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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

This week, we here at Far Out were absolutely obsessed with new music. As we pulled together our Best Albums and Best Songs of 2021 (not to mention our 50 Best Films of 2021), our music writers took a close look at the top tier of what this year had to offer.

But even as cream of the crop gets officially sorted out, there are still new songs dropping every single day. December has historically been a kind of dumping ground for new music, with “the Christmas market” all but having disappeared as traditional album sales have fallen by the wayside.

Adele’s 30 was meant for the Christmas market, and as she’s one of a select few who actually still sell physical albums (and prevent other artists from pressing vinyl), she’s the barometer for the modern holiday music drop.

But that means that tons of artists get a stress-free time to drop some new material: returns abounded this week, from Tame Impala to Girlpool to Superchunk. We also got some sweet quasi-holiday songs from the likes of Beach Bunny and Shame. Kim Gordon released a new indie rock track for charity, and Babeheaven went for the lush jugular with ‘Don’t Wake Me’.

Here are some of the best new songs to have come out between December 4th and 10th, all collected on the Far Out Playlist for your convenience.

This week’s best new music:

Superchunk – ‘Endless Summer’

I’m not a major fan of when an all-time great artist pairs up with a bunch of their famous fans for a new record. I think it’s gimmicky and self-congratulatory. But if anyone’s earned the right to indulge in one, it’s American alt-rock legends Superchunk.

Sharon Van Etten, Kelly Pratt, and R.E.M.’s Mike Mills are among the figures who are set to assist the band on their upcoming LP Wild Loneliness, and the first taste we have of the album comes from the band’s collaboration with Teenage Fanclub, ‘Endless Summer’.

Mitski – ‘Heat Lightning’

Mitski is among the indie rockers who managed to win 2021 without actually having a proper album released (other artists here include Big Thief, Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen). The first two previews of Laurel Hell were brilliant returns, but ‘Heat Lightning’ just seals the deal.

Complete with a backing rhythm that recalls Maureen Tucker’s sparse drumming on The Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus in Furs’, ‘Heat Lightning’ swells with strings and ever-increasing dynamics before dropping out with occasional piano lines and dry vocal sections. It’s a hell of a way to continue Mitski’s return with authority.

Beach Bunny – ‘Christmas Caller’

It takes a bold secular artist to plant their flag in the world of Christmas music. The best kinds of these songs usually use the season as a backdrop for non-traditional song of the season, and Beach Bunny have added their own new Xmas classic to the list with ‘Christmas Caller’.

‘Christmas Caller’ is another one of the “not really a Christmas song” Christmas songs where the season provides a structure to talk about something a little less merry. In this case, singer Lili Trifilio touches on a fractured relationship that uses traditional holiday greetings as a middle ground to work out some more difficult issues. Not everyone is so jolly the time of year, and it’s always good to have some counter-programming to ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.

The Regrettes – ‘You’re So Fucking Pretty’

American punk rockers The Regrettes have fist-pumping, ass-kicking, ear-bleeding tracks for days. But everyone needs a breather every once in a while, and so the band have decided to slow things down with the new song ‘You’re So Fucking Pretty’.

The tranquil and peaceful song explores sexual identity and understanding of oneself and plays back and forth the idea of attraction and genuine feelings towards someone of the same sex. Although not like their usual punk rock sounding style, ‘You’re So Fucking Pretty’ is a piano focussed ballad that uses very soft vocals to showcase the struggle and emotion that can eat up anyone consumed with a crush.

Tame Impala – ‘No Choice’

Nobody gets all of their great ideas out by the time the deadline comes around. It’s just that Kevin Parker entire monster hits just because they don’t perfectly fit into the tone of an album. That’s why we’ve had to wait so long to hear Tame Impala’s ‘No Choice’ on the deluxe reissue of The Slow Rush.

Tame Impala have constantly been evolving ever since they first emerged in a refreshing adhere to the David Bowie mantra of artistic reinvention to keep things fresh. With ‘No Choice’ elements of each of their previous albums seem to be wrung out onto the one swirling canvas. 

Khruangbin and Leon Bridges- ‘B-side’

Texas psychedelic funk heroes Khruangbin have already teamed up with Fort Worth’s favourite son, Leon Bridges, on the Texas Sun EP last year. Now, the pair are coming back together for a sequel, Texas Moon, and we got the first taste of the new project in the form of the single ‘B-side’.

Inflected with that hazy, Curtis Mayfield type of funk, it’s sure to be one of the most important songs of next summer. The material is classic Khruangbin, just augmented by the glorious voice of Bridges. It’s wishful thinking, but hopefully, one day, Bridges will enter the fold permanently. 

Girlpool – ‘Faultline’

Harmony Tividad and Avery Tucker are back as Girlpool, firing up the indie rock band for their first new single in two years, the lush and surprisingly caustic ‘Faultline’.

Directed at the kind of fucked up relationship where “every week keeps slipping by”, Tividad sings with a sort of detached anxiety that highlights lines like: “I don’t know what to tell you where I’ve been / My body’s just a landscape for your sin”. All the while, the slow-burning instrumental behind her creates a beautiful backdrop for a not-so-beautiful tale.

Shame – ‘Baldur’s Gate’

‘Tis the season for offbeat holiday songs, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s being able to celebrate Christmas without feeling my skin crawl from ever repeat playing of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’. That’s why I’m thrilled to have a new left of centre holiday tune: ‘Baldur’s Gate’, courtesy of South London’s favourite band of festive post-punks, Shame.

‘Baldur’s Gate’ is the perfect kind of Christmas song: the one where the Xmas season is just a backdrop for a less holly-jolly sort of story. The more, the merrier as far as I’m concerned – any ability I have to avoid Wham! and Mariah this year, I will take and run with it.