Best things we heard in July…

Pete Wild: Two newbies from me: the new Penelope Isles album, Until The Tide Creeps In, which sounds like Juliana Hatfield fronting The Dears and is totes beguiling and the forthcoming third album from Modern Baseball offshoot Slaughter Beach, Dog, Safe and Also No Fear, which – whilst not quite matching the dizzy heights of last year’s Birdie – is a sweet little folk-rock-pop-Americana confection.

Tom Burrows: Thom Yorke – ANIMA – Radiohead are my all-time favourite band, so chances were high that I’d find something to enjoy in Thom Yorke‘s latest solo record. ANIMA doesn’t disappoint, and even though Yorke’s solo material can be described fairly as the minor side projects to his band’s major masterworks, there are some terrific moments here that stand up as some of the best work he’s done without the others. Opener ‘Traffic’ and the seven-minute ‘Twist’ in particular allow us to immerse ourselves in the exquisitely crafted dystopian environments that Yorke and Nigel Godrich have mastered gloriously over the years. The record does lose its way in the final third but as a whole it’s a rewarding listen, and if you haven’t yet, watch Paul Thomas Anderson’s beautiful short companion film on Netflix.

Nick Parker: Quelle Chris – Guns – I’ve only come across Quelle Chris on his Everything’s Fine collaboration with Jean Grae. I did really like the dry sarcasm that laced that album, but all in all it didn’t move me deeply. This new project though, tackling IMHO America’s biggest cultural blight, has enough of the playful humour (managing to rhyme “Devo” with the line “praying to the lord, Timmy Tebow” on ‘Mind ya Bidness’, for example), but also the personal weight, to carry me through it in a much more committed way. Beats are brilliantly odd, and his flow is a great balance of loose at times and angular at others. Probably the best Hip Hop album I’ve heard in 2019.

Fran Slater: Slowthai – There’s Nothing Great About Britain – I’m sitting right now, listening to the radio, hearing chatter about the confirmation of Boris Johnson as our new Prime Minister. Slowthai is right. There is very little ‘great’ about Britain at the current moment. Except, you might say, artists like Slowthai himself. This is an angry, funny, furious, touching, and honest account of someone who grew up feeling the brunt of our politician’s decisions and witnessing their affect on him, his family, and his society. It’s an incendiary battle cry  and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

James Spearing: Grace Lightman – Convinced she’d been recommended to me I went to see her at Bluedot. The recommendation I had imagined, her brilliance I did not. And it turns out she’d had a new album out just days before. Think Goldfrapp, Hot Chip’s ‘Flute’, a little Little Dragon and a little Little Boots with a little more substance. Her hypnotic electro-indie-pop sound is so effortless it’s almost lazy.  Album highlights include ‘Repair Repair’, ‘Zero Impact’ and ‘Aztec Level’. It was truly exciting to discover a new favourite this way and I hope there is more excitement to follow. I even want to buy some silver trousers so I can be like her.

Kathy Halliday: Of Monsters and Men – Fever Dream – I am just living for OMAM this month. I have heard nothing that is even close to comparing (and Fever Dream only dropped this morning). It feels so completely different to My Head Is An Animal and Beneath The Skin, but there is still that unmistakable, other-worldly quality at play that can only be attributed to the mad vocals of Nanna and Raggi. Favourite tracks for this one are ‘Alligator’, ‘Waiting For The Snow’ and ‘Sleepwalker’. Love, love, love.

Sam Atkins: Bon Iver – Faith – Of the 4 tracks we’ve had the pleasure of hearing from Bon Iver’s upcoming fourth album i, i it’s ‘Faith’ that has left the biggest mark on me. Full of the same layered depth of sound we heard on 22, A Million it’s a pure indulgently dreamy Bon Iver track. Hardly a surprise, but this month it lived up to my extremely high expectations of the band.

Mike Hull: Proxy records have just treated us to a sexy repress of Etta James’s – At Last, spurring me to revisit one of R&B’s true heavyweights once again. To be honest, I’ve always been a bit too hasty in going straight to 1968’s Tell Mama when needing an Etta James fix, and in doing so, depriving myself of such a flipping strong catalogue away from that. Her debut, the 1960s, Chess brothers produced At Last, for example, is such an immensely quality itinerary of jazz, blues and soul, executed wonderfully with James’s rich, earthy delivery. It’s a solid selection of tough, passionate, songs, where nothing feels like a filler, which was rare for an album in the early 60s! Get on it!

Kim Fernley: The Warlocks – Mean Machine Music – In preparation for their upcoming gig, I’ve been delving into The Warlocks’ discography, particularly their latest album Mean Machine Music. Sometimes, listening to an album with an agenda can feel like a chore, but it was exciting! (There’s no way to make ‘exciting’ sound cool when you’re talking about The Warlocks). The album is an adventurous turn for the band. It’s a dark concoction of krautrock, neo-psych and shoegaze. The album is almost lyricless; the guitars take over on vocals. Four of the tracks evolve to reprises later on in the album, with the brilliant ‘Tribute to Hawkwind’ separating them. Close your curtains, turn out the lights, and absorb this genuinely mean album.

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