Essential Listening: This week's best new music


We are now exactly halfway through the year, and it feels like it’s passed by in the blink of the eye, but also paradoxically taken a lifetime too. Of course, keeping up with time in the middle of a pandemic is an impossible task, but 2021 has served up a constant outpouring of sonic treats that deserve your attention.

After a year without live music, normal life, as we used to know it, is now in spitting distance. If you’re needing something to stick on the summer playlist while having a well-earned rest this weekend, then we’ve got you covered. There’s no shame in wanting to spin some old classics, but these fresh tracks are perfect additions that will sound blistering through a Bluetooth speaker at a barbecue.

There has been a stream of blissful new sounds throughout 2021 that has offered a fine way to stay sane and get those dopamine receptors active. As the months have gone on, there’s been 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 music. Music has been a constant release for many of us through these turbulent times and 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:

Jessie Ware – ‘Hot N Heavy’

British pop prodigy Jessie Ware has unleashed a new single ‘Hot N Heavy’ from the upcoming deluxe edition of her 2020 album What’s Your Pleasure?The song was originally left on the cutting room floor of What’s Your Pleasure, but Ware wound up having so much high-grade material that didn’t make the cut that it was inevitable a deluxe edition should rise from the sessions.

Why ‘Hot N Heavy’ was left off the original is beyond me. Funky, slick, and bursting at the seams like joyous lust, the song could have easily been slotted next to ’70s worshipping tracks like ‘Ooh La La’ or ‘Mirage (Don’t Stop)’. The main point is, no matter what the initial reason was to shelve it, now we get to fully indulge in not just ‘Hot N Heavy’, but seven other tracks from an artist who clearly was, or clearly is, working at the height of her powers.

Chet Faker – ‘Feel Good’

Nicholas James Murphy, known previously and currently as Chet Faker, has released a new video for ‘Feel Good’, the first preview of his upcoming fourth studio album Hotel Surrender.

Sleek, bubbly, and resplendent with electronic harps and strings, ‘Feel Good’ has the same infectious disco-soul energy that the best of Faker’s work has. Occasionally slight and too overly breezy for its own good, ‘Feel Good’ is nevertheless a low-stakes, easily enjoyable single from an artist who’s much more focused on fun than taking himself too seriously.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – ‘Flying On The Ground’

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have shared their elegant new single, ‘Flying On The Ground’. The rhythmic effort is one of the two new tracks that Gallagher has penned for the upcoming High Flying Birds greatest hits record, which marks a decade for the band.

‘Flying On The Ground’ sees Gallagher lend a hand from a pair of female backing singers, which add an extra dimension to his sound, and as he proved with ‘We’re On Our Way Now’, the musician can turn his hand to a triumphant acoustic ballad whenever he pleases. However, ‘Flying On The Ground’ sees him looking forward from both a sonic and lyrical perspective rather than sticking in familiar territories.

White Denim – ‘Crystal Bullets’

White Denim has shared their delightfully groovy new single, ‘Crystal Bullets’. There’s a breeziness to the track, so much so that it instantly makes you forget wherever you are in the world and transports you to a serene Saloon in Texas. Thanks to the heavenly sax and delicate guitars, the sleek single is effortlessly cool as it beautifully meanders.

After twelve albums, White Denim are still firing on all cylinders and refusing to show signs of slowing down. The Texas four-piece operate on their own time zone, they work off the beaten track rather than following the traditional route, and long may it continue.

Jose Gonzalez – ‘Head On’

Jose Gonzalez is a special talent that never fails to dish out a moment of calm, and he’s achieved this again with his dreamy new single ‘Head On’. The track is the third instalment from his upcoming album, Local Valley, which arrives on September 17th. It’s all about staying focused despite everything that life throws in your direction, and Gonzalez’s calm persona makes you believe every word he hushes.

Although Gonzalez writes from the heart, he always looks to discover a universal message in his work, and the reassuring ‘Head On’ is a fine example of his talent. Sometimes you need to take a step back and listen to something serene. If it’s a moment of calm your searching for, then look no further than ‘Head On’.

Sleater-Kinney – ‘Method’

Sleater-Kinney have shared their fiery new single, ‘Method’. The track is taken from the group’s self-produced new album, Path of Wellness, which will be their first record since drummer and founding member, Janet Weiss, left the group in 2019.

Now in their fourth decade as a group, Sleater-Kinney still haven’t gone stale and are still dipping their toes into new water by self-producing for the first time. They have continuously evolved over the last 25-years, and right now is a fascinating time for the duo. With tracks like ‘Method’, Sleater-Kinney will make sure they don’t become a nostalgia act anytime soon.

Lorde – ‘Solar Power’

After four years, Lorde has returned, and her sun-kissed new single, ‘Solar Power’, is nothing short of a delight. The track’s release coincides with the solar eclipse in the Southern hemisphere, and it’s a pretty perfect way to mark the occasion. The good news doesn’t stop there, and the New Zealander has also announced that a new album of the same name is on its way later this year. 

‘Solar Power’ is like two songs in one. The first half is a gorgeous stripped back number, which is quaint and blissful. Then out of nowhere, the single erupts into a baggy anthem and sounds like a track straight off Screamadelica.

Lorde’s sound has again evolved on ‘Solar Power’, the track bucks current trends in pop music. It’s not abrasive, it’s not over-produced, and it feels like it would be a hit in any era.