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Music

Essential Listening: This week's best new music

@TylerGolsen

Welcome to 2021 2022! Another new year, same old problems from last year. But hey, that doesn’t matter, because we’ve got our first big week of new music. I call that a fair trade for increased waves of Omicron and gaggles of influencers who are weirdly indicative of half of the world’s response to Covid as a whole.

The biggest story in new music came from The Weeknd, who announced that his latest album Dawn FM would be the first new album of the year from a major artist. The cosmic radio experience is a thoroughly muddled and unfocused affair, but there’s still plenty of classic R&B jams from the singer to make it worthwhile if you just turn off your brain and go for the ride. If anything, Dawn FM shows that even the heaviest hitters in pop can whiff on occasion.

Elsewhere, we got David Bowie gifting us with a posthumous Toy (Toy: Box). Despite its unwieldy nearly three-hour run time, plus its nightmare-inducing album art, our own Jack Whatley called it “a reminder of the searing talent we sadly lost in 2016 and the abundance of life he gave us before he departed”. Any and all Bowie material will be appreciated, thank you very much.

On the singles front, we’ve got some great material from across the week, so let’s jump right in! Here is some of the best new music from the first week of 2022, compiled into The Far Out Playlist.

The best new songs of the week, January 1st-7th:

Let’s Eat Grandma – ‘Happy New Year’

And to you, Let’s Eat Grandma. The English indie-pop duo rang in 2022 with an appropriately festive new single from their upcoming LP Two Ribbons, the jaunty and wonderfully bombastic ‘Happy New Year’.

A gigantic synth-heavy tour de force featuring some of the catchiest and most pop-centric melodies that the duo has ever landed on, ‘Happy New Year’ is an explosively joyous celebration of friendship and new beginnings, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to the fresh start that comes with the new year. Here’s hoping it ages well in 2022.

Father John Misty – ‘Funny Girl’

Is there any figure in indie rock more iconoclastic than Father John Misty? Completely uncaring about modern musical trends and eternally plugged into the sardonic side of culture, Misty is the kind of man you either love to hate or hate to love, but you always love to see poking around.

Misty has gone full lounge pop on his latest single ‘Funny Girl’. Complete with the soaring old tones of cinema’s Golden Age soundscapes in the style of Bernard Herrmann, Misty almost sounds like he’s ready to let loose a toe-tapping dance routine à la Fred Astaire. Looks like Tom Holland is going to have some competition.

The Smile – ‘You Will Never Work in Television Again’

The latest Radiohead side project featuring band members Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood along with Sons Of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner, The Smile have officially dropped their debut single, ‘You Will Never Work in Television Again’.

The uptempo track is far more guitar-heavy than anything that Radiohead (or Yorke, or Greenwood, or Skinner) have done in recent years. In fact, ‘You Will Never Work in Television Again’ recalls the heavier moments of In RainbowsOK Computer, and maybe even Pablo Honey. It’s certainly as close to big dumb rock music as any of those three have gotten in years, and it’s nice to hear them simply hang loose and rock out. More of this, please.

The Districts – ‘Outlaw Love’

Ramping up for the release of their fifth studio album Great American Painting in February, The Districts have dropped their latest single to preview the new LP with ‘Outlaw Love’.

Less firmly rooted in drum machines and keyboards than the album’s previous two singles, ‘Outlaw Love’ retains the heavily reverberated guitar sounds that are all over the band’s catalogue. The track also features some catchy central melodies underscoring the feeling of having your heart stolen away from you, which I’m guessing isn’t a uniquely American experience.

The Sherlocks – ‘Games You Play’

Back with a new lineup, The Sherlocks have retained their signature alt-rock power as they gear up for the release of their third LP, World I Understand. To give us one final taste of the new album, the band has released the single ‘Games You Play’.

With dense arrangements featuring percussion, strings, and slide guitar swoops, the band occasionally run the risk of drowning themselves out of their own song. Thankfully, they’re able to hit their marks, and ‘Games You Play’ represents a solid return to form for the British indie-rockers.

Alt-J – ‘Hard Drive Gold’

As we move ever closer to the release date of their new album The Dream, British indie rockers Alt-J have gifted us with another preview of the LP with the new single, ‘Hard Drive Gold’.

A sweet dunk on hapless crypto-bros who see their fortune in trying to peddle NFTs, the band craft a genuine earworm while simultaneously taking the piss out of what is undoubtedly some of their immediate audience. It’s not just the best single so far from the album, but also Alt-J’s best single in quite some time.

Warmduscher – ‘Fatso’

London’s favourite band of punky jokesters Warmduscher return with the sort of track that opens your beer for you and has already replied affirmatively to texts saying, ‘up to much this weekend?’ before you’ve even checked your phone – the infectiously laid back ‘Fatso’.

Their latest track, ‘Fatso’, rides the same bar hopping wave of untroubled fun—almost too untroubled for that matter, to the extent that at some point you wonder whether the band have some problems that they really should address. However, for now, their unfettered urban ways prove the perfect boon to break up the malaise and impart The Dude’s central tenet to life: “I can’t be worried about that shit, man.”

MICHELLE – ‘Expiration Date’

New York indie-pop collective MICHELLE have shared the third single from their upcoming sophomore record AFTER DINNER WE TALK DREAMS, the smooth and silky ‘EXPIRATION DATE’.

Right in the sweet spot between indie pop, R&B, and bedroom pop, ‘Expiration Date’ gets some awesomely soulful vocals into its trippy and synthetic arrangement. Grieving a relationship that isn’t long for this world, the band have as much fun as possible with a flame that already has one foot on the train. The results are funky, catchy, and supremely chill, which are all the necessary ingredients for a jam.

Check out all the week’s best songs in The Far Out Playlist down below.