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As we stagger past lockdown’s halfway point, The Mic’s writers have rounded up an eclectic selection of the weeks hottest new tracks to have you boogie-ing through the dwindling remainder. Have a read of their thoughts on the titillating new sounds from slowthai, Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa, Fickle Friends, Bleachers, Bruce Springsteen, and more, below.

The Spirit Of’ – Cloud Nothings

Surf-punk sad-boys Cloud Nothings have returned with their second single of 2020, combining tinny guitar sounds and grungy vocals to create a thoroughly enjoyable rock track. Most prominently remembered for their strong grip throughout the mid 10’s renaissance of lo-fi garage rock alongside the likes of FIDLAR, Surfer Blood and Wavves, who they produced a collaboration album with in 2015, No Life For Me, which is widely regarded as one of both bands’ greater works. The new single harks back to the gritty roots of their genre, embodying the spirit of’ wasted days of cans of beer in a skate park. The opening lick is an ear-worm that develops with angst throughout the rest of the surprisingly short song. Cloud Nothings cram a sizeable helping of teen frustration and punkish lethargy into two and a half minutes, with a predictable, but nonetheless satisfying, build up that’s ready for the first few mosh pits of a Covid-19 free future gig scene. Rebecca Hyde

nhs’ slowthai

Though Northampton-born rapper slowthai is renowned for being a controversial and dividing figure never shy of expressing his views on pressing social and political issues this has, for the most part, assisted in his astronomical rise in popularity in recent years. Listeners gravitated to his gritty, rough instrumentals and raw, brutally honest and politically charged lyrics. His latest single nhs came with the announcement of his sophomore album TYRON. The track allows listeners to experience a new side of slowthai much more understated and mellow than what fans are used to hearing from the rapper. It features a piano-based instrumental, and a slow-paced, introspective and thoughtful flow which lacks his typical roughness and aggression. It serves as a reminder to appreciate what you have, and to remember that things could be better, but they could also be worse, giving shoutout to the UK’s National Health Service for their service during the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst desperately pleading for more empathy and understanding in society. The song is highly relevant to the experience and climate of 2020, and in classic slowthai manner, communicates a relatable and important societal narrative. Gemma Cockrell

Losing My Religion’ Frank Iero and the Future Violents

Despite the astounding success as lead guitarist in iconic emo band (or idea) My Chemical Romance, Frank Iero has dabbled in various side projects, showcasing his multifaceted capability for musical expression. A far cry from the caustic industrial digital hardcore Death Spells project, apparently born out of attempts by Iero and Dewees to blow up each other’s speakers, the work under his current project is much more stripped back affair. Leading the announcement of forthcoming EP Heaven Is A Place. This Is A Place, is the cover of REM’s Losing My Religion - a track which holds great personal meaning for Iero. A sparsely decorated but haunting interpretation, taking centre stage is the delicate blend of Iero’s vocals, rough with emotion, and the silky tones of Kayleigh Goldsworth, who initially toured as support for his previous tour. Louise Dugan

Prisoner’ Miley Cyrus ft. Dua Lipa

A collaboration between two of the biggest popstars on the planet, Miley Cyrus’ and Dua Lipa’s latest single Prisoner was never going to be an understated affair. Combining the latter’s disco-flecked pop with the former’s increasingly overt rock influences (and a hefty dose of fake blood thrown in for good measure), the track is an undeniably catchy, well-crafted pop song centering around the incantation-like repetition of its tri-syllable title; this, in itself, is presumably an intentional nod to Olivia Newton-John’s 80’s karaoke classic, Physical. This, however, is unfortunately not the full extent of the parallels between Prisoner and pre-existing material. Its accompanying video also bears striking similarities to that released by punk trio Dream Wife back in May for their single So When You Gonna…. Obviously perturbed, the band used social media to highlight said similarities – namely, both video’s use of an ‘inside-the-mouth’ POV camera angle, and the fact that even Cyrus’ styling and haircut seem uncannily close to that of Dream Wife’s guitarist, Alice Go. Overall, Prisoner is a strong, straightforward pop song showcasing two of the best artists the UK Top 40 has to offer, but is disappointingly tarnished by its video’s sense of uncredited artistic appropriation of details that are hard to believe are entirely coincidental. Daisy Carter

‘Zeitgeist’ – Babe Rainbow

Written for beach-bound, morning meanderings, but sounding just as delectable on an overcast lockdown Sunday, the latest peace offering from psych-pop crusaders Babe Rainbow is a luridly submersive export. Born of Byron Bay and with all the breezy, coastal spirit you’d expect, the band have become fondly revered as tousled, hippie hit-makers, or else a stoned, sunkissed iteration of their North Coast counterparts, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Strolling the far-from-beaten path of the psych-funk vortex, newest track Zeitgeist is buoyant, transcendent and irrefutably addictive, fusing the foremost parts of sunlit hits Peace Blossom Boogy and Love Forever into a shimmery apex. Here, quivering synths and xylophone jangles latch onto a lazy sugar-shaker beat, fashioning a beguiling soundscape totally uninhibited, totally inviting. Lyrics with all the fragrance of summer, however, take the track from shimmery, airy jam to pigmented love-struck allegory; vivid images of the natural world and human experience intertwining with startling poise. Think Attenborough on acid. “Outside lies within, peel a mandarin / Love has just begun,” Cameron Reed, the band’s laconic frontman, coos, whilst the innumerable layers of nebulous, psychedelic goodness swell around his words like a riptide. Joyously spacious, this is psych-pop at its pinnacle. So, switch off your brain, cruise down stream, and let Babe Rainbow be your guide. Olivia Stock

‘Million’ Fickle Friends

Brighton indie-pop quartet Fickle Friends release the third taste of their forthcoming EP Weird Years: Season 1, titled Million. In September, the band announced their sophomore album Weird Years, which would be released in separate EP’s due to the inability to tour. They will be released in instalments which are named as ‘seasons’ through taking inspiration from 90’s sitcoms. Lyrically, Million explores meeting someone who understands you, who shares and mirrors your energy, which is a rare and special connection to have with someone. The track is upbeat and synth-heavy, with an electronic-dance beat, contrasting entirely to the mellow, slow-paced ballad tones of previous single 92, despite them having close similarities in lyrical themes and content. The band are impressively versatile in their ability to successfully execute both slow and upbeat tunes, but Million sees them returning to what they are renowned for and what they naturally gravitate towards writing – a mirthful, high-energy sound which it is impossible not to dance-along to. Gemma Cockrell

‘Brick Wall’ – A Day To Remember

The Florida metal-core giants began teasing their newest project as early as August 2019, until Covid meant that their work was interrupted at every stage. But the despite everything 2020 has thrown at them, the release of their new album You’re Welcome has finally been announced, alongside their latest single Brick Wall. Front man Jeremy McKinnon describes how the band aimed to stay loyal to their tried and tested sound, while injecting a fresh sense of modernity, for example in their previous collaboration with DJ Marshmallow. The track itself echoes back to the band’s earlier works, full of stomping guitars leading up to a pit-ready breakdown. Louise Dugan

Chinatown’ Bleachers (ft. Bruce Springsteen)

Jack Antonoff, renowned for his acclaimed production work for names such as Taylor Swift and Lana Del Ray, revisited his solo project Bleachers for the first time since 2018 on the new single chinatown. Bridging the generational gap between two musicians hailing from New Jersey, he is joined by an appearance from rock legend Bruce Springsteen. Driven by these Jersey roots and inspirations, the track depicts a tale of falling in love and running away with a girl whom he meets in Chinatown. The guitar-based track is simultaneously laid-back and relaxed, but also restless, perfectly capturing the feelings of youth and falling in love. The husky vocal tones of Springsteen bring the track to life with nostalgic tones, a timeless quality, and universal appeal, whilst Bleachers see it drenched in their colourful, contemporary appeal. The collaboration is a special one, between two artists who evidently have much in common and who have mutual respect and admiration for each other, due to their shared New-Jersey roots. Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Louise Dugan

Featured image courtesy of Babe Rainbow via Facebook.

Article images courtesy of slowthai and Fickle Friends via Facebook.