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New Music Spotlight (September 2021)

In this September edition of New Music Spotlight, we take a brief look and listen to new single releases from ABBA, M. Byrd, Roo Panes, Aleem, Cade Hoppe, and Árni Ehmann. Read on, listen, and enjoy!

Be sure to check out the SoundThread Music Blog Spotify playlist where you can stream the singles below and a lot more great new indie tunes!

ABBA | Don't Shut Me Down (new single)

Swedish supergroup ABBA released its last single, "Under Attack," in December 1982. In the nearly 40 years that followed, each of ABBA's members have been musically active to some degree. Vocalists Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-frid (Frida) Lyngstad have each released a number of solo albums, including A (2013) from Agnetha and Djupa Andetag ("Deep Breaths") (1996) from Frida. The male members and songwriters of the group, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, have produced and written songs for a variety of musical artists in the last several decades, in addition to creating a number of successful musicals and theatrical productions (Chess (1984), Kristina från Duvemåla (1995), Mamma Mia! (2005), Hjälp Sökes (2013)). For anyone who's missed the stellar songwriting and melodies of ABBA, it is Benny's BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester) project/collective that's been the musical opiate within the past 20 years for fans (myself included) of those gorgeous melodies and hooks that only Benny Andersson can create.

But on September 2, 2021, the silence ended and ABBA is back with two brand new tracks ("I Still Have Faith In You" and "Don't Shut Me Down") and a full-length album (Voyage) set for a November 5 worldwide release. The word of new ABBA songs surfaced back in 2018 in a surprise announcement from the band. Delays in the band's accompanying "ABBA-tar" virtual concert project and the pandemic that just won't go away both contributed to the three-year delay in releasing these two incredible tracks. On the positive side, the delay provided additional time for the band, all now in their 70's, to take their time and record eight additional tracks.

In this post, I spotlight ABBA's new single, "Don't Shut Me Down," as it's easily my favorite of the two new songs. The track is classic, upbeat ABBA with signature melodies and the unique, tight blend of vocals that only the combination of Agnetha and Frida can create. It's hard to stop smiling every time I listen this stellar comeback track and the chorus kicks in. The song sounds like a sequel to "One Of Us" with its tempo, arrangement and overall vibe in the chorus. The verses hint a bit at elements of song called "High Hopes and Heartaches" that Björn and Benny wrote for Swedish pop singer Josefin Nilsson back in the 90's. If you haven't already done so, definitely give the new ABBA songs a listen and transport yourself back a few decades to the classic sound and vibe with which ABBA left us at their early-80's split (or should I say pause?).

For anyone who missed the official worldwide ABBA Voyage launch of this new chapter of ABBA, the "Live Launch" video below provides everything you need to know!

M. Byrd | Orion (new single)

M. Byrd, the musical project of indie singer-songwriter Maximilian Bart, releases new single "Orion," the title track from his impressive debut EP, Orion. Loaded with breezy, reverbed guitars, dreamy soundscapes and M. Byrd's warm, emotive vocals, this infectious indie/folk track sparkles and delicately embeds itself within your psyche. Providing some insight into the song, M. Byrd writes on social media, "This is 'Orion' - a song about a little friend that left us, revealing who he truly was only after he was gone." Bringing to mind the likes of Tom Petty, Sufjan Stevens and The War on Drugs, all four tracks on M. Byrd's debut EP are outstanding, making Orion a stunning new release that you'll definitely want to check out.

Roo Panes | I Just Love You (new single)

English folk singer-songwriter Roo Panes' new single "I Just Love You" came to life during the pandemic as the artist reflected upon why it's often difficult for people to be sincere and present in the moment. On social media, Roo comments, "I wrote this during lockdown - when it felt like everything was pretty confusing, and we had to find magic in the simple things. Which was a good thing in many ways, and made me think about the things we often pass by and don't say." Making and releasing music since 2012, Roo's distinctive, heartfelt vocals elevate each of the songs he's released in last decade. And that's precisely the case with the infectious, upbeat and heartwarming "I Just Love You." Be sure to also check out the track's official music video, directed by Samuel Glazebrook, featuring stunning visuals from the Dorset countryside.

Aleem | Bad Habits (new single)

Chicago bred indie/alternative pop artist Aleem touches upon relationships that just can't be quit in his latest single, "Bad Habits." Bringing to mind the likes of John Mayer, Bruno Mars and The Script, Aleem uses raw, relatable lyrics and fluid vocals to deliver solid indie-pop songs that feature infectious melodies, shimmering synths and warm guitar riffs. "Bad Habits" pops and commands attention from the start with its pounding percussion, claps and edgy overall vibe. The track's melodic chorus is one that will easily become a favorite earworm ("Bad habits like your cigarettes | Now I'm burning too | And I'm burning through | Oh, bad habits like your past regrets | That I can't undo | I'm all over you"). Aleem comments on the atmosphere the song creates: "I wanted to navigate toward a sound that was more true to my roots as a singer/songwriter. I set out to write songs that were not only authentic but reflected the sound that sparked my interest in music from the start."

Cade Hoppe | Afterparty (new single)

NYC-based indie-pop artist Cade Hoppe releases new single "Afterparty," the latest in a series of collaborations with indie-pop duo Eighty Ninety's Harper James and the first co-write with girlfriend (and artist in her own right), Maddie Regent. Featuring a rolling, less-is-more soundscape comprised of layered drums, warm guitar riffs and subtle electronic touches, "Afterparty" is yet another impressive release from this emerging artist who clearly has the knack for creating catchy, summery-sounding indie pop gems that you'll want to spotlight on your music playlists. Cade's warm baritone vocals and heartfelt lyrics perfectly complement the organic soundscapes that transport the listener back to a party in the West Village, that involves drinking too much, and eventually stumbling home in the snow.

Cade comments on the new single: "'Afterparty' is about accepting that someone can love you at your lowest and most vulnerable points; sometimes it's tough to comprehend how someone that loves you for being 'the life of the party' can still possibly love you when they find out you’re not always like that. It doesn't make any sense, especially when others have left you for that very reason. But this song is about how sweet of a feeling it is when you finally realize that the person you love so much is here to stay… because they love you just as much."

If you haven't already, check out Cade's other impressive single releases ("Loverly High," "On My Way Down" and "Click Boom Run") and look out for more new music from this promising, up-and-coming, indie-pop artist.

Árni Ehmann | You & I 2 July (new single)

Reykjavik-based singer-songwriter Árni Ehmann releases his new single, "You & I 2 July," a track he recently recorded with Arnar Guðjónsson. The new track is the first new music from Árni since "Beneath the Burning Bridge," his impressive single from early 2020. With glittering guitar riffs and soaring vocals from both Árni and guest vocalist Jay Diamond, "You & I 2 July" features a breezy, melodic vibe with an underlying theme of peaceful and respectful coexistence with nature and our planet. Árni writes on social media: "['You & I 2 July] dedicated to animal rights and the vision I share with so many people that are seeing the future as being vegan. We are all earthlings sharing this planet."

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