We are at the end of what might have been the most hopeful week of 2021, on Monday we got the news we were all hoping for, a roadmap out of the lockdown and out of all the restrictions by June 21. Reading and Leeds festival confirmed it will be happening in August, which got us all very excited. Will the June 21 be THE date where life will return to normal? We won’t know until then, but it does give us some great meme content on social media. So, while you’re planning the best summer of your life, here a few new releases to get you going.
Editor: Megan Hofman
Baby Queen – These Drugs (Polydor)
One of our favourite new artists is back with a brand new single, this week Bella Latham, professionally known as Baby Queen released ‘These Drugs’. To her it’s one of the most honest songs she has written about a subject we all experience, escapism. The difference is, we all use different forms of escapism, others more destructive than others.
“I only wanted to escape my mind, for one night, know what happiness feels like, but the nightmare I’m ignoring is darker in the morning“
If it’s one thing we know Bella is good at, it’s being honest and being open about mental health issues. Because we all struggle with mental health, some more than others, but especially in uncertain times it’s a comfort knowing someone else shares the same feelings of anxiety. Another topic that is not off limits it’s the usage of drugs, whether that is anti-depressants or party drugs but not at all in a romanticising way. With the song she released a music video, which shows Bella in various bathroom stalls in various moods. It shows the effect of the usage of drugs, happiness, hallucination and sadness or depression. Sound wise, ‘These Drugs’ sounds like Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift made a musical baby together and this is its result. Baby Queen is a voice of this generation, not afraid to be honest, talk about politics or mental health and releasing absolute bangers, which is why we are big fans!
Words: Megan Hofman
Wolf Alice – The Last Man on Earth (Dirty Hit)
After a three-year hiatus, Wolf Alice finally return with an atmospheric single that hints at another slight change in course for the style of the London indie rock outfit.
The emotional depth is staggering and layered in this first teaser single for Wolf Alice’s third album. Ellie Rowsell’s vocals are raw, vulnerable and closely recorded on this ballad when it’s normally slightly masked and ethereal, like in their first two albums. Winding and strained melodies resemble two polarising moods depending on whether the accompanying instrumental is a dark-timbred piano, or an uplifting climax of strings and the other band members creating the full Wolf Alice sound – albeit with a more thoughtful and patient structure to their song writing and composition.
Words: Doug Phillips
Jade Bird – Open Up The Heavens (Glassnote)
One of the most exciting British singer-songwriters, Jade Bird, has just released her first single of 2021 – ‘Open Up The Heavens’, which debuted as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on BBC radio 1 on Tuesday. The track really displays her Americana and rock influences through cool guitar riffs and epic vocals. She brings the seventies and Patti smith vibes track which she brings a modern, youthful touch to. Jade said that she wrote this song in two days before flying back from Nashville and it is her favourite track on her new record. She has been working with six-time Grammy award-winning producer Dave Cobb who has worked with the likes of Brandi Carlile and John Prine while making her new album in Nashville which is due for release later this year. If her recent single releases are anything to go by, then this is definitely an album to be excited for!
Words: Hollie Sackett
Madison beer – Emotional Bruises (Epic Records)
Madison Beer dropped her debut album ‘Life Support’ last night, ‘Emotional Bruises’ being the particular song that is directly connected to the title by its lyrics: “I can’t do this no more, you call me your life support”. The beginning of the song implies that Beer feels responsible for her significant other’s well-being, with them depending their whole life on her. As a result, she is singing about “cutting off the life support” in the next verse, due to feeling exhausted and experiencing her own mental health at stake, by holding onto something so toxic. Instead of overlaying her voice with autotune and countless harmonies, as she did on every other song on the album, it is kept very simple – a ballad about finally deciding to leave an emotional abusive lover behind after failing and going back to them way too many times before. The instrumentals remind of Jessie Reyez’s modern cover of ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline, and considering the songs’ similarities in topic, this might be intended. Hopefully ‘Emotional Bruises’ will work as an eye-opener for people being stuck in the same situation and empower them to finally let go and move on.
Words: Victoria Madzak
Willie Nelson – That’s Life (Legacy Recordings)
Despite Willie Nelson being a notorious pot-head, the country legend is an inspirationally restless creator and performer. Just as the title track of Nelson’s newest project, ‘That’s Life’ says, “I tell you, I can’t deny it, I thought of quitting baby but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it”.
At 87, Willie Nelson has more studio albums than he has years on Earth, with his second volume of Frank Sinatra tributes being his 96th. ‘That’s Life’ sees Nelson honour the memory of one of 20th century’s most influential and iconic artists through country-tinged bossa nova, blues and smooth jazz classics such as ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’, ‘Luck Be a Lady’ and ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’. Willie’s warm, aged performances serve as a charming and important reminder of some essential moments in popular music history. The instrumentals are flawless and true to Sinatra’s sound, yet more flourish and character to the parts would’ve gone a long way, however Sinatra always was the star and so the instrumentals aren’t meant to distract but to enhance the vocals.
Willie Nelson never misses the chance to expand his discography year by year, but he doesn’t simply rustle up a generic, watered down country record, he pours sentiment, heart and thought into his work and I don’t suppose he intends to stop as long as he’s around to do it.
Words: Doug Phillips