Somehow, we find ourselves in the fourth month of the year already and what a year it’s been for music? The sun has started glaring down upon us all and, suddenly, everything is looking bright once more. The thought of watching your favourite artist in the summer with a beer in hand at a festival no longer seems out of reach and, in reality, actually feels tangibly close.
The brighter evenings are here to stay, and we only one more week left until the return of beer gardens and, if you’re needing something to stick on the summer playlist while having a BBQ this Bank Holiday Weekend, then look no further. 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.
The only constant throughout the year is the stream of blissful new sounds 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. 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:
Joey Maxwell – ‘Too Much’
Rejoice, dear lads, because Joey Maxwell is back with his inimitable sprechgesang to lay bare the anxieties of growing old and the bliss of letting go on the new track ‘Too Much’.
There’s no reason why goofy pop music can’t have a mature message attached to it, and every time Maxwell seems on the verge of getting too preachy, he brings it down to earth by extolling the virtues of simple desires: beans and toast, getting high, buying a car for the aunt who never judged you. There’s a great mix of ephemeral joy and wholesome sincerity that raises ‘Too Much’ above its casual catchiness, and that’s what’s going to keep people coming back to it.
Kawala – ‘Chasing / Wasting Time’
It’s been a long journey for Camden-based band Kawala. Originally a folk duo consisting of singer Jim Higson and guitarist Daniel McCarthy, who formed the band while studying together at university in the early 2010s, the band has since expanded to a quintet, released three EP’s, a handful of singles, and a breakout streaming hit in 2018 with ‘Do It Like You Do.’
All that hard work would surely amount to something, right? Well, the struggle continues, with that exertion creating the basis for the group’s new single ‘Chasing/Wasting Time.’
Kawala know one of the tenets of Pop Music 101: depressing lyrics should be paired with upbeat music. It doesn’t get much bouncier than ‘Chasing/Wasting Time’, so much so that it’s easy to get lost in the bright acoustic guitars and light-as-air keyboard lines without paying attention to the words at all.
The Joy Formidable – ‘Into The Blue’
The Joy Formidable have made a strapping return with their woozy new single, ‘Into The Blue’. The Welsh band’s last album came in 2018 when they shared their fourth record, AAARTH, with ‘Into The Blue’ getting the latest chapter of their story off to a fierce and flavoursome start.
The track is lighter and more uplifting than one would usually expect from The Joy Formidable, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve forgotten about powerful riffs, which gives ‘Into The Blue’ an extra layer of brawn.
‘Into The Blue’ fuses Itzy Bryan’s intricate vocals with brash guitars and drums, which gives the song an element of shoegaze as her hushed vocals get drowned out by the driving sound behind her. The result of this juxtaposition is elysian and after almost three years since their last release, ‘Into The Blue’ is a reminder that The Joy Formidable are still as effervescent as ever.
Iceage – ‘Shelter Song’
Danish indie punk’s Iceage have returned with their new track and accompanying video, ‘Shelter Song’. The single is in service of the band’s upcoming fifth album Seek Shelter. The quartet have been thoroughly moved away from the punk roots, most clearly shown on their 2011 debut New Brigade, an album that still rips to this day. As most punks do, Iceage have gotten a little older, a little less angry, and decided that breakneck tempos and chaos aren’t the most stable elements to sustain a career.
Instead, we get some optimism and introspection. People mature, you know? Even rebellious kids eventually have to handle the responsibilities of adult life, and ‘Shelter Song’ invokes a kind of protection and love that weren’t around on older tracks like ‘Broken Bone’ and ‘You’re Nothing’. That light at the end of the video extends to the song as a whole: “They beat you from the left, they hit you from the right/Come lay here right beside me.” Iceage are starting to turn a little warm and fuzzy.
Poté ft. Damon Albarn – ‘Young Lies’
Poté has teamed up with Damon Albarn for the genre-defying ‘Young Lies’, which swerves and serves countless emotions throughout the kaleidoscopic track.
The London-based, St Lucia born Poté released his debut album, Spiral, My Love, back in 2018. He returned in February with ‘Open Up’ and has now gifted us the new single ‘Young Lies’. For the track, Poté sought out the assistance of Albarn to create a thunderous effort that blends a plethora of cultures on the same track from Poté’s Caribbean background to his raving days of young adulthood, and Albarn’s sunken vocals add another layer of ardour to the song.
The charm of ‘Young Lies’ derives from the vibrant, energetic beat which erupts the song into life in contrast with Albarn’s hollowed, anxiety-inducing vocals and Poté’s hushed tones.
There’s a battle going on throughout the song between the high-octane backdrop and the vocals, which exhibits the differing emotions that Poté successfully executes across the theatrical track.
Courtney Barnett and Vagabon – ‘Don’t Do It’
Courtney Barnett has teamed up with Vagabon for a delightful cover of Sharon Van Etten track ‘Don’t Do It’. Barnett and Vagabon, who previously worked together back in January to cover Karen Dalton’s ‘Reasons To Believe’, have joined forces once more to give their take on the Van Etten number.
The track, which sounds befitting of something one would normally recognise from Barnett’s own back catalogue, sees the Australian musician adapt the track into the mould we’ve come to expect. Meanwhile, Vagabon’s softer voice acts as an object for the singer-songwriter to ricochet off.
While we find ourselves starved of new, original material from the Indie Queen of Australia, ‘Don’t Do It’ is a glorious appetiser that offers up a reminder of why she’s such an exceptional talent. Barnett knows what makes a successful collaboration; having worked wonders previously with Kurt Vile and now with Vagabon, she looks to have found another perfect partner in crime.
St. Vincent – ‘The Melting Of The Sun’
St. Vincent has shared her silky new single, ‘The Melting Of The Sun’, taken from her forthcoming sixth-studio album Daddy’s Home. The album is about her father’s release from prison after serving a sentence for white-collar crime. Annie Clark announced the record last month with the glitzy comeback single, ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’.
Now with ‘The Melting Of The Sun’, she has offered a moment of calm and contemplation, with an old school unapologetically pop-driven single that sees her pay homage to iconoclasts such as Joni Mitchell and Marilyn Monroe.
Daddy’s Home is shaping up to be a fascinating release from one of the most unpredictable artists around, who continues to shift into different personas for every single record. So far, the two singles released feel like they’re from two different artists. ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’ was a sassy, vigoured effort and followed up with a nostalgia-soaked ballad. A total contrast, but somehow St. Vincent has managed to make this style work on ‘The Melting Of The Sun’.