AS we head into a rare weekend of good weather, this week’s New Music Radar offers up no shortage of riches. Featuring The Ninth Wave’s eagerly anticipated new EP, Fontaines D.C’s critically acclaimed second album and more, check out our top releases of the week below.
The Ninth Wave ‘Happy Days!’ EP
Following the success of their two-part debut album ‘Infancy’ last year, The Ninth Wave have wasted little time in returning with new material, today unveiling a six-track EP titled ‘Happy Days!’. Teaming up with Faris Badwan of The Horrors, who produces four out of the six tracks on the EP, proves to be a stroke of genius with the indie king of goth lending their shimmering electro-pop an even darker edge, resulting in some of their most raw, daring and revealing material to date.
Striking in its minimalism but never lacking in complexity, ‘Happy Days!’ is just as intoxicating and alluring as their full-length debut but this time, they delve even further into the abyss. While ‘Infancy’ shimmers and cascades, ‘Happy Days’ grinds and scythes in real darkness, rooting itself in uncompromising honesty and raw vulnerability. Recorded in Black Bay Studio in the Outer Hebrides, the stark surrounding landscape inevitably bleeds into the collection – sparse, mechanical soundscapes often providing the foundations for moments of intense self-reflection on tracks that are given brutally incisive titles such as ‘I’m Only Going To Hurt You’, ‘There Is Nothing I Hate More Than Small Talk’ and ‘Abattoir’.
Opening track ‘And The Weight’ instils this melancholic mood from the offset while ‘I’m Only Going To Hurt You’ sees Haydn Park-Patterson’s bleak lyrics paired with his dark and distressed vocal performance as he reflects on a relationship that was doomed from the outset. Juxtaposed by a brighter production of pulsating synths, twitching, industrial beats, its climactic ascension hits its peak on the absolute earworm of a chorus.
‘Abattoir’ allows Millie and Hayden’s painfully bare vocals to weave in and out of one another while ‘There Is Nothing I Hate More Than Small Talk’ is easily one of the most compelling tracks the band have ever laid their hands on. Punctuated by increasingly fervent percussive experimentation, Millie Kidd takes the lead once again on this gripping exploration of mental health and masculinity – her gentle vocals nearly exploding with raw emotion as the track reaches its conclusion.
Continuing to defy boundaries and push their sound into bold new territories, ‘Happy Days!’ will surely go down as The Ninth Wave’s most invigorating work to date. Listen below.
Fontaines D.C. ‘A Hero’s Death’
Barely a year after the release of their breakthrough debut album, Dublin punks Fontaines D.C. are back with its powerful, brave and endlessly compelling follow-up ‘A Hero’s Death’. Resisting the temptation to return with more of the same singalong killer hooks, taut rhythms and sentimental lyricism found on ‘Dogrel’, ‘A Hero’s Death’ features a darker, more complex sound – one defined by swirling, atmospheric layers, fuzzy edges and personal turmoil as the band turn their focus inwards and reflect on their meteoric rise and the gruelling, never-ending tour that followed.
Where ‘Dogrel’ opened with the fast and frenetic ‘Big’ and introduced Grian Chatten as someone who was ready to take on anything the world threw at him, ‘A Hero’s Death’ opens with the sullen and downbeat rebuttal ‘I Don’t Belong’, his voice dejected and despondent. The inner turmoil that festered in the wake of the band’s success last year spits out throughout the record – the immediacy and anthemic nature of ‘Dogrel’ is channelled through a darker lens, one fuelled by anxiety and paranoia (‘Television Mind’, ‘A Lucid Dream’, Living In America’) while the band’s writing feels less specific and dislocated – not a negative but a reflection on life on the road as a touring musician, and the feeling of new town after new town morphing into an indistinguishable blur.
It’s more subtle and soft at times too – ‘You Said’ is a mid-album highlight that finds the frontman meditating on past mistakes while ‘Oh Such A Spring’ is nostalgic and beautifully wistful. It’s an album about examining the self rather than pleasing others as Fontaines D.C. break free from the shackles of expectation. After telling NME ahead of the album’s release that they were at risk of “losing their identity” in the middle of last year’s relentless touring, it’s clear that this is a band who don’t belong to anyone. By taking risks, they’ve taken a massive leap forward and the results are introspective, uniquely potent and truly compelling.
stmartiins ‘devil’s a pair’
One of the country’s most sonically interesting acts have released ‘devil’s a pair’ on Spotify, having already made the song available on Bandcamp with all funds raised going to Colours Youth Network, a charity in aid of black and POC young people. ‘Devil’s a pair’ is the eighth song from the Dundee pair in 2020, following the release of their highly popular ‘hoping for the worst’ EP, which landed 7th in the UK Record Store charts and 14th in the Scottish Album charts. The song is relatively stripped back compared to their other work, centering primarily around guitar and vocals, with fleeting percussive and synth elements that add depth to the song when they come and go in the middle. Bookended by its most rudimental parts, the song flows nicely as it picks you up and lets you down gently after reaching an apex in the middle. It’s a beautiful lofi ballad from one of the country’s finest songwriting duos and is still available on Bandcamp for download.
Rachel Jack ‘The Calgary Tapes’ EP
Hailing from the North East of Scotland, Rachel Jack unveiled her beautifully crafted debut EP last week, ‘The Calgary Tapes’. Recorded on the Isle of Mull, there’s something wonderfully raw and intimate about the recordings as she details her recent journey towards self-love and discovery – in her own words “The songs are a narrative of the last few years and are sequential in my journey of learning to let go of the things that no longer serve me, facing my fears, and learning to trust my intuition.” From the crossroads we find her at in opening track ‘Nowhere’ to the assertion of independence on ‘Bring Me Down’ to facing and unravelling her fears on ‘Equalised’, Rachel Jack’s story is one of reflection and self-acceptance. All warm harmonies, clear and introspective lyrics and acoustic folky melodies, ‘The Calgary Tapes’ is a fine display of Rachel Jack’s ambition and passion for her craft.
Everything Everything ‘Violent Sun’
‘Violent Sun’ is our latest insight into Everything Everything’s new album ‘RE-ANIMATOR’, out on 21st August. Surging rhythms form the backdrop to the band’s glossy pop stylings and Jonathan Higg’s dystopian lyrics. Slated as the final track on the upcoming record, there’s a cathartic now-or-never feel to it as Higgs explains: ‘Violent Sun’ is about the feeling that something terrible is approaching fast, and you want to hold on to this moment forever. It’s the last song of the night, and the last song of your life”
Angel Olsen ‘Whole New Mess’
Angel Olsen has announced the release of a new album titled ‘Whole New Mess’ on 28th August. Marking her first proper solo effort since her 2012 debut ‘Half Way Home’, the album is said to feature a number of tracks that eventually appeared on 2019’s ‘Mirrors’ in some form but have since been re-recorded to be released as part of a new, unique project. The album’s title track is our first preview of what to expect and it makes a strong case for her newfound solitude. Accompanied by gentle strums of an electric guitar, she sings of heartache, recovery, procrastination and “getting back on track”. She says of the album “I had gone through this breakup, but it was so much bigger than that — I’d lost friendships, too,” she says in a press release. “When you get out of a relationship, you have to examine who you are or were in all the relationships. I wanted to record when I was still processing these feelings. These are the personal takes, encapsulated in a moment.”
Babeheaven ‘Cassette Best’
Babeheaven have gained attention in recent years for their meld of lush, nostalgic sounds, ethereal trip-hop, soulful pop and shimmering vocals. Now the band have shared details of their debut album ‘Home For Now’ which is set to land on 6th November, as well as a gorgeous new single called ‘Cassette Best’. A woozy, ethereal slice of soul-pop, the track luxuriates in languorous drums and Nancy Anderson’s sweet, wistful vocals. She says “I wanted to write a song about creation. Whenever we create we subsequently end up destroying something in a huge way or a small way. But there is always light behind the dark even when you can’t see it yet.”
Jorja Smith ‘By Any Means’
‘By Any Means’ is the first single to be released from Roc Nation’s upcoming ‘Reprise’ project, a collection of songs curated by the label comprised of multiple artists uniting to let their voices be heard in musical protest. Known for broaching social issues through her music, this bittersweet ballad finds Smith channelling the urgent energy of the 2020 civil rights movement over a gorgeous, minimalist instrumental. She says “The inspiration behind ‘By Any Means’ really came from going to the Black Lives Matter protest and leaving thinking, what can I do to keep this conversation going? It’s not just a post on social media, its life.”
Black Honey ‘Beaches’
‘Beaches’, Black Honey’s first release since their self-titled debut album in 2018, is a triumphant return as fans get long-awaited new material from the Brighton band. Of the song, singer Izzy B Phillips said “Beaches is a cheeky twisted collage of all things weird, set to a playground clapping song,” Phillips explained. “It’s all eye rolls, punk gigs and girls in polka dot bikinis. A nonsense filled retro world I wanna disappear into at times like these.” The song harks back to early surfer rock and roll, with a sliding guitar preceding a rock beat on the drums that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Eddie Cochrane song. The melody is carried by Phillips’ singing in the verses and then in the choruses becomes very rhythmic with an ensemble of horns carrying the melody. It’s a very cool rock and roll throwback that will pique the interest of a broad range of listeners, from fans to newcomers.
Ailbhe Reddy ‘Between Your Teeth’
Irish songwriter Ailbhe Reddy pushes her folky styilings into indie-rock territory on her new single ‘Between Your Teeth’. Written during a period where the singer was travelling between Dublin and London while trying to maintain a relationship at home, the track is a perfect example of the crisp, confessional songwriting style that has pinpointed Reddy as an artist to watch. Delving into the personal without ever sinking into melancholy, she sings around jangly guitars, interweaving melodies and crisp drums which work towards a big, soaring chorus. With a number of singles and tour supports already under her belt, and shows lined up with Big Thief and Paul Weller in 2021, Ailbhe Reddy looks set to have a very bright future ahead. ‘Between Your Teeth’ will feature on her debut album ‘Personal History’ which is slated for release on 2nd October.
“It’s about the frustration of being unable to communicate in a relationship,” she says of the album. “Both people hold things back because they either don’t want, or don’t know, how to express themselves. While travelling alone, I always spent a lot of time thinking too much about past conversations and wondering what words were being held back between another person’s teeth
Biffy Clyro ‘Weird Leisure’
With ‘A Celebration of Endings’ only two weeks away, Biff Clyro have shared a fourth preview single called ‘Weird Leisure’. From what we’ve heard so far, the band’s ninth album is shaping up to be an eclectic affair with a lot going on from bruising power-pop to the band’s signature wonky, unpredictable grooves and devastating riffs. This latest track sees Neil address a friend who is struggling with addiction and encourage him to come back from the edge via rampaging verses, desert rock riffs and soaring, triumphant choruses. It’s another brilliantly dynamic insight into the new record.
The Lemon Twigs ‘No One Holds You (Closer Than The One You Haven’t Met)’
In the run up to the release of their third album, due on August 21st, The Lemon Twigs have dropped a brand new single. The song bemoans the apparent failings of love to meet the ideals that we set in our mind. This perhaps somewhat pessimistic outlook on love is delivered in their signature retro style, and wouldn’t sound out of place on a Gerry Rafferty album. The vintage style of the music however is given a modern finesse with its incredible production, which keeps The Lemon Twigs sounding fresh and giving their style a new lease of life.
Billie Eilish ‘my future’
Following the global success of her 2019 debut album ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’ and the James Bond soundtrack cut ‘No Time To Die’, Billie Eilish has dropped a brand new single called ‘my future’. A deeply intimate offering that touches down on self-growth and self-reflection, the song starts off characteristically wistful but becomes more upbeat as it progresses thanks to percussive beats and a funky bass line. She said “We wrote this at the very beginning of quarantine. It’s a song that’s really really personal and special to me. When we wrote this song, it was exactly where my head was at – hopeful, excited and a craaaazy amount of self reflection and self growth. But recently it has also taken on a lot of new meaning in the context of what’s happening in the world now. I hope you can all find meaning in it for yourselves.”
Disclosure, Fatoumata Diawara ‘Douha (Mali Mali)’
Disclosure continue the roll-out for new album ‘Energy’ with the release of ‘Douha (Mali Mali)’. Featuring vocals from Malian artist Fatoumata Diawara, the song is a joyous ode to Diawara’s place of origin.