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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

While we count down the days until June 21st, a time when the UK really begins to open up from the coronavirus pandemic, civilisation seems to be on the brink of normality, and the weather has reminded us that summer is finally here. Almost halfway through the year and it feels like it’s passed by in the blink of the eye. Keeping up with time in the middle of a pandemic is an impossible task, but 2021 has served up a constant outpouring of sonic treats that deserve your attention.

After a year without live music, normal life as we used to know it is now in spitting distance. 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 at a barbecue.

There has been a stream of blissful new sounds throughout 2021 that has 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:

Cassia – ‘Vitamins’

The cheery trio of Northerners known as Cassia have shared a brand new track, ‘Vitamins’, taken from their upcoming EP Magnifier. A supremely funky slice of indie rock, ‘Vitamins’ is an ode to established routines, ones that become so intoxicating that they are impossible to live without.

“It’s about being in a long-distance relationship and the weirdly scheduled calls that become an unmissable fix, almost like a drug,” lead singer Rob Ellis explains. “The distance can bring up all kinds of uncertainties and fears but knowing the next call isn’t far away is like a vitamin boost that you need to get through the day, like a good Berocca.”

Stephen Fretwell – ‘The Long Water’

English singer-songwriter Stephen Fretwell has released the first taste of his upcoming album, Busy Guy, through the new track ‘The Long Water’.

The folky track pairs Fretwell’s verbose and dense lyrical content with a lilting, serene arrangement of sparse acoustic guitar and only the most unobtrusive rhythm section backing him up. As Fretwell ruminates on the meaning of Polynesian shoes and bleeding feet, the changing tides of a relationship turn and cause one heck of a breakdown. Hydro themes abound: floating at the bottom of a drink, crying enough tears to fill a river, swimming upstream. Sometimes hyper-specific, sometimes elegantly ambiguous, ‘The Long Water’ restores Fretwell’s signature voice that’s been absent for over a decade.

LUMP – ‘Climb Every Wall’

LUMP have served up another taste of their forthcoming record with their delicious new single, ‘Climb Every Wall’.

The electro-folk duo consists of the imitable Laura Marling and Tunng leader Mike Lindsay. LUMP announced last month that their second collaborative record, Animal, would be released on July 30th, and they shared the titular track to tease fans.

Now they are back again with ‘Climb Every Wall’, and hearing Marling in this fresh setting is exciting. She’s clearly enjoying being away from the pressures of her solo career, and working with Lindsay in LUMP, she gets to experiment into new sonic territories.

Jungle – ‘Talk About It’

Jungle’s brand new single ‘Talk About It’ is here to get you idyllically in the mood for summer.

The duo, comprised of Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, returned earlier this year with their delightful comeback single ‘Keep Moving’, which was their first release since leaving XL Records and starting their own independent label Caiola Records.

The sparkling ‘Let’s Talk About It’ signifies that the good times are coming thick and fast. Who better to soundtrack the upcoming summer of love than Jungle? The luxuriously soulful single is the second taster from the duo who are gearing up to release their third album, Loving In Stereo, this summer. Let me tell you, I’ve heard a sneak preview, and the record is the duo’s most audacious and arresting yet.

Chvrches & Robert Smith – ‘How Not to Drown’

Scottish electro-pop prodigies Chvrches have released ‘How Not to Drown’, the second single from their upcoming fourth studio album Screen Violence.

The track is a delightfully dark duet between singer Lauren Mayberry and The Cure frontman/rock and roll legend Robert Smith. I have no idea how the two parties got into contact with each other, but I’m glad they did. As a pretty huge fan of both, my music nerd brain is recessing to fits of excitement and fandom that could be considered unprofessional.

What’s great about ‘How Not to Drown’ is how seamlessly the unique sonic styles of both acts meld together to bring out the most exciting and enjoyable elements from each. 

Remi Wolf – ‘Liz’

California’s new R&B pop queen Remi Wolf has shared a new single, the trippy and adoration-filled ‘Liz’.

At the perfect intersection between bedroom pop and soulful R&B, Wolf always brings an impassioned joy and breathless cool to her work, which is probably why she has famous admirers like Beck, Kimbra, and Nile Rodgers, all of whom contributed to her remix release We Love Dogs.

Even when things take a turn, and the song discusses the loneliness of eating by yourself and crying in the kitchen, the exuberance in Wolf’s voice never wavers, not even for a second. She’s a committed, emphatic, uber-talented artist who can’t help but spark optimism and radiant energy with anything she does.

Baby Queen and MAY-A – ‘American Dream’

Baby Queen has revealed details about her debut full-length project, Yearbook, and has also given us another dosage of powerful, twisted pop with her punchy new single, ‘American Dream’.

The track sees Baby Queen – real name Bella Latham – collaborate with Australian rising star MAY-A, and they serve up double trouble on the track. ‘American Dream’ is full of hopeful optimism, which instils a belief that even though things are melancholic right now, our own ‘American Dream’, whatever that might be, is all we need to stay positive.