The Mic Recommends...

The past fortnight has brought an array of brilliant releases, including a refreshing indie-pop tune from Sea Girls, and one of the summer's biggest dance-pop collaborations from Joel Corry, Jax Jones, Charli XCX and Saweetie. As well as a handful of singles from Maisie Peters, as she builds up to her forthcoming debut album, and much more in yet another bumper edition of The Mic Recommends.

Stay Home - PYJÆN ft corto.alto

Sun- drenched new track Stay Home is the sonic fallout from the creative collision of London quintet PYJÆN and Glasgow-based corto.alto. Both acts cast an undeniably exciting presence in the UK jazz scene – PYJÆN steadily continue to explore the liminal of jazz and beyond, while corto.alto, the dazzling work of multi-instrumentalist and composer Liam Shortall, garners together strands of New Orleans jazz, soul, funk and reggae into a new release every 3 weeks, fresh from the depths of Flat 435. The track itself wanders through the expanse with each instrument, carefully assembling each together like a deliciously jazzy layered cake – a slick bassline meets sharp percussion, then crystal-bright electric guitar tones, the sizzling warmth of trumpet and horn, building to a flurry of infectious joy. The final release before upcoming album Feast is released in September, Stay Home should be just enough to tide you over in the meantime. Louise Dugan

Sick - Sea Girls

Indie pop veterans Sea Girls are back with Sick, the first single taken from their latest album Homesick which will be released in January of 2022. The track is an angsty, re ode to feeling emotionally overwhelmed by vacuous experiences such as materialistic consumption. Listing various experiences and topics that have led many to feel exhausted with the shape of the world, lead singer Camamile vocalises the all too familiar wish for a simpler time, stating "I wish I was just a child / mum and dad can make me smile". Nieve O'Donnell

Convince Me To Bleed - Ghost Bath

The so-called ‘Dark Suicidal Black Metal’ and ‘blackgaze’ subgenres have been bubbling under the surface for some time, but North Dakota’s Ghost Bath have managed to clamber towards the mainstream, generating some degree of notoriety with the awe-inspiring Golden Number, and, oddly, by claiming they were from China. While comparisons to Deafhaven have been done to death, Ghost Bath have indeed proved well able to blend the dreamy expanse and distortion of shoegaze with the primality of black metal, and Convince Me To Bleed, the first single from their upcoming album Self Loather, makes no exception. Strikingly raw yet unmuddied, it unfurls with more weight than their previous cuts, lurching straight into a thundering of drums and towards a darker sense of urgency. Clocking in at just over 3 and a half minutes, it makes for a relatively short black metal track, but still leaves room for the soar and crash of acrid guitar to thread unhurried between howling wails. Though guitars lean more towards the territory of melodic and away from swathes of empty space, Ghost Bath once again prove that they are masters at building a fully immersive sonic atmosphere. Louise Dugan

You Signed Up For This – Maisie Peters

Maisie Peters has released the title track for her upcoming debut album You Signed Up For This, alongside a B-side titled Brooklyn, a song which serves as an ode to her twin sister Ellen. A 15-second clip of the title track was leaked by Maisie herself on TikTok prior to its release, to increase the anticipation surrounding the release. The track opens with the perfect introduction to Maisie, and the album as a whole, for someone who is unfamiliar with both her as a person and her music: “I am twenty and probably upset right now / I still haven’t got my driver’s license / And I am sorry to make it about myself again / But you, you signed up for this”. The track is a light, pop tune, with a regular drum beat and subtle keys to drive it swirling ever forward. This kind of looped instrumental is reminiscent of Ed Sheeran – an unsurprising fact, since Maisie is signed to his label and has worked with him whilst recording this album. You Signed Up For This gives fans a further taste of what to expect from the album, which will be out soon on 27th August 2021. Gemma Cockrell

OUT OUT – Joel Corry & Jax Jones feat. Charli XCX & Saweetie

Bringing one of the biggest dance-pop collaborations of the summer, Joel Corry and Jax Jones have enlisted the vocals of Charli XCX and rapper Saweetie for their new track titled OUT OUT. The track flips Stromae’s popular song Alors on danse, using the original song’s instrumental as the beat drop; making it perhaps the most ear-catching thing about OUT OUT on first listen. However, even though the tracks are strikingly similar, OUT OUT still brings a carefree, feel-good vibe to the summer of 2021. The lyrics speak about going “out out”, something that many of us have been doing for the first time in a while recently. The song also marks Charli XCX’s long-awaited return to the mainstream pop world, as her first collaboration in a while with a DJ who is frequently played on the radio. She stated that she would be returning to a pure pop sound on her upcoming releases, and it is likely that this track is part of her planned career shift back to her roots, and is a sign of what her upcoming solo single Good Ones will sound like. A rap verse from Saweetie towards the end of the track is also a welcome addition to the song, despite her feature being relatively short. Gemma Cockrell

Back To Oz - Sufjan Stevens

Back To Oz is the latest and most presciently named single in what appears to be a creative reinvigoration for indie-folk legend Sufjan Stevens. After the acutely disappointing studio rendition of his much-anticipated Planetarium project, uneven electronics of 2020’s The Ascension and a series of low-stakes instrumental releases, the latest single from upcoming collaboration with fellow softboy-songwriter Angelo De Augustine sees him return to what he does best: crafting folk music which is stunningly ornate, intensely moving and impeccably arranged and recorded. Like prior single Reach Out, it perfectly recaptures the grand elegance of his Fifty States Projects but also hints at cautious excursions into paths untrodden in his prior work, perhaps even more so than the single preceding it. It’s eerily sparse verses solely populated by skulking guitar chords, restrained but impressively melodic bass and Sufjan and Angelo’s ethereal choirboy harmonies suggest a hazier and more atmosphere-oriented approach to Sufjan’s niche. The explosive chorus, with its soaring melody, driving bass groove and graceful vibraphone line that ties it all together, on the other hand remind us of the studied pop perfection that underpins his best work and manages to keep the track enchanting and moving throughout. It’s clear this is shaping up to be Sufjan’s finest work in a long time and perhaps one of the most exciting indie-pop/folk projects of 2021, don’t miss out on this dreamy treat. Owen White

Boys - Hollow Stone

Phwoar, now this is a bit of a bop. Hollow Stone are a dynamic new band (although the sharp-eyed among you may recognise a familiar face in the line-up) set to seduce the local scene with gentle rock and whole load of personality. Following the trio’s debut acoustic ballad Always Yours, Hollow Stone have picked up the pace with a fun track reminiscent of pop-punk legends of the 00s. Boys is undoubtedly a crowd pleaser, it’s no stretch to imagine yourself dancing to it in a crowd at a gig, not a care in the world, and has beautifully set the standard for this promising set of lads. I’m certain we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in no time at all. Hattie Kilner

Mother Nature - Zero feat. Noisy

After collaborating with UK tech-house icon Bushbaby with Put A Record On, NOISY, the reformed front of in-your-face indie boys High Tyde, are back with another night bass anthem. Teaming up with fellow Brighton boy Zero we have Mother Nature - a playful track dripping in groove, a strikingly different change of pace from Zero's more recent works. Having enjoyed Zero's tracks prior to signing to UK Bass giants Crucast, it's fantastic to see Zero releasing with the Night Bass label again. As for NOISY, frontman Cody's boisterous tones lend themselves to rapping over a grin-inducing bass line, which itself is light work for Zero. An interesting collaboration, but well thought out. Tristan Phipps

More Like You - Orla Gartland

Orla Gartland’s latest offering exudes comfort. Not many artists capture the navigation of one’s selfhood as honestly as this Dublin-born gem. More Like You, released previously as a single, captures this very core of Gartland’s debut album Woman on the Internet. The chorus’ self-referential “I heard it from a woman on the internet / She told me to eat well and try to love myself” draws on the inevitable comparison culture fuelled by social media. There’s a shy vulnerability to Gartland’s vocals here, albeit accompanied by an upbeat layered background sound. The pulse-like quality to this sound analogises the universal experience Gartland seamlessly depicts. Ultimately, it’s not hard to see how More Like You, and the album collectively, can speak to a generation of twenty-somethings who likely spent much of their adolescence online. Rhianna Greensmith

Volcano - Maisie Peters

Maisie Peters has released the fifth and final single from her upcoming album You Signed Up For This. Described by Peters herself as “sad-rage song about people who never pay the consequences for their actions”, Volcano has acoustic verses that she performed in a short TikTok video the day before the song’s release, and a soothing chorus with dreamy vocals. Seeing as the string of singles that Peters has released this year have proven to be immensely popular with her ever-growing fanbase, the eagerly anticipated You Signed Up For This is shaping up to be one of the most successful debut albums of 2021. The full album will be unveiled on 27th August 2021. Gemma Cockrell

Wealth Gap - Average Life Complaints

Moody, melancholic, but dripping in bite. Average Life Complaints know their way around a dour set of lyrics, immediately displayed by a snarling social commentary - chomping in the direction of reality TV and a growing sense of dread. What strikes me as special about this London based four piece is that, for a debut single, Wealth Gap is a remarkably tight offering. It's well arranged and a captivating listen, pulling the listener from a steady ramble with a traditionally forlorn bassline into a late scream of "This is my only rest bite" accompanied by a jaunty, off beat guitar line. Don't take my word for it: John Kennedy appears to be an early supporter of London's next hot export, premiering it on his Radio X show. Tristan Phipps

is this what you mean to me - Cosmic Will

Local legend Cosmic Will has given fans a taste of what’s to come on his upcoming EP with new single, is this what you mean to me. The song boasts an impressive roster of people behind the scenes, with production from Ned Roberts (Kaiser Chiefs, Twin Peaks, Neck Deep, Rita Ora), mastering by Rogue Planet (A Day To Remember, Thrice, All Time Low), and a feature from his Good Hustles bandmate, Morton Piercewright. Cosmic has taken a bold step with his solo project - compared to the alt-rock Good Hustles tracks we know and love, his new music is undoubtedly much heavier - and yet he has undoubtedly excelled. is this what you mean to me truly spoke to the ex-emo within me (it turns out that it was not just a phase) and I have no doubt that the upcoming EP will be an absolute banger. Bring it on! Hattie Kilner

Edited by: Louise Dugan and Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Sea Girls via Facebook. In-article images courtesy of Maisie Peters, Sea Girls, Sufjan Stevens and Orla Gartland via Facebook.