The Mic Recommends...

With the first month of 2021 out of the way, it seems that not a lot of good has come from the new year so far, save the offerings of the music world. Hopefully suggesting a continuation of this trend of good music into February includes the comforting softness from Arlo Parks, pulsing tech-house from Gorgon City, sparky defiance from Pale Waves, and many more.

‘You've Done Enough’ – Gorgon City

Teaming up with Chicago duo DRAMA, Gorgon City have well and truly blessed our weekend with a new house tune. Sensual vocals from DRAMA provide a softness to the bass pulsing through the track’s format, yet it doesn’t take away from Gorgon City’s classic housey grit found in their other tracks. Gorgon City have a knack for commercial house tracks when teaming up with vocalists, but You’ve Done Enough has married this with the contrasting tech-house that flows through their live sets, which are typically much punchier and focus on heavy basslines. The wondrous vocals shine yet allow the spotlight on the marriage of bass and synths, providing a much rawer take on commercial tracks seen in the charts of recent. Lucy Gray

‘What A Day’ – Ben Howard

The first new music in more than two years, Howard returns with an effortlessly dreamy observation of how quickly the world passes us by. With a delicately stripped back guitar and gentle drum pads softening the track, there seems no hint of anger or upset in the singer songwriter’s tone. He is nonchalantly observing the world around him, in the calmness of the clouds and rivers in the sunlight. What A Day simply invites the listener to take a moment to detach from the constant worries of trying to claw back time as it slips away, and to simply accept that it is gone. The single is the first from the upcoming album Collections from the Whiteout, which he promises to be his most authentic release yet. Louise Dugan

‘You Don't Own Me’ – Pale Waves

The fourth single for Pale Waves’ sophomore record Who am I?, You Don’t Own Me perfectly captures the nostalgic era of the early 2000s. The song advocates for independence and empowerment, a theme that works perfectly alongside the feisty tones of pop-punk. “I wanted to say a fuck you to everyone that plays by these fake delusional rules that women and gender need to fit inside a specific box,” says lead vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie. The verses of the track speak through the voice of a society that depicts how women should look, act and behave, with lyrics like; “Just learn to bite your tongue / were you not taught when you were young? / Don't show too much skin, don’t even start to speak your mind.” The chorus, however, entirely subverts this, speaking from the viewpoint of an empowered and independent woman who ignores these expectations, with lyrics such as “I’ll do whatever I want to,” “I’ll be whoever I want too,” and “What makes you think you get your say.” The track perfectly captures the common experience of women and was written to capture Baron-Gracie’s experiences as a front-woman of a band in the public eye, and the judgment and criticism she faces. Continuing the guitar-driven, pop-punk energy of previous singles She’s My Religion and Easy, Who am I? is shaping up to be Pale Waves’ best work to date. Gemma Cockrell

‘Hope’ – Arlo Parks

Arlo Parks triumphs again with this last teaser before her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams. It is not hard to see how the concept of hope is relevant to our current tumultuous landscape with its chorus affirming love and belonging, as Park sings: “You’re not alone like you think you are.” Always one to be vocal about the toils of mental health issues, she sends a message of faith that there is always a support network out there. To those that feel isolated, although it might not feel that way, they are not the only ones struggling. Hope is the ultimate comfort song. On a bad day, listen to this in the dark through headphones for a moment of solace. Hope, and 'Collapsed in Sunbeams' on which it appears, is out now via Transgressive. Rhianna Greensmith

‘Uber Alles’ – Do Nothing

Opening with spectral synth beats before the brooding spikes of bassline take center-stage, it is clear that Uber Alles, the latest release from Nottingham’s own Do Nothing, diverges from anything we’ve heard before from the post-punk outfit. Fluctuating between a sepulchral beauty and feverish energy, Uber Alles twists and turns without any particular destination but certainly a clear direction, perhaps showcasing a more tender side to the band. The meandering path of the track is as continually surprising as writer Chris Bailey’s choral vocals, which float between the mesh of the instrumentation, so far removed from his usual indifferent sprechgesang. Complex, confusing, and constantly changing gear, the track ends up in a completely different place, and possibly even genre, from where it begins, snaking way from any expectation of its trajectory. Not to overstate the hyperbole, but Uber Alles may just be Do Nothing’s best track yet. Freya Martin

‘O.N.E.’ – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

The Australian psychedelic supergroup with the name as extensive as its band membership have supplied a delicious helping of microtonal magic. O.N.E has a warming intro of soft keys and harmonica, with the potential to be turned into its own song, before dropping straight into a pace-changing blend of microtonal rock and funk. The song is hugely visual, immediately conducting images of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s mythological milieu for any regular and loyal listener, and a universe of deep fantasy for anyone unfamiliar with their precedent of world-building through music. The track is ideal for fans of their most recent album, specifically the similarly vibrant funk-rock microtonal intrasport, and any fans of psychedelic rock willing to push their boundaries of genre a little further. O.N.E highly anticipates their upcoming album, LW, which promises to be a further experiment into microtonal tuning. Rebecca Hyde

‘Seize the Power’ – YONAKA

Storming back onto the scene like they never even left it, Brighton quartet YONAKA are back. After the success of 2019’s Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow, their latest single is a defiant call to arms. Opening the track, frontwoman Theresa Jarvis’ spoken word rings out, “Woke up this morning, I feel so fucking important.” With bursts of piano almost akin to the haunting jangle of fairground music, Seize the Power is a swaggering, unapologetic exercise in empowerment, and hopefully shows the direction of whats to come for the group. Louise Dugan

‘Feel It’ – Jerub

The smooth, captivating tones of Jerub have become a key attraction in a thriving up and coming circuit in Nottingham for some time, but it may be Jerub’s latest offering that is the pick of the bunch. Previous singles ‘Paint Me In Gold’ and ‘Hold On’ displayed the young singer’s incredible vocal abilities, yet it’s the mature and enthralling penmanship of new release ‘Feel It’ which demands the attention. Uplifting and soothing, Jerub handles heavier themes of emotional turbulence with the upmost warmth, perfectly delivered with the soulful tones which have made Jerub one of Nottingham’s brightest talents heading into 2021. Tristan Phipps

Edited by: Louise Dugan

Featured image courtesy of YONAKA via Facebook. Article image courtesy of Ben Howard via Facebook. Article image courtesy of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard via Facebook.