The Mic Recommends...

Despite the uncertainty of the landmark elections, The Mic Recommends remains dependably reliable, and is back for this week's instalment - our round up of the best singles released. For the beach-ready sunniness of Oliver Heldens, the acoustic guitars of Nottingham's own George Gadd, gritty grime representation from Giggs, the return of nu-metal's untouchable System of a Down, and more, have a read below.


‘Set Me Free’ - Oliver Heldens

Despite the cold winter months creeping in, Oliver Helden’s newest collaboration with MAX and Party Pupils sees a revisit to beach house vibes, suiting the scene of Ibiza’s Ocean Beach, or Pacha. Its airy, cheeky synths read so joyously summery that it’s hard not to feel as though you’re somewhere significantly sunnier. Aside from the title being all too resonant in the current climate, lyrics like “I wish I had you here right now” speak to a close nostalgia we are likely all feeling. Yet the optimism within it’s sonic landscape radiates a refreshing positivity about a future we’re all looking forward to, and makes it feel that bit closer. It’s always nice to have another good dance track, but Helden’s contribution this week is a welcomed break to the usual deep house the scene is used to. Lucy Gray


‘Straight Murder (Giggs and David)’ - Giggs (feat. Dave)

Giggs’ latest project, Now or Never, is a testament to London, by London. Studded with features from the likes of Jorja Smith, Obongjayar and, in this case, Dave, lend the album a locally sourced sense of youth and pride. Both sonically and lyrically, the track carries elements from this particular collaboration’s debut, Peligro: the deliberately heavy drums set against a charmingly self-righteous examination of the distance between where one is from, and where one is now, whilst maintaining a sense of loyalty to the prior - something that the two London-born rappers are able to find common ground in. In this sense, the song is typical of Grime, and the communal movement from suffering to prospering the genre encourages. Matt Andrews

‘A Dying Plea Vol. 1’ - Anti-Flag

Brimming with Anti-Flag’s trademark political fierceness, A Dying Plea Vol. 1 was fittingly released on what is now one of the most memorable Election Days. Featuring devastatingly raw footage of the realities of police brutality and the violence rife across America, the music video only adds fuel to the political fire, alongside a whole host of features - including legendary Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, DE’WAYNE - one of the loudest voices in the musical fight for freedom at the moment, Jalise Della Gary, the niece of the band’s very own bassist, and The Skints’ Marcia Richards. While the band are known for their politically centred lyrics, A Dying Plea sees a considerable development in complexity and overall eloquence whilst still maintaining Anti-Flag’s unwavering sense of genuine passion for the cause; supporting a range of charities with the proceeds of their sales. Louise Dugan


‘SLO’ - VUKOVI

Scottish experimental pop-rock/noise-pop duo VUKOVI’s latest single SLO blends heavy rock-inspired riffs and explosive drums with a melodic, catchy, chorus and pop-leaning vocals. However, defining them as a member of the pop-rock genre seems somewhat insulting and limiting to their potential, as they are much more than this – they have established and mastered their own unique and experimental sound. Lyrically, the track strikes comparison between vocalist Janine Shilstone’s OCD and an abusive relationship, where both involve a reliance on something toxic, and induce a warped perception of what healthy behaviour really is, causing detachment from reality. The song commences with an immediate explosion of sound; it is a burst of non-stop energy in its entirety, resulting in an ear-catching track from the moment you press play. The blend of dirty guitar-riffs and intense breakdowns, melodic and powerful vocals, and experimental electronic synths, results in a chaotic, raging, energetic and impressively fierce track. Gemma Cockrell

‘Courtney’ - George Gadd

In terms of local releases, this week saw a touching, acoustically inclined ballad from one of the city’s most prized songwriters, George Gadd. Courtney sees Gadd recite a series of images, all tinged with a certain intimacy and closeness, to do with this illusive woman, Courtney – the lyricism is extremely vulnerable and, in this sense, telling of the general tone of the song. Recorded at home (and conceived in a McDonald’s drive thru), the actual sounds of the track are very comfortable with one another – backing vocals from Gadd’s partner, Sarah, also lend the song an optimistically contemplative accent, one which draws on ideas of love and hope. Matt Andrews


‘Northern Line’ - Bob Vylan

The resurgence of post-punk and popularity of grime is exemplified in this angsty track, speaking to fans of two favoured genres while exploring topical issues resonant in both; anti-patriotism, and political resentment. As vocals shout “voices in the cage are getting way too loud to sleep through,” the resonance is too haunting to not remind listeners of political issues that are too confined for the good of those affected. Screaming about wanting to go home, and the world not being safe, offers a warning to keep your wits about you - to put it lightly - something that all too well echoes the current climate in a more shallow context. What seems to lie further beneath the surface is a greater attention to the socio-political sphere of engagement, not just the physical. This track is likely to hit punk fans right where it feels best. Lucy Gray

‘Genocide’ - System of A Down

Despite tasting widespread success as one of the biggest names in the early 00s nu-metal scene, and the lasting popularity of tracks including ‘Toxicity’ and ‘Chop Suey’, the release ‘Genocide’ is the first for a huge 15 years from System of A Down. But the band return with a message, to raise awareness of the shocking humanitarian crisis, ongoing since September, in Armenia and Artsakh – the members are all of Armenian heritage. While the band paused on making music, the fissures in the band’s cohesion have grown ever more public, so many fans wonder whether this really signals the start of work on a new album release, or if the singles will stand alone. Regardless, the track itself is a full throttle excitement of their signature metal riffs, with lead vocalist Serj Tanken’s unmistakeable vocals leading the frenzy. Louise Dugan


Edited by: Louise Dugan

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