Credit: Tanya Pro

Essential Listening: This week’s best new music

The January Blues have thankfully almost come to an end. Whilst the month hasn’t been the finest start to the year, with each week seemingly being wilder from the last, we 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. The only constant thing throughout this year is the stream of blissful brand new music that has been 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 them continuing to offer up servings of delectable sounds. Some of the new music 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 its 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 then we’ve got you covered here. This week saw King Krule deliver a heartfelt cover of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and Royal Blood sharing the title track from their highly-anticipated forthcoming third album.

If it’s new artists, then we’ve got you covered here as well, with the likes of Do Nothing and Rose Gray who are both exciting English artists that have bright futures ahead of them, with the potential to become stars of tomorrow. Let’s get stuck into this week’s freshest new track then, shall we?

This week’s best new music:

Royal Blood – ‘Typhoons’

This thunderous effort is the second single – and the title track from their forthcoming third album – that the Brighton band has revealed will be available on April 30th. It is a gut-punching effort that hints towards an explosive record from the group who seemed to have gained an extra dynamic to their sound and have produced an utter floor filler with ‘Typhoons’. The track takes off sonically from where lead single, ‘Trouble’s Coming’, left off and suggests that the new album is kickstarting a refreshing new chapter for Royal Blood.

Speaking to Radio X about the new album and the two singles, frontman Mike Kerr commented: “We sort of stumbled on this sound, and it was immediately fun to play,” the singer noted. “That’s what sparked the creativity on the new album, the chasing of that feeling. We realised that we didn’t have to completely destroy what we’d created so far; we just had to shift it, change it. On paper, it’s a small reinvention. But when you hear it, it sounds so fresh.”

There’s only so much you can do in a band with just two members and Royal Blood knew that something had to evolve in their sound for this album, which they have pulled off on both ‘Typhoons’ and ‘Trouble’s Coming’. It sounds fresh and exciting, if they chose to go down the route which they had gained considerable success with on their first two records and preached to the choir again, there would be a chance that their sound would have got stale.

Rose Gray – ‘Easy’

From the first second of ‘Easy’, Gray guides the listener to a Saturday night back when they were a thing that was the thing that would get you through the rest of the week. The nostalgic 1990s bagginess oozes out on the track which arrives as an effortless fit with Gray’s dizzy vocals that make for a euphoric match on the new release. Whilst the song takes influence from the past and is reminiscent of Roisin Murphy, there’s a fresh and invigorating feel to the track that makes the Walthamstow singer one to watch in 2021.

The song is a high-point on Gray’s debut mixtape titled, dancing, drinking, talking, thinking, which arrived on Friday. The seven-track release is best-consumed late-at-night as the title alludes to and lays out precisely what kind of artist she is. ‘Easy’ is a trip-hop banger cultivating the very best elements from the mixtape onto one track and is a gratifying listen that celebrates a UK subculture of the past that Gray is kicking and screaming into 2021.

King Krule – ‘Imagine’

This track has been hand-crafted to fit into Krule’s warped world, and Archy Marshall wraps the song in distortion to craft it into the trademark sound that we have grown to associate with the artist. Covering ‘Imagine’ is an almost impossible task, near about every artist has attempted to make the classic their own over the years, and most have failed.

Krule released it on his Bandcamp page over the weekend and accompanied the track, by adding: “Recorded in sweat, last summer, for a friend”. This cover is the first taste of new music for almost twelve months from the singer-songwriter and its an almighty treat that offers a potent reminder of his immense talent. His delivery is like nobody else and whilst on paper him taking on John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ sounds like potentially a recipe for disaster, however, it’s anything but that and Krule manages to cook up a heavenly devilish version.

Teenage Fanclub – ‘I’m More Inclined’

‘I’m More Inclined’ is a slice of warmth in a dark time and there’s an affability to ‘I’m More Inclined’ thanks to Teenage Fanclub cramming the new single full of heart. This release is the second single taken from their upcoming eleventh studio album, Endless Arcade, released on April 30th after being pushed back from March 5th due to “circumstances beyond our control.”

The song has a similar theme to lead single, ‘Home’ and together both pieces provide a glimpse at how their new record will shape up. There have been some changes in the Teenage Fanclub camp since the release of their last record, Here, in 2016. Founding member, Gerard Love, who played bass/vocals in the group left the band in 2018 due to creative differences and was replaced by former Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci frontman Euros Childs.

Teenage Fanclub always have had three vocalists who take it in turns to lead the band through a track. Losing one of those members in Love could have been a make or break moment, but, they seem reinvigorated and ‘I’m More Inclined’ is the sound of a band comfortable with where they are in life. 

Do Nothing – ‘Uber Alles’

The latest single from the Nottingham four-piece sees the band step into new sonic territory, as ‘Uber Alles’ is somewhat less combative than their debut EP, Zero Dollar Bill, which was released last April. The futuristic intro starts the wild journey that is ‘Uber Alles’ and immediately gets the listener’s guard down. Then Do Nothing expertly guide the track down unexpected turn after unexpected turn. There’s also a reflective and melancholy nature to the track that works well juxtaposed with the band prowess’s innovative guitar trickery.

“‘Uber Alles’ was the first song written for the new EP,” said frontman Chris Bailey. “Musically it takes a more decided, less rough around the edges approach than some of our previous material but lyrically it’s largely about being at ease with yourself, which is often tough to do.”

‘Uber Alles’ sees the band expand their boundaries to great success and the EP hints towards being a much-welcomed distraction for 2021, with a theme that feels appropriate for right now. Do Nothing are one of the most exciting rising bands in Britain right now and if they continue releasing tracks on a par with, ‘Uber Alles’, their future knows no bounds.

Tune-Yards – ‘Hold Yourself’

Tune-Yards have shared their brand new soulful single, ‘Hold Yourself’. The track comes straight from singer Merrill Garbus’s heart, offering up an emotional, almost gospel, number with an optimistic message running throughout. Whilst the song deals with disappointment and anger, Garbus delivers a sermon that channels this incensed feeling about how previous generations have left the world into hope.

On the joyful chorus, Garbus sings: “Hold ourselves now, Yes, we will hold ourselves now, No choice of when and who knows how, But we will hold ourselves now, Hold ourselves now, Yes, we will hold ourselves now, No choice of when and we are learning how, But we will hold ourselves now.”

In a statement, Garbus commented: “This song is about feeling really betrayed by my parents’ generation, and, at the same time, really seeing how we are betraying the future.”

Julia Stone featuring Matt Berninger – ‘We All Have’

Julia Stone has shared the beautiful and uplifting new single, ‘We All Have’, featuring The National’s frontman Matt Berninger. Stone’s ghostly and haunting vocals provide the track with a mysterious feeling, and like everything is up in the air. Although the lyrics are reassuring, Stone’s impressive vocal delivery adds an extra layer to the track, stopping it from ever veering close to being cheesy or cringe. As the song deals with the importance of self-love and how this is paramount, often a song can miss the spot, but, Stone has no issues with getting the tone just right with Berninger playing a role in helping her achieve this.

‘We All Have’ was produced by St. Vincent and Thomas Bartlett – AKA Doveman. The presence of such esteemed members of indie royalty in one song should make for absolute no surprises about why it’s such a delicious effort. Speaking about the track, Stone commented: “This song is about how everything transforms and moves; even though you feel so shitty at one point, it might shift into something new. Love is all that we really need to be here for —not love with someone else.”

Meanwhile, Berninger added: “It’s always really inspiring to hear old friends creating such amazing music. I’ve been a big fan of Julia’s work for a long time, and it was so fun to be invited to be a part of this song!”

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