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Music

Essential Listening: This week's best new music

@josephtaysom

The shortest month of the year is coming to an end, but one thing that’s not been short in February is the amount of delectable new music that we have been served up. As we continue to find ourselves yet again locked inside our homes for the next couple of months and searching for anything to fill the void, something that can snap us out of the mundane homogenous nature of everyday lockdown life is the sound of new music. The only constant throughout this year is the stream of blissful new sounds that have offered a fine way to stay sane and get those dopamine receptors active.

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 alludes to a special year for music, even if the world doesn’t quite have the same bright immediate future in store. In turbulent times, music can be a release and that feeling of discovering a new artist, one who you connect with straight away, is one that 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 has witnessed some fine musical moments from artists both new and old who are gearing up to release new projects, with the return of Wolf Alice being the stand-out release of the week.

Elsewhere, there’s been an enticing release from Isle Of Wight’s finest, Coach Party and The Horrors have gone back to their gothic roots with their brand new single. Let’s get stuck into this week’s freshest new tracks then, shall we?

This week’s best new music:

José González – ‘El Invento’

José González has shared his gorgeous new single, ‘El Invento’, which arrives as his first slice of new music in six years. González is far from prolific, and a six-year wait isn’t anything out of the ordinary by his standards. His debut album, Vener, came out in 2003, which he followed up in 2007 with In Our Nature, and his third full-length effort came in 2015.

‘El Invento’ poignantly marks the first time that the singer, who is of Argentian parents, has ever released a song written in Spanish. Even though the lyrics are in a foreign language, the song’s loving sentiment remains.

“Every now and then I try to write lyrics in Spanish – this time I succeeded! I guess talking to Laura in Spanish every day helped,” González said about the song. “I started writing ‘El Invento’ around 2017 when she was born. The song is about the questions – who we are, where we’re going and why?”

John Myrtle – ‘Get Her Off My Mind’

John Myrtle has shared the nostalgic new single, ‘Get Her Off My Mind’. The song has a feeling of old-school British cool seeping out of it and feels like a vintage pop-song from the golden era of music in the 1960s. ‘Get Her Off My Mind’ is a ravishing track that feels remarkable to come out in 2021. In a time when new artists are embracing technology and making futuristic sounds, Myrtle has taken the opposite approach and it’s paid off dramatically on his latest effort. 

On ‘Get Her Off My Mind’, Myrtle states: “This song was written a long time ago and has stayed with me throughout the years, so to finally give it a release is both exciting and relieving! I remember I was listening to a lot of The Beach Boys at the time, and just a lot of classic 60s pop which I guess is what I listen to anyway. Here though, I wanted to do a song that was just a very simple, catchy 3 minute pop song, like a Monkees track or something!”

If you didn’t know better, you’d never hazard a guess for a moment that this song wasn’t from the era that Myrtle takes such influence from, and he does the sound justice. Could Myrtle end up spearheading a ’60s revival? If so, we’re here for it!

Matt Berninger – ‘Let It Be’

The National frontman Matt Berninger has shared his emotional new solo single, ‘Let It Be’. Berninger released his debut solo album, Serpentine Prison, back in October through Book Records and ‘Let It Be’ appears on the forthcoming deluxe edition of the record, which arrives on March 12th. Commenting on the single release, Berninger left the explanation deliberately vague and open to interpretation by the listener, stating: “This is a new song about an old frenemy. Not Paul McCartney or Westerberg.”

Although sonically speaking, Berninger is operating in new territory with his solo material, and on ‘Let It Be’, lyrically, he is still writing in the same way he always has done. If you’re one of the many who has felt profoundly moved by his work with The National, then ‘Let It Be’ will still hit the spot even if it is a departure from the sound deliciously concocted by the Dessner brothers.

Coach Party – ‘Everybody Hates Me’

Coach Party have shared their first new music of the year with the release of the thumping new track ‘Everybody Hates Me’. The Isle of Wight four-piece has accompanied the new single with the announcement of their hotly anticipated second EP, After Party, released on April 20th through Chess Club Records. 

Commenting on the track vocalist Jess Eastwood says: “‘Everybody Hates Me’ isn’t a metaphor for anything; it’s literally about those times when you convince yourself that everyone, including your best friends don’t actually like you, and your self-confidence is so low that you don’t even blame them. Disguise that sentiment in an up-beat singalong, and there you have the third single from our new record.”

The beauty of ‘Everybody Hates Me’ is the rawness of it and the injection of pure unadulterated energy that bleeds out of Eastwood’s vocals coupled with an offering of monster riffs. With the news of live music returning this summer now looking like a realistic possibility, the thought of seeing Coach Party in a tent at a festival is a mouth-watering proposition.

The Horrors – ‘Lout’

The Horrors have returned to their heavy roots on their brand new single, ‘Lout’. It’s been almost four years since the Faris Badwan led-band released their last album, V, which was a dreamy trip that was a world away from the fiery industrial sound of ‘Lout’. The new single is unlike anything that The Horrors have done sonically before, but the track’s energy does share the same animalistic nature that bleeds out of their 2007 debut, Strange House. 

“‘Lout’ is about the relationship between choice and chance, compulsive risk-taking and pushing your luck,” said frontman Faris Badwan. “As a band, particularly live, we’ve always had an aggressive side and as we began writing new songs it became clear that we were heading in that direction.”

This return is The Horrors unleashed. They don’t need to worry about radio dictating their sound anymore, and the EP allows them to explore a sound that they have let the dust settle on. Thankfully there are no signs of mould on ‘Lout’, which still carries that incandescent feel that their debut had all-those years ago.

Wolf Alice – ‘The Last Man On Earth’

Wolf Alice have returned in emphatic style with their brand-new single, ‘The Last Man On Earth’. The single is the first taste of new music from the Londoner’s since their last record, which came in 2017 when they shared Visions Of A Life. It was a project that took home the coveted Mercury Prize the following year and cemented their status as one of the finest contemporary acts around.

 ‘The Last Man On Earth’ is unlike anything they’ve done before. The group slow things down to deliver a profound sermon that leaves the listener kneeling at the altar at their greatness. The majority of ‘The Last Man On Earth’ is Rowsell’s naked vocals, backed only by a gentle piano, which emphasises every word and adds gravitas to every single note she sings. There’s a sense of purity that oozes out of the track, making it feel like a cardinal moment in Wolf Alice’s career.

‘The Last Man On Earth’ marks a sonic departure for the group, who haven’t released anything as unfiltered as the track ever before. The song feels like the start of a new dawn for the band, who aren’t in the same place in life as they were four years ago, and the track hints towards an increased reflectiveness in their work. 

After releasing the universally-lauded, A Visions Of LifeWolf Alice seemingly took their time and evolved, rather than trying to re-capture their last album. This willingness to keep moving things forward both sonically and lyrically explains why Wolf Alice are one of the most important bands of the last decade.

Ben Howard – ‘Far Out’

Ben Howard has shared his blissful new single, ‘Far Out’, with a song as luscious as that and with such a fitting title, it would be sacrilege not to feature the track on Far Out. The song is the latest effort to be released from the acclaimed British singer-songwriter’s upcoming fourth studio album, Collections From The Whiteout. The album arrives on March 26th through Island Records. 

Speaking about ‘Far Out’, Howard comments: “The song is essentially a critique of how easily people are drawn to violence and animosity without reason, just to pass the time. And ultimately how there is perhaps a simpler, more fulfilling path. I wanted it to have a very British rhyming slang feel and a Roald Dahl sense of macabre humour. I fear my tinkering with it has made it a little more plain and serious.”

The four-tracks released by Howard so-far from Collections From The Whiteout all hint towards his most advantageous record to date, which sees him explore new territory, especially from a lyrical standpoint. Howard has adopted a real laser-eye focus on the storytelling of each release, a base that knits them together and creates a cohesive picture of the album to come.

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