Listen Tracks: Carly Rae Jepsen, Fred again.., Willow and more

Make time for the biggest and best new songs released this week.

It’s Friday, it’s 6pm, it’s… time for our weekly (ish) collection of the biggest and best new music released in the past seven days. This week has thankfully proved it’s not possible for the vague concept of “respect” to apply to the cancellation of new music – so there’s new bops from the likes of our current cover star Carly Rae Jepsen, superproducer Fred again.., pop-punk hero Willow, returning Irish noisy boys Gilla Band and much more besides.

To update your eyes and ears via our Essential New Tracks playlist, see below. For words on the pick of the pops, read on…

The nights might be rapidly drawing in, but if there’s one artist we can count on to keep the illusion of sunshine streaming in, it’s Carly Rae Jepsen. The latest cut from the Canadian’s forthcoming sixth full-length ‘The Loneliest Time’, set for release next month – it’s as beautifully bittersweet as pop gets, its buoyant synth-led sound giving Carly’s somewhat less jubilant words (“Are you thinkin’ of me when you’re with somebody else … Are you reachin’ for me, makin’ love to someone else?” she posits) full impact. (Bella Martin)

With the first preview of his third ‘Actual Life’ album (‘January 1 - September 9 2022’ if you want to be specific), Fred again.. continues his diaristic approach to making music, fusing samples of people and their stories with his joyous house beats. Across the first two ‘Actual Life’ albums, he mixed the introspection and sorrow of his lyrics with music that bursts with joy and release, and the thumping ‘Danielle (smile on my face)’ is one of his best yet. “If I die in your arms, there’ll be a smile on my face,” the titular Danielle sings – with Fred himself joining in later on – but the energetic beats behind it make it sound like triumph instead of despair. “You make me wanna face it,” Fred sings at the track’s close, with his subjects and collaborators once again helping him dance through tough times. (Will Richards)

After collaborating extensively with Travis Barker for last year’s ‘lately I feel EVERYTHING’, Willow is venturing through rock realms mostly by herself. ‘curious/furious’ is the latest instalment of a quest to come even more into her own, offering a thoughtful-yet-cool slice of breezy guitar pop that delicately balances angst and mature eloquence. “I never wear a frown/Because life doesn’t choose either side / Win or lose, right or wrong / It’s a battle that’s all in your mind,” she sings, her voice lurching into the highest octaves without a hint of strain. Her growth is continuing wonderfully. (Emma Wilkes)

Gilla Band’s ‘Post Ryan’ started its life as a song written for the 30th birthday of their friend Ryan, but has eventually grown into a towering highlight of forthcoming album ‘More Normal’. On the track, frontman Dara Kiely swaps the absurdist, abstract lyrics of second album ‘The Talkies’ for straight-talking, vulnerable reflections on depression. “I had to leave the room when I showed them my demo of the new vocals,” Dara says of the process of creating the song, and his vulnerability is backed up by waves of delightfully dissonant noise. On this showing, the Dubliners are far from becoming more normal with their third album, and remain all the more thrilling for it. (Will Richards)

With its featherlight layers – of softly-strummed guitars and Helen Ballentine’s feather-light vocals – ‘It’s Like A Secret’ – the third single from the singer-songwriter’s, aka Skullcrusher, debut album – is at once stripped-back almost bare, and curiously warm, the emotion seeping through in waves from a track which is sonically barely even there. (Bella Martin)

On their new collaborative track ‘ANTIFREEZE’, Easy Life’s Murray Matravers and Gus Dapperton prove themselves perfect duet partners. Across the smooth-as-hell track, Dapperton’s powerful and melodic vocals give way to Murray’s rhythmic, soft raps with such ease that you hope this is just the start of a fruitful set of collaborations. (Will Richards)

Underpinned by a juddering bassy synth rumble, squelching melodic top notes and just the right amount of cowbell, South London’s PVA are increasingly proving themselves to be the UK’s closest answer to LCD Soundsystem’s insatiable dance floor charm. Where they differ, however, is in the vocal; if James Murphy promotes catharsis, then on ‘Bunker’ - taken from forthcoming debut album ‘Blush’ - PVA’s Josh Baxter is cold and icy, offsetting the sonic euphoria with something more brooding. It’s still a winning combination. (Lisa Wright)

Show Me The Body’s new single is called ‘We Came To Play’, but the relentlessly furious song suggests they’re more interested in writhing, screaming and fighting. Through bludgeoning bass, Julian Cashwan Pratt’s hellbound vocals and breakdowns strong enough to fell buildings, it might be their most powerful release yet. It might not be fun, but it is a wonderfully intense shock to the system. (Will Richards)

The latest cut from forthcoming LP ‘Stay Close to Music’, ‘Pink Diamond Bezel’ begins as lush and opulently as the shimmering jewels of its title might suggest. Airy and spacious, the organic sounds and soft beats that envelope Mykki Blanco’s vocal are, they say, the soundtrack to “a stretch limousine riding through snow-capped mountains” and, somehow, it tracks - until Blanco hits the two minute mark, employs a gnarly bass line and some voodoo backing vocals and derails the whole thing in ominous fashion. As ever, it’s proof not to pre-empt anything the California polymath might turn their hand to. (Lisa Wright)

That Dean Fertita is known best for his roles with Queens of the Stone Age and The Dead Weather hints a lot – well, it hints almost everything – as to what his work under the moniker Tropical Gothclub is like. Latest track ‘Wheels Within Wheels’ takes the driving drone of the Californian outfit’s trademark sounds, and underpins it with the deep, gnarly filth of his work with Jack White and pals. (Bella Martin)

Tags: Carly Rae Jepsen, Listen, Features, Tracks

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