With so many releases flying at you, here are recommended vetted listens from Nialler9 for you this week, as collated in the Nialler9 New Releases Spotify playlist, updated weekly.
Leon Bridges – Good Thing
The Fort Worth Texas soul singer Leon Bridges’ long awaited second album Good Thing has finally hit the airwaves, to massive critical and commercial acclaim. On Good Thing, Bridges takes his wholesome retro soul sound and gives it a 21st century update. Tracks like ‘Bad Bad News’and ‘Forgive You’ seem as indebted to contemporary R&B artists as the golden soul singers of yesteryear. The whole album is packed full of rich instrumentation, the perfect foundation for Bridges smooth vocal delivery. ‘Beyond’ is one of the best love songs penned this year. The only issue is whether the album’s two pop-funk tracks ‘If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)’ and ‘You Don’t Know’ An album that empathises with loss as much as it does with love, there’s something in Good Thing that will move all who listen to it.
Jon Hopkins – Singularity
Jon Hopkins’ Singularity is a polarising record. While the English producer and composer’s breakthrough fourth release Immunity was largely viewed as a new lease on life for experimental dance music, many expected it’s follow up to fall somewhere closer to the dance side of affairs. Instead, Hopkins has delved deeper into experimental synth sounds and grainy textures with Singularity. The dance floor fillers of Immunity have been largely banished, replaced by a sort of dogged introspection. Hopkins has cited the influence of meditation and his interest in transcendentalism as a driving force behind the creation of this record. This album sounds best played as a whole through good headphones. For more context on the record, his interview with RA where he talks specifics about the processes and detail of the album give it more of an understanding.
Rival Consoles – Persona
Ryan Lee West, known to most as Rival Consoles, has released his fourth full length album Persona on Erased Tapes. Rival Consoles is an electronic dance music project with a difference. While most dance compositions feel inherently non-organic, the music on Persona is strangely emotive and human. West’s dedication to sound design results in otherwise industrial sounds, take the roaring synth bass on ‘Phantom Grip’ for example, sounding alive and nuanced. This is not to say that Persona isn’t ultimately a dance record, songs like’Sun’s Abandon’ and the title track itself come packed with overwhelming bass and drum lines. Yet, Persona is a record intended for more than just the dance floor. It’s in equal parts intimate and grandiose.
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
Dirty Computer is the third studio album from musican and more recently actress Janelle Monáe. The follow up to 2013’s Electric Lady, this instalment from Monáe returning to more conceptual material. Themes of technology and the virtual space pop up again and again throughout the album. It’s one of those albums that has huge scope, ambition and brings a pop sound to Monae’s catalogue that was never really there before. The issue is that embracing pop artifice means a sacrifice of substance for the greater cause but with lyrical depth and a vision far beyond what most artists can access, Dirty Computer is one for repeated listens (and views thanks to her accompanying Emotion picture).
DJ Koze – Knock Knock
German born DJ and producer DJ Koze has built a reputation for being one of the most forward-thinking and expressive dance music composers on the scene. His third studio album Knock Knock is a perfect illustration of why this is the case. This art music meets minimal techno album is a strange delight. Whether it’s the aquatic synth textures of album opener ‘Club der Ewigkeiten’ or the wonderful feature from Jose Gonzalez on ‘Music On My Teeth’, Knock Knock is an album that’s full of charming idiosyncrasies. So very worth your time.
Iceage – Beyondless
Danish post-punk band Iceage formed in 2008 when the group were mostly teenagers. Their new album Beyondless is the sort of record you can only get from a fully matured band. The album bounces around its sonic influences; there’s the densely packed guitars typical of post-punk, see opening track ‘Hurrah’. However, the use of brass instrumentation and even the feature from Sky Ferreira on ‘Pain Killer’ depict a band interested in far more than one sound. The band do get the basics right too. It’s hard not to impressed with the booming guitars on a track like ‘The Day The Music Dies’, like something from an Iggy Pop & The Stooges album. Beyondless is a great example of the vitality and originality that rock music is still capable of.