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The best songs of April 2023

The best songs of April 2023

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Nialler9’s favourite songs of the month, all in one place. See the Spotify playlist at the end of the article.


1.

Kara Jackson

Dickhead Blues

Chicago poet singer-songwriter Kara Jackson’s debut album Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love? is one of the most impressive new albums I’ve heard in a while.

‘Dickhead Blues’ encapsulates the appeal of the album, as it flits with convention, and avoids the expected song structure in favour of an expansive outlook, that in tone and sensibility, reminds me of Joanna Newsom’s work, except made with guitars and folk music rather than harp (though there is some Harp on the album)

Jackson’s Dublin debut gig is happening in September at The Workman’s Cellar. I wouldn’t miss it.


2.

Jessie Ware

Freak Me Now

French Touch and Jessie Ware’s disco vibe sniffed some poppers and are going off in the club. From the discotastic fifth studio album from Ware – That! Feels Good!


3.

Jessy Lanza

Don’t Leave Me Now

Canadian electronic producer and singer Jessy Lanza recently moved to LA and the experience of almost being hit by a car was the inspiration for this song. The experience triggered Agoraphobia (the fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong) which she hasn’t experienced since she was small.

The song acted as an act of catharsis.

Additional production is by Pearson Sound and it was mixed by David Wrench.


4.

Nabihah Iqbal

Gentle Heart

Nabihah Iqbal’s new album Dreamer came out in April on Ninja Tune, and ‘this is another fine track ‘Gentle Heart’ like ‘Sunflower’ and ‘This World Couldn’t See Us’ .

Loving the synths that come in after two minutes here…

A genuinely interesting story behind the album: Iqbal’s studio was burgled in early 2020 and she lost all her work. Already with burnout and a broken hand, and with police looking for fingerprints in the studio, she got a call – her grandfather in Pakistan had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

The next day she went to Karachi, and the distance from the burglary, gave her a new perspective on music, which lead to a back to basics approach of returning to an acoustic guitar and a harmonium.


5.

King Krule

Seaforth

King Krule has announced a return to releasing records with new album Space Heavy, due out on June 9th on XL Recordings, with ‘Seaforth’ a pleasing if low-stakes return

The song is gentle, somnabulist reintroduction to the artist, and the video is largely concerned a father golden retriever and his puppy, with footage on the beach of King Krule and band.


6.

Dave Okumu, 7 Generations

Eyes On Me

UK artist Dave Okumu is also known for his work as The Invisible, released an album called  I Came From Love, which has the stated ambition of aiming to be a “tapestry of the Black experience that explores ancestry, the legacy of slavery, what it means to exist in an unjust society, and Okumu’s own family history”.

Guests on the record include Grace Jones, Eska, Kwabs, Wesley Joseph, Robert Stillman, Anthony Joseph and Raven Bush.

‘Eyes On Me’ comes deep into the record, an indication of the explorations here – exploring heartbreak in many contexts – societal, personal and beyond in a statement shared by Okumu.

“Consciously or unconsciously, it’s difficult not to feel that we are all contending with layers of heartbreak, both on a societal and personal level. There’s the loss of faith in our leadership, political systems and the mismanagement of our environment. But I also believe that this country suffers from an unconscious heartbreak at the loss of the Empire. And those who have suffered at the hands of imperialism are still subjected to its resounding societal echoes. The minority encounters heartbreak of a particular kind as it searches for experiential representation, healing and understanding, a way of being in an environment that seems to struggle to create the space for wider discussion and multiple perspectives. It opts instead for the intoxicating power of collective amnesia.

The responses and adaptations around heartbreak are innumerable and include suppression and detachment, as well as a continual reframing of our personal and collective experience. However, the fact remains: you can’t deal with heartbreak without acknowledging heartbreak. This piece of music engenders a desire to meet these complex dynamics with love, space and honesty.”


7.

Four Tet

Three Drums

‘Three Drums’ is a return to the cerebral Four Tet sound of old, the softer non-dancefloor side.

It comes just as his old band Fridge are getting a spotlight with a 20th anniversary reissue of debut album Happiness. That band’s experimental electronics and live acoustics with hip-hop beats feels like a neat throughline to a lot of Hebden’s headphone listening music.

‘Three Drums’ is majestic in tone, the kind of song that would have bookended a Back To Mine / compilation, strings and synth rushes over the course of 8 lush minutes.


8.

Thundercat, Tame Impala

No More Lies

Stephen Bruner and Kevin Parker’s ‘No More Lies’ feels like a meeting of two sensibilities, the jazz-funk / R&B of Thundercat with the psych of Tame Impala. It’s Thundercat’s first new song in three years.

The song was written by Bruner about a doomed relationship in which he takes most of the responsibility – “… it’s not your fault, I’m just kind of ass”.


9.

Blawan

Toast

Blawan has dipped his sound into wonky electronic atmospherics of late away from techno dancefloors, creating tracks that sound like no one else, as heard on the Woke Up Right Handed EP on XL in 2021.

Dismantled Into Juice is another five-tracker on the label (out May 17th) from Jamie Roberts and ‘Toast’ continues those forays into discombobulating sound designed-jams.


10.

Julie Byrne

Summer Glass

The American songwriter Julie Byrne has announced Irish gigs and an album called The Greater Wings, out on July 7th via Ghostly International.

Summer Glass’ is the first single from the record, a lush light-filled ballad built on an arpeggio, harp, strings and specific memories flooding back.


11.

Jena Keating, S P A C E

Objectification

You know we’re fans of Cork artist Jena Keating around here, and a six-track EP entitled 9 released in title collaboration with the El-Paso/Cork producer S P A C E, was released this month, with the title inspired by the warehouse in London where they live together with 14 others.

The EP explores Borderline personality, sexuality, mental health, and ‘Objectification’ among other things ‘ on the song of the same name, which like much of the EP is sonically busier and a touch clubbier, making for a fresh release from the pair.

Listen to the EP.

They previously released ‘Nostalgia’ together.

Follow Jena / S P A C E


12.

Confidence Man, Daniel Avery

On & On (Again)


Confidence Man’s first new song since last year’s excellent Tilt album is this wavy electro banger courtesy of producer Daniel Avery. I wouldn’t have put these artists together naturally, so it’s nice to hear where they find common ground – in some nineties rave euphoria.

The band have signed to Polydor, and the track ushers what is apparently “the beginnings of a new club-focused chapter.”

Con Man play Otherside this July.


13.

Spider

Growing Into It

London-based Tallaght artist Spider follows up ‘America’s Next Top Model’ with a melodic new-wave alt-pop single called ‘Growing Into It’.

The song is based “loosely around the concept of men using women as social capital to make themselves look cooler, smarter, better than they actually are.”

An EP called Hell Or High Water is forthcoming and Spider plays The Road To The Great Escape Festival in Dublin on May 8th, and has now been confirmed for The Great Escape in Brighton May 10th-13th. 

More from Spider.


14.

Jealous Of The Birds

Beginner’s Luck

‘Beginner’s Luck’ is another high level masterclass in songwriting from Naomi Hamilton ahead of Jealous Of The Birds’ new album called Hinterland, due on Atlantic / Canvas Back on May 19th.

Previously: ‘Morse Code’


15.

Water From Your Eyes

True Life

The Brooklyn duo of Rachel Brown and Nate Amos have an album out on Matador with their project Water From Your Eyes on MAy 26th called Everyone’s Crushed.

See Also

From it, angular guitar rock fizz of ‘True Life’ caught my ears.

“‘True life’ is our Neil Young-inspired quasi-nu metal stomp. It is also intended to be our ‘Short Skirt / Long Jacket.’ The bridge was initially meant to contain lyrics from ‘Cinnamon Girl,’ but Neil Young’s lawyers wouldn’t let us use them. Now they are about how Neil Young wouldn’t let us use his words. The rest of the song deals with life and assorted complications of the material world.”


16.

Laurie Shaw

Satellite Towns

This is gorgeous stuff from the Kenmare-based Frankby/Wirral artist Laurie Shaw. A nine-minute song that closes the upcoming record Dove From Above, takes it time in sharing reflections of what it’s like to living in a satellite town and feel like you come from two places, of feeling like an outsider, with pop culture references to the theme song from TFI Friday, the Wonky donkey segment on SM:TV Live, and Gerri from the Spice Girls being the first to leave.

It’s an enjoyable sojourn that whisks you away to the commuter belt.

Laurie Shaw on Insta / Twitter

Previously.


17.

Mac DeMarco

Proud True Toyota


Yes, Mac Demarco released an 199-track album One Wayne G which features chronological songs Mac worked on from 2018 to 2023, and follows the instrumental album Five Easy Hot Dogs in January. While it’s 9 and a half hours of music, there are ones with vocals, like ‘Proud True Toyota’, which is a thoroughly pleasant and very Mac DeMarco song.


18.

Léa Sen

Again

23 -year-old London-based French artist  guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer and mixer Léa Sen has featured here with some standout songs lately.

You Of Now Pt.2 EP was released on Partisan Records, and ‘Again’ and its accompanying single shot video is pretty mesmerising.

“I want people to feel like they’re not crazy,” she says. “We’re all going through it, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy or you’re inadequate. And also maybe a reminder to myself.”

Léa Sen is playing Deers Head, Belfast (May 13th) and Button Factory Dublin (May 14th) supporting Billie Marten.


19.

Sloucho

Memory Walk

The third release from Irish producer Sloucho is very much in the techno-spun UK Garage 2-step vibe, a bass-snapping production with ragga-style vocals that shimmer above the frequencies.

Sloucho on Insta / Linktree / Bandcamp.


20.

CMAT

Whatever’s Inconvenient

CMAT’s new song ‘Whatever’s Inconvenient’, marks the gentle liquidation of CMAT 1 era and herald us into CMAT 2.

‘Whatever’s Inconvenient’ is from a FORTHCOMING SECOND ALBUM, a song which relies on Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson’s powerful gliding vocal to deliver the a self-examination, with CMAT asking ““wait, could I be the problem?” (A: probably not).

The song puts CMAT’s vocals to the fore, against the backdrop of piano, strings and drums, and its the soaring melodies that stay with you on ‘Whatever’s Inconvenient’ and trademark CMAT lines like:

“I can always smell it comin
Like the grease upon your mullet”

“Why do I play your greatest hits
Why do I leave myself in bits”

Originally posted.



Every week, the Nialler9 Spotify Weekly Playlist is updated with new music, and in this corner, we share the playlist and highlight some some select songs from the list below.

Want access to the archived weekly playlists too? Support Nialler9 on Patreon.

See the homepage for all Spotify playlists: New Music | Irish | Monthly



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