With so many releases flying at you, here are recommended vetted listens from Nialler9 for you this week, as collated in the Nialler9 New Albums Spotify playlist, updated weekly.
Sampha – Process
The long-awaited debut album from the English singer and musician. Is there a debut-releasing artist in recent years who his audience are more intimately familiar with his voice than Sampha? Thanks to collaborations with Jessie Ware, SBTRKT, Drake, Kanye and Solange, Sampha’s voice has been everywhere else and how he’s brought it back into focus on a fine solo debut of substance.
Sampha has suffered with anxiety in recent years, his mother passed away of cancer in September 2015 after a few years of fighting the disease and Process manifests those experiences on the paranoid ‘Blood On Me’ and the piano ballad to the instrument and his mother ‘No-One Knows Me (Like The Piano)’. Sampha worries about family, his health, his mortality and explores his grief.
There are moments of SBTRKT-style sonics so it’s if you were expect an album of all piano ballads, this isn’t it. Sampha’s soft voice is the kind that warms the soul and the main reason why Process is such a pleasure despite any heaviness under the surface.
Favourite tracks: ‘No-One Knows Me (Like The Piano)’ , ‘Kora Sings’.
Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
This reissued album on Matador from the 21 year-old Memphis songwriter Baker is reminiscent of SOAK in its folky finger-plucked youthful vulnerability. The album was originally released in 2015 but is now getting a new lease of life on a larger label and a physical release on March 17th.
Favourite tracks: ‘Blacktop’, ‘Brittle Boned’.
Syd – Fin
The debut album from The Internet’s Syd. It feels like a long time since she was behind the decks at Odd Future gigs. Continuing the intimate sensual modern R&B feel of The Internet, Fin is the beginning as opposed to a logical end. Syd steps out in front and while she’s been downplaying the album’s status in her career already (“This album is not that deep, but I feel like this is my descent into the depth I want the band to get to.”), there are few people making tender close-up R&B that swings low and stays high as this.
Favourite tracks: ‘Know’, ‘All About Me’
Sheer Mag – Compilation (I, II & III)
The first three EPs from Philadelphia independent punk rockers is rough and ready rock music that sounds like it was only slightly primed for modern ears. Refreshingly retro and a lot of fun – like Alabama Shakes letting loose and getting gritty.
Favourite tracks: ‘Nobody’s Baby’, Sit And Cry’.
Niall Byrne is the founder of the most-influential Irish music site Nialler9, where he has been writing about music since 2005 . He is the cohost of the Nialler9 Podcast and has written for the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Cara Magazine, Sunday Times, Totally Dublin, Red Bull and more. Niall is a DJ, founder of Lumo Club, event curator and producer of gigs, parties & events.