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Essential Listening: This week's best new music


March is here, longer nights are upon us, socially distanced beers at the park are legal again and the early thoughts of summer are beaming brightly on the horizon. Still, we have a little while longer locked inside our homes as the pandemic rumbles on and we must continue to search for anything to fill the void. One thing, however, that has the ability to snap us out of the mundane homogenous nature of everyday lockdown life is the sound of new music. The only constant throughout the year so far is the stream of blissful new sounds that have offered a fine way to stay sane and get those dopamine receptors active.

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. Some of the new releases to have come out in 2021 alludes to a special year for music, even if the world doesn’t quite have the same bright immediate future in store. In turbulent times, music can be a release and that feeling of discovering a new artist, one who you connect with straight away, is one that 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. Over the past week, there have been a plethora of artists both new and old who have teased music as they gear up to release new projects, with new tracks from the likes of Rostam and Everything Everything.

Elsewhere, there’s been fresh tracks from exciting rising artists like Liverpool’s Courting and Bleach Lab’s latest offering. Let’s get stuck into this week’s freshest new tracks then, shall we?

This week’s best new music:

The Vaccines – ‘For What It’s Worth’

The Vaccines have shared a quaint cover of Buffalo Springfield’s 1960s classic ‘For What It’s Worth’. The track is the opening number from their delectable new EP, Cosy Karaoke Vol. 1, which has seen The Vaccines put their own charming indie spin on a series of their favourite songs. On the EP, they’ve also taken on The Tornadoes’ instrumental, ‘Telstar’, Queens of The Stone Age’s ‘No One Knows’, Waxahatchee’s ‘Fire’, Kasey Musgraves’ ‘High Horse’ and ‘Funnel of Love’ by Wanda Jackson.

Taking on a classic like ‘For What It’s Worth’ is a challenging task, it’s the finest moment from Stephen Stills’ career and one of the definitive tracks of the ’60s, but The Vaccines keep the spirit of the original alive on their dignified cover. As the EP’s title, Cosy Karaoke, suggests, the indie stalwarts have picked a selection of songs that are an utter joy to sing for some momentary relief in lockdown life.

It’s not attempting to re-imagine the song, and lead-singer Justin Hayward-Young pays tribute to Buffalo Springfield’s magic on The Vaccines’ version. It’s a blissful way to spend two and a half minutes, which is a delightful homage to one of the finest karaoke songs in existence.

The Night Café – ‘Isn’t’

Liverpool indie-darlings, The Night Café, have made a much-welcomed return with their new single ‘Isn’t’. The band released their debut album, 0151, a homage to the area code of their hometown back in 2019, and this is the first taste of new music from the band following that summery record. The track still has that warm, fuzzy vibrancy that made the band’s debut album such a magnetic record to the ears of thousands who connect with the relatability to frontman Sean Martin’s lyricism.

The song is an introspective look at a failed relationship and picking up the pieces from the floor when everything around you is in tatters. ‘Isn’t’ is about despite feeling heartache, there still being a refusal to let go of the thing that made you slump on the floor in the first place.

Rostam – ‘4Runner’

Former Vampire Weekend member, Rostam, has announced details of his forthcoming second solo album, Changephobia, and his new single ‘4Runner’ is another refreshing tonic he’s served up.

On top of keeping himself busy working with other artists, Rostam has been slow cooking Changeaphobia, opting to take his time to make sure that he doesn’t become another victim of the dreaded second-album syndrome. ‘4Runner’ is further proof that by taking his time and testing his fans’ patience, Rostam has avoided falling into that dangerous trap.

The self-produced album has been Rostam’s focus for the last few years, and one coincidental event would lead to him going down this path. “A few years ago I met a stranger on a park bench, somehow I found myself opening up to him; revealing recent changes in my life that had altered its course, and he said, ‘Change is good. Go with it.’ I realised (sic) that I had never heard that sentiment expressed before,” he explained.

Bleach Lab – ‘Flood’

Bleach Lab have shared their dreamy new single, ‘Flood’, the latest track taken from their forthcoming debut EP. The upcoming release, A Calm Sense Of Surrounding, is out on March 19th and sees the band deal with two separate incidents that have adversely affected their mental health.

Their democratic songwriting process allowed bassist Josh Longman to explore his father’s death together with singer Jenna Kyle. She was dealing with the end of her long-term relationship at the same time, and these situations left both members in a dark place, which they let unravel on their music and is prevalent on ‘Flood’.

There’s an eerie tranquillity to ‘Flood’, which comes from accepting defeat, which derives from the deeply emotional lyrics that Kyle croons on the track. Her dulcifying vocals are a pivotal part of the track’s elegance and are reminiscent of London Grammar’s Hannah Reid. Bleach Lab manage to wrap up this feeling of feeling trapped through their expansive kaleidoscope of sounds that delicately strangles you in a chokehold.

London Grammar – ‘How Does It Feel’

London Grammar have showcased their unapologetically poppier side on their brand new single, ‘How Does It Feel’. The three-piece are set to release their third record, Californian Soil, on 16th April via Ministry of Sound and is the first full-length release from the band since the 2017 effort Truth Is A Beautiful Thing. ‘How Does It Feel’ is the fourth taster from the upcoming effort and is a euphoric move away from their trademark melancholia that oozed endlessly out of previous singles, ‘Baby It’s You’ and ‘Lose Your Head’.

There’s an exhilaration in Reid’s voice throughout the song, which is in-tune with the uplifting track rather than contrasting with the energy created by her bandmates. ‘How Does It Feel’ shifts away from their favoured recipe that has provided them with more than a fair share of success over the last decade and makes for a mighty effort.

Everything Everything – ‘Supernormal’

Everything Everything have returned with their blistering brand new single, ‘Supernormal, which burns bright inferno-style. Last year, the Manchester band released their fifth studio album, Re-Animator, in the middle of the initial lockdown and have still not had the chance to perform it on the road. Yet, Everything Everything hasn’t let that hold them back from releasing even more new music, and they’ve earned our gratitude for their services to all-things indie through these tough and testing times.

The track is quintessentially Everything Everything, no other band in the country have a vocalist who one could even liken to frontman Jonathan Higgs. His vocal range allows him to do things that others could only dream of, and Higgs’ expert skills are matched by his animated performance, which sees Higgs flick from angry to sincere back to enraged in an instance.

Courting – ‘Grand National’

Liverpool four-piece Courting have shared their thrilling new single, ‘Grand National’, which is as titillating as we’ve come to expect from the group. The latest effort is the titular track from their forthcoming debut EP, which arrives on April 9th via Nice Swan Recordings. The single follows from where raucous and angst-filled previous singles, ‘Popshop!’ and ‘David Byrne’s Badside’ leave off.

Frontman Sean Murphy-O’Neill says of the track, “‘Grand National’ is our best and last look at Middle England. Parents evenings, horse racing, and watching the chemtrails from lawns lined with astroturf. Cowbell-tinged. 100gecs referencing. Feedbacking. Huge.”

If ‘Grand National’ and ‘Popshop’ are anything to judge Courting by, then their debut EP is one that you can’t afford to miss. There’s no reason why these four Scousers can’t follow the same trajectory as Nice Swan alumni Sports Team and go on to become a real force to be reckoned with. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself to be raptured by the ‘Grand National’.