Niall’s favourite songs of the past month, all in one place.
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‘Again’, the opening track from the new Villagers album, sets out his stall by straddling Conor O’ Brien’s signature folk sound with the sort of underlying textured electronic aesthetic that features an android-like vocal sample, and some subtle effective synthesizers and production nous that reinforces the track’s core message – of self-renewal and the process of beginning that feels quietly giddy with hope. The repeating robotic hook contrasts starkly against O’Brien’s expressive vocal performance.
A powerful examination into the state of race relations and racial tensions in America right now. Chicago MC Noname’s ‘Blaxploitation’ is littered with flashes of lyrical genius. Simultaneously autobiographical and allegorical, Noname jostles between delving into her own experience as a black woman and criticising the sterotypes which plague society at large. Oh yeah, last but not least, the jazz instrumental is absolutely blistering.
Thom Yorke has described working on the soundtrack of the upcoming remake of Italian horror film Suspiria as like “making spells”. ‘Suspirium’, our first listen from his work on the film is certainly enchanting, a piano waltz of ominous proportions, which wisely sidesteps Goblin’s original’s iconic prog rock soundtrack.
Marie Davidson‘s solo material has been characterised by mechanically tough beats combined with spoken word vocals that edge between sardonic, theatrical and outlandish fun. Davidson’s new song ‘Work It’ is not fucking around. It’s the perfect blend of this mix that with the added element of Davidson playing the firm but encouraging life coach, a Working Class Woman (her new album title on Ninja Tune on October 5th) who shares her life goals and work ethic style.
“Do you want to know how I get away with everything? I work all the fucking time / from Monday to Friday, Friday to Sunday, I love it / I work,” she begins, like dance music’s own version of a TED talk over an industrial electro beat.
From the most thrilling avant pop album of the year and a brilliant alternative melodic doom pop record, is this surprise pop-grounded track about police brutality that sounds like it’s built on a J Dilla beat.
Yes yes yes. Galway native Laoise has released some heavenly pop music in ‘Again’. From the very first time you hear that synth progression you’re totally invested, you can’t help it. The artist’s vocal delivery is sleek, as is the very 80s inspired beat behind the track. Directed at an absentee lover, the lyrics definitely follow a pop formula but remain effective all the same.
Tickets for Reddy’s Whelan’s gig on the 23rd of November are on sale now at €16.35 here.
The title song from Hozier’s Nina Cried Power EP got a lot of attention because of its video, questions about reappropriation or whether Andrew Hozier-Byrne was inserting himself into the same pantheon as the greats he pays tribute to. I happen to think it’s a good comeback song and that Hozier is all too aware of what he is doing, as he explained. ‘Shrike’ from the EP, is another good Hozier song, that doesn’t come with that baggage and is also a reminder about Hozier’s abilities as a guitar player capable of blues and folk playing. it features some choice lines (“I couldn’t whisper when you needed it shouted / Ah, but I’m singing like a bird, ’bout it now,”). It’s superb genuine songwriting.
Big Red Machine
Big Red Machine is the result of 10 years of collaboration and friendship between Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner and the resulting self-titled LP is one that draws from the best of both of their creative wells. ‘Hymnostic’ is perhaps the best example of that marriage.
Beat 54 (All Good Now)
Jungle’s second album For Ever diffuses any worry that they don’t have any creative growth beyond the soulful harmony-lead template they established on album one. Songs like ‘Beat 54 (All Good Now)’ are part of the evidence.
Christine & The Queens
I’m still not sure if Chris is an album I will be returning to regularly. It’s ’80s funk style is right up my street but I’m not entirely convinced by its quality throughout despite Héloïse Letissier’s infectious melodic talent. More time is needed, in the meantime, I’m vibing off this track in particular away from the already-released singles.
Just as the Waterford alternative rock group O Emperor were hitting a new creative peak, they’ve gone and announced that they are shutting the band down for good before the end of the year. And that news is bittersweet when they’ve got songs as good as ‘Girl’, a woozy garage rock song, complete with ’60s-psychedelia-style organ sounds and some clever pitch manipulated voice monologues.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi
People in the Centre of the City
Finnish musician Jaako Eino Kalevi’s ‘People In The Centre Of The City’ borrows plenty from the golden era of synth pop but translates it superbly into contemporary sound. It’s a song inspired by his time as a tram driver in Heksinki. He will release a new album next week.
Keep it Whole
Earthy and sweet, Anna Mieke’s ‘Keep It Whole’ is a poetic folk tune with the sort of intimate performance and production that feels like getting out of the rain and in to the warmth of a seat beside the fire place.
With the promise of a full-length release later in the year, ‘San Pelly’ finds the Softboy MC sounding more assured and focused than ever before. A smooth soul sample lies on a bedrock of warm bass sweeps, but clever production has always been a hallmark of Palm’s music. The improvement lies mostly in the lyrical content and delivery. An urban love ballad, Palm’s most engaging wordplay combines classic romance tropes with the idiosyncrasies of lust in a contemporary Dublin city. Check out the reference to Disney’s lady and the tramp describing the MC going out in a tracksuit with his love interest.