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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

With a third of the year gone in the blink of an eye, the only constant that has remained throughout 2021 is top tier fresh music. The sun has started glaring down upon us all, beer gardens are open and, suddenly, everything is looking bright once more. The 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 actually feels tangibly close.

The brighter evenings aren’t going away, and after a year without live music, things are tantalisingly close to returning. 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.

Throughout the year there has been a 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 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:

Kandle – ‘New Morning’

Kandle, the criminally under-the-radar Canadian singer-songwriter, has released her newest single, the aching piano ballad ‘Misty Morning’. The JUNO nominated artist is one of Canada’s greatest hidden treasures. With a vocal style that ranges from delicate compassion to searing indictments of asshole abusers and demonic habits, Kandle has the talent and range to sing about almost anything. 

‘Misty Morning’, refreshingly, is a love song. As someone who’s heard the singer kick back against her own sorrows for over half a decade, it’s a welcome relief to hear her sing about finding someone who doesn’t want to just use her and throw her away. “Never did I dream I could be adored/No ones ever tried to stick around before.”

Crowded House – ‘To The Island’ (Tame Impala Remix)

Aussies ride together. Kevin Parker, the enigmatic Tame Impala mastermind, has reworked fellow Australian national treasures Crowded House’s song ‘To The Island’, the second single off their upcoming reunion album Dreamers Are Waiting.

Kevin Parker answers the eternal question on the remix: “What if the band that put out ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ did mushrooms?” The original track’s shuffle beat is discarded for Indian percussion, and the vocals are pitch-shifted into a higher, headier octave. It’s a playful collaboration that benefits Crowded House by updating their earnest sound for something a little more detached and spacey. Kevin Parker, meanwhile, gets to continue his slow takeover of all music. Win-win all around.

Paul Weller – ‘Shades Of Blue’

Paul Weller has shared his glistening brand new single, ‘Shades Of Blue’, which proves precisely why The Modfather is still an essential voice in music. It was only last year that Weller released his previous album, On Sunset. Still, with little else to do with touring cancelled, The Modfather instead decided to put the lockdown to good use by getting back to his seeking sanctuary in the recording studio.

Not only is ‘Shades Of Blue’ an uplifting soul number that has a hook reminiscent of something that Weller and Mick Talbot would have cooked up in the days of The Style Council, not only is the track a delectable joy, but there’s also a heartwarming tale to go with it too.

‘Shades of Blue’ features Weller wonderfully duetting with his daughter, Leah, who is an artist in her own right. Weller was the architect for the verses while Leah wrote the chorus during a studio session together.

Lucy Dacus – ‘Hot & Heavy’

Lucy Dacus has released her wistful new single, ‘Hot & Heavy’, which is a personal number and shows off the storytelling instincts we’ve come to expect. ‘Hot & Heavy’ is about reflecting upon the change in herself and growing as a person. However, while Dacus isn’t that same human anymore, she can still glowingly look back at her former self and those memories while acknowledging the separation. The heavyweight emotion is underpinned by accomplished storytelling and Dacus’ nouse for a soaring chorus.

Meanwhile, Dacus has announced her third solo album, Home Video, which arrives on June 25th through Matador Records. She began work on the record in 2019 when she returned to Trace Horse Studio in Nashville with collaborators Jacob Blizard, Collin Pastore, and Jake Finch to record. The forthcoming album also features her boygenius pals Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, who contribute vocals on two songs. 

Easy Life – ‘Skeletons’

Easy Life has raised excitement levels for their forthcoming debut album with their shimmering new single, ‘Skeletons’. The latest swaggering track follows the recent teaser, ‘A Message To Myself’, as the Leicestershire natives step closer to releasing their highly-anticipated debut, Life’s A Beach, on June 5th through Island Records. 

‘Skeletons’ is an emotional track filled with anticipation about starting a new journey with somebody, along with the trepidation that it’s all going to end in tears. Matravers’ has a special skill that allows him to weave between spoken word delivery throughout the verses, then showing off the full range of his cajoling vocal abilities on the chorus just a moment later.

Everything that Easy Life do is soaked in youthfulness, and they stay true to that sentiment on the infectious ‘Skeletons’. The track feels like a progression for the band from a production standpoint and feels bigger, more anthemic than their previous work.

Falle Nioke and sir Was – ‘Wonama Yo Ema’

Falle Nioke and Swedish producer sir Was have teamed up for the hypnotic new track, ‘Wonama Yo Ema’. Guinean singer Nioke and the Swede may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but they make it work. Nioke arrived in the UK three years ago, after a period of travelling around West Africa. His life experiences gifted the singer with a kaleidoscopic world view which clashes with sir Was’ production in a rejoiceful manner as these two contrasting cultures sit side-by-side on the track.

The title of the new single, ‘Wonama Yo Ema’, means ‘do not neglect people’ in Susu, one of the seven languages in which Nioke speaks. That message is omnipresent across the track, and you don’t have to be fluent in Susu to profoundly feel the waves of sincerity that Nioke crams into the song. “If you help someone who is poor or in need, don’t judge them or spoil their name in the community,” Nioke comments on the track’s message.

Mr Jukes and Barney Artist – ‘Blowin Steam (Open Up Your Mind)’

Mr Jukes has reunited with Barney Artist for the collaborative, ‘Blowin Steam (Open Up Your Mind)’. The new single couldn’t sit further away from what Mr Jukes, AKA Jack Steadman, gets up to with his day job as the frontman in Bombay Bicycle Club. When he first started releasing music under the moniker in 2017, it seemed like a strange left-field move to go from fronting an indie band to delving into the world of funk and soul. On paper, it seemed destined for disaster, but Steadman made the switch seamlessly.

Barney is a hip-hop artist with an old-school ethos and flow who has worked with Tom Misch, Loyle Carner, George The Poet, Jordan Rakei and many others who share the same school of thought. The two talents previously linked up on ‘From Golden Stars Comes Silver Dew’ from God First. There’s tangible chemistry between them that is clear for all to see on the dreamy ‘Blowin Steam (Open Up Your Mind)’.

Speaking about the track, Mr Jukes says: “‘Blowin Steam’ happened so organically. Our first proper session together… the beat immediately connecting with Barney and the lyrics written within hours.”

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