Best things we heard in July…

Tom Burrows: Even though it was approaching 30 degrees, I really enjoyed Bartees Strange‘s set at Night and Day in Manchester. With a full band, the songs from his albums Live Forever and Farm to Table were boldly enhanced. He even treated us to a couple of The National’s songs from his covers EP; I loved the hushed restraint of his take on ‘About Today’.

Albums-wise, there haven’t been any clear highlights from this month, but I was glad I took a punt on Jeshi‘s Universal Credit based on the title alone. A blunt take on living in the capital under miserable economic conditions, Jeshi’s charisma and the record’s concise pacing make it an engrossing listen.

Fran Slater: After a bit of a break, I saw and heard so much good live music this month that I have no other option but to start (and end) there.

Phoebe Bridgers at The Apollo more than deserves a mention. I’ve been waiting to see the songs from Punisher live for 2 years now and she did not disappoint. What a show. It was also amazing to see how far she’s come since I saw her on the previous album tour. 

Then, to Deer Shed Festival. Maja Lena was spellbinding. Yard Act, Billy Nomates, and Snapped Ankles all brought stupid amounts of energy and fun. Nadeem Din-Gabisi and Keg were the surprise stars. As much as I’d been looking forward to Honeyglaze, I hadn’t expected them to be as unbelievably brilliant as they were. And obviously, Self Esteem continued to be the most exciting and entertaining live act on the planet.

But a special mention to Nadine Shah. After some very public hard times recently, I wasn’t even sure she was going to make her headline slot on Friday night. To see her back doing what she does best, smashing every moment, bringing us a set that broiled with emotion and power, was an absolute privilege. It was the best set I’ve seen since live music returned.

James Spearing: Compared to the rest of 2022, July was a real let down in terms of new releases so my obsessions lay elsewhere this month.

“They make so much more sense live”. “You’ve got to see their show to really get them”. I’d been hearing similar things about Khruangbin from a few people for a while. So decided to take them at their word and check out one of their sets. Ok it was on TV so not quite the same thing, but even sat at home watching their Glastonbury set, everything I’d heard came true. I was wowed instantly.  It’s hard to pin down what exactly it is the makes them great – all I can say is watch them for yourself. Each musician is individually brilliant, and they combine effortlessly. The guitar playing especially comes alive when you see them, in a way that it just doesn’t on record.

For my other top live experience of the month, I’m pleased to say I was in the same, albeit giant, room as the band. This was the long awaited Haim gig that I bought tickets for two and a half years ago. And the girls didn’t disappoint. The extended wait has allowed our collective love for WIMPIII to grow and the songs were even more anthemic than I had imagined. Singing along for an evening felt great. 

Matt Paul: Well I agree with everyone else. The July releases have been SLOW. But unlike everyone else I haven’t had the chance of catching anything live (apart from watching 15 minutes of Green Day at Lollapalooza looking very old).

On the back of Fats Roland’s recommendation at the end of the last podcast I gave the most recent Working Men’s Club album a go. When you hit play the the synths come thick and fast. Fear Fear is full of dark and pulsing pop. Feeling both pained and optimistic. It’s been my go-to sound track to walking around the city for the past two weeks.

Sam Atkins: I’m in my usual thought process of wanting to pick one of the great new releases I heard in July as the best of the month; Beyoncé, Maggie Rogers, Rae Morris, beabadoobee and SG Lewis have all released great music this month.

But deep down I know that nothing came close to finally experiencing a Lady Gaga stadium show after nearly a decade of waiting. Her Chromatica Ball felt like one of those gigs announced at the start of the Pandemic that would never happen; I was joking that she needs to give me the money I loaned her back in 2020. I’m so glad I was wrong, but even I couldn’t have prepared for how emotional the whole experience was. I explained on the podcast exactly what being a ‘Little Monster’ has meant to be, but seeing her on that stage fit and healthy doing the original choreography to hits that have defined my life was a lot.

At one point I was literally in tears, laughing at how ridiculous the idea of me getting emotional following a song where Gaga says ‘I want to take a ride on your disco stick’. It was like I could see most of my life flash before me on that stage, an experience I won’t forget any time soon.

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