• Josh Hughes


Every other Friday, we'll be doing a deep dive into the world of new music, reviewing the cream of the crop of fresh songs for you to check out. As this is our first gander, this is a special one, looking back at releases from the past two months that you may have missed. You silly git.

Wanna bang these on whilst you read? There's a Spotify playlist for that here!

Wanna support an artist? We've linked all Bandcamp pages on the cover arts!

If you have an upcoming release and want it featured, email thecactusparadox@gmail.com or submit through the website at the bottom of our home page!


Penthouse "S.E.X"

released on 08/01/21


A boss bunch of lads from Kent, purveyors of power-pop Penthouse come into 2021 drenched in glorious early 2000s goodness on "S.E.X.", a very tongue-in-cheek tune about pleasure sans strings. The quartet are absolutely on-point here, delivering a hooky as fuck bop from start to finish with help from the grandiose harmonic guitar work, the diamond-studded chorus and pure attention to dynamics. Penthouse knows when to let the bubbles settle in the middle eight and then tear up the floor with a meaty third act, a pulse pounding punk finish to one of the best drops so far this year.

FFO: Weezer, American Hi-Fi, Sum 41

Danica Dares "Paranoia Party"

released on 29/01/21

Danica Dares

New alt-pop outfit Danica Dares formed amongst the chaos of 2020, but are already making big strides in anticipation of their debut album Curating The Lunatic, which is officially releasing later this year, but is currently exclusively available to buy on Bandcamp. "Paranoia Party", the second single in support of the LP, is devilishly good. Weaving the sounds of early 80s new-wave with stabbing synths and lyrics that bleed out modern anxieties, the trio makes a solid impression, especially singer Harriet McBain with a stunning vocal performance that emulates Debbie Harry of Blondie on her best days with a tinge of gothic charm. It's an effort that lifts the track to an extremely satisfying crescendo, halting at the perfect time, leaving you hungry for more. Danica Dares are ones to watch this year, a truly exciting new prospect for the alt-pop genre.

FFO: Blondie, Maxïmo Park, Joy Division

Blond Blood "Ocean"

released on 01/01/21

Shark Wave Records

The ever-charming surf punks Blond Blood were one of the first out of the gate this year with new material, and it's as superb as always. A taster of their incoming second album, scheduled for release later in the year, "Ocean" showcases the Manchester quartet's signature style of sunshine-soaked surf rock without going full on "California, dude" in your ears. The guitar work is especially a highlight of the song, with a chilled out noodling section during the middle-8, before going full on into the hooky chorus. One for the summer lovers.

FFO: Beach Goons, SWMRS, Sad Park

Don't Worry "As If By Magic"

released on 15/01/21

Specialist Subject Records

Essex's premier rad dads Don't Worry dropped their first music as a full band in over two and a half years in the form of "As If By Magic". Recorded at both the legendary Abbey Road Studios and frontman Ronan Kehoe's living room, the quartet's latest offering is about feeling discontented in the present moment and the universally recognised remedy of looking back at better days, but not basking in the glow of nostalgia for too long and to recognise the value in all experiences. This single isn't as self-deprecating previous releases, and the indie rock bite it holds is a welcome direction for the group, who usually excel in an emo-indie sound reminiscent of the late 90s/early 2000s. The warm guitars and raw drums compliment Kehoe and swirling vocals, giving "As If By Magic" is a slab of gold in an already admirable discography, a breezy number that, during the UK's third lockdown, definitely felt like it appeared, well, as if by magic.

FFO: Blur, The Magic Gang, Fresh


Bad Idea "Happy"

released on 19/02/21

Bad Idea

"Happy" is gorgeous. A lo-fi atmospheric post-grunge anthem, it's the latest offering from Leeds-based Bad Idea, a band that has been impressing with a slew of releases over the past few years. "Happy" is woozy in the best kind of way, a winding five-minute epic fizzing with shoegazey guitars, stunning vocal work from Sarah Sefton, and the tonal shift thanks to that key change gives the tune a nasty grungy edge that crescendos into a beautiful ending. Why Bad Idea aren't already massive is completely baffling, so fingers crossed that 2021 is a breakout year for the four-piece.

FFO: Cocteau Twins, Hayley Williams, Wiccans

Out Of Love "Play Pretend"

released on 19/02/21

Venn Records

"Play Pretend" is yet another slammer from newcomers Out Of Love, a banging, chugging beast made of flangy leads, punky gang vocals, and an absolute thumper of a chorus. The London-based punk quintet delivered well in their foundation year of 2020, but "Play Pretend", from upcoming second EP Funky Feeling, feels like more than just an extension of their recent output, showcasing a fresher and punchier sound from the band. It's fast, frenetic and full of spice, exactly what we'd expect at their eventual debut shows later in 2021. Lovely.

FFO: Andrew W.K., Gender Roles, Gnarwolves

sweethearts "do you love me?"

released on 12/02/21


A tight debut for Hull pop rockers sweethearts, "do you love me?" smacks of hefty 90s influence, a mellow alt-rock jam, dusted with warm melodies and guitars and finished with a sugary chorus. 20 years ago, this would've been a staple for college rock fans, but don't let that stop you from ramming it onto all of your playlists. It's charming, it's grand, and it's a lovely introduction to a surefire killer band.

FFO: Pavement, Pixies, Semisonic

Head South "Reset"

released on 01/03/21

Head South

Hailing from the North West of England, Head South's debut track "Reset" feels incredibly timely. Released on the cusp of the UK's third lockdown being lifted, it's a tune oozing with anxiety, frustration and anger, starting off light and then pushing to the realms of Tigers Jaw with a pulsating finale. Each performance here is crafted neatly, everyone punching through perfectly thanks to producer Sam Bloor. "Reset" is a formidable start for the alternative rock, and with plenty more in store and apparent tours with fellow northerners Medlock on the table, the only way is up for Head South

FFO: Medlock, Basement, Tigers Jaw

Supermilk "Pelican Pete"

released on 02/03/21

Specialist Subject Records

The first release since last year's solid LP Death Is The Best Thing For You Now, Supermilk returns with a new song on a new label in the form of "Pelican Pete", a sonically and lyrically delicious number laced with brilliant melodic work and a tasty guitar line, the kind that Jake Popyura has made an essential part of Supermilk's presence. It's a straightforward great tune, an exciting entrée to the upcoming follow-up LP later this year. With the support of Specialist Subject Records, let's hope that Supermilk finally gets the recognition they deserve, as "Pelican Pete" is yet another fabulous ditty from the London-based project.

FFO: Doe, Martha, Happy Accidents

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