Our music recommendations: What we’re listening to now, from Bastille to Anika

·9-min read
Bastille (Reece Owen)
Bastille (Reece Owen)

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

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”.

Ray BLK — MIA

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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Big Red Machine — Latter Days feat. Anaïs Mitchell

Big Red Machine, the collaborative project of The National’s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, has been resurrected for a second album (How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last, out August 27). Taylor Swift is the biggest name set to appear on the record, and on this latest single, Anaïs Mitchell lends vocals over some very National-ish pianos.

LUMP — We Cannot Resist

If Big Red Machine sounds almost exactly how you’d expect a Dessner-Vernon collab to sound, then LUMP — the coming together of Laura Marling and Tunng’s Mike Lindsay — is the opposite. The duo’s new track, We Cannot Resist, is scratchy and spooky, with hints of classic rock and easy-going pop, but ultimately coming across as an intriguing oddity.

Rico Nasty — Magic

The Biggest Beat of The Week award goes to Rico Nasty for this track. We can get enough of the twiddly, big-bass groove on the American singer-rapper’s latest single — definitely one to play out when (if) the sun arrives this weekend. The song will feature on her forthcoming mixtape, Rx, due to arrive later this summer.

The Ophelias — Neil Young On High feat. Julien Baker

Fans of emotionally dense, violin-heavy, indie-rock crescendos (we know you’re out there) should look no further than this beautiful track from American four-piece The Ophelias. It features Julien Baker, who recorded her parts remotely from her Tennessee base during quarantine, and precedes the group’s third album Crocus, out on September 24.

Doja Cat — Planet Her

Planet Her is overloaded with the kind of sharp, startling couplets and zingy melodies that could easily soundtrack the next viral dance challenge on TikTok. Kiss Me More, featuring SZA, has a breezy disco feel to rival her biggest hit, the US number one Say So. Her voice leaps from raspy rapping to a ludicrous falsetto on the man-smashing Ain’t Shit, and reaches even more skyscraping heights on the fabulous hyperpop of Payday.

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Tyler, the Creator — Call Me If You Get Lost

The LA artist's new alter ego is Tyler Baudelaire, an international jetsetter who’s too busy fretting about “Cookie crumbs in the Rolls” to think about the state of the nation. The music – soulful flute on Hot Wind Blows and even reggae on Sweet/I Thought You Wanted to Dance – has a global feel, held together by old school breakbeats and the frequent shout-outs of DJ Drama. There are many layers to sift through. Tyler’s music is as fascinating as ever.

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Joni Mitchell — Blue 50

Who else has been listening to Blue non-stop this week? The masterpiece celebrated its 50th anniversary on Tuesday, and to mark the milestone, an EP of demos and alternative versions from the album sessions has been released. Highlights include a lyrical reworking of A Case of You, and the track River with the addition of some suitably wistful French horns.

Wye Oak — Its Way With Me

The latest offering from US duo Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack is a lovely one: repeating twangs of guitar sit alongside soft electronic shimmers. According to Wasner, the song is “about surrender — about learning to feel at peace amidst the chaos of existence through letting go of all that is beyond our control”. Catch them at their first ever online concert on July 1.

Sugababes — Same Old Story (Blood Orange Remix)

Sugababes’ debut album One Touch recently turned 20 (don’t worry, you’re not the only one that feels old) and in honour of the milestone, they’ve been releasing remixes from the record. First up was MNEK with his reworking of Run For Cover, and now we’ve got this icy reimagining from Blood Orange AKA Dev Hynes.

Sherelle — 160 DOWN THE A406

Back in the olden days when we were all allowed to get together indoors for a boogie, Sherelle was one of the must-see DJs, shelling out tracks at breakneck speed with an unmatched zest. To keep us going until clubs (finally) reopen, the Londoner has released her first ever official single. It’s as lively as you’d expect, and a debut EP will arrive on July 6.

Kings of Convenience — Peace or Love

There's always been more to this Norwegian duo than quiet, soothing harmonies. The pair’s fourth album is far from folk, with a bossa nova feel to the energetically plucked guitars of Angel and jazzy violins dancing over Rocky Trail. The single Fever even features – stop the presses! – a drum machine, as well as the pair hitting charming falsettos.

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Yves Tumor — Jackie

Yves Tumor’s rockstar transformation continues with this new single, a follow-up to their wonderful 2020 album Heaven To A Tortured Mind. It’s a fierce, glossy track, with brooding verses and a crashing chorus. The new music arrived with news of a tour — catch them at Electric Brixton in March next year.

Aldous Harding — Old Peel

Here’s one for any Aldous Harding fans who have missed seeing their hero live: this jaunty single is a studio version of the track that the New Zealander would finish off her most recent gigs with. It’s a one-off release, but she’s also announced that she’ll be coming to London next March, with two shows at the Barbican.

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