Best things we heard in June…

Fran Slater: Aldous Harding – Designer – It’s been out a while now, but Aldous Harding’s third album landed in the middle of a raft of exciting new releases. I didn’t immediately give it the attention it deserved. Now that I have, it is regularly fighting off the likes of The National and Loyle Carner for its place on my turntable. Aldous is an artist that seems to refuse to rest, changing it up just enough on every album to keep it interesting (fascinating). Eerie, folky, majestic music that sometimes seems to come from another world. ‘The Barrel’ and ‘Weight of the Planets’ are up there with the year’s best.

Read Tom Burrows’s review of Designer.

Tom Burrows: Steve Lacy – Apollo XXI – I was eulogising the talent and generally impressive demeanour of young Steve Lacy back in March and I’d like to do the same for this feature. Apollo XXI has been received lukewarmly at best – something that I don’t understand as I’ve really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because it sounds a bit raw or like a demo version of a Prince record. Probably. I mean I’ve never really listened to Prince. Look, ‘Hate CD’ and ‘In Lust We Trust’ are bona fide tunes, alright?

Nick Parker: Local Natives – ‘When Am I Gonna Lose You? (Acoustic) – 
Our recent review of the new Local Natives album, Violet Street, on the PBs podcast, was equivocal at best. Fran and Matt were really unimpressed, and I thought it was a step back from the previous two albums. That said, from exactly 2:42 into this acoustic version of single “When am I going to lose you”, Local Natives prove to me again that they can create a really exquisite melodic build, with all the poignancy they used so powerfully on those excellent albums. Don’t count them out.

Listen to the Picky Bastards discuss Local Natives Violet Street on the latest podcast episode.

Kim Fernley: Have a Nice Life – ‘Defenestration Song’ – I’ve been listening to Have a Nice Life (definitely not as emo as they sound), particularly the foggy, trance-inducing ‘Defenestration Song’. It opens with raw, fuzzy bass. The highlight is 2 mins 8 secs in: it turns out a quick “hey!”, signalling the morph into a subtly heavier and moodier track, accompanied by a teeny bit of emo-ish shouting. Really does it for me.

Joe Shervin: Bob Dylan / The Band – Before the Flood – After watching Martin Scorsese’s fantastic new documentary Rolling Thunder Revue, chronicling Bob Dylan’s legendary 1975 tour of the same name, I wanted to delve into Dylan’s catalogue of around that time. This brought me to Before the Flood. A live album featuring songs from Dylan’s 1974 tour (his first in eight years), it’s a fast, loud, rollicking yet beautiful compilation. Essentially it’s also – and this is important – a joint album with The Band. One of my favourite artists with my favourite band. If I could go back in time to see just one show, it would be this.

Sam Atkins: Nobuo Uematsu + Other Composers – Various Final Fantasy Soundtracks – In a month full of knockout singles from some of my favourite modern acts, I’m looking at you Bon Iver, Katy Perry, and MUNA, what I kept returning to is music I’ve loved for as long as I can remember. Following a mass release at the start of the month, nearly every Final Fantasy Original Soundtrack can be found on Apple Music and Spotify, bringing the greatest video game music ever written to everyone again. Shout-outs go to all time favourite tracks like ‘Flash of Steel’, ‘Auron’s Theme’, and the true FF highlight Liberi Fatali. I found myself sat at work listening to album after album of the sort of music that plays when your party members are deciding what potions to buy from the local shop. What a month.

Lisa Whiteman: Other than Nick Cave singing ‘The Ship Song’ in Cardiff, the best thing I did hear in the whole month of June was Animal Choir by Her Name Is Calla. It is a dark, beautifully composed, and absolutely breathtaking post-rock record with just perfect vocals. The worst thing I heard this month was that this is their final record. I urge all y’all to get involved.

Matt Paul: Quelle Chris is back with solo album Guns. As seems to be his way it’s both a musically and lyrically interesting album. It’s jam packed with unconventional ideas and has a James Acaster feature! What more can you want?

Fat Roland: Legendary IDM act Plaid plopped out their best album for years. Polymer’s a clattering, bass-blasting cacophony of complex beats and heart-rending melody. “But I prefer the robust rhythms of Phil Collins,” you protest. Listen, mate, no-one wants to hear your chocolate-advertising Tory sell-out. Plaid knead vocals into imperceptible sonic weirdness, pushing the boundaries of what a techno act should sound like in 2019, and the only thing you want to listen to is an eighties has-been Brass Eye berk who once appeared in Jungle Book 2. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Polymer by Plaid. It’s a belter.

James Spearing: Roisin Murphy – ‘Incapable’ – Yes it’s me banging on about the Irish disco queen again. Roisin gives us a summer dance anthem with opening lyrics ‘It’s gone cold, it’s horrible weather’. A more realistic picture for those of us destined for the muddy fields of home rather than Ibiza or foreign festivals. It’s another two-chord groove and if it doesn’t get you going you’re probably one of the undead. Did I mention she is the best?

Kirsten Loach: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1 – I’ve never really given Foals the time of day before. I mean, I absolutely can’t stand ‘Cassius’ (one of the most irritating songs ever) and although I vaguely remember getting some enjoyment out of the album with ‘Spanish Sahara’ and ‘Miami’ on, they’ve never been a band that have provoked much interest in me. So, what a surprise it was to put this album on for the first time earlier this month and to fall completely and utterly in love. From the bold and exhilarating ‘In Degrees’ and ‘Exits’ to the slower and more thoughtful ‘Sunday’ and ‘Café d’Athens’, it’s a pure joy to listen to and I just can’t find fault with it. Roll on Part 2, due out in the Autumn.

Kathy Halliday: Kishi Bashi – Omoiyari – I was in a bar in Reykjavík when I first heard the track ‘Bright Whites’. It was cutesie and Jónsi-esque and just seemed to fit with how I was feeling at the time. 7 years later and I am still falling in love with Kishi Bashi – his music is good for the heart. His fourth studio album is joyous and I implore you to give it a listen. “Omoiyari is a Japanese word. It doesn’t necessarily translate as empathy, but it refers to the idea of creating compassion towards other people by thinking about them. I think the idea of omoiyari is the single biggest thing that can help us overcome aggression and conflict.” – Kishi Bashi. I could not agree more.

Mike Hull: Beast For Thee – Bonnie Prince Billy, Bryce Dessner and Eighth Blackbird  -Will Oldham has something of a history of fucking about with his own songs and releasing ‘new and improved’ versions of old, perfect tracks we once loved and never asked him to remake. This gave me cause for concern when it was announced that he, along with Bryce Dessner (the National) and contemporary classical group Eighth Blackbird were to cover 2005’s incredible ‘Beast for Thee’ for their upcoming album, When We Are Inhuman.  Thankfully, the newest version of the song not only stands up tall next to the original but translates it into something entirely new and equally wonderful if not more beautiful. Pulsing xylophone keys give way to strings and warm, melancholy vocal harmonies, that genuinely feels quite powerful. It really is worth a go. Will Oldham is somewhat prolific in album making and although he boasts an extraordinarily pretty and compelling catalogue, it is one that has at times been patchy and lacking in focus.  However, this one should be one to watch.

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