The Mic Recommends...

Amongst the closing nights of Autumn, the soaring heights of a global pandemic, and the bar fights outside MOJO at 10pm, there is but one saving grace - the return of 'The Mic Recommends...' Though full-throttle live shows may still be a distant daydream, a hearty selection of new single reviews hand-picked by our team are bound to get you moving. This week’s picks include singles from The Lathums, Bicep, Lauran Hibberd, TRAAMS, Future Island, and more. Have a read below.

‘Everything Belongs To You’ - Joesef

This week saw Glaswegian soul sophomore Joesef add three new singles, Everything Belongs To You, Does It Make You Feel Good? and Comedown, to an already impressive repertoire in his stunning second EP. The distinctive richness of the artist’s sound is particularly inescapable on Everything Belongs To You, with subject matter that deals delicately with personal heartache and acceptance. A sultry opener, it blends a husky lead with a chorus of backing vocals, and subtle white noise adds to the soulful aura. Showcasing Joesef’s supreme talent in writing songs, which manage to be simultaneously uplifting yet contemplative, Everything Belongs To You exudes his characteristic soul-pop energy. Comparisons to Sam Smith and Amy Winehouse are well-founded but Joesef transcends these comparisons by curating a strikingly unique style; certainly one to watch. Joe Hughes

‘For Sure’ - Future Island

You may remember Future Island from their passionate 2014 Letterman show performance in which lead singer, Samuel Herring, truly defined the act of dancing like nobody’s watching. Now they’re back and they’re stronger than ever with single For Sure. The band have lost none of their personality in the three years since their last release. For Sure is a beautiful combination of a classic indie sound warped with Herring’s growling, earnest voice; the familiarity of the sound making it extraordinarily catchy. Herring manages to pour sincerity into his vocals, allowing the song to develop a warm and tender feel, whilst the lyrics portray a strong sense of nostalgia - the perfect companion to such a synth-heavy backdrop. Admittedly, this is nothing new to the genre. For Sure is not set to be ground-breaking nor hugely exciting. Regardless, the familiarity of this song felt more like a warm hug from an old friend than an overplayed record. It’s certainly a new addition to my playlist. Harriet Kilner

‘Boy Bye’ - Lauren Hibberd

Having already garnered a strong reputation with her intrinsic yet accessible brand of sharp- toothed lyricism, which swipes precarious incisions into the listener and subject alike, Isle of Wight sensation Lauran Hibberd’s latest release is a jarring offering that displays the rising star wrestling with her own nature as well as battling an unhealthy less-than-ideal relationship scenario. Boy Bye dials up the slacker attitude that has been subtly present in the background of Hibberd’s discography so far, with eery hues of Pixies and Weezer coming into the fray, with thanks to the help of producer Suzy Shinn (Weezer, Panic! At The Disco), who worked with the singer-songwriter during lockdown. The track’s warped reverb provides as much of an edge to the single that Hibberd could almost mistakingly fall over the edge and into the feedback of her guitar and sustain pedals if it were not for the poignant and endearing lyrics that burst to life the further the track progresses - it's disjointed nature acting as a fitting soundtrack to the tale of an unsteady relationship degradation. The singer-songwriter has evolved into somewhat of a cult hero in recent months, her unabashedly no-filter lyricism and uncompromising wit permeating the Hibberd brand; from canny social media content to quirky and candid live-streamed performances, and with her latest single, the island dreamer is becoming a mainland hero who’s here to stay. Ben Standring

‘Intercontinental Radio Waves’ - TRAAMS

Shaving four minutes from the track length of previous single The Greyhound, TRAAMS emerge even further from their somewhat abrupt hiatus with new single, and serious mouthful, Intercontinental Radio Waves. The track is laden with guitars, and buzzing with equal parts reverb and attitude. Accompanied by a curiously nonsensical music video, the track has actually been in the works since the band toured with Car Seat Headrest three years ago. Rounded out with a propulsive bassline and a distinctly post punk-like incantation edge through the vocals, it makes for an addictively simple listen, and shows an exciting stride for the band to fall into. Louise Dugan

‘Apricots’ - Bicep

Under the lauded musical moniker, Bicep, the producing duo of Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson have honed the sounds of modern anthemic electronica into their own irrefutable opus. Expanding on the artful energy of 2018 self-titled debut Bicep, the big-room trance anthem Apricots, built around that same irresistible trance progression, is the duo’s latest behemothian offering. Forlorn, emotive and euphoric, the single amalgamates a recording of traditional Malawian singing recorded in 1958 by famed ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey and a 1950s-era performance by The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir into an urgent and hypnotic body-mover. Gossamery synths and sparse percussion bring the big room chills of 90’s rave, whilst the brooding samples gouge deeper into the sounds, experiences and emotions of the duo’s volatile Northern Ireland upbringing. An ode to new beginnings and a nod to old, the single accompanied the announcement of new record Isles, which is to be released in January of 2021. Fusing the duo’s unshakeable dedication to expansion and evolution of sound with perhaps the most anecdotal thematics to date, the single looks both forwards and backwards synchronously; an electrifying taster of what Isles has to offer. Olivia Stock

‘Molly’ - Chase Atlantic

As the second release under rock label Fearless Records, Chase Atlantic’s insatiable new single Molly is sure to be a hit amongst fans and critics alike. Whilst capturing everything that has come to be loved about the magnetic Australian trio, the single deals in more sentimental subject matter; touching on the difficulties of relationships with both people and substances. Making the single even more captivating are the vocals from not one, but two, talented lead singers in Mitchel Cave and Christian Anthony, whilst Clinton Cave brings a final unique aspect to the track with his smooth and soulful saxophone solos. As Molly so gloriously demonstrates, Chase Atlantic’s genre-defying approach to music, which blends trap with psychedelic alternative R&B, continues to be highly successful for them, and excitement continues to brew in anticipation of the next full-length. Gemma Cockrell

‘mirror shopping’ - ITSOKTOCRY

Taken from the Denver rapper’s upcoming record POSHBOY2, mirror shopping twitches with equal parts tight drums and odd record-scratching sound effects which seem closer in tone to bird chirps; bringing a new layer of intrigue to his signature emo/rap/pop formula. As candid as is customary in ITSOKTOCRY’s lyrical tendencies, the track centers on the narcissistic tendencies that emerge as a relationship fizzles, closing with the repeating maxim of “I just think I'm better than you”. Within the track itself, bedroom pop influences of GRANDMA greet the dark metal-infused trap production tendencies of 93FEETOFSMOKE, yet somehow still make for an overall fun and bouncy track. Louise Dugan

‘Not A Pop Song’ - Little Mix

The fierce quartet have returned to the scene with a tongue-in-cheek take on their personal experience as a girl group in the music industry. Being no strangers to vocalising the female experience in both business and everyday life, Not A Pop Song provides an ironically upbeat and catchy soundtrack to it's all too real and resonant lyrics that layout the unfortunate experience faced by female/pop artists alike. Singing “I don’t do what Simon says”, the band provide a paradoxical composition, which presumably intends to catch the listener out if they fall victim to taking the beat before the lyrics; establishing itself as something deeper than your usual shallow Pop song. Lucy Gray

‘I See Your Ghost’ - The Lathums

The rambling and rousing I See Your Ghost is the first taste of The Lathum’s upcoming EP Ghosts. For older fans of the Wigan foursome, this song may not be exactly what you’d expect from them, but that is exactly what is preventing them from falling into the rut of the indie guitar band. Many end up recreating the same song or album again and again - but not The Lathums. The impressively fast paced vocals from lead singer Alex Moore, are an especially stand-out aspect of I See Your Ghost. However, the band have remained true to their indie roots in the grooving baseline that kicks the song off, the classic indie-rock percussion, and the explosive and unique guitar solo in the second half of the song. This ensures that whilst incorporating the additional influence from the genres of reggae and ska, indie fans will still love it. Experimental but still electrifying, the single marks The Lathums as one of the most refreshing and exciting upcoming indie bands of recent years. Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Olivia Stock