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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

It’s safe to say that the collective national mood has dampened somewhat over the past week. Thankfully, at least our reliable friend, new music, has been there as a comfort blanket, and it’s been another strong week for releases. As we saunter into the middle of summer here are some fresh sounds to wrap your ears while you soak in the rays.

Whatever you have got planned this weekend, we’ve got you covered. There’s no shame in wanting to spin some old classics, but there are few feelings that match the joy of discovering new music. The seven handpicked songs below will sound perfect through a Bluetooth speaker whether you’re having a relaxing Sunday barbecue with friends, or just want to bliss out at home.

With a stream of exhilarating new sounds throughout 2021 offering a fine way to stay sane and get those dopamine receptors active, the weekly round-up collects the best on offer every weekend. As the months have gone on, we’ve been treated to 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 emerging artists. Music has been a constant release for many of us through these turbulent times and has 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:

Annie – ‘Just Like Honey’

Mononymous Norwegian singer Annie has released her take on The Jesus & Mary Chain’s signature song, ‘Just Like Honey’. The original, an unimpeachable tenet for alternative rock and 1980s British music as a whole, gets a slick and propulsive makeover with Annie, who excises the legendary ‘Be My Baby’ for a robotic reproduction.

Retaining the spacey openness and thematic tambourine-led whack of the 1985 version, Annie’s cover replaces tense atmosphere with euphoric release and celebration. The Jesus & Mary Chain, but if they were on the more New Wave end of 1980s alt-rock.

The Mysterines – ‘In My Head’

Liverpool hard rockers The Mysterines have shared a new preview of their forthcoming debut LP with the single ‘In My Head’.

“‘In My Head’ appears to be a love song, but that was not the original intention,” vocalist Lia Metcalfe says of the band’s new single. “I did want it to superficially be seen as that, but in reality it’s a song about people who struggle with their mental health. Partly autobiographical, it’s about how sometimes life can feel like you’re being haunted by something out of your control.”

With elements of metal and alt-rock, The Mysterines excel at pulse-pounding, ear-splitting power chords and thunderous drums. When completed with Metcalfe’s burly growl, it’s a potent sonic stew that sounds fresh and exciting. If you’re one of those people who bemoan the fact that band’s don’t rock anymore, The Mysterines are here to prove that rock is very much still alive.

Chvrches – ‘Good Girls’

Chvrches have teased their fourth album, Screen Violence, with their powerful new single ‘Good Girls’. The emphatic track sees singer Lauren Mayberry lash out at the challenges that women face on a daily basis, which are deeply entrenched within society. ‘Good Girls’ captures Mayberry in a defiant mood and refusing to accept that this is the way that life should be for 50% of the population.

Sonically speaking, Chvrches stick with their trademark synth-pop tones that they’ve helped popularise in recent years. There’s an army of bands who have attempted to follow in the Scottish group’s footprints by incorporating synths, and it’s become the norm within indie music. Yet, Chvrches’ knack for creating delectable moments of ecstasy puts them in their own league.

Pixey – ‘Sunshine State’

Pixey has got the disco ball spinning with her exuberant new single, ‘Sunshine State’. It’s been a bright year for the Liverpool-based indie-pop sensation who shared her kaleidoscopic EP, Free To Live In Colour, in the Spring, and now she’s back with another euphoric anthem. Pixey has become an artist that you can trust for a pick me up.

The baggy ‘Sunshine State’ is no different, and even sees her broaden her musical pallet by bringing a sprinkling of rave into her sound. There are infectious hooks galore in ‘Sunshine State’, and Pixey’s textured blend of vocals on the track make it a restless listen. At the end of the song, you’ll be catching your breath and find yourself daydreaming about dancing away in idyllic surroundings with live music blasting.

Baby Queen – ‘You Shaped Hole’

Baby Queen, the moniker utilised by 23-year-old Bella Latham, has released a brand new single, ‘You Shaped Hole’. As pure pop as music can get, ‘You Shaped Hole’ sees Latham channelling classic Swiftian hooks on her latest track.

Lyrically the song finds Latham at a crossroads: she’s confident in her ability to move on from a former flame, but she can’t help but still grieve the loss. “I can do any fucking thing that I want to do/But there’s a hole inside of me and it’s shaped like you.”

The song checks all the right boxes: Incredibly catchy? Check. Earworms for days? Check. Filled with interesting production touches? Check. Pop music gets a bad reputation for being vapid and watered down, but I quite enjoyed some of the cheesier qualities of ‘You Shaped Hole’, like the buzzy synths and the highly dramatic spoken word bridge.

Turnstile and Blood Orange – ‘Alien Love Call’

The dreamy ‘Alien Love Call’ by supposed hardcore outfit Turnstile and Blood Orange is unequivocally 2021’s most unexpected collaborations, but somewhat surprisingly, their styles mesh together seamlessly.

It’s a change of tune for Turnstile, the group hop on board and let Blood Orange bring his luxurious, gold-plated, R&B rhythmics. The styles between the two never butt heads on the song, and the sleek production allows the American rockers to display their less seen tender side.

Blood Orange and Turnstile you’d never expect to read in the same sentence or even appear on a festival line-up together, yet they’ve joined forces and produced one of the strongest collaborations of the year.

Manic Street Preachers ft. Julia Cumming – ‘The Secret He Had Missed’

Over the last 30 years, there are very few bands that have proven to be as reliable as the Manic Street Preachers. The Welsh icons have done it again with their new single, ‘The Secret He Had Missed’ – which features Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cumming – and sees the band serve up a slab of 1980s pop.

The vocals from Cumming and Nicky Wire combine lusciously, with the gloriously nostalgia-soaked ‘The Secret He Had Missed’ unashamedly sounding like a blast from the past. The conversational aspect of the track helps enhance the narrative which, somewhat bizarrely, is about a 19th-century born Welsh painter. That topic alone proves that Wire and Cumming’s heavenly vocals could make anything enticing.