The Mic Recommends...

After a popular week of tracks last week, The Mic Recommends... has been refuelled this week with just as many tracks for you to choose from. However, it seems like jealousy is a big theme this week with two of our recommendations titled after it. Hopefully with such a great selection of new music there'll be nothing to be jealous about!

Jungle – Fred again..

Fred again.. has established himself as one of the most exciting voices in dance music. He’s known for approaching the genre more as a songwriter rather than in a systematised way like a producer of his calibre, with Ed Sheeran and Stormzy production credits, typically would. So far, he has released two studio albums, Actual Life and Actual Life 2: emotionally-stirring sonic diaries reflecting upon events in his own life, and the broader UK cultural atmosphere over the past few years. The atmosphere of both albums is more suitable for the 1 am-walk-home after the party, rather than when it’s in full swing. However, with this new Four-Tet assisted single, Fred’s reminded us how good he is at straight-up rave music. In Jungle a pounding techno beat underlies a manipulated sample from Alabama singer Ellen Duhe. Fred and Four Tet repurpose it to suggest the animalistic instinct that we find within ourselves in a dance music party: “Sailin’ in the chopper, road killin’ like we vultures”, “ain’t no love in the jungle”. The track exudes the life-affirming attitude we find in all of Fred’s music, only in a sweatier, more adrenaline-fuelled way, and it’s only made me more excited for Actual Life 3. Caradoc Gayer

Birthday – WOOZE

I am always besotted by artists who express themselves visually as much as musically. WOOZE have always captured my attention because of this – there’s no such thing as too much yellow after all. But after your eyes have been greeted by the positivity radiating from the outfit, your ears can recognise the fun they also have in creating music. Birthday is an upbeat indie-pop tune that will now forevermore be part of the birthday tradition for me. Its danceability for both two-stepping to hip-hop results from its sound as both retro and modern, so ultimately the perfect soundtrack to whether you are turning 75 or 21. Similarly, their humour is universal: “they’ll take cake from anyone” places greed and carelessness in such a trivial and silly situation. If you or anyone you know have a birthday coming up, why not add this one to the playlist? Roxann Yus

Jealousy – Pale Waves

Continuing their hot streak following the release of Lies and Reasons To Live, Pale Waves drop the biting single Jealousy from their upcoming third album, Unwanted. Jealousy sees a catchy, anthemic chorus featuring vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie's spiky lyrics, power pop-rock guitar chords and an infectious hook. The Manchester quartet's recent turn to a pop-punk-inspired sound suits their angsty lyrics, channelling their inner Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morissette. Jealousy sounds fresh out of 2005, and, just like Baron-Gracie hisses, Jealousy "is my best friend”. Jodie Averis

Hot in it – Tiësto & Charli XCX

Hot In It is undoubtedly a song for the summer, filled with heavy bass and beat drops, however, it does feel like the next song in a line of TikTok bait tracks that had the potential to be so much more. The core theme of the song is a confidence anthem, fun to listen to and definitely one for the clubs, but at only 2 minutes and 9 seconds, it feels unfinished. The song abruptly ends: I feel it could have benefited from an outro and the repetitive chorus feels manufactured to trend on TikTok within the week. As a huge Charli fan, I’m disappointed. Given Tiësto’s past collaborations I had high hopes for Hot In It, anticipating something of a similar standard to The Motto (with Ava Max), especially given Charli’s hyper pop roots and history of dropping banger after banger. But this song feels lazy. I just hope that the numerous inevitable remixes can save it. Will I love this song if it comes on at 1 am in a gay club, yes. Will I ever voluntarily listen to it outside of this environment, no. I adore Charli; but as a fan and knowing her capabilities as an artist to make truly interesting and individual music, this generic track is a disappointment. Holly Madden

St Pancras – Isaac Anderson

After playing alongside former One Direction star Louis Tomlinson on his solo tour of Latin America, Nottingham-based independent singer, songwriter, producer and guitarist Isaac Anderson has released his new single St Pancras. The track is an easy-listening indie-pop ballad, crafted around simple acoustic guitar strums and subtle drums, allowing the focus to be primarily on the soaring chorus vocals as well as lyrics about the feeling of belonging, reflecting on life, and being able to rely on your friends for reassurance. In August, he will support Only The Poets on their European tour dates, and in October he will be embarking on two of his own headline shows at Bodega in Nottingham and the O2 Academy Islington in London. If Anderson is approved by Louis Tomlinson, then he is also approved by The Mic. He is definitely an artist to keep an eye on, and well worth checking out for yourself. Gemma Cockrell

Don’t Feel Like Feeling Sad Today – YUNGBLUD

With his third single from his third album, Dominic Harrison, aka YUNGBLUD, delivers yet another

typical pop-rock track to his devout audience. Don’t Feel Like Feeling Sad Today can be described as a safe track for YUNGBLUD. The 24-year-old sings about mental health, using basic metaphors and vague political sentiment to carry across his Gen-Z message about trying to get up out of bed. Paired with a generic verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, repetitive chords, and heavily produced audio, the pop-rock sound that goes hand in hand with YUNGBLUD soaks every second of the track, which clocks in at just under 2 minutes. Sadly, it seems to be another continuation of Harrison losing any edge present in his previous work. Don’t Feel Like Feeling Sad Today provides his audience of young, adoring fans an inoffensive, generic, sanitised version of what YUNGBLUD once had the potential to be. Keeping very much in line with the safe-but-modern image he’s made for himself, Dominic Harrison’s latest track as YUNGBLUD fails to evolve from the pop-rock sound he’s defined by. James Pusey

Burn the Blasphemer – Blood Command

Ahead of their appearance at 2000Trees Festival this week, Sweden’s Blood Command have just released their fourth album, and first in five years, Praise Armageddonism. So far my favourite song on the record is Burn The Blasphemer, which mixes the band's trademark death pop with black metal influence, making for a hyper-aggressive version of riot grrrl, backed by the wall of sound that comes from the cold Scandinavian black metal scene. Blood Command have been releasing singles off of this album since February 2020, so this has been a long time coming, but Burn The Blasphemer was one of the few songs not released as a single in that time. As a long-time listener of the band I’m very glad to finally hear the new music, and so far the whole album has been excellent, but this is my standout with its high energy, high-impact sound, and punk-inflected attitude. The anger of Nikki Brumen is palpable, and her high-pitched shouts leave no room for any misunderstanding about her emotions in the fiery sound of this song. Jake Longhurst

Goodbye to Love (From 'Minions: The Rise of Gru' Soundtrack) – Phoebe Bridgers

Minions: The Rise of Gru album has produced an epic roster of some perhaps surprisingly excellent 70s covers. Phoebe Bridgers’ version of Goodbye to Love goes even further to show that some of the most beautiful pieces of music can be found in the most unlikely of places. Her haunting aspiration suits The Carpenter’s classic perfectly, with a choir of harmonies creating this gorgeous, melting quality that no doubt fits the bill perfectly within the film whenever a heartbreakingly sad montage needs a soundtrack. The track is beautifully produced by Jack Antonoff, who at this point we would expect no less from. It begins with just Bridgers' vocals and a piano, with a melodic simplicity that slowly develops, adding reverberating voices, and then further and further, creating a crescendo with horns, drums, a tambourine, a woodwind section and even a harp heard within a rich soundscape. The song does not suffer from overproduction though, as you might expect to be a problem; Phoebe’s delicate vocals continue to be showcased throughout, brought to life by her accompaniment. The layering of her vocalizations creates a surrounding, perhaps transportive effect once again demonstrating what’s so special about this artist. When reflecting on other tracks of hers with that same sort of build-up, most notably fan favourite I Know The End, it’s clear that Bridgers has mastered the balance of her signature delicate touch and the awe-striking drama of layering and progression. A highlight within an already star-studded, hard-hitter of a project, Phoebe holds her own and more. Isobel Morris

25 Thousand Volts – Strange Bones & Death Blooms

I’ve been long awaiting this track from two of my favourite artists and I couldn’t be happier with the result. Strange Bones is a creative powerhouse that you can always place your trust in. Lead Bobby Wolfgang captivates his follower base with how he mixes tracks outside of his own music, such as his take on JME mixed with Bring Me The Horizon, as well as his Strange Bones-ification of a Turnstile track, just to name a few of my favourites. His eye for aesthetics also cannot go amiss: he has teased us visually with 25 Thousand Volts for a while now, allowing us into the creative process, as he does with many of his own and remixed tracks, undertaken to create such uniqueness. Death Blooms, too, shares the same POV for quality and aesthetic, making the duo a perfect yet unpredictable outfit of chaos. 25 Thousand Volts showcases their electric connection as artists: complimented by intense mixing and electronic work is a battle of vocals that stay true to Death Blooms’ nu-metal roots but allows us to explore the possibilities outside of genre. Roxann Yus

Hell – Matilda Mann

Following her recent singles Nice and Four Leaf Dream, Matilda Mann has released another track that encapsulates her raw and authentic vocals that tug on the heartstrings of listeners everywhere. Having first listened to Matilda following her song Paper Mache World which was featured in Netflix’s smash-hit series Heartstopper, Hell certainly does not disappoint. Reminding me of Billie Eilish’s Xanny, the repetitive guitar plucks and echoing hums amid the darker lyrics showcase Matilda’s anger and frustration, discussing darker topics of sexual assault. As the softer tones build, the drums kick in when the tension peaks, and we hear this sharp tone of anger from Matilda, emphasising a sense of female empowerment through music. Matilda admits the track was “written so quickly”, however, I think this shows her incredible musical abilities, highlighting her raw talent through a beautifully important song. Isabelle Hunter

Jealousy – Siiickbrain

After a stunning array of collaborations with artists like WILLOW and Maggie Lindemann, a track solely and truly Siiickbrain was sought after. Immediately I noticed the parallels between Jealousy and the work of WILLOW: in what I would timidly call Siiickbrain’s weaknesses, such as a strong, ballad-like chorus, has been transformed into a dominating part of her track. Meanwhile, the individuality and uniqueness of Siiickbrain, which ultimately leads to her desirability as a collaborating artist, remains in the husky, screamo vocals in the verses. Ultimately, she has created a track that fuses the two styles achieved in collaborating tracks, fully setting her out as an artist who can provide the heart of a rock/pop song, alongside her captivating twist on genres. Roxann Yus


Edited by: Roxann Yus

Featured image courtesy of WOOZE via Facebook