The Mic Recommends...

Not only has 'Freedom Day' finally arrived, the sun has also been out in full force, and the team at the Mic Recommends have taken the time to assemble the biggest and best tracks which have been soundtracking the week, leaving you free to get on with celebrating - what more could you ask for? Read below for a bold celebration of girl power from CHVRCHES, hazy guitars from duo McLeish & Spencer, a huge collab between some of the most exciting names right now, namely $NOT, slowthai and Kevin Abstract.

Good Girls – CHVRCHES

Scottish trio CHVRCHES’ latest single Good Girls is taken from their fourth studio album Screen Violence which will be released on August 27th 2021. It continues the themes discussed on the album’s lead single He Said She Said, tackling gender norms and the expectations of women in society. Lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry is unafraid to boldly subvert and overthrow these expectations, refusing to conform to the female archetype that is encouraged. Women are often told that being quiet and well-behaved is ideal, and will ensure their safety, but Mayberry acknowledges that this isn’t true. Instead, she encourages women to be defiant and true to themselves, without feeling the need to justify themselves to others. These lyrical themes, accompanied with the band’s renowned synth-pop sound, result in a bold and unapologetic feminist anthem. Gemma Cockrell

The Island - The Lazy Eyes

With no shortage of psychedelic music hailing from Australia, Sydney 4-piece The Lazy Eyes have managed to hold their own against the noise, emerging with their own brand of gorgeously sunny yet effortlessly cool vintage-inspired offerings gathering up the threads pulled from across dreampop, shoegaze, indie, and surf rock. On The Island, the band blissfully assemble a world of sound, indeed constructing their own little sonic island to escape to: waves of dreamy synth rise and fall, washing into a shore of fuzz. Angular guitars curl just under the shimmer, bubbling to the surface as the sunshine of the afternoon fades into the dusk of the evening, and their music video takes a darker turn through the undergrowth. The sequel to EP1's The Seaside, The Island served as a final teaser prior to the release of EP2, which is out now - arriving just in time to get listening to it in the sun. Offering a much more hassle free alternative to jetting abroad in COVID times, why not let The Lazy Eyes take you away to their island? But just maybe don't sample the tangerines... Louise Dugan

Falling Away - Mcleish & Spencer

London based duo Mcleish & Spencer follow up their debut single I Remember with Falling Away, a powerful 90’s style pop rock ballad. Lead singer Ewan Mcleish’s vocals demand comparison to legendary singer songwriter Jeff Buckley, and the duo’s acoustic guitar and sharp reverbed drums compliment this vocal style beautifully. The hook here is soaring and hard hitting, and there is tasteful melody writing to be found in the stripped back middle 8 as well. Mathew Spencer’s intricate, twangy guitar lines feel light and uplifting, which brings a nice release from an otherwise melancholy song. Never before have these two sounded so grounded and confident in their performance and sound. With such a strong release so early in their career, the future is bright for Mcleish & Spencer. Elliot Fox

The Writing On The Wall - Iron Maiden

Metal godfathers Iron Maiden have returned with their first new music in more than 5 years, and its a big one. The Writing On The Wall is the British heavy rockers doing what they do best: stadium ready guitar hooks, a heavy shredding solo, a epic vocals and thundering drums. But with the intro borrowing from American-folk style guitar (complete with soaring eagle calls), and all of this time spent leading up to the big return, more twists may even be in store. Despite the track's sonic splendor, it is their music video which has got people talking. Teaming up with executives who have previously worked on Pixar smash hits such as Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc, the video brings to life Iron Maiden's long time mascot Eddie, amidst a post apocalyptic world of wizards, samurais and faceless men in Union Jack pants, against the backdrop of a plague devastated civilization with Biblical undertones. Louise Dugan

Slugger - Kevin Abstract ft. $NOT and slowthai

It’s been quite a year for BROCKHAMPTON, the release of their sixth studio album ROADRUNNER NEW LIGHT NEW MACHINE was met with glowing reviews, followed by a Logic style announcement that the group would split following one more album by the end of the year. This has seemed inevitable for a while, the solo talent ceiling of members such as Abstract and Joba is far too high to limit them to one group. With the relative disappointment of Abstract’s last solo effort ARIZONA BABY, his latest single SLUGGER featuring $NOT and Northampton’s very own slowthai definitely lives up to Abstract’s well earned hype. The offkey whining synths, stuttering drum beat and constant switch ups make up a glistening backtrack to one of Abstract’s most electric performances, mixing his own style with vocal inflections which somehow echo both Andre 3000 and 2020 XXL Freshman Baby Keem at the same time. $NOT continues to kill 2021 with his verse, but its slowthai who really steals the show. Thai’s typically British charisma and obscure references (“I don’t know my strength like I’m Lenny in Of Mice and Men”) perfectly complement the track, which ends with a pitched down piano outro before bringing back in the whining synths and an eerie sample of Abstract being record scratched. SLUGGER serves as a fantastic single for Kevin’s upcoming album which leaves the listener begging for more. Alex Newport

Halloween - Delaire The Liar

Delivering a fiercely raw, mosh-pit ready anthem, Halloween is Delaire The Liar's first release since signing to new label Rude Records. Featuring spiky guitar and pummelling drums, they unpick the seams of early-noughties emo angst, stitching them back together with a modern urgency and timeless punk vitriol. Despite the summer release date, the devastatingly raw vocals delivered by frontman Ffin Colley and a fiery music video catapult back to the darkness of October. With a hook like 'hell ain't all that bad', Halloween is a exhilarating call to arms, and is surely just the start of things to come. Louise Dugan

Maybe You Didn't Know - The Ninth Wave

Maybe You Didn't Know marks the Glasgow outfit's first release since 2020's Unhappy Days! launched them to the forefront of the indie rock scene. The track is a wide-eyed marriage of darkened, pulsing synth and soaring guitar, wielding a rousing chorus which will, without a doubt, be absolutely huge live. Lyrically, it digs confidently into a tough area: finding comfort in the uncomfortable, inspired by the frantic panic of a fox hunt according to singer/guitarist Hadyn Park-Patterson, and is accompanied by an equally feverous video. Maybe you didn't know The Ninth Wave before, but if this track is anything to go by, you really should get to know. Louise Dugan

ily – hidingthehurt

Following the release of his previous single wait4me, hidingthehurt is back with ily. The new single is produced by blackwinterwells, a renowned and talented producer within the hyperpop scene. In line with the hyperpop genre, the vocals are drenched in autotune, used effectively for artistic and creative purposes. As the title of the song suggests, the lyrics of the track are a declaration of love – “I need you / Please can you just never leave”. However, it soon becomes apparent that these feelings are not reciprocated. The track continues to demonstrate hidingthehurt’s unique ability to tell a story through his lyrics, as he communicates his true feelings to the listener with raw honesty and integrity. Gemma Cockrell

Watching Cartoons – La Luz

All female trio La Luz have returned with their latest single Watching Cartoons, paired with a music video directed by Nathan Castiel. The song, capturing the essence of cartoons and televisions, is from the band’s upcoming self-titled album, set to be released on 22nd October. The song has fairly simple lyrics, with the chorus being “watching cartoons in my room”, but it is the instrumentation which brings the song to life. It is an easy-going guitar and drum led track, which almost sounds like it could be part of a soundtrack to a movie. The seamless blend of the instrumentation signifies the chemistry between the band members, Sana Cleveland, Lena Simon and Alice Sandahl, and the music video for the track, detailing the trio’s acting skills, emphasises this. The video captures the essence of the track. Bearing comparison to stepping in a time machine back to the 60s, the vibrant pastels in the quaint setting of a malleable world add to the fittingly cartoon-esque and kaleidoscopic planet created by the song. This creativity is of no doubt an indication of the unique vision which the band have for the full record available in October. Amrit Virdi

Token – Roma Radz

London-based independent hyperpop artist Roma Radz has released her new single Token. It is her first new release since June, following her feature on the collaborative track lost n found alongside artists such as Sleepa, Voidie, and hidingthehurt. Much like Roma’s previous singles Like Magic and Really in Love, Token also speaks of themes of love, with lyrics such as “I feel so lucky that you exist” and “You put your love inside me like a token”. Roma is affiliated with PC Music, having met Hannah Diamond whilst on a work placement for her university degree. She toured with her throughout 2019 and 2020 as a DJ. Her sound is also similar to Hannah Diamond’s, characterised by pitch-shifted vocals and warped, euphoric synths. Gemma Cockrell

Hold U – Indigo De Souza

Indigo De Souza has released Hold U, the second single from her upcoming album Any Shape You Take. Poppy in nature, it is a great feel-good track which, while starting out mellow in tempo, is one which you will of no doubt find yourself dancing along to. De Souza’s vocals are soft and soothing, and the lack of autotune to her voice allows her raw talent to shine. The heartfelt lyricism paired with moments of isolated vocals with limited instrumentation make for a great combination to showcase the musicality of the up-and-coming star. Defined as a tropical, electric guitar led beat with looping synth in the background providing a base, the instrumentation flourishes throughout the track. The isolated vocals at the start are paired with a guitar about a minute into the track, and this gradually crescendos to a blissful drum and guitar combination, with crashing cymbals being featured at the three-minute mark. All of this leads to the feel that the track is one you would choose to listen to as a tropical holiday song, perfect for the summer. Amrit Virdi

Dirty Bombs – Grayscale

After weeks of teasing, Philadelphia alt-rock band Grayscale have finally announced the arrival of their third album Umbra, available on 27th August. With this came a sneak peak of what the album will bring with the debut of the single Dirty Bombs. The lyrics serve as a reminder to stay true to yourself, and after the lockdown release of the more heavily pop-infused single Diamond, Grayscale appear to be embracing their punk beginnings once more. With soft vocals carrying through alongside the fiercely pummelling drum as always, the tune is as beautifully simple as the accompanying music video. Umbra marks "a balance of soul and energy" that the band have long been searching for, and the taste Dirty Bombs has given of the forthcoming album does not disappoint. Abi Kara-Fernandes

Holy Ghosts – Elephante

LA-based Asian-American DJ, producer, and singer Elephante (Tim Wu) has released his new single, Holy Ghosts. It follows his previous single High Water, which arrived last month. The song tackles the pandemic, and how it turned LA into somewhat of a ghost town. The most touching and impactful lyrics are “I miss the golden hour / Surrounded in the thunder of a crowd / A thousand voices singing to the sound / Of what it was like to be free”, a poetic description of life without live music. It is a smooth, dark, moody pop track, driven by guitar riffs and percussion. The track is very easy to listen to, but it also has a beat which is easy to dance to, giving Holy Ghosts an impressive versatility and making the track a very enjoyable listen. Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Louise Dugan and Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of CHVRCHES via Facebook