OUR essential tracks of the week include Luke La Volpe, DRIFT, Arlo Parks, Sam Fender, Phoebe Bridgers, AMA, BERWYN and more.
Luke La Volpe ‘Stand Up’
Luke La Volpe truly arrived with the release of his Terribly Beautiful’ EP back in March, a stunning collection of bluesy ballads that went onto top the Scottish charts and gain him a dedicated army of followers. Today, the Bathgate singer makes an eagerly anticipated return with the release of ‘Stand Up’ – a track that trades in the stripped-back style of that EP for full-blown rock & roll swagger. Steeped in drama and atmosphere, ‘Stand Up’ showcases Luke’s incredibly powerful vocal range against an epic rock production as he delivers a message of bold defiance and self-belief. Appealing to musicians who have been advised to ‘retrain’ by the government and others who have felt similarly neglected amidst a troubling year, Luke rouses something from deep within with his impassioned call to ‘stand up’. ‘It’s kind of like a revolution song.’ he says
DRIFT ‘The Isle of Pt.2’
DRIFT transport us to the beautiful Isle of Arran once again in this touching ode to friendship, self-belief and new beginnings.Last year Linzi Clark and Andrew Quinn treated us to a heady dose of lustful escapism on Part 1 of ‘The Isle of’ but this time they have emerged with a different kind of tribute to the Scottish island; a warm and uplifting one that begins with self-doubt and fear of acceptance but ends with a profound sense of hope and optimism.
Opening with a boldly insistent drumbeat, Quinn takes lead for the very first time. Evoking feelings of fear and uncertainty over shuddering synths, his vocals are a revelation; elevated even further when paired with Linzi Clark’s dreamy falsetto on the uplifting choruses. Steeped in their soulful vocal interplay, the track captures the palpable vulnerability of throwing yourself into something new but ultimately coming out all the better for it. In this case, the “grey skies” part and together they deliver the wholly uplifting closing line – “I’ll return to The Isle Of once again. This time I’ll be doing it with my friends”
Pretty Preachers Club ‘Gap In My Teeth’
Formed during lockdown after first meeting at college, Glasgow indie duo Pretty Preachers Club have shared a tender new track called ‘Gap In My Teeth’. Citing influences such as Phoebe Bridgers, LANY, Beabadoobee and The 1975, their songwriting is stunning in its simplicity as they pair soft vocals with twinkling piano melodies and sparse electronic beats. For those not yet acquainted, ‘Gap In My Teeth’ is a gorgeous introduction and one that has us eagerly anticipating their next step.
Arlo Parks ‘Caroline’
Arlo Parks has shared another beautiful offering from her eagerly anticipated debut album ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ – slated for release on 29th January 2021 via Transgressive Records. ‘Caroline’ is another gorgeous display of intimate songwriting from Parks with her soft, soulful vocals atop lamenting guitar licks. With a euphoric heartbroken chorus and Park’s poetic turn of phrase, it’s an emphatic preview of the upcoming album that leaves us totally immersed in her beguiling sound.
She comments “Caroline is an exercise in people watching and seeing situations unfold without context. It’s an exploration of how something once full of healthy passion can dissolve in an instant.”
Sam Fender ‘Winter Song’
Sam Fender has shared his own heartfelt rendition of Alan Hull and Lindisfarne’s emotional 1970s folk track ‘Winter Song’. Carrying a timely message of humility and reflection, it’s a song that is very close to the hearts of the North East community and Fender does it justice, lending a truly breathtaking vocal to the emotive recording.
The song has been released in partnership with People on the Streets, a social enterprise that seeks to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the UK. Participants in their courses learn photography skills and develop a portfolio of visual and written work and the lyric video for ‘Winter Song’ features a number of these photographs, sharing a perspective of the street from those currently living on it.
Arab Strap ‘Compersion Pt.1’
Arab Strap have announced their first new album in 16 years, ‘As Days Get Dark’, will be released on 5th March 2021 via Rock Action. Lead single “Compersion Pt. 1” follows the duo’s September comeback single “The Turning of Our Bones”, which will also feature on the record, and it gives us another glimpse into this ‘older, wiser’ version of Arab Strap that Aiden Moffat has spoken about. The trademarks of their sound are still there, Moffat’s bleak, wry lyrics are delivered with signature sardonicism over a smorgasbord of sounds and textures, but there’s some notable contemporary touches thrown in to its percussive beats and rich production.
Liam Gallagher ‘All You’re Dreaming Of’
Marking his first release since his second album ‘Why Me? Why Not’ in 2019, Liam Gallagher has shared a festive ballad called ‘All You’re Dreaming Of’. All proceeds from the tune will go to Action for Children which provides invaluable support for vulnerable young people over the festive period. Gallagher comments “All You’re Dreaming Of is an instant classic that is perfect for this time of year. Considering the year that we’ve all had, I hope this brings back some much needed love and hope. Bing Crosby would have been proud”
Rina Sawayama ‘LUCID’
Rina Sawayama teams up with BloodPop on her emphatic new single ‘LUCID’. It has been a massive year for the pop star who received widespread critical acclaim for her debut album ‘SAWAYAMA’ back in April. With a deluxe version slated for arrival on 4th December, she’s brought out a new single to coincide with its release and it’s a huge pop banger. With BloodPop channelling those Chromatica club vibes once again, Rina’s voice collides perfectly with his intensely vibrant production. It’s glistening, melodic and an absolutely massive piece of pop music.
Phoebe Bridgers ‘If We Make It Through December’
In keeping with her annual tradition of releasing a charity track for Christmas, Phoebe Bridgers has shared a cover of Merle Haggard’s ‘If We Make It Through December’. Accompanied by Ethan Gruska on piano, it’s a beautiful, melancholic rendition of the 1975 track and a fitting end to a tumultuous year. This year, proceeds from sales and streams will go to Downtown Women’s Center, an organisation in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women.
Emma Miller ‘Set Me Down’ EP
A few weeks after featuring the stunning ‘Sail Away’ on New Music Radar, today we’re shining a light on Emma Miller’s recently released ‘Set Me Down’ EP. Written over a period of three years, at a time when she felt particularly overwhelmed by the pace of life in London and the surrounding music industry, the EP became a process of catharsis and liberation for the singer-songwriter as she sought solace away from the chaos. Opening in a place of heartbreak with the gorgeously melodic ‘Honey’, the EP floats through deeply intimate reflections and beautifully assembled arrangements with subtlety and grace before we find her at peace with herself on the fifth and final track ‘Set Me Down’. Miller says that moving back to the North East of Scotland in 2019 for a more gentle way of life allowed her music to flourish and you can almost hear that in the EP’s delicately rendered soundscapes which shift between soft electronics and stripped back piano melodies. With her rich vocals and poetic lyrics at the centre of it all, ‘Set Me Down’ is an emotionally resonant piece of work that sees Miller return as a confident and assured songwriter.
The Lounge Society ‘Burn The Heather’
Confirming that their initial success with debut single ‘Generation Game’ no fluke, The Lounge Society are back with ‘Burn The Heather’; a strutting punk-funk number with themes of deep inequality and violence. Lead singer Cameron Davey paints a very vivid picture, delivering his visceral lyrics against insistent beats and ever-present synths as they take aim at the rural ruling class and their grouse-hunting habits. Beyond the ferocious darkness, they also bring funky kind of danceability, citing The Velvet Underground, Fat White Family and Talking Heads as shared influences.
With a new EP arriving next year via Dirty Hit, West London’s AMA wants to face the truth head on in her new single ‘Facts’. ‘Come on and hit me with the facts’ she sings over playful, off-kilter beats and a poppy production by young UK producers Harley & Ferg and Daniel Hylton-Nuamah. AMA was revealed as one of the first fifty artists on next year’s Great Escape festival.
Although his career has been relatively short, East London rapper, singer, songwriter and producer BERWYN has already made quite an impact, collaborating with the likes of drill star Headie One and hit-making producer FRED and performing his track ‘GLORY’ on Later…With Jools Holland. Overcoming a great deal of adversity to get where he is today, his debut mixtape ‘DEMOTAPE /VEGA’ released earlier this year was initially a final-ditch attempt to find a source of musical income before moving back to his home country Trinidad and Tobago. Tapping into moments of personal strife and forging them into potently intimate, richly produced bursts of rap, it was a real moment of triumph for the rising star. Now he continues this rich vein of form with ‘VINYL’, a melancholic track about missing out on life’s important moments. With soothing vocals, reflective lyrics and delicate piano keys, it’s a great return.
Nadia Sheikh ‘Fire Away’
‘Fire Away’ is Nadia Sheikh’s very own love letter to live music. A fan favourite from touring Europe with Stereophonics at the start of the year, it’s a soaring indie-rock anthem full of heartfelt lyrics and emotional swells. It’s one that you will have you yearning for those communal singalongs we’ve missed this year.
Horsey ‘Sippy Cup’
South London band Horsey are in outrageous form on their fun and surreal comeback single ‘Sippy Cup’. Like a spontaneous burst of noise, the track is utterly manic from start to finish with their seemingly boundless energy ready to burst at the seams. Retro organs sound throughout while time signatures jump around at their own accord thanks to quick jazzy drum patterns and nimble guitar lines. Full of charm, whimsy and brazen originality, the charismatic dual vocals are enveloped in the surrounding chaos as it careens through its 1 minute 50 seconds runtime. A song about “being, living and acting like a child”, it’s a short and sharp burst of eccentricity that will have you pining for live shows.
VEN ‘H8 Lovin’
Circa Waves frontman Kieran Shudall launched his new experimental solo project this week under the name VEN. As is evident by debut single ‘H8 Lovin’, it finds the frontman operating in an entirely different sphere as he trades in guitar-driven indie for hazy lo-fi pop that draws from a more electronic palette. “It’s headphone music for introverts,” Shudall explained of Ven in a press release. “An atmospheric world to lose yourself in. A kind of brutally honest look into my thoughts.”
Ed Nash ‘Say Anything’
Bombay Bicycle Club’s Ed Nash is back with another stellar tune called ‘Say Anything’. Running in at just under two minutes in length, it’s perhaps the most Bombay-like track we’ve heard from Nash thus far – full of bubbly energy and lushly textured with some off-kilter instrumentation.
Fiendz YT ‘Reptile Child’
Glasgow’s Fiendz YT have followed up their recent ‘Spread Love Smoke Spice’ EP with a new bludgeoning track called ‘Reptile Child’. Opening with a deep cackle, it’s the kind of unrelenting assault on the ears we’ve come to expect from the four-piece as they continue to revel in the realm of chaos. Driving forwards at immense speed with Ross Mills putting in a typically maniacal display , ‘Reptile Child’ never quite lets up throughout as the band deliver another short, sharp and triumphant blast of riotous punk rock.
Check out our New Music Radar playlist below.