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The best music of February 2023

The best music of February 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.

Lana Del Rey

A&W

Lana Del Rey’s ‘A&W’, is one of those Lana tracks that marks a flashpoint in her discography, a head-turning song that is the second single from the artist’s upcoming ninth album Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.

A&W is a root beer brand, but the A&W really stands for ‘American Whore’. The track was co-written and co-produced by Jack Antonoff, and is split into two parts, ‘Part I: American Whore’ and ‘Part II: Jimmy’.

Arriving after the more atypical rousing song of the album title, ‘A&W’ begins in a standard Lana fashion but it soon becomes apparent that there’s anguish and hurt in her whispered lyrics that immediately address her mother with scorn (“I haven’t done a cartwheel since I was nine / I haven’t seen my mother in a long, long time”)

The song echoes the multi-faceted sounds of Lana’s past – of songs like 2015’s ‘High By The Beach’, the polychromatic songwriting of 2019’s Norman Fucking Rockwell, or the folk of 2021’s Chemtrails Over The Country Club.

Lana can do cinematic yes, but this feels widescreen in a self-contained capsule, a duelling duality of song.

Read the full track review.


2.

Caroline Polachek

Welcome to My Island

Sure this came out in December, but in the context of the release of her second solo album Desire, I Want To Turn Into You on Valentine’s Day, ‘Welcome To My Island’ is a delightfully weird pop song, a world-building oddity that marks Polachek as an artist willing to go to potentially cheesy places and create grandstanding ’80s-indebted pop with the best of them.


3.

Youth Lagoon

Idaho Alien

Trevor Powers is to release his first Youth Lagoon album since 2015’s third record Savage Hills Ballroom and disbanding the project, with Heaven Is a Junkyard this June 9th on Fat Possum.

A lot has happened since.

A reaction to an over-the-counter medication in October 2021 left Powers dealing with “a non-stop geyser of acid,” coating his larynx and vocal cords for eight months. He saw seven doctors and multiple specialists, lost over 30 pounds and by Christmas that year, could no longer speak, instead texting and using pen and paper to communicate.

2023 sees Powers return to Youth Lagoon after his voice came back and gave him a different clarity, enabling him to write about his Idaho surroundings.

“Family, neighbors, and grim reapers, he says. “I’ve always written about far away things, but the best material has been right in front of me this whole time in Idaho.”

See full info.


4.

Men I Trust

Ring Of Past

Montreal indie pop trio do soft glow music so well, and with the band back and releasing new music in the lead up to an inevitable album, ‘Ring Of Past’ is a quietly confident score in their discography to date.

The trio of Jessy, Dragos and Emma are on a world tour this summer that touches down at Vicar Street, Dublin on Wednesday July 26th this summer.


5.

Young Fathers

Drum

Scottish trio Young Fathers released Heavy Heavy, their first album in five years and it’s an album that doesn’t deviate from their raucous soul gospel hip-hop sound – not that it needed to.

‘Drum’ is a non-single standout, a reach for the anthemic, in a sea full of them.


6.

The National

New Order T-Shirt

The National released this moving understated love song from their First Two Pages of Frankenstein album due on April 28 via 4AD.

Marked by vignettes of time past, Matt Berninger keeps score of the little moments in time that keep and sustain whether it’s “you in my New Order t-shirt / holding a cat and a glass of beer,” or “you in a Kentucky aquarium / talking to a shark in a corner.” It’s a song that waltzes like a montage of good memories.

The National announce 3Arena Dublin show & new album featuring Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers & Sufjan Stevens


7.

Skrillex

Leave Me Like This

Amidst all the handwringing and discourse about Skrillex’s return and his relationship with Four Tet, it’s easy to ignore that he’s released some good music on his more dance-focused album of the two last month, Quest For Fire, that supersedes much of the criticism from gatekeepers. The Skrillex of old popularised EDM sure, and lead to a whole raft of annoying dumbstep and bad music. The 2022 version of Skrillex is now an extremely capable electronic producer, and making some incredibly fun music that if anyone else was making, there wouldn’t be so much of a backlash.


8.

Jessie Ware

Pearls

Jessie Ware has been teasing her fifth album That! Feels Good! is out April 28th.

The song and some tour dates to come, are preceded by the single ‘Pearls’, a song co-written with Stuart Price, Future Nostalgia-writer Coffee Clarence Jr and Sarah Hudson.

“Pearls is a record that doesn’t take itself too seriously but demands you to have a dance.  It’s inspired by divas like Donna Summer, Evelyn Champagne King, Teena Marie and Chaka Lhan and I guess attempts to show – in lightness – all the hats I try to wear (usually at the same time).”


9.

EMBY x Rory Sweeney

All My Life

Dublin producer Rory Sweeney and Belfast rapper EMBY continue their fruitful partnership with a new EP of loosies NEWBEATPACK4EMBY EP on Bandcamp, and the opening track of the four, immediately hits with a recognisable Kendrick sample that itself samples a 1970 Latin hit, but Sweeney uses it in a manner that doesn’t feel tired and is a perfect bed for EMBY’s rapidfire club flow.

Sweeney released two albums / two parts recently – Trash Catalogue part One & Two. This shit bangs.


10.

Chósta

That Object Spoke To Me (feat. Jape)

One of the finer Irish releases of the year so far, Twilight Transmission, the debut album from Dublin producer Conor Kelly aka Chósta is a concept record about a fictional network of interconnected radio stations, inspired by the outliers of radio station programming in an increasingly homogenous radio landscape, including Donal Dineen, NTS and Dublin Digital Radio. The album was written and recorded through lockdown.

‘That Object Spoke To Me’ is an album highlight that features Richie Egan aka Jape on vocals.

“‘That Object Spoke To Me’ stems from my early insecurities making music, when I feared that my lack of playing ability and technical proficiency would prevent me from creating the songs I had in my head. Eventually, I found sampling and other methods which worked for me, making music in almost collage form. Reading about collage art led me to the cutup technique popularised by William Burroughs and it clarified in my head that there are many different methods of creating. The vocal sample at the beginning of the track is from an interview with Burroughs talking about this style.

“I sent Richie an instrumental and he sent me back the track with his vocals and a couple of different other parts. We went back-and-forth, eventually settling on a final cut. It was my first experience of proper collaboration and one I’ll remember extremely fondly.”

The track is intended to be uplifting and dream-like, capturing the boundless possibility of life when you put your mind to something and find the beauty in the process.”


11.

Indigo De Souza

Younger & Dumber 

North Carolina musician Indigo De Souza has announced a new album All of This Will End, out April 28th on Saddle Creek.

‘Younger & Dumber’ is a slow-burner that turns to quiet devastation. Says De Souza:

My growing up defeated by a world brutally littered with trash, violence, and grief, and somehow finding beauty, purpose, and boundless love existing in the same place. This song felt really emotionally intense for me when I wrote it. I was sitting in my house and it kind of flowed right to me as if it had already been written by some other force. A lot of the lyrics are a nod to the idea that your experiences make you who you are. I endured some heavy darkness and dysfunction when I was a teenager. But if I hadn’t been through those things, I wouldn’t be who I am now. When you’re young, you don’t know any better, but you learn from your experiences, and then you become somebody who’s been alive and learning. It’s also about how heartbreaking that is; to start as a child with vivid curiosity, innocent imagination and joy, and for the world to end up being kind of brutal to be a part of. This song is a love letter to everyone’s inner child. No one can prepare us for how insane it is to be alive. How many times we will have to rise from the ashes and what courage it will take.


12.

Kate Davis

Call Home

From American artist Kate Davis’ second album Fish Bowl (due March 24th on ANTI-Records), ‘Call Home’ is a song that holds experiences of isolation, escaped through fantasy, in other words her “big pandemic feelings song.”

“The song felt to me like writing my own little sci-fi tale — an apocalyptic romance of these unknown characters. It was a dialogue between me — or FiBo — and another figure who represents an escape from purgatory.”


13.

Sleaford Mods, Florence Shaw

Force 10 From Navarone

Sleaford Mods’ ‘Force 10 From Navarone’, features Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw.

It’s from the Nottingham duo’s release UK Grim, out March 10th, and is suitably menacing and caustic.

“The track is a conversation with myself coming to terms with happiness and whether it is in fact a darker space than my negativity and depression. Coupled with that it explores the myth of activism and inaction of the majority in the UK in the presence of a corrupt government.”Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson

Previously

See Also
Best of June 2024


14.

Jam City

Redd St. Turbulence

London producer Jam City returned shortlyu after featured production with the Lil Yachty psych-rock album, with a clubby track which features vocals from Julian Cashwan Pratt of US hardcore band Show Me The Body. ‘Redd St. Turbulence’ is a trance-inducing song that reminds me of Belfast producer The Cyclist.


15.

Qbanaa

Creative Perfection Pt.1

I’m getting Biig Piig vibes from the new song from Qbanaa, the Cuban/Irish neo-soul/jazz singer. ‘Creative Perfection Pt. 1’ has a live band feel, a rolling bassline and a sung and spoken word vocals from the artist.

The song is “about redirecting her addiction struggles by using creativity as a vice to strive for musical success.”

The artwork is by Irish artist Diabhal666, and the tracks were produced and mixed by Dan Doherty in Darklands Studio.

A Qbanaa headline show happens at The Sound House on April 28th 2023, with support from Decartaret and Kayleigh Noble and is running a new night called Soul Juice in Dashi, Smithfield in Dublin centred on neo-Soul/Jazz improv jams and open mic.


16.

Two Shell

Love Him

A new 5-track EP from the enigmatic duo Two Shell came out in February. Billed as an audio journey into the core of shell.tech, it came with this fizzy number.


17.

BĘÃTFÓØT

KIŃG~TRÃSH (Or:la Remix)

Derry’s Or:la absolutely bodies this remix of the electro club-rock-track from the project from Red Axes’ Udi Naor BĘÃTFÓØT.


18.

Cinder Well

Two Heads, Grey Mare

Beautiful Americana folk in the vein of Alela Diane from California via Clare artist Amelia Baker, who collaborates with Cormac MacDiarmada of Lankum on the string arrangement for ‘Two Heads, Grey Mare’ (he also contributes to the album).

The song is from a forthcoming album entitled Cadence, out April 21st on on Free Dirt Records, and is inspired by folklore tales of the selkie.

Cinder Well has some live Irish dates in May:

MAY 18 – Kilkenny, IE – Cleere’s

MAY 19 – Dublin, IE – The Cobblestone

MAY 20 – Dublin, IE – The Cobblestone

MAY 26 – Cork, IE – Coughlan’s

MAY 27 – Waterford, IE – Phil Grimes


19.

Feist

In Lightning

The Canadian singer-songwriter Feist announced her new album Multitudes with three tracks ‘In Lightning’, ‘Love Who We Are Meant To’ and ‘“’Hiding Out in The Open’.

Multitudes is Feist’s sixth studio album and is set to be released on April 14th on Fiction Records, produced by Feist with longtime collaborators Robbie Lackritz and Mocky in a converted barn in Big Sur, Northern California, with additional production from Blake Mills.

More.


20.

Flume, Panda Bear

One Step Closer

The Australian producer Flume put out some unreleased music from the last ten years packaged as Things Don’t Always Go The Way You Plan, and along with a track featuring Injury Reserve, the reliable collaborative voice of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear adds a gorgeous counterweight to ‘One Step Closer’.



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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