The Mic Recommends...

To kick off your May in style, our writers here at The Mic have rounded up a bumper selection of new tracks which have been filling their playlists over the past two weeks, from Sports Team to Kero Kero Bonito, Twenty One Pilots, and even more.

September Song II – Lightning Bug

Somewhere between memory and anticipation, gentle acoustic folk, and the dreamy ambiance of shoegaze, lies New York band Lightning Bug. Propelled by the murmur of Kang’s hushed vocals, September Song II itself weaves a stark, yet captivating tapestry of acoustic guitar, steady drumbeat, and rich, glittery synth. The track is the second single they have released this year, in heady anticipation of the forthcoming album A Colour of The Sky, and follows in the woozy elegance of September Song, off of their previous album. Though it has taken a while for new material to be released, so far, it seems that it has been well worth the wait. Louise Dugan

21/04/20 – Kero Kero Bonito

Kero Kero Bonito’s three-track Civilisation II EP was released on 21st April, exactly a year after the date referenced in the second track of the EP, 21/04/20. The London-based trio would have been in lockdown on the 21st April 2020, and this is reflected through both the music video and the lyrics, which are littered with references to waking up past midday, eating leftover pasta for every meal, Zoom calls with friends, and going on daily walks past closed shops. It is the most direct reference to lockdown that I have heard in music since Charli XCX’s how i’m feeling now which was released during the peak of lockdown in May 2020. Instead, Kero Kero Bonito opted to release the song an entire year after the period which it was written about, capturing lockdown in a completely different way. 21/04/20 feels somewhat nostalgic, reflecting on the unique and strange situation which we were in this time last year. The laid-back tone of the track reflects the way that life felt back then as if we were just floating from day to day without purpose, and the structure of the song only adds to this: a free-flowing string of verses without a chorus. However, despite a sense of loss of direction in the lyrics, they are also full of hope for the future – a future that seemed impossible this time last year, but one that is on the horizon in April 2021. Gemma Cockrell

Body (Remix) Tion Wayne & Russ Millions (ft Fivio Foreign, Buni (SMG), ZT (3x3), E1 (3x3), Darkoo (UK), Bugzy Malone & ArrDee)

The initial release of Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ Body was arguably even more of a viral hit than their previous collaboration, Keisha & Becky – an undeniably catchy dance floor filler on heavy rotation in clubs across the country throughout 2019. Similar to Keisha & Becky’s remix, which saw a host of names including Jay1 and Swarmz jump on the track, Body has been re-released with a star-studded list of features, including members of Tion Wayne's own 3x3 collective, E1, and ZT. But it is Brighton-born and raised ArrDee’s verse that has got people talking. While each rapper delivers strong verse in their own unique styles, social media platform TikTok quickly picked up his ‘cheeky chappy’ delivery, and it has become a viral sound in its own right. Comparisons have also been drawn between ArrDee, and fellow young white rapper Aitch, whose appearance on Keisha & Becky propelled him into the mainstream. The track itself is an infectious earworm, which somehow gets better with every listen. Louise Dugan

Happy (God’s Own Country) – Sports Team

Happy (God’s Own Country) is a two-and-a-half-minute explosion of energy. The first release since their red-hot debut album Deep Down Happy dropped in 2020, it’s clear that Cambridge six-piece Sports Team don’t intend to lift their foot off the accelerator any time soon. Admittedly, the chorus of the track lacks substance, but ferocious verses and a refreshing middle eight definitely carry enough momentum on their own. Tight drums and short, sharp bass punctuate the verses, and Henry Young’s defiantly simple guitar lines are all that’s needed. As ever, lead singer Alex Rice dances around the track with confidence and swagger. His witty mockeries of upper-class stereotypes are delightful, and I could listen to the exuberant delivery of lines like “this ship isn’t sinking itself” all day. It’s a punky, punchy banger. Elliot Fox

Keep Moving – Jungle (The Blessed Madonna Remix)

Jungle have done it again. A near faultless track with an effortless groove and a hook that just won’t quit. It’s gripped me so intensely that my descriptive faculties have been caught off guard, so bear with. The best of Lloyd and McFarland’s output flirts with the glossy, analogue synth of the East Coast (done my synth homework) but stays grounded in the British electronica that the duo remain most inspired by. Keep Moving does just that. It’s a warm, elegant, and nourishing slice of electro-funk that absolutely reeks of a sun-drenched festival stage. What a sound. What a duo. What a video. The experimentalism of Dry Your Tears, also released this week, need not be overlooked because it transitions so seamlessly into the next track. Its rather grandiose string section escalates into the most malevolent din at the beginning of Keep Moving. American DJ and producer The Blessed Madonna breathes new life into the track, ahead of Jungle’s third album, Loving in Stereo, which will be released in August, in anticipation of a UK and European tour. The Mic storms Paris - who’s with me? Joe Hughes

Billie Eilish - Your Power

With Your Power Billie Eilish teases the direction her sound will take for her upcoming album Happier Than Ever, and continues to show moving, mature songwriting. Don’t be surprised if you think you’ve got the wrong song when clicking Billie Eilish’s Your Power for the first time. Billie and her brother extend their arsenal of instruments here with their first significant venture in acoustic guitar, and it provides a refreshing change, yet so naturally compliments Billie’s voice. From beginning to the near end, the song morphs subtly and slowly, bringing in more and more synthetic basses and pads to re-establish some of Eilish’s signature creepiness. Finneas flexes his production talent with some astonishing attention to detail, leaving the song sounding sweet to the untrained ear, with some intentional imperfections and textures to excite any audiophiles. Most importantly though, the melody here is well written; solemn but interesting in the verses, then soaring and powerful for the hook. This pairs beautifully with graceful lyrics, where Billie tells the sad story of being used in a relationship to complete a truly chilling experience. Elliot Fox

Cheers – Faye Webster

The Atlanta-born singer-songwriter has released an uncharacteristically heavy yet still breezy new track. Cheers takes Webster into a new territory sound-wise; heavier synth pads give the artist a slightly grungier tone to her music yet her crystalline vocals are still as light as ever. This new direction for Webster hints at the direction her upcoming album I Know I’m Funny haha (out June 25th) will go in. In an interview with Konstantinos Pappis, Webster stated “right after the first take, it felt different to me and it made it feel like I was entering a new era and chapter for myself.” With this statement, it suggests that we can expect her music to move away from her more familiar alt-pop sound world into something that you can sink your teeth into more. Amber Frost

Choker – Twenty One Pilots

Choker is the second single released in advance of Twenty One Pilots’ forthcoming full-length Scaled and Icy. It is much more reminiscent of their older sounds than the lead single Shy Away, with a more stripped-back and minimalistic instrumental. Shy Away’s larger-than-life and layered instrumental caused the track to give the impression that there were more than two members of the band, but Choker feels like the product of just vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Joshua Dun. Joseph’s emotive singing throughout the track and his rapping in the outro feel much more like the duo’s early work such as 2013’s Vessel and their 2009 self-titled album. It is a welcome and pleasant return to their roots, and will undoubtedly evoke feelings of nostalgia for anyone who has been a fan of the duo for a while. Gemma Cockrell

James – Laufey

Jazz-folk musician Laufey has released another beautifully ethereal track, James. In an Instagram post from August 2020, she hints at the release of the track as she writes “if that’s your name I’m so sorry it just happens to rhyme with flames.” In this final edit of the track, vocal harmonies are layered with reverb, adding to the already celestial and airy lead vocals. Accompanying the vocals is Laufey on guitar, her use of harmony doesn’t go unnoticed as the song delivers crunchy chords. The simplicity of her electric guitar modified by reverb creates a gorgeous sunset atmosphere, making her listeners crave summer even more. Amber Frost

Drama – Bladee and Charli XCX

Bladee and Charli XCX are two artists who may, at first, seem as if they exist in completely different worlds. Charli is a renowned pop artist who has frequented the charts throughout the past decade, whilst Bladee is a Swedish underground phenomenon with a cult internet following. Despite their differences, after some consideration, their collaboration on Drama makes perfect sense. They are both frequently categorised under the ‘hyperpop’ umbrella (even though they both reject the genre label) and they are both known for their excessive and divisive use of autotune for artistic and creative purposes. It is therefore no surprise that their voices merge absolutely seamlessly on the track. Rather than Charli contributing only one verse to the song, Drama feels like a true collaboration, as both artists harmonise on the chorus and Charli also sings the outro of the track. It is very rare occurrence for Bladee to engage in collaborations outside of the Sad Boys/Drain Gang collectives, so the fact that he has collaborated with an artist as notable as Charli XCX is somewhat remarkable, and serves as a testament to Charli’s fearlessness when going against what is expected of her as a mainstream pop artist signed to a major label. However, with a catchy and upbeat hook, Drama is undeniably a pop song, albeit a futuristic and experimental one. Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Louise Dugan

Featured image courtesy of Lightning Bug via Facebook. In article images courtesy of Mia Sakai via Kero Kero Bonito Facebook, and Billie Eilish via Facebook.