Best things we heard in August…


Rick Larson: The Paranoid Style is a band that flies under the radar, but it shouldn’t. Lead singer Elizabeth Nelson pens richly lyrical songs with no nonsense music. It’s like if Renata Adler and Warren Zevon had a baby. There is a musical theater quality and clarity to her voice that adds to the drama. Go listen to the song ‘A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life.’ I assure you that you have not heard anything quite like it and I won’t spoil it with further discussion.

They are out with a new album this month, For Executive Meeting with songs about Barney Bubbles, P.G. Wodehouse, and ‘Steve Cropper Plays Femme Fatale.’ You know, the usual rock song subjects. Oh, and by the way, Ms. Nelson, with competition from Zachary Lipez, is maybe the best music critic in America. Since you are reading this, that might interest you. Her regular Twitter length reviews of albums old and new is a highlight of that cursed site. Introduce yourselves to The Paranoid Style.

James Spearing: After writing about all the terrible songs my eldest daughter makes us listen to, I was excited that she finally enjoyed something decent in August. That something was the Mystery Jets’ ‘Young Love’ featuring Laura Marling. She has no idea about the hopelessly romantic story in the song and just likes shouting ‘whoa-oh whao-oh whoa-ooo’, but it’s progress nonetheless.

Thomas Burrows: Without wanting to labour the point, Perfume Genius at Manchester Cathedral was thrilling. I’d strongly recommend the Cathedral as a venue for any locals; although it’s so good that it may affect your future enjoyment of any inferior venues (looking at you, Academy).

In terms of albums, I’ve had a go at catching up on the Mercury nominees. Of the ones I’d previously not heard, I was surprised how much I dug the Gwenno and Joy Crookes albums. Gwenno’s Tresor in particular goes some way towards filling the Cate Le Bon shaped gap in the shortlist. Self Esteem will win it, but I’d like to see Little Simz take the prize. Looking forward to seeing what my fellow Bastards made of the list on the podcast.

Fran Slater: If you ask me what blew me away this month, there’s an immediate and obvious answer that comes to mind. After managing to get our daughter down to sleep early for once, and at only our second gig together since she was born, me and my partner decided to head down early to the Torres gig and catch the support act. Expectations were low. 

They were called Tummyache, for fuck’s sake.

But from the moment they stepped onto stage to the second their short set ended, they knocked me off my feet. Ferocious, funny, but well thought out songs performed with vigour and energy not many bands could match. Think Big Thief if their set was infiltrated by a bunch of punks halfway through. One of my favourite discoveries of the year so far.

Torres was excellent, too, by the way. But the immediate impact of Tummyache will live long in the memory. 

Matt Paul: Well most of this month has been all about the Mercury Prize shortlist. Specifically I have been playing Nova Twins on repeat. Bold, brash and fun. This Nu-metal R&B fusion hits the sweet spot for me.

Beyond this I have been quite enjoying the Stella Donnelly album from last week. In Flood they have incorporated piano into their sound which adds an extra dimension as her sound is softened. Coupled with some stripped back vocals there’s a layer of vulnerability to the artist, who was not pulling punches in her debut.

Sam Atkins: I usually end up listing album after album that I enjoyed at the start of these, but truly there’s only one release worthy of inclusion this month.

Megan Thee Stallion has bossed so many verses over the last few years., with huge hits like Savage, Body and WAP, but I wasn’t ready for just how good Traumazine is. Personal, emotional and diving deep into her own experiences over the last few years, it might just be the mainstream rap album of the year so far. Throw in the absolutely storming Plan B and Her and it’s the album I feel that finally lives up to Megan’s talent.

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