ten years, Gallagher glances over his shoulder at an old friend that he’s lost on a journey to where he is today.

Gallagher even not-so-subtly name drops an Oasis song title, which surely isn’t a coincidence. Still, knowing Noel, it’s more likely to have been deliberately placed there to get people talking rather than being about his little brother, Liam. 

Rejjie Snow – ‘Relax’

Irish rap sensation, Rejjie Snow, has announced details of his second album and shared a breezy new track, ‘Relax’. In 2018, the rapper released his debut album, Dear Annie, and last year shared the lead single from his forthcoming release, ‘Cookie Chips‘, which featured the late MF Doom. 

The mellow track sees Snow take a calm pause and instruct everyone to ‘Relax’ in his trademark silky flow. The new effort sees Snow collaborate with LA collective, group therapy and produced by Cam O’Bi, who sprinkles ‘Relax’ with tranquil sounds of nature, which exasperate the message Snow eloquently gets across.

From listening to ‘Relax’ it’s clear that Snow was in a tip-top headspace when he made the track, and it instantly cleanses your mind, body, and soul as a listener too.