My favourite songs of the past month – all in one place.
Christine And The Queens
Two years on from the French artist’s breakthrough album Chaleur Humaine, Héloïse Letissier is back and has teamed up with West Coast G-funk artist and Snoop Dogg collaborator Dam Funk for a lustful slice of magnetic synth-pop that explores gender stereotypes. It arrived with its original French version so you can get double the helping.
Four Out Of Five
The Arctic Monkeys’ new album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is essentially a concept album about a luxury resort on the moon…. WAIT COME BACK. It’s actually really good. In abandoning the rock poses, Alex Turner embraces an organ sound and inspired by dystopian sci-fi flicks and ’70s psychedelia, he builds a taco bar on the roof of this lunar hotel. ‘Four Out Of Five’ is an easy album highlight, and encapsulates the album’s woozy sound and hotel host vibe.” I put a taqueria on the roof, it was well reviewed / four stars out of five / And that’s unheard of.”
The Baltimore dream-pop duo’s seventh album finds the band adding emboldened shades to a ready-recognisable Beach House sound. ‘Lemon Glow’ is indicative of such subtle shapeshifting.
If You Know, You Know
Pusha T’s long-awaited Daytona doesn’t need more than seven tracks to make its impact. There is no time-wasted in King Push re-asserting his crown as one of the best rappers around. Whatever you think of Kanye’s own work, his production here is razor-sharp. ‘If You Know, You Know’ is the album’s intro and heralds a marquee return
Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre can we have the album soon? Turns out the answer is yes. A Saint Sister album arrives later this year and the “atmosfolk” duo have announced some dates] to back it up. ‘Twin Peaks’ is a timely reminder of the beauty that these two can create with harp, synth and harmony.
The Belfast-based Philippa is very talented and thoughtful singer and musician who performs in an open and honest way, unburdened by external pressure and it shows. There’s a sense of deliberation that follows through onto the tracks. Most recently, a name change from Katharine Philippa to Kitt Philippa gave the artist a greater sense of non-binary neutrality.
‘Humans’ sees the Northern Irish singer explore the complexities with that sensibility. The track features a slight change in direction with a more prominent pop-production than previous releases such as her 2013 EP ‘Broken To Be Rebuilt’. Yet, nothing has been sacrificed in terms of message and substance.
Super Extra Bonus Party
Super Extra Bonus Party played their first Dublin headline show in seven years over the weekend and I was struck by the new songs in the set as opposed to the pure nostalgia. The new songs are fully-formed entities that recall and this is a good thing – LCD Soundsystem, Caribou and Foals. The latter influence is particularly palpable on ‘Purple Heart’. For a band that were known for smashing genres together and a mixtape aesthetic, ‘Purple Heart’ is surprisingly emotional and anthemic in its delivery. Two members were also on the podcast last week and they are at Body & Soul, Castlepalooza and more festivals this summer.
How Did This Happen?
One of the buzz bands at the The Great Escape Festival in Brighton last month. The five-piece band recall the best parts of art-rock, post-punk and agit-pop with some witty sensibility. The band’s song ‘How Did This Happen?’ trades on razor-sharp guitar and kraut rhythms with lyrics about nonchalance in the face of protest. “I see you walk past the demonstration / Two chips on your shoulder / You’re a culture connoisseur and your pain is real,” the pair sing in tandem in infectious call-and-response.
Former Youth Lagoon front man Trevor Powers has released a debut song by the artist under his own name. ‘Playwright’ is an excellent art pop song with nods to the Japanese music tradition. Accompanying the track is a stunning music video starring aquatic ballet group Aqualillies . Having just founded his own label Baby Halo, it’s safe to say we can expect to hear more from Powers in the very near future.
This is America
The song that launched a million think pieces and explainers cemented Donald Glover’s reputation as a visionary. It’s a long way from Troy and Abed in the morning.
All My Dreams
After a par-for-the-course star turn on DJ Koze’s new album, the Murph is back tending to her own solo career with a series of four 12” vinyl records recorded with Baltimore dance producer Maurice Fulton. Lead track All My Dreams sounds like it takes inspiration from jazz-funk, the production of Larry Levan, strands of both Murphy’s last album Exploitation and her previous band Moloko.
There’s no staying humble with the return of Paak. Having made the best album of 2016, and collaborated all over the shop, .Paak returns with a bombastic song that talks up his status as one of the best? And why not? He’s known for his soulful voice and his drumming sure, but very rarely have you heard him go this hard in rap terms, not even on the NxWorries record. Paak’s exuberant almost-delusional flow is matched by a busy production by Jhalil Beats and Antman Wonder and an ecstatic video to match.
The Murder Capital
More Is Less
It’s rare that a band’s first song, not least a live session video of a band’s first song, elicits a large reaction but that’s what happened last week when The Murder Capital performing More is Less to camera in a studio in Dublin. The reason? The young band draw on classic punk-rock energy, drawing comparisons to Fugazi and Black Flag and they can definitely play their instruments too.
Jon Hopkins’ fifth album is release that has two approaches – nuanced and textured dance music with largesse and elongated ambient passages. The title track is an example of the bridging of both, and live at Primavera Sound last week, the song was humongous in its execution.