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Essential Listening: This week's best new music

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.

Over on the album front, Interpol walked away with our Album of the Week by staying true to their brooding indie rock sound on The Other Side of Make-Beleive. Beabadoobee also scored a solid LP release with the genre-bending pop-rock pleasure of Beatopia. On the other side of the spectrum, Black Midi couldn’t make sense of their trip through eternal damnation on Hellfire. But hey, at least it’s not the new Johnny Depp/Jeff Beck album.

Frank Ocean also managed to get in on the new music fun… kind of. He shared some new instrumental tracks that ran over the top of his Blonded Radio programme, which might be the closest we’ll get to new music from Ocean these days. We also got new music from the likes of Boy Pablo and scored a solid cover of ‘Green Onions’ from Khruangbin.

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 9th – July 16th

Warmduscher – ‘Greasin’ Up Jesus’ (Yard Act Remix)

Back in April, Warmduscher delivered one of the year’s best records to date. The climax of which was the slicked-back air key-tar solo inducing boon of ‘Greasin’ Up Jesus’. Now, Yard Act have sailed the track in HMS Clownshoe across the wavy Caspian Sea to some dirty, dirty club that hasn’t seen a disco in some time, and it’s a gem of a party in there if you’re up for it. 

Sludgier than the feeling of stepping on some half-melted substance slopped onto baking asphalt in flip-flops, the bass that Yard Act have produced sticks to your ears like the wrapper to a Chewitt that has been sitting in your pocket for too long. This heady sound might put the moonwalking crescendo of the original on Ritalin, but that blast is only a click away, so it’s refreshing to do things differently with a rethink of a recent cracker. 

Panda Bear and Sonic Boom – ‘Go On’

Animal Collective’s Panda Bear and producer Sonic Boom have re-teamed for a brand new LP, Reset. To preview the new LP, the duo have released a brand new track, ‘Go On’. Everything you would hope from a Panda Bear/Sonic Boom collaboration is here, including psychedelic noises, heavy reverb, poppy melodies, heady atmosphere, and just the right amount of wonkiness/weirdness. At one point, Panda Bear completely abandons singing in favour of chanting “give it to me” in a slightly sinister tone before quickly returning to the song’s main form.

‘Go On’ also features a prominent sample from The Troggs’ ‘Give it to Me’, which was originally featured in the 1966 pop art film Blowup. Despite all of these disparate elements, ‘Go On’ is still one of the more straightforward tracks to come from either Panda Bear or Sonic Boom in quite some time. From two iconoclastic music makers, ‘Go On’ is an olive branch to listeners who might not be as trippy as the duo’s usual audience is.

Death Cab for Cutie – ‘Here to Forever’

An off-beat drum kick will always somehow bring a sense of uplifting reminiscence, and Death Cab for Cutie utilise it beautifully with their new single ‘Here to Forever’. It’s a single that somehow conjures up memories of skateboarding through a blazing orange sunset, even if you never skated and lived somewhere rainier than Manchester. 

The single aims to look beyond the present in search of silver linings, and the sound of the song accompanies that like wine to cheese with a rhythm that captures both a sense of yearning and a sanguine shrug at the same time. In short, you certainly won’t be skipping it when it crops up on your garden playlist this year. 

Wunderhorse – ‘Leader of the Pack’

Wunderhorse, the latest and most exciting project of actor and musician Jacob Slater, returns with a lively, grungy new number, ‘Leader of the Pack’. Slater has returned with a jaunty guitar line reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ or Kurt Vile’s ‘Pretty Pimpin’. But in this track, he brings a heavier tone brought forth by distortion and more immersive and intensely delivered lyrics. 

Of the tracks released so far from the upcoming LP CUB, Slater has truly shown that he can channel his creative energy into something reflective and considered but also has the rare balance of being able to rock a live show all the same. 

Pixey – ‘Recycled Paper Planes’

Liverpool indie-pop upstart Pixey has announced her debut album, Dreams, Pains, & Paper Planes. The mini-LP will be released sometime in September. The mini-LP comes on the heels of Pixey’s two EPs released in 2021, FRee to Live in Colour and Sunshine State. What’s the difference between an EP and a mini-LP? I honestly have no idea, but Pixey has been cranking out reliably sunny alternative pop music over the past year and change, so you’ll hear no criticism from me. 

To preview the new release, the singer has also dropped the mini-LP’s first single, ‘Recycled Paper Planes’. The track is well within Pixey’s established wheelhouse: vibrant, catchy, a bit of a throwback, and manically earwormy. Under the sunny surface of the track lies a set of lyrics concerning lost love, lost dreams, and lost direction.

The Beths – ‘Expert in a Dying Field’

New Zealand indie rockers The Beths have returned to drop their latest single, the title track from their upcoming studio album Expert in a Dying Field. With a rock steady beat anchoring the track, ‘Expert in a Dying Field’ is pure blissful rock music. Complete with catchy hooks, intertwining guitar lines, and snotty smart-ass lyrics, The Beths have another great song covering the difficulties and tribulations that sounds completely unique to them.

Along with the previous single ‘Silence is Golden’, ‘Expert in a Dying Field’ brings a welcomed edge to The Beths’ music. Fans know that the band can play twee folky rock music with angelic harmonies all day, but The Beths can also rip when they really want to. That mostly came across during their stage shows, but now we’re truly getting some fuzzy studio songs that come with a bit of bite to them. It’s a sound that looks good on The Beths, an underappreciated outfit that deserves to be recognised on a much larger scale.

Sam Fender – ‘Alright’

Geordie singer-songwriter Sam Fender is back with another single, ‘Alright’. One that didn’t make the cut for Seventeen Going Under but deserves some fresh air all the same

‘Alright’ was lifted from some of the recording sessions for his second album, Seventeen Going Under, released in 2021. The newly released single is a brooding and reflective indie excursion that advances with jangly lead and rhythm guitar runs that accentuate Fender’s confident and soaring vocals as he sings: “We’re alright, we’re alright/It’s time to put the world to rights.”

Maggie Rogers – ‘Horses’

Maggie Rogers is steadily building toward the release of her new album Surrender. Her singles so far have shown a breadth of songwriting and styles as she meanders her way around the treacherous territory of love, life and everything in between those two fabled posts. 

Given that Patti Smith pretty much ensured that no other piece of music would ever be called ‘Horses’ thanks to her defining masterpiece, Rogers strolls into fabled terrain with this outing. And sadly, it is a terrain that leaves her wanting this time out.