New Music Friday: The Smile, Pom Poko, Gang of Youths and more

A new year means more new music to digest, and we are back once again to recommend our favourite track releases from the past week. Give them a listen and let us know your thoughts.

New Music Friday: The Smile, Pom Poko, Gang of Youths and more

Want to hear all our previous New Music Friday picks? You can check them all out on our Spotify playlist, found here.

The Smile - You Will Never Work in Television Again

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood have teamed up for the first time since the band’s last record, Moon Shaped Pool, after focusing on solo projects for the past couple of years. This time around, the musicians are joining forces with drummer Tom Skinner from the modern jazz outfit Sons of Kemet for their new collaborative project named The Smile. Sonically, the track turns its back on the electronically infused rock that the iconic duo are more recently known for, instead opting for a much more sporadic and aggressive sound akin to their earlier work, and it is as immediate as it is short. The track blisters by in a three-chord punk fashion, with Yorke’s vocal soaring over the top. Although somewhat simplistic on the surface, ‘You Will Never Work In Television Again’ also abstractly weaves in noisily distorted FX on guitar, bringing about a slightly disjointed and wholly abrasive feel. The song is surprising in its presence, and seems to be articulating a heavier, more direct and frustrated headspace of a talented, all-star team-up.

Pom Poko - Enduro Corner

An upcoming Norwegian band that have been making waves through the industry due to the hype of their next album release, Pom Poko have released a new track titled ‘Enduro Corner’ this past week, and it is certainly a stand out. The song utilises disparate, clean sounding electric guitar that interlaces effortlessly well with vocalist Ragnhilde Fangel’s quaint and calming voice, which dominates the high-end of the mix throughout the song’s verses. Somewhat subtle elements of synth flavour and bending yet staccato guitar inflections pad out the track, which makes the distorted fuzz found in the chorus all the more impactful. The track is thrilling from start to finish, and exerts a sound that is unlike any band currently. There is without a doubt a good reason for the critical excitement surrounding this group, and something tells me that much more success will be heading their way if their next singles follow the same suit.

Gang of Youths - in the wake of your leave

A whimsical “Do, do, do” introduces Gang of Youths’ in their new release named ‘in the wake of your leave’, with the Australian indie group showcasing their expert songwriting capability and musicality through the new single. The band’s new song invokes a similar sound to an amalgamation of modern indie artists, ranging from Fontaines D.C.’s post-punk to more folk-like bands such as Fleet Foxes. But despite their obvious influences, Gang of Youths definitively stand proudly in their own lane, and inject a revitalising energy into the music that they produce. The track is bouncy fun, yet is also incredibly introspective and is structured in a way that is both thoughtful and gripping. Frontman David Le’aupepe’s vocal is soft, but his delivery is pure and engaging, instrumentally, the band never overstep or clash, each bringing forth their own differing elements that combine beautifully. If this single is anything to go by, Gang of Youths’ are sure to be ones to watch this year.

MICHELLE - Expiration Date

If modern RnB is what you are looking for this week, look no further than MICHELLE and her newest single ‘Expiration Date’. The track by no means reinvents the wheel within the genre, but definitely executes its tropes exceptionally well. MICHELLE’s sound could be equated to that of The Internet, but with added drum pads, 808 synth and faux-acoustic, electronic flair. The song sees bright, clean guitar passages interlaced with a punchy, almost modern hip-hop-esque beat that builds up the backbone of the track instrumentally. The standout aspect of ‘Expiration Date’ is certainly MICHELLE’s vocal, channeling old school sensibility whilst also giving a bit of pop flavour, highlighting a presumed malleability for the future. Her voice is so smooth it could be attached to a myriad of genres and still work incredibly well, but the way in which she uses her chops in this more classically structured track is still wildly impressive. Lyrically, the song does leave a little to be desired, but if a wonderfully soulful voice backed by premium production is what you are looking for to ease you into January, look no further.

Eels - Amateur Hour

Eels have released a relatively short track titled ‘Amateur Hour’ this week, and are sticking to what they know best and delivering with a retro-sounding, easy listening, garage rock song. The track’s production is not it’s strength, but isn’t intended to be, instead balancing their sheer energy with clever, catchy songwriting in a bedroom-punk like performance. The track sounds thin, with a punchy kick, snappy snare, crashing cymbal work and walking bass making up the rhythm section. Layered on top is a twiddling distorted guitar, but one that stays lower in the mix, allowing for vocalist Mark Oliver Everett’s voice to be heard more clearly at the forefront. Lyrically, the song is punchy and relatively simplistic, but that doesn't inhibit the repetition of the phrase “Your an Amateur / Gonna go pro someday” from getting lodged into your brain long after the song has been and gone. Eels have managed to succinctly create a short, strong banger using their more rustic recording style, and it has worked a treat here.

Header Image Credit: "Thom Yorke 2" by kaneda99 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Ash Edmonds

Ash Edmonds Kickstart

A graduate of Music Journalism from BIMM Brighton – where he now lives – Ash has been writing about everything creative for the past few years. An avid audiophile, he spends a lot of his time searching streaming platforms, record stores and live shows trying to find his next musical obsession.

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