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The 25 best songs of May 2021

The 25 best songs of May 2021

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Nialler9’s favourite songs of the past month, all in one place.


1.

Burial


Dark Gethsemane

“We must shock this nation with the power of love!”

Burial’s moving and cinematic club tracks perhaps hits its most recent apex on this track. Ravey, dystopian, discombobulating and euphoric. The other track ‘Space Cadet’ is great too.

2.

Arooj Aftab

Mohabbat

The New York-based Pakistani composer and folk artist Arooj Aftab’s third album album Vulture Prince took inspiration in Arabic poetry known as ghazals, which often express love in the face of grief or pain.

Aftab’s younger brother had passed away prior to the album, prompting the reach for ancient texts, and the album wraps those sentiments up in free-forming folk and jazz textures with harp, viola, cello, double bass, synth and minimal percussion lending the album an expansive air and a deep spiritual resonance beyond the tactile act of plucking strings.

3.

Black Midi

Dethroned

Black Midi have been a curio to me since they appeared a few years ago. Hearing that their new album featured production by John “Spud” Murphy (producer with Lankum, The Jimmy Cake, Katie Kim, Guerrilla Studios and musician with Percolator) intrigued me.

Cavalcade is a collection of wilfully weird post-rock jazz prog – like Scott Walker playing with the roster of Richter Collective (RIP). Their music is an atonal hall of mirrors. You could pick any song from Cavalcade for this, they are all like looking at a weird plinth refracted through different angles.

The New York Times have a profile on them.

4.

Audrey Nuna

Cool Kids

New Jersey artist Audrey Nuna came to my attention with the 2020 banger ‘Damn Right’, and last month, she dropped her debut mixtape A Liquid Breakfast last week, and among thre tracks with Jack Harlow and Saba, the snakey industrial beat of ‘Cool Kids’ is among the most edifying.

5.

SENU

Jetlag 2

Sam Killeen’s SENU project released a full-length called Jetlag. We partnered up to present the live launch show which you can watch here. ‘Jetlag 2’ showcases the album’s vibe – trip-hop beats, shimmering samples and a guitar workout combine for a big fat headnod of a song. Buy the album.

6.

Charlotte Day Wilson

If I Could

Devastatingly beautiful vocals going on here. Debut album Alpha is out July 9th. Wilson has been great for a few years so delighted to hear an album is coming. Note: video is more like a trailer.

7.

Moiré

Know Me (feat. Demigosh)

Irish artist Demigosh (also of Shadeemus) provides some spoken word and melodic vibes on Moiré’s new album Good Times, one of the better electronic albums released in recent months.

8.

Emma Houton

Bow and Balance

What are the chances? One label with two albums with “bath” in the title from artists with Irish connections? Yep. Label Trapped Animal has followed up the Choice Music Prize-nominated Bath Time album from Maija Sofia, with Emma Houton’s The Bath.

Houton is a New Yorker with Irish roots in Donegal and The Bath is an album inspired by the artist conducting an ethnographic study into their Irish folk song roots and was recorded as part of their senior thesis in electronic music.

It was originally written to be performed for eight voices to sing live, but COVID meant that Houton recorded all parts themselves, and ‘Bow and Balance’ is a beautiful choral murder ballad inspired by the dominance of water in Irish folklore that serves as a fine introduction to the immersive world of The Bath.

“It tells the story of two sisters who are in love with the same man. When he proposes to the youngest sister and she accepts, the oldest sister pushes her sister into the sea. A bystander nearly saves her, but the oldest sister gives him gold in exchange for pushing her sister back into the sea. The youngest sister drowns, and the oldest sister is hung, and the miller is burned at the stake.”

Buy on Bandcamp.

9.

Chai

In Pink (feat. MNDSGN)

Moving away from the Kawaii punk of their debut, the Japanese band CHAI released a second album Wink last month. The bright electronic dance tones of ‘In Pink’ with guest vocals from Mndsgn is like a Mr Freeze cool pop on a sweltering hot day.

10.

Para One

Shin Sekai

French producer Para One’s new album SPECTRE: Machines of Loving Grace is inspired by the Akira soundtrack, Indonesian drums and gamelan; Bulgarian choirs ; Steve Reich, and Detroit techno so it’s an eclectic cinematic listen.

11.

Bantum

New Leaf

The Cork producer Ruairi Lynch aka Bantum’s ‘New Leaf’ is built on a rubbery bassline and shimmering key notes and has French Touch-inspirations of Stardust, Cassius along with Royksopp, Daft Punk, Jungle and Four Tet.

12.

Little Simz

Woman

Little Simz’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is out in September and this celebration of the feminine with Cleo Soul of Sault on the backing vocals will feature on it.

Little Simz has been announced for a show at The Academy on November 30th 2021.

13.

Jena Keating

Alone

I premiered this Cork R&B artist’s video last month and the release marks the emrgence of a a bright talent.

On ‘Alone’, 24-year-old Keating explores the duality of the title, in a positive and negative context, reflecting her inner thoughts and deciding that choosing to be on your own can have a beneficial effect.

14.

St Vincent

The Melting Of The Sun

We weren’t too hot on the St Vinny album overall on the podcast – but ‘The Melting Of The Sun’ is one we’d take downtown in 70s New York for a cocktail.

15.

Laura Mvula

Got Me

Hard to escape the MJ comparisons on ‘Got Me’. Since joining Atlantic Records, Mvula is like an artist reinvigorated. Her third album Pink Noise is forthcoming.

16.

Billie Marten

Human Replacement

As recommended by podcast cohost Andrea Cleary with a reference to Julia Jacklin, ‘Human Behaviour’ is from Billie Marten’s new album Flora Fauna and the track addresses the vulnerability of women alone at night, with a tense rock production.

17.

Saint Sister

Oh My God Oh Canada

Ahead of this month’s Where I Should End album release, Saint Sister have been giving out nuggets,

18.

India Jordan

Only Said Enough

A big breaks room shaker to tear up the festivals when things come back. YUP. Released on Ninja Tune.

19.

CINTHIE

City Lights

Berlin house producer Cynthie drops a new EP on AUS Music lead by this bicep-pumping orchestral dance track. Gerd Janson amps up the atmosphere on the remix too. Bandcamp.

20.

Royal Yellow

Until

Dublin-based producer Mark O’Brien was here last week performing live, but for contrast, this textured electronic track in its full form stretches to 11-plus minutes conjures up festival grass and a gathering of people in front of the booth.

21.

Raven Bush

Made of Stars

Hud Mo vibes.

Margate producer Raven Bush goes for deep synth stabs and big atmosphere for the second single from his forthcoming album Fall Into Noise due August 13th via PRAH Recordings.

“The first version of this tune was made for a performance at Funkhaus in Berlin, where I had the pleasure of composing music for the inimitable KDV dance ensemble alongside Floating Points and Lotic.

For me, this piece is about remembering that during the process of change we find ourselves in uncomfortable spaces. And to remember it’s these moments where we grow the most, so hold tight.This is also the first piece of released music that uses my daughter’s voice.”

22.

Big Love

Lily

I premiered Big Love & Collective Film’s music video for ‘Lily’ , a “visual representation of human trauma, elation and shadow”, and it really got under my skin. A beautiful song.

23.

Georgia Anne Muldrow

Slow Drag

From Georgia Ann Muldrow ‘s VWETO III , this rolling piano instrumental really struck a chord with me.

24.

Erika de Casier

Busy

Copenhagen singer-songwriter and producer Erika De Casier is equally in thrall to ’90s R&B as it is UK Garage. The song is from Sensational, out on 4AD omorrow.

Love the cheap slideshow video too.

25.

Jorja Smith

Gone

Jorja Smith released a stop-gap 8-track album Be Right Back last month. ‘Gone’ is the twinkling R&B standout.