Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Best Of July

Even though we are over half-way through the year, I truly feel the best is still very much yet to come; upcoming releases from Rustie, Perfume Genius, Flying Lotus, The Wytches, Karen O, Caribou and Zola Jesus all have AOTY potential. Not to mention FKA Twigs, whose debut album has been blowing my mind for some time now, so make sure you check that out when it's released in August. Here's a roundup of the albums and tracks which have been on heavy rotation in July:

Albums of the Month

Alvvays - Alvvays

As you may have guessed (if you read my review, that is), I'm pretty into these guys (and have been all year). Whilst many debuts tend to blend into a host of other sub-Parr albums before fading into obscurity a few years (or even months) later, I feel that this won't be the case with Alvvays. Even though it's clear that Alvvays are influenced by bands such as The Smiths, The Vaselines and Teenage Fanclub, they pay homage to them through crafting songs that are often on their level of greatness. This is not only true for the excellent pre-release singles, but for many of the other album tracks also, primarily 'Next Of Kin' and 'Party Police'. Their brand of jingle-jangle pop evokes all the happiness that makes the genre so great whilst adding more dimensions through their melancholic moments of lyrical genius. In summery, this record won't change the world but it certainly makes mine a little happier, and therefore better.

Read my full review here.

La Roux - Trouble In Paradise

If you journey back to January, I wrote a post about the albums I hoped would surface at some point this year, one of those was a new album from La Roux. And to my delight (and surprise), La Roux returned (as a solo artist) and released this masterpiece. Ok, maybe it's not a masterpiece, but it's still pretty darn good. After 5 years, the pop scene is almost unrecognizable, so for her to come out with a bold tropical-pop record of this calibre is pretty impressive. Summer soundtrack for sure. 

Jungle - Jungle

Following the release of their (ever so slightly overrated) buzz track 'Platoon', Jungle have been making their way to the forefront of the British music scene. As samey as their melodies can be, the production is consistently solid on this LP, not to mention a handful of tracks (The Heat, Busy Earnin', Lucky I Got What I Want, Lemonade Lake) being among my favourites of the last few months. If the band can find a way to introduce some more eclectic and varied sounds on their future releases, I'm sure whatever they produce in the future will be very special indeed.

Honeyblood - Honeyblood

As far as debut albums go, Honeyblood has it all; anthemic moments like 'Super Rat' and 'Fortune Cookie', melodic slow burners like 'Bud' and '(I'd Rather Be) Anywhere But Here' and of course, the band's specialty, raw and punchy pop gems like 'All Dragged Up' and 'Killer Bangs'. Yes, one could say that it would've been slightly better had the track list been a little shorter to allow the very best songs to shine brighter. But from where I'm standing this is a record created with passion and skill, making it an absolute joy to listen to and proving that you don't need a multitude of synths and software to make an excellent record in 2014.

Read my full review here.

Songs of the Month

Rustie feat. Danny Brown - Attak

Glasgow producer extraordinaire Rustie is set to follow up the incredible Glass Swords this month with a new LP titled Green Language. Thus far we've been treated to lead single 'Raptor' (which I featured in last month's write-up), and now he's also put out 'Attak', a collaboration with Pigeons and Planes fave Danny Brown. In true Rustie style, the arrangement is chaotic and the beats are as hectic as ever, but Danny's flow takes Rustie's production to the next level of explosiveness. A dream partnership.

Perfume Genius - Queen

One of my favourite songwriters of all time; Mike Hadreas, who performs under the moniker Perfume Genius, has released two of my favourite albums of the last decade. His vocal delivery is startling raw and emotive whilst his arrangements are experimental and bold. On this new single however, we see Hadreas more confident than ever; this is easily his most ambitious track to date, and insinuates that his forthcoming album Too Bright will be excellent. 

FKA Twigs - Video Girl/Pendulum

As I said earlier, I've heard the FKA Twigs album and I can tell you that it's pretty much immaculate. There is no filler on LP1, just killer. She could've put out any song from the record and it would be as strong a representation of the overall quality as any of the other tracks. Her approach to melody, production, tone and songwriting are exhibited wonderfully by both tracks, with 'Video Girl' sporting one of my favourite hooks of the entire record. (Only 'Video Girl' is available on soundcloud so 'Pendulum isn't on the playlist:/)

GOAT - Hide From The Sun

Following their ground-breaking debut World Music, GOAT have announced its follow-up in the form of Commune, which supposedly features their heaviest material to date. So colour me excited. Our first taste, 'Hide From The Sun' features psychedelia in abundance, not to mention a killer guitar solo towards the end. 

Spoon - Do You

Spoon are one of the most well-respected and loved rock bands of recent times, which is probably why I never really got into them previous to this campaign, I've acknowledged their existence but that's about it. But for some reason, their latest album They Want My Soul has really captured me, particularly this track, which is easily their most upbeat and catchy track to date.

Karen O - Rapt

Following their, well, shite fourth studio album Mosquito, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are having a bit of a breather. In the meantime, front woman and all-around badass Karen O has decided to release an album of old demos called Crush Songs. As much as I would have loved some new material, if new material would've sounded anything like this, I'd gladly take a collection of old demos, thank you very much. Anyway, the first track, 'Rapt' is gorgeous and can be streamed via the rather ethereal clip below. 

Shura - Just Once

As crowded as the whole, 'sparse R&B indietronica pop' scene is becoming, when a track is heads and shoulders about the other efforts, it really shows. Relative newcomer Shura has offered yet another stellar track in the form of 'Just Once', a track which oozes sophistication and breeziness in every immaculately-produced second. More please. 

The Wytches - Burn Out The Bruise

Over the past year, Brighton's finest The Wytches have become one of the most exciting emerging forces in psych-rock. This is completely understandable, after all their rhythm section is incredible in every track, the vocals are punchy and the level of reverb is just right. Their debut album Annabel Dream Reader is out in August and if the singles are any indication, it should be one of the best of the year . 

Lia Ices - Higher

As I mentioned last month, Lia Ices' new material is bloody excellent. Adding some more off-kilter beats into her folky repertoire has clearly worked wonders for her sound. On 'Higher', Ices is able to retain her ethereal aesthetic whilst also emitted a sense of  strength and bite through the audacious flourishes in the production. 

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