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Is your playlist in need of some refreshment? We have some suggestions.
Kendrick Lamar - Mr Morale & The Big Steppers
Kendrick Lamar’s first album in five years didn’t need hyping, and he avoids the pressure of worldwide expectation by turning his focus deep, deep inwards. The subjects he tackles, from child abuse to transgender acceptance, are light years away from the usual concerns of the hip hop world, and once again, Lamar is that far ahead of everyone else in the game.
Florence + The Machine - Dance Fever
There are a few songs on Florence Welch’s latest album that seem designed to offer renewed joy when she finally returns to the stage, such as My Love and Dream Girl Evil. However, the overall feel here is one of hesitant uncertainty. She’s far from the banshee of old, but this latest development is always absorbing.
Ezra Furman - Forever in Sunset
Fresh from penning the suitably heart-on-sleeve soundtrack for Netflix’s Sex Education, Ezra Furman is returning with a new album. All Of Us Flames will arrive on August 26, followed up by a show at the Roundhouse on November 17. This latest single, with a bursting chorus and throaty vocals, is an excellent sign of things to come.
Stella Donnelly - Lungs
Aussie musician Stella Donnelly firmly marked herself out as one to watch in the future with her debut album, Beware of the Dogs, back in 2019, and so it’s proved: this shuffly, playful new single is superb. She’ll match Ezra Furman and release her new album, Flood, on August 26 — it’s shaping up to be a good Friday.
Shygirl - Firefly
Boundary-pushing Londoner Shygirl has been doing weird and wonderful things with pop music for years, and now she’s finally coming through with a debut album — Nymph, September 30 — set to feature the likes of Arca and Mura Masa. This glitched-out raver is the first single off the project.
Nova Twins - Puzzles
“Inspired by the many sexy R&B songs we love, we wanted to make a heavy rocked-out version of a song that makes us feel powerful,” say London duo Nova Twins of their unapologetically sex-positive new track Puzzles. As always with this band, it defies genre — but it certainly doesn’t pull any punches.
Arcade Fire - WE
Given the current state of the world, Arcade Fire aren’t short of subject matter for their sixth album. It’s named after the dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and its first half journeys from what the band calls the current Age of Anxiety to a strangely beautiful future where California is under the sea. Whereas their previous album, Everything Now, could feel too much like a lecture about the internet rotting your brain, here things end up in a more positive place. Open, welcoming, uplifting despite the darkness, there are few better companions for the apocalypse.
Khalid - Skyline
We’re at that time of the year when the summer-ready bangers start to come through thick and fast. Latest to deliver is US star Khalid, whose new single is about as bouncy and easy-going as a flamingo pool inflatable. It’ll feature on his upcoming album, Everything Is Changing, which is still yet to get a nailed-on release date.
Porridge Radio - End of Last Year
“End of Last Year is a love song for my bandmates and for myself,” says lead vocalist Dana Margolin of the Brighton band Porridge Radio’s new song. Rather more languid than their scuzzier output, it still bodes well for the upcoming album, Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky, set to arrive on May 20.
Tove Lo - No One Dies From Love
Tove Lo is back, and she’s brought a new record label with her, Pretty Swede. The Scandinavian artist has christened the venture with her latest single, a thumping piece of synth-pop, accompanied by a video charting a human-robot love story. Catch her live at the Roundhouse on November 5.
George Riley - Jealousy
London artist George Riley caught our ear last year, popping up as a vocalist on the ravey Anz track You Could Be. She dials things down on this new single, produced by the Frank Ocean-approved Vegyn, lowering the tempo and the temperature with some velvety vocals and a glimmering beat.
Blossoms - Ribbon Around the Bomb
From the beginning, the charm of Blossoms has been their willingness to avoid rock star iciness and embrace less hip influences too. The song Care For sweeps along like something that could join in with the ABBA comeback. The title track is the strongest, strutting past on an easygoing bassline with much woo-ing in the backing vocals. They’re growing up on this latest album, but haven’t lost sight of what makes them so appealing.
Ibeyi - Rise Above feat. Berwyn
The very best kinds of covers are the ones in which the new version sounds like a completely fresh interpretation of the original — and that’s exactly the case here. Afro-Cuban-French sisters Ibeyi and east Londoner Berwyn deliver this simmering take on the classic hardcore punk track, Rise Above by Black Flag, swapping flailing fury for calm power.
Sorry - There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved
Out last week, this new track from London-based indie rockers Sorry has been on repeat for the last few days. Described by the band’s Asha Lorenz “sad-funny love song”, it’s got a trudging beat and some pretty mournful sounding guitars — but the chorus hook is a catchy one. See them at the Jazz Cafe in Camden on June 21.
070 Shake - Skin and Bones
With her debut album Modus Vivendi, American artist 070 Shake AKA Danielle Balbuena found herself towards the top of a fair few album-of-the-year lists in 2020, both in the States and over here. It makes her follow-up project, You Can’t Kill Me, due out this spring, one of 2022’s most anticipated — it’s led by this heartfelt, spacey single.
The Range - Urethane
On his latest production as The Range, American musician James Hinton borrows bars from Ice Rink, a 2014 track by UK grime artist MIK. It dresses the vocal sample up in a whole new skin, teasing out the melancholy that’s hidden by a bruising beat on the original. It’ll feature on Hinton’s first new album in six years, Mercury, which arrives on June 10.
Fontaines D.C. - Skinty Fia
It seems ridiculous to call the unruly sound of Dogrel, te three-year-old first album from Fontaines D.C., the band’s early days, but the music has developed to such an extent that if it weren’t for Chatten’s boggy accent, this could be a different band. The Dubliners explore a new style here, and it’s proof that they’ve already matured into one of the very best.
Spiritualized - Everything Was Beautiful
Spiritualized main man Jason Pierce could have faded into cult obscurity by now, age 56, and especially deserved a long lie down after nearly dying from double pneumonia in 2005, but instead he’s as meticulous as ever and showing extraordinary ambition on his latest album. In fact, Everything Was Beautiful feels like a greatest hits round-up of Pierce’s most appealing talents.
Soccer Mommy - Unholy Affliction
It sounds like Soccer Mommy, AKA Nashville artist Sophie Allison, is limbering up to take a big leap forward on her upcoming album, Sometimes, Forever, due out on June 24. This latest single, on which the ever-inventive Oneohtrix Point Never is producer, is a dark, thrilling distortion of Allison’s indie rock roots.
Hot Chip - Down
Now well into their third decade as a band, Hot Chip are entering their latest phase with the release of their eighth album, Freakout/Release, out August 19. Their stompy comeback single is fuelled by a Universal Togetherness Band sample and will no doubt get the crowd moving when they return to London for a four-show run at Brixton Academy in September.
Yaya Bey - Alright
Here’s another track that’s making us mightily excited to hear what Yaya Bey’s been working on with her upcoming album, Remember Your North Star, set to arrive on June 17. The groove-switching beat is sumptuous, and Bey’s voice glides through the rhythms with slinky ease.
Robocobra Quartet - Wellness
A newspaper article about wellness influencers isn’t an obvious source of lyrical inspiration, but Robocobra Quartet’s drummer-vocalist Chris W Ryan has lifted some of the whackier lines (“Being barefoot grounds me, and I receive electrons from the earth”) verbatim for this new track. It’s a perfectly strange match for the Belfast group’s riveting jazzy, post-punk squalls.
Jockstrap - Concrete Over Water
Georgia Ellery’s other band, Black Country, New Road, might get more attention, but Jockstrap — her musical duo alongside Taylor Skye — make some fascinating music too. This is their latest creation, a dramatic mash-up of ballad-ish organs and fizzing electronics, explored across six minutes. A debut album is in the works, we’re assured.
Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler - The Eagle and the Dove
As anyone who’s been lucky enough to catch a performance of the West End revival of Cabaret will tell you, Jessie Buckley can’t half sing. The Irish actor gives a stirring vocal performance on this swirling track, created alongside BRIT Award-winning producer Bernard Butler, which precedes a full album from the duo, For All Our Days That Tear The Heart, out June 10.
Jamie xx - Let’s Do It Again
Is there any surer sign that festival season is on the horizon than a new Jamie xx track? The doyen of summer bangers returns with more hot weather fodder here, with a housey, sample-heavy tune that feels more than ready to vibrate some festival stages over the coming months.
Billy Nomates - Blue Bones
Here’s a punchy, pained song from Billy Nomates, described by the Leicestershire musician as “a candid conversation with my own depression. A part of me I have to talk to.” The lyrics are as soul-baring as you’d imagine, and it’s all carried by a slyly accessible post-punk instrumental.
Wet Leg - Wet Leg
Wet Leg’s success has come quickly - they only released their first single back in June - but the triumph of this debut album rests on the fact that the pair did have some time to prepare. It was mostly recorded in April last year, before they’d even played a gig. There’s no feeling of pressure to rise to expectations. It’s the sound of two cool friends having fun.
Anna Calvi - Ain’t No Grave
Anna Calvi has, by the sounds of it, gone pretty far down the Peaky Blinders rabbit hole. “I’ve been living in the character of Tommy Shelby for years now,” she said of her time spent scoring seasons five and six of the BBC show. “I’ve dreamed about him every night for months.” Her new EP, out May 6, is even called Tommy. This first track is fittingly menacing.
Joyce Manor - Gotta Let It Go
California band Joyce Manor will deliver their first new album since 2018 when they drop 40 oz. to Fresno on June 10. This thumping lead single clocks in at just under two minutes, and the nine-track album won’t even crack the 17-minute mark — perfect for anyone with a short attention span but a big appetite for catchy pop-punk.
Moonchild Sanelly - April Fool’s Day (Makahambe)
Another new album coming out on June 10 — it’s shaping up to be a good day — is Moonchild Sanelly’s second album, Phases. The South African artist, who came to global attention when she featured on Beyoncé’s Lion King album back in 2019, has given us the latest teaser of things to come with this frosty rap track.
Hercules & Love Affair - Poisonous Storytelling feat. ANOHNI
It’s been more than 14 years since Hercules & Love Affair, AKA Andrew Butler, teamed up with ANOHNI, and this is the first time they’ve collaborated since then. Back in 2008, the result was the disco hit Blind, but you’re rather more unlikely to hear this one on the dancefloor, with its industrial thwacks and ghostly vocals.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Unlimited Love
So it turns out the special sauce in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ success is not the half-rapped vocals of frontman Anthony Kiedis, or Flea’s taut basslines, but the more free-flowing guitar work of John Frusciante. Back with the old gang for his first RHCP album since 2006, producer Rick Rubin has also rejoined the party. There probably isn’t a song on this new album that will impact on the masses with the force of earlier hits such as Under the Bridge and By the Way. Even so, those who have grown up with this band will have few reservations about welcoming its return in its strongest line-up.
Harry Styles - As It Was
Grab your nicest blouse from the wardrobe: Hazza is back. With a long-awaited stadium tour coming up this summer (two Wembley dates in June) and a newly announced album (Harry’s House, May 20), the grown-up Directioner has dropped his latest single. It’s a big old piece of indie-pop, with some subtly sad lyrics swept up in crashing waves of drums, bells and guitars.
Kae Tempest - I Saw Light feat. Grian Chatten
Kae Tempest tees up their upcoming fourth album (The Line Is A Curve, April 8) with this new track, enlisting the help of Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten. Over an ebbing electronic throb, the duo share the verses and each offer some moving lines of poetry; Chatten sounds rather more gentle here than he does with his ear-rattling band.
Bruce Hornsby - Sidelines feat. Blake Mills and Ezra Koenig
Best known for his Eighties soft rock hits, American musician Bruce Hornsby is one of those artists who seems intent on getting experimental into their later career, rather than relying on old glories. He’ll deliver his 22nd album ‘Flicted on May 27, and has announced it with this beautiful, shimmery track with contributions from Blake Mills and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.
Spill Tab - Sunburn
French-Korean-American riser Spill Tab had a breakout 2021 — she’s pushing three quarters of a million monthly Spotify listeners these days — and looks set to build on that for the rest of this year. Her new track is a scratchy piece of moody alt-pop, and will surely be a highlight when she headlines The Grace in Islington on May 9.
Koffee - Gifted
The overall tone on Koffee’s new album feels infectiously positive. Both Where I’m From and West Indies pay tribute to her homeland. She sounds like she’s happiest in a fast car, filling up her Mercedes in a verse in West Indies, and graduating to a Ferrari, an Audi and a Lexus on the rubbery Afrobeats song, Pull Up. That one is the best example of her exuberant, sunny style, and though she clearly knows her reggae history, it sounds perfect for a 2022 summer.
King Princess - For My Friends
Brooklyn artist King Princess kicks off her new album campaign with a single dedicated to her two best friends from school. “The more time I spend with them as an adult, the more I’m reminded that they are my home,” she says. The sweet, nostalgic track is the first taste of her upcoming record, Hold On Baby, due later this year.
Working Men’s Club - Widow
This propulsive piece of noir synth-rock comes from Yorkshire up-and-comers Working Men’s Club. Dark and dancey, it sounds like the kind of thing that will fill any room it’s played in, sweaty basement, huge theatre or otherwise. They’re one of the must-see acts at Wide Awake festival in Brockwell Park this May.
Kadhja Bonet - Dear Gina
Here’s a lovely, jazzy track from Kadhja Bonet, the Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist who’s collaborated with the likes of Childish Gambino and Anderson .Paak in the past. Shuffling along with a slightly off-kilter beat, but managing to sound smoothly assured nonetheless, it’s a brilliant follow-up to her 2021 single, For You (also worth seeking out).
Zola Jesus - Lost
Nika Roza Danilova is gearing up to release her first new album as Zola Jesus since 2017. Arkhon (that’s Greek for “ruler”) will arrive on May 20, and this is the lead single. Built on ominous samples of a Slovenian folk choir, some doomy bass and ghostly vocals, it’s quite the return.
Rosalía - Motomami
Motomami, the latest album from the Spanish star, can be an exhausting journey, full of unexpected twists. She sounds restless and impatient, ready to turn a song inside out just as it’s getting going. But you’re never that far away from the unadorned beauty of an extraordinary voice. Sakura in particular is a bravura performance, a live recording that closes the album with a richly deserved round of applause.
Arcade Fire - The Lightning I, II
Arcade Fire made their return to the stage for the first time as a complete band in more than two years earlier this week, with a surprise gig in New Orleans. The show was to raise funds in aid of the humanitarian effort in Ukraine, but also to debut some eagerly anticipated new music, among which was this boisterously brilliant track. Their sixth studio album, WE, arrives on May 6.
MUNA - Anything But Me
Silk Chiffon was one of our favourite songs of 2021 — along with a lot of other people, if the regularity with which it popped up on TikTok is anything to go by. The LA trio behind it, MUNA, have since confirmed a new self-titled album, out June 24, and delivered this single, with chunky synths, airy guitars and some great lines about different sized horses (it makes sense, trust us).
Poppy Ajudha - PLAYGOD
Inspired by the anger felt “when a group of men tried to pass an anti-abortion bill in the state of Alabama”, this single from south London artist Poppy Ajudha sparks with a righteous fury. With a cascade of overdriven guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on a My Bloody Valentine album, and audio recordings of women speaking out against the bill, it’s a powerful listen.
Thom Yorke - 5.17
Here’s a new solo track from the Radiohead frontman, which comes via the soundtrack for the final series of Peaky Blinders, currently airing on the BBC. It’s a haunting piece of music — ideal for some Tommy Shelby-adjacent drama, then — and is actually the first of two new songs Yorke has written for the programme, with the second arriving on April 2.
Rex Orange County - Who Cares?
Rex Orange County AKA 23-year-old Alex O’Connor from Hampshire has never had a single climb higher than 68 in the UK charts, and one of his three previous albums spent a solitary week in the top 10 in 2019. By these older measures of pop success he’s middling at best, yet in August he’ll perform to a 20,000-strong crowd in Gunnersbury Park. “I’ll stick around/We’ll do it somehow,” he proposes on the dramatic Shoot Me Down. “No one can stop me now.” On the evidence of these bright songs and the summer he has in store, that sounds about right.
Floating Points - Vocoder
After delivering a spellbinding album with Pharaoh Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra, flowing between classical, ambient and jazz, Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points is back to prove he can still conjure up the club-ready bangers. Sprawling out beyond the seven-minute mark, shape-shifting as it goes, you can expect to hear it on the dancefloor soon.
Aldous Harding - Fever
Never one to stick to a single way of performing music, New Zealand artist Aldous Harding returns with this new track, on which her pleasant drawl sounds entirely different to the almost childlike vocals on the preceding single, Lawn. Both will feature on her upcoming album, Warm Chris, which arrives on March 25.
Tomberlin - Tap
Kentucky-based indie-folk artist Tomberlin delivers this soft, tangly new single, which ties together wandering pianos, echoey guitar arpeggios and undulating vocals, while pondering worries big and small in the lyrics: “Always wondering about my health / Always wondering if I’ll go to hell.”
GAIKA - Gladius
Brixton’s GAIKA is thrillingly adventurous — this new track is part of a wider project that brings together an upcoming album, a film and an installation at the ICA. On the song, icy, industrial soundscapes are paired with vocals both softly sung and passionately rapped. Keep an eye on where he goes next.
Stromae - Multitude
Marriage and fatherhood are two reasons for Stromae’s long absence from music. This is his first album in nine years, a disappearing act that’s surprising considering that when he left the stage he was one of Europe’s biggest stars. And though fame remained elusive this side of the Channel, there’s enough breadth across the 12 songs to appeal everywhere – maybe, this time, even here.
Dolly Parton - Run Rose Run
Run Rose Run, the companion album to the book Parton has co-authored with James Patterson, sounds formulaic, undemanding, like she’s written similar things many times before, but it’ll take a lot more than that to start a backlash against a woman who not long ago was in the news for donating $1 million to coronavirus vaccine research. The songs are still good enough to deserve more than status as footnotes to a book.
Dave - Starlight
It’s been quite the fortnight for Dave. Storm Eunice ripping the roof off the O2 meant he had to push back his headline shows by a week, but it was worth the wait, eventually coming through with two triumphant concerts. And now, he’s capped it off with this new single, delivering characteristically tricky wordplay over a sweet, self-produced beat.
Haim - Lost Track
Fresh from casting the entire Haim trio in his Oscar-nominated film Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson is back working with the LA sisters on the video for this stripped-back new single. Described by the band as an “off the cuff” composition built around a lyric they wrote a year ago, it’s making us even more excited for the band’s huge O2 gig this summer.
Bartees Strange - Heavy Heart
Bartees Strange has had quite the life so far — born in Ipswich, raised across the pond in Oklahoma, playing in hardcore bands and even working for Barack Obama — and now he’s signed for the excellent 4AD label. This crashing new track, with lyrics that set about detangling various forms of guilt, precedes his first ever UK tour, playing London’s Powerhaus on July 21.
Pongo - Doudou
Angolan-Portuguese artist Pongo has been gathering attention in the past few years for her fiercely modern take on kuduro, the upbeat brand of dance music originating in the coastal African country. Her latest effort is a rather more soothing affair, though, with drifting guitars and a wound-down beat. Check out the new album, SAKIDILA, when it drops on April 1.
Central Cee - 23
Central Cee, often known as Cench, rarely as Oakley Neil Caesar-Su from Shepherd’s Bush, is undisputedly London’s rapper of the moment, and the the 15 tracks on his new album roughly follow his journey so far. Suffice to say, he’s come a long way, and the powerful songs here will cement his place in the mainstream.
Florence + The Machine - King
If you’re on Twitter, you probably saw the hysteria whipped up by Florence Welch’s announcement on Tuesday that “something’s coming”. That something turned out to be this marvellous new track, a defiant take-down of gender expectations with an accompanying video directed by Emma. filmmaker Autumn de Wilde.
The Queen’s Head - The Queen’s Head
New London post-punk bands aren’t at all like buses — you wait no time at all and then about 17 come along at once. But even if this new breed of guitar-led groups do seem to proliferate alarmingly quickly, it’s worth paying attention to the ones that stand out from the rabble. Keep an eye on The Queen’s Head, whose latest track — a piece of growling doom-funk — is well worth hearing.
Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime (Deluxe Edition)
Tuareg musician Mdou Moctar and his band are back with an expanded, deluxe version of their superb 2021 album, Afrique Victime. With nine fresh tracks of demos and live versions, there’s also a new single, Nakanegh Dich — apparently, it’s the first time Moctar ever used a wah-wah pedal, resulting in a spangly burst of tangled rock.
Mura Masa - bbycakes feat. Lil Uzi Vert, PinkPantheress and Shygirl
Mura Masa tried to co-opt retro styles for a new-age sound on his last album, RYC. It didn’t quite hit the mark, but he does a much better job with this hugely fun new creation. Borrowing a chorus from Noughties one-hit-wonders 3 of a Kind, it’s a forward-facing medley of drill, hyperpop, UK garage.
Hurray for the Riff Raff - Life on Earth
Alynda Segarra has come a long way. Literally, as a teenage runaway who escaped New York to hop freight trains and ended up settling in New Orleans; and musically, on a journey from recording country folk covers of Billie Holiday and Lead Belly towards this eighth album, which finds them with a new record label and in their strongest position yet for crossover pop rock success.
Sea Power - Everything Was Forever
Liking Sea Power’s music has often felt being a member of a lovely, bizarre cult. They have played gigs in a Cornish slate mine, London’s Czech Embassy, picturesque pubs and village halls, often with a giant dancing polar bear in tow. At this stage in their career, Everything Was Forever seems likely to keep them at cult status, but those in the know will recognise one of their best works.
Vince Staples - Magic feat. DJ Mustard
As excellent as California rapper Vince Staples’ career has been so far, he hasn’t always seemed primed for radio, exploring the darker end of the hip-hop spectrum instead. This new track, though, with its instantly catchy chorus and strutting bassline, seems made to be blasted out of car speakers. His new album, Ramona Park Broke My Heart, is due this spring.
Fatima & Joe Armon-Jones - #1
This new single from Ezra Collective’s Joe Armon-Jones and Stockholm-born vocalist Fatima is the first installment of a collaborative EP, Tinted Shades, set to arrive on March 4. It’s as seductively jazzy as you’d expect from Armon-Jones, and features Black Midi’s Morgan Simpson on the drums.
Nilüfer Yanya - anotherlife
We’ve long been a fan of Nilüfer Yanya’s style — fusing those voguish lo-fi guitars with all sorts of different genres — and this is a wonderful example of that. Taken from her upcoming second album, Painless, due March 4, it’s a serene track “about being OK with things and accepting that this is where you are at”, but with an undertone of unease.
Jianbo - Mongkok Madness feat. Henry Wu
South London artist Jianbo has been making waves with his fresh take on London staples — UK rap, pirate radio — blended with sonic flavours from his Chinese and Vietnamese heritage. On this beguiling new track, he teams up with Henry Wu AKA Kamaal Williams, who’s of Taiwanese heritage, with a video filmed at New Cross restaurant Hong Kong City. “This one was for the culture,” Jianbo says.
Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
This fifth release from Big Thief saw them working with different sounds and feels, with four different engineers in studios in upstate New York, Topanga Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and Tucson, Arizona. The varied working environments mean there isn’t a unified feel, other than Lenker’s fragile, birdlike voice, but it gives the potential for a new favourite song every day as the listener delves deeper into this rich soundworld.
Ed Sheeran - The Joker and the Queen feat. Taylor Swift
It was confirmed earlier this week, but the Swifties had it all figured out way before — Ed Sheeran was to reunite with Taylor Swift for a remix of the former’s track, as deduced from Sheeran’s Insta post featuring a CD cover with a pack of cards. And so it turned out, with Sheeran’s “good friend” lending her vocals on the rejigged version.
KOKOROKO - Something’s Going On
The London-based eight-piece ensemble are back with their first new music of 2022, and it’s a real winner: weaving, West African-style rhythms are doused in Seventies funk, creating the kind of intoxicating atmosphere KOKOROKO are known for. There’s word of a new album later this year, but that’s all we’ve got so far.
Everything Everything - Bad Friday
Everything Everything aren’t your typical rock band — lyrics on their newly announced album Raw Data Feel, out May 20 were written with the help of an AI programme, which was fed “the entire terms and conditions of LinkedIn, the ancient epic poem Beowulf, 400,000 4Chan forum posts and the teachings of Confucius”. The first single is far catchier than that suggests.
Bree Runway - Pressure
The mood of Bree Runway’s new track, as described by Hackney artist, is “when you look so good before you head out” that “you hope that you bump into an ex or a hater”. That defiant self-confidence flows through the track, with a snaking bassline and a bewitching beat, and it’s the first of a trilogy of songs, which means we’ve got more to look forward to.
Mitski - Laurel Hell
The title of Mitski’s post-hiatus album, Laurel Hell, refers to a plant that traps you more closely the more you struggle. It’s a worrying metaphor, especially when paired with songs such as Everyone, a funereal synth drone that only slightly approaches melody. Like the music on its predecessors, however, many songs are short, and the whole thing is barely longer than half an hour. Which makes the times when she sounds energetic and ambitious all the more precious.
Alfie Templeman - Broken
Is it happy? Is it sad? That’s the line 19-year-old Alfie Templeman walks on his latest single, which pairs pretty, Nile Rodgers-ish guitar flicks and a big sing-along chorus with some rather downbeat lyrics: “Sometimes, I think that I might be broken,” he ponders on the refrain. Hear it again on his debut album, Mellow Moon, out on May 27.
Arlo Parks - Softly
Arlo Parks has a habit of making the profound sound nonchalant, and her first piece of new music since she collected the Mercury Prize with her 2021 album Collapsed in Sunbeams carries on very much in that vein. Over bittersweet pianos and a shuffling drumbeat, she asks to be broken up with in the gentlest way.
Kamasi Washington - The Garden Path
Cosmic jazz juggernaut Kamasi Washington has released his first new, original recording in almost a year, and it’s exactly the kind of excellence we’ve come to expect from him: perfectly balanced layers intertwine as his saxophone, played to within an inch of its life, takes us in all different directions.
Luna Li - Silver Into Rain feat. Beabadoobee
The Toronto up-and-comer has enlisted the vocals of west London rocker Beabadoobee for this woozy, slow-tempo stagger of a song, with buzzing guitar riffs and lyrics about “about longing to become a better self,” according to Li. It’s the lead single off her debut album, Duality, set to land on March 4.
Anaïs Mitchell - Anaïs Mitchell
Mitchell’s first solo album for a decade is a quietly lovely collection of folky, tranquil songs made by one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. Aside from the identity of their composer they have almost nothing to do with the music of Broadway. The star here is Mitchell herself, telling a smaller, familiar pandemic story of leaving the city for a calmer, more contemplative life.
Warpaint - Champion
It’s good to have Warpaint back. The Los Angeles four-piece will put an end to our six-year wait for a new album with the release of Radiate Like This on May 6, and this is the first single they’ve dropped. Shuffling dance rhythms and those trademark vocal textures mingle with spindly guitars before a sweeping crescendo.
Rex Orange County - Keep It Up
Emerging as something of a wunderkind — at 19 he featured on Tyler, The Creator’s 2017 album Flower Boy — Rex Orange County (AKA Hampshire’s Alexander James O’Connor) has been marked out as a flagbearer for the bedroom pop generation. His new single, a jaunty ode to self-belief, comes from his forthcoming album, Who Cares?, out March 11.
The Weather Station - Endless Time
With her 2021 album as the Weather Station, Ignorance, Tamara Lindeman found herself in the upper reaches of a fair few year-end lists. On March 4, she’ll release the album’s companion piece — described as “the moon to its sun” — with a new collection of tracks, How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars. This first single is a mellow and contemplative piano stroll.
Grimes - Shinigami Eyes
She might have become a household name in the most unexpected way — her relationship with Elon Musk took us all by surprise — but her newfound celebrity hasn’t changed Grimes’s motivation to explore the weirder ends of the pop music spectrum. Her new manga-inspired track is spacey and synthy, an ethereal backdrop to her manipulated vocals.
Years & Years - Night Call
Night Call is an apt name for Olly Alexander’s first solo album as Years & Years. It’s his attempt to drag all of us back to the club, binning our box sets, rules and restrictions be damned. It can sit beside Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia as an album conceived in a fun-free time (away from Downing Street, at least) that revels in the sound of all that pent-up partying being gloriously released.
Khruangbin and Leon Bridges - Chocolate Hills
Khruangbin first paired their woozy funk with the soul of Atlanta vocalist Leon Bridges on a collaborative EP, Texas Sun, back in 2020, and now they’re gearing up to return with a companion release, Texas Moon. This is the latest track, a dusky piece of lo-fi sensuality, which bodes very well for the full project, due to drop on February 18.
Fred again.., Romy, HAAi - Lights Out
Producer-songwriter Fred again…, Romy of The xx and producer-DJ HAAi have come together for this club-ready new track. Starting life as a laptop beat created by Fred again.. on a train journey into the Scottish Highlands, and with looped vocals from Romy, it’s an absolute thumper. Are we to expect any more music from this newly formed supergroup? We wouldn’t complain.
Camp Cope - Running with the Hurricane
There’s a sweet family connection in the release of Melbourne rockers Camp Cope’s new record: Running With The Hurricane (out March 25) shares its name with a song by Redgum, the folk group of which singer Georgia Maq’s father was once a member. This eponymous single is a free-wheeling flight of crashing drums, searching basslines and pianos.
Maia Friedman - First to Love
Best known for her work as part of rock experimentalists Dirty Projectors, Maia Friedman is striking out as a solo artist. We’ve already heard her excellent debut single, Where The Rocks Are, and this is the follow-up. Intriguing electronic textures sit beside a softly strummed guitar, a fine platform for Friedman’s serene vocals. The album, Under The New Light, arrives on March 11.
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.
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.
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.