Best things we heard in October

Fran Slater: Okay. I know. I’ve now written about the latest Beth Orton album almost as much as I wrote about A Common Turn by Anna B Savage last year, but I’d be lying if I didn’t choose Weather Alive as the best thing I heard in October.

This album has blown my mind all month long, as you could probably hear in my gushing review from last week.

Beth’s show at RNCM was another highlight of the month (yes, I reviewed that too) – and it’s hard for me to decide whether that show, Angel Olsen at Albert Hall, or Bon Iver at Manchester Arena was the best. I’ve been a lucky boy this month.

James Spearing: A new Daphni album let me cling on to a last glimpse of summer before the rain and the leaves started falling. ‘Always There’ couldn’t be simpler in construction, but couldn’t be more effective.

The Big Moon and Dry Cleaning also came along with excellent new albums, Here Is Everything and Stumpwork respectively. Each band has shown a step up in quality and ambition with their new work.

On the live music side it was wonderful to witness Sinead O’Brien’s incredible performance at Manchester’s Deaf Institute. The way she considers the art of every aspect is truly extraordinary. And her band are pretty decent musicians too. She’s one of the most unique performers and lyricists around right now.

Tom Burrows: My attempt at keeping up with October’s mini-explosion of interesting looking releases has been… middling. Fittingly then, my favourite discovery of the month was released at the end of August.

I’d previously heard of Roc Marciano as a kind of ‘if you know you know’ rapper for students of the genre. In other words, one you respect rather than actively enjoy listening to. Yet he plays an engaging role on his collaborative album with The Alchemist, The Elephant Man’s Bones. Marciano cuts a shadowy street figure, menacing in his drug threats, comfortable across all the beats on the record.

But the star is the veteran behind the boards. The Alchemist is on fire here, producing sinister urban soundscapes that crackle with vinyl hiss and twinkle malevolently with uneven piano keys. The instrumentals carry the night-time echoes of unidentifiable noise, packing the record with tension. The samples are varied but impeccably chosen, from soul singers to obscure documentary snippets. It’s far from perfect, but when it hits – like on the trip-hoppy Action Bronson-starring ‘Daddy Kane’ or the gorgeous title track – it is delightful. Hoping for similar retrospective discoveries in the coming months.

Sam Atkins: Another packed month of new albums and huge gigs I’ve been excited to see. Special shout out to Bon Iver and Rina Sawayama for two of the best live shows I’ve seen this year. Onto the albums and I found loads to enjoy about records from The 1975, Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift, Tove Lo, and Fred Again.. this month, but one album I wasn’t expecting stood tall against the others.

Loyle Carner is one of those artists that has been mentioned and talked about among the Picky Bastards since his debut record and while his music was steadily improving, there was always something missing for me. Whatever that was it’s a non issue now as Hugo has dropped out of nowhere to be the new obvious choice for hip-hop album of 2022. Across these 10 songs he’s so relatable and honest, while the beats are super infectious and move along with everything so naturally. I can’t get over how good this album is and even for anyone like me who had not really given Loyle much of their time, this is an instant classic.

Will Collins: My two favourite discoveries this month have been records at opposite ends of the volume spectrum. Katie Crutchfield, more famous for recording as Waxahatchee, has teamed up with Jess Williamson to release a gorgeously melodic straight-up country record under the moniker Plains. Throughout, a stately pace and relatively simple arrangements emphasise the beauty of their vocal harmonies and the quality of their songwriting. The album tips its hat to the greats of the genre without ever seeming like a pastiche

Harsher and more raucous, the newest record from French post-hardcore outfit Birds In Row is a furious, anthemic, and oddly tuneful listen. It skirts the boundaries between hardcore and post-hardcore. Some of the tracks are straightforward ragers, all howled vocals, breakneck tempos and buzzsaw guitars. Others dig deeper into the possibilities of the form, exploiting the contrasts between melody and dissonance and fury and restraint to keep the listener guessing and deliver even more powerful catharsis.

Rick Larson: Jackie Venson plays an off-kilter socially and politically charged version of the blues. Her music is modern but timeless. And by plays, I mean plays. She is a guitar genius. I saw her this year at a small festival and the other bands would come to watch her, slack-jawed. She released a new live album this month, Love Transcends (Live in Austin). She deserves a wider audience.

I doubt they know or listen to each other, but Ms. Venson and Amy Taylor of Melbourne’s Amyl and the Sniffers are kindred spirits. This is my favorite band of the last two years and I saw them outdoors in a small park’s intimate amphitheater in my favorite city, Oakland, California. Ms. Taylor patrols the stage like a cheerful demon sprite, occasionally throwing herself into the pit. ‘Security’ was the best song of last year. And live? Ah, love transcends, indeed. “I’m not lookin’ for trouble, I’m lookin’ for love, I’m lookin’ for love.”

Enjoyed these recommendations? Why not buy us a coffee at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s