Essential Listening: This week’s best new music
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  • Post published:08/09/2021
  • Post last modified:08/09/2021
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Essential Listening: This week’s best new music

    The weekend is over yet again, which can only mean one thing: It’s time for The Far Out Playlist. Here is another round of new music that you need to wrap around your ears. We’ve got a lovely addition from Damon Albarn, a new one from Pixey, and a striking effort from Orlando Weeks.

    Whatever you have got planned this week, here is your soundtrack. There’s no shame in wanting to spin some old classics, but there are few feelings that match the joy of discovering new music. The seven handpicked songs below will sound perfect through a Bluetooth speaker whether you’re enjoying the lack of restrictions in place with friends or just want to bliss out at home.

    The weekly round-up collects the best on offer every weekend and puts them into a handy snack-sized playlist. 2021 has been a year that we’ll want to forget for the most part, but it has been an exciting year for emerging artists.

    Music has been a constant release for many of us through these turbulent times, and now we are out of it, we can finally watch these new acts we’ve fallen in love with. 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:

    Orlando Weeks – ‘Deep Down, Way Out’

    Orlando Weeks has shared his floaty new single, ‘Deep Down Way Out’, which is a two-and-a-half-minute tonic for the mind.

    The former leader of The Maccabees took the frightful plunge into solo territory last year with his debut album, A Quickening, and made the switch look effortless. While it’s a crying shame that Weeks has been unable to tour his magnificent first record due to the pandemic, that extra time on his hands has been poured into the studio.

    He returned in luscious style earlier this summer with the dreamlike ‘Big Skies, Silly Faces’ and has now offered another palatial dose in the form of ‘Deep Down Way Out’. It shares a similar almost hallucinogenic energy which allows you as a listener to get lost within the inviting allure of the transcendent pair of songs that Bullion and Ben Reed have produced.

    Miles Kane – ‘Don’t Let It Get You Down’

    Miles Kane has returned with his soulful new single, ‘Don’t Let It Get You Down’.

    The feelgood new track is brushed in the same vintage mahogany that Kane has specialised in throughout his solo career. Judging by the first release, he’s not attempting to reinvent himself with his fourth studio album. Nor is Kane isn’t letting current trends sway him from his old-school brand of shimmering 1970s pop.

    ‘Don’t Let It Get You Down’ is the first taste from his forthcoming new album, Change The Show, which arrives on January 21st, 2022. The comeback track features a bizarre sample from fellow Merseyside native and TV royalty Paul O’Grady.

    Sigrid – ‘Burning Bridges’

    Norwegian synth-pop artist Sigrid has released her second single of 2021 with the highly danceable new song ‘Burning Bridges’.

    “[‘Burning Bridges’ is] inspired by one of the toughest things I’ve been through,” Sigrid explains in a press release. “It’s a song that’s about the point where you just have to say in a relationship, ‘you know what, let’s just finish this’. That moment of enough is enough, and you need a clean break.”

    Last time we talked about Sigrid, I said that “if any future releases are as positively upbeat and indelibly catchy as ‘Mirror’, it will be an incredibly exciting listen.” Well, guess what that makes ‘Burning Bridges’? Yup, that’s right: an incredibly exciting listening experience. No word yet on when the follow up to her great 2019 debut Sucker Punch is coming out, but the first two singles are knockouts, so I’m feeling the anticipation already.

    Ross From Friends – ‘The Daisy’

    The superbly named electronic project Ross From Friends, the alias used by producer Felix Clary Weatherall, has released a brand new track, ‘The Daisy’.

    “In my mind it chronologically tied itself to the tunes I was listening to across that period too,” Weatherall explains. “How things have changed over the past 10 years in South London can be mapped with the type of music I was listening to throughout various stages of living here. I’ve basically honoured all of these musical touchstones across the album, thinking about how those memories and the tunes attached have been etched into a permanent chronology that’s completely personal to me.”

    With plenty of trip-hop and ambient house influences, ‘The Daisy’ unfurls the way any good electronica track should: slow-burning, intensive, and filled with unexpected turns and surprises. The track is supremely relaxed, perhaps riding that famed “chill wave” movement that people are always on about, and takes you in and out of a sonic journey that feels well fleshed out and purposeful. The worst house tracks feel unfocused and random, but whenever Weatherall reintroduces sounds, they feel intentional within the song’s arrangement.

    Griff – ‘One Night’

    London’s new queen of off-beat pop music, Griff, has dropped her first new song since the release of her debut EP/mixtape One Foot in Front of the Other with the new single ‘One Night’.

    I recall being very fond of the mixtape’s title track, and there’s nothing I like more than a really good pop song. More than anything else, a good pop songwriter knows their way around a killer hook. Something that’s bound to bounce around your head for hours, days, or even weeks at a time. Ideally, you should get mad at a song for being so catchy. You’ve got to love a song so much that you hate it. Griff, as it happens, is really good at this particular aspect of songwriting.

    Pixey – ‘Life In Stereo’

    Liverpool indie-pop hero Lizzie Hillesdon, better known under her stage name Pixey, has released a new preview of her EP Sunshine State, ‘Life In Stereo’.

    “The first tune I wrote & recorded at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool,” Hillesdon says of ‘Life In Stereo’. “I finished writing it in a day – we started the tune from scratch in the morning and I added some of my own production & finished the lyrics in the evening. I love writing about the way music makes you feel, and ‘Life In Stereo’ is exactly that. I’m surrounded by music all the time so I wanted an upbeat, uncomplicated tune about quite literally being the music.”

    Pixey has a reliable and established formula for her music: energetic beats, joyous layers of vocals, and an eternally summer-adjacent sound. The production, most of which she handles herself, is about stuffing in as much excitement and vibrancy in under three minutes as possible. Very rarely do her songs exceed this length: ‘Sunshine State’ doesn’t, and neither does ‘The Mersey Line’.

    Damon Albarn – ‘Particles’

    Damon Albarn has shared his latest single, the melancholy and slow-burning ‘Particles’. The most intriguing aspect to a new Damon Albarn song is wondering what side of his style he’s going to tap into. Will it be a wild electronica album, or perhaps an experimental jazz LP. Maybe Albarn will tap into his experimental side, or maybe he’ll want to return to Britpop/alternative rock roots.

    Albarn already released the title track and the song ‘Polaris’ from his upcoming LP The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows, but the title appears again in the lyrics to ‘Particles’, creating a sort of thematic continuity between the album’s tracks.

    ‘Particles’ is Albarn in stripped-back, half-electronic, half-acoustic mode. The song feels like it could have easily been an outtake from his 2014 debut solo LP Everyday Robots (I always find it wild that Albarn took nearly 25 years to release an album under his own name), as it fits the tone of that record perfectly.

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