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Essential Listening: This week’s best new music

While it might be the shortest month of the year, one thing that’s not 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 foreseeable future 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.

If it’s new artists you’re looking for, then we’ve got you covered here as well, with the likes of Social Contract and Alfie Templeman who are both intriguing artists with imminent debut albums on the horizon.

Let’s get stuck into this week’s freshest new tracks then, shall we?

This week’s best new music:

Sea Girls – ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’

Sea Girls have shared a delightful cover of Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus’ pop-masterpiece, ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’. The original is one of the most delightful pop music pieces in recent years and lends itself well to the cover, which Sea Girls guide to a rockier location.

The British band keep the infectious country element to the track that Cyrus and Ronson injected into the original alive and well on their cover. It’s over two years since the original came into the world and the version acts as a reminder of what a magical track ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ is.

“The first time I heard it was when we were on our tour bus driving through Belgium in the middle of the night to play a festival in Germany the next day,” singer Henry Camamile remembers. “I couldn’t stop playing it for the next 24 hours. It just sounds like a classic. The lyrics are just infectious. ‘We live and die by pretty lies’ tells a great story, you know? We’re really proud of how it’s turned out, and hopefully, I’ve done Miley justice in the vocal delivery,” he added.

Social Contract – ‘Buzzard’s Wake’

South Londoners Social Contract have served up a twisted delight with their infectious new track, ‘Buzzard’s Wake’. The six-minute extravaganza is the title track from the five piece’s forthcoming EP which is due to be released on 12th March through Pantherburn Records and recorded in Hampshire last summer with producer Neil Kennedy.

This upcoming release is the Social Contract’s first EP in two years and follows 2019’s Common Tongue. The band’s wide-spanning musical palate seems to diversify with each single as ‘Buzzard’s Wake’ and previous single, ‘Waterside Mews’ sees the group take flight in darker territory than ever before.

“‘Buzzards Wake’ touches on how nature has been an anchor for me while trying to mourn or digest a loss,” frontman Josh Eggerton explains. “When life is changing quickly or moving fast, I find it hard to process or settle my thoughts in the city. But there’s a mere by my house, and whenever I’d walk through its surrounding fields and woods, the timelessness of it all really helped me put that internal chaos to bed.”

Jehnny Beth – ‘French Countryside’

Jehnny Beth has shared the visuals for her latest single, ‘French Countryside’. The track appeared on the Savages leader’s debut studio album, To Love Is To Live, and ‘French Countryside’ offers up the most personal moment from her impressive record. There’s no facade for the singer to hide behind on the track as she reflects on her upbringing in rural France – a time before the character Jehnny Beth even existed – and she was simply Camille Berthomier. 

Commenting about the number, Beth stated: “This is the song that caused me the most issues. Up until the last week of mixing we didn’t have a version I was happy with, but I am very proud of it now. I almost didn’t put it on the record because it is so close to the bone it almost feels too self indulgent, but it was my intention to write a song that felt more vulnerable than anything I had ever written before.”

The video for the track is as personal as the lyrics, with Beth staring straight into the lens in a darkened room whilst wearing one of her To Love Is To Live hoodies. There’s a genuine rawness to the visuals that exasperates the message of ‘French Countryside’.

Wallows – ‘Quarterback’

Wallows have shared their effervescent new single, ‘Quarterback’—the track features on their forthcoming deluxe edition of their EP, Remote, which arrives on Friday. The American indie darlings continue to whet their fans appetite before they release their next full-length project.

‘Quarterback’ has a melancholy feel to it and there’s a sombre acceptance to it as drummer Cole Preston battles lockdown loneliness on the chorus. He sings, “‘Cause summer’s gone, I’m alone wishin’, for your call, startin’ to freak, I’m not sure if he’s comin’ over for the night, Quarterback’s fine.”

Drummer Cole Preston has never taken to the mic before, and he’s absolutely rose to the occasion as Wallows let him enjoy his Ringo moment as he shows off his seemingly strong relationship with melody. Although this is Preston’s first opportunity to sing on a Wallows track, one suspects that ‘Quarterback’ won’t be the final time he takes the lead.

Alfie Templeman – ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’

Alfie Templeman has dished out another pleasing indie-pop delight with his new single, ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’. The song oozes ’80s nostalgia with a contemporary edge, which confirms, despite being just 18-years-old, why Templeman is one of the most talked-about emerging artists in Britain right now.

Each release sees to see him conjure up another infectious slice of music that feels genuine and stays true to Templeman’s artistry, but can also slot right in on daytime radio playlists — which is a difficult balance to achieve.

‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’ is a buoyant way to spend the best part of four minutes and will lift your spirits no-ends. Templeman’s feel-good brand of music is a delightful tonic in a pool of dreariness and for somebody so young to know their way around a chorus as he does. It seems inevitable that he’s a talent we will be talking about for many years to come.

Iceage – ‘Vendetta’

Iceage have shared their thunderous new single, ‘Vendetta’, and announced the details of their upcoming fifth studio album. The new single is a sermon delivered by frontman Elias Rønnenfelt who provides an almost spoken-word delivery pleading with the listener over the top of a hypnotic track that blends to drench ‘Vendetta’ in a dystopian universe.

Rønnenfelt warns on the track, “Тhе рlаtеѕ frоm whісh wе еаt frоm, Lіfе іn thе trеnсhеѕ оf а Роnzі ѕсhеmе tо соmе, Сutthrоаt соntrасt јасklеg wіldflоwеr, А nеttlе іn thе nurѕеrу humdrum, Неllbеnt сhаѕіng рареr uроn а mіlе оf rоаd, Вuуеr, ѕеllеr, ѕеllеr, аnd buуеr, Ноw muсh аrе уоu tаkіng fоr hіrе?”

Commenting on the song, the singer said: “Crime is the undercurrent that runs through everything. If you don’t see it, you’re not looking. In its invincible politics, it is the glue that binds it all together. ‘Vendetta’ is an impartial dance along the illicit lines of infraction.”

Shura – ‘Obsession’

Shura has shared her surprise new single, ‘Obsession’, and it’s another trademark brooding effort from the singer-songwriter. The brand new dosage of dream-pop that Shura has unleashed is her first bit of music since 2019, when she released her sophomore album, Forevher. The track was born around the time as the record but the singer didn’t finish it in time, and it’s only now that it’s ready for consumption. 

The new single is a touching duet from Shura and Rosie Lowe, which is a twist on the traditional love-song duet between a man and a woman. Shura is openly lesbian, and ‘Obsession’ sees her celebrate her sexuality while creating an indie haze wrapped up in a loving daydream. The vocals between the two of them complement each other finely and beg the question of why duets between two female artists are still far from standard practice.