The Best Things We Heard in August…

 

 

Fran Slater: Big Thief – ‘Not’ – Big Thief’s third album U.F.O.F. came out earlier this year, to kind of mixed reviews. Not many commentators hated it, but there wasn’t the overwhelming  swell of love that their previous two LPs had received. To me, it was a  grower. It’s a slower, softer album, but still a thing of fascination. But it maybe would have benefited from a couple of more aggressive songs to add another layer. Fast forward a few months, and they have announced ANOTHER album, accompanied by lead single ‘Not‘. It’s a stonker. That aggressive, powerful track that we just didn’t see on U.F.O.F. Add to this the fact that I got to see it live at Green Man, and it was probably the highlight of the entire festival, and there is almost no way I could pick anything else as the best thing I heard in August.

James Spearing: Bat for Lashes – Jasmine – Having finally caught up with some essential new albums from earlier in the year I was torn between choosing Little Simz’s ‘Venom’ or ‘The Barrel’ by Aldous Harding. As luck would have it, Bat for Lashes has come along with Jasmine, a new EP, and taken the decision making out of my hands. There’s a new album due in September and if the quality of the songs is anything to go by we’re in for a treat. It’s unmistakably Bat for Lashes, but as with each of her albums, the sound has evolved once again – there’s a Californian vibe with a touch of 80s Bowie. Go point tracks ‘The Hunger’ and ‘Kids in the Dark’ at your ears right away.

Matt Paul: Anna Meredith – ‘Paramour’ – The Anna Meredith song ‘Paramour’ is sensational. It builds into an absolute hurricane of frenetic and joy-filled energy. I loved the first album, but this is hands down my favorite piece of her music. It also has a great video that is inventive and actually complements the music in its steady build towards cacophony. Anna Meredith has also released a second piece of music (called ‘moonmoons’) from the new album, which is a lot quieter but still hugely evocative. The new album cannot come soon enough.

Sam Atkins: Yola – Walk Through Fire –Sometimes you can discover some of the best music just by chance. Someone I follow on Twitter mentioned Yola in passing a few weeks ago and luckily I added the album Walk Through Fire to my library. When I eventually came around to listen, I was stunned. Who knows why I hadn’t listened to this soulful and bluesy country record before. Yola’s voice is as powerful as it is enchanting and if this is the sort of music we should come to expect from her she’s going to have a hell of a solo career ahead of her.

 

Kathy Halliday: Novo Amor – Birthplace – Came across Novo Amor (Ali Lacey) on an acoustic playlist and I couldn’t be more grateful. Birthplace, his most recent album, has an early Bon Iver meets Explosions In The Sky feel to it – seamless and magical, I can easily put the world on hold for this album. ‘Emigrate’ and ‘State Lines’ are faultless, and I really don’t need to say anymore than that.

Tom Burrows: Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul –Yeah, it came out 50 years ago, but Isaac Hayes’ fabulously named second record is a treat that I’ve only devoted time to enjoy over the last month or so. I love the way Hayes luxuriates in a song’s atmosphere, taking as much time as he wants to extend every groove, to wring out every last drop of feeling. This may mean that his cover of Bacharach’s ‘Walk on By’ extends to 12 minutes, while his addition of the protagonist’s backstory to ‘By The Time I Get to Phoenix’ means his version runs to a frankly absurd 19 minutes. But those strings – my word, those strings! – and the grandness of the arrangements create a timeless classic – one that is never too late to discover for the first time.

Kirsten Loach: Best thing I’ve heard this month would have to be Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten. I first listened to it in the weeks running up to Green Man and was immediately hooked. Can’t quite understand how I’ve managed to remain so oblivious of her up until now, but I absolutely adore this album and after seeing her incredible performance at the festival a couple of weeks ago it’s now definitely a strong contender for my album of the year.

Kim Fernley: Ladytron – Ladytron – Ladytron released their self-titled album in February, and I’m ashamed (there’s also some self-directed anger) to say it’s taken me months to give ear to this outstanding record. God, it’s dark! There are so many alluring hooks that I feel like a masochistic salmon. Sleek, unmerciful, and haunting. And at times, just plain sinister. ‘Until the Fire’, ‘Far from Home’, and ‘Run’ are standout tracks. Ladytron may not be particularly treading new ground with this record, but that really doesn’t matter. I can’t wait to dance around the room drunk to it.

Mike Hull: August has been a pretty good month for new records, including really decent efforts from Joyeron, Native Harrow, and Jay Som.  However, I am currently having very little time to fully soak any of these up due to being massively addicted to a compilation by Brownwood Records. We out Here is a collection of contemporary UK jazz from various musicians, including Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, and Shabaka Hutchings. Originally released early last year, the record shines a huge spotlight onto south London’s energetic, forward facing scene.  We out Here is really varied in the styles it showcases from artist to artist.  However, they join to create a selection of wonderful tracks that are as filled with life, colour, and excitement as the striking accompanying album art by Gaurab Thakali.  My current favourite? ‘The Balance’ by Moses Boyd.

Nick Parker: Big Thief – ‘From’ – Isn’t there something good about being late to the party? I’ve only just caught up with the new(ish) Big Thief album, U.F.O.F. It’s good work, and I’d recommend it. Though the album is solid, it’s the track “From” which absolutely stuns me. Perhaps I’m still not being specific enough with that comment – I don’t want to waste you’re time with just stunning. How about you skip to 1:20, and then listen until 1:52, and tell me you’re not moved. So yes, I’m recommending 32 seconds of music this month, without apologies.

 

 

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