The Mic Recommends...

On the final Sunday of May, The Mic is celebrating another batch of fresh music in our ‘The Mic Recommends…’ feature, highlighting the biggest and best new single releases. This week’s instalment of picks, hand-chosen by our team, features a range of singles, predominantly local tracks as well, from Jake Bugg, Saint Raymond, Sunflower Theives, Mollie Ralph, Good Hustles, Joey Collins and many more. Have a read below!


Jake Bugg - ‘Rabbit Hole’

After popular demand, Nottingham-born indie-folk singer Jake Bugg has released Rabbit Hole, a track slightly left of character for the Oasis and Bob Dylan inspired musician, but one which is welcome nonetheless. The song kicks off with a guitar riff looping around Bugg’s nonchalant voice, and with the steady introduction and layering of new sounds every two bars, it transitions into a swelling pre-chorus, in which Bugg breaks free from such indifference, delivering a resonant run on the easiness of the intro. The song then explodes into a rhythmic mess of electric guitar, bass and drums; it’s hard to keep up. The listener finds themselves chasing Bugg down the Rabbit Hole. Matt Andrews


The Flaming Lips - ‘Flowers Of Neptune 6’

Neo-psychedelia stalwarts The Flaming Lips sound somewhat rejuvenated on new single Flowers Of Neptune 6 where they finally make a more controlled and “mature” sound come off as classy and elegant rather than tired and turgid or the youthful larping of Oczy Mlody. A contemplative and immediately captivating ballad it doesn’t do anything new for The Flaming Lips with its delicately melancholy verse and a childlike chorus that levies simplicity for sentimental charm and instant catchiness. Where the track really shines is in its nuance, incredible production and sequencing elevate the usual element of a Flaming Lips song (celestial synths, chirping acoustic guitars, multi-tracked harmonies) to a soaring and sophisticated bit of modern psych-pop and results in one of Coyne and the gangs most gratifying songs in years. Owen White


Mollie Ralph - ‘Fella’

Written in under 30 minutes last summer, the latest single from the Future Sound of Nottingham finalist immediately grabs with sauntering storytelling that reflects the off-the-cuff flow of her lyrical process. Clean, trilling guitars remain the constant as the saunter becomes a stroll, and Ralph’s voice boldens from apprehension to demand for a love without caveat. There’s nothing cryptic about the story to be told on Fella, a track which wears its heart firmly on its sleeve lyrically. However, the gorgeous, yet measured and not overstated instrumentation has tricks further up the cuff that only build the chandelier grandeur of the affair. Following a second verse in which our narrator finds promise in a virtuous admirer, the Winehouse-esque hook finds splash-of-colour horns behind its dazzling lead vocal, mirroring the sparks of gallantry in the narrative. Adding a narrative-driven earworm to her glistening discography, Fella consolidates Mollie Ralph as the Polaris among soul stars-in-waiting from Nottingham and beyond. Cameron Chadwick


Saint Raymond - ‘Right Way Round’

After an extended pause in his musical output, the Nottingham-born indie-pop soloist has returned with a taster sample for his coming album. Lyrically, Right Way Round is extremely topical; it contemplates the relationship between man and his surroundings, and what it means to feel like an outcast, to be the wrong way round. The synth-based soundscape against which Raymond projects his voice demonstrates a significant amount of stylistic development. In terms of his individual sound, Raymond’s year away from releasing any material seems to have pulled him towards a more excited, distorted version of his old self, tinged with shades of Royal Blood’s least rocky anthems and Foals’ irresistible sonic progressions. More than anything, this week’s release is an announcement: Saint Raymond is back. Matt Andrews


Sunflower Thieves - ‘Hide and Seek’

A sincere dose of acoustic folk-pop, complete with scorching harmonies and building instrumentation, the latest track from Leeds-based duo Sunflower Thieves encapsulates the beauty of simplicity, capturing the rawest and purest of life’s tendencies by intertwining emotive complexities and joyous simplicities in one of their most important releases to date. Written during a writing trip in Norfolk back in January, Hide and Seek is lyrically masked in an earnest bewilderment, the duo harking back to past memories, reminiscing on childhood simplicities and the guidance and nurturing given from parental figures. A lulling guitar soothingly encases itself around Illingworth and Sturt-Bolshaw’s dreamy vocals, floating listeners downstream on a meandering riverbed of tranquility, sparking comparisons to First Aid Kit, Phoebe Bridgers, Laura Marling and Lucy Rose. The track’s intimate yet ethereal production, summed up by sincere and layered harmonies, and the staggered pulse of reverberating handclaps, transitions a gentle lullaby into an atmospheric statement of intent for the future. Ben Standring

Photo credit: Glynn Parkinson

Joey Collins - ‘Live, Learn, Die & Forget It All’

The antithesis of losing oneself in reverie, Live, Learn, Die & Forget It All is an opening prelude into both the mind of a complex artist and also into Collins’ latest EP (released June 1st), complete with jarring string accompaniments that lure in the background. As the first spoken word track written and released by Collins, it reaches out like an answerphone message from a recoiling mind, projecting a scathing and defeated troubadour who reflects on a betrayal that has seemingly left him grappling for purpose. Lines ‘I think a little bit of me died that day / A heart once full of the pleasures of life now just a hollow vessel’ are filled with dejection, whilst tones of self-loathing creep through in lyrics ‘I never took you for a quitter / the easy way out’. Despite its seemingly downtrodden musings, the track’s preamble possesses rose-tinted glimpses of positivity. The line in which the track’s title takes a nod from highlights a newfound adversity from Collins and having started simply as a poem in his journal, the singer-songwriter has taken a tale of a relationship’s fragmentation and transformed it into a statement of maturity and catharcism. Ben Standring


Noah Bouchard - ‘Bedbound’

Cardiff-born rapper Noah Bouchard has built on the success of his hit single Pantomime with Bedbound, a chilled-out hip-hop song with jazz elements woven in. Bouchard has built a reputation for thought-provoking lyrics, and here he tackles feelings of depression and being an outsider, with imagery being used expertly to delve deep into his mind. ‘I can find the edge of a halo’ particularly stands out. Bedbound is short but powerful, flowing gracefully from lyric to lyric. One of his best works to date, the future is promising for Noah Bouchard. Benedict Watson


Good Hustles - ‘Outside’

On Outside, the rising Nottingham four-piece demonstrate their staple tendency for high-octane and guttural instrumentation. Opening with a blues-tinged, Spaghetti Western-styled introduction, the track strips rock music back to its very core, with monolithic riffs, propulsive drum configurations and wailing vocals all combining to create a vehement release befitting of large stages. Morton Piercewright’s opening lyrics ‘I’m not asking where you’ve been / We both know I don’t need to / I can see the marks you’ve got from him’ set the tone for the moody single, a loose and emphatic release complete with a parasitic solo from Will Bewley infecting its listeners, a convoluting bead of sonic sweat dampening the brows in anticipation of what is to come from the quartet after lockdown. Ben Standring


JPEGMAFIA - ‘CUTIE PIE!’

JPEGMAFIA continues to beguile and bewitch with his new singles, this time with the buttery smooth CUTIE PIE!. It’s another stylistic experiment for Peggy, centring around a prominent rubbery bassline that personifies 90s hip-hop cool and gets consolidated by some bouncy sampled drums that lend the track a more organic quality than any off his last couple of albums. Stylistically it reads like a combination of 90s jazz rap and 90s Beck with its combination of relaxed easy rhyming, confident classy flows and the dark hues that creep in from the weird new age electronics, ominous lo-fi percussion samples and sporadic beat chopping in the latter half. Owen White