Niall’s favourite songs of the past month – all in one place.
Me & My Dog
Three rising North American songwriters Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus have combined their powers as Boygenius and my, is it a potent collaboration. ‘Me & My Dog’ is the highlight, drawing on the strengths of each, with Bridgers taking lead on a son. It’s a track that achingly moves from young love to heartbreak (“I wanna hear one song without thinking of you / I wish I was on a spaceship / Just me and my dog and an impossible view”) and does so with tones of country, melodic folk, indie and singer-songwriter strands.
Dev Hynes’ fourth album as Blood Orange explores identity through the prism of living as a minority and how depression and a sense of self affect it. It’s a considered and thoughtful album and is arguably a part of a the new movement of black music culture that includes Solange and Frank Ocean, artists that are exploring identity through social and political lenses, while drawing from R&B, jazz, soul and pop.
‘Charcoal Baby’ is indicative of that shift and Negro Swan as a whole in that it is a realistic look at a sense of self. “When you wake up / It’s not the first thing that you wanna know / Can you still count / All of the reasons that you’re not alone?” Hynes sings with his trademark shimmering haze and nuanced production. The guitar riff is the hook that brings you back. Hynes has found his place in the music world that he alone occupies while exploring his place in the world at large.
The queen of melancholic dance music is back. The Swedish artist hasn’t released a solo track in eight years so the appearance of ‘Missing U’ was hotly anticipated by many who have known or got to know her charms. Robyn plays to her strengths – make uplifting cascading pop music for the club that aches with loss and pain. For Robyn, the way to get over something is always to work it out on the dancefloor in a sweet release.
The video for ‘Heavy, California’ dropped just before August begun and it rightly shone a light on the song itself (it was nearly lost in the daily new music deluge), elevating it with Jungle’s trademark dance moves video style. As a result, the song was one that was constantly in rotation over the month. Their album For Ever drops on September 14th.
At Night (Shakedown Galactic Boogie remix)
There’s not a bad remix on offer in the official release of the ‘At Night’ remixes. Peggy Gou does an acid take, Tiger & Woods go tougher than their usual, Purple Disco Machine goes for big-room funk bass, but it’s the Moroder-esque take from the original artist that has been a constant for Nialler9 this month.
The Dublin-based indie artist Ailbhe Reddy has been moving from strength to strength, as evident on ‘Shame’. The track With R&B inspired programmed drums and lush vocal treatment, especially on the repeated chorus line, the track is the artist’s most up-tempo to date. Thematically, Reddy tackles the stigma surrounding mental health, especially that of depression. The artist has stated that “Shame is the word that sums up so much of what holds people back and keeps people down. A pre-cursor for my own experience of struggling with depression and feeling afraid to talk about it.”
Tickets for Reddy’s Whelan’s gig on the 23rd of November are on sale now at €16.35 here.
With Turkish, Bajan (of Barbados) and Irish blood, Yanya’s music sits between soul and indie, the former drawn from her undulating voice, the latter from the guitar that often accompanies it. The mix means that the three EPs in Tanya’s discography aren’t too polished but have an intimate quality that draws you in. ‘Baby Luv’ is a conflicted song about an ex-lover and the anguish is palpable. The chorus asks “Again, again, again, again / Do you like pain?,” repeatedly, before Nilüfer offers a way back. “You’re still beautiful / I could watch you comb your hair / call me sometime.”
A singer-songwriter favourite, Nadler is an artist who pops up regularly with a tuneful track that draws you into her atmosphere. ‘Blue Vapor’ is a pre-release single from her new album For My Crimes out on September 28th.
An album of the week on our recent podcast, the Factory Floor man’s debut solo record is a fine collection of dancefloor tracks drawing from disco, pop, new wave, no-wave and suitably for an album that is called Physical, it feels less like Factory Floor to be used as an escapist thing and as more of tactile corporeal soundtrack. The narrative of the album is – concept alert – a recreation of a night out but you can safely ignore that loose theme and enjoy tracks like the Chk Chk Chk / Knife-esque darkness of ‘Night Track’.
Clairo & Cuco
19-year-old singer-songwriter Claire Cottrill made her name on Youtube-posted dream pop music and has recently started making moves to larger stages via collaborations with Rejjie Snow, SG Lewis and Cuco. The latter track ‘Drown’ is a love-crazy duet and expands her sound in a pleasing way. Clairo plays The Academy, Dublin on Sunday September 16th.
When I’m With Him
Lorely Rodriguez is one of my favourite artists. Her growth has been rapid and natural, growing from alternative alt jams to a hook-filled pop without sacrificing her identity (today’s subject). Her forthcoming album Us is out on October 17th and ‘When I’m With Him’ is blissful pop on its own terms. Dev Hynes, DJDS and Pional, all recent collaborators help out on the album that is almost entirely self-produced.
Dublin-based artist Fia Moon stands out with her stellar vocal performance, which is simultaneously coarse yet soft; it glides effortlessly over the prevalent arps and chimes within this track. With clear pop influences and R&B lacings, the song is a lesson in pop perfection. Proving that sometimes less really is more.
Don’t Hold Your Breath
Dublin-based R&B artist Soulé has been a little quiet on the new music front this year. Her last studio release came in 2017 with ‘What Do You Know?’. Just before the weekend began the artist released ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’, her latest single. The track has a considerably stronger EDM and contemporary-pop influence than previous releases. Coming in at just over three minutes long, ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ is a sleek electronic single. Distorted vocal repeats, rounded bass frequencies and slow filter sweeps give the track its distinctive vibe. – Luke Sharkey.
Tirzah is a London artist who has been knocking around the fringes since 2013. August saw her finally release her debut album Devotion, written and produced in collaboration with long-time friend and collaborator Mica Levi. It’s a brittle and lucid R&B record about love and desire that operates with its own cadence. ‘Holding On’ sounds like an interpretation of Moby’s Porcelain made with discombobulation in mind.