It’s been a great few months for music, even if it’s been a pretty terrible few months in most other respects. But in dark times, music can be healing, can remind us of our differences, and how we need to respect those differences, rather than letting them divide us. The world is a multitude of wonders, a melting pot. No government or referendum can take that world away from us.
No need to recap my love for the new Radiohead, which (surprise, surprise) was my most listened-to gem from the last quarter. So here’s ten others, all excellent, all worth your time. (There are also new releases this week from Bat for Lashes and Blood Orange, which I’m looking forward to delving into.)
Anyway. Dive in and listen, listen, listen.
KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH • EARS
Aha, yes, ears. You’re aware, listening to this, of sound being something that exists, physically, in your ears. It’s like a living sculpture being made and remade between the eardrums: bubbling and smouldering and erupting. Chemicals reacting, liquids evaporating. Sound, even when it’s synthesised, is always an organic thing as it enters the ears, a process in the brain.
KEVIN MORBY • SINGING SAW
A great spring or early summer record. Although also very timeless. Although also very 60s: it’s impossible not to hear Dylan in here, much like in Amen Dunes. It’s something about the voice, the same cadences in all three singers. The song-writing is ace throughout, particularly ‘Black Flowers’ and the title track. He used to play bass for the band Woods; their new album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, is also excellent, and well worth checking out.
CATE LE BON • CRAB DAY
Again I just love the melodies and the song-writing. She’s a true Welsh eccentric. Her last record, Mug Museum, was Bradford Cox’s favourite of 2013, which is what put me onto her. This is maybe even better. “Love is not love when it’s a coathanger”.
JESSY LANZA • OH NO
Addictive. It’s very poppy and catchy and infectious, but it also has this strong footwork dimension to it, all these influences coming from the underground techno made by her label-mates on Hyperdub. Also her voice is kind of playful and sad at the same time – she mines ambivalent veins of emotion. Great stuff.
SEIHO • COLLAPSE
Amazing sounds. Close your eyes and listen through good headphones. Collapse your mind, unfold it like a map to somewhere new.
TIM HECKER • LOVE STREAMS
Love that title, which offers at least half a dozen ways of reading it. Is ‘love’ a noun or a verb? Is ‘streams’ a noun or a verb? If a noun, is it natural or digital streams, or the act of streaming, or some other kind of stream? Love streaming from the body? Streams made of love? A love of streams? A love of streams of made of love? (The music is excellent, too, of course; Hecker is the absolute master of noise).
JULIANNA BARWICK • WILL
I have a phrase in my notebook: “songs sung by the shore heard from the dunes.”
DAMIEN JURADO • VISIONS OF US ON THE LAND
This actually came out in March, but then so what? It’s the kind of big, dense, ambitious album that one gets to know over a number of years, not a number of weeks. Seventeen tracks long, it’s a post-apocalyptic concept album, the third in a trilogy, which together tell a single, complex story. A lot left to uncover in this one. Love that cover art, too.
JAPANESE BREAKFAST • PSYCHOPOMP
It’s the kind of thing that just instantly appeals to me: lo-fi, heartfelt, with great songs. Short and sweet, at 25 minutes. But not simple. There’s a lot of instruments, a lot of layers. It’s ambitious, it pushes against its sonic confines.
DEAKIN • SLEEP CYCLE
Some had been waiting a long, long time for this, the debut solo album from Animal Collective member Josh. Luckily it doesn’t disappoint. It’s the best thing to come out of the Animal Collective camp for ages. It’s brilliant.