Welcome back to Essential Listening, a place where we compile all the best new music of the week into the definitive tome of modern music: The Far Out Playlist.
You don’t need a ton of options to have a good New Music Friday. This week, we had two really great albums competing for Album of the Week – Viagra Boys’ Cave World and Katy J. Pearson’s Sound of the Morning. It was Pearson who ultimately walked away with the title, but you really can’t go wrong with either of these long plays to spin over the weekend.
On the singles front, it’s been a remix kind of week. Figuratively, like with The Mars Volta’s new electronica-friendly sound on ‘Graveyard Love’, and literally, with Mitski’s new version of ‘Love Me More’ from Clark. Dave Rowntree, Baby Queen, and Neil Young all got in on the new singles fun as well, to varying degrees of success.
Still, only eight songs can find their way onto this list. Here are the best new songs from the week, compiled into The Far Out Playlist.
This week’s best new music: July 2nd – July 8th:
Of Montreal – ‘Blab Sabbath Lathe of Maiden’
American pop group of Montreal have dropped ‘Blab Sabbath Lathe of Maiden’, the next piece of the puzzle that is their upcoming 18th studio album, Freewave Lucifer f<ck f^ck f>ck.
The new track begins slowly with a dark atmospheric soundscape that raises the tension before a sudden interjection of psychedelic pop with a danceable beat and barely indecipherable choral vocals. “I’m a mutt, I drink human blood/ My mistake, did I mention I’m a stud?” Kevin Barnes sings, bringing an element of apprehension and comedy to proceedings.
Alvvays – ‘Pharmacist’
It’s been a full half-decade since Canadian indie rockers Alvvays released their sophomore album Antisocialites. After waiting what seems like forever, indie pop’s premiere act have officially returned to announce their third album Blue Rev, along with the album’s first single, ‘Pharmacist’.
‘Pharmacist’ takes Alvvays signature guitar rock and brings it down a prominent shoegaze path. Pedals, effects, and psychedelic swirls were never foreign to Alvvays, with tracks like ‘Red Planet’ and ‘Forget About Life’ floating off to strange and spacey alternate worlds, but ‘Blue Rev’ packs in a whole host of sounds in just two minutes, including Molly Rankin’s dreamy vocals, key changes, and lo-fi breakdowns.
Loyle Carner – ‘Hate’
Loyle Carner has returned with his fiery new single, ‘Hate’, his first track of the year. The South Londoner hasn’t released an album since 2019’s Not Waving, But Drowning, and it’s refreshing to have the nicest guy in rap back in action. While he nourished fans in 2020 with the stand-alone Madlib-produced single, ‘Yesterday’, ‘Hate’ is seemingly the beginning of his third album cycle.
‘Hate’ is a powerful effort and sees the rapper in a far darker and more aggressive stance than we’re used to seeing from Carner. Nevertheless, it’s brimming with heartfelt emotion, which is what he does best. It’ll be intriguing to see where Carner goes next, but I suspect the theme which runs through ‘Hate’ will be an anomaly on his forthcoming record. During his Glastonbury show, the 27-year-old also elatedly announced he’d recently become a father, which has likely influenced his third album.
Wet Leg – ‘Too Late Now’ (Soulwax remix)
Wet Leg have teamed up with another prominent musical outfit, Belgian electronica forerunners Soulwax, on a remix to the band’s single ‘Too Late Now’. The Soulwax version of the track is a “remix” in the same way that changing the pots, parts, neck, and paint job on a guitar is “refurbishing”. The only recognisable element of the original version of the song is Rhian Teasdale’s vocals, which are chopped up, pitch modulated, and transformed within an entirely new composition.
There’s some debate as to how heavily a remix should mess with the original song. Soulwax clearly wanted to put their own stamp on ‘Too Late Now’, so much so that they basically made it into a different song. If you like the bass-heavy guitar rock of the original track and are allergic to blippy club rhythms, then this remix is almost certainly not for you.
Julien Baker – ‘Guthrie’
American indie rocker Julien Baker has announced a new EP, B-Sides, with the new single ‘Guthrie’. With just a finger-picked acoustic guitar line and her voice, Baker brings out her folkie roots on ‘Guthrie’. Perhaps the song didn’t quite fit the electric and eclectic atmosphere conjured up on Little Oblivions, but it remains a gorgeous and fragile track that bafflingly hasn’t seen the light of day until now. Baker’s guitar lines alternate between intricate and simple, but they never get in the way of her haunting vocal performance.
Plenty of Baker’s material has the power to destroy you if you happen to be in a fragile mental state, and ‘Guthrie’ is no exception. When Baker coos “There’s nothing inside of here but blood and guts” and “I wanted so bad to be good, but there’s no such thing”, that crushing weight that marks the best of her songs shines through in painfully plaintive detail. There’s nothing to adorn ‘Guthrie’, and that makes its crushing lyrical scale even more extreme.
The 1975 – ‘Part of the Band’
The 1975 have returned with a new single. ‘Part of the Band’ seems intent on juxtaposing its beautiful instrumentation with logic-pushing lyrics. Whether Healy is being purposefully provocative or just shitposting is impossible to know for sure — we live in an age where the difference between the two is razor-thin, and no offence to him, but Healy is hardly the premier example of a deft lyricist who can toe that line perfectly.
Ultimately, the best way to enjoy ‘Part of the Band’ is to let it wash over you without thinking too hard. If you were cynical, you could say that this technique works for all of The 1975’s material. If you’re a fan, ‘Part of the Band’ probably won’t rank near the top of your favourite songs from them, but it’s an interesting turn of direction from a group who have dedicated quite a bit of their discography to fluffy nonsense.
Hot Chip – ‘Eleanor’
British electronic rockers Hot Chip dropped the second single from their upcoming studio LP Freakout/Release with the highly danceable new track ‘Eleanor’.
There’s something incredibly appealing in the straightforward groove of ‘Eleanor’. For a band that is quick to incorporate samples, effects, dense arrangements, and extended remixes, Hot Chip keeps things on a leash for ‘Eleanor’, with the end results shaking out to just being a really catchy disco-infused single.
Tom A. Smith – ‘Never Good Enough’
The next big songwriter seems like a misnomer when it comes to Tom A. Smith, considering the bombastic career the young man has had so far. Furthermore, if that promise seems like a hefty weight to heap on his young shoulder, then I can assure you the load lands on him as though the pressure is purely a word resigned for tires.
His new track, ‘Never Good Enough’, carries that seamless swagger with a breezy air offering up a chorus that renders itself the sort of earworm that weaves its way into the hum of your day like a cartoon wiggler through an apple. The Sunderland teenager certainly knows his way around a hook.