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Our music recommendations: What we’re listening to now, from Fontaines D.C. to Los Bitchos

These are the tunes you need in your life

<p>Fontaines D.C. </p>

Fontaines D.C.

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s your playlist in need of some refreshment? We have some suggestions.

FKA twigs - Caprisongs

The tone on FKA twigs’ new 17-track mixtape, Caprisongs, is predominantly bright and relaxed. Darjeeling, which mixes harp sounds, chants about her childhood, Jorja Smith and Unknown T cameos, and a lift from Olive’s 1996 hit You’re Not Alone, is surely a chart favourite in waiting. She’s closer to the mainstream pop world than ever before, but it doesn’t sound like a compromise. There’s still plenty of sonic weirdness in the corners, and she’s surely earned some time in the sun.

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Fontaines D.C. - Jackie Down The Line

Gearing up to release their third album in as many years (Skinty Fia, out April 22), Irish post-punks Fontaines D.C. have delivered this ghostly new single. With dredging, Cure-meets-Nirvana guitars and Grian Chatten’s despondent vocals, it’s not a reinvention of the wheel — but it’s proof that the band’s momentum is still fully charged.

Los Bitchos - Pista (Fresh Start)

Doing fresh things with indie rock after all this time can be difficult; infusing it with some psychedelic cumbia is one way to do it, though. That’s the plan of London-based, instrumental five-piece Los Bitchos, whose new track struts with all the groove and swagger of the Latin American genre. They’ve only got two other tracks out: go listen to them too.

Lucius - Next to Normal

Los Angeles band Lucius — led by vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, who count Harry Styles, John Legend and Ozzy Osbourne among their past collaborators — will drop their second album, Second Nature, on April 8. Produced by Dave Cobb and Brandi Carlile, it’s led by this fuzzy, funky new single.

Barrie - Quarry

New York-based musician Barrie Lindsay’s upcoming album sounds as if it’ll be a powerful listen in more ways than one: it’s inspired by the time she spent falling in love with her now wife, Barbara (who lends her name to the record’s title), but was also written in the wake of her father’s passing. This latest single is delicately moving.

The Weeknd - Dawn FM

A decade after arriving on the music scene, now with a Super Bowl half time show and the megahit Blinding Lights under his belt, there were two Abel Tesfaye could’ve gone: back to the weirdness of his early days, or to do the pop thing better than ever. On this latest album, he has gone for the latter with resounding success. While past records had plenty of catchy moments he was never far from the murk of some forgettable ballads. This one struts and twirls with supreme confidence.

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Father John Misty - Funny Girl

Father John Misty will release Chloë and the Next 20th Century, his fifth studio album and the first since 2018, on April 8. The lush first single has orchestration that sounds like it’s been taken directly from some old-school Hollywood movie, and it’ll come to life when he plays the Barbican a day before the record’s release, joined by Jules Buckley and Britten Sinfonia.

The Smile - You Will Never Work In Television Again

The Smile is a new supergroup of sorts: Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood alongside Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. After debuting at Glastonbury’s digital version last summer, they’ve finally released this propulsive, scratchy first single. They’ll play three gigs within 24 hours at Greenwich venue Magazine London on January 29 and 30, with a new album due soon.

David Byrne and Yo La Tengo - Who Has Seen The Wind?

Ocean Child (out February 18) is an upcoming tribute to Yoko Ono — an artist described by the album’s curator, Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, as a “criminally overlooked” songwriter. The lead single is this glimmering collaboration between David Byrne and Yo La Tengo, with the likes of Sharon Van Etten and The Flaming Lips also contributing covers.

Turnstile - Tiny Desk (Home)

Baltimore band Turnstile have risen through the ranks by doing all manner of new and funky things with their hardcore punk sound; latest album Glow On was their best yet. They reinvent the wheel again with this stripped-down set as part of NPR’s reliably brilliant Tiny Desk series, now streaming on YouTube.

Tangerine Dream - Raum

Electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream lost their founder Edgar Froese in 2015, but his legacy lives on with the group now led by his chosen successor, Thorsten Quaeschning, alongside bandmates Hoshiko Yamane and Paul Frick. Froese’s unreleased archives and arrangements form the basis of this astral, wide-scope track, and a new album of the same name, out February 25.

Burna Boy - B. D’OR feat. Wizkid

It’s pretty much guaranteed to be a good one whenever Burna Boy and Wizkid get together on a track — and so it holds on this first collaboration between the two Nigerian stars since their song Ginger last year. Inspired by the Ballon d’Or — football’s award for the year’s best player — and produced by Nigerian-British producer P2J, it’s as slick and groovy as you’d expect.

Cat Power - Unhate/I’ll Be Seeing You

Chan Marshall’s next project as Cat Power will be an album of covers, out on January 14. We’ve already heard fresh takes on Frank Ocean, the Pogues and Dead Man’s Bones, and now it’s this quietly powerful rendition of Billie Holiday’s I’ll Be Seeing You, alongside a simmering rework of Marshall’s own 2006 track, Hate.

Shygirl - Cleo at Abbey Road

Orchestral versions of dance tracks can be very hit and miss, but this one from south Londoner Shygirl hits the target. Recorded at Abbey Road as part of the legendary studio’s 90th anniversary programming, and backed by an 18-piece string ensemble, it does away with the ravey beat, and instead dials down on the romantic tension of the original.

Mitski - Heat Lightning

This new Mitski album, Laurel Hell, out February 4, is shaping up to be something special. Lead single Working For The Knife was an aching conference of an overworked generation, The Only Heartbreaker was an 80s pop delight, and this new track shows another string to her bow — namely, taking gentle despondence and making it sound wholly romantic.

Superchunk - Endless Summer

US indie rock veterans Superchunk are more than 30 years into their life as a band, and now they’re back with news of a new record: Wild Loneliness, arriving on February 25. This first installment is an infectious piece of driving pop rock, with vocal harmonies provided by Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley of Teenage Fanclub.

Beach House - Once Twice Melody (Chapter 2)

There are 18 tracks on the forthcoming Beach House album, but we won’t have to wait until the physical release on February 18 to hear most of them — the American duo are doling it out in four installments, and this is the second. It’s classic Beach House, really: wispy atmospheres, softly sung vocals, strolling drums and some lovely synth-scapes.

American Football - Rare Symmetry/Fade into You

Emo legends American Football have been taking their sound into more of a mature, post-rock direction since their 2014 reunion, and they continue on that trajectory with this twinkling, tricky new track, which explodes into a crashing crescendo. This B-side is a glinting cover of Mazzy Star’s Fade into You, featuring LA vocalist Miya Follick.

Wet Leg - Too Late Now/Oh No

Can you remember the last time a new band got as much hype as Wet Leg? If the Isle of Wight duo keep releasing tunes like these two new ones, though, then you can expect that train to keep on rollin’. Too Late Now starts with a shimmer and grows into a big ball of nervous energy, while Oh No is a spiky stomper. Brace yourself for the debut album on April 8.

Miraa May - In My Feelings

The second single from what looks set to be a debut album from Miraa May, the Algerian-born, Tottenham-raised artist, is a contemplative, subtly forceful slice of R&B. It’s a good example of why big things are expected of her, weaving mellifluous singing together with on-point rap flows.

The Linda Lindas - Nino

We like catchy punk songs, and we like songs about cats. This catchy punk song about a cat is a winner, then. LA teens the Linda Lindas went viral with their fierce rebuttal of an ignorant classmate, Racist, Sexist Boy, earlier this year, and now they’re back with a loving ode to band member Bela’s feline friend, a “gentleman by day, hunter by night”.

Sevdaliza - The Great Hope Design

The Iranian-Dutch artist returns with this futuristic, seething track. An opening barrage of stringent synths gives way to a menacing verse, aptly matched by Sevdaliza’s ominous lyrics: “Eat my flesh/ Drink my blood/ No man can guide me/ I am my own God.” A new EP, Raving Dahlia, arrives on February 25 and she plays Electric Brixton on May 6.

Bloc Party - Traps

Bloc Party are back with their first piece of new music for half a decade, and there’s a new album on the way (Alpha Games, April 29). The high-octane single is a riot of cyclical riffs and frenetic drumming — expect it to go off when the band head out on their European tour next year, stopping at Alexandra Palace for a huge London gig on May 28.

Young T & Bugsey - Roberto C feat. Unknown T

The Roberto C in the song title isn’t the legendary Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos (although you’d be forgiven for thinking so, considering how often footballers are referenced in UK rap) but rather the luxury designer Roberto Cavalli — an indication of how smoothly confident the Nottingham duo are sounding here, aided by a verse from Unknown T.

Erin Rae - Candy & Curry

We’ve been looking forward to a new full-length from Erin Rae since her excellent 2018 album Putting On Airs, and now the Nashville indie-folk artist is preparing to release Lighten Up, out on February 4. This floaty, unhurried single takes inspiration from the sun-dappled psychedelia of the 1960s, and gently grows into something gorgeous by the end.

Sam Akpro - Drift EP

Peckham-born Sam Akpro has released the final track off his debut EP, making the four-track project a portrait of a fast-rising artist. A borderless blend of post-punk and indie rock with flickers of industrial, soul and more, he’s proving himself a master of building tracks up from eerie, low-key atmospheres into high-energy crescendos. Catch him at the launch party at The Glove That Fits on November 30.

Adele - 30

On her new album, her first for six years, the biggest musician in the world frequently sounds extraordinarily vulnerable. It no longer sounds like she’s making music to achieve towering sales figures. At times, her fans will wonder why someone who has guarded her privacy so fiercely has shared some of these nakedly despairing songs at all. It’s a devastating comeback.

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Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raise the Roof

Not much has changed since Robert Plant and Alison Krauss got together and recorded a Grammy-winning album – which is a very good thing. Raise the Roof can be played back to back with its predecessor without anyone noticing the join. The net has been cast more widely for material this time, but once again, it already sounds like they have another classic on their hands.

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Ibeyi - Made of Gold feat. Pa Salieu

Afro-Cuban French twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, AKA Ibeyi, return with this commanding new track — according to the siblings, it’s “about connecting to our ancestors’ knowledge, to the truths of the past and the power of the ancient”. Pa Salieu proves once again that everything he touches turns to gold with an impassioned feature.

Keeley Forsyth - Bring Me Water

If you heard Keeley Forsyth’s last album Debris, which charted a struggle against depression, you’ll know that the Oldham-born actress and singer isn’t in the business of breezy music. There’s no lack of stark beauty there, though, and it’s something that continues with this new single, all vocal textures and doomy drones. The new album, Limbs, arrives on February 25.

Cate Le Bon - Moderation

A lovely slice of art pop from Mercury-nominated artist Cate Le Bon arrives in anticipation of her forthcoming sixth studio album, Pompeii, out February 4. With a popping bassline, jangled guitars and faint wisps of saxophone, it’s a winner. Be sure to catch her when she arrives in London to play the Hackney Empire on March 15 next year.

Horsegirl - Billy

Chicago buzz band Horsegirl have teamed up with producer John Agnello for this new song, a man whose former collaborators include Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr — and there are definite inspirations from those two in the fuzzed-out, alternatively tuned walls of sound that the band create here. A trio of teenagers no older than 19, there’s a huge amount of potential in this lot.

Jockstrap - 50/50

London-based duo Jockstrap — the partnership of musicians Taylor Skye and Georgia Ellery, who also plays with Black Country, New Road — have signed to Rough Trade Records and released this gloriously glitchy new single. The beat, apparently crafted by Skye while bedbound with tonsillitis, is a choppy, rowdy ride through an increasingly experimental sound for the band.

Just Mustard - I Am You

Irish five-piece Just Mustard will head out on a European tour as the main support act for Fontaines D.C. through March and April next year, and they’ll be as good a reason as any to head down early to those shows. With crashes of industrial noise and a forbiddingly heavy bassline, this latest single is a masterclass in slow-building anxiety.

Damon Albarn - The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows

This new album from the restless creator is the sonic opposite of last October’s Gorillaz album Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez. All plaintive piano notes and abstract electronic touches, it isn’t a great fit in the conventional music world — it was hard to be appreciated on a lake at Latitude in Suffolk, struggling to be heard over the raucous dance pop of Rudimental on a neighbouring stage — but on headphones alone, staying home and gazing out the window as Albarn did, this is a fascinating listen.

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IDLES - Crawler

It’s plain that being a chart-topping act hasn’t turned IDLES pop. There are occasional subtleties, as with the scratchy electronic layers on Progress, and something approaching conventional singing on the almost pretty The Beachland Ballroom. But the sound overall is pure battering ram. On the imminent tour that they were prevented from doing on the last album cycle, plenty of these songs will be huge, vital additions to an already incendiary setlist.

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Johnny Marr - Tenement Time/Sensory Street

Who ever said Johnny Marr could only play the jangly stuff? The former Smiths guitarist returns with a pair of tracks — Tenement Time is a big, driving rocker with beefy guitars and a killer chorus, while Sensory Street is a synthy romp — as part of his ambitious new project, a four-part release called Fever Dreams. The second installment arrives on December 17.

Jenny Hval - Jupiter

Norwegian artist and author Jenny Hval is now on the 4AD roster, and has announced the move with this new track. A serene soundscape is awoken by bouts of crashing percussion, and there’s an eight-minute version for those who want more. No word on a new album, but she’ll play EartH in Hackney on April 11.

Murkage Dave - Awful Things feat. Caroline Polachek

This isn’t a collaboration we saw coming, but it’s one we’re very much here for. The Leytonstone-born artist Murkage Dave teams up with US indie pop favourite Caroline Polachek, fusing the former’s confessional lyrics with the latter’s heartfelt vocals. It’s part of a double-single release with guitar-driven Please Don’t Move To London It’s A Trap.

Yunè Pinku - Laylo

This is the debut track from a producer and songwriting generating some excitement on the dance scene: 18-year-old Malaysian-Irish artist Yunè Pinku. It’s got its eyes focused squarely on the dancefloor, with a huge throwback energy, elevated by Pinku’s nonchalant vocals that float above the ruckus. Keep an eye on this one.

Porcupine Tree - Harridan

Prog rock innovators Porcupine Tree are back with their first single in 12 years, heralding the release of a new album (Closure / Continuation, out June 22). It’s an eight-minute belter, with tricky basslines, arachnid drumming, spooky atmospherics and some truly slamming riffs.

Sinead O Brien - Girlkind

The anticipation for post-punk poet Sinead O Brien’s debut album is ever-growing — she’s been tempting us with a series of EPs and singles, and the latest addition is this six-and-a-half minute track. With a slow-building, murky instrumental, it’s one of her best yet — spend a while poring over the verses and maybe the album will have arrived by the time you’re finished.

Sprints - Modern Job

Dublin is hardly lacking for rumbustious guitar bands at the moment, but this four-piece are well worth their place amongst the noise. Scratchy guitars and rip-roaring drums are the ideal backdrop for Karla Chubb’s rowdy, rueful lyrics: “I wish that I was married / I wish that I was rich / I wish I had the life / And I wish that this wasn’t it.”

Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul - Blenda

We’ve long been fans of Charlotte Adigéry’s left-of-centre, unfailingly groovy music, and now the Belgian-Caribbean artist has announced a debut album alongside her long-term musical partner, Bolis Pupul (Topical Dancer, out March 4). Over a springy, slightly acid-y dance production, she unpicks lazy racism: “Go back to your country where you belong / Siri, can you tell me where I belong?”

Spoon - The Hardest Cut

The upcoming 10th album from Texas rockers Spoon has been described by frontman Britt Daniel as “the sound of classic rock as written by a guy who never did get Eric Clapton”. Make of that what you will, but this first taster track, with elastic-band riffs and a thumping groove is hugely promising.

Metronomy - It’s Good To Be Back

Bubbly synths and a sunnily strummed guitar fuel this jaunty return from Metronomy, who will release their seventh studio album Small World on February 18. They’ll celebrate the news with a show at Colour Factory in Hackney Wick on November 11, as part of Pitchfork Music Festival.

Yard Act - Land of the Blind

Firmly thrusted into the “ones to watch” category by music critics and all those who frequented the smaller stages at this summer’s festivals, Leeds four-piece Yard Act are back with another new single. It’s deadpan, it’s witty and it’s catchy — expect more of that when they release their debut album The Overload on January 7.

Yaeji and OHHYUK - Year to Year / 29

Brooklyn-based artist Yaeji teams up with South Korean musician OHHYUK for this lovely duo of tracks. Year to Year rises about the grimy punches of the kick drum with some misty electronics, while 29 is an irresistible head-nodder.

Elton John - The Lockdown Sessions

These 16 collaborations, some recorded remotely on Zoom, show the same Elton John who has now hosted over 300 episodes of the Rocket Hour radio show on Apple Music: a pure fan, zipping around today’s scene in a restless search for the new. That means there are plenty of fresher acts, from Rina Sawayama to British pop’s current queen, Dua Lipa, while at the same time he can gently remind you of his legendary status by throwing two Stevies, Nicks and Wonder, into the mix.

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Lana Del Rey - Blue Banisters

The funereal pace of Lana Del Rey’s songs doesn’t suggest a feverish working environment, but here she is with her second album of the year, her third in just over two years. Without a world tour to occupy her, the LA-based singer-songwriter has been fine-tuning her sound, and at first glance the usual tropes are all here. But while her style has become more easily identifiable since the career high of her album Norman F**king Rockwell! in 2019 – avoiding current sonic trends, wallowing in beautiful sadness – Blue Banisters changes the record if you listen closely.

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Animal Collective - Prester John

After almost 20 years of pushing the pop music envelope, Animal Collective have announced the release of their first studio album since 2016 (Time Skiffs, out February 4). It’s the weaving together of two separately written songs, with sweet melodies overlapping during the course of a six-and-a-half minute stroll.

Anjimile - Stranger

A new signing to 4AD, American artist Anjimile deals in tender indie-folk compositions with a fresh, modern sound. This latest track has a chilly opening with introspective lyrics, but grows into something rather sunny towards the end, with hopeful horns and floating vocals. There’s no word on a follow-up album to last year’s debut yet, but it’s certainly one to keep an eye out for.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - Hot Stuff

Why wouldn’t you want to hear a stupendously riff-tastic rendition of Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff? The latest release from the wordcount-busting Newcastle band Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs is a fist-swinging romp, taking the original track and making it sound more demonically powerful than you could ever have imagined.

Jlin - Embryo

This brain-melter comes courtesy of Indiana producer Jlin. It’s a frenetic, pitch-black piece of dance music, taking chunks of techno inspiration, chopping them up, and reanimating them as something else entirely. It’ll feature on an upcoming four-track EP, Embryo (out December 10), and is set to be reimagined by the Third Coast Percussion ensemble next year. Intriguing stuff.

Adele — Easy On Me

This is quintessential Adele. A plaintive piano opens the track (no surprises) before we’re greeted by that voice. Maybe it’s because it feels like forever since we’ve heard her singing something new, but it’s hard to remember Adele ever sounding better than this. She’s so elegantly controlled, so piercingly poignant, with lilting melodies that aim straight for the soft pit of the stomach, and do a good job of loosening the tear ducts, too.

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Pa Salieu — Bad feat. Aitch

One of the UK’s biggest rappers teams up with one of the UK’s fastest rising rappers on this springy new track. Pa Salieu is typically dextrous on the vocals, and Aitch is typically amorous as the two trade verses. It’s also as catchy as you’d expect from these two, so be prepared to hear it reverberating for the next few weeks at least.

Black Country, New Road — Chaos Space Marine

The Mercury Prize-nominated rock experimentalists have been workshopping a handful of new songs at recent gigs (which, thanks to YouTube, have already become fan favourites) and now they’ve released a studio version of one of them. A twisty, frantic melodrama of a track, it’ll feature on the group’s upcoming second album, Ants From Up There, out February 4.

Self Esteem — Moody

Comedian, actor and Twitter hero Alistair Green stars as the once-exciting, now-irritating love interest in this tale of a fizzled-out relationship from Self Esteem AKA Rebecca Lucy Taylor. “I’ve always wanted to make a version of Rihanna’s We Found Love but a more realistic representation of a relationship,” she explains. The new album, Prioritise Pleasure, arrives October 22.

Shamir — Gay Agenda

Is there any genre that Shamir can’t do? The shape-shifting American artist has mastered everything from head-bopping pop to heartstring-tugging rockabilly across the course of his discography, and now he’s put his own spin on industrial music. Simultaneously gentle and acerbic, it’s the latest track from an artist who probably doesn’t get the attention they deserve.

Sam Fender — Seventeen Going Under

On his second album, Sam Fender has taken to himself with the scalpel and plainly doesn’t like what he sees. He couldn’t put it any more starkly than on Paradigms, when he sings “Sometimes I wanna die” over a Springsteen-like rush of ascending guitar and piano that ought, paradoxically, to have the masses punching the air in ecstasy. Seventeen Going Under is profoundly sad and also a euphoric singalong. It’s hard to know how to feel while listening to it, other than certain it’s a triumph.

Mitski — Working for the Knife

It feels like far too long since we’ve had a new Mitski single — her 2018 album Be The Cowboy was one of our favourites of the year — and now we’ve finally got one. It’s a typically on-the-nose portrait of disillusionment, with some absorbing instrumentation: slow funk rhythms, faintly apocalyptic horns, wave-crash guitars. Catch her in London next April.

Kylie Minogue and Years & Years — A Second to Midnight

A collaboration between Kylie Minogue and Olly Alexander was only ever going to result in a floorfiller. The disco-ready track, which will feature on an expanded version of Kylie’s most recent studio album (out November 15), is accompanied by a new video, in which the two dance together and, occasionally, assume each other’s leopard print-clad identities.

Big Thief — Change

Folky American four-piece Big Thief certainly haven’t had their creativity dampened by the pandemic: they’ve been releasing singles like it’s nobody’s business, and are set to drop a new double album next year. This latest track is straightforward by the band’s knotty standards, but has all the woolly warmth you’ll need as the colder weather rolls in.

Arca — Born Yesterday feat. Sia

Hugely influential producer Arca has unveiled plans for a new album, KiCk ii, a follow-up to the boundary-obliterating KiCk i project from last year. The Venezuelan teams up with Sia here, a first taste of the new project, and it’s classic Arca: a real nous for pop allure, but with all the sonic subversion we’ve come to expect.

Ray BLK — Access Denied

It feels surprising to hear Rita Ekwere singing “I’m only 25, 25, 25,” a little way in to her first full length collection as Ray BLK. The R&B singer in fact recently turned 27, but still, it’s hardly an ancient state in which to put out your debut album. Maybe Ray, who topped the BBC Sound poll in 2017, seems older because she’s been waiting in the wings for longer than most. On this album, she’s still doing her own thing, still in no particular rush, and all the better for it.

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Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga - Love for Sale

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett don’t add anything that suggests it might be 2021 to this set of Cole Porter compositions, which includes, naturally, I Get a Kick Out of You and Just One of Those Things; you can almost feel the microphone crackle. What they do bring is a sense of real poignancy, as Bennett is now 95 and effectively retired at last, having revealed earlier this year that he is living with Alzheimer’s Disease. This consistently classy collection is a fine way to take a final bow.

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Wet Leg — Wet Dream

We loved what we heard when Isle of Wight band Wet Leg’s first single, Chaise Longue, arrived out of nowhere a couple of months ago, and we weren’t the only ones — Iggy Pop and Paramore’s Hayley Williams are fans, as are (we assume) those responsible for 2.4 million Spotify streams. This droll new track proves they’ve got the tunes to back up the hype.

Idles — The Beachland Ballroom

Imagine a classic soul ballad, inject it with some doomy, vein-popping angst and you’ve got this new single from Idles. It’s something of a new direction for the Bristol band, especially the newly melodic frontman Joe Talbot, but it’s unmistakably them. It’s the first single off an upcoming fourth studio album, Crawler, which arrives on November 12.

Sam Fender — Spit Of You

Sam Fender’s guitar anthems have never been the kind to shy away from the emotional heart of things, and on his latest, swelling track it’s a regretful exploration of father-son relationships. “It’s based around my own relationship with my old man, and how we both struggle as blokes to communicate the way we feel to each other without it becoming a stand off,” Fender said.

Dylan — Someone Else

Rising pop favourite Dylan has some exciting plans coming up, touring with Griff and later Thomas Headon, before playing a sold-out headline show at Camden Assembly in November. This new song certainly wears its heart on its sleeve — “I love you and you love someone else!” — and the overdriven chorus is one big cathartic blow-out.

Orlando Weeks — Look Who’s Talking Now

Former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks has signalled the arrival of his second album, Hop Up, following the success of his excellent debut full-length, A Quickening. This track is a sweetly tender love song, a result of Weeks’ decision to “to take the more positive and uplifting sounding step” in his songwriting for the new project. The whole thing arrives on January 14.

Ezra Furman — Sex Education: Songs from Season 3

Been on a binge through the new season of Sex Education? Keep the obsession going with the latest instalment of Ezra Furman’s soundtrack, released here in EP form. “I’m proud of this music and I feel so lucky to be involved in Sex Education,” Furman said. “Now let’s all watch and root for the queers.”

Geese — Projector

A new buzz band from across the pond, this Brooklyn five-piece are the latest group to excavate something new from within the long tradition of New Yorkers with guitars. Their latest release is all spindly riffs, proggy diversions and crooned vocals, and it’s great. Check them out at two debut London shows: Windmill Brixton on November 17, and the Sebright Arms on November 18.

Soichi Terada — Bamboo Fighter

Japanese producer Soichi Terada worked his way into the hearts of house-loving clubbers with his Sounds from Far East compilation back in 2015, and all the joyful DJ sets that followed. Now, he’s releasing his first album of new music in a quarter of a century, building on much of what we liked about that first compilation, with a heavy 90s dance groove on this single.

Lil Nas X — Montero

What shines through on Lil Nas X's debut album is the sense of creative freedom. There’s no pressure to rehash Old Town Road, a suggestion he pokes fun at on the pretty, sing-song rap of One of Me. There’s no need to compete with the chest-beating bragging of conventional hip hop, either. From slinky pop rap on Scoop to tortured rock on Life After Salem, he’s doing it all, and against the odds, proving that he has a long bright career ahead.

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Lindsey Buckingham — Lindsey Buckingham

Fleetwood Mac fans will find lots to love here, including the bucking guitar solo on the racing On the Wrong Side and the sweet, easygoing chorus of Santa Rosa. There’s not much evidence of ageing in the 71-year-old’s weightless voice, either. If there’s ever a chance that people tire of Mac's greatest hits, this is an appealing minor addition to the canon.

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James Blake — Famous Last Words

We’ll have to wait a little longer than planned to hear James Blake’s first new album in two years, with the September release date scuppered by vinyl-pressing delays. But this brooding single will keep us busy in the meantime, with Blake’s beautifully controlled vocals, subtle choruses and orchestral blooms.

Richard Dawson and Circle — Lily

Geordie artist Richard Dawson’s last album, the foreboding 2020, was one of the best of 2019, matching frequently erratic songwriting with an unfailing empathy. For his upcoming full-length (Henki, November 26), he’ll team up with experimental Finnish rockers, Circle. This spooky, driving first single features snooker legend turned techno hero Steve Davis in the video.

Snail Mail — Valentine

Snail Mail AKA indie rocker Lindsey Jordan was one of the most talked about acts of 2018 thanks to her debut album Lush — but then after touring the record, she pretty much went quiet. Now she’s back, with her follow-up release Valentine out November 5. “I wanted to take as much time as possible with this record to make sure I was happy with every detail,” she explains. The title track is worth the wait.

Hatchie — This Enchanted

It’s a huge 90s throwback on the new single from Australian artist Harriette Pilbeam, whose first release as Hatchie since 2019 has all the hallmarks of the era: a shuffling drum beat, shimmering pianos and a big, shoegazey wall of sound. It’s her first release on new label Secretly Canadian, with an album in the works.

Holly Humberstone — Scarlett

Holly Humberstone has been a highlight of the festival summer so far, with some sparky performances at All Points East as well as Reading and Leeds. Her second EP, The Walls Are Way Too Thin (out November 5) will feature this synthy heartbreaker, with one of our favourite lyrics of the year: “We go together like bad British weather and the one day I make plans.”

Radiohead — If You Say The Word

It’s been more than two decades since Radiohead released their game-changing albums Kid A and Amnesiac, and the two albums will be reissued later this year alongside an album of offcuts from the two recording sessions, titled Kid A Mnesia. This typically eerie, moving track is proof that even the stuff not deemed worthy of release at first was still pretty brilliant.

Kate Nash — Horsie

Kate Nash’s second track this year is the first one she wrote during the pandemic, and was inspired in part by the feeling of “curling up in that heavy blanket and the comfort of well practised sadness”. The track isn’t overwhelmingly gloomy though, with a big, brightchorus alleviating the malaise. An album arrives later this year.

MUNA — Silk Chiffon feat. Phoebe Bridgers

LA trio MUNA are newly signed to Bridgers’ label Saddest Factory and this is their first release on it. Featuring a verse from the boss herself, it’s an airy love song replete with breezy guitars. One to play through the final throes of summer, for sure.

Sigrid Burning Bridges

This club-ready second single of the year for the Norwegian artist is a highly danceable ode to thoroughly divesting yourself of an unsatisfactory relationship, no looking back. At less than three minutes of solid empowerment it’s an absolute banger and will sound incredible at her newly announced Wembley gig in March.

Burna Boy Question feat Don Jazzy

There’s a hometown-hero vibe in the video for the massive Nigerian star’s mellow, catchy new track, sung in English, Pidgin and Yoruba, as he strolls his home streets cuddling children, reading with them and generally annoying the local big man with how much everyone loves him. Spoiler — it doesn’t end well for the other guy.

Deerhoof Plant Thief

Well, Deerhoof are absolutely livid. This tight, technically terrifying number is, they say, “a rage rock song responding to a patriarchal world that leeches off unpaid caring labour and matriarchal knowledge”. Quite right. The video, about a furious girl and her cat, by Molly Fairhurst, is brilliant.

Maisie Peters Psycho

The singer-songwriter’s slightly caustically titled debut album You Signed Up for This is released today on Ed Sheeran’s label. This is the current, incredibly fun single, the video of which is an unhinged and highly enjoyable narrative of a girl — well, girls — getting revenge on her inadequate, gaslighting boyfriend by turning the tables on him.

Common — Imagine feat PJ

Major feel-good summer vibes in this utopian dream of a song from the Chicago rapper and his collaborator PJ, which imagines a world free of care, and hails the release of his new album A Beautiful Revolution.

Morrisson — Guilty

The London rapper has been in and out of the game for over a decade but he’s back on track and smashing it with this new EP, led by its slick title single featuring Kelly Kiara.

Boys World — Something in the Water

Those who grew up with the Spice Girls and Sugababes etc find it baffling that manufactured girl bands are still a thing, but then something annoyingly catchy like this little ditty about hooking up with someone you fancy lands, sung by a bunch of girls who are all about “positivity and awareness”, and you go, Ohhh right, yeah.

Cristale — Morgan

The fast-rising Brixton rapper, poet and artist is rightly garnering attention with her super-smooth flow and her uncompromisingly punchy lyrics. This new track detailing life on the roads casually showcases her fierce lyrical artistry.

Duran Duran More Joy! Feat Chai

Ah, boys, we’ve missed you. This new single, taken from the upcoming album Future Past (coming on October 22 and produced by Erol Alkan and Giorgio Moroder), is all a fan could want — classic Eighties, complete with video-game dinky donks (technical term). It could be a parody, except that Simon Le Bon’s voice has apparently not changed a bit.

Max Richter — Exiles

Much of this new release from the post-minimalist composer is taken up by his 33-minute ballet score Exiles, a deeply reflective, mesmeric piece “on the universal subject of the journey”, responding to the refugee crisis. It sits alongside orchestral versions of some of his other most well-loved tracks.

Kay Young — Suddenly

The London rapper/singer/songwriter is blindsided by the surprise of sudden attraction in this sensual new track, in which you can almost hear her blush. “I’m losing power/ When I’m around you, babe/ Honestly didn’t see it coming,” she sings. No forthcomingrelease announcement yet but she’s been working all year, so keep your eyes peeled.

Holly Humberstone — Please Don’t Leave Just Yet

Oh god, that awful feeling when someone’s irrevocably leaving but you want to eke those last moments out before they’re gone. On this melancholy track — co-written by Matty Healy from The 1975 — Humberstone, left, picks up that feeling of cold, dull heartbreak before the piercing starts.

Anika — Change

The long-awaited (over a decade) second album from the Berlin-based German-British former political journalist is as sophisticated as you’d hope, if somewhat nihilistic. Annika Henderson’s English-accented sung-spoken delivery is clear and compelling and draws your attention to the cleverly twisty writing that overlays a consistent, slightly hypnotic drone.

Jules Buckley — X Brakes

This collaboration with Chris Wheeler and the Heritage Orchestra and the percussive duo Ghost-note, and featuring the four-time World DJ champion Mr Switch is a two minute hip hop homage, consisting of a seamless blending of iconic breaks sourced from tracks such as James Brown’s Funky Drummer, Bob James’ Take Me To The Mardi Gras and Unwind Yourself by Marva Whitney. It’ll make you want to go down an old school rabbit hole.

Bastille — Distorted Light Beam

It’s hard to think that this song, landing just as festival season finally kicks off, hasn’t been precision-tooled for playing very loudly with massive lasers across a field of ecstatic welly-wearers. Certainly the video for this euphoric, futuristic number indicates a thrilling new live set-up. Reach up kids, you can touch it.

Doflame — All Out

Being at an age where I worry about the stage of his vocal chords doesn’t stop me from taking great delight in this incredibly shouty new track from the 18-year-old Canadian hardcore artist Doflame, AKA Mateo Naranjo, with its whiff of Cypress Hill and soupcon of Suicidal Tendencies. A guaranteed head-nodder, it’s all about speaking up and doing your thing loudly.

Normani & Cardi B — Wild Side

Since leaving Fifth Harmony, Normani has displayed a relaxed attitude to releasing music, averaging about a song a year. This smooth single (and slick video), featuring a short midway rap from Cardi B just to really clarify the subject matter, doesn’t herald any stylistic change but will have her fans foaming at the mouth.

Baba Ali — Thought Leader

The latest from the New Jersey native is a punky earworm with fuzzy guitars and a moderately dirty bassline. This impossible-to-pigeonhole artist’s debut album, Memory Device, written during the lockdown and recorded with Al Doyle (LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip) in east London, is due on August 27.

Syd — Fast Car

“We goin’ piss some people off,” sings Odd Future founding member Syd in this Eighties-tinged (wait for the fabulous Prince-ish guitar solo) ode to heavy petting in the front seat of a car. The video, of her delightedly getting off with another beautiful girl in her truck while singing in her sweet, husky voice is sexy, funny and adorable.

Yves Tumor — The Asymptotical World

This surprise six-track EP from the American experimental musician features their recent single Jackie — nervy guitars reflecting what sounds like a truly terrible relationship — with the squalling Secrecy is Incredibly Important to The Both of Them and the big, open sound of Crushed Velvet. Unsettling but compelling.

Tom Odell — Monsters

Tom Odell has been in a dark place. “I haven’t got a drinking problem,” he chants over and over while tweaking the speed up to chipmunk levels. On Numb, he announces: “So what, I go out every night/Sometimes I take drugs,” over grimly clanking hip hop beats. The music is on this latest album is far more experimental than his previous work; fascinating, but also bleak.

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Dave — Clash feat. Stormzy

They’ve made cameos in each other’s videos and even shared a Glastonbury stage, but this is the first time that south London heroes Dave and Stormzy have ever hopped on a track together. And they’re certainly not feeling bashful: “Jordan 4s or Jordan 1s, Rolexes, got more than one,” raps Dave in the chorus. His new album arrives on July 23.

Amyl and the Sniffers — Guided by Angels

Sometimes, you just need a good blast of cobweb-clearing, punky pub rock. This new track from Aussie four-piece Amyl and the Sniffers is suitably raucous, barrelling along with no-frills, shouted-word lyrics. The band’s new album, Comfort to Me, is out on September 10 and described as “a Mitsubishi Lancer going slightly over the speed limit in a school zone”.


First things first: this new Ray BLK song samples Foolish by Ashanti and we fully endorse the decision. The iconic Noughties piano loop slots smoothly within the misty, late-night R&B of this track, which heralds the long-awaited release of the 26-year-old Londoner’s debut album, Access Denied, set to arrive on September 17.

GOAT — Queen of the Underground

GOAT were wearing masks way before they were cool/government-mandated. The Swedish rockers, who keep their identities hidden behind some pretty psychedelic disguises, are something of an enigma, but now they’re back with this new, brain-melting single, a cacophony of whacked-out guitars and cultish vocals. The new record, Headsoup, arrives August 27.

Laura Mvula — Pink Noise

We should have seen this coming when Laura Mvula started wielding a key-tar at her gigs a few years ago. The Birmingham artist has gone full Eighties, and her third album is a Dayglo fiesta of elastic analogue synths, plastic horn stabs and bold funk basslines. Creating music like this that doesn’t sound like pastiche is easier said than done. It’s an old style but also an exciting new start.

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