Will Collins: Earlier this month I dusted off an old iPod that had been hibernating at the back of a cupboard for years, so I’ve spent a lot of July listening to the music that 15-year-old me had on heavy rotation. Cue lots of At the Drive-In and Suede. As a result, things have been a bit more sparse on the new music front. That said, I’ve been loving the new track from Amyl and the Sniffers: ‘Guided by Angels’. It’s another furious slab of proto-punk. Over a rumbling bass line and sledgehammer drums, singer Amy Taylor offers a shouted manifesto for dealing with life’s challenges. Self-belief and a refusal to be brought low are the solution she presents so matter of factly. The angels of the title aren’t the heavenly ones your mind initially runs to, but instead a metaphor for Taylor drawing strength from herself and her strong will in coping with what life has to throw at her. Throughout, she sings “I’ve got plenty of energy / It’s my currency”, and on the basis of this track, it’s hard to disagree! By the time the song builds to its full throttle chorus, with echoes of The Distillers, some of that energy and determination has rubbed off on the listener too. I’m mightily excited for the full album, which is appearing in October.
Fran Slater: Previously, my main experience of Lucy Dacus was her role in the majestic Boygenius alongside Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. It was Bridgers that brought me to that band, though, and in previous attempts to get into the music of her friends and bandmates I have found little that inspires me.
So I switched on Home Video expecting it to be another album that I thought was okay but barely went back to. But that wasn’t the case at all.
This is an album that exudes confidence. Lucy tries new things on songs like ‘Partner In Crime’, tells great stories on tracks like ‘Going Going Gone’ and ‘VBS’, and somehow manages to make murder via eyeball presses into one of the year’s standout songs on ‘Thumbs’.
It’s clear that Lucy has been influenced by Phoebe’s Punisher on Home Video, but that’s no bad thing. After watching the success of her friend she has pushed the same boundaries, let loose in similar ways, and made an album that deserves almost as much Album of the Year consideration as Punisher received in 2020.
Lisa Whiteman: Not sure I need to wax even more lyrical about Andrew Hung’s Devastations… it has been a big part of my July listening make no mistake. But I’ve ended the month by revisiting Slint’s Spiderland. Genuinely one of the best records ever made that comparatively few have heard, and arguably the birthplace of post-rock. Divine, listen to you some ‘Nosferatu Man’, man.
James Spearing: With holiday and a slow down in exciting releases in July, I was able to spend some more time with Loraine James’ Reflection. It’s an intriguing album as elements of grime and drill are woven into Loraine’s often uncompromising beats. At first I found it a slightly challenging listen but was glad I invested a few hours in it when the brilliance of ‘Insecure Behaviour and Fuckery’, ‘Reflection’ and ‘Running Like That’ revealed themselves to me.
I discovered Anne Clark last week. It’s clear she is a forgotten 80s icon. Go and listen to ‘Our Darkness’ immediately.
Grace Lightman is back with new music. ‘Eyes 4 U’ is an indication of a change in direction, but retains her dreamy vocals and knack for a catchy line, plus a step forward lyrically. Hopefully a new album will be on the way soon too.
Charlotte Day Wilson has released an excellent debut album Alpha. Full review coming soon.
Tom Burrows: The story of Azealia Banks’ career to date is largely one of unfulfilled potential. A string of sensational singles since the start of the last decade has yielded just one (admittedly very good) album, and at this point she’s known as much for her frequent public outbursts and controversies as her music. Which is a pity, because she’s a bonafide triple threat. She can sing, she can rap, and she’s an impeccable beat selector. This much is evident on the latest exhibition of her talents, a 2:55 filth-fest called ‘Fuck Him All Night’ – a collaboration with deep house producer Galcher Lustwerk. It’s a pretty self-explanatory banger which throws right back to 2011 breakout single ‘212’ in its brazen lyricism and infectious sound. Here’s hoping we get a longer project sometime soon.
Sam Atkins: My Best of July is more of a ‘Best of the last 6 days’. I was absolutely ready to select my first live gig in 491 days here as we got to enjoy the biggest live show of Arlo Parks’ career so far as part of Manchester International Festival. It was an incredible evening that I’m so happy I was able to enjoy and feel safe for.
But then Dave dropped an album so good that I’m having to rethink every thought I’ve ever had about him. We’re All Alone In This Together absolutely blows any of his previous music out of the water. It’s gut wrenchingly honest, poignant but also stacked with diverse and exciting production and some of the rap verses of the year. Ghetts and Giggs deliver career best verses on ‘In The Fire’ while Dave himself delivers three 10/10 songs here (‘Heart Attack’, ‘Three Rivers’ and ‘Both Sides of a Smile‘ to be specific). If this doesn’t end up on our album of the year list by December I will not understand why.
Nick Parker: As I’ve written about before on here, I’m always fighting against becoming an old git, and this month I lost the battle. I found myself turning inwards to memory, and spent a lot of time listening to bands I already knew really well, from years ago. Top of this geriatric list was a Doves 2009 song I’ve had on repeat: ’10:03′. Doves always seem to further undermine my claim that I’m into odd, off-kilter music, as they have possibly the most mainstream song construction I can imagine, and yet they can really take hold of me, and refuse to let go. ’10:03′ is a song full of stirring nostalgia, set up as quite moving, as it moves through its vocal sparsity to a final burst of euphoria. Although it’s not painful to the ear, or mentally destabilising in its form, I can still somehow love this track, over a decade since I first heard it.