Best things we heard in May…

James Spearing: First on the agenda in May was some catching up from April. Kathryn Joseph’s ‘what is keeping you alive makes me want to kill them for’ and ‘Skinty Fia’ (song, not album) from Fontaines DC caught my ear.

As the weather turns sunnier and warmer, my inner basic bitch needs nourishing with some straightforward summer house. With perfect timing, !!! released a new album that did just that. ‘A Little Bit (More)’ and ‘Un Puente’ give pure sunshine.

For dance music with a little more thought behind it, try the latest project from Loraine James – ‘053’, an EP with TSVI – and the new release from Daniel Avery (featuring Kelly Lee Owens) ahead of his new album. Biggest bass you’ll hear this year.

Fran Slater: Seems I can’t stop saying it recently, but we are being absolutely spoilt in 2022. The last month of listening has been unreal.

There’s no way I could get through this without mentioning The Smile, obviously. I’m still getting my head around the album as a whole, and a review will be coming when I do, but tracks such as ‘The Smoke’, ‘The Opposite’, ‘Speech Bubbles’, and ‘A Hairdryer’ are among the best things I’ve heard this year.

Gentle Sinners also released something pretty special. A collaboration between James Graham from The Twilight Sad and Aidan Moffatt from Arab Strap, it doesn’t sound like either band. But fans of both will get a kick out of this new, freer style. Listen to ‘Killing This Time’ to get a feel.

The two projects I’ve mentioned were always likely to be big for me, though, given they feature several of my all time favourite artists. I got almost as much out of the great debut from Honeyglaze, though – and it’s hard not to love Alpha Place by Knucks.

Will Collins: While I have absolutely loved the new Kendrick Lamar record, I’m sure other people will be shouting about it as their favourite release of the month. So I thought I’d shine a light on another album which I think deserves some attention: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s Endless Rooms. Whilst I’ve liked their stuff since coming across early track ‘Julie’s Place’ on Spotify, it feels like they’ve really grown into themselves as a band on this new record. They haven’t made any huge changes to their indie sound, but there is now a confidence and a lushness that wasn’t there before. As a result, the record sounds huge. Their melodies are sublime, at time calling to mind fellow Aussies The Go-Betweens, and the production is gorgeous. I gave it a first spin whilst wondering around a sunny South London, and it was the perfect soundtrack. It will be getting a lot more plays from me as summer continues!

Sam Atkins: What a month for albums. So many long awaited albums from some of my favourite artists just appearing every week. I’m surprised by the ones that disappointed me: Kendrick Lamar’s double length is actually kind of boring, and Sigrid’s second album is more downbeat than I was expecting, but I’m also surprised by just how good some of the others were.

I knew I’d love Dance Fever by Florence + The Machine, that revels in creating the ‘ultimate’ Florence record. Let’s Eat Grandma, Blossoms, and Bad Bunny created really surprising next steps in their own sounds, while Miranda Lambert confirmed that she’s the most consistent artist in country music with the fantastic Palomino.

I’m not sure if it’s the best of the albums I’ve mentioned, but the record that has really hooked me this month is Raw Data Feel by Everything Everything, potentially the best thing the band have ever released. Off the back of the disappointing Re-Animator this feels like a jolt to the system and a new energy for one of the UK’s most dynamic live bands. ‘I Want A Love Like This’, ‘Bad Friday’ and ‘Cut UP!’ are genuine Indie bops, while ‘Jennifer’, and ‘Teletype’ toy with such unique production styles it’s so enjoyable to hear.

Tom Burrows: I spent an entire week of May listening to very little except the new Kendrick Lamar album. And at the month’s end, my take is this. It does fall short of his ridiculously high standards. But now the dust has settled, it’s still a solid, hugely inventive album that takes an important place in his discography. It’s strongest in its first half – particularly the dizzying production of the first three songs, the infectiousness of ‘Father Time’ and ‘Rich Spirit’, and the ugly intensity of ‘We Cry Together’. But it has its underwhelming moments and missteps – notably the unusually one-paced ‘Crown’ and the jarring lyrics of ‘Auntie Diaries’. I’m hugely intrigued to see where he goes next; the videos for ‘The Heart Part 5’ and ‘N95’ are an exciting glimpse into the visual direction his pgLang company may take. But for now, it’s good to have Kendrick back.

For the rest of the month, the literary charm of Hamish Hawk was a revelation at Salford’s Sounds From The Other City festival. And I think SAULT’s about-face to choral and classical music on their new album, Air, has produced their best full-length yet.

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