Best things we heard in March…

Will Collins: Baxter Dury – The Night Chancers – I only listened to it for the first time a few days ago, but Baxter Dury’s latest album The Night Chancers has quickly established itself as a favourite. A sleazy mix of disco, funk, and classy French pop, it’s like a more sophisticated rendering of the most recent Fat White Family output. Over the top of the music, Dury’s narrators drawl and leer their way through the tracks. His voice, eerily similar to his dad’s, inhabits a range of vivid characters. All of them are ne’er-do-wells of various shapes and sizes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better piece of character description than “shiny cheekbones like graveyards in the sun”, from ‘Slumlord’. This is music for the small hours. Turn the record up loud and wallow in its oddly captivating scuzziness.

James Spearing: An electronic selection from me this month.

I saw that Charlotte de Witte she was due to play in Manchester and hadn’t heard of her so thought she was worth a listen. What I got from her Selected EP was some fun yet reasonably bleak (in a good way) techno. It made me want to go out but was also not so overbearing that I couldn’t listen to it at work on a Thursday afternoon. Kelly Lee Owens’ ‘Melt!’ had a similar effect. The descending bubbly bassline is just ace.

Lastly, I finally got round to listening to Kaytranada’s new album. Stand out tune ‘What You Need’ caught my ear. It features vocals from fellow Canadian Charlotte Day Wilson who is well worth a listen in her own right.

Tom Burrows: Porridge Radio – Every Bad – And I thought January and February were supposed to be the shit months of the year? Jesus Christ. Well, one good thing to come out of March for me was the discovery of this Brighton four-piece. You’ve heard their post-punk sound in dozens of bands who’ve come before them, but they work because they have a force-of-nature frontwoman in Dana Margolin whose vocal delivery seems to come from the soul – as on best songs ‘Born Confused’, ‘Sweet’ and ‘Lilac’. It’s not totally great; the ambiguity in the lyrics can be a strength but can also leave them feeling underwritten (as on the appropriately named ‘Long’). But there are some great songs on Every Bad from a band that are really going places.

Mike Hull: Elsa Hewitt – Becoming Real, Trilogy Compilation, and Citrus ParadisiLondon-based Elsa Hewitt is the producer of this really soulful, really pretty electronica that’s currently quite the regular around my turntable. Hewitt blends dreamy, glitchy electronics with an array of complementing sounds, along with brush strokes of pop and reverb-soaked soul vocals. Unlike the cold, industrial techno that dominates so much of ambient electronica and glitch, Hewitt’s sound is warm, organic and ethereal, with nods to early Kieran Hebden. It’s experimental without being exclusive. With field recordings, imperfectly placed beats and looped guitars, the music chimes and patters, as Elsa weaves these almost magical textures, making an impossibly beautiful sonic terrain for the listener to explore. Elsa Hewitt seems to have remained a hidden gem. I was looking forward to checking Hewitt out in Leeds next month, but Covid-19 inexcusably ruined those plans. I will therefore take the opportunity of a national shutdown to further explore her studio recordings and urge y’all to do the same.

Fat Roland: Four Tet – Sixteen Oceans – Of course Four Tet’s new album is the pick of the month. Anyone who suggests otherwise should have their ears cheese-grated into piles of tiny ears, which sounds cute but let’s pretend it’s horrible otherwise it’s not much of a threat. Excited by the new one from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds? You’re a berk. Digging Dua Lipa’s second album? You make me vomit. Spinning the latest LP from Morrissey? You should be on a register, you wrong ‘un. The only album that should concern you in March 2020 is ‘Sixteen Oceans’. The loops have his characteristic bite, but he keeps them light enough to allow the album to glide into airy ambience. Along the way, we have the kaleidoscopic vocals of the beguiling ‘Baby’, the wonderfully splangly swirls of ‘Love Salad’ and ‘Teenage Birdsong’, and the fuzzy flora of the serene ‘Green’. There’s even a harpsichord moment. Frankly, Mr Tet could stick a lute up his nostril and it would still sound great. A perfect album for lockdown listening: in fact, any other March release should be fed into a mincer with immediate effect, forming little wriggly strips of tiny albums – which is not, I repeat NOT, meant to sound cute.

Kim Fernley:  LYR – My main memory of secondary school is spending a lot of time in the library. Don’t let that fool you – it was mainly so that I could escape the cold and didn’t have to dodge footballs whilst making my way from A to B. I have a vague recollection of studying Simon Armitage’s poetry in English… but I’m ashamed to say I can’t tell you much more than that (maybe being whacked in the head by footballs killed off too many brain cells…). So hearing that Simon Armitage has started a band captured my interest. They’re called LYR. They’ve released two songs, and their album is due out this spring. I love what I’ve heard so far, especially ‘The First Time’ (his use of ‘chump’ is brilliant). LYR describe themselves as a mix of spoken word and ambient post-rock. It really stands out from the crowd, and I can’t wait to hear the whole album.

Kirsten Loach: Keeley Forsyth – Debris – Released in January this year, I came across Keeley Forsyth’s album Debris earlier this month when Spotify randomly started playing the track ‘Start Again’. I was immediately hooked and I’ve not been able to stop listening to it since. It’s a sort of electronic/folk hybrid, deliciously dark and dystopian but with the odd glimmer of hope in tracks like ‘Look to Yourself’ and ‘Large Oak’. To put it simply, I think I might’ve found my album of 2020, and it’s only March.

Matt Paul: Juana Molina – Moody and gothic experimental pop music. Somewhere in between Anna Meredith and The Knife. It’s good stuff.

Nick Parker: TV on the Radio – ‘Stork and Owl’ – I’ve been sheltering in every sense this month. Hiding from the news, from sicknes,s and from society. In musical terms too, I’ve found it particularly difficult to listen to new music, finding comfort instead in the stability of the familiar, while curled up in my cave. TV on the Radio’s ‘Stork and Owl’ is the best of this retreat – a truly beautiful track which slides between singer Kyp Malon’s low tones and falsetto, supported by choir-like harmonies and plucked synth strings. Stunning stuff, which hasn’t aged a day in the decade since it’s release.

Fran Slater: Chloe Foy live at The King’s Arms, Salford – There was a lot to choose from this month, as we completed our Best Album of All Time Tournament and I spent a lot of time listening to favourites old and new.

But I’ve talked about them a lot this month, so I’ll focus on something more recent.

And what better than Chloe Foy live in Salford, the night before everything changed and all the gigs I had planned started to fall by the wayside. I’ll miss gigs. But Chloe and her string band were so good, so captivating, that I’ll be able to live off the memory for a while yet. Her EP Callous Copper is a blinder, too, so I suggest supporting through these tough times by grabbing yourself a copy.

And you can read my full review of the show here.


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